In January 2016 Leek Wootton History Group received an email from a book and photograph dealer that read:
I have recently acquired an album of photographs with a dedication in the front to W A Waller Woodcote nr Warwick Dec 25th 1893 from Aunt Char. Within are several photographs of the house and family taken by WAW and including Francis and Edith as well as interior and exterior views of the property. There are also military photographs including Boer War interest (the main reason I bought it) and I was about to break up the album, as I have customers for almost all of it. However before doing so I decided to try to find out exactly where the property was and came across your website. If you are interested in seeing any of the material please let me know.
The group seized the opportunity to purchase the album, with support from residents (past and present), the Parish Council, the Leek Wootton Horticultural Society, and the Friends of Warwickshire County Record Office.
A Christmas gift
The album had been given to the 12 year old Wathen Waller of Woodcote, Leek Wootton, for Christmas 1893. It was subsequently filled with photographs and postcards taken and/or acquired by him between then and 1904, with pictures of:
- The family – including his brother, Francis, who had already inherited the Baronetcy on the death of their father in 1892.
- The interiors and gardens of Woodcote.
- His military career from Parkhurst, Isle of Wight, through Sandhurst, to his time in the Cape Colony, South Africa.
These latter include his meeting of his future wife, Viola Le Sueur.
Wathen Waller inherited Woodcote and the Baronetcy from Sir Francis, when Sir Francis was killed in action in October 1914. Sir Wathen and Lady Viola were custodians of the estate until Sir Wathen’s death in 1947 and, with no children to inherit, Lady Viola sold Woodcote to Warwickshire County Council for police purposes in May 1948.
The History Group had the contents professionally photographed and it has a reproduction album for exhibition, so that people can enjoy looking through it as if it were the original. The photographs with this article are from the album (© Leek Wootton History Group).
The original album is now lodged at Warwickshire County Record Office for safekeeping, and is kept under the reference number PH1301.