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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

A special centenary!

Today is the hundred-year anniversary of my grandparents' wedding! When they got married in 1921 they were living in the same road – Nursery Walk in Tettenhall – my granddad at number 12 and my gran at number 39. The two properties were about 100 metres from one another, round the corner. Perhaps that’s where they’d met, as neighbours, and had seen one another walking along in the street.

They married when both - Ernest George SHELLEY (always known as George) and Edith Alice DIGGORY - would have been 23 years old and I wondered how long they’d known one another.

They were certainly communicating during WWI as I have postcards sent between them in early 1918 when George was training in Backworth, in the North East of England. On one of the postcards he’d written:

I received the parcel safe, only some of the biscuits were broken. It’s signed, Your special boy, George.

Where was Edith living?

I’d hoped the address on the postcard might confirm that Edith had lived in Nursery Walk at this time but they’re addressed to her c/o Tettenhall Court. Had she been working in service here, confirming my understanding that she’d been a parlour maid before she’d married?

I found a reference to the property on the internet, and it had been on the market only last year at a price tag of around £1.2m. The estate agent’s particulars stated:

In 1913 the prestigious architect dynasty ‘Weller & Sons’, who practiced in the city for over three centuries, were instructed to create ‘the finest house in Wolverhampton’ at Tettenhall Court after an earlier fire on the site. Their work was certainly a success; the unique 7-bedroom residence they designed has stood the test of time to provide a prime example of Tudor Revival architecture.

(NB: Do check out the agent's particulars via the link - there are some great photos of the house on there!)

The mystery of Tettenhall Court

A trawl of the British Newspaper Archives on Find My Past found a few references to the property, including the auction of the house in 1909, after the death of its owner, Mr Thomas Graham, the proprietor of local newspaper The Express & Star. There was also a report of a drawing room concert held by owner Mrs Lewis in 1916 (could this have been my gran’s employee?) raising funds to provide vegetable products for the Navy, and a garden fete held in the grounds on behalf of Tettenhall Wood Congregational Church in 1925.

So who had commissioned the “finest house in Wolverhampton”? And when? If it had been auctioned in 1909 (and the auction details suggest it was a fairly substantial property even then), could it have been bought by Mr & Mrs R Lewis and remodelled by them shortly afterwards, given they were holding soirees in their drawing room by 1916?

But I could find no newspaper report about fire at the property, which the estate agent had mentioned. A browse of the OS maps of Tettenhall via the National Library of Scotland’s excellent website showed Tettenhall Court clearly marked on maps dated after 1900 but nothing before. There is a building in the correct location of a different shape on an earlier map so perhaps this is the property which was rebuilt, if indeed there had been a fire. So some more still to investigate there!

White feather letter

Out of interest I looked up the architect's firm and found a fascinating story about one of its partners, William Weller. Apparently during WWI he was sent an infamous “white feather letter”, accusing him of cowardice at not joining up to fight. The letter and feather still exist in the archives and you can see a photograph of them and of William on the Wolverhampton’s War website, along with the full story of his circumstances. Definitely worth a read!

But before you head off to find out about William Weller, I leave you with a photograph of my grandparents on their big day, 100 years ago!


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Carolyn Retallick
Carolyn Retallick
Jun 04, 2021

What an interesting and intriguing story! Am off to check out the white feather story. I've always thought that people were so cruel about why some young men chose not to go to war! Both my grandfathers chose not to go to war in WW2 (conscientious objectors), but they were, by then, middle aged and one was in a reserved occupation (fishing) and the other joined the metropolitan police. In WW1 my mum's dad (the fisherman) was in the Royal navy (on minesweepers) and my dad's was 15 when the war ended.

Carolyn Retallick
Carolyn Retallick
Jun 04, 2021
Replying to

Wendy, that is so sad. I read the white feather story you linked to and I wept, I really did! Yes there really is no difference between that and today’s social media spite which jumps to all sorts of conclusions without a shred of evidence.😥

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