Leese House Farm, a history

Last year sometime, we had an enquiry about one of Cresswell’s most famous farm-houses which said:   “Has anyone got any information on Leeshouses? My ancestors, the Warrilows, lived there certainly from the 1700s to about 1871 before the family moved to Eccleshall.   From – Nari Fairbanks (Australia)”

Leese Houses (now called Leese House Farm) is one of the famous four ancient farm-sites that lie along the old track that runs south for a mile or so from Rookery Crescent down to Painsley, the other three being Rookery Farm (now largely demolished), Wastegate Farm and Painsley Hall Farm.
It is now fully restored; and a lovely property.


Well, none of us is a land historian, so we put the query out to the village Facebook page. This query caused a discussion that raised a hundred comments (!); and we thought we shouldn’t just let all that knowledge be lost, so we gathered the bits here together for this article.
The three main contributors to the discussion were Nigel Peake, who has lived in and around Cresswell all his life, Lev Wood, who is secretary of the local history society, and Nari Fairbanks herself – but there were any others.
These are the essential comments, all collated…

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The three main contributors to the discussion were Nigel Peake, who has lived in and around Cresswell all his life, Lev Wood, who is secretary of the local history society, and Nari Fairbanks herself – but there were any others.
These are the essential comments, all collated…

Lev Wood Snr commented:     “…’Leese’ House must refer to the Lee Family.  The history of the Lees in the Draycott/Fulford area can be traced back to the 13th Century. (Kirby’s Inquest of 1285 marks Richard de Lee as ‘lord’).  They were certainly considered as the second family locally after the Draycotts during the High Middle Ages, and at one time were referred to by the title ‘Lord’, although this probably was self-assumed. They did however sit on numerous village courts.
It is logical to assume that “Lees” as it was referred to on early maps and later “Lees Houses” were the way to denote ownership of that land and came down through the centuries retaining that name.”
So Leese House just means ‘house of the Lee family’.

Lev Wood Snr comments    “Finally discovered Emanuel Bowen‘s map of Staffordshire c1755 showing Draycott and ‘Lees’.”

Eman Bowen map of Staffordshire

Eman Bowen map of Staffordshire, 1755

Nari Fairbanks commented:   “… My GGG Grandmother, Mary Warrilow, daughter to John and Ann, was born in Draycott around 1822.  Lees House is recorded as a place of residence on Census Records and Births/Deaths/Marriages records for several family members, mainly around the 1820s”.
She adds: “There is also reference to the house in the booklet called “A Short History of Cresswell’s Roman Catholic Community” by Father Phillip Bailey (1971).   I’m now thinking that Lees House included a selection of cottages built on the farm land to accommodate Roman Catholic priests in the late eighteenth century & early nineteenth century – when Catholics were permitted to worship again after years of suppression in England.”
One of the first post-1800 RC churches to be built in this part of the world was St Mary’s in Cresswell.

Nari Fairbanks comments   “Have just located an 1891 census record for a George Warrilow living at Leese Houses on Heranwood St in Draycott.  I have to say I did get a little bit excited 🙂   On the transcript, the house name is given as Leese Houses (though have seen this spelt several different ways)”.
No histories or maps record ‘Heranwood Street’, but could it be an old name for the current farm track from Cresswell to Painsley?


And, at that point, the discussion came to a halt.

So, it seems that the site (if not the actual house) may be as much as 800 years old, with the actual main structure dating back possibly four hundred years.  The cottages on the site later became merged into one house.

Clearly, there is a lot more to be found out and maybe someone is already sitting on some significant extra information.  If more comes along, we’ll let you know!

For more about the Warrilows of Paynsley, click here


If you want to research the history of your own house, Staffs County History Archives have produced some packs on how to do it – see House History Publications
See also:  Staffordshire Map 1888

7 responses to “Leese House Farm, a history

  1. The Skellens of Lees House Farm

    Leese House was farmed by the Skellens in the 60s
    I used to play there with their grandson John Skellen (from Saverley Green), but they eventually moved to Leek.
    John Thompson


  2. Born at Lees House

    My name is Jackie Lowe. I have a distant relative, my Grandad, who was born at Lees House in 1894 – william Beram Brain, and his mother’s maiden name was theresa Warrilow. He then moved to Eccleshall. Who are you related to?
    Jackie Lowe


  3. Stourton family's estates

    I have recently found the Will of Joseph Warrilow of Lees Houses who died 1829. In his will he leaves his tenant rights to his son, Joseph.
    It also states in the Will that the tenancy is owned by the Dowager Lady Mary Stourton (who died in April 1841). Properties in Draycott were part of the estate of the Stourton family.
    Lady Mary was the widow of Charles Philip, Lord Stourton of Stourton, Wiltshire.


  4. You will find lots of Warrilows buried in the graveyard at St Mary’s Church in Cresswell.


  5. Thanks for the history

    Thankyou for the post. To have finally discovered some of the history about Leese House after so many years of looking, and to have been able to visit the property and stand where my ancestors once did would have to be one of the highlights of my trip!
    My time in England researching my family history was one of the best times of my life and hoping one day to return.
    Once again a big thankyou to everyone that helped on my journey; without you it would not have been possible and fingers crossed there is more yet to discover.
    Nari Fairbanks


  6. Lease Houses Farm was built in 1690 and consisted of 4 cottages. Two were the current lounge and the dining room/hall. The third was the kitchen and the fourth was the garage.
    The next-door house is The Shippons. The Shippons used to be the cow sheds and stable to the cottages.
    I was led to understand that the name (Lease houses) came from the fact that the cottages were ‘leased’ from Paynsley Hall; and the tenants paid a tithe to the Hall.


  7. You will find in Fr Bailey’s book that there were sometimes large numbers at Lees house for confirmations – in the time when technically the Catholic community was still illegal.
    However, from 1790-ish the Catholic priest lived at St Mary’s House in Cresswell, where I was very happy to stay until last year.
    Greetings to all there,
    Reverend David Hartley (former Parish priest Cresswell)


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