Milford Hall

Milford Hall is a privately owned 18th-century country mansion house at Milford, near Stafford. It is the home of the Levett Haszard family and is a Grade II listed building.

The estate passed to the Levett family in 1749 when Reverend Richard Levett, son of the Rector of Blithfield, Staffordshire, married Lucy Byrd, heiress of Milford and a descendant of the Byrd family of Cheshire. (The Levett family came from Sussex, and the Staffordshire Levetts retain ownership of the papers of family relation William Levett, Esq., who was groom of the bedchamber to King Charles I, accompanying the King to his imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight and ultimately to his execution.)

Also at Milford Hall is a replica of an ancient bronze seal found in the 19th century near Eastbourne (now in the collection of the Lewes Castle Museum) bearing the coat-of-arms of John Livet. The signet is believed to have belonged to one of the first family members who was lord of the manor of Firle, East Sussex, in 1316.

Milford Hall also contains an ancient illuminated pedigree with heraldic arms of the family traced from its roots in Sussex and Normandy in the 11th century.

This Sussex family produced Sir Richard Levett, a powerful merchant and Lord Mayor of London and owner of Kew Palace, who was the son of Reverend Richard Levett (brother of William, courtier to King Charles) of Ashwell, Rutland, and Dr. William Levett, Principal, of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and Dean of Bristol. The family is of Anglo-Norman descent and derives its name from the village of Livet (now Jonquerets-de-Livet) in Normandy.

Levett replaced the existing house with a new mansion in the Georgian style. The main east fronting block had three storeys and four bays flanked by two double storey two bayed wings and with a five bay Orangery attached to the south.The central doorway carried pediment and Ionic pilasters.

The house was much extended and altered in 1817 by his son, also Richard Levett, when the pilasters and pediment were removed and the main entrance was moved to the west front.

The English 1881 census records show the Levett family and fourteen servants in residence. On the death of Captain William Swynnerton Byrd Levett in 1929 the estate passed to his daughter Dyonese Haszard, the wife of Colonel Gerald Haszard, OBE, Royal Marines.

The Levett Haszard family retains ownership of Milford Hall. (Dyonese Haszard's only brother, Lieut. Richard Byrd Levett of the 60th Rifles, King's Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in France in the First World War in 1917.) A graduate of Eton, Lieut. Levett died in an assault on the town of Irles in France on the morning of March 14, 1917. Subsequently his parents erected a marble effigy in his honor at St Thomas Church in nearby Walton-on-the-Hill, Staffordshire. Lt. Levett's tomb displays the arms of Levett of Milford Hall for his father William Swynnerton Byrd Levett, and the arms of Levett of Wychnor Park for those of his mother, Maud (Levett) Levett.

The mother of Lieut. Levett and Dyonese Levett Haszard was Maud Sophia (Levett) Levett, wife of Capt. William Swynnerton Byrd Levett, JP, and herself a Levett -- daughter of Major. Edward Levett (10th Royal Hussars) of Rowsley, Derbyshire, a descendant of the Levetts of Wychnor Hall (or Wychnor Park), Staffordshire, and his wife Caroline Georgiana, daughter of Rev. Charles Thomas Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury. (Major Levett's second wife was Susan Alice Arkwright, a descendant of Sir Richard Arkwright.)

Descended from Levetts on both sides, Maud Levett was a writer on religious and spiritual topics, publishing several books as well as a memoir about her son Lieut. Levett, an Eton graduate, who was wounded twice before being killed in France in World War I. (An earlier Levett living at Milford Hall, the unmarried Frances M. Levett, also wrote several books, including "Gentle Influence: or the Cousin's Visit," which were published in London under her first initials.)

Col. Gerald Fenwick Haszard served as High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1952, and Richard Byrd Levett Haszard currently serves as the county's High Sheriff for 2009. (The Levett family represented Staffordshire in Parliament in the 18th and 19th centuries.)

The Levetts of Milford Hall have long worshipped at nearby St.Thomas' Church, Walton-on-the-Hill, built in 1842 as a chapel of ease to the parish church. There are several monuments in the church to the Levett family. St. Thomas's also contains unusual blue Minton Ltd tiles with the Levett initials in buff lettering.

There are also memorials to the family in St. Augustine Church in nearby Rugeley, and at the church at Holy Trinity Church in Berkswich, Staffordshire, where the Levett and Chetwynd families had private pews.

Nearby is Shugborough Hall, the ancestral estate of the Anson family, the Earls of Lichfield. The Levett family of Milford is related to the Ansons, and the Levett Haszard family sit on the board of Shugborough Hall, which is a couple of miles from Milford Hall.

The Levetts also intermarried with the Bagot family from nearby Pype Hayes Hall, a branch of the Bagots of Bagot's Bromley, Staffordshire, and Blithfield Hall.

Also in Staffordshire, another distant branch of the Sussex Levett family owned Packington Hall and Wychnor Hall, two country mansion houses. Ultimately, these two branches of the Levett family were reunited in marriage, so that the current owners of Milford Hall are descended from both branches of the family.

The Levetts of Milford Hall have also intermarried into other landowning families. The Levett-Scrivener family, for instance, live near Yoxford, Suffolk, where they have owned for centuries the ruins of Sibton Abbey, the only Cistercian abbey in East Anglia.

Not all Levetts retained the family name. Lieut-Col Richard W. B. Mirehouse (1849–1914), High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1886, and Lieutenant Colonel of 4th Batt. North Staffs Regiment was born Richard W. B. Levett of Milford Hall, but changed his name to that of his mother's family, Mirehouse.

Milford Hall is private and the mansion and grounds are not open to the public.

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