As the man responsible for initiating the process of restoring Attingham, a process that continues today through our ‘Attingham Rediscovered’ work, Thomas Noel Hill the 8th Lord Berwick, is one of the central characters in Attingham’s story. Our photographic archive contains many images of Thomas from all stages of his life.
Other characters central to Attingham’s story such as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Lords, predate the invention of photography in 1839, so we rely on paintings and portraits for our insight into their lives and characters. Many of these paintings can of course be seen hanging in our various rooms at Attingham. Our photographic archive does however contain images of all of the various Lords Berwick from the 5th Lord onwards. I thought that it would be interesting to show you come of these images and introduce you to some of our less well-known lords.
The 5th Lord Berwick – Gentleman Farmer and Musician
Richard became 5th Lord Berwick in 1848 and was the last lord to inherit the title directly from his father. He had a particular interest in agriculture and developed one of the first herds of Hereford cattle, winning prizes for them both in England and abroad. Portraits of his prize winning cattle hang in the West Ante Room at Attingham and further details on them can be found here.
Richard was an accomplished musician and also a skilled handyman and woodworker who made flutes and clarinets in his workshop. He also constructed agricultural instruments and designed his own rifle, patented as The Cronkhill Rifle in 1860.
The 6th Lord Berwick – Life Long Soldier and Single Man
William the 6th Lord Berwick was the brother of Richard and was 60 years old when he inherited the title in 1861. He never married and chose not live full time at Attingham, preferring to spend his days at Springfield House on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. William entered the army when he was only 15 years of age, served in the Burmese war of 1825–6 and retired in 1854 having achieved the rank of Colonel.
Due to its lack of use as a home during his time as Lord Berwick, Attingham gained a reputation with visitors for being a dreary and melancholy place. The 6th Lord would occasionally stay at Attingham, usually when he entertained there with his sisters.
The 7th Lord Berwick – Keen Sailor and Huntsman
Richard, 7th Lord Berwick was a nephew of the 6th Lord and inherited his title in 1882. Like William the 7th Lord was a career soldier, but unlike the 6th Lord Richard did have a wife, marrying Ellen Nystrom. She outlived Richard by nearly 30 years and was well liked by the 8th Lord and Lady.
Richard was a keen sailor and he and his wife lived for periods on his yacht ‘The Clio’ in preference to a life in the house at Attingham. When he did visit Attingham, Richard’s main interest was shooting and even in his later years when illness prevented him walking, he was a familiar sight riding around the estate in his donkey cart, taking himself off for a day’s sport, as shown in the image below taken in the mid 1890s.
Richard’s twin brother was the Reverend Thomas Noel Hill, the father of the 8th Lord.
The 9th Lord – Soldier, Diplomat and Last Of The Berwicks
Like many of the lords before him the 8th Lord Berwick died without leaving a direct heir to inherit his title. With the bequest of the Attingham Estate to The National Trust in 1947, many people assume that this marked the end of the Berwick line of succession.
This was not the case as the title was inherited by Charles Michael Wentworth Noel Hill, who became the little known 9th Lord Berwick. Charles was a cousin of the 8th Lord, and the grandson of Charles Arthur Wentworth Noel Hill who was the younger brother of the 6th Lord.
Interestingly he was the only Lord Berwick who never inherited the house and estate at Attingham. It is thought that having worked so hard to restore the fortunes of Attingham, the 8th Lord did not want to run the risk of it again falling on hard times, hence his decision to bequeath the house and estate to The National Trust.
The 9th Lord followed the traditional Noel Hill career path, serving in both the military, as a Lieutenant in the Shropshire Light Infantry and also the diplomatic corps, as Aide de Camp to The Viceroy of India between 1922 and 1925.
Charles served as the 9th Lord until his death in January 1953. He never married and there was again no direct descendant to inherit the title. At this time, with no suitable brother or other relative remaining alive, the title of Lord Berwick was discontinued.