Memories of Fazeley, written by Joseph T. Hunter in August 2008 when he was 88 years old.

The Peels Employees and the 3rd and 4th Peel

Sir Robert built a school in Lichfield Street, Tamworth. He was a great benefactor and was held in high esteem. He was also a large employer. My great grandfather came from East Largs, Scotland to be head gamekeeper. The Paylors came from Malton. Mr Paylor, a near neighbour of mine when I was a boy, at the age of 12 had travelled with a horse to be used for breeding at Bonehill and never went back home.

The Hewitt's came from W. Cash of Coventry, who weaved silk products. They came to work in the mills. As mentioned in an earlier chapter, my mother's side of the family came from Blockley, near Moreton in Marsh. They worked in a silk factory that had gone into liquidation. The Peels employed a host of servants, coachmen, gardeners etc and grooms to look after the horses.

A monument is raised to Sir Robert in Market Street, Tamworth and I believe around 12 more, some of them in Scotland.

Sir Robert lived and died 1750-1830. He had a painful death. While out riding in a London park, he was thrown from his horse and sustained terrible injuries. He was taken to his home in Whitehall and lay there in great pain for two or three days before passing away.

The 3rd Peel created the American Ornamental Pool and introduced aviaries and exotic birds. Many rare trees were planted, most of them American, including a small leaved beech which still stands. An avenue of monkey puzzle trees were killed by acids from a wartime industrial plant opposite, later to become Foseco.

The infamous 4th Sir Robert Peel had a private racecourse set out in the grounds, bought expensive horses and bought and hung many tapestries and paintings in the mansion. It was said that he suffered heavy losses with his betting, especially in side bets with the Bass brewers of Burton. (Perhaps his horses were not up to much). Eventually he bankrupted the Peels. The paintings, the tapestries and practically everything were sold and with heavy debts he fled to London, leaving the mansion empty.

My grandmother remembered the visit of Queen Victoria when Drayton Manor was at its most resplendent, limits were opened to the villagers and my mother related to me that at her mother's knee, the greatest excitement was a famous balloonist making a heavy landing in the trees.

In 1896, the people of Tamworth relented and invited Sir Robert to return to Drayton Manor and put up as an M.P as the seat was vacant. (Who paid off the debt ?) . An old neighbour of ours lent me the copy of the Tamworth Herald that recorded his return to Tamworth. A huge crowd awaited his arrival at Tamworth railway station to greet him and followed the coach on foot to Drayton Manor, via Victoria Road and into George Street, probably a distance of 4 miles. The crowd had risen to 1,000 and it became a torchlight procession, taking my mind back 50 years.

Many shops were mentioned of yesteryear, mostly family shops. One shop mentioned was Crutchleys, a butcher's near to the present day Woolworths.

Sir Robert returned to Drayton Manor and I believe he recaptured the seat for the Whigs but the family fortunes never really recovered, and so into the 20th century to the year that I was born.