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Westfield: a history of a private estate

Successful people often choose to demonstrate their success through structures and the development of the small private estate of Westfield, on the northern edge of Kibworth Harcourt, is one such demonstration.

 

In 1895 Mr and Mrs Edward Teasdale bought two fields, measuring just over four acres, in what had been the old West Field of Kibworth Harcourt before Enclosure in 1779. Edward Teasdale was a successful hosiery manufacturer and a partner in the firm of Wooding and Teasdale, which owned two factories, one in Churchgate in Leicester and a second factory in Fleckney.

Teasdale commissioned the Leicester architect Stockdale Harrison to design his small estate and Stockdale Harrison created a large, seven bedroom house, along with an entrance lodge and a carriage house, with stabling in the then fashionable Domestic Revival style. The buildings were set among gardens and were connected to the Kibworth Gas Company supply. The house was designed to keep the family and servant areas apart, with a separate door and staircase for each.

 

The 1901 census reveals the Teasdales had two sons, aged four and 16, along with three live-in servants. However, the Teasdales did not enjoy their new estate for long. In 1912 Edward Teasdale died, aged only 59 and, with her children away from home, Mrs Teasdale decided to sell Westfield and move back to Leicester. Her misfortunes continued: both her sons were killed in the First World War, aged only 20 and 33.

The next owners of the Westfield Estate were to have an impact on Kibworth which extended beyond the boundaries of their private estate. In 1912, the Westfield Estate was bought by Mr W. E. Briggs, another successful Leicester businessman who had interests in the shoe industry and in the Harborough Rubber Company. The Briggs family settled in Kibworth and W. E.’s sons had houses in the village and became involved in community affairs. However, it was the interest in farming started by W. E. and continued by one of his grandsons, which was to have an impact on the appearance of Kibworth. Land made available by the Briggs family has enabled some of the recent housing developments in the village.

 

The Briggs family lived at Westfield for around 60 years, but in the early 1970s they decided to sell the estate. The next owner was another successful Leicester businessman, Michael Smith. His connections with the theatrical world brought a touch of celebrity to Westfield in the 1970s. Mia Farrow (then married to Andre Previn), was performing at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre and, rather than stay in a hotel, she stayed at Westfield for the duration of the play’s run, along with her younger children. On one occasion Andre Previn also stayed for one night.

 

In the early 1990s Michael Smith decided to move, but at this time there was no interest in buying the whole estate and it was split up: the entrance lodge was made a separate property and the former coach house was converted into a family home with its own garden. The former private estate was now three separate properties.

 

The original Westfield Estate comprised two fields, but only one of the fields was developed. The second field remains as grazing land, exactly as it had been since Enclosure in 1779. This field is a remarkable example of over 200 years of historical continuity.

 

 

Eric Whelan

 Issue 399
February 2018


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