Bankrupt baronet is forced out

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A bankrupt Staffordshire aristocrat is being forced to leave his family's ancestral home near Rugeley after more than 1,000 years history there.

Lady Jeannie and Sir Charles WolseleyA bankrupt Staffordshire aristocrat is being forced to leave his family's ancestral home near Rugeley after more than 1,000 years history there.

Sir Charles Wolseley, aged 63, and his American wife Lady Jeannie will have to leave their Georgian home on the edge of Cannock Chase in April after years of surviving on a shoestring budget.

The Wolseley family has lived on the 1,490-acre estate for more than a thousand years, dating back to the reign of King Edgar, who gave the land to the family after they eradicated wolves from Staffordshire.

The couple are now facing a future as tenants at a friend's barn conversion near Penkridge.

Sir Charles, a chartered surveyor, fell on hard times after investing all he had and more into the ill-fated Wolseley Garden Park scheme in the 1990s.

As the country fell into recession the NatWest bank, now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland group, called in its £3 million loan on the project which Sir Charles was unable to pay back.

The baronet had planned to develop the site into one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Midlands, attracting 250,000 visitors a year.

Wolseley Garden Park was opened to the public at a cost of £1.73million in 1990 but it only took between £26,000 and £30,000 gate receipts in its first year.


As a result of his debts Sir Charles was declared bankrupt in May 1996 to the tune of £2.5 million.

The couple's home has now been sold by the bank to a private family leaving the Wolseleys with no choice but to leave.

Sir Charles told the Express & Star: "We have had to come to terms with the fact we would lose the house over the years but it is still going to be a wrench for us to have to move out.

"We are having to decide what we can afford to take and what we must lose because there isn't the same amount of space where we are going. I am trying to hold on to some items such as the family portraits.


"It is the bank which has caused us financial problems. I borrowed from them to finance the garden park. I was well covered by the security of the estate but NatWest called in all possible debts that they could, which left me with hundreds of creditors and no means to pay them quickly."

Sir Charles added: "Our friends have been a great help to us and have given us lots of support. It has been very difficult over the years. I myself have been on benefit and it has very much been a case of us surviving day to day." Lady Wolseley added: "We have lived with this hanging over our heads for so many years.

"This has been our home for so long but it is more than just losing our home, it is all the heritage as well. It was probably inevitable once the bankruptcy happened." Park House, which has five bedrooms and two bathrooms, was part of the original Wolseley estate which included a much larger family mansion which was built in 1793.

This was demolished in 1967 but by then the family had already moved to Park House where they have lived ever since.

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