The Wrottesley Club History..
The Wrottesley family owned the hall and estate from the 13th Century. Walter Wrottesley was awarded a Baronetcy after fighting for the Royalists during the Civil War. The original Tudor building had a pallisaded moat and was replaced in 1696 with a very impressive four storey mansion, which burnt down in 1897. Arthur, 3rd Baron Wrottesley, replaced the hall with the far more modest two storey building which stands today.
The Wrottesley family held important positions as Members of Parliament and Lord High Sheriffs of Staffordshire. Perhaps the most notable family member was John, 2nd Baron Wrottesley, who was President of both the Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. He built an observatory in the grounds of the estate, the ruins of which still exist today (see picture below).
There is a crater on the moon called Wrottesley in honour of John’s works and today the Black Country Living Museum has its own ‘Wrottesley Observatory’ , where you can see the telescopes used in the original building. Richard, 5th Baron Wrottesley, sold the Estate in 1963 by option to its tenant farmers, who in turn sold the hall and immediate buildings and grounds to Mr and Mrs R.W. Duke, a prominent Wolverhampton estate agent, who invested considerable sums of money to create the Wrottesley Hall Golf and Country Club which was officially opened in June 1965 by 5th Baron Lord Richard Wrottesley.
It boasted a first class restaurant and casino, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts and the professionally designed golf course on which we play today. The prestigious country club was patronised by prominent local business people including James Beattie. A copy of the exclusive restaurant menu can be seen in our clubhouse today. The course was laid out around the existing trees landscaped in pre-Victorian times.
It is thought that the Sequioas on the left of the 1st Fairway were planted at this time. It is not known who carried out the landscaping but it was about the same time that Capability Brown was laying out Weston Park, and it is thought that he may have been involved. The avenue of trees marked on Ordnance Survey maps as the ‘Bullride’ (5th / 14th) were planted around the time of the opening.
The original course had just nine holes with single tees and greens, and followed the route of our yellow flags, (back nine), with the exception of the eighth hole which involved a tee shot over the pond. This tee mound can still be seen today adjacent to the pond. The same course was played twice to complete the eighteen holes. Green fees to play the round were 6d! Our clubhouse was originally half its current size and was originally a store for equipment to maintain the estate grounds. The first greenkeeper was Len Arthur, who must have produced an excellent course, because in 1966 it hosted the prestigious, Goodyear sponsored Par 3 professional golf championship attended by the top Midland PGA golfers of the day, with total prize money of £500, a considerable sum in those days.
The first club captain was the owner Reg Duke, who had membership ‘Wrottesley Hall number 1’, followed in subsequent years by Doug Edgar and Duncan Ewan, who donated a trophy for which we still play today. The first lady captain was Valerie Tooby in 1968, and in that year the club held its first Ladies open competition. Membership at that time was about 100 members and the presentation evenings were very grand black tie dinner and dances held in the restaurant at the Hall. Ted Large, the South Staffs professional who won the Portuguese Open, was guest speaker and presented the prizes on one occasion.
The Wrottesley Golf Club has grown and the course has developed since those early days and can proudly boast accomplished golfers such as Peter Baker, more recently Shaun Ball, Les Burlison - our new club pro, and potentially in the future Robert Burlison. We do have a very distinguished history right back to the days of the English Civil War and it is important that we recognise this!
Doug Hartill– President and Landlord of Wrottesley Golf Club.
Doug has been President of Wrottesley Golf Club since its formation in the early 1960,s. Doug has owned Wrottesley Hall for over 40 years, purchasing the property from Tettenhall College. The College had purchased the Hall and its immediate land from the Wrottesley family with the intention of developing it into an independent school. Unfortunately these plans fell through and the property was put back onto the market. Doug tells us that he called in to view the Hall on the way to purchase a horse for his daughter, Debbie, a keen young rider, and even though he did not buy the horse, he did put an offer in for the Hall the next day which was eventually accepted.
Doug was born into a well known Bilston family. Abraham Hartill began a successful Motorcycle Business at Mount Pleasant, Bilston in 1937 and was well known throughout the Midlands as a dealer in Sunbeam motorcycles, (later BSA), made in Pool Street, Wolverhampton. The shop, seen below, was carefully dismantled and reassembled at the Black Country Living Museum, where it can be seen today in its original condition. Doug’s motorcycle business continues to operate today, concentrating on repair and MOT Testing, and Doug takes an active part in its running on a daily basis.
Doug has been happily married to Betty (also from Bilston) for over 60 years and they received a 60th wedding anniversary telegram from the Queen to mark this achievement. The Hall was in desperate need of renovation on purchase, and they have restored the Hall, the Coach House and cottages for posterity. They themselves moved into the cottages behind the main hall, which is now divided into three residences. The scenic Driveway forms the Golf course which we see today.
Wrottesley Golf Club is indebted to the support and friendship of the Hartill family.