A Short History of Freeford House

Members may be interested in some aspects of the history of Freeford House, a Grade II listed building owned by myslef since 1972.

From records that I have been able to find, it appears that the site was originally occupied by St Leonard's Leper Hospital and included a chapel and graveyard beyond. It belonged to St John's Hospital 'without the Barrs' and the monks would come out to administer to the lepers, at that time well out of the City and isolated. In 1949 improvements were carried out to widen the Tamworth road and a skull and a chalice were found in the area opposite, now Woodfields Drive - almost certainly a graveyard for the lepers. Though not proven, it would seem likely that the chalice may have been buried during the Civil War and then forgotten about. I understood that the chalice is at Stafford in the County Museum.

Freeford House was rebuilt as a Georgian farmhouse and contains many beams and doors of oak of that period. It is a three-storey property with attics having sharply pointed ceilings There are two cottages adjoining, the one next door having been a stable for the mules, the other the chapel. In 1894 a third was built and has a plaque, "Princes Villa", on it; so named after Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, a younger son of Queen Victoria, who came to open Whittington Barracks that year. For a century the house and land were owned by the Mallet family, and the area is still known as Mallet's Corner.

A plaque is to be found as a Prebendal Gift in St John's Chapel and in a stall at Lichfield Cathedral. The whole property is shown in the Lichfield volume of the Victoria County History of Staffordshire.

Ref: The Victoria County History of Staffordshire, Volume XIV, pages 253-258.

Mark Farrant
September 2020

Freeford House in 2020

Photo: Roger Hockney