In 1853, Joseph Frederick Wallin, a young butcher from Seagrave, at the age of twenty six bought two labourers’ cottages taking a conveyance from William Richards, understood to have been the then owner of Ragdale Hall. The Hall had been in the Shirley family and had passed to Caroline Shirley who married Don Lorenzo Sforza, Duke Sforza Cesarini, only son of the late Don Francisco, Duke Sforza, of Rome. Richards was quite probably acting on behalf of the Ragdale Hall estate to which the cottages had belonged.
Fred proceeded to demolish all but a small part of the cottages. (Now the dressing room and the near end of the sitting room; the gypsum floor present in only this part of the house is taken as evidence of this). He built round this remnant what was to become Hill House.
Fred married Annie Beeby from Ragdale in 1856, and, in 1859, Ada Annie was born in Hill House, with her sister Mary Elizabeth following two years later. The 1861 census shows Fred as a butcher living there with Annie, Ada and Mary and also Fred’s nephew Edward, a journeyman butcher. Tragically, Fred died aged only thirty-three the following year. The house was then conveyed to John Beeby (possibly Annie’s father), and Annie and her daughters continued to live there.
In 1880, the house changed ownership again, this time to Harry Percy Williams, a stockbroker from Millstone Lane, Leicester. Again, the indications are that the three women continued to live in the house as before. In 1889, Annie died and, the following year, Harry Williams married Mary. The All Saints Hoby baptism register does not record any offspring. The census returns show Ada Annie also living in Hill House with the married couple, together with two servants.
In 1911, Harry bought additional land from Colonel Cantrell-Hubberesty who had by then become the owner of the Ragdale Hall estate, and he added the present front to the house. He died in 1917, having been churchwarden of All Saints Hoby for many years.
In 1926, the ownership of the house changed again, this time to W Lindsay Everard of Ratcliffe Hall. Once again, it seems that Mary and her elder spinster sister continued to live here. The two ladies and their large black dog were remembered by Gladys Hack (whose picture hangs in the village hall), whose mother used to clean for them. She described them as rather aloof. Mary died in 1934, and the house was sold to Mr Everard in return for an annuity for Ada Annie. One year later, Everard sold Hill House to a new occupier, Cecil Law a poultry farmer and cheese manufacturer.
Ada Wallin died in 1951. The Wallins and the Williams are all buried in the Hoby Churchyard extension.
We were told, when we moved in, that the house had been a butcher’s shop and a school. It is unclear whether Fred ever traded from the house, but Gladys seemed to remember that the two ladies did do some teaching.
Cecil Law sold the house in 1948 to C Cox, an accountant from Peterborough, who sold it in 1955 to AF Houghton a retired farmer who, in turn, sold it to the Gibsons in 1964. The 1960’s internal facelift, which we removed, bore the Gibson’s name. Former pupils of the Hoby village school recall that the wood framed swimming pool, which sat on the lawn next to the conservatory, was used by the school children.
The Tarrants bought the house in 1967, and were clearly well loved in the village. Tom Tarrant was church treasurer, a post Phil later occupied for twenty-two years. They sold the house to Phil and Maggie Hamlyn Williams in 1982. Phil and Maggie brought with them Sally aged four and Joanna aged two. George was born at St Mary’s hospital in Melton in 1983 and Thomas was born in Hill House in 1988, some one hundred and twenty-seven years after the last birth in the house.
Phil Hamlyn Williams