The history of the Besfords

Besford Court

Besford Court

Besford Court was the last great, gothic English country house. It is a Grade II*-listed building, located in the village of Besford.

The original timber-framed Besford Court was built around 1500. Substantial stone wings were constructed in 1912.

From 1917 it was a Catholic school for special needs pupils and was known as Besford Court Hospital.

Following the closure of the school, Besford Court has been converted into luxury apartments. Although Grade II* there has been much change in the interior, and the old Banqueting Hall is now one residence.


Besford Court – a large stone-built extension was added in 1912

The architect of Besford Court, Albert Randall Wells (1877–1942), was an English Arts and Crafts architect, craftsman and inventor.  Lord Beauchamp had commissioned designs from Wells in the past, and in 1910, when he sold the Besford Court estate in Worcestershire to Major George Noble (later 2nd baronet), Wells was engaged as the architect for its major re-construction by the new owner.

This involved the demolition of a Georgian wing, the retention of the original timber-framed Elizabethan core, and the addition of a large Tudor-style gothic courtyard.  Building work at Besford was halted in 1912 when the Nobles separated. They were divorced in 1916, and Wells and (by then) Lady Noble married in 1917.

The greatly enlarged property was was never occupied as intended as a single dwelling. It was sold, incomplete, to a school, in 1917

In 2001 was converted into eight houses as part of a larger housing development.

Besford Court Hospital

“Welfare home for mentally-defective Catholic children, restricted to feeble-minded boys from the ages of about seven to twenty-one. It consists of a junior department, conducted by nuns, in which the Montessori system of instruction is followed, and a senior department where the following vocations are taught: skilled carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing, gardening, rural handicrafts, and painting. To provide an intermediate stage between institutional life and life in the community, hostels have been constructed on the estate where the youth lives the life of an ordinary workman two or three years before dismissal.”

New Catholic Dictionary

In 2004, director Sheilagh Matheson directed a TV documentary about the Besford Boys for ITV Tyne Tees about the appalling treatment of boys with special educational needs during the 1940s and 1950s.

Ex-pupils and staff have also made a reunion video.

In print

Domesday Reloaded (1986) describes Besford Court as “a special school run by the Roman Catholic Church for boys with a variety of learning problems,” and has a photo of the original block of Besford Court showing both Tudor and later Edwardian features:

There is a 1927 book, The Story of Besford Court. With plates by Thomas Aldheln Newsome↗.

Conversion to Apartments

In 2001 The Daily Telegraph ran a story entitled The new country squires↗ which featured Besford Court Estate.

Ghost of a Grey Lady

It has been reported by both present day residents and by pupils of the former school that a lady in grey haunts the rooms of the old building.  These reports also state that she is often accompanied by a subtle but distinctive flowery perfume.

A company called Haunted Island↗ runs ghost tours to Besford Court.

28 responses to “Besford Court”

  1. I came here because of the story of Peter Whitehead (David Roxan 1958), a resident of St Joseph's and Besford Court from 1937 to 1946 Transferred to Rampton security hospital from which he was released by the High Court in December 1956 as illegally detained. Peter has been a hero of mine since I first read David Roxan's book in 1963. It is moving to see the material on your website about Besford Court and the material that you link to. You have done this beautifully. Thank you. Andrew Roberts ("😉

  2. my father was a teacher here and then it was run correctly with no maltreatment to any one we lived there for some 20 years fron the early 50s

  3. I was a child there the way we were treated and the abuse sexual and physical I still have nightmares wake up sweating wot thay did to us thay should be in prison

    • I became a very good friend of one of the pupils there around 1930’s. He told me of the abuse and photos he’s left me are disturbing to say the least.

  4. I was in st Joseph in 70s what a bad place or should I say the the nuns were bad never knew people could be so evil to kids still have nightmares like person above still don't sleep well at night

  5. frank Kenyon I was at the schools long time ago now I was told shout down now I was at the schools in 60 was boys schools I have just seen the video of the schools I live in Rochdale now I would like come the school again in summer time next year my numer his 01706-341149 or the mobile his 07847714486 can in touch with me frank Kenyon I was the schools in 60s

  6. Besford Court was a well runschool when I a pupil there.Great teachers and a very good headmaster and I made some life long friends.

  7. Some teachers were good and others not so good.I guess it depends when you were there

  8. I was at bestford court in the 80s and a great time there had great friends and the staff was good and I did the duke of Edinburgh award and got bronze and silver I'll never forget my time there had a great time there thank you Mr Quigley

    • You reckon we’ll when the nuns and the teachers came up in 1979 that’s when yhe troubles started a mixed school male and female corrupt teachers along with the rest that’s a fact it closed in 96 under a very bad cloud its all hushed up just like Croome court these kids will never get justice evil is mild to call them

    • I wonder lonely as a cloud . A poem you once told me if my memory serves me correctly. I still remember getting the slipper and being caned

  9. It was at Croome 73 to 76 hated Croome nasty people ran it but then went to Besford September 76 to July 27th 79 love every minute of it headmaster was a great friend and protector mr Ted Hughes rip my friend never forget you

  10. Name Anthony Parkinson I was at crooner court in 74 then went to besford in 79 I loved both school teachers were great at both schools know my name Anthony Joseph burke

  11. Went there in late 80s -90s
    Remember seeing her a few times when being punished kneeling in the corridor for hours late at night .would be interested in revisiting the place any chance on more info please!

  12. Does anyone know who built original besford court, as most places state 1500, yet heritage and ancestry state Roger Harewell born there in 1445.Is it older than we think?

  13. I believe it was built by Henry VIII for one of his Mistresses ….
    That is what i was told 👍😊

  14. Went to besford court in the 60 very nice when I was there I played for the football team I enjoyed every minute at the school made lots of mates shame could not get in touch with any of them now love to go back for a visit

  15. Went to Bestford 77 to 79 looking for pupils that was their at the time I remember Paul Craggs from Yorkshire

  16. Hi can anyone tell me who now owns this place? As my brother in law was in boarding school here and wishes to visit

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