Mr.G.Edward Saville's book 'King's Coughton; A Warwickshire Hamlet' (1973) and Duncan McGuffie's book, 'Cabbages and Committees' (1944) both mention King's Coughton House, the former briefly, the latter at length.
Mr. Saville records that a Sydney Griffin is there as a 1910 elector and that he continued to farm there until 1940, when a Mr. E. R. Burden became the owner, though from 194l to 1946 Mr. McGuffie carried on a market-garden business there.
In his book, McGuffie tells a sorry tale about the condition of the land and farm after he sees an advertisement in the local paper stating that the farm and 106 acres was to let with vacant possession. What he does not say is that the farm was vacant because the farmer was evicted in March l942 by the Warwickshire War Agricultural Executive Committee (McGuffie was a member of the Worcestershire W.A.E.C.)
Mr. Griffin appealed to the Farmers' Rights Association, who took up his case: but to no avail, though they printed their findings, with others, in a booklet called 'Living Casualties'. They found that Griffin was evicted on to the street by the A.E.C. pest officer, as were Griffin's younger son, his daughter-in-law and her two young children, although her husband (Griffin's elder son) was a serving soldier. Thanks to some kind neighbours, Mrs. Griffin and her children found shelter but Mr. Griffin and his son were forced to live in a disused hen-roost.
Although McGuffie stated that he did not want the house, the A.E.C. made it a condition of his tenancy The house was vacant for six months while the A.E.C. undertook extensive alterations with labour and materials unobtainable by private citizens and although Mr. Griffin protested, he was presented with the bill. All this time Griffin was still living in the hen roost on the farm's _and (he was still the owner) but was ordered to remove it from 'the Ministry's land'. He was forced to pay £300 for a plot of land on a field nearby on which to place his shelter.
Mr. McGuffie does not say to whom he paid rent for the next 2½ years but it was not to the Griffins. Unable to find accommodation and with no income, the Griffins were compelled to continue living in the hen roost and the elder Griffin, not surprisingly, suffered severe rheumatism.
A curious feature of the case was the seizure by one A.E.C. of Mr. Griffin's two sporting guns, on what grounds cannot be surmised. Despite not relinquishing the sporting rights on his land, Griffin found that persons unknown cleared all game from the land and after two years the guns were returned.
Can anyone remember Mr. Griffin and what happened to him after the war?
Ed:- King's Coughton House in recent years has been extensively extended and given a new name, 'King's Court Hotel'. The original house suffered from fire though it is still possible to see the timber-framaing in the middle of the complex
Spring 1990 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991