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A short history of Merrymeet and Back O’th Brook
Merrymeet is situated in the little hamlet of Back O’th Brook.
Back o’th Brook is situated to the north of Waterfall - a very small collection of houses running along the side of the Bredon Brook. The Bredon Brook runs down the valley and into the River Manifold.
Back of the Brook is not mentioned in the Doomsday Book, but Waterfall was mentioned in the Burton Abbey records when Waterfall Church held a service of thanksgiving for land given to the Abbey in 1126. The Brook at Waterfall was in the tax papers of Edward III in1333.
As was the way in those days, the lands belonged to rich families and changed hands as their fortunes rose and fell according to their relationship to the King and other nobles. In 1310 William de Wrottesley became a Knight having paid £20 to the King. Sir William was killed fighting Robert Bruce in Scotland. His son Hugh was only a lad at the time, but when he grew up he followed his farther by fighting for his country – this time in France. Fortunately he survived, so inherited much of his father’s land around Waterfall. He got even richer as many of his relations died of the Black Death and he inherited their land too. By 1354 he had fallen out with the King as he owed the Crown money. When the Bailiffs came to collect it there was a fight and a clerk was killed. Sir Hugh was imprisoned but he escaped and the King confiscated his lands and gave them to the Earl of Stafford. Just 12 years later he was pardoned and got all his lands back!
As some of the land had belonged to the Priory at Rocester, the villagers had to pay tithes of aminals or produce to the Abbot. After Henry VIII fell out with the Pope he dissolved the monasteries and took their land for himself.
By 1631 specific properties were mentioned as land owned by the Duke of Portland with tenancies including Back of the Brook Farm. For a couple of hundred of years, the Smiths lived at Back O’th Brook Farm until it was sold, together with Brook House in the 1800s. Merrymeet was once a barn being part of the neighbouring property of Brook House.
More recently, the previous owners of Brook House separated the title to Merrymeet which, for a short while, was partly converted and used as a base for a small business. In 2007 the horses living in what is now the sitting room of Merrymeet were found a new home. The stable and rest of Merrymeet were extensively renovated to make the lovely Party House it is now.
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