Rodd Court is the historic Grade II* listed manor house at the heart of our estate that sits astride the English / Welsh border.

After Sidney’s death in 1992, the house remained Mary’s home until her death in 2016. In September 2018 the Trust acquired Rodd Court through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. Read the news story here.


The history of Rodd Court is sketchy. We have started initial research and will be announcing our plans for further research and consultation shortly.

It appears that the house was begun in the late sixteenth century by Richard Rodd. The date of 1629 over the porch may indicate when the exterior was finished and work began on the interior. Richard Rodd died in 1633, at which date the work may have ceased. The Rodd family had mercantile and landed interests in both Herefordshire and Devon. The house remained in their possession until 1725, when Bampfylde Rodd III died. It changed hands a few times in the ensuing centuries and was the subject of a court case resolved in 1848…

In 1911, the estate was bought by Colonel Gilbert Drage, a retired Royal Marine with an artist wife but no children. The house seems to have been in a poor state. In 1913 Drage rebuilt the service block in the south-west corner and carried out extensive repairs to the rest of the house. After the war, in which he led the 1st Battalion of the Hereford Regiment at Gallipoli, Drage retired for the second time and attempted to make a living from farming and hand weaving. This was hardly lucrative and in 1935 he sold The Rodd to Francis Rodd (later 2nd Baron Rennell), whose wife Mary was also an artist.

Rodd was a banker, a scholar and President of the Royal Geographical Society, with four daughters and a valuable library. His main intervention to the house was to convert the cart shed at the rear to a comfortable room, with a link to the main building. When Lady Rennell died in 1981, the family put The Rodd on the market and two years later it was bought by Sidney and Mary Nolan.

We hope, in due course, to know more about this extraordinary house, its owners, occupants and its role in the history of Hereford cattle breeding.

Lucy Trench, Trustee

Photos by Alex Ramsay


Colonel Drage became possibly the first owner-occupier of Rodd Court for two centuries. Until then, it was lived in by tenant farmers. This explains its unaltered state: most old houses have been repeatedly modernised and altered but Rodd Court, until the judicious restoration of the early twentieth century, seems to have been hardly touched... In 1833 the tenant farmer, Richard Mason, had to ask the owner Lyndon Evelyn’s permission to put floor boards in ‘the little parlour’ in place of stone - his wife was expecting a baby and this extra comfort would allow her to come downstairs a month earlier.

Today, principal features include an elaborate plaster ceiling, panelled rooms, mullioned windows, several very fine carved overmantels, orchards and gardens.  

Rodd Court also now houses Sidney’s library, his extensive collection of books and exhibition catalogues from throughout his career, as well as his ‘thinking room’. In this study he read and wrote, listened to music and conceived his next painting project. When he was ready to paint, he crossed the yard to the set of ancient barns which he adopted as his studio and gallery and which have served as a home for the Trust in recent years.


Photos by Alex Ramsay