WITH all the modern emphasis on heritage, protecting the past and restoration of many things that appear well beyond the pale, one can only hope such a situation would not arise now.

Because the death of Lyppard Grange, a handsome

17th-century manor house not stuck in the middle of nowhere but on the eastern periphery of Worcester city within easy sight of surveyors, lawyers and the police, was one of the corporate crimes of the 1980s.

When it was far too late, there was a wringing of hands and a wailing of “How can this have happened?” How indeed. How could a Grade II listed property, supposedly nationally noted for its historical and architectural importance, have been allowed to disintegrate into a pile of rubble?

But first the good news. Today on the site of the old Grange stands a thriving 21st-century public house with more than a nod to the past.

The Lyppard Grange lies at the communal heart of the Warndon Villages development, and remains as true as possible to what stood there before. During its construction by Bass Taverns in the late 1990s, various timbers and stonework from the old property were rescued and incorporated into the new pub, keeping a thread to the past alive.

When it was built in 1675, the name was Leopard Grange and its position was described as “about two miles east of the city by road”.

It was a rectangular brick house of two storeys with an attic and a particularly fine oak staircase. An extra wing was added in 1705 and a single story wing on the eastern side in the 19th century, making it “a typical Worcestershire yeoman farmhouse”.

The farmland belonging to the Lyppard manor was so extensive it was difficult to farm as a whole and was spit up between various tenant farmers. The part centred on Lyppard Grange farmhouse covered more than 176 acres and was bounded by Trotshill Lane and Mabs Orchard.

The Grange was lived in by many different families over the years, notably by Major Henry Berkeley, third son of Robert Berkeley of Spetchley Court, and an officer in the 3rd Dragoon Guards. Maj Berkeley, his wife Catherine and their five young children occupied the house for about ten years in the late 1800s.

Although the project had been talked about for 30 years, plans eventually emerged to turn a vast swath of countryside between the eastern edge of Worcester and the M5 into what was described in the mid-1980s as “potentially one of the most attractive housing developments in the West Midlands”, with great emphasis placed on landscaping, tree restoration/planting, woodland walks, children’s play areas and 10,000 meters of cycle paths and walkways.

In preparation for this Lyppard Grange had been sold in 1969, but because of the time lag it was left empty and neglected. It was in fine condition when the auctioneer’s hammer fell, but as time went on and it passed through the hands of several, sometimes mysterious, owners, weather, vandals, neglect and fire led to collapse, leaving only remnants of the main walls, fireplaces and chimney stacks.

Its lovely crested fireplaces were stolen, its windows broken, the roof caved in and the house was reduced to little more than an empty shell with the fire brigade often called to extinguish the work of idiot arsonists.

In the farmyard there was a magnificent Luscombe oak tree, which still survives today, while a moat protected an interesting range of outbuildings. When the new development finally took place the listed barns belonging to Lyppard Grange were demolished as they stood in the way of road access.

But there was stipulation any new building in that area must have the appearance of barn-like buildings, which is why the new doctors’ surgery, dentist, community centre, food outlets and retail premises look the way they do. At least something good eventually rose from the rubble.