Wells House was built in the second half of the 1600s by a man named John Warren. A stern and loyal soldier to Cromwell’s regime, he was granted 6000 acres of land in the Wells area as payment for his dedication to Cromwell at the time.
John Warren’s life was the army, he had no children and his wife died before him. As old age came to him and he felt that he was near to his death he planned his will. In his last will and testament, he left his estate, which was then earning him £400 a year, to a cousin Hugh Warren, on the condition that Hugh pay Samuel Jackson, the executor, £5000 to be divided among John’s other relatives.
Alternatively, if Hugh preferred, Wells would be sold, and he would instead be given £500.
Hugh Warren was a young man more interested in the financial gain he could gather from John Warrens passing than the fortune of the extended family.
Hugh Warren happened to be at Wells House when John Warren died in 1693 and he made the most of the opportunity. In an unscrupulous act of deceit, he collected everything of value in the house that he could carry and leaving with all the official documents concerning the house, jewellery, and two large sums of money, £800 and £400 guineas.
He travelled across to England and from there wrote to Samuel Jackson saying that he would prefer to accept the £500 legacy rather than pay £5000 to inherit the estate. Samuel Jackson took him to court in England over the matter.
There was much turmoil between Hugh and Jackson over the matter, resulting in Hugh being jailed in 1699. This was a particular time of difficulty for Hugh as these prisons were notoriously grim.
The wardens would extort money from prisoners for food and lodging or for unlocking the chains which held them. This was indeed a well-served term of punishment for Hugh.
In the two years that passed the House of Lords in London was asked to deliberate on the case and as a result Hugh was released from prison. He was however not allowed to inherit Wells House and the estate. Instead he was ordered to work together with Samuel Jackson to ensure that it would all be sold.
Hugh could have gained so much in making a truthful decision. He instead decided to deal in betrayal and treachery. This decision was detrimental for Hugh but for Wells House and Gardens it added to its rich history and set in motion, a turn of events. Wells House was, from this point placed into the hands of a family that would have an affection and love for Wells for the next 260 years; The Doynes.