For Sale: The Priory and Dudley House 1859

My first post in 2012 detailed the history of The Priory and the neighbouring villas in the area now know as Priory Woods. I had founds plans for the sale of the house in the University of Liverpool’s Special Collections (included here again for comparison) and now 2 years on, looking at The British Newspaper Archive, I found an advertisement from the Liverpool Mercury 1859 promoting the sale of both The Priory and Dudley House. As it is quite difficult to read I have copied it and included it below the scan.

Priory Mercury September 1859

BY ORDER OF THE TRUSTEES OF THE WILL OF JAMES SOTHERN, ESQUIRE, DECEASED St. Michael’s, Aigburth, near Liverpool,- Two First-class RESIDENCES, known as “The Priory” and “Dudley House” delightfully situated on the banks of the Mersey, in the immediate vicinity of Aigburth, will be offered for sale by auction, BY MR. BRANCH. On Friday, the 23th instant, at One for Two o’clock prompt, at the Clarendon-rooms, South John-Street, Liverpool, in two lots subbject to conditions.

Lot 1 THE PRIORY. – All that capital MESSUAGE or MANSION-HOUSE called “The Priory” situate at St. Michael’s, Toxteth Park, with the porter’s lodge, yards, gardens, pleasure grounds, stables, coach-houses, and other outbuildings and apportances, late the property of and residence of James Sothern, Esq., deceased.

The house, which commands an unobstructed view of the Mersey and the scenery in the distance, is a modern erection of stone, in the richest style of late Gothic or Tudor architecture with handsome entrance hall and staircase, and contains library or breakfast room, dining-room, two drawing rooms, communicating with each other by an arch panelled with plate glass, and the principal one again communicating by glazed folding doors with a conservatory of elegant construction. In unison with the architecture of the house, fifteen bedrooms, bathroom, large kitchen, servants’ hall, scullery, laundry, brew house, larder, and every other domestic requisite.

The gardens and pleasure grounds are extensive, tastefully laid out, and judicously planted, and containing vinery, melon pit, forcing and succession houses, beautiful rustic grotto, and ornamental fish pond.

There is stabling for six horses, with two double carriage houses and harness room, piggeries fowl pens &c, &c.

2.  DUDLEY HOUSE.- All that capital MESSUAGE or MANSION-HOUSE called “Dudley House” also situate at St. Michael’s Toxteth park, and near to Lot 1 (the grounds being adjacent), with the porter’s lodge, yards, gardens, pleasure grounds, stables, coach-house and other outbuildings and apportances, lately occupied by Henry Grainger Esq.

This lot has most of the advantages of positions possessed by Lot 1, and the house is a substantial, well-built and commodious mansion, in excellent condition, and contains entrance hall, breakfast-room, library, dining-room, drawing-room (communicating with a conservatory and greenhouse), eleven bedrooms, bathroom, an excellent kitchen and other domestic offices. There is also stabling for five horses, coach-house &c, &c.

The above properties freehold of inheritance, not subject to any ground or chief rent, and the land tax has been re-deemed. They are approached by a private road or avenue, and though perfectly secluded are distant only about three miles from the Liverpool exchange, and the omnibuses plying between Garston, Aigburth, and Liverpool pass half-hourly within five minutes walk.

A portion of the purchase money of each lot will be allowed to remain on mortgage if required. An arrangement may be made for the purchaser of Lot 1 to take immediate possession, and the existing tenancy of Lot 2 will expire at Lady-day next. Cards to view Lot 1. and printed particulars with plans, may be obtained or will be posted on application to David Bromtlow, Esq, Haresfinch House, near St Helen’s to Mr. Branch the auctioneer, Hanover-Street, Liverpool ; or Messers. Rowson and Cross solicitors, Prescot.

You really get an idea of the scale of the houses from the advertisement. I can’t help thinking that it doesn’t mention anything about the building of the railway that was about to be constructed about 50 yards from the houses. John Sothern was a Conservative MP, ferry owner and the trustee for the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal (James his brother was the Superintendent) so I am sure the family would of been aware of it, I just wonder if the new owner was? Once opened in 1864, the houses were placed literally on the wrong side of the tracks, an area destined utlimately for industry and refuge dumping.

plan of the priory front plan of the priory I have been also looking into my family’s history. My Mother’s paternal family were living in Cotter Street and a court dwelling in Mill Street, Toxteth. This was not too long after the time of the advert, and just a mile or two from The Priory. I can’t help but compare the social conditions. The first of many I found illustrates the deprivation of the area and involves the famous Dr. Duncan, Liverpool’s medical officer and a depiction of the diseases caused mainly by overcrowded, unsanitary conditions: Mercury 1854 Cotter St Dr DuncanAnother report of sanitary health, this time a butcher selling a rotten pig carcass in Cotter Street: BL_0000197_18660906_024_0007 Here are just two examples of many found showing crime in the overcrowded Toxteth area, many of them sad stories of poverty: Mercury 1861 unburied body Mercury 1850 stabbing cotter st Finally, an example of petty theft on Aigburth Road (3 boys stealing gooseberries from a garden) resulting in a possible prison sentence: stealing fruit All newspaper clippings are courtesy of If you haven’t visited this site before, I highly recommend it but look out for special offers, as I had a 1 month subscription for just £1. Thanks to Pak Chan for informing me of the site (and the special offer!) For more information on Liverpool’s Court dwellings visit:


5 comments on “For Sale: The Priory and Dudley House 1859

  1. Simon K Reed says:

    Dear Sir,

    I would like to congratulate you on the extent of your research into the Priory and the Sothern family, which is most interesting. I too have been delving into the subject as James Sothern was my great, great, great grandfather, indeed my grandfather was also James Sothern. One small matter; James was the brother of John, not his son. He was the elder by three years,
    The Sotherns are linked to several Liverpool and Lancashire families, Speakmans, Schwabe’s, Worralls, Molyneuxs, Mellys, Bromilows, Tonges and Hollands etc., All mostly involved in Coal, Salt, Ships, Iron etc.,

    Many thanks; your efforts are much appreciated.

    Yours faithfully,


  2. Simon K Reed says:

    Dear Glen,

    Apologies for not having replied sooner. The truth is I hadn’t realised you had posted my comments and in turn replied. I should pay more attention.

    Wonderful to hear from you however, and thanks for the link e.g. photograph of John Sothern’s ferry. I too find Edward Askew a fascinating character, so were his children, especially Edward Hugh, probably better known.

    Strangely, I can find little about John, his father. Edward was as you suggested named after the harbourmaster John Askew. Another son Robert Dempsey was also names after a friend. The rest of the family were quite easy to research because they seem to be well documented. Benjamin, the ‘old man’ part owned several ships, sailing out of Liverpool. I don’t think there was any link to the slave trade apart from an aunt Louise, who married Henry Bladys Molyneux, who’s father was Mayor of Liverpool and lived at Newsham House. I believe he had connections in the West Indies. I have a picture of James Sothern’s (3rd) grave in Oystermouth, Mumbles near Swansea. He was the last member of my immediate family born at the Priory. Also a watercolour of the Priory, if you would like them. Cannot attach the pictures.

    Best wishes,

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