Francis Beresford

Francis Beresford (1737- 1801), of Compton House, was a younger son of the main Beresford gentry family. He became an attorney and made his fortune from coal mining and the Butterley Company at Ripley in Derbyshire.

In 1765 Francis acquired land in the Compton in order to build Compton House; he was twenty-eight years old and about to marry. There is no record of a previous building and it is surprising that the building butts onto the road rather than being set back.

Architect Joseph Pickford was commissioned to design the building. The facade is in stone but the sides and back are in brick. The gardens at this time stretched back to Station Road and the Station Hotel.  

The architect, Joseph Pickford, was an architect of significance in and around Derby.  His most notable works in the city of Derby are St Helens House and the Assembly Rooms.  He produced a number of other houses including 44 Friar St where the facade is very close to Compton House except it is in brick and Compton House is in Stone.  Compton House has been described as ’one of the most impressive of Pickford’s smaller designs’.  Pickford also did work for the Duke of Devonshire.

Francis Beresford was the fifth son of John Beresford (1687-1755) of Ashbourne and Bentley Old Hall, Fenny Bentley. He was an attorney by profession and became a noted and successful industrialist, becoming one of the original partners in the Butterley Co. He returned to live at Ashbourne in the early 1760's and commissioned Joseph Pickford to design and build the architecturally distinguished Compton House, c.1766, possibly just after his marriage. It may be noted that Francis Beresford's father John lived in a substantial Queen Anne house in Church Street (No 28), dating from c.1720, which had almost certainly been built for John Fitzherbert of Somersal Herbert and which had come to him as a result of his marriage to John's daughter Frances in 1725. Since the senior branch of the Beresford family now preferred to live in Ashbourne, rather than in their paternal home at Fenny Bentley, the latter was rented to tenants and this has helped to ensure that the house has survived in a relatively unaltered form."

Compton House is the most substantial building in Compton. It is a Georgian house built around 1766 for Francis Beresford. The architect was the well known Derbyshire architect, Joseph Pickford.

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