Sunday, 20 October 2013

(83) Alexander of Aubrey House, Kensington and Heathfield Park

William Alexander (1769-1819), the founder of the discount house of Alexander & Co. in the City of London, came from a Quaker family in Kent.  He died aged 50 after a fall from a coach, and his widow Ann (1775-1861) managed the business until 1831, when their eldest son, George William Alexander (1802-90) was mature enough to take it on; she remained a partner in the firm until her death.  With the passing decades the family acquired ever greater prosperity, and George acquired Woodhatch House, a villa near Reigate (Surrey) as a country residence.  His two sons both followed him into the family business.  The elder, Robert Henry Alexander (1838-1901), bought and remodelled Brandfold at Goudhurst (Kent) in 1891, but died only ten years later. The younger, William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) bought Aubrey House, Kensington (Middx) in 1873; this is a large villa which is now one of the most valuable houses in London but which was then on the edge of the countryside.  In 1895 he also purchased Heathfield Park in Sussex as a country residence and dramatically enlarged it.  William died in 1916 after falling down the basement steps at Heathfield, and perhaps on this account the family sold the house shortly afterwards. William's eldest surviving son was George Cleverly Alexander (1868-1959), who acquired the Manor House estate at Winterbourne Stoke in Wiltshire (sold in 1945) with his share of the proceeds.  Aubrey House passed to his sisters, and seems to have been sold in the 1960s or perhaps not until the last of them died in 1972.


Aubrey House, Kensington, Middlesex


The house stands in Aubrey Walk, off Campden Hill Road, on the site of a medicinal spring known in the 17th century as Kensington Wells. The core of the house probably belongs to one built adjoining the spring c.1698, but its present appearance and gentry status is owed to Sir Edward Lloyd, who added projecting wings to the central block and reconstructed the north front between 1745 and 1754. 

Aubrey House in 2007

Later 18th century alterations included a drawing room (now lost) created by James Wyatt in 1774 for Lady Mary Coke, which had a decorated ceiling with intertwined floral motifs and medallions of cupids on a blue ground.  Inside, there are 19th century staircases and a few 18th century pedimented doorcases. During the nineteenth century many alterations were made to the house and the interior was considerably remodelled. The wings were altered and extended and at one time a heavy Victorian doorcase was inserted into the north front, now happily replaced with the more appropriate pedimented doorcase which can be seen today. In 1873, the house was bought by William Alexander, who employed James McNeill Whistler to design some simple and uncluttered decorative room schemes for the house; unfortunately these interiors were destroyed in 1913, although Whistler's designs survive in the Hunterian Museum. The house was used as an emergency hospital, 1916-20, but was then returned to the Alexander family, which continued to occupy it until 1962 or later. Aubrey House was sold for £20m in 1998, when it was advertised as having the largest garden in London after Buckingham Palace.  At the time, it was believed to be the most expensive house ever sold in London.


Aubrey House: street frontage c.2007

Descent: Sir Edward Lloyd, 1744-66 and remained the property of his descendants until 1823; let to Richard, Lord Grosvenor (later 1st Earl Grosvenor), 1766-67; Lady Mary Coke (daughter of 2nd Duke of Argyll), 1767-after 1788; succession of tenants and used as a school until 1819; empty 1819-23; sold 1823 to Joshua Flesher Hanson; sold to Thomas Williams (d. 1852); leased to Mary & Elizabeth Shepheard as a school, 1830-54; sold 1859 to James Malcolmson; sold 1863 to Peter Alfred Taylor MP; sold 1873 to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916); to daughters, Mary, Rachel and Jean Alexander, of whom the last died in 1972; to great-nephews, Peter & Francis Dinely and the actor, Jeffry Wickham; who sold the house (and the adjoining terrace designed by Raymond Erith to replace houses destroyed by bombing in world war II) 1998 to Dr Sigrid Rausing.

Heathfield Park, Sussex

Heathfield Hall from a late 17th century painting by Gerard van Edema. Image: David Brown

Heathfield Park: a drawing of 1788.  Image: British Library.
Heathfield Park: a 19th century engraving showing the balustrade, pediments and veranda added perhaps by
John Crunden c.1792-93.
The estate began as a deer park of some 350 acres, called Bayley Park, enclosed in the early 17th century by the Dacre family.  They sold it in 1674 and a new house was begun on the present site in 1677 by James Plummer, which is said to have been finished only by Raymond Blackmore in the 1720s.  It was altered by Sir Robert Taylor in 1766 for General Elliot, who was made Lord Heathfield in recognition of his defence of Gibraltar in 1779-82. Drawings of the late 18th century make it clear that the general form of the late 17th century house survived Taylor's alterations.  A curious feature was the pair of caryatids flanking the central window on the first floor, which seem rather an unlikely decorative feature at any of the dates when work was taking place.  They were probably removed when the house was given a large verandah, a parapet with shallow pediments set against it, and a unifying coat of fashionable stucco.  It seems likely that this work was done for Francis Newberry in the 1790s, at the same time as he built the Gibraltar Tower in the park and erected the North Lodge.  The lodge was designed by John Crunden, who may well have been responsible for all these improvements. Newberry also expanded the estate to more than 2,000 acres, and his successor, Sir Charles Blunt, built a wall around the park.


The Gibraltar Tower
The circular Gothick Gibraltar Tower on the edge of the park was built in 1792-93, and the three rooms inside were originally decorated with views of Gibraltar, now removed.
Humphry Repton, image from the Red Book for Heathfield Park, 1794.  Image: East Sussex Record Office.

The stables east of the house date from 1766 and have two wings with giant arches, linked by a broad segmental carriage arch. The North Lodge, on the Battle Road, was designed by John Crunden in 1792.  The main park lies west of the house and is heavily wooded, with a central stream feeding a chain of pools.  It was probably first landscaped in 1766 but Humphrey Repton was brought in to make alterations in 1794 and his 'Red Book' is now in the East Sussex Record Office.  Very little may actually have been built to his designs in this case; perhaps only a new approach drive. 

Heathfield Hall as remodelled by Sir Reginald Blomfield in 1896-97, from an old postcard

The house owes its present form to more radical alterations in the Wrenaissance style by Sir Reginald Blomfield for W.C. Alexander in 1896-97 which nearly doubled its size.  Blomfield turned the house round, stripped it of its stucco, added a new attic storey, and made it, according to his Memoirs, into ‘a normal Georgian house’.  On the garden side the old house had seven bays with a three-bay breakfront; Blomfield added another five bays to the right, setting back the paired outer bays and crowning the central two with a segmental pediment of insufficient size to pull together the facade.  Blomfield also constructed the present veranda, although there had been one previously.  On the entrance side it is the right part which is old, and the left part with the Venetian window which is Blomfield's, although the porch attached below this window was moved here from its original position in the centre of the old house only after the Second World War, and before that the wall was entirely blank.  Blomfield replanned the interior, and all the decoration and fittings appear to date from his time.  He also made a wing to the south, which was remodelled in 2009-10.  A fine 18th century chimneypiece formerly in the hall, very similar in the style to the saloon chimneypiece at Taylor's Harleyford Manor, has been removed; where has it gone?

Heathfield Park: entrance front in 2007.  Image: David Harvey via Wikimedia Commons

The formal terraces and ornamental gardens around the house are also by Blomfield.  There is a long axial path terminating in a basin and fountain.   

Descent: James Plummer (fl. 1677)... sold 1708 to Fuller; sold 1721 to Raymond Blackmore; sold after his death to O'Keefe family; sold 1766 to General Sir George Augustus Elliot (1717-90), 1st Baron Heathfield; sold 1791 to Francis Newberry (1743-1818); sold 1819 to Sir Charles Richard Blunt (1775-1840), 4th bt. ; to Sir Walter Blunt (1826-47), 5th bt.; to Sir Charles William Blunt (1810-90), 6th bt.; sold 1890 to tenant, Francis Henry Scott; sold 1895 to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) sold before 1918 to his daughter Mrs. Grace Lister (1867-1959); sold by 1927 to James Groves; sold 1935 to Harry Clifford-Turner, a London solicitor; sold 1942 and used by military in WW2; sold to Captain Derek Joseph Barrington Fitzgerald; sold 1963 to Dr. & Mrs. Gerald Moore; sold 1993 to Ugland family; sold c.2002 to Dominic Mark Joseph Wainford (b. 1967)

Winterbourne Stoke Manor House, Wiltshire
The manor house is a long gabled building of flint and chalk chequer work. The central range and northern wing are early 17th-century and a southern service wing was added in the later 17th century, forming a U-shaped house with its open court to the west.  There are tall mullioned ground-floor windows with a continuous string-course instead of hood-moulds and prominent relieving arches over the windows.  The house was substantially extended northwards c. 1920 when new kitchens and servants' rooms were added.

Descent: Sir Walter Hungerford (d. 1596); to half-brother, Sir Edward Hungerford (d. 1607); to great-nephew, Sir Edward Hungerford (d. 1648); to half-brother, Anthony Hungerford (d. 1657); to son, Sir Edward Hungerford, who sold 1674 to Sir John Nicholas (d. 1704); to son, Edward Nicholas, who sold 1715 to John Howe (d. 1721); to son, John Howe (d. 1742), 1st Baron Chedworth; to son, John Howe (d. 1762), 2nd Baron Chedworth; to Henry Howe (d. 1781), 3rd Baron Chedworth; to son, John Howe (d. 1802), 4th Baron Chedworth; sold 1807 to Alexander Baring (d. 1848), 1st Baron Ashburton; to son, William Baring (d. 1864), 2nd Baron Ashburton; to brother, Francis Baring (d. 1868), 3rd Baron Ashburton; to son, Alexander Baring (d. 1889), 4th Baron Ashburton; to son, Francis Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton; sold c.1896 to E.T. Hooley, who became bankrupt; sold 1899 to Sir Christopher Furniss; sold 1909/10 to Cary Coles (fl. 1915); sold c.1918 to George Cleverly Alexander (1868-1959), who sold 1945 to L.E. Turner; sold 1958 to son, J.L. Turner (fl. 1992).


Brandfold, Goudhurst, Kent

A house was built on this site about 1820, probably for Charles Sneyd Edgeworth, the son of Richard Lovell Edgeworth and half-brother of Maria Edgeworth.  Maria wrote following a visit to him in 1830:
Brandfold is a very pretty place, and to me a very pleasant house. The library, the principal room, has a trellis along the whole front, with 'spagnolette windows opening into it, and a pretty conservatory at the end, with another glass door opening into it. The views seen between the arches of the trellis beautiful; flower-knots in the grass, with stocks, hydrangeas, and crimson and pale China roses in profuse blow. Sneyd enjoys everything about him so much, it is quite delightful to see him in his home.
This rather charming sounding house was apparently taken down and completely rebuilt in 1872. The replacement house was described in 1882 as 'an entirely new Tudor mansion in red brick and stone with a fine library and a private chapel, built by the late Joseph Ridgeway, late of Fairlawn'.


Brandfold, Goudhurst, from an old postcard.



Brandfold was remodelled and enlarged again in 1891 by Sir Reginald Blomfield for Robert Henry Alexander. The interior was elaborately fitted in the Arts & Crafts style.  The house was empty during the First World War and was considered for conversion to a war hospital in 1917, but this did not happen and it was demolished between 1927 and 1930.

Descent: Miss Edgeworth (date unknown); Charles Sneyd Edgeworth (1786-1864) let to Thomas Cramer Roberts (fl. 1842) and later Mrs Cramer Roberts (fl. 1851-67); sold c.1870? to Joseph Ridgeway (1821-79); to Hon. John Stewart Gathorne-Hardy (1839-1911), later 2nd Earl of Cranbrook; sold c.1890 to Robert Henry Alexander (1838-1901); to widow, Catherine Yates Alexander (1838-1914); sold to Alfred Stern (1850-1917), a lunatic in the charge of Dr. William Douglas; empty 1917-18; sold before 1922 to Lt-Col. Cole Bryan Bartley OBE; demolished c.1930.


The Alexanders of Aubrey House, Heathfield Park and Winterbourne Stoke



Alexander, William (1769-1819).  Second son of William Alexander (1733-85) of Rochester (Kent), a Quaker shipbuilder and teacher, and his wife Elizabeth Day, born 31 January 1769.  Clerk with Smith, Wright & Cay, bankers,1792; Head Clerk, Roberts & Curtis; Partner in John Rickman & Co., bill brokers 1806-10; founded Alexander's Bank, 33 Lombard Street, 16 Jul 1810, which was continued after his accidental death by his widow. He married, 13 February 1801 in Doncaster (Yorks), Ann (1775-1861), daughter of William Barber, and had issue:
(1) George William Alexander (1802-90) (q.v.);
(2) Mary Barber Alexander (1804-1907) of Eckington Villa, London Road, Reigate (Surrey), born 11 September 1804; died unmarried, 25 February 1907, aged 102; will proved 24 April 1907 (estate £22,525);
(3) William Dollin Alexander (1805-87) of Summit House, Upper Clapton (Middx) and Broomhill Bank, Speldhurst (Kent), born 24 January 1805; partner in A. & G.M. Alexander; member of Worshipful Company of Plasterers by 1872; JP for Middlesex and Kent; married, 11 October 1851, Julian Ann Mary (d. 1878), daughter of John Joseph Tanner; died without issue in Brighton, 23 April 1887; will proved 15 June 1887 (estate £381,674);
(4) Henry Alexander (1808-99) of Cirencester, born 6 June 1808; ironmonger, millwright and ironfounder at Cirencester; left the Quakers by 1875; married at Calne (Wilts), 27 February 1835, Catherine (1805-82), daughter of Joseph Fry Gundry and had issue three sons and six daughters; died 19 September 1899; will proved 30 September 1899 (estate £1132);
(5) Samuel Alexander (1809-84) of Cirencester, born 26 August 1809; ironmonger at Cirencester and Gloucester (Glos), Bath (Somerset) and Leominster (Herefs); married first, Alice (b. 1812), daughter of Peter Taylor, and second, 30 September 1835 at Calne, Sarah (1809-60), daughter of Joseph Fry Gundry and had issue four sons; died at Leominster, 26 May 1884; will proved 10 February 1885 (estate £8,355);
(6) Frederick Alexander (1810-93) of Holloway (Middx) and later of Clifton, Bristol, born 13 April 1810; accountant; married, December 1839, Rebecca Capper (who petitioned for divorce on grounds of cruelty, 1870) and had issue four sons and one daughter; died 12 July 1893; will proved 5 September 1893 (estate £520);
(7) Elizabeth Alexander (1813-1907) of Eckington Villa, Reigate, born 13 April 1813; died unmarried, 12 February 1907; will proved November 1907 (estate £19,413);
(8) Sarah Ann Alexander (1817-1918) of Eckington Villa, Reigate, born 15 January 1817; died unmarried, 14 January 1918, aged 100; will proved 14 March 1918 (estate £2,413);
(9) Jane Alexander; perhaps died young.
He died 12 November 1819 after a fall from a coach, and was buried at Bunhill Fields, London.


George William Alexander: detail from
B. Haydon's picture of the 1840
Anti-Slavery Convention in London
Alexander, George William (1802-90), of Woodhatch House, Reigate (Surrey). Eldest son of William Alexander (1769-1819) and his wife Ann, daughter of William Barber, born 25 April 1802. Educated at William Rickman's School, Rochester (Kent), 1806-16; banker and bill broker; partner in Alexanders & Co. of London in 1888; Treasurer of the British & Foreign Anti-Slavery Committee for 40 years; published Letters on the Slave Trade, 1842; co-founder of the London Hospital for Diseases of the Chest (Victoria Park Hospital), 1848; travelled in Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden to promote anti-slavery measures with Benjamin Barron Wiffen and James Whitehorn, 1839 and to the West Indies with his second wife and John and Maria Candler, 1849-50.  He married first, 5 February 1835 at Rochester (Kent), Sarah Cleverly (1801-43), daughter of Robert Horsnaill, and second, 16 July 1845 at Dover (Kent), Catherine (1806-78), daughter of William Horsnaill, and had issue:
(1.1) Mary Ann Alexander (1836-1920) of Fulner House, Worthing (Sussex), born 29 May or 5 October 1836; died unmarried, 3 January 1920; will proved 3 March 1920 (estate £108,669);
(1.2) Robert Henry Alexander (1838-1901) of 24 Hans Place, Chelsea and Brandfold, Goudhurst (Kent), born 2 May 1838; banker and bill broker; partner in the family firm, 1855-1900 and chairman, 1891-1900; married, 2 May 1859, Catherine Yates (1838-1914), daughter of William Thomas Beeby and had issue six sons and two daughters; died 26 May 1901 and was buried at Goudhurst; will proved 31 July 1901 (estate £295,810);
(1.3) William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) (q.v.);
(1.4) Henrietta Alexander (c.1843-46), born about 1843; died young, 8 September 1846;
(2.1) Priscilla Alexander (1853-64), born 2 July 1853; died young, 14 September 1864.
By 1850 he lived at a house in Paradise Row, Stoke Newington (Middx), which was later called The Willows or Kennaway House, and which he rebuilt in 1870.  He also purchased Woodhatch House, Reigate (Surrey).
He died 23 or 24 November 1890 at Woodhatch House, aged 88; his will was proved 24 December 1890 (estae £227,610).  His first wife died 20 June 1843 at Northfleet (Kent); his second wife died 8 June and was buried 12 June 1878.

Alexander, William Cleverly (1840-1916), of Aubrey House and Heathfield Park.  Second son of George William Alexander (1802-90) and his first wife Sarah Cleverly, daughter of Robert Horsnaill, born 21 April 1840.  Banker and bill broker; partner in the family firm, 1858-1901; member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club and a founder member of the National Art Collections Fund; he was a noted collector of Oriental art and a patron of James McNeill Whistler and friend of Roger Fry; he left the Quakers and joined the Church of England by 1867.  He married, 29 August 1861, Rachel Agnes (1837-1900), daughter of Jeffery Lucas of Hitchin (Herts) and had issue:
(1) Agnes Mary Alexander (1862-1950), born 7 November 1862; baptised, 18 October 1867; died unmarried, 21 April 1950; will proved 31 July 1950 (estate £141,295);
(2) Cicely Henrietta Alexander (1864-1932) of The Glebe House, Burwash (Sussex); baptised 18 October 1867; married, 21 February 1906, Bernard Wilfred Charles (1869-1953), son of Hon. Charles William Thomas Spring-Rice; died 1 March 1932;
(3) William Geoffrey Alexander (1865-1911); baptised 18 October 1867; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge; banker and bill broker; director of the family firm from 1891; married, 1 December 1887, Beatrice Rose (1865-1913), daughter of Daniel Fearon and had issue one daughter; died 15 September 1911; will proved 4 November 1911 (estate £110,502);
(4) Helen Christina Alexander (1866-97); baptised 18 October 1867; died unmarried at Newton Abbot (Devon), 22 October 1897; will proved 1 December 1897 (estate £215);
(5) Grace Lister Alexander (1867-1959); baptised 18 October 1868; married, 18 April 1894, Col. Sir William Tindall Lister (1868-1944), eye surgeon, son of Arthur Hugh Lister and had issue five sons; died 2 November 1959, aged 92; her will was proved 4 January 1960 (estate £71,021;
(6) George Cleverly Alexander (1868-1959) (q.v.);
(7) Emily Margaret Alexander (1871-1962); born 6 May and baptised 11 June 1871; married, 1897 at Hailsham (Sussex), Cmdr. Francis Goodyere Dineley RN (1865-1908) and had issue; died 14 December 1962; will proved 29 August 1963 (estate £106,845);
(8) Rachel Frances Alexander (1875-1964), born 13 May and baptised 19 June 1875; died unmarried, 8 December 1964; will proved 24 June 1965 (estate £235,296)
(9) Jean Ingelow Alexander (1877-1972), born 20 April and baptised 25 June 1877; trustee of the will of Ellen Beck, suffragette, 1940; died unmarried in Kensington (Middx), 1972, aged 95.
He rented Harringay House (Middx), 1869-73, but purchased Aubrey House, Kensington in 1873 and Heathfield Park (Sussex) in 1895.
He died after a fall down the basement stairs at Heathfield Park, 17 April 1916; his will was proved 31 August 1916 (estate £407, 093).  His wife died 31 July 1900.

Alexander, George Cleverly (1868-1959) of Winterbourne Stoke Manor House (Wilts). Younger son of William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) and his wife Rachel Agnes, daughter of Jeffery Lucas, baptised 18 December 1868.  Educated at Eton; served in Oxfordshire Imperial Yeomanry during Boer War, 1900-02; director of Alexander & Co. from 1910; JP for Wiltshire, 1927.  He was unmarried and without issue.
He purchased Winterbourne Stoke Manor House in about 1918 but sold it in 1945.
He died at Brantridge Forest, 9 February 1959 and his will was proved 19 May 1959 (estate £59,130).


Sources

Augustus J.C. Hare (ed.), The life and letters of Maria Edgeworth, 1971 edn., vol. 1, unpaginated; F.H.W. Sheppard (ed), Survey of London, vol. 37: North Kensington, 1973, pp. 87-89; R.A. Fellows, Sir Reginald Blomfield: an Edwardian architect, 1985, pp. 48-49; S. Farrant, 'The development of landscape parks and gardens in eastern Sussex, c.1700 to 1820 - a guide and gazetteer', Garden History, 17(2), 1989, pp. 175-76; D.A. Crowley et al (eds), VCH Wiltshire, vol. 15, pp. 275-84; J.M. Robinson, James Wyatt: architect to George III, 2012, p. 336; N. Antram & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Sussex - East, 2013, pp. 473-74; M. Easdown, Lost country houses of Kent, 2017, p. 33;  www.pennyghael.org.uk/Alexander.pdf ; Kent History & Library Centre, U78/T159.


Location of archives

Alexander family of Aubrey House, Kensington: deeds, estate and family papers, 1861-1983 (Kensington & Chelsea Libraries, 5024-5133, 48882-49005); personal papers and photographs (Kensington & Chelsea Libraries, Local Studies 47810-33)


Coat of arms

None recorded.


Revision & Acknowledgements


This account was first published 20 October 2013 and was revised on 29 March 2014, 2 January 2016 and 28 October 2017. I am grateful to Jeremy Musson and Chris Whittick for additional information, and to David Brown for additional images.

5 comments:

  1. My grandfather was Henry Lethbridge Alexander, {General] ist marriage to Sylvia ?
    [Dates unknown] 2nd marriage To Dorothy Blanche Long.[dates unknown] 5 descendants of which my Father Henry Templer Alexander b. May 17th 19011. d. March 17th 1977.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Catherine,

      There is a connection with this family. The General's father was John William Alexander (b. 1846), architect and his mother was Florence Templer. John William Alexander was the third son of Frederick Alexander (1810-93) recorded above.

      Nick Kingsley

      Delete
  2. This was fascinating to come across whilst researching my family tree. William Alexander (1769-1819) was my 4x great grandfather and Samuel Alexander of Cirencester is my 3x great grandfather. Sarah Elliott (nee Alexander)

    ReplyDelete
  3. My 4x great grandfather was William Alexander (1769-1819) and my 3x great grandfather is Samuel Alexander. This was a fascinating article to come across whilst researching my Quaker background.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There is a motto and coat of arms as my brother has georgian silver, 'semper vigilans .'

    ReplyDelete

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