|Puttenden Manor, Lingfield: a 15th century hall house |
extended in the 17th and 19th centuries. It was bought by Abraham
Atkins in 1750 and remained the property of his successors until 1878.
Edwin, who was perhaps the first member of the family to live full-time at Kingston Lisle, served as High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1794, but died just five years later. His son and heir, Atkins Edwin Martin-Atkins (1778-1825), added wings to the early 18th century house at Kingston Lisle and may have rebuilt or refenestrated the garden front. He too died relatively young and his heir, Edwin Martin-Atkins (1808-59), did not come of age until 1829. He later commissioned an internal remodelling of Kingston Lisle, creating the dramatic sequence of circulation spaces for which the house is now famous; there appears to be no documentary evidence to identify his architect, but it may have been C.R. Cockerell, who worked extensively in nearby Oxford at this period. Edwin Martin-Atkins was a stereotypical Victorian landowner, interested in hunting and archaeology, and provided the model for the character 'The Squire' in Tom Brown's Schooldays, set at Rugby School, written by Thomas Hughes and published in 1857. Like Hughes, Edwin had been a pupil at Rugby, although his time there predated Thomas Arnold's headmastership, during which the story was set.
In 1859, Edwin was succeeded by his son and namesake, Edwin Martin-Atkins (1838-75), who in 1865 married Amy Hutton. She had been born and brought up in Victoria, Australia, where her father was a large-scale run-holder who returned to England in 1855. They had five children before Edwin died, aged just 37, in 1875. His trustees then let Kingston Lisle and sold Puttenden Manor, but both Edwin's sons died before coming of age, and Kingston Lisle ultimately passed to his only surviving daughter, Edith Amy Martin-Atkins (1868-1948), who sold it in 1908. After the death of her mother in 1895 she lived for more than fifty years with her companion, Marianne Ward (d. 1947) in and around Bath (Somerset).
Kingston Lisle House, Berkshire
Kingston Lisle is one of the major country houses of Berkshire, but it has a remarkably obscure architectural history because of the lack of documentary or other reliable dating evidence. The account of its development that follows differs in some respects from the view taken by other writers, and must be regarded as speculative and provisional. One must hope that in the future either documentary or structural evidence will allow a more authoritative account to be written.
Nothing is known of the manor house that must have existed here before the late 17th century, but it is possible that the low ceiling heights of the three storey rear pile of the present house reflects its structure. Probably in the late 17th century, this house was absorbed into a new compact double-pile house of the Coleshill type with the hipped roof, balustrade and cupola which are recorded in early photographs but which were taken down in the early 20th century. A datestone of 1677 with the initials GH (for the wife of the owner, Humphrey Hyde), now in the loggia on the south front, may refer to this phase of building.
|Kingston Lisle House in the early 20th century, when the original rooftop balustrade and cupola were in place.|
|Kingston Lisle House: the entrance front today.|
|Kingston Bagpuize House: the dining room in 1919, Image: Country Life|
The next changes were made for Atkins Edwin Martin-Atkins (1778-1825), who employed Richard Pace of Lechlade in 1812 to add lower wings to the north front, each of two storeys and three bays. These appear on Pace's trade card of 1830, where he mysteriously gives the centre four storeys rather than two-and-a-half and removes the cupola which existed at that time. Does this perhaps hint that he made unexecuted proposals for remodelling the central block?
|Richard Pace & Son: tradecard, 1830. Image: Bodleian Library MS. Eng. misc. c.298.|
|Kingston Lisle House: garden front as rebuilt c.1820-25.|
Probably before his early death in 1825, Atkyns Atkyns carried out further work on the house, rebuilding or at least remodelling the garden front with three storeys and three bays of widely-spaced tripartite windows, a broad doorway flanked by Greek Doric columns, and an unusual arrangement of three parallel roofs. An aerial view of the house shows that the south side of the central block is actually a little taller and wider than the north side, and also deeper than the front pile. This means either that the depth of the rear pile was increased when it was altered in the 1820s, or that the original balustraded lead flat and cupola of the 1677 house were not positioned above the centre of the house as one would expect. The low rooms behind the new garden front are very modestly decorated, with some reused 17th century panelling, and neither they nor the exterior give any hint of the remarkably sophisticated circulation spaces between the front and back ranges of the house which it has always been assumed were created at the same time. The front range had very high rooms on the ground floor and much lower ones above, and the rear range less disparity in ceiling heights between the floors. To connect the very different floor levels in the two piles of the house, a new staircase was constructed with two flying flights connecting the different levels and balustrades of wrought iron. The staircase hall has an oblong groin vault of Soanian character, and the whole is very sparely decorated.
|Kingston Lisle House: the staircase, perhaps created c.1820-25|
|Kingston Lisle House: the entrance hall, 1919. The window at the end originally opened into the conservatory shown above. Image: Country Life|
|Kingston Lisle House: the vestibule between the entrance hall and staircase|
The question is: who designed these richly decorated spaces? The similarity of spirit between the design of the entrance hall and vestibule and works by C.R. Cockerell, not least the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (1841-45), has led many historians to suggest his name. Previous writers have assumed that the staircase was part of the same scheme as the approach to it (and that is still a possibility); the inclusion of Soanian elements there has also led to the alternative suggestion that one of Soane's pupils, perhaps George Basevi, could have been involved. Marcus Binney, however, writing in Country Life in 1971, noticed "certain elements that seem uncharacteristic of a professional architect like Cockerell or Basevi", and suggested an amateur designer, perhaps Edwin Martin-Atkins himself or one of his friends. To my eye, however, the solecisms Binney detected are relatively minor, and the entrance hall and vestibule have an élan which an amateur would find it difficult to achieve without a great deal of previous experience. And there is no evidence that Atkins was a closet Michelangelo; his recorded interests were in hunting and archaeology; indeed he was so much the stereotypical landowner as to be the avowed model for 'The Squire' in Tom Brown's Schooldays. I therefore take the view that Martin-Atkins brought in a professional architect, most probably Cockerell, in the early to mid 1840s to smarten up the interior. He would surely have known Cockerell's work from the Ashmolean and perhaps from his work at Queen's College (he appointed a Fellow of Queen's as rector of Kingston Lisle in 1841). Incidentally, the bow-windowed Billiard Room on the east of the house was originally decorated in equally sumptuous fashion, but was marred by a false ceiling inserted in the 1960s. The demolished conservatory was probably also part of the 1840s scheme.
|Kingston Lisle House: conservatory (demolished)|
The park was landscaped in the 18th century, presumably after hamlet of Kingston Lisle was enclosed in 1777, and there is a series of artificial lakes created in 1812 east of the house. The stable block to the north-west is of chalk, and was built 1812-15, with Gothic detailing and a clock turret over the gabled two-storey central portion; it is likely to be another work by Richard Pace. There is a lodge of similar date and style, with 18th century gatepiers.
Descent: sold 1538 to William Hyde of Denchworth... Sir George Hyde (d. 1623); to son, Humphrey Hyde (d. 1673); to son, Humphrey Hyde (d. 1696); to son, John Hyde (d. 1703); to brother, Frederick Hyde; to son, John Hyde (fl. 1716); to widow Jane and son John Hyde, who sold 1749 to Abraham Atkins (c.1716-92); to nephew, Edwin Martin (later Martin-Atkins) (1741-99); to son, Atkins Edwin Martin-Atkins (1778-1825); to son, Edwin Martin-Atkins (1808-59); to son, Edwin Martin-Atkins (1838-75); to son, Edwin Martin-Atkins (1870-83); to brother, Charles Edwin Martin-Atkins (1872-84); to sister, Edith Amy Martin-Atkins (1868-1948) who let to Col. V.W.B. van de Weyer (fl. 1885-89) and Charles A. Prioleau (fl. 1900) and sold 1908 to Mrs Florence A. Stevens (d. 1940), wife of Edmund Stevens; sold 1922? to Sir Hugo Fitzherbert, 6th bt. (d. 1934); sold to Mr & Mrs W. Murray (fl. 1939); sold 1943 to Capt. (Thomas) Leopold McClintock Lonsdale (1899-1985), banker; to grandson, Jamie Lonsdale (b. 1959); the house was for sale in 2016.
Atkins family of Kingston Lisle
Atkins, Abraham (c.1685-1742). Son of Abraham Atkins (d. 1706) of Southwark, a nonconformist linen draper, and his wife Margaret, born c.1685. He was probably a nonconformist in religion. He was cut off with a shilling in his father's will but became a successful speculator in the South Sea Co. and East India Co stock. He married and had issue:
(1) Jane Atkins (c.1712-43); married, 1736, Fraser Honywood MP (c.1708-64) and had issue one son, who died in the lifetime of his father; probably the person of this name who was buried at Horsham (Sussex), 19 January 1743;
(2) Abraham Atkins (c.1716-92) (q.v.);
(3) Susannah Atkins (c.1719-84) (q.v.).
He lived at Clapham (Surrey).
He died about June 1742; his will was proved 3 July 1742. His wife predeceased him.
Atkins, Abraham (c.1716-92). Son of Abraham Atkins (d. 1742) of London and Clapham, born about 1716. High Sheriff of Surrey, 1747. A Governor of the Magdalen Hospital, London, 1776. He unsuccessfully claimed the abeyant Barony of de L'Isle in 1790 on the basis of his tenure of the manor of Kingston Lisle. A Baptist in religion, from 1786 onwards he endowed fourteen chapels and other Baptist causes through a series of trust deeds. He left his body to be dissected for the benefit of medical science. He married 1st, 25 May 1749 in the Royal Chapel at Hampton Court (Middx), Alice Crawley (d. 1776), and 2nd, 1 June 1776 at St Leonard, Shoreditch (Middx), Susannah (1742-92), daughter of William Shelford of Hoxton Square, London, and had issue:
(1.1) Abraham Crawley Atkins (1750-60), baptised 28 November 1750 at St Stephen Coleman, London; buried at Lingfield, 24 March 1760;
(1.2) Alice Atkins (1753-61), born 20 October and baptised at St Anne, Soho, London, 23 November 1753; buried at Lingfield, 10 April 1761.
He purchased the Kingston Lisle estate in 1746 or 1747 and the Puttenden Manor estate at Lingfield c.1750. In 1777 he inherited the manor of Chimneys (Oxon) from John Baskerville, part of which he assigned to charitable purposes, and the remainer of which passed at his death with his other property to his nephew, Edwin Martin.
He died 'in his 77th year' at Clapham, 2 March 1792 and was buried at Lingfield, 9 March 1792; his will was proved 12 March 1792. His first wife was buried at Lingfield, 5 February 1776. His second wife was buried at Lingfield, 27 December 1791.
Atkins, Susannah (c.1719-84). Younger daughter of Abraham Atkins (c.1685-1742) of Clapham, born about 1719. She married, 16 February 1738/9, Edwin Martin (d. 1777) of London and Reading, merchant, possibly son of David Martin of Hackney and his wife Susanna (d. 1754), and had issue:
(1) Atkins Martin (1740-53), baptised at St Stephen Coleman, London, 24 January 1739/40; died young and was buried at St Mary, Reading, 24 June 1753;
(2) Edwin Martin (later Martin-Atkins) (1741-99) (q.v.).
She lived at Southcot, Reading (Berks) and later at Pangbourne (Berks).
She was buried at St Mary, Reading, 8 September 1784. Her husband was buried at St Mary, Reading, 26 May 1777.
Martin (later Martin-Atkins), Edwin (1741-99). Son of Edwin Martin (d. 1777) and his wife Susannah (c.1719-84), daughter of Abraham Atkins, baptised 25 June 1741 at St Stephen Coleman, London. He took the additional name of Atkins by royal licence, 21 March 1792. Educated at Hertford College (admitted 1759; Hon. DCL, 1793). High Sheriff of Berkshire, 1794. He married, 15 July 1773 at Holy Trinity, Clapham (Surrey), Ellen Frances (1752-1831), daughter of William Halhed esq., and had issue (perhaps among others):
(1) Frances Belinda Martin-Atkins* (1777-95), born 11 May and baptised at Holy Trinity, Clapham, 17 May 1777; said to have died in 1795;
(2) Atkins Edward Martin-Atkins* (1778-1825) (q.v.);
(3) Susanna Louisa Martin-Atkins* (1780-1863), baptised at Holy Trinity, Clapham (Surrey), 26 April 1780; married, 30 June 1803 at Kingston Lisle, William Ward Jackson of Normanby (Yorks); died 18 January 1863, aged 83;
(4) Alicia Ellen Martin-Atkins* (c.1786-1850?); married, 23 July 1807 at Kingston Lisle, Commander James Pearson (d. 1823) of HEICS, and had issue four children; possibly to be identified with the 'Alice Ellen Pearson' who died in Jan-Mar 1850.
He inherited the Priory near Reading from his father in 1777, and the Kingston Lisle and Puttenden Manor estates from his uncle in 1792. The Priory was left to his widow for life and then sold.
He died on 30 July 1799; his will was proved 20 September 1799. His widow died 6 March 1831.
* Baptised as Martin, but assumed the name Martin-Atkins from 1792.
Martin-Atkins, Atkins Edwin (1778-1825). Son of Edwin Martin (later Martin-Atkins) (d. 1799) and his wife Ellen Frances, daughter of William Halhed, born 20 June and baptised at Holy Trinity, Clapham (Surrey), 22 June 1778. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1797). An officer in the Berkshire Cavalry Volunteers (Lt., 1797). Appointed a Governor of Wantage Town Lands, 1814. He married, 19 May 1806 at St. Marylebone (Middx), Ann (1787-1818), daughter of Maj. William Cook, and had issue:
(1) Ellen Martin-Atkins (1807-84), baptised 5 April 1807 at Kingston Lisle; married, 18 August 1853 at Tilehurst (Berks), her cousin, Rev. Thomas Everett (1803-60) of Biddlesden House (Wilts), but had no issue; died 11 February 1884;
(2) Edwin Martin-Atkins (1808-59) (q.v.);
(3) twin, Belinda Martin-Atkins (1809-81), baptised 17 September 1809 at Kingston Lisle; died unmarried in Reading (Berks), 6 October 1881;
(4) twin, Louisa Martin-Atkins (1809-79), baptised 17 September 1809 at Kingston Lisle; married, 14 August 1835 at Kingston Lisle, Thomas Thornhill Morland (d. 1848) of Sheepstead House, nr. Abingdon (Berks), but had no issue; died 23 December 1879; will proved 17 February 1880 (effects under £25,000);
(5) Capt. William Hastings Martin-Atkins (1811-81), of Farley Castle, born 10 May 1811; educated at University College, Oxford (matriculated 1829; BA 1832); ordained deacon, 1834 and priest, 1835 but apparently later resigned from holy orders; an officer in the Reading Volunteers and the Berkshire militia (Capt.); JP for Berkshire; married 1st, 29 October 1844 at Kew (Surrey), Diana Mary (d. 1862), second daughter of Rev. Thomas Wyld of Blunsdon St. Andrew (Wilts) and widow of John Tyrrell esq. of Kew; married 2nd, 30 May 1865 at St Mary, Reading (Berks), Georgiana (1811-1902), daughter of George Edward Beauchamp-Proctor of Thetford (Norfk) and widow of Edward Lloyd Edwards of Cerrig Llwydion (Denbighs.), but had no issue; died 28 July 1881; will proved 21 November 1881 (effects £8,007);
(6) Ann Martin-Atkins (c.1813-48); died unmarried at Purley Hall (Berks), 5 September 1848, aged 35;
(7) George Martin-Atkins (1815-84); educated at Rugby and Downing College, Cambridge (admitted 1841); died unmarried at Fernham (Berks), 27 March 1884; will proved 26 June 1884 (effects £21,204);
(8) twin?, Henry Martin-Atkins (1818-42); educated at Merton College, Oxford (matriculated 1835); Lieutenant in 53rd Regiment; died unmarried at Edinburgh of smallpox, 5 November 1842;
(9) twin?, Frances Martin-Atkins (1818-51); married, 24 February 1838, Rev. William Thomas Wyld (1805-73), rector of Woodborough (Wilts), and had issue; died 13 March 1851.
He inherited the Kingston Lisle and Puttenden Manor estates from his father in 1799 and let Kingston Lisle house for two years from 1803. In 1812 he added wings to the house at to the design of Richard Pace; he probably also rebuilt the rear of the house in the 1820s.
He died in 1825; his will was proved 28 June 1825. His wife died 9 March 1818, probably in childbirth.
Martin-Atkins, Edwin (1808-59). Eldest son of Atkins Edward Martin-Atkins (1778-1825) and his wife Ann, younger daughter of Maj. William Cook, born 3 July and baptised 3 August 1808 at Walcot (Somerset). Educated at Rugby and Magdalen College, Oxford (admitted 1825; Demy; BA 1829). High Sheriff of Berkshire, 1844. He was an enthusiastic member of the local Hunt and President of the Old Berkshire Hunt Club; the character of 'The Squire' in Tom Brown's Schooldays was based on him. Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; he was 'a rather accomplished archaeological excavator by the standards of the time'. He married, 22 December 1835 at Marcham (Berks), Caroline (1814-66), eldest daughter of Thomas Duffield MP of Marcham Park, and had issue:
(1) Ann Emily Martin-Atkins (1837-55), born 21 January 1837; died unmarried, 2 December 1855;
(2) Edwin Martin-Atkins (1838-75) (q.v.);
(3) A daughter (b. & d. 1839), born 11 November 1839 but survived 'only a brief while' and died the same day;
(4) Albert George Martin-Atkins (b. & d. 1841), born 14 July 1841, who 'survived his birth only a few hours' and died the same day;
(5) George Augustus Martin-Atkins (1842-1908), born 29 July 1842; educated at Trinity College, Oxford (matriculated 1862; BA 1866; MA 1885); died unmarried in Clifton, Bristol, 23 May 1908; administration of his goods granted 1 August 1908 (estate £30,690);
(6) Caroline Louisa Martin-Atkins (1843-1923), born 20 November 1843; married, 11 July 1872 at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London, Charles Collins (1839-1907) of Reading (Berks), third son of Rev. J.F. Collins of Betterton (Berks) and had issue; died 25 November 1923; will proved 1 April 1924 (estate £17,644);
(7) Alice Maria Martin-Atkins (1845-1937), born 9 August 1845; lived with her brother George in Clifton; died unmarried, 9 August 1937, aged 92 and was buried at Redland, Bristol, 12 August 1937; will proved 21 January 1938 (estate £42,212);
(8) Clara Belinda Martin-Atkins (1847-76), born 19 May 1847; married, 26 July 1864 at St Paul, Clifton, Bristol, Capt. Arthur Mowbray Jones (1826-89) of Clifton, and had issue one son and three daughters; died 12 November 1876;
(9) Ernest Edwin Martin-Atkins (1848-1937), born 1 August 1848; married, 2 August 1871 at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London, Adele Millicent, daughter of J.S. Phillips of Culham House (Oxon), and had issue; lived at Chieveley (Berks); died 27 July 1937, aged 89; will proved 3 December 1937 (estate £2,399);
(10) Francis Hastings Martin-Atkins (1850-1931), born 26 July 1850; married, 13 October 1891, Arabella Margaret Dorothea (1854-1944), daughter of Lt-Gen. William Johnson of Wytham Hall (Lincs); died 17 August 1931; will proved 14 October 1931 (estate £11,130);
(11) Frederick William Martin-Atkins (1852-69), born 15 February 1852; died unmarried at Malvern (Worcs), 19 November 1869.
He inherited the Kingston Lisle and Puttenden Manor estates from his father in 1825, came of age in 1829, and remodelled the house at Kingston Lisle, probably in the 1840s.
He died at Weston-super-Mare (Somerset), 5 May 1859; his will was proved July 1859 and 29 June 1861 (effects under £25,000). His widow died 16 November 1866; will proved 27 December 1866 (effects under £5,000).
Martin-Atkins, Edwin (1838-75). Eldest son of Edwin Martin Atkins (1808-59) and his wife Caroline, eldest daughter of Thomas Duffield of Marcham Park (Berks), born 9 December 1838. He was a Lieutenant in the Berkshire Yeomanry Cavalry and Captain of the Wantage Rifle Corps; JP for Berkshire. He married 1st, 9 January 1862 at Wytham-on-the-Hill (Lincs), Mary Georgiana Louisa (c.1839-63), second daughter of Lt-Gen. William Augustus Johnson of Wytham-on-the-Hill (Lincs), and 2nd, 31 October 1865 at Bath Abbey, Amy (1848-95), second daughter of Charles Hutton esq. of Merri Creek, Victoria (Australia) and later of Bath (Somerset), and had issue:
(1.1) Edwin Martin-Atkins (b. & d. 1863), born 18 December and died in infancy, 19 December 1863;
(2.1) Mary Georgiana Martin-Atkins (1866-83), born 30 August 1866; died unmarried, 3 September 1883;
(2.2) Edith Amy Martin-Atkins (1868-1948) (q.v.);
(2.3) Edwin Martin-Atkins (1870-83), born 18 May 1870; died young, 30 December 1883;
(2.4) Charles Edwin Martin-Atkins (1872-84), born 9 January 1872; died young, 30 April 1884;
(2.5) Alfred Edwin Martin-Atkins (1874-76), born April 1874; died at Middle Brighton, Victoria (Australia), 19 August 1876.
He inherited the Kingston Lisle and Puttenden Manor estates from his father in 1859. After his death, Puttendon Manor was sold in 1878, and the Kingston Lisle estate passed in turn to his sons Edwin (d. 1883) and Charles (d. 1884), and to his daughter Edith, but it was leased out.
He died 6 May 1875; his will was proved 31 August 1875. His first wife died following childbirth, 21/26 December 1863. His widow died at The Priory, Bathwick Hill, Bath (Somerset), 30 October 1895; her will was proved 10 April 1896 (effects £14,797).
Martin-Atkins, Edith Amy (1868-1948). Younger daughter of Edwin Martin Atkins (1838-75) and his second wife Amy, second daughter of Charles Hutton esq. of Bath (Somerset), born 5 July 1868. She lived for 51 years with her friend, Marianne Ward (d. 1947), in Bath.
She died 4 April 1948; her will was proved 28 June 1948 (estate £163,201).
Burke's Landed Gentry, 1886, pp. 53-54; VCH Berkshire, vol. 4, pp. 311-19; Marcus Binney, 'Kingston Lisle Park, Berkshire', Country Life, 17 June 1971, pp 1524-1527; G. Tyack, S. Bradley & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Berkshire, 2nd edn., 2010, pp. 345-46.
Location of archives
Atkins family of Kingston Lisle: deeds and papers, c.1200-1851 [Berkshire Record Office, D/EFh]
Coat of arms
According to Burke's General Armory, 1884, the family bore the arms of Atkins and Martin quarterly, but the same source gives several different coats of arms for different Atkins families, and it is not clear which one they used.
Can you help?
Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
- Can anyone provide an illustration or heraldic description of the Martin-Atkins coat of arms?
- I would welcome further information on the architectural development of Kingston Lisle House, or views on my interpretation of its development.
- Can anyone demonstrate a link between the Atkins baronets of Clapham and Abraham Atkins (d. 1742)?
- Further information about the character and interests of Edwin Martin-Atkins (1808-59) would be very welcome. Can anyone show that he did have architectural interests?
Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 7th October 2016. I am grateful to Gareth Hughes for his observations on the development of Kingston Lisle.