Friday 5 April 2013

(24) Adair of Heatherton Park (Somerset) and Colehayes (Devon)

Adair of Somerset coat of arms
(Hugh) William Adair (1754-1844) (see the post on the Adairs of Ballymena and Flixton) purchased the Heatherton Park estate in 1807 from the Gunston family.  At his death it passed, with Colehayes Park (Devon) to his second surviving son, Alexander Adair (1791-1863).  He had seven children, of whom the eldest, Brig-Gen. Alexander William Adair (1829-89) inherited both properties but sold Colehayes by 1880 and leased Heatherton in that year; it was sold in 1890.  He then moved to a house called Heatherton Grange (formerly the Black Lion pub).  Heatherton Park became a school in 1922 and is now divided into flats.  General Adair's only son Gerald was a great disappointment to him, and was cut out of his will; apparently he took to horse-racing and gambling and in 1888 a hotel owner in Jermyn Street, London took out bankruptcy proceedings against him.  Although it would appear that the debt was paid and Gerald was never actually declared bankrupt, in 1891 he was lodging with a baker in Kensington (Middx) and he died in Fulham (Middx) the following year, aged 26.

Heatherton Park, Somerset

Heatherton Park 

The estate was formed by Sir Thomas Gunston in 1765, and he built a modest five by four bay Palladian house c.1770 to the designs of an unknown architect, which was altered in the 1790s.  A design by William Blogg for improving the front of 'Heatherton House' was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1797, but it is not clear whether it was for this house or for Heatherton in Sussex.  The porch was added in the 1840s and the horrible single-storey flat-roofed conservatory either side of it at some later point.  The house became a school in the 1920s, and in 1928 a fine Baroque-style chapel was built adjacent to the south-west corner of the house disguised as a detached five bay single-storey classical pavilion, to the designs of Mr Stone of Taunton.  The conservatory was then extended to provide covered access to it.  The school closed in 1953 and the estate was sold to a property speculator who divided the house and  outbuildings into flats.

Heatherton Park: location map

Descent: Sir Thomas Gunston (d. 1792);... sold 1807 to (Hugh) William Adair (1754-1844); to son, Alexander Adair (1791-1863); to son, Col. Alexander William Adair (1829-89) who leased c.1880-85 to Sir Percy Douglas (d. 189o); sold 1890 to T. Starkey (fl. 1899), who sold
 to Maj. Samuel Henry Woodhouse, who sold 1922 to the Woodward Foundation as a school.  

Colehayes Park, Devon

Colehayes Park.  © Anne Sawers via Wikimedia Commons.  Licensed under a Creative Commons Licence

A house on the site was first recorded in 1540, but the present building is a severely plain Grecian three by three bay two storey villa with a Doric porch and a fine central array of chimneystacks, built for (Hugh) William Adair after he bought the estate in 1825.  The large and slightly Italianate service block to the right was built in the mid 19th century and was originally separated from the house by a small service court, itself filled in by a connecting two bay block a little later.  Colehayes remained a private house until the 1940s but then became a hotel and private members club and is now a Field Study Centre and wedding venue.

Colehayes Park: location map
Descent: Thomas Pinson (fl. 1540)...Marjery Tapley (fl. 1596)...Hugh Puddycom (fl. 1674); to Richard Puddycom (fl. 1682); to ?son, Richard Puddycom (fl. 1728)...Richard and Stephen Puddycom (fl. 1780); sold to Charles Fanshaw (fl. 1788); to son, Rev. Charles Fanshaw (fl. 1812), who sold 1825 to (Hugh) William Adair (1754-1844); to son, Alexander Adair (1791-1863); to son, Col. Alexander William Adair (1829-89) who sold before 1880 to Theophilus Levett of Wychnor Park (Staffs); who sold by 1913 to W.H.A. Hoare, who sold by 1927 to the Misses Mackinnon; who sold by 1937 to R.R. Jordan; who sold by 1939 to W. Pack and A. Hutchinson; who sold by 1945 to Dallas Kathleen Macneill; who sold by 1945 to W.H.E. Stone, who converted it into a private members club.

The Adairs of Heatherton Park 

(Hugh) William Adair (1754-1844) of Ballymena and Flixton Hall.  Elder son of Robert Adair (d. 1798) and his wife Anne, daughter of Alexander McCauley of Dublin; born 9 February 1754.  He married 17 December 1784 Camilla (d. 1827), daughter and heiress of Robert Shafto of Benwell Tower (Northumberland) and had issue:
(1) Sir Robert Shafto Adair (1786-1869), 1st bt. (see previous post); 
(2) William Robert Adair (1788-1803, dsp); 
(3) Capt. Alexander Adair (1791-1863) (q.v.);
(4) Camilla Anne Adair (1793-1822), m. 17 June 1819 Rev. Robert Palk Carrington (c.1782-1842) of Bridford (Devon) and had issue; she burned to death in an accidental fire at Heatherton Park, 3 September 1822.
He inherited the Ballymena Castle estate (Antrim) from his father in 1798 and purchased Heatherton Park in Somerset (c1802/1807) and Colehouse in Devon (1825).  He inherited Benwell Tower (Northumberland) from his father-in-law, which he sold c.1831; and Flixton Park (Suffolk) from his kinsman, Alexander Adair (1743-1834) in 1834; this he made over to his eldest son.  At his death, Ballymena also passed to his eldest son and Heatherton and Colehouse to his younger surviving son.
He died at Colehouse, 7 May 1844, aged 90.

Capt. Alexander Adair (1791-1863) of Heatherton Park.  Third son of (Hugh) William Adair (1754-1844) and his wife Camilla, daughter and heiress of Robert Shafto of Benwell Tower (Northumberland), born 15 September 1791.  Captain in the Army; wounded in 1815.  High Sheriff of Somerset, 1837-38.  He married 17 June 1828 Harriet Eliza (1811-78), daughter of George Atkinson of Temple Sowerby (Westmorland) and had issue:
(1) Col. Alexander William Adair (1829-89) (q.v.);
(2) Robert Desmond Adair (1831-87), m. 1867 Frances Easton and had issue a daughter;
(3) Harriet Camilla Adair (1833-1909), m. Sir Hugh Edward Adair, 3rd bt. (1815-1902) and had issue (see previous post);
(4) Rev. Hugh Jenison Adair (1835-92), vicar of Bradford-on-Tone (Somerset), m. 1865 Elizabeth, daughter of Hugh Bruce Campbell and had issue;
(5) Maj. Allan Shafto Adair (1836-1902), m. 1864 Georgiana Sarah Turnbull (c.1841-1910) and had issue;
(6) Maj. Henry Atkinson Adair (1839-1919), m. 1864 Charlotte Martha Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of Maj. George Hamilton (1846-1929);
(7) Henrietta Mary Adair (1843-1921), who died without issue.
He inherited Heatherton Park and Colehayes from his father in 1844.
He died 22 November 1863, aged 72.

Brig-Gen. Alexander William Adair (1829-89) of Heatherton Park.  Eldest son of Capt. Alexander Adair (1791-1863) and his wife Harriet Eliza, daughter of George Atkinson of Temple Sowerby (Westmorland), born 28 October and baptised 12 December 1829.  Educated at Eton and Oxford; commissioned in Coldstream Guards and served in Crimea (wounded); later Capt. in 52nd Foot; after retiring from regular army became Colonel of 2nd Regt. of Somerset militia and was promoted Brigadier General in command of Western Counties Volunteer Brigade.  JP for Somerset and High Sheriff for that county, 1886 and for Antrim.  He was a freemason and served as Provincial Grand Master of Royal Arch masons for Somerset, 1880-89.  He married 5 June 1860 (separated 1879) Caroline Maria Turnbull of Pinner Hall (Middx) (1838-90) and had issue:
(1) Evelyn Adair (1862-1939), m. Joseph E. Carter Wood of The Grange, Ireby (Cumberland) and had issue;
(2) Gerald Adair (1865-1892), educated at Wellington College; cut out of his father's will and died unmarried and in poor circumstances, apparently due to gambling losses, 13 January 1892 in Fulham (Middx), aged 26;
(3) Mabel Adair (1866-67), died young;
(4) Kathleen Adair (b. & d. 1868);
(5) Nigel Adair (b. & d. 1873).
He inherited Heatherton Park and Colehayes from his father in 1863, but sold Colehayes before 1880 and leased Heatherton in that year.
He died in Bath, 16 May 1889, aged 59.


Where are their papers?

Adair of Heatherton Park (Somerset): deeds, legal and family papers, 1795-1927. [Somerset Heritage Centre DD\BR\pll]


  1. Sir Percy Douglas (d. 189o), tenant of Heatherton Park is probably General Sir Robert Percy Douglas, 4th Bt. of Carr, b. 29 August 1805, d. 30 September 1891. He was Lieutenant-Governor of the Cape of Good Hope between 1863 and 1868, where another Heatherton estate was established.

    Heatherton Towers was one of the first Ostrich farms in South Africa. Built in 1836 it hosted distinguished guests such as Lord Milner and Cecil Rhodes and today is Kwandwe’s reception house. 

    The Hon Arthur Douglass was one of the first commercial Ostrich farmers.  He was born at Market Harborough, Leicestershire, Jan 1843, the 5th son of James Ley Hegar Douglass, Solicitor, Market Harborough.

    More recently it is used as a game reserve established by naturalist-guide Angus Sholto-Douglas and his wife Tracy.

    1. Thank you for this fascinating addition to the story!


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.