Thursday 1 January 2015

(152) Antonie (later Lee-Antonie and Lee) of Colworth House, Sharnbrook

Lee-Antonie of Colworth
Marc (or Mark) Antonie was born in 1664 in Stamford (Lincs); his father was probably a lawyer in the town and in that capacity perhaps had a connection with the Montagu family of Boughton House (Northants) which led to his son becoming part of the household of the 1st Duke of Montagu. His status in the household in the late 17th century is unclear, but it may be that he was sent there as a page in the traditional way. There is no evidence of his having received a university or legal education, but he was sent abroad several times between 1685 and 1702 with the Duke's sons, perhaps more in the capacity of an older companion than as a tutor. From 1701 he was more formally the Under-Steward of the Duke's London estates, based at Montagu House in Bloomsbury, and from 1706 he was Chief Steward of the Montagu estates, a role he retained until his death in 1720. 

In 1715, Marc Antonie bought the Colworth estate at Sharnbrook from John Wagstaff. Antonie probably knew the estate from the period before 1691 when it had been owned by the Montagus.  As soon as the purchase was completed, he launched himself into the building of a new house. There is no evidence in the accounts of an architect being employed to design the building, although this remains possible, and it seems likely that either John Sumpter or Richard Knight, the two masons involved, supplied the design. Work was still incomplete when Marc Antonie died in 1720, and his widow seems to have finished only what was necessary to make the building weathertight before decamping to London with her two young sons. The elder, and eventual heir, John Antonie (1712-60) became a barrister and was Chief Clerk of the Kings Bench.  He was unmarried, and seems to have had no interest in Colworth, living full-time in London. The younger brother, Richard Antonie (1713-71), went through a London apprenticeship and became a linen draper, but in the late 1740s moved to Jamaica, where he appears to have managed a sugar plantation. He returned to England on his brother's death and carried out a restoration of the largely abandoned house at Colworth, and was perhaps just embarking on a scheme of enlargement when he died in 1771.

Like his brother, Richard Antonie was unmarried and childless. His heir was his cousin, William Lee (1726-78), a second cousin on his mother's side of the family. William's father (a younger son of the Lee family of Hartwell House (Bucks), which will be the subject of a future post) had been Lord Chief Justice of the Kings Bench and was no doubt responsible for John Antonie's appointment as Chief Clerk of that court, so the connection between the two families was probably closer than the blood relationship would indicate.  William had already inherited his father's estate of Totteridge Park (Hertfordshire), where he had a plain but extensive new house of 1750. Nonetheless he seems to have carried on with Richard's scheme of enlargement at Colworth, no doubt with an eye to this becoming a suitable seat for his son, William (1764-1815), who under the terms of Richard's will was obliged to take the name Lee-Antonie.

William Lee-Antonie inherited both Totteridge Park and Colworth House on his father's death in 1778, when he was just 14. His uncle and brother-in-law acted as trustees during his minority, and acquired in his name the Medmenham and Little Marlow estates in Buckinghamshire, which gave a controlling interest in the Parliamentary representation of Great Marlow. At the first opportunity after he came of age, William was duly elected to Parliament for Marlow, but he showed no interest in politics to the dismay of his trustees, and was much keener on making improvements to his house at Colworth and in hunting. With his Bedfordshire neighbours, Samuel Whitbread and the 5th Duke of Bedford, he founded the Oakley Hunt in 1798 and served as Master of it until 1809. To oblige his hunting friends, he served in Parliament again from 1802-12 as one of the MPs for the Bedford constituency, which the Duke controlled, but he rarely attended the house and never spoke. At Colworth, on the other hand, he pushed through the inclosure of Sharnbrook in 1809 which allowed him to expand and landscape his park, and he made further additions to the house to the design of Samuel Reynolds, a protégé of Samuel Whitbread. These works cost him the astonishing sum of more than £46,000, and despite selling the Medmenham and Little Marlow estates in 1810 he eventually ran out of funds for further work and called a halt to Reynolds' plans in 1812.

William died three years later, and the Antonie name died with him.  He left Colworth and Totteridge to his nephew, John Fiott (1783-1866), who was required to take the surname Lee as a condition of the bequest. John, who was a church lawyer in Doctor's Commons, also inherited the Hartwell estate in 1827 on the death of Sir George Lee, 6th and last bt.  He lived partly in London, but Hartwell became his country estate. Colworth was leased from 1826 and finally sold in 1861. Totteridge Park seems to have been shared between a school which was based there from 1784 and a number of elderly relatives, but the family retained the freehold until about 1900, when it was sold to Sir Albert Barratt, who carried out a comprehensive remodelling of the house.

Colworth House, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire

Colworth House: the east front of the central block is now once more largely as built in 1715-20.

There was an E-shaped Elizabethan house at Colworth, part of the foundations of which underlie the present house, and the last vestigies of which were finally demolished in 1723 after Marc Antonie (d. 1720) had built a new seven bay three storey house with segmental-headed windows on the top floor and quoins of even length in 1715-20. The mason was John Sumpter of Higham Ferrers, and the Weldon ashlar stone for the entrance front was supplied by Richard Knight, a mason who had earlier been employed at nearby Hinwick House.  The house was probably designed by one or other of them. The house was unfinished at the time of Marc Antonie's death in 1720 and, after the essential works to make it weathertight and fit up the interior simply had been completed, it was largely abandoned for forty years, as his elder son, John Antonie (1712-60), lived exclusively in London. After he died, his brother Richard Antonie (c.1716-71) returned from Jamaica and restored the house; something evidenced by a dated rainwater head (1762) on the south front.  The work was again done by local craftsmen: it was supervised by John Scrivener of Sharnbrook, son of a bricklayer who had worked on the house in 1715, and five new chimneypieces were supplied by John Sumpter of Higham Ferrers, almost certainly the son of the original mason. 

Colworth House: John Woolfe's design for the addition of the wings, c.1771. Image: the late Sir Howard Colvin.

The next stage in the development of the house was the addition of the two-storey pavilion wings to north and south, linked to the centre by low connecting links, and of the cornice and pediment on the central block.  These alterations seem to have been started in Richard Antonie's lifetime, but to have been completed by his heir, William Lee, in 1775. They were designed by John Woolfe of the Office of Works, and Woolfe's drawing shows that the wings originally had giant arches in the centre and hipped roofs behind parapets, but have been altered. William Lee Antonie, who inherited the house in 1778, spent about £5,000 on further improvements to the building in 1790-92, but it is unclear what this large sum paid for.

Colworth House: the rear elevation c.1890, showing the appearance of the west front after the addition of Reynolds' conservatory in 1808-12. Image: Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service

The house was again extensively altered by William Lee Antonie in 1808-12. The design this time was provided by the artist Samuel William Reynolds (1773-1835), who had been recommended to Antonie by his friend Samuel Whitbread. Reynolds' plan for the entrance front was to add colonnades between the wings and the main block, and a large central porch with balustrades, perhaps inspired by Whitbread's house at Southill. Beyond the wings he added two arches, one on each end, with service buildings to connect them to the main house. At the rear, where the early 18th century rear elevation at this time survived unaltered, Reynolds determined to move the kitchens to a new site behind Woolfe's south wing, build a new reception room behind the main hall, and erect a semi-glazed conservatory the whole length of the reception part of the house, ending a large orangery. Inside, he altered the staircase so that it came down into the inner hall rather than the entrance hall and installed new plain chimneypieces in place of those of the 1770s.  

Colworth House: Thomas Fisher's watercolour of c.1820, showing the house after Reynolds' alterations of 1808-12, and the landscaped park he created. Image: Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service Z49/441.

Sharnbrook parish was enclosed in 1809, and the resulting reorganisation of the landscape allowed Lee-Antonie to enlarge the park and landscape the grounds for the first time (no formal garden had been made around the 1715-20 house, and Richard Antonie only created some simple enclosures, one with a Chinoiserie fretwork fence), again to the design of Samuel Reynolds. A new curved canal was built and planting took place on a large scale. The approach road was diverted to provide a straight vista and new lodges were built at the end of it, designed by John Wing of Bedford, who was the executant of all the works at this date. In all, Lee-Antonie's improvements cost him an astonishing £46,357, a sum that included much refitting and refurnishing of the older rooms in the house.

Colworth House: the wing of 1894-95 added by Sir Ernest George & Yeates.

Most of the early 19th century alterations are now obscured by the large ashlar-faced wing built in 1894-95 by Sir Ernest George & Yeates for W.C. Watson.  This has a porch in a recessed centre between gabled wings, all in a simplified version of the style of c.1700, and inside it had a long oak-panelled hall of loosely Classical form.

Colworth House: painting of an interior in 1850 by Eugene Louis Lami.
Some rights reserved.
The house became a research and development centre for Unilever in 1947 and is now the centre of a science park. The interiors have almost all gone except for the staircase, which has a rich Rococo lyre-pattern balustrade, presumably of the 1890s. A low-relief sculpture panel of Gwen Mond, Lady Melchett, the last private owner of the house, has been reset in the staircase hall. It was formerly part of an overmantel and was made by A. Melnikoff, a pupil of Epstein, in the 1930s.  Since the 1960s, the grounds have been largely built over with utilitarian buildings for the science park.

Descent: Crown granted 1546/7 to Sir Edward Montagu, kt. (d. 1557); to son, Sir Edward Montagu (d. 1602); to son, Edward Montagu...sold 1691 to John Wagstaff, who sold 1715 to Mark Antonie (d. 1720); to son, John Antonie (c.1712-60); to brother, Richard Antonie (d. 1771); to kinsman, William Lee (d. 1778); to son, William Lee Antonie (1764-1815); to nephew, John Fiott (later Lee) (d. 1866), who leased the house to Hollingworth Magniac (d. 1867) in 1826 and sold it to him in 1861; to son, Charles Magniac (d. 1893), who sold 1891 to William Clarence Watson (fl. 1894/5)...Sir Albert Edward Bowen (fl. 1912); sold c.1930 to Edgar Clayson, who sold 1935 to Henry Mond (1898-1949), 2nd Baron Melchett, who sold 1947/8 to Unilever plc.

Totteridge Park, Hertfordshire
Totteridge Park: a bird's eye view of the estate before 1744. Image: Hertford Museum.

Totteridge Park seems to have been built in the early 18th century as a 'small hunting seat' for William Bateman (c.1695-1744), 1st Viscount Bateman. Bateman, whose principal estates lay at Shobdon in Herefordshire, came into a considerable fortune and married Lady Anne Spencer, daughter of the Earl of Sunderland, who was the prime minister of the day. In 1725 George I made him an Irish peer to avoid making him a knight of the Bath, cattily observing ‘I can make him a lord, but I cannot make him a gentleman’. His property at Totteridge was convenient for London, where he seems to have spent most of his time. An engraved bird's eye view of the house, which has only recently come to my attention and which I have not yet managed to date (though it is of before 1744), shows the house was anything but small. It was set sideways on to the road, and consisted of three ranges around a courtyard facing east, the central nine-bay range having a three-bay centre with a pediment and cupola. and being flanked by four-bay wings. The house remained in this form until the late 19th century, and fortunately survived into the age of photography. 

Totteridge Park in a photograph published in 1890 but perhaps taken some years earlier. Image: Barnet Online

Totteridge, as depicted on John Rocque's map of 1766.

Totteridge Park, as depicted on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition 6" map surveyed in 1863-66.
John Rocque's plan of 1766 and the Ordnance Survey map of 1866 combined with the bird's eye view show something of how the grounds were ornamented. A double avenue of trees flanked the drive which ran parallel to the public road and was aligned on the front of the house. To the north of this was an area of woodland (perhaps an early 18th century boscage or wilderness), which Rocque shows criss-crossed by rides, and next to it an open lawn in which deer are shown on the engraving. Here too there were fishponds in the early 18th century, later transformed into a short canal. 

By the mid 19th century the woodland had gone, but there was a summerhouse close to the house. Shading on the 19th century plan appears to indicate the extent of the small rectangular park from which the house took its name.

Totteridge Park: the rear of the Georgian house from the south-west, c.1870.

Totteridge Park: chimneypiece of c.1750.
Image: Historic England

After the death of Lord Bateman, Totteridge Park was sold in 1748 to Sir William Lee (1688-1754), Lord Chief Justice, who evidently made changes to it, as surviving rainwater heads and an Ionic doorway with dated keystone give the date 1750, and 19th century photographs of interior details are also consistent with this date.  It was leased from 1784 to the mid 19th century for use as Totteridge Park School, but thereafter reverted to residential use. Between 1890 and 1903 the house was significantly remodelled in the Arts & Crafts style, perhaps to the design of Thomas Edward Collcutt (1840-1924) who lived locally, and probably for Sir Albert Barratt, the confectioner, who was resident in 1912. The alterations very effectively disguised its Georgian antecedents and turned it into a picturesque, asymmetrical gabled house, with roughcast on the south front.  Part of the central block, the north wing and the adjacent stables were demolished, and a new main entrance was made on the courtyard side of the south range, with a broad round-arched porch.  Colcutt was certainly responsible for building a new stable courtyard (now a separate house called The Paddocks) to the north, with a cupola and timber arcade. The main house was divided into ten flats in the 20th century.

Totteridge Park: the courtyard side of the house as it is today, after remodelling in the 1890s. The three grouped gables on the right-hand side correspond with the position of the Georgian pediment.

Totteridge Park: the south side of the house, as altered in the 1890s.
William Lee-Antonie's sister Harriet and her husband, John Fiott, built a new house at Totteridge, which the Environs of London recorded in 1796 was 'built on the site of an old mansion which was for many years the residence of the Hare family, and afterwards of Sir Robert Atkyns, K. B. Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer'. This has not been identified although there are several surviving buildings of the right date in the village. Rosemary Yallop has suggested in the Georgian Group Journal, 2014, that one of Robert Lugar's earliest designs, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801, for 'a villa for T. Lee Esq.' could have been for the Totteridge estate, but no member of the family with a close interest in the Totteridge property had that initial in this period, and no house corresponding to Lugar's later style survives in the area.

Descent: William Bateman (c.1695-1744), 1st Viscount Bateman; to son, John Bateman (1721-1802), 2nd Viscount Bateman, who sold 1748 to Sir William Lee (1688-1754); to son, William Lee (1726-78); to son, William Lee (later Lee-Antonie) (1764-1815); to nephew, John Fiott (later Lee) (1783-1866); to nephew, Edward Dyke Lee (1844-1909)...Sir Albert Barratt (1860-1941), confectioner...

Antonie (later Lee-Antonie) family of Colworth House

Antonie, Marc (or Mark) (1664-1720). Younger son of John and Margaret Antonie of Stamford (Lincs), born 1664. In 1685-88 he was travelled across Europe with members of the Montagu family, who as ardent Whigs found it prudent to be out of the country during the reign of King James II; in this time he visited places as far afield as Malta and Jerusalem. In 1699 he accompanied Winwood Montagu, Viscount Monthermer, on a tour of Spain and Italy and in 1702 he was with Monthermer on a visit to Prince George of Hanover, when the Viscount died from alcohol poisoning. Antonie seems to have escaped blame for this incident, and continued as Under-Steward to the Dukes of Montagu at Montagu House, London, 1701-06, rising to become Chief Steward of the Dukes of Montagu, 1706-20; he was also Searcher of the Port of Sandwich (in which office his brother-in-law, John Baynes deputised for him). He married, 1711, Anne (1685-1756), eldest daughter of Richard Beke MP (1630-1707) and his third wife Elizabeth (1662-1737), daughter of Sir Thomas Lee of Hartwell (Bucks), and had issue:
(1) John Antonie (1712-60) (q.v.);
(2) Richard Antonie (c.1716-71) (q.v.).
He purchased the Colworth House estate from John Wagstaff in 1715 and built a new house in 1715-20. At his death the estate passed to his widow for life.
He died 10 October 1720 and was buried at Sharnbrook; his will was proved in the PCC, 3 December 1720. His widow died 9 March 1756 and was also buried at Sharnbrook.

Antonie, John (1712-60) of Colworth House. Elder son of Marc Antonie (1664-1720) of Colworth and his wife Anne Beke, born 25 August and baptised 1 September 1712. Educated at Balliol College, Oxford (matriculated 1731) and Inner Temple (admitted 1726; called to bar, 1737). Chief Clerk of Kings Bench, 1740-60. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Colworth House from his mother, but lived exclusively in London.
He died in Bath, 17 May and was buried at Sharnbrook, 25 May 1760.

Antonie, Richard (c.1716-71) of Colworth House and Cheerful Mount (Jamaica). Second son of Marc Antonie (1664-1720) of Colworth and his wife Anne Beke, born about 1716. Apprenticed to Edmund Rood of London, fishmonger, 1730, and subsequently to a linen draper, both of whom died in 1737 before his articles were completed; in trade as a linen draper in London, 1738-43; emigrated to Jamaica in 1743 where he bought the 800-acre Cheerful Mount sugar plantation; returned to England when he heard of his brother's death. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Colworth House from his elder brother in 1760 and restored it.
He died at Bath, 25/26 November 1771 and was buried at Sharnbrook; his will was proved in the PCC, 12 February 1772.

Lee, William (1726-78) of Totteridge Park and Colworth House. Son of Rt. Hon. Sir William Lee (1688-1754), Lord Chief Justice of Kings Bench, and his first wife, Anne (d. 1729), daughter of John Goodwin of Bury St Edmunds, baptised at Bury, 26 December 1726. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford (admitted 1743) and Clare College, Cambridge (admitted 1744; MA 1748) and undertook a Grand Tour, 1749-53. Joint Chief Clerk of Kings Bench (with John Antonie), 1746-60 and sole Chief Clerk, 1760-78; MP for Appleby (Westmorland), 1754-56. Interested in science and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1748. He married, 27 August 1757 at Lullingstone (Kent), Philadelphia (c.1735-99), daughter of Sir Thomas Dyke, 2nd bt. of Lullingstone Castle, and had issue:
(1) Anne Caroline Lee (b. & d. 1758), baptised 28 August 1758; died in infancy and was buried 26 November 1758;
(2) Philadelphia Lee (1762-1836) of Totteridge Park, baptised 29 July 1762; died unmarried, December 1835; will proved 26 February 1836;
(3) Harriet Lee (1763-94/5), baptised 2 August 1763; married, 19 July 1782, John Fiott (d. 1797) of London, merchant, son of Nicholas Fiott of Jersey, and had issue four sons (including John Fiott, who subsequently inherited the Colworth and Totteridge estates) and five daughters; died 25 July 1794/25 June 1794;
(4) William Lee (later Lee-Antonie) (1764-1815) (q.v.);
(5) Louisa Lee (1766-1840) of Totteridge Park, baptised 2 May 1766; married, 28 October 1802, Edward Arrowsmith (d. 1827) of Leytonstone (Essex) but had no issue; died 20 June 1840; will proved 19 August 1840;
(6) Sophia Lee (1768-1812), baptised 5 November 1768; suffered from a speech impediment; died unmarried, 31 May 1812.
He inherited the manor of Totteridge (Herts) from his father in 1754 and Colworth House from Richard Antonie in 1771. He purchased the manor of Edgware Boys in 1762. At his death he left Totteridge to his widow for life and Colworth to his son.
He died 6 and was buried 12 August 1778; his will was proved 31 August 1778. His widow died 5 March 1799.

Lee (later Lee-Antonie), William (1764-1815). Son of William Lee (d. 1778) and his wife Philadelphia, daughter of Sir Thomas Dyke of Lullingstone Castle (Kent), born 24 February 1764 and baptised 21 March 1765. Educated at Westminster and Jesus College, Cambridge (admitted 1781); undertook a Grand Tour in France, 1782. High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, 1788; Whig MP for Great Marlow, 1790-96 and for Bedford, 1802-12, but he was always a reluctant politician; he secured election for Marlow at the behest of his brother-in-law, John Fiott, and accepted the nomination for Bedford to please his friend and fellow-MP, Samuel Whitbread. Major in Bedford Volunteer Infantry, 1803. In accordance with the will of Richard Antonie, he took the additional surname Antonie. His passion was hunting, and in 1798, with the 5th Duke of Bedford and Samuel Whitbread, he formed the Oakley Hunt, of which he became first Master, 1798-1809. He was unmarried and without issue, but brought back a French mistress, Catharine Rosalie Duthé, from his Grand Tour and installed her at Colworth, to the scandal of his relations; she lived with him until his death.
He inherited Colworth House from his father in 1778 and Totteridge on his mother's death in 1799. In 1781 his trustees purchased the Little Marlow and Medmenham estates (Bucks) for him, largely with a view to securing him the Great Marlow seat in Parliament through the interest the estate commanded there; he sold them in 1810. At his death, his estates passed to his nephew, John Fiott (later Lee).
He died 11 September and was buried at Sharnbrook, 20 September 1815; his will was proved in the PCC, 8 December 1815.

John Lee (1783-1866)
Fiott (later Lee), John (1783-1866). Eldest surviving son of John Fiott and his wife Harriet, daughter of William Lee of Totteridge Park and Colworth House, born 28 April 1783. Educated at St. John's College, Cambridge (fifth wrangler & BA 1806; MA 1809; LLD 1816; Fellow). He was admitted a Fellow of the Society of Doctors Commons (an advocate in the Church courts), 1816 and was subsequently Treasurer and Librarian. After a lifetime in practice in the church courts, he was admitted to Grays Inn in 1863 (bencher, 1864; QC 1864). In 1815 he assumed the name of Lee in lieu of Fiott in accordance with his uncle's will. He obtained a travelling scholarship from Cambridge and visited Greece, Egypt and the Holy Land, 1807-10, where he amassed a valuable collection of antiquities.  Antiquarian and scientific studies were his chief occupation, and he became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1828 and one of the founding Fellows of Royal Astronomical Society in 1820 (President, 1861-62). He also became a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1831 and a member of the Geological Society. He was a Liberal in politics and made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to be elected to parliament for Aylesbury; he held Low Church views, promoted union of the Church of England with the dissenting churches and opposed Catholicism, and was a rigid teetotaller and opponent of smoking. He married 1st, 1833, Cecilia (1782-1854), daughter of John Rutter, and 2nd, 29 November 1855 at Totteridge, Louisa Catherine (1830-88), daughter of Richard Ford Heath of Uxbridge (Middx), but had no issue.
In 1815 he inherited the Colworth, Totteridge and Medmenham estates from his uncle, William Lee-Antonie; and in 1827 the Hartwell estate (Bucks) on the death of Sir George Lee, 6th and last bt., where he had an observatory built in the grounds. He sold Colworth to Hollingworth Magniac who had leased it from 1826; his other estates passed to his nephew, Edward Dyke Lee (1844-1909).
He died at Hartwell House, 25 February 1866; his will was proved 30 May 1866 (effects under £7,000). His widow married 2nd, 15/19 April 1868 at Totteridge, Samuel Benjamin Merriman (1812-88) and had issue one son and one daughter; she died 10 September 1888 and her will was proved 19 October 1888 (effects £6,291).


J. Collett-White, Inventories of Bedfordshire Country Houses, Beds Hist. Record Soc. 74, 1995, pp. 32-72; B. Cherry & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 4 - North, 1998, p. 190; H.J. Grainger, The architecture of Sir Ernest George, 2011, p. 425; C. O'Brien & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough, 2014, pp. 281-82.

Location of archives

Antonie & Lee-Antonie family of Colworth: deeds, estate and family papers, c.1550-20th cent. [Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service, UN, DDX800, GA]
Lee family of Totteridge Park: deeds, estate and family papers, 1574-1882 [Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies, DE/B242]
Lee, John (1783-1866), antiquary and astronomer: correspondence, diaries and sketchbooks, 1793-1865 [St John's College Library, Cambridge, LEE]

Coat of arms

Lee-Antonie of Colworth: Argent, two bars or, a bend chequy of the last and gules (for Lee). 

The coat of arms shown below was apparently used by Richard Antonie (c.1716-71).

Coat of arms of Richard Antonie (c.1716-71)

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 1 January 2015, and was updated 11 January 2015 and 8 August 2017.

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