Saturday 13 June 2015

(171) Arden of Rickmansworth Park, Sunbury Park, Pontfaen House and East Burnham House

Arden of Sunbury Park and Pontfaen
This was a family which accumulated really substantial wealth in the 19th century and invested some of it in landed estates in the traditional way. But perhaps typically of their time they did not withdraw from business as a result, and their country houses remained residences supported by externally-generated wealth rather than self-supporting estates. Nor do they seem to have made any kind of dynastic commitment to their properties, which were all held for less than a century. No connection has been established between this family and the Ardens of Park Hall and Longcroft, or the Ardens of Arden Hall, although similarities in their coat of arms suggests there was at least the tradition of a link with the former family.  

Joseph Arden (c.1763-1818) of Red Lion Square, London, warehouseman, amassed a considerable portfolio of urban property in the years around 1800, which enabled him to provide substantial inheritances for his widow and two sons and to ensure the latter were educated as gentlemen. In 1831 his widow, Temperance Arden (1763-1843) purchased Rickmansworth Park, which was then a relatively new house, and in due course this descended to her elder son, Joseph Arden (1799-1879), who was a successful barrister and a classical scholar. After his death, the Rickmansworth estate was purchased by the husband of his elder daughter, John William Birch (1825-97), a Spanish merchant who had just been appointed Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and succeeeded as Governor in 1881. He left the property to his widow, Julia Birch (1828-1917), whose family home this had of course been. When she died at the age of 89, the estate passed to the widow of her eldest son, who had remarried and become the Viscountess Barrington.  She sold the estate in 1926 to provide a site for the Royal Masonic School for Girls, and the house was demolished to make way for new school buildings shortly afterwards.

The younger son of Joseph and Temperance Arden was Richard Edward Arden (1804-94), who like his brother became a barrister and was in due course Principal of Clifford's Inn. He seems to have had wide ranging interests that extended from being a patron of Richmond Theatre to supporting exploration through the Royal Geographical Society and being a Governor of the Foundling Hospital. He married three times and produced three sons who lived to maturity, as well as five daughters. He seems to have lived at first in Bloomsbury, but in about 1851 he bought and rebuilt or remodelled Sunbury Park on the Thames west of London. Sunbury was a very large house but for reasons which are obscure, about twenty years later he bought the smaller East Burnham House in a fashionable area of Buckinghamshire and moved his family there. Sunbury was let, and although attempts were made to sell it in the 1870s and 1880s it remained in the family until well into the 20th century. In 1863 he also acquired the Pontfaen estate in Pembrokeshire, which may have been intended as a holiday home.

When R.E. Arden died in 1894, Sunbury and Pontfaen passed to his eldest son, Percy Arden (1840-1909), who qualified as a barrister but did not practice. He seems to have lived mainly at a rather grand house in Brighton, although he also had a flat in the Albany in London and was High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire in 1904. The house at Sunbury continued to be let.  East Burnham was left to Richard's second son, Douglas Arden (1844-1930), and when Percy died in 1909 Douglas also inherited Sunbury Park. Pontfaen was left jointly to Douglas and two of his sisters, perhaps reflecting its use as a holiday home by various members of the family. When Douglas died in 1930, Sunbury passed to his surviving daughter, Dorothy Short (1874-1949), who sold it shortly afterwards.  Dorothy may also have inherited East Burnham, the subsequent descent of which is unclear. Pontfaen passed to his nephew, Cuthbert Brook Camm, who sold it in 1941.

Rickmansworth Park, Hertfordshire

There was a 'capital mansion' at Rickmansworth by 1606, when it was held on lease from the Crown, but this was presumably the house known as The Bury near the church. In 1685 the lands north of that house had been recently enclosed to form a park, known as Bury Park. In about 1805, Henry Fotherley Whitfield (d. 1813) built the house which became Rickmansworth Park on a new site in the middle of this park.
Rickmansworth Park, from an old postcard

The new house was a rather imposing two-storey building with a five-bay front dominated by a giant Ionic portico standing in front of a broad central bay. The left hand return was of three bays, but the right-hand return was of five bays. The architect has not been identified.

Rickmansworth Park, perhaps c.1920.  Image: Matthew Beckett

Rickmansworth Park, from the 6" Ordnance Survey map of  1864.
The house was apparently altered between 1864 and 1880 (when it was described as 'modernized'). A single-storey loggia was added on the side elevation and the parisiennes were inserted in the windows of the entrance front. The house was demolished to make way for purpose-built school buildings after the site was acquired by the Royal Masonic School for Girls in 1926.

Descent: Philip Howard, Earl of Pembroke sold 1632 to Thomas Fotherley; to son, John Fotherley (d. 1702/3); to widow, Dorothy Fotherley; to nephew, Temple Whitfield (d. 1730); to nephew, Henry Whitfield (d. 1747); to son, Henry Fotherley Whitfield (d. 1813); to widow, Mary, later the wife of Thomas Deacon; sold 1831 to Mrs. Temperance Arden (1763-1843); to son, Joseph Arden (1799-1879); sold after his death to his son-in-law, John William Birch (1825-97); to widow, Julia Birch (1828-1917); to daughter-in-law, Charlotte Mary Leycester Barrington (née Stopford, then Arden) (d. 1935), wife of Walter Bulkeley Barrington (1848-1933), 9th Viscount Barrington; sold 1926 to Royal Masonic School for Girls, which demolished the house and built a new school on the site in 1931-33.

Sunbury Park, Middlesex

The house later called Sunbury Park appears to have been the manor house of Sunbury, and a new house was probably built in Elizabethan times for the Crown's tenant, Nicasius Yetswiert or his son, who were both resident at Sunbury. Manorial buildings are mentioned in 1663, and Isaac St. Eloy is known to have lived at Sunbury around 1700, but he must have been the last occupant of the Elizabethan house. Colen Campbell in the second volume of Vitruvius Britannicus in 1717 published the design for a house built at Sunbury for Sir Roger Hudson in 1712 by Thomas Fort, the clerk of works at Hampton Court. Lysons, in his Environs of London, states that this design related to Sunbury House half a mile away, but the footprint of Sunbury Park on maps of Sunbury in 1722, 1754 and 1803 matches that of the house in Vitruvius Britannicus, whereas the footprint of Sunbury House shows a much more modest building. Hudson did not acquire Sunbury manor until 1718, but he must already have been leasing the site of the new house when it was built in 1712.

Sunbury Park: the new house designed by Thomas Fort in 1712 for Sir Roger Hudson, from Vitruvius Britannicus, 1717.

Hudson's new house of the early 18th century had a three storey seven bay main block connected by quadrant passages to pavilions on either side. The house is still shown in this form on a map of 1803, and a print of 1818 which shows a house with a front of six bays on the site is probably just carelessly drawn. It therefore probably survived until a new house was built for the Ardens on a site immediately behind the east pavilion of the 18th century house: the relative positions of the two buildings was established by excavation by Stanley Hicks in 1956. A date of 1851 is usually given for the Arden house, but as the previous owners were in residence at the time of the census in that year, the rebuilding must have taken place just a little later. It is possible that the Ardens lived in the 18th century house while its successor was built, and that demolition of the Fort house followed the completion of the new house, say in the mid 1850s.

Sunbury Park, shortly before demolition in 1954. Image: Stanley Hicks

Sunbury Park House from the Ordnance Survey 6" map of 1865.
The walled garden can be seen above and to the right of the house.

In 1876 and 1877, when it was advertised to be let or sold, the house was described as 'large and of modern erection in the Italian style' and it had a library, drawing room, morning rooms, billiard room, dining room and 22 bedrooms, but the property remained on the market for more than ten years until it was eventually let to a string of tenants. By 1939 the house was unoccupied and possibly in poor condition. At the beginning of the war it was requisitioned and used as a depot for the local fire brigade and as an exercise area for the Heavy Rescue squad. During the war the house became seriously dilapidated and an aerial photograph of 1945 may show that the roof had partially collapsed. By the early 1950s the structure was in a dangerous condition and it was demolished on 8th October 1954. The coach houses associated with the Victorian house survived in a derelict condition in 1975, but have since been demolished. All that survives today is an early 18th century walled garden, which was laid out as an ornamental public space in the 1980s, after being acquired by Surrey County Council in 1975 and subsequently leased to Spelthorne Borough Council. 

Sunbury Park: one of the derelict coach houses in 1975. Image: Stanley Hicks

Descent: Bishop of London granted 1559 to Crown, which leased it to Nicasius Yetswiert and later his son Charles Yetswiert (d. 1595); to widow, Jane, later wife of Sir Philip Butler. In 1603 the Crown sold the freehold to Robert Stratford, who sold 1604 to Thomas Lake (d. 1680); to son, Thomas Lake (d. 1653); to brother, Lancelot Lake (fl. 1663), who sold 1663... Francis Phelips (d. 1674); to daughters Anne, Dorothy and Elizabeth, of whom the last-named married Sir John Tyrwhitt bt, who was sole owner by 1693; sold 1698 to Isaac Guiquet St Eloy, who sold 1718 to his tenant, Sir Roger Hudson (d. 1743); to widow (d. 1770); to daughter, Martha (d. c.1792), wife of Edward Boehm; to son, Roger Boehm (d. c.1803); to ?son, Edmund Boehm (fl. 1820)...Samuel Landon (d. 1844)...Richard Dresser (d. 1846)...Henry Trewhitt (d. 1850); to widow, Juliana Trewhitt, who sold 1851 to Richard Edward Arden (1804-94); to son, Percy Arden (1840-1909); to brother, Douglas Arden (1844-1930); to daughter, Dorothy Catherine Mary (1874-1949), wife of Edward Awdry Short, who sold shortly after his death; demolished 1954. The house was let from c.1872 onwards (tenants include Lord Annaly (d. 1873), George C. Raphael (fl. 1878), Capt. G.D. Sampson (fl. 1891); Arthur P. Blake (fl. 1898), G.T. Barham (fl. 1929) and the names recorded as occupiers in the 1840s may also have been tenants).

Pontfaen House, Pembrokeshire

A gentry house of the Vaughan and Laugharne families from the 15th century to 1823, which was assessed at five hearths in 1670. It was remodelled after 1845 for the Gowers of Castle Malgwyn. The house is comprised of an early 18th century hipped-roofed cross-wing at the south end, a main range running north, and a gabled cross-wing at the north end. 

Pontfaen House in 2006. Image: Ceridwen. Licenced under this Creative Commons licence.

The external details - the stucco and timber mullion and transom windows - are all 19th or 20th century. The east front has the large gable of the northern cross-wing at the right hand end and three smaller gables, while the rear has both cross-wings projecting. The main entrance is at the rear, in the angle of the north wing. Inside, there are some chamfered beams and oak roof trusses in the south wing, but the interior of the north wing is all mid 19th century, including the main staircase. For a long time the house has been divided into two parts, with the southern end being used as a farmhouse and the northern part as a private residence, which is now holiday accommodation.

Descent: sold 1823 to Henry Rees; sold 1845 to [forename unknown] Gower of Castle Malgwyn... Robert Frederick and Erasmus Gower sold 1863 to Richard Edward Arden (1804-94); to son, Percy Arden (1840-1909); to nephew, Cuthbert Brook Camm of Ardwell House, Crawthorne (Bucks), who sold 1941 to Maj. John Francis; to son, Capt. J.L. Francis (fl. 1976); to daughter.

East Burnham House, Buckinghamshire

East Burnham House from the Ordnance Survey 6" map of 1875.

There was a house here by the 1770s, when it was the home of Charles Eyre, then the Lord of Burnham manor. The Georgian house was evidently wholly or partly taken down in 1836-37, when the contents were sold and "about 300,000... stock bricks, taken down and cleaned, a quantity of pebble paving, useful timbers in rafters... joists, flooring boards, skirting, marble chimney pieces and internal fittings of various descriptions" were advertised for sale on site.  A new eleven bedroom house had been completed by 1853, and the first Ordnance Survey 6" map of 1875 appears to show an asymmetrical house of modest size in the small park. By 1870 there were sixteen bedrooms, a hall, drawing room, conservatory, library and dining rooom and smoking room. The house has evidently been substantially rebuilt again in the 20th century - perhaps in the 1930s - as a loosely classical two storey building with an irregular Y-shaped plan, although it may retain an earlier core. The main elevations have single-storey canted bays, that on the entrance front forming a porch.

Descent: Charles Eyre (d. 1786); to illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth Eyre, who leased to Thomas Parry (d. 1811); to sister, Arabella, wife of John Popple (c.1750-1831); to aunt Elizabeth (c.1741-1836), widow of Charles Coxe of Kemble... J. Ludlum (fl. 1862-70); sold 1870 to Richard Edward Arden (1804-94); to son, Douglas Arden (1844-1930)... Noel Jeffrey Wicks (b. 1941)

Arden family of Rickmansworth, Sunbury, Pontfaen and East Burnham

Arden, Joseph (c.1763-1818). Son of William Arden and his wife Frances Todd, baptised 26 June 1763. Warehouseman and urban landlord in London. He married, 12 August 1798 at St Andrew Holborn, London, Temperance (1763-1843), daughter of Joseph Lunt of Ealing (Middx), and had issue:
(1) Joseph Arden (1799-1879), of Rickmansworth Park (q.v.);
(2) Richard Edward Arden (1804-94) (q.v.).
He lived in Red Lion Square, London and at Islington (Middx). His widow bought Rickmansworth Park (Herts) in 1831.
He died 10 April and was buried at St Andrew Holborn, London, 20 April 1818; his will was proved 17 April 1818. His widow died 21 November and was buried at St Andrew Holborn, London, 27 November 1843; her will was proved 5 December 1843.

Arden, Joseph (1799-1879). Elder son of Joseph Arden (d. 1818) and his wife Temperance Lunt, born 10 May and baptised at St James, Pentonville (Middx), 25 August 1799. Apprenticed to Richard Hust, pewterer, of London, 1814, but released and articled clerk to Peregrine Palmer of Barnards Inn and later Dobson Willoughby of Cliffords Inn, attorneys of the Court of Kings Bench, 1816. Barrister-at-law, of Clifford's Inn. In 1846-7 he visited Egypt and purchased a papyrus which is the only source of the hitherto unknown Orations of Hyperides, which he published in 1853. He married, 3 December 1823, Mary Ann Mitchell Munro (c.1802-65), and had issue:
(1) Capt. Frederick Arden (1827-96); educated at St John's College and New Inn Hall, Oxford (matriculated 1845) and Inner Temple (admitted 1846); served in the 12th Lancers (Cornet, 1848; Lt., 1848; Capt.); married, 8/12 July 1848, Amelia Helen, only daughter of Hector Munro of Walsham-le-Willows (Suffolk) and had issue; died in Isle of Wight, Oct-Dec 1896;
(2) Julia Arden (1828-1917) (q.v.); 
(3) Henry Arden (1829-1904), baptised 23 June 1829; married, 1 September 1857 at St James, Westminster, Louisa Sophia Adelina (b. c.1830), daughter of John Paul Frank, and had issue; died 1904;
(4) Geraldine Arden (1842-1917), born 16 January and baptised at St George Bloomsbury, 16 March 1842; married, 29 January 1867, Canon William Henry Roberts Longhurst (1838-1943) and had issue one son and four daughters; died 28 June 1917; will proved 3 August 1917 (estate £802); her husband died eight days short of his 105th birthday.
He inherited Rickmansworth Park (Herts) on the death of his mother in 1843. After his death it was sold to his son-in-law, John William Birch.
He died 30 January 1879; his will was proved 14 March 1879 (effects under £140,000). His wife was buried at All Souls, Kensal Green (Middx), 26 July 1865.

Arden, Julia (1828-1917) of Rickmansworth Park. Elder daughter of Joseph Arden (1799-1879) and his wife Mary Ann Mitchell Munro, born 8 March and baptised 8 April 1828 at St Thomas, Clapham Common (Surrey). She married, 2 June 1852, John William Birch (1825-97), Spanish merchant and Director of the Bank of England (Deputy Governor, 1877-79; Governor, 1879-81), and had issue:
(1) John Arden Birch (1853-96), born 13/15 April and baptised at St Mary, Marylebone Road, London, 8 May 1853; married, 23 April 1881 in Chapel Royal, Hampton Court (Middx), Charlotte Mary Leycester, daughter of George Montagu Stopford (1855-1935) (who m2, 19 January 1905, Walter Bulkeley Barrington (1848-1933), 9th Viscount Barrington) and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 29 December 1896; will proved 23 January 1897 (effects £37,223);
(2) Henry William Birch (1854-1927) of The Grove, Old Windsor (Berks), born 16 September 1854; merchant banker (bankrupt, 1921); married, Apr-Jun 1897, Kate Hazeltine (d. 1932), daughter of R. Anson Yates of San Francisco, California (USA), but had no issue; died abroad, 15 December 1927;
(3) Lionel Ernest Birch (b. 1858), born 11 July 1858; married, 21 December 1885 in Manhattan, New York (USA), Madge Alice O'Brien (b. 1860);
(4) Maj. Francis Mildred Birch (1861-1936) of Crimplesham Hall (Norfolk), born 11 December 1861; educated at Charterhouse School and Inner Temple (called to bar 1893); barrister at law on south-eastern circuit; served in 3rd (Royal Berkshire) regiment, 1880-97, 1901-06 (Major, 1893); married, 11 April 1907 at St Mary, Bryanston Square, London, Constance Julia (1869-1952), daughter of Rev. Henry Mildred Birch; died 23 November 1936; will proved 1 March 1937 (estate £34,706);
(5) Capt. George Thackeray Birch (1865-1901), born 1 May 1865; educated at Charterhouse School; served in the 19th/7th Hussars, 1886-88 and Royal Scots 1888-94 (Capt.); married, 21 December 1894 in Fermoy (Cork), Elaine Margeurite Vivian (b. 1866), daughter of Lt-Col. F.W. Bell; died at Glencorse, 25 April 1901; will proved 11 September 1901 (effects £3,401).
Her husband purchased Rickmansworth Park from her father's executors c.1880, and she inherited it on his death. At her death it passed to the widow of her eldest son, who was by then Lady Barrington.
She died 8 November 1917; administration of goods granted 21 January 1918 (estate £12,514); her husband died 25 April 1897; his will was proved 1 June 1897 (effects £65,330).

Arden, Richard Edward (1804-94) of Sunbury Park, East Burnham House and Pontfaen. Second son of Joseph Arden (d. 1818) and his wife Temperance Lunt, born 4 October 1804. Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1832; called to bar 1847); barrister at law; Principal of Clifford's Inn. JP and DL for Middlesex and JP for Pembrokeshire; High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire, 1872. A Land Tax Commissioner, 1836. Fellow of the Geological Society and Royal Geographical Society; Member of Royal Institution of Great Britain; Governor of the Foundling Hospital, 1834-94. He married 1st, 8 September 1832 at St George, Bloomsbury, Fanny (d. 1836), daughter of John Whitsed MD; 2nd, 29 August 1839, Mary (1814-80), daughter of John Douglas Finney; and 3rd, 10 January 1882 at Christ Church, Streatham Hill (Surrey), Frances (c.1824-99), daughter of Henry Green and widow of John Raven (1818-55), and had issue:
(1.1) Emily Laurie Arden Arden (1833-98), born 14 October and baptised at St George the Martyr, London, 27 September 1833; married, 18 October 1856 at Brighton (Sussex), William Henry Peacock JP (1823-77), son of Wilkinson Peacock of Greatford Hall (Lincs) and had issue; died 9 January 1898; will proved 21 May 1898 (effects £6,090);
(1.2) Clara Hust Arden (1834-35), born 26 October 1834 and baptised 16 January 1835; died in infancy;
(1.3) Alfred Mason Arden (b. & d. 1836), born 26 March and baptised 6 May 1836; died in infancy;
(2.1) Percy Arden (1840-1909) (q.v.);
(2.2) Caroline Arden Arden (1841-1903) of Burnham Grange, Bournemouth (Hants), born 26 November 1841 and baptised 15 February 1842; married, 2 February 1864 at Sunbury, Rev. John Brook Maher Camm (1840-1916), vicar of Monkton Wyld (Dorset), formerly of 11th Lancers, and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 27 March 1903; will proved 4 June 1903 (estate £63,812);
(2.3) Douglas Arden (1844-1930) (q.v.);
(2.4) Blanche Arden Arden (1846-1938), born 17 March and baptised at St George, Bloomsbury, 24 April 1846; married, 26 August 1874 at Burnham (Bucks), Charles Lucena (b. c.1839) of Englefield Green and had issue one daughter; died 8 November 1938 aged 92; will proved 15 December 1938 (estate £32,889);
(2.5) Constance Arden Arden (1848-1919), born 3 January and baptised 29 February 1848; died unmarried, 22 April 1919; will proved 4 July 1919 (estate £80,482);
(2.6) Evelyn Helen Arden Arden (1849-94), born 19 September and baptised at Brighton, 24 November 1849; married, 21 September 1880, Lt-Col. Lawrence Clark Frederick Thompson (b. 1848) of 8th Kings Regiment but had no issue; died 28 April and was buried at Burnham (Bucks), 3 May 1894; will proved 5 July 1894 (effects £65,420);
(2.7) Frank Arden (1851-1902), born 8 December and baptised at Sunbury (Middx), 25 December 1851; described as 'paralysed' in 1901; died unmarried in Bruges (Belgium), 28 September 1902; will proved 3 December 1902 (effects £13,875).
He acquired Sunbury Park (Middx) c.1851, Pontfaen (Pembs) in 1863 and East Burnham House (Bucks) in 1870, as well as lands at Abergwili and Llanon (Carmarthens). In 1883 he owned 3,254 acres in Pembrokeshire and 1,887 acres in Carmarthenshire, as well as 58 acres in Middlesex, 49 acres in Buckinghamshire, 113 acres in Hertfordshire and 17 acres in Sussex.
He died 17 April 1894; his will was proved 8 June 1894 (effects £441,516). His first wife died 21 May 1836. His second wife died 18 April 1880. His widow died 8 April 1899; her will was proved 28 April 1899 (effects £9,672).

Arden, Percy (1840-1909) of Sunbury Park and Pontfaen. Eldest son of Richard Edward Arden (1804-94) and his second wife, Mary, daughter of John Douglas Finney, born 9 June 1840. Educated at Harrow, 1855-57, Brasenose College, Oxford (matriculated 1858) and Inner Temple (admitted 1859; called to bar 1863); barrister-at-law, but did not practice. High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire, 1904. Governor of the Foundling Hospital, 1888. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited the Sunbury Park and Pontfaen estates from his father in 1894. He also had a house at 14 Sussex Square, Brighton and a flat in the Albany in London. In 1899 he was one of the residuary legatees of his uncle, Douglas Finney (c.1814-99). At his death Sunbury Park passed to his brother Douglas and Pontfaen was to be held jointly by his surviving siblings.
He died in Brighton, 12 October and was buried at Burnham (Bucks), 15 October 1909; his will was proved 28 December 1909 (estate £125,440).

Arden, Douglas (1844-1930) of East Burnham House (Bucks). Second son of Richard Edward Arden (1804-94) and his second wife, Mary, daughter of John Douglas Finney, born 8 August and baptised 24 November 1844.  Educated at Harrow, 1859-61, Pembroke College, Oxford (matriculated 1862) and the Inner Temple (admitted 1864; called to bar 1867).  Barrister-at-law on south-eastern circuit; JP for Buckinghamshire. He married, 23 April 1872 at Halton Holgate (Lincs), Emily Margaret (1846-1903), daughter of Rev. Robert Drummond Burrell Rawnsley of Halton Holgate and sister of Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust, and had issue:
(1) Ana Margaret Arden (b. & d. 1873), baptised at Burnham, 23 January 1873 and buried there, 25 January 1873;
(2) Dorothy Catherine Mary Arden (1874-1949), born 10 June and baptised at St Peter, Cranley Gardens, Kensington (Middx), 28 July 1874; married, Oct-Dec. 1918, Edward Awdry Short (1874-1946) but had no issue; died 4 September 1949; will proved 25 November 1949 (estate £177,399);
(3) Edward Franklin Douglas Arden (1876-1908), baptised at Burnham, 1 May 1876; married 1st, 1898, Virginia Constance (d. 1901), daughter of Hon. Sir James Martin of Sydney (Australia) and had issue two sons and one daughter; married 2nd, 1903, Joan Mary Ursula S. (b. c.1882), daughter of Lt-Col. George A. Cox of The Close, Salisbury; staying at a nursing home in Chelsea, 1901; sailed (alone) to Sydney, 1906 and died there, 11 June 1908; will proved 14 January 1909 (estate in England £112).
He inherited East Burnham House from his father in 1894. He inherited Pontfaen jointly with two of his sisters from his elder brother in 1909, and also Sunbury Park.
He died 18 January 1930; will proved 7 July 1931 (estate £112,795); his wife died 16 February 1903; administration of her goods was granted 16 March 1903 (estate £2,659).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1898, vol. 1, p.27 and 1925, p. 32; S. Neville & W. Manning, Reports of cases argued in the Court of Kings Bench, vi, 1839, pp. 494-505; VCH Buckinghamshire, vol. 3, pp. 165-84; VCH Hertfordshire, vol. 2, pp. 371-86; VCH Middlesex, vol. 3, pp. 53-57; F. Jones, 'Pontfaen', National Library of Wales Journal, 1977, pp. 177-203; T. Lloyd, J. Orbach & R. Scourfield, The buildings of Wales: Pembrokeshire, 2004, p. 365; S. Davison, Along the river: a history of Sunbury Park, Sunbury & Shepperton Local History Society, 2004.

Location of archives

No substantial archive is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Ermine, two barrulets compony, or and azure; in chief three boars' heads, erased, of the last, armed of the second, langued gules.

Can you help?

In this post it is the houses which are relatively obscure; the people are fairly well recorded. 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 improve on my account of Rickmansworth Park by suggesting the name of the architect, or a more exact date for construction? A plan or interior photographs of the house would also be of interest. These might be found in sale particulars from the sale in the 1920s, but I have not been able to track these down.
  • Does anyone know of a topographical drawing of Sunbury Park showing the house before it was altered in Victorian times? 
  • Is there a drawing of East Burnham House before the 1830s rebuilding or a photograph of the house constructed then before it was rebuilt in the 20th century? Again, it seems surprising that the house should apparently be so poorly recorded.
  • It would appear that Lionel Ernest Birch (b. 1858) emigrated to America and married there; does anyone know more about his subsequent life story?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 13th June 2015 and revised 4th October and 21st November 2015 and 11th September 2016. I am most grateful for additional information and images of Sunbury Park supplied by Stanley Hicks.

1 comment:

  1. Sir,
    Lionel Ernest Birch had at least one daughter: Kate Emily, born 1887, died 21 Apr. 1895. He and his wife Madge (neé O'Brien) appear on the death certificate. At the time the family appear to have been living at Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately no further details on them have been forthcoming.


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.