Monday 31 December 2018

(357) Bankes of Soughton Hall

Bankes of Soughton Hall
The Bankes family of Soughton Hall are a cadet branch of the Bankes family of Kingston Lacy, about whom I have written previously. The ownership of Soughton Hall was separated from that of the main estate when William John Bankes fled into exile in 1841, and divided his property between his brothers to prevent it being seized by the Crown when he was outlawed. The Soughton estate passed to his youngest brother, the Rev. Edward Bankes (1794-1867), who was already a wealthy man as a result of his first marriage to the daughter of the Lord Chancellor, John Scott (1751-1838), 1st Earl of Eldon. Edward held a number of clerical positions in plurality (in a way which was increasingly frowned upon in the mid 19th century), but seems to have lived in the close at Gloucester, where he held a canonry, and there is little evidence that he ever moved to Soughton Hall, although it would appear that some building work was done there in the 1840s to incorporate materials sent from Kingston Lacy and perhaps directly by the exiled William John Bankes. By his two wives, Edward Bankes raised a large family, but his heir at Soughton was his eldest son, John Scott Bankes (1826-94), who settled on the estate before his father's death and became a model Victorian squire, active in public life and in promoting agricultural improvement, temperance, and local charities. 

By his first wife, the daughter of the Chief Justice of Common Pleas, John Scott Bankes had ten children, and his eldest and youngest sons both became barristers. The eldest son, the Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Bankes (1854-1946) succeeded to the Soughton estate on his father's death, but while he enjoyed the management of the property he was obliged to spend a great deal of his time in London, as he accrued increasingly senior judicial appointments. These culminated in his becoming an appeal court judge and privy councillor from 1915 until his retirement in 1927, and alongside this role he also took responsibility for drafting a new constitution for the Church in Wales after it was disestablished in 1920. 

Sir John was succeeded in 1946 by his only surviving son, Robert Wynne Bankes (1887-1975), who trained as a barrister but became a public servant and later secretary of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He retired to Soughton in 1950 and lived there until his death in 1975. His widow survived him for ten years, dying at the great age of 95 in 1985, but after her death the house was sold by his children and became an hotel. Many of the contents of the house were sold in the 1980s, including a large picture which was probably acquired by William John Bankes on the Continent. This was sold as being 'after Rubens' and made £2,000 at auction, but subsequent investigations, after it was acquired by an American art gallery, led to its authentication as a genuine work by Rubens himself, and potentially worth many millions of pounds. Perhaps, if this had been known in the 1980s, its sale would have allowed the family to remain at Soughton.

Soughton Hall, Northop, Flintshire

An interesting and highly unusual house, the development of which is sadly not very well recorded. At the core is an early 18th century building constructed for Edward Conway, who inherited in 1689 and sold the estate when he ran out of money in 1732. It is not clear when he built the house, as there is inconclusive evidence for building in both 1714 and 1727, though the latter seems a more likely date on stylistic grounds. The house was of three storeys and had eleven bay fronts to south and north. The entrance front faced south, as now, and was approached by a long avenue of lime trees. It was of brick with stone dressings, and markedly Baroque in form, with complicated articulation, a Corinthian order, and a great deal of rustication. The north front, by contrast, was much simpler, in plain brick. The house was sold in 1732 to John Wynne, Bishop of Bath & Wells but previously Bishop of St. Asaph, who may have been responsible for completing the fitting out of the house, constructing the forecourt walls and gates, and building the stables, to which the Bankes coat of arms were added after 1815. Inside the house, it is still possible to get a sense of the 18th century origins of the building, especially in the open-well staircase, which preserves its swept rail, carved tread ends and fluted balusters. The entrance hall is also basically 18th century in its form, although now decorated with woodcarvings which were added in the 19th century.

In 1815 the estate passed to William John Bankes (1786-1855) [for whom see my account of the Bankes family of Kingston Lacy], who spent nearly a decade travelling and collecting works of art and antiquities in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Egypt and the Middle East. While in Egypt, he made the acquaintance of the young architect Charles Barry, and on his return to Britain in 1820 he determined to make his home at Soughton until such time as he should inherit Kingston Lacy. The house was no doubt rather tired and old-fashioned in 1820, and Bankes brought in Barry to help him carry out a rather eccentric remodelling which he claimed was inspired by his Spanish travels. The form in which the house was recast is generally taken to be result of Barry carrying out Bankes' own designs. However, the drawings by Bankes held by the National Trust which seem to relate to Soughton show a poor command of perspective, and are on paper with a watermark date of 1805.  They show alternative designs for remodelling a Georgian house in an Italianate style, though some of the ideas that were executed in the final designs are evident in them. There are a number of problems with these drawings, however, not least that they show a nine-bay house rather than the eleven-bay one which existed, and in view of this and the early watermark date, it seems possible that they are early proposals, drawn from memory while Bankes was abroad. 

Soughton Hall: the south front as altered in the 1820s.

Soughton Hall: the north front as altered in the 1820s.

The executed scheme, though still highly eccentric by the standards of conventional taste, exhibits much less awkwardness, and was therefore probably a combination of Bankes' ideas with Barry's professional skills. Pavilions were added above the two outer bays at either end of the house, which ran back for the whole depth of the house. They had aracaded walls and steep hipped roofs carried on bracketed eaves. The north front was given mullioned and oriel windows and a canted central porch (intended to be a new main entrance) that rose into a hexagonal belvedere turret with an ogee roof. The centre of the first and second floors was remodelled to accommodate two two-storey rooms (a dining room on the north and a saloon to the south). 

Soughton Hall: the house in an early photograph showing it before the alterations of 1867-69.
The south front was all but rebuilt with round-headed Gothick-glazed sash windows either side of the centre, and a prominent pitched roof with a central cupola over the central three bays. Tall mullioned and transomed windows on the first and second floors lit the saloon, and there was a shallow classical colonnade on the ground floor, at either end of which were single-storey porches with flat roofs and balustrades, that served as terraces for the first floor rooms on either side. After William John Bankes went abroad in 1841 and made over his estates to his brothers, he continued to buy works of art and antiquities and ship them to England for incorporation in Kingston Lacy, and some of the things they displaced found their way to Soughton in the 1840s, including a set of Gobelin tapestries and a huge Rubens cartoon, and the interiors may well have been modified to accommodate them: the ceiling of the saloon in particular appears to be of the 1840s.

Soughton Hall: the house was remodelled in 1867-69 giving the form in which it exists today.

A further remodelling was carried out in 1867-69 for John Scott Bankes immediately after he inherited the estate from his father, which gave the house its present Victorian character. The works were apparently designed by his friend, the Rev. William Frederick Wiggin of Oddington (Glos), who was an amateur architect. Wiggin would not, however, have had the time or the expertise to supervise the works, and this task probably fell to the young John Douglas of Chester, who also built the Lower Lodge of 1868 and an octagonal game larder of 1872. The alterations to the house included casing it with hard red brick with stone dressings; removing the classical colonnade with porches at either end and building a new central porch; and replacing the arch-headed Gothick-glazed sashes on the entrance front with rectangular mullioned and transomed windows - those on the second floor having round-headed tympana above them, pierced with quatrefoils inside circles. The saloon roof and the pavilions at either end of the facade were retained, but the central cupola was replaced by a spiky Gothic turret. On the north side, the porch was given a more massive base, and the central turret was modified and given a less playful roof. Less was done inside the house, but the saloon and dining room and several other rooms all now have High Victorian chimneypieces.

The Bankes family remained at Soughton until 1987, when the house was sold and converted for use as a boutique hotel, with the stable block becoming a restaurant. Both properties were acquired in 2016 by Elle R Leisure of Manchester, which has refocused the business as a wedding and events venue.

Descent: John Conway (d. 1680); to son, John Conway (d. 1689); to son, Edward Conway, who sold 1732 to Rt. Rev. John Wynne (1667-1743); to son, John Wynne (d. 1801); to brother, Sir William Wynne (d. 1815); to great-nephew, William John Bankes (1786-1855); who gave it in 1841 to his brother, Rev. Edward Bankes (1794-1867); to son, John Scott Bankes (1826-94); to son, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Banks (1854-1946), kt.; to son, Robert Wynne Bankes (1887-1975); to children, who sold 1987 (after the death of their mother in 1985) to John and Rosemary Rodenhurst, who converted the house into an hotel; sold 2016 to Elle R Leisure of Manchester.

Bankes family of Soughton Hall

Rev. Edward Bankes (1794-1867)
Bankes, Rev. Edward (1794-1867). Fourth son of Henry Bankes (1757-1834) of Kingston Lacy (Dorset) and his wife Frances (1760-1823), daughter of William Woodley, Lieutenant-Governor of Antigua, 1786-88, born 13 August and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 30 September 1794. Educated at Westminster School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1812; BCL 1818). Ordained deacon and priest, 1818; rector of Corfe Castle, 1818-54; vicar of Stoke Bliss (Herefs), 1820-23 and East Farleigh (Kent), 1823-32; canon residentiary of Gloucester Cathedral, 1821-67 and of Bristol Cathedral, 1832-67; chaplain in ordinary to King George IV, King William IV and Queen Victoria, 1820-67. According to a contemporary, "although he became enormously rich upon the death of his father-in-law, Mr Bankes continued to hold his preferments for some years after he was incapable of performing the duties attached to them - this was, however, natural enough seeing that he had rendered very perfunctory service when in his vigour". JP and DL for Flintshire. He married 1st, 6 April 1820, Lady Frances Jane (1798-1838), daughter of Rt. Hon. John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon, Lord Chancellor of England, and 2nd, 3 September 1839, Maria (1809-86), third daughter of Very Rev. & Hon. Edward Rice DD, Dean of Gloucester, 1825-62, and had issue:
(1.1) John Scott Bankes (1826-94) (q.v.);
(1.2) Frances Bankes (1827-89), baptised at Corfe Castle, 29 September 1827; married, 11 August 1846 at Corfe Castle, Sheffield Serrell (1814-58) of Durnford House, Langton Maltravers (Dorset), son of Rev. Samuel Serrell, but had no issue; died 2 July 1889; will proved 2 September 1889 (effects £6,431);
(1.3) Rev. Eldon Surtees Bankes (1829-1915), born 27 September and baptised at Gloucester Cathedral, 16 November 1829; educated at Eton and University College, Oxford (matriculated 1847; BA 1851; MA 1864); ordained deacon, 1853 and priest, 1854; rector of Corfe Castle, 1854-99, prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral, 1872-99; rural dean of Dorchester, 1875-98; canon residentiary of Salisbury Cathedral, 1898-1915; married, 9 October 1856, his cousin, Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Scott (1834-64) and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 1 February 1915; will proved 8 April 1915 (estate £7,978);
(1.4) Henry Eldon George Bankes (1836-65), born 2 July and baptised at Corfe Castle, 29 August 1836; an officer in 4th Dragoons (Cornet, 1853); became an insolvent debtor, 1854; fled abroad and was outlawed, 1862; buried at Boulogne (France), 28 October 1865;
(2.1) Georgina Maria Bankes (1842-1909), baptised at Corfe Castle, 24 February 1842; died unmarried, 22 December, and was buried at Radipole (Dorset), 24 December 1909; will proved 25 January 1910 (estate £8,214);
(2.2) Mary Frances Bankes (1844-1923), baptised at Gloucester Cathedral, 13 June 1843; married, 29 April 1862 at St Mary de Lode, Gloucester, Philip Pennant Pennant (1834-1910) of Nantllys (Flints), son of Rev. George Pearson, rector of Castle Camps (Cambs), and had issue one son and three daughters; died 30 June 1923; will proved 20 November 1923 (estate £8,377);
(2.3) Rosa Bankes (1845-1912), baptised at Gloucester Cathedral, 31 May 1845; married, 28 January 1868 at Radipole (Dorset), Rev. George James (1837-1910), minor canon of Gloucester Cathedral, and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 8 May 1912; will proved 2 September 1912 (estate £3,402);
(2.4) twin, Emma Bankes (1847-1901), baptised at St Augustine-the-Less, Bristol, 17 June 1847; married, 5 June 1873 at Radipole, Edward Alexander Cameron (d. 1905), civil engineer, son of Rev. Alexander Cameron, but had no issue; died 13 February 1901; administration of goods granted to husband, 8 March 1901 (estate £1,788);
(2.5) twin, Frederica Bankes (1847-1926), baptised at St Augustine-the-Less, Bristol, 17 June 1847; married, 5 June 1873 at Radipole, Col. John George Skene (1837-1916) and had issue two daughters; died 12 March 1926; will proved 14 May 1926 (estate £7,939). 
He received Soughton Hall (Flints) as a gift when his brother William went into exile. 
He died at Gloucester, 24 May 1867; his will proved 22 June 1867 (effects under £60,000). His first wife died 6 August 1838. His widow died 17 April 1886; her will was proved 15 May 1886 (effects £1,564).

John Scott Bankes (1826-94)
Bankes, John Scott (1826-94). Elder son of Rev. Edward Bankes of Soughton Hall (Flints) and his first wife, Lady Frances Jane, daughter of John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon, born 11 July 1826. Educated at Eton, Queen's College and University College, Oxford (matriculated 1844; BA 1848); JP for Dorset; JP for Flintshire (Chairman of Quarter Sessions, 1864-94); High Sheriff of Flintshire, 1869-70; DL for Flintshire from 1853; Chairman of Holywell Board of Guardians, 1885-92; Member of Flintshire County Council, 1889-94 (Vice-Chairman). He was a moderate Liberal and later a Liberal Unionist in politics, and was at one time invited to stand for Parliament in Flintshire; he was also a supporter of the temperance movement, and worked to reduce the number of public houses licenced in the county. He had a keen interest in agricultural matters, especially stock breeding, and his Home Farm at Soughton was regarded as a model of efficiency. He married 1st, 2 August 1849, Annie (1828-76), daughter of Sir John Jervis, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas (in whose office he was briefly a pupil), and 2nd, 1883, Adelaide Sophia (1843-1930), youngest daughter of Rev. George Pearson, rector of Castle Camps (Cambs), and had issue:
(1.1) Frances Catherine Bankes (1851-1907), born 9 March and baptised at St Michael, Pimlico (London), 10 April 1851; married, 22 November 1870, Rev. Frederick Clements Williamson (1846-99), son of Samuel Williamson, solicitor, and had issue four sons and three daughters; in 1901 she was a resident patient at Spelthorne St Mary Sanatorium (for women with drug or alcohol addictions), Thorpe (Surrey); died in West Kensington (Middx), 8 March 1907; will proved 2 May 1907 (estate £1,625);
(1.2) Annie Georgina Bankes (1852-56), baptised at St Michael, Pimlico (London), 17 November 1852; died young and was buried at Northop, 15 October 1856;
(1.3) Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Bankes (1854-1946), kt. (q.v.);
(1.4) Rev. Edward Wynne Jervis Bankes (1855-99), born 2 December 1855; educated at Eton and University College, Oxford (matriculated 1875; BA 1878; MA 1881); ordained deacon, 1879 and priest, 1880; held curacies in London, 1879-85; vicar of St Augustine, South Hackney (Middx), 1885-99; died unmarried of pneumonia, 21 March, and was buried at Northop, 25 March 1899;
(1.5) Mabel Grace Bankes (1857-1919), born 14 November and baptised at Northop, 17 December 1857; married 1st, 5 February 1880, Arthur Robert Wiggin (1850-1903), coffee planter in Ceylon, son of Rev. William Wiggin, rector of Hampnett (Glos); married 2nd, 23 September 1905, as his second wife, Walter Turing Mackenzie (1856-1919), company director, third son of Rt. Rev. Henry Mackenzie, suffragan bishop of Nottingham; died 9 February 1919; will proved 25 April 1919 (estate £3,232);
(1.6) Margaret Wynne Bankes (1859-1956), born 27 August and baptised at Northop, 24 September 1859; married, 6 June 1882, Robert William Wynne-Eyton (1854-1919), son of Thomas Wynne-Eyton of The Tower, Mold (Flints), but had no issue; died aged 96 at Rani Khet, Uttar Pradesh (India) on 1 February 1956; administration of goods (with will annexed) granted 22 August 1960 (estate in England, £152);
(1.7) Adelaide Mary Bankes (1861-1933), born 21 September and baptised at Northop, 14 October 1861; worked as Red Cross volunteer, 1917-19; married, 16 January 1883 at Holy Trinity, Brompton (Middx), Charles Henry Ashton (d. 1905) and had issue four children; died 12 December 1933; will proved 17 February 1934 (estate £726);
(1.8) Rose Caroline Bankes (1863-1940), born 19 July and baptised at Northop, 8 August 1863; married 1st, 23 July 1890, Walter Howman Buddicom (d. 1892) of Penbedw (Flints) but had no issue; married 2nd, April 1896, Walter Baldwyn Yates CBE JP (1857-1947) of Cilcen Hall, Mold (Flints), barrister-at-law, and had issue three daughters; died 4 July 1940; will proved 8 November 1940 (estate £16,581);
(1.9) Amy Charlotte Bankes (1865-1958), born 23 August and baptised at Northop, 19 September 1865; married, 17 April 1895, Thomas Owen JP (1860-1935), son of William Owen of Blessington (Co. Wicklow) and had issue one son and one daughter; lived latterly at Hawarden (Flints); died aged 92 on 4 June 1958; cremated and her ashes buried at Hawarden, 27 August 1958; will proved 14 August 1958 (estate £532);
(1.10) Ralph Vincent Bankes (1867-1921), born 17 March 1867; educated at Winchester, University College, Oxford (matriculated 1886; BA 1889) and Inner Temple (admitted 1887; called to bar, 1890); barrister-at-law on the Chester & North Wales circuit (KC, 1910); Metropolitan Police magistrate, 1917-21; married, 19 December 1895 at Wasing (Berks), Ethel Georgina (1865-1949), daughter of William George Mount MP of Wasing Place and had issue two sons; died 26 October 1921; will proved 3 January 1922 (estate £17,457).
He inherited Soughton Hall from his father in 1867 and remodelled it in 1867-69.
He died 16 September 1894; his will was proved 12 February 1895 (effects £32,892). His first wife died 21 October 1876. His widow died 7 December 1930; her will was proved 27 March 1931 (estate £21,889).

Sir John Eldon Bankes (1854-1946)
Image: National Portrait Gallery.
Bankes, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon (1854-1946), kt. Eldest son of John Scott Bankes (1826-94) and his first wife, Annie, daughter of Sir John Jervis, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, born 17 April 1854. Educated at Eton, University College, Oxford (matriculated 1872; BA 1877; rowing blue) and Inner Temple (called to bar 1878; bencher 1899; Treasurer, 1923). Barrister-at-law (KC, 1901), with a common law practice; Chancellor of diocese of St. Asaph, 1908-10; judge of High Court of Justice, Kings Bench division, 1910-15; sworn of Privy Council, 1915; Lord Justice of Appeal, 1915-27; retired 1927; Chairman of the Departmental Committee on Education in Rural Wales, 1928. JP for Flintshire and Chairman of Flintshire Quarter Sessions for 33 years. A Conservative in politics, he stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1906 and was a member of Flintshire County Council (Chairman, 1933). With Lord Sankey, he drafted the new constitution of the Church in Wales after it was dis-established in 1920. He was knighted, 1 October 1910 and promoted to GCB, 2 January 1928. He received honorary degrees from the Universities of Manchester (LLD, 1923) and Wales (LLD, 1921), and was a Fellow of Eton College, 1905-12 and an Hon. Fellow of University College, Oxford, 1923-46. He is described as "Modest, unassuming, and courteous, good-looking, tall and athletic, with a dry sense of humour", and won a high reputation as a careful, clear-headed, and able lawyer, whose rulings in the Court of Appeal were rarely challenged in the House of Lords. He married, 10 August 1882, Edith (1856-1931), daughter of Robert Peel Ethelston of Hinton Whitchurch (Shrops.), and had issue:
(1) John Ethelston Eldon Bankes (1884-1908), born 23 June and baptised at Christ Church, Chelsea (Middx), 24 July 1884; educated at Eton, University College, Oxford and Inner Temple (admitted 1904; called to bar, 1907); barrister-at-law; died unmarried, 15 May and was buried at Northop, 19 May 1908; will proved 4 July 1908 (estate £2,550);
(2) Margaret Annie Bankes (1885-1932), born 29 November 1885; married, 29 July 1908, Sir Wilfrid Hubert Poyer Lewis (1881-1950), kt., High Court judge (who m2, 1934, Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. David Barty King of London), son of Arthur Griffith Poyer Lewis, barrister-at-law, of Henllan, near Narberth, (Pembs), and had issue one son and three daughters; died 6 January 1932;
(3) Robert Wynne Bankes (1887-1975) (q.v.);
(4) Ruth Edith Bankes (1891-1967), born 28 January 1891; married, 16 April 1912, Maj. William Marshall Dugdale DSO JP (1881-1952), of Llwyn, Llanfyllin (Montgomerys.), and had issue one son and two daughters; died 18 May 1967; will proved 3 January 1968 (estate £18,005).
He inherited Soughton Hall from his father in 1894.
He died 31 December 1946, was cremated on 4 January, and his ashes were buried at Northop on 7 January 1947; his will was proved in March 1947 (estate £84,258). His wife died 30 March 1931.

Robert Wynne Bankes (1887-1975)
Bankes, Robert Wynne (1887-1975). Younger but only surviving son of Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Bankes (1854-1946) and his wife Edith, daughter of Robert Peel Ethelston of Hinton Whitchurch (Shrops.), born 23 June 1887. Educated at Eton, University College, Oxford (BA 1908) and Inner Temple (called to bar, 1908). Barrister-at-law; served in First World War as an officer in Montgomeryshire Yeomanry (Capt.; mentioned in despatches); ADC to Brig-Gen. Godwin 1917-18 and Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby, 1918-19; private secretary to successive Lord Chancellors, and Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of Lords, 1919-29; Secretary of Institute of Chartered Accountants, 1936-50 (Asst Sec. 1929-36); High Sheriff of Flintshire, 1945. He was appointed CBE, 1925. He married, 23 January 1916 at the Temple Church, London, Mabel Elizabeth (1890-1985), second daughter of Maj. Henry Pelham-Burn of Kirkmichael (Dumfries.), and had issue:
(1) John Wynne Bankes (1916-2009), born 5 November 1916; educated at Eton and University College, Oxford (BA 1938); served in Second World War with 14th/20th Kings Hussars (Capt.) and on general staff in India and Burma; solicitor; High Sheriff of Clwyd, 1975; lived at Mynachlog, Northop (Flints); married, 12 February 1945, Althea Dykes (1918-2007), youngest daughter of Sir Dykes Spicer, 2nd bt., and widow of Joseph Alwyn Francis Baxendale, and had issue two sons and one daughter; died aged 93, 24 February 2009; will proved 16 July 2009;
(2) David Lindsay Bankes (1919-2016), born 18 April 1919; educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge; served in Second World War with Scots Guards, 1940-46 (mentioned in despatches); employed by Alginate Industries Ltd. from 1947; married, 19 May 1945, Muriel (1919-2013), younger daughter of J.C. Cunningham of Stoke Poges (Bucks), and had issue one son and one daughter; died aged 96, 12 April 2016; will proved 19 September 2016;
(3) Joanna Elizabeth Bankes (1922-2006), born 1 August 1922; married 1st, 2 May 1942 at the Royal Military Chapel in Wellington Barracks (London), Lt. Michael King Maconchy (1919-44), second son of John King Maconchy of Hillside, Carrickmines (Co. Dublin) and had issue one daughter; married 2nd, 7 October 1950, as his second wife, Hujohn Armstrong Ripman (d. 2010), gynaecologist, son of Christian Hugo Ripman, but had no further issue; died 30 July 2006; will proved 14 November 2006.
He inherited Soughton Hall from his father in 1946. The house was sold in 1987 following the death of his widow.
He died 18 July 1975; his will was proved 16 March 1976 (estate £144,580). His widow died aged 95, 20 December 1985; her will was proved 28 April 1986 (estate £1,297).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, pp. 101-02; E. Hubbard, The buildings of Wales: Clwyd, 1986, pp. 408-10; E. Hubbard, The work of John Douglas, 1991, p. 240; Wrexham Advertiser, 2 January 1869, p. 6.

Location of archives

Conway, Wynne and Bankes families of Soughton Hall: deeds, estate, legal and family papers, 1551-1965 [Flintshire Record Office, D/SH; D/DM 298]

Coat of arms

Sable, a cross engrailed ermine, between four fleurs-de-lis or.

Notes about missing information and help wanted with this entry

  • I would be most grateful if anyone can provide additional genealogical or career information about this family, or provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above. 
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 31 December 2018 and was updated 22 December 2020. I am most grateful to Lawrence Rawsthorne for additional information. 

Saturday 29 December 2018

(356) Bankes of Kingston Lacy

Bankes of Kingston Lacy
This family first rose to eminence through the career of Sir John Bankes (1589-1644), kt., who was the son of a successful Cumbrian merchant and was educated as a lawyer. A career at the bar led him to become an MP in the 1620s, and then Charles I's attorney general at the height of his personal rule in the 1630s. He began purchasing land in Dorset in 1626, when he acquired part of the Earl of Newport's estate at Canford Magna and Holt, and his estate was greatly enlarged by the purchase of Corfe Castle and much of the Isle of Purbeck from Lady Elizabeth Coke in 1635 and of the remainder of Lord Newport's estate, around Wimborne Minster and Pamphill, in 1636. Shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War he was made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and he accompanied the King on his wartime peregrinations to York and to Oxford, where he died at the end of 1644. Sir John was always a moderate and cautious Royalist, and contrived to maintain good relations with the Parliamentary side until 1643, when he ruled that the Earls of Essex and Manchester were traitors. This provoked the Parliamentarians into moving against his Dorset property, where his wife, Dame Mary Bankes (d. 1661), had been left in charge of Corfe Castle with a handful of retainers. A neighbouring Parliamentarian, Col. Walter Erle, put Corfe Castle under siege, but Dame Mary maintained a spirited defence with the limited forces at her command, and he was unable to capture the castle. In the end, rumours of approaching Royalist reinforcements caused him to lift the siege and he was summoned to London to explain his failure to Parliament. Two years later, however, the siege was renewed under the command of Col. Bingham, and this time the treachery of a member of the garrison (who let in a large body of parliamentarian troops at night), allowed the castle to be taken. Dame Mary was allowed to depart with her children and the keys and seals of the castle, but all the family property was forfeited to Parliament and was dispersed before the castle was blown up later that year.

Corfe Castle: the ruins of the medieval fortress slighted in 1646.
Sir John Bankes had fourteen children, of whom most survived to maturity, but all of whom were minors at his death. Dame Mary therefore became effective head of the family and fought the sequestration of the family estates and the fines demanded when she agreed to compound for their return. The later 1640s were filled with this humiliating bargaining, but when her eldest son, John Bankes (1626-56) returned from a Grand Tour and came into his inheritance - at the age of 24 - the fines had been paid, no doubt at the cost of burdening the estate with debts.  In 1656, John died unmarried at the age of thirty, and the estates therefore passed unexpectedly to his next surviving brother, Sir Ralph Bankes (1631-77), kt., who was a lawyer at Grays Inn. Sir Ralph remained in London until the return of King Charles II in 1660, when he was knighted (explicitly in recognition of the family's sufferings in the Civil War), made a gentleman of the bedchamber to the King, and rapidly restored to positions of power and influence in Dorset. The most significant of his local roles was as Hereditary Admiral of the Isle of Purbeck, a position which had been attached to the owners of Corfe Castle since Elizabethan times, and which remained rather more than a sinecure until the 19th century. In 1661 he married the daughter of another Dorset landowner, who brought him an income of about £1,200 a year, and this encouraged him to build a new house on the estate to replace the shattered Corfe Castle. 

Sir Roger Pratt: portrait by Sir Peter Lely
For the design of his new mansion he turned to his friend Sir Roger Pratt, whom he may have known from Continental travels in the 1640s, or through their joint friendship with the artist Sir Peter Lely in 1650s London. Pratt designed him an innovative house which was one of a small group that effectively created a new model for the country house in the late 17th century. The impact of this new model is nicely indicated by its appearance in a reduced form in the design of High Hall, Pamphill, which was built soon after Kingston Lacy was completed for Sir Ralph's sister Arabella and her husband, Samuel Gilly. The cost of building and furnishing Kingston Lacy, however, greatly exceeded what Sir Ralph could afford, and when he died he was more than £11,000 in debt.

His only son, John Bankes (1665-1714) was again a minor on inheriting, and so, as in the previous generation, it was Sir Ralph's widow, Mary (d. 1711) who took charge. She let Kingston Lacy to the Duke of Ormonde (d. 1688), and allowed the rental income from the estate to gradually reduce the debt. Soon after John came of age, the Duke died, and within a few years John was able to return to Kingston Lacy and begin a modest programme of refurnishing. In 1714, however, tragedy struck when he was killed outright by a gunshot wound: a coroner's jury found that a blunderbuss which he kept loaded in his bedroom went off while he and his servant were lifting it down from the wall for cleaning. Although such tragic 'accidents' were improbably common in the 18th and 19th centuries, and some were undoubtedly suicides over which a polite fiction of accident was drawn, in this instance there is nothing to suggest that John had been depressed or had money or personal worries, so it may have been a genuine accident.

The heir to the Kingston Lacy estates was John Bankes (1692-1772), who had just come of age. He never married, and although he sat as MP for Corfe Castle for twenty years, he seems to have played a very limited part in public life, and his personal interests and enthusiasms are obscure. His accounts suggests that he was extremely careful with money, and during his long tenure of the estate the remaining debts were cleared. He was, however, obliged to undertake some work on the house in the 1730s, as a change made to the entrance hall by his father had removed part of the structural support for the cupola at the top of the house, which had to be taken down. When he died in 1772, John Bankes was succeeded by his brother Henry Bankes (1698-1776), who had both married well and pursued a profitable career as a lawyer, MP, and government placeman. Although he only held the estate for four years, in that time he added further lands to his holding and built a new service wing onto the house to the designs of a local builder.

Henry was succeeded by his son, Henry Bankes (1757-1834), who after Cambridge and an extensive Grand Tour (years during which he demonstrated a penchant for learning and culture), became an assiduous Parliamentarian, sitting for his pocket borough at Corfe Castle and later for Dorset. With the combined resources of his father and uncle, he was a wealthy man, and although he never held Government office, he had influential friends, including the 1st Duke of Wellington and William Pitt the younger. It is therefore a little surprising that he did not secure a peerage, or a least a baronetcy, from his long Parliamentary career (which lasted continuously from 1780 to 1831). He did, however, undertake the first significant remodelling of Kingston Lacy. While in Rome in the 1770s he met both John Soane and Robert Furze Brettingham, who were then completing their architectural educations. He supplied them with survey drawings of Kingston Lacy and Soane at least made some proposals for altering it. It was, however, to Brettingham that Henry eventually turned in 1784 when he embarked on alterations. The changes (which were in some respects similar to what Soane had suggested) were radical, but never wholly successful, and when Henry's son and heir, William John Bankes came of age he was a vocal critic of Brettingham's work.  After 1819, therefore, Henry sought advice from both Cundy and Wyatville on ways in which the house might be further improved, but in the end nothing was done until after his death.

William John Bankes (1786-1855) was a man of wide-ranging intellectual and aesthetic interests, who early in life gained a reputation for extravagance and eccentricity. He could be charming but he could also be wild: it says a lot that his Cambridge friend Lord Byron - he who was himself 'Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know' - called him 'the father of all mischief'. In 1812 he proposed marriage to Annabella Milbanke (later Lady Byron), and when she turned him down he went abroad, presumably to bury his disappointment in adventurous travel. For three years he followed the Duke of Wellington's armies through Portugal and Spain (where he was accredited as an honorary aide de camp and snapped up distinguished pictures that were often for sale at low prices in wartime conditions) and then made his way via Italy to Egypt and the Middle East, where he spent five further years travelling, during which time he formed the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in existence. His largest acquisition was an ancient fallen obelisk from Philae, which it took him more than twenty years to bring to Britain and erect in the gardens at Kingston Lacy. In 1822, he became an MP, but he found public speaking difficult and was not an effective parliamentary performer. In 1834 he inherited the Kingston Lacy estate and he was at last free to remodel the house as he wished. Having previously employed Sir Charles Barry in alterations at Soughton Hall in north Wales, he now asked him to remodel Kingston Lacy, and work began in 1836. Meanwhile, the complexities of William's personal life were getting him into trouble. In 1823 he was sued for adultery with Lady Buckinghamshire and ten years later his public career was ended when he had to defend a charge of meeting a guardsman for 'unnatural purposes' in a public lavatory in Westminster. On that occasion he was acquitted, but ten years later a similar incident caused him to jump bail, sign over his estates to his brothers, and flee abroad in fear of his life (since a charge of sodomy still carried the death penalty). He eventually settled in Venice, where he continued to buy works of art and architectural materials that he shipped to England for use at Kingston Lacy. The house at Kingston Lacy was occupied by his widowed sister, Lady Falmouth, and she and his clerk of works oversaw piecemeal alterations to the house that continued until his death. William himself remained abroad for the rest of his life, and although family legend says that he made one or more clandestine visits to Kingston Lacy to see the house in its final form, there seems to be no proof of this.

Although William's departure for Europe in 1841 was hurried, he transferred legal ownership of Kingston Lacy and Soughton Hall to his brothers, the lawyer and MP George Bankes (1787-1856) and the Rev. Edward Bankes (1794-1867), before he went. This ensured that when he was outlawed, the Crown was unable to seize these properties. His brothers seem, however, to have acted more like trustees than legal owners: as we have seen, William continued to dictate in minute detail the changes he wanted at Kingston Lacy until his death. George Bankes, who had built himself a marine villa at Studland on the Purbeck part of the estate after 1825, never moved to Kingston Lacy, and died little more than a year after his brother. The estate then passed in quick succession to his son, Edmund George Bankes (1826-60) and grandsons, Henry John Percival Bankes (1850-69) and Walter Ralph Bankes (1853-1904). Walter, whose 'dangerous sophistication' was reputedly attractive to women, enjoyed an extended period of bachelor freedom, but finally married in 1897 and produced a son and two daughters. After marriage, however, his personality changed and he became increasingly taciturn and solitary. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of fifty-one, and once again a widow was left to run the estate until her son (Henry John Ralph Bankes (1902-81)) came of age. Even as a young man, Henry was 'somewhat reserved' but he  was High Sheriff of Dorset in 1939 and married and produced a family. After his wife died in 1966, however, he became much more reclusive, and Kingston Lacy - which had been open to the public in the 1950s and 1960s - became one of the most difficult houses in England to get into, and steadily deteriorated. It was therefore a huge surprise when, on his death in 1981, he proved to have bequeathed the whole 16,000 Kingston Lacy and Corfe Castle estate to the National Trust, together with all the contents of Kingston Lacy. In total his estate was valued at more than £21 million, making it the largest bequest the Trust had ever received. His son and daughter received legacies of just £50,000 each, which, though far from trifling, sounds rather like the proverbial shilling in the context of the total size of the estate. The Trust accepted the bequest and embarked on a major restoration of Kingston Lacy, following which the house was opened to the public again in 1984. It remains one of the Trust's most spectacular integrated works of art, still very much reflecting the vision of the exiled William John Bankes in the mid 19th century.

Kingston Lacy, Pamphill, Dorset

The first manor house at Kingston Lacy of which anything is known was a medieval courtyard house, probably built for the de Lacy family, Earls of Lincoln, that stood north-west of the present building. Already by 1252 it was large enough to host a visit by King Henry III, and after the estate passed into the ownership of the Duchy of Lancaster in the mid 14th century, John of Gaunt stayed here at least twice. By 1493, however, the buildings were falling into disrepair and were starting to be used as a quarry for new buildings in the nearby town of Wimborne. In 1542, Leland noted that the house had been largely destroyed.

The estate remained in Crown hands until 1603, when James I granted it to Charles Blount (d. 1606), Earl of Devon. His son, Mountjoy Blount (d. 1666), 1st Earl of Newport, sold the property in two parcels (in 1626 and 1636) to Sir John Bankes (1589-1644), kt., who also bought the medieval and Elizabethan stronghold of Corfe Castle in 1635. During the Civil War, Bankes' royalist sympathies led to the siege, capture and partial dismantling of Corfe, and the removal of many of its fitting and some of its dressed stonework for re-use in the building projects of local Parliamentarian commanders at Charborough Park and Bingham's Melcombe. By the time Sir John Bankes' sons, John (d. 1656) and Sir Ralph (1631-77), returned from their grand tour on the Continent, it will have been clear that a new house was needed on the estate.

Sir Ralph Bankes, who inherited the estate from his brother in 1656, was a lawyer at Grays Inn, and from 1659 sat as the MP for the seat his family controlled at Corfe Castle. At this time he lived in chambers in London, but with the Restoration of the Monarchy and a fortunate marriage he was able to build a new house to replace Corfe Castle, which he chose to site on the northern half of his property, at Kingston Lacy. For the design he turned to the gentleman amateur architect, Sir Roger Pratt, whom he may have met travelling on the Continent in the 1640s or have known through the legal and artistic circles they both inhabited in London. The new Kingston Lacy was built in 1663-65 with 'Thomas Fitts of Farnham (Surrey), bricklayer' and his son John as the principal contractors (i.e., Sir Thomas Fitch, who was a more than competent architect in his own right). It is one of a group of compact new houses which Pratt designed in the years immediately after the Restoration (alongside Coleshill House (Berks), 1649-62; Horseheath Hall (Cambs), 1663-65; and Clarendon House, Piccadilly, London, 1664-67), which exerted a massive influence on the form of the country house in the ensuing half-century. The new house and park were laid out on a greenfield site between the village of Pamphill and the Iron Age hill-fort of Badbury Rings. It was set on rising ground, so that the south-facing garden front has two storeys, while the north-facing entrance front has an exposed basement storey and is given verticality by an array of chimney stacks which make this facade more imposing. 

Kingston Lacy House: design of 1663 by Sir Roger Pratt for the entrance front.
The elevations of the house are astylar, like all Pratt's houses, and the entrance and garden sides both have nine bays. On the entrance front the central three bays are broken forward and crowned by a pediment, while on the garden side the only central emphasis was originally given by the pedimented doorcase. The windows were moulded stone cross-windows, set into red brick walls dressed with Chilmark stone for the  quoins, cill bands, window frames and cornice. The stonework was the work of Joseph Godfrey of Sherborne, 'an excellent freemason', under the overall supervision of Mr Goodfellow, the master mason. The hipped slate roof rose to a lead flat on which was stood a large cupola, very similar to the one at Coleshill. On the end elevations, the windows were more closely-spaced, creating a seven-bay arrangement. 

Kingston Lacy House: reconstructed plan of house as first built in 1663.
Image: National Trust.
The original planning of the house (since much altered) can be reconstructed in some detail, and was as innovative as the exterior, with the central three bays being occupied by two spaces placed back to back on each floor, while the three bays to either side had a triple pile arrangement, with staircases between the rooms on the two main fronts. On the north side of the house, a double-height entrance hall rose through both main floors and had at its inner end an arcaded gallery linking the staircase halls and providing the necessary structural support to the cupola above. Behind this, in the centre of the south front, were the main parlour on the ground floor and a Great Chamber on the first floor, the latter being an arrangement looking back to the layout of Jacobean houses. The Great Chamber was approached by an Imperial stone staircase on a majestic scale, set behind the west front, and balanced by a 'Great Backstair' on the east side, giving access to a gallery in the attic (again a rather retardaire idea) and additional bedrooms, principally for servants. Four smaller family rooms occupied the corners of the ground floor, and four chambers with closets those on the upper floor. The basement housed the kitchen and its attendant functions, the servants' hall, and storage accommodation. Pratt's notebooks indicate that most of the main rooms were decorated with tapestry hangings, except for the window walls and the returns around the doorways, which were panelled, while shutters were only provided for the ground-floor windows.

When Sir Ralph Bankes died, aged just forty-six, the estate was heavily indebted, and his widow and young heir were obliged to move out and rent the house, finding a prestigious tenant in James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde. He died in 1688, and shortly afterwards John Bankes (1665-1714) was able to reoccupy the house and begin a frugal programme of refurnishing. In 1708 he removed the galleried arcade from the hall, not realising that in doing so he taken out the structural support for the cupola, which began to lean. Rectifying this became a priority for his son, John Bankes (1692-1772), who in 1736-39 removed the cupola and the balustrade surrounding it entirely, as well as reglazing the house. He was a bachelor, and his main aim seems to have been to avoid spending money, so that the house became progressively more old-fashioned as tastes changed. When Sir Joseph Banks came visiting in 1767 he found the house 'quite of the last age, as there is not one sash in the whole [place]', but he found much to admire in the collection of pictures, even if the owner seemed to know little about them. John Bankes was succeeded by his younger brother, Henry Bankes (1698-1776), whose marriage to a Wynne heiress provided the funds to expand the estate in 1773 and to build a new kitchen and laundry courtyard on the west side in 1775  to the designs of a local builder, William Rice.

Kingston Lacy in 1774: shorn of the cupola and rooftop balustrade, but still with cross-windows, from Hutchins' History of Dorset.

The combination of John Bankes' parsimony and Henry Bankes' fortuitous marriage completed the restoration of the family's finances, and meant that when Henry Bankes junior (1757-1834) came into the estate in 1776, he had full coffers and was able to undertake the modernisation that the house so much required. He began by going on a grand tour, and while in Rome in 1779 he met John Soane and Robert Furze Brettingham, who were there as architectural students. Brettingham seems to have asked his uncle, the architect Matthew Brettingham, to arrange for surveys to be made of Kingston Lacy so that Soane could draw up some proposals. Nothing came of this scheme, but Henry Bankes had a further meeting with Brettingham when he returned to Rome in 1782. This resulted in a scheme that was finally executed between 1784 and 1790.
Kingston Lacy: the west front, which retains the original cross-windows.
Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
the original cross-windows were replaced (except on the west side where they only overlooked the kitchen court) by modern sashes, the sills of the windows in the new saloon at the centre of the north front were dropped to floor level, and a veranda was built along the south front. A new dining room was created in the north-west corner of the house, adjoining the new kitchen of 1775, which was enlarged.  The main entrance was moved from the ground floor of the north front to the basement level at the east end of the house, where it provided access to a new stone staircase rising in the double-height space where Pratt's great backstairs had been. On the ground floor a new doorway gave access from the staircase to a saloon or ballroom which replaced the former two-storey entrance hall. The ground-floor parlour was enlarged to create a room which became known as the north parlour, while a new library was created from two small rooms in the south-east corner. New bedrooms were carved out of the space formerly occupied by the great chamber on the first floor.  

Kingston Lacy: the saloon decorated in 1784-90. Image: Historic England

The finest of the new rooms was the saloon, which has survived 19th century alterations almost unaltered. It was given a coved ceiling and a delicately ornamented hyacinth frieze and cornice, replacing the flat ceiling and cornice of the Pratt period. Three lunette windows were created on the upper part of the outer wall, which appear as rectangular sashes externally. The fashionable Etruscan style painted decoration of the ceiling was painted in 1790 by Cornelius Dixon, while John Flaxman was paid for chimneypieces, including the Carrara marble one in the saloon, in 1786. The library, with elegant neo-classical bookcases around the walls and family portraits displayed above them, also survives from Brettingham's time.

Although the Bankes family celebrated the completion of Brettingham's work with a grand ball in December 1791, some deficiencies in the design soon became evident. The new entrance was rather cramped and not really grand enough for such a fine house; and the dining room was not big enough for larger occasions, when the north parlour had to be co-opted as a second dining room. In 1819, with a view to correcting these deficiencies, Bankes engaged Thomas Cundy (1765-1825), who suggested adding wings, one of which would contain a new dining room, and also consulted Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, who drew up a scheme in 1821. Henry Bankes' son, William John Bankes (1786-1855), who was a critic of Brettingham's work, finding it "neither old nor modern... but a bad mixture of both', tried to persuade his father to engage Sir Charles Barry, whom he had met in Egypt in 1819.  But in the end nothing was done, and further improvements had to wait until William John succeeded his father in 1834.

Kingston Lacy: the north front as remodelled by Barry, with a new main entrance into the basement. Image: Vauxford. Some rights reserved.

William John Bankes was his father's second son, and only became the heir after his elder brother, who had joined the Navy, was lost at sea in 1806. He inherited Soughton Hall (Flints) from his uncle, Sir William Wynne in 1815, and during the 1820s he altered that house essentially to his own designs, although Barry was involved as an executant. He also toyed with the idea of rebuilding Corfe Castle, for which his drawings survive in a range of Gothic and Tudor styles. But after he inherited Kingston Lacy he focused his attention on this house, and Barry was invited to design a remodelling to address the perceived shortcomings of Brettingham's work. 

Kingston Lacy: the east front, with the loggia designed by Barry. Image: Dorset County Council.

The first task was to restore the main entrance to the centre of the north front. Barry created a new entrance hall in the basement storey of the house and built a new porte-cochère in front of it. At the inner end of the new hall a screen of arches provided access to a transverse corridor leading to a new main staircase behind the east front.
Kingston Lacy: the new staircase created by Barry in 1836-37.
Image: Historic England.
This had an enclosed garden loggia opening off the half-pace, coffered tunnel vaults over the white Carrara marble steps, and bronze statues by Marochetti of Sir John Bankes, Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria in shell-headed niches. Bankes was enthusiastic about the staircase even before it was completed in December 1837, writing to his brother George that "there is no staircase in England equal to it in effect, not even Wardour, and not many surpass it in Italy". Outside, Bankes was keen to restore the 17th century appearance of the house and to strengthen its resemblance to Coleshill, which was built of stone. Accordingly, Barry recased the brick house in Chilmark stone with Portland stone dressings, restored the cupola and balustrade to the central lead flat, and added tall corner chimneys. He did not, however, return the sash windows to their earlier form, and neither the three-bay rusticated loggia off the main staircase nor the new attic and dormer windows he created in the roof had any 17th century precedent.

Kingston Lacy: the south front as altered by Barry, 1836-39. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
Kingston Lacy: ground plan as altered by Barry.
Image: Crown Copyright.

Inside the house, Barry created a new dining room 40 x 30 feet in the south-west corner of the house, replacing the family bedroom apartment and Brettingham's west staircase. This room was given a 17th-century style plaster ceiling, modelled on those at Coleshill, as a tribute to Inigo Jones (who was then thought to have designed both houses), but its other decoration was lost in a fire in the late 19th century, after which the present panelling was installed. 

Kingston Lacy: the Spanish Golden Room. © National Trust Images/John Hammond.

Brettingham's dining room was richly redecorated as a setting for the Spanish art which William John Bankes had collected while living in Spain for two years in the aftermath of the Peninsula War. A major component of the resulting Spanish Golden Room was the elaborate compartmented ceiling, which Bankes bought in London as having been removed from a part of the Palazzo Contarini degli Scrigni in Venice that had been designed by Scamozzi in 1609. It was cleverly adapted to fit the room, and with a centrepiece painting in the style of Paolo Veronese and arabesque decorations, complemented the gilded leather wall hangings that he purchased in Venice in 1849. A heavy bracketed cornice was installed, and the frieze below has gilded oval panels inscribed with labels describing the paintings hanging below. The twelve door panels with delicate paintings depicting the months of the year were designed by Bankes and painted to his order in Venice in 1849-51.

Kingston Lacy: the column from Philae.
Image: Historic England
The grounds around Kingston Lacy were originally laid out in a formal design focused on a walled parterre garden south of the house, from which avenues of trees radiated out over the surrounding parkland. Many of the trees came down in the Great Storm of 1703, but the layout was restored and remained much the same at the time of an estate plan made by William Woodward in 1774-75. The outer reaches of the park were landscaped at some point in the 18th century, but otherwise little changed until 1821, when William John Bankes brought home a 30-foot high Egyptian obelisk from Philae (Egypt) and erected it as the centrepiece of the south lawn, a task which was not completed until 1839.

In September 1841, William John Bankes was accused of committing 'an improper act' with a guardsman in London, and fled abroad to escape trial. Ostensibly, he went in search of further works of art to decorate the house, and he remained in constant communication with his clerk of works and his sister, Lady Falmouth, directing the continuing remodelling of the house and the placement of his purchases in great detail. Work only ceased when he died in Venice in 1855, and he never had the opportunity to enjoy living with the treasures he had collected: indeed, he may never have seen the house after 1841, although it is said that he made at least one clandestine visit.

Kingston Lacy: the drawing room, redecorated in 1900.

The house (which features in the novels of Thomas Hardy as 'Knapwater House') remains very much as William John Bankes left it. Walter Ralph Bankes (1853-1904) employed T.H. Wyatt to design a new stable block in 1880, and his wife redecorated the drawing room shortly after their marriage in 1897 in an 18th century revival style, with rose damask wall hangings. After her husband died she engaged Charles E. Ponting (1850-1932) to lay out a Dutch garden to the east of the house and to build a new parish church in the grounds in his memory. After the Second World War the condition of the house gradually deteriorated, and when the National Trust was bequeathed the house in 1981, a major restoration had to be carried out by Caröe & Martin in 1982-84, before the house could be opened to the public.

Descent: Crown sold 1603 to Charles Blount (d. 1606), Earl of Devon; to son, Mountjoy Blount (d. 1666), 1st Earl of Newport, who sold 1636 to Sir John Bankes (1589-1644), kt.; to son, John Bankes (1626-56); to brother, Sir Ralph Bankes (1631-77), kt., who built a new house; to son, John Bankes (1665-1714); to son, John Bankes (1692-1772); to brother, Henry Bankes (1698-1776); to son, Henry Bankes (1757-1834); to son, William John Bankes (1786-1855); gifted 1841 to brother, Rt. Hon. George Bankes (1788-1856); to son, Edmund George Bankes (1826-60); to son, Henry John Percival Bankes (1850-69); to brother, Walter Ralph Bankes (1853-1904); to son, Henry John Ralph Bankes (1902-81), who bequeathed the house and estate to the National Trust.

Studland Manor, Dorset

In 1825 George Bankes bought the reputed site of the former Studland Castle, which offered spectacular views over Studland Bay towards the Isle of Wight, and adjoined the Corfe Castle estate which his family had owned since the 17th century. On this site, he built and progressively extended a seaside villa in a rambling picturesque Gothick style. 

Studland Manor: the house in the late 19th century. Image: Historic England.

According to John Pouncy it was 'enlarged by him, from time to time, without any great regularity of plan or design, and apparently with the view of gaining an interesting relaxation during his retirement, by supplying deficiencies as they gradually presented themselves, and inventing improvements when there were no more deficiencies to supply': in other words he had the building bug every bit as much as his brother William! The building process suggests that he acted as his own architect. The house was built of brick with a stucco cladding and a liberal use of stone dressings for chimneystacks and the Gothick windows; the roof was made of large Purbeck stone slates. Inside, the house has a lot of reused timberwork, including a reconstructed 18th century staircase, and some Jacobean panelling said to come from the old Palace of Westminster. One wonders if any old work from Kingston Lacy found its way here during the alterations there in the 1830s and 1840s? 

After George Bankes died in 1856 the house was used at different times by various members of the family. The last of the family to live here seems to have been Henrietta Jane Bankes (1868-1953), the widow of Walter Ralph Bankes of Kingston Lacy, who moved here from Kingston Lacy soon after her son came of age in 1923. It may have been then that the house was further enlarged, for the additions were complete by 1928. After the Second World War, the estate leased the house as an hotel, and it was again altered for this commercial use. The large conservatory dates from its time as an hotel. Since 2013 the house has been leased to 'The Pig' chain of hotels, and is known as The Pig on the Beach.

Descent: site sold 1825 to Rt. Hon. George Bankes (1787-1856); to son, Edmund George Bankes (1826-60); to son, Henry John Percival Bankes (1850-69); to brother, Walter Ralph Bankes (1853-1904); to son, Henry John Ralph Bankes (1902-81); bequeathed to The National Trust; leased since 2013 to The Pig on the Beach.

Bankes family of Kingston Lacy

Sir John Bankes (1589-1644), kt.
Bankes, Sir John (1589-1644), kt. Son of John Bankes (b.1569), merchant in Keswick (Cumbld), and his wife Jane Malton, born at Crosthwaite (Cumbld), 1589. Educated at Queen's College, Oxford (matriculated 1604/5; Hon. DCL, 1642) and Grays Inn (admitted 1607; called to bar 1614; bencher 1628; Treasurer 1632). Barrister-at-law; MP for Wootton Bassett, 1624 and Morpeth, 1628; Attorney General, 1634-40; Chief Justice of Common Pleas, 1641-44. He was knighted at St James's Palace, 5 June 1631 and sworn of the Privy Council, 1642. Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1635-44. He was a loyal supporter of King Charles I and followed the King to York at the outbreak of the Civil War and later to Oxford; he was impeached for high treason by Parliament in 1643 and his estates were sequestrated, though his widow was allowed to compound for his and her own 'delinquency' in 1647-50. He married, 1618 (settlement 20 May), Mary (1598-1661), only daughter of Ralph Hawtrey of Ruislip and had issue:
(1) Alice Bankes (1621-83), born 8 October 1621; married, 14 December 1637 at St Giles-in-the-Fields, London, Sir John Borlase (1619-72) MP, 1st bt., eldest son of Sir William Borlase, kt., of Bockmer, Medmenham, and had issue five sons and four daughters; died in Paris (France), 16 November 1683, and was buried at Saint Jacques du Haut-Pas; will proved 31 January 1683/4;
(2) Mary Bankes (1623-91), born 20 October 1623; married, 26 February 1651/2 at St Martin Orgar with St Clement Eastcheap, London, Sir Robert Jenkinson MP (1621-77), 1st bt. of Walcot (Oxon), and had issue at least one son and one daughter; buried 18 June 1691 at Charlbury (Oxon), where she was commemorated by a ledger stone; will proved 18 January 1691/2;
(3) John Bankes (1626-56), born 29 June 1626; educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1643) and Grays Inn; undertook a Grand Tour of Europe, travelling in France, Italy and Switzerland in 1646-47; Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1644-56; came into his inheritance of the Corfe Castle estate on reaching the age of 24 in 1650; died unmarried and without issue, 1656;
(4) Elizabeth Bankes (1627-1710), born 16 November 1627; married, 30 April 1654 at St Andrew, Holborn (Middx), Philip Prince (d. 1694?);
(5) Joan Bankes (1629-88), born 29 April 1629; married, 1648 (licence 6 October), William Borlase MP (1620-65) of Medmenham, second son of Sir William Borlase, kt., of Bockmer, Medmenham, and had issue one son and four daughters; died in 1687 or 1688; will proved 26 July 1688;
(6) Edward Bankes (b. 1630), born 1 October 1630; probably died young;
(7) Sir Ralph Bankes (1631-77), kt. (q.v.);
(8) Jane Bankes (1633-91?), born 27 June 1633; married George Cullen; said to have died in 1691;
(9) Bridget Bankes (1634-77?), born 8 September 1634; said to have died unmarried, 25 March 1677;
(10) Jerome Bankes (1635-86), born 20 December 1635; educated at Queen's College, Oxford (matriculated 1653) and Grays Inn (admitted 1653) and then undertook a Grand Tour of Italy in 1654-55, during which he visited Rome and his portrait was painted by Massimo Stanzione in Naples (Italy); barrister-at-law; died unmarried, 1686;
(11) Ann Bankes (b. 1637), born 3 August 1637; married, 16 June 1657 at St Michael Paternoster, London, Sir George Curteis (1622-1702), kt., of Otterden Place (Kent), and had issue one son; will probrf inn the PCC, 17 May 1722;;
(12) Charles Bankes (b. 1639), born 26 September 1639; living in 1675, but probably died unmarried;
(13) Arabella Bankes (1642-1724), born 30 July 1642; married, 19 December 1665 at Chettle (Dorset), Samuel Gilly (d. 1678), and had issue one daughter; lived at High Hall, Pamphill which was built by Sir Thomas Fitch and John Fitch as a reduced version of Kingston Lacy, until she sold it to John Fitch in 1691, and lived thereafter in London and at Waltham Abbey; buried at Waltham Abbey (Essex), 5 November 1724; will proved 8 December 1724;
(14) William Bankes (b. 1644), born 10 June 1644; educated at St Alban Hall, Oxford (matriculated 1664/5); living in 1670.
He invested in mines in Cumberland in 1622 before purchasing the Kingston Lacy estate in two tranches in 1626 and 1636 and the Corfe Castle estate in 1635. The castle was initially the family's main residence on their Dorset property, but was subsequently twice besieged during the Civil War, and finally slighted and blown up by order of Parliament in 1646. His widow lived subsequently in London and at Damory Court, Blandford Forum (Dorset).
He died in Oxford, 28 December 1644, and was buried in Oxford Cathedral, where he is commemorated by a monument. His widow died 11 April 1661 and was buried at Ruislip (Middx), where she is commemorated by a monument; her will was proved in the PCC, 3 July 1661.

Sir Ralph Bankes (c.1631-77), kt.
Bankes, Sir Ralph (1631-77), kt. Second son of Sir John Bankes (1589-1644), kt. and his wife Mary, only daughter of Ralph Hawtrey of Ruislip, born 25 November 1631. Educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (matriculated 1651), Grays Inn (admitted 1656) and then undertook a Grand Tour of Europe. Barrister-at-law; MP for Corfe Castle, 1659-77; Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck and Governor of Brownsea Castle, 1661-77. He was knighted, 27 May 1660 in recognition of the sacrifices made by his family in the Royalist cause, and made an Extraordinary Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, 1660-77; JP for Dorset, 1660-77 and Middlesex, 1660-70; DL for Dorset, 1660-72, 1674-77; freeman of Lyme Regis and Poole, 1662. His marriage brought him an income of about £1,200 a year, but in addition to building a new house at Kingston Lacy, he was an ardent collector of books, maps, pictures, medals, curiosities and antiquities with which to furnish it, and the resulting expenditure led him into financial difficulties, so that he was obliged to sell his wife's inheritance in 1670 and to convey his estates to trustees the following year. His debts continued to mount and by the end of his life he owed £11,780 and could not meet the interest payments. He married, 10 or 11 April 1661, Mary (c.1646-1711), who converted to Roman Catholicism, although she was the daughter of Col. John Brune, an officer in the Parliamentary army and niece and heiress of Charles Brune of Athelhampton (Dorset), and had issue:
(1) Mary Bankes (b. 1662; fl. 1675), born 8 July and baptised at Chettle (Dorset), 12 July 1662; her father's will suggests she suffered from learning difficulties or was mentally ill;
(2) John Bankes (1665-1714) (q.v.).
He lived in London until the Restoration of the Monarchy, when he recovered the Corfe Castle estate. He built Kingston Lacy House in 1663-65 to the design of Sir Roger Pratt.
He died 25 March 1677; his will was proved 26 May 1677. His widow died in 1711.

John Bankes (1665-1714)
Bankes, John (1665-1714). Only recorded son of Sir Ralph Bankes (1631-77), kt. and his wife Mary, only daughter and heiress of John Brune of Athelhampton (Dorset), born 1665. Tory MP for Corfe Castle, 1698-1714. Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1677-1714 and Hereditary Constable of Corfe Castle. He married, 1691 (licence 30 May), Margaret (d. 1730), daughter of Sir Henry Parker, 2nd bt., of Honington Hall (Warks), and had issue:
(1) John Bankes (1692-1772) (q.v.);
(2) Mary Bankes (1693-1774), baptised at Wimborne Minster, 9 December 1693; married, 27 March 1723 at St Mary, Newington (Surrey), Sir Thomas I'Anson (c.1701-64), 4th bt. of New Bounds, Tonbridge (Kent), Gentleman Porter of the Tower of London, and had issue four sons and four daughters; died 26 January 1774;
(3) Charles Bankes (b. 1694), baptised at Wimborne Minster, January 1694/5; died young before 1713;
(4) Ralph Bankes (1696-1750?), baptised at Wimborne Minster, 5 April 1696; perhaps the man of this name buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, 29 September 1750;
(5) Frances Bankes (1697-1710); died young and was buried at Wimborne Minster, 24 April 1709/10;
(6) Henry Bankes (1698-1776) (q.v.);
(7) William Bankes (1702-03), baptised at Wimborne Minster, 28 August 1702; died in infancy and was buried at Wimborne Minster, 5 October 1703;
(8) Margaret Bankes (1703-06), baptised at Wimborne Minster, 17 September 1703; died young and was buried at Wimborne Minister, 18 November 1706;
(9) Catherine Bankes (1705-09), baptised at Wimborne Minster, 4 May 1705; died young and was buried at Wimborne Minster, 29 August 1709;
(10) Edward Bankes (b. 1706), baptised at Wimborne Minster, 15 June 1706; living in 1713;
(11) Beata Bankes (1710-12), born 14 March 1709/10 and baptised at Honington, 28 March 1710; died in infancy and was buried at Wimborne Minster, 10 March 1711/12.
He inherited Kingston Lacy from his father in 1677 and came of age in 1686.
He accidentally shot himself while taking down loaded guns from the wall for cleaning. 14 July, and was buried at Wimborne Minster, 17 July 1714; his will was proved 5 March 1714/5. His widow married 2nd, 10 October 1723 at St Andrew, Holborn (Middx), Thomas Lewis of London, and died in 1730.

John Bankes (1692-1772)
Bankes, John (1692-1772). Elder son of John Bankes (1665-1714) and his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Henry Parker, 2nd bt., born 1692. Tory MP for Corfe Castle, 1722-42. Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1714-72. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Kingston Lacy from his father in 1714.
He died 26 January 1772 and was buried at Wimborne Minster; his will was proved in the PCC, 6 April 1772.

Henry Bankes (1698-1776)
Bankes, Henry (1698-1776). Younger son of John Bankes (1665-1714) and his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Henry Parker, 2nd bt., born 1698 and baptised 2 November 1700. Educated at Eton, Kings College, Cambridge (matriculated 1720) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1720; called to bar, 1726; KC 1747). Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge, 1723-29; barrister-at-law; KC to Duchy of Lancaster, 1738-61; Tory MP for Corfe Castle, 1742-62, when he resigned his seat to the Government's nominee on being appointed one of the Customs Commissioners (a place worth £1,000 a year), 1762-76; Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1772-76. He married 1st, 29 December 1738 at St Christopher-le-Stocks, London, Eleanor, daughter of Richard Symonds of London, and 2nd, 11 June 1753, Margaret (1725-1822), daughter of Rt. Rev. John Wynne DD, Bishop of Bath & Wells and co-heir with her brother, Rt. Hon. Sir William Wynne, Chief Judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Dean of Arches, 1788-1809, of Soughton Hall (Flints). They had issue:
(2.1) John Bankes (b. 1754), baptised at St Clement Danes, London, 3 August 1754; died young;
(2.2) Henry Bankes (1757-1834) (q.v.);
(2.3) Anne Bankes (1759-78), born 23 April and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster, 16 May 1759; died unmarried and was buried at Wimborne Minster, 7 March 1778.
He lived in London and at Broadchalke (Wilts) (where he leased the rectory estate from Kings College, Cambridge) until he inherited Kingston Lacy from his elder brother in 1772.
He died 23 September 1776 and was buried at Wimborne Minster; his will was proved 8 October 1776. His first wife may have been the 'Eleanor Banks' buried at St Michael, Crooked Lane, London, 25 May 1752. His widow died aged 96 and was buried at St Margaret, Westminster, 19 June 1822; her will was proved 20 June 1822.

Henry Bankes (1757-1834),
by Pompeo Batoni.
Bankes, Henry (1757-1834). Only son of Henry Bankes (1698-1776) and his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Rt. Rev. John Wynne DD, Bishop of Bath & Wells, born 19 December 1757 and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 11 January 1758. Educated at Westminster School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (admitted 1773; matriculated 1777; Chancellor's classical medal, 1778; BA 1778; MA 1781) and then undertook a grand tour of Italy, 1778-80, visiting Turin, Milan, Verona, Vicenza, Venice, Mantua, Parma, Bologna, Rome, Naples, Florence, Pisa and Parma; he was painted in Rome by Pompeo Batoni. In 1782 he again visited Rome briefly. He was an independent but generally Tory-leaning MP for Corfe Castle, 1780-1826 and for Dorset, 1826-31, and was an assiduous attender and speaker in Parliament, where his principal interest lay in reducing public expenditure. He was a Trustee of the British Museum, 1817-34, but although he regularly spoke in Parliament in support of the Museum, his pursuit of economy in its operation left it severely under-financed for some years after his death. In Dorset he was Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1776-1834; Official of the Peculiar of Wimborne Minster, 1806-35; and Lt-Col. commanding the West Dorset Militia, 1808. He was author of A civil and constitutional history of Rome from the Foundation to the Age of Augustus (1818). His friends included William Pitt the younger, William Wilberforce, and the 1st Duke of Wellington, who laid the foundation stone of the obelisk from Philae when it was re-erected at Kingston Lacy in 1827-39. He married, 18 August 1784, Frances (1760-1823), daughter of William Woodley, Lieutenant-Governor of Antigua, 1786-88, and had issue:
(1) Henry Bankes (1785-1806), born 30 July and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 18 August 1785; a midshipman in the Royal Navy; lost at sea in the wreck of HMS Athenienne, off Tunis (Tunisia), 20 October 1806;
(2) William John Bankes (1786-1855) (q.v.);
(3) Rt. Hon. George Bankes (1787-1856) (q.v.);
(4) Anne Frances Bankes (1789-1864), born 8 July and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 30 July 1789; married, 27 August 1810, Edward Boscawen (1787-1841), 4th Viscount and (from 1821) 1st Earl of Falmouth and had issue one son; died 1 May 1864;
(5) Maria Wynne Bankes (1791-1823), born 31 July and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 8 August 1791; married, 29 January 1816 at Wimborne Minster, Hon. Thomas Stapleton (1792-1829) of Greys Court (Oxon) and Mereworth Castle (Kent), son and heir of Thomas Stapleton, 16th Baron Le Despencer, and had issue one daughter; died 15 August 1823;
(6) Rev. Edward Bankes (1794-1867), born 13 August and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 30 September 1794; educated at Westminster School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1812; BCL 1818); ordained deacon and priest, 1818; rector of Corfe Castle, 1818-54; vicar of Stoke Bliss (Herefs), 1820-23 and East Farleigh (Kent), 1823-32; canon residentiary of Gloucester Cathedral, 1821-67 and of Bristol Cathedral, 1832-67; chaplain in ordinary to King William IV and Queen Victoria; received Soughton Hall (Flints) as a gift when his brother William went into exile; JP and DL for Flintshire; it was said of him that "although he became enormously rich upon the death of his father-in-law, Mr Bankes continued to hold his preferments for some years after he was incapable of performing the duties attached to them - this was, however, natural enough seeing that he had rendered very perfunctory service when in his vigour"; he married 1st, 6 April 1820, Lady Frances Jane (d. 1838), daughter of John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon and had issue two sons (from the elder of whom descended the Bankes family of Soughton Hall who will be subject of a separate post) and one daughter; married 2nd, 3 September 1839, Maria (d. 1886), third daughter of Very Rev. & Hon. Edward Rice DD, Dean of Gloucester, 1825-62, and had further issue five daughters; died 24 May 1867;
(7) Frederick Woodley Bankes (b. 1799), born 19 January and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 11 March 1799; probably died young.
He inherited Kingston Lacy from his father in 1776 and remodelled it to the designs of R.F. Brettingham in 1784-90.
He died at Tregothnan House (Cornwall), 17 December 1834, and was buried at Wimborne Minster, 24 December 1834; his will was proved 13 March 1835. His wife was buried at St. Margaret, Westminster, 29 November 1823.

William John Bankes (1786-1855)
Image: National Trust.
Bankes, William John (1786-1855). Eldest surviving son of Henry Bankes (1757-1834) and his wife Frances, daughter of William Woodley, Lieutenant-Govenor of Antigua, 1786-88, born 11 December 1786 and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 8 January 1787. Educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1806; BA 1808; MA 1811), where his generous allowance allowed him to build a reputation for extravagance and eccentricity, and where he formed a lifelong friendship with Lord Byron (who described him as 'the father of all mischief'). In 1812 he proposed marriage to Annabella Milbanke (afterwards Lady Byron), but when she rejected him he went abroad and became a notable explorer and adventurer. In 1812-15 he followed the Duke of Wellington's armies through Portugal and Spain (where he bought many of the works of art now at Kingston Lacy) and in 1815-20 he travelled extensively in Egypt and the Orient at first in the company of Giovanni Finati and later that of Henry Salt (the British consul in Egypt) and Giovanni Belzoni. During this travels, he formed the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the world, and on his return he published a Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Giovanni Finati (1830). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1822. Having been briefly MP for Truro, 1810-12, before leaving England, he returned to Parliament as MP for Cambridge University, 1822-26, Marlborough, 1829-32 and Dorset, 1832-35, but although a brilliant conversationalist in private, he was a poor public speaker and parliamentary performer. He succeeded his father as Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1834-55. His personal life was the subject of much gossip, and in 1823 he was sued for adultery with Lady Buckinghamshire. In 1833 he was charged with meeting a guardsman for 'unnatural purposes' in a public convenience in Westminster, but was found not guilty after his friends, including the Duke of Wellington, provided him with character references. Nonetheless, the attendant gossip put an end to his public career, and in 1841 a second such charge forced him to jump bail and flee abroad to avoid prosecution; he was subsequently outlawed, which would have allowed the Government to seize his property, if he had not signed it over to his brothers. He eventually settled in Venice for the rest of his life but may have made one or more clandestine visits to Kingston Lacy, where his sister, Lady Falmouth, and his clerk of works continued to carry out improvements and furnishing works for which he provided materials and minute instructions by letter. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Soughton Hall (Flints) from his great-uncle, Rt. Hon. Sir William Wynne, in 1815, and Kingston Lacy from his father in 1834. He remodelled both houses with the assistance of Sir Charles Barry. When he fled to the Continent in 1841 he signed over the Kingston Lacy and Corfe Castle estates to his brother George Bankes (1787-1856) and Soughton Hall to his younger brother, Rev. Edward Bankes.
He died in Venice, 17 April 1855, and was buried at Wimborne Minster, 13 June 1855.

George Bankes (1787-1856)
Image: National Trust
Bankes, Rt. Hon. George (1787-1856). Third son of Henry Bankes (1757-1834) and his wife Frances, daughter of William Woodley, Lieutenant-Govenor of Antigua, 1786-88, born 1 December and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 29 December 1787. Educated at Westminster School, Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1806; LLB 1812) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1810; called to bar, 1813); transferred to Inner Temple, 1815. Barrister-at-law on the Western Circuit; Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 1814-22; Tory MP for Corfe Castle, 1818-23, 1826-32, and for Dorset, 1841-56, in which capacity he opposed Catholic Emancipation, the Great Reform Bill and the Repeal of the Corn Laws. He was a Commissioner for Appeals in the Excise Court, 1816-17; Commissioner of Bankruptcy, 1822-28; last Cursitor Baron of the Exchequer, 1824-56 (the office being abolished on his death); Secretary of the Board of Control, 1828-30; junior Lord of the Treasury, Apr-Nov 1830; Judge Advocate-General, Feb-Dec 1852; and was sworn of the Privy Council, 1852. Mayor of Corfe Castle, 1838-39, 1840-41 and 1847-48; Recorder of Weymouth, 1822-35; JP for Dorset (Chairman of Quarter Sessions, 1836-56); Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1855-56. Author of The story of Corfe Castle (1853) and Brave Dame Mary (1873). He was as prudent and cautious as his elder brother was reckless and extravagant, and he made a number of attempts to curb his brother's behaviour. He married, 8 June 1822, Georgina Charlotte (1799-1875), ostensibly the daughter and heiress of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Edmund Nugent GCB but in reality the illegitimate daughter of HRH Prince Ernest Augustus (1771-1851), Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale and (from 1837), King of Hannover, and had issue:
(1) Georgina Charlotte Frances Bankes (1823-1903), born 5 August and baptised at St. Marylebone, 6 August 1823; married, 20 February 1844 at St Margaret, Westminster (Middx), Rt. Hon. John Floyer MP (1811-87) of Stafford House (Dorset) and had issue one son; died 29 June 1903;
(2) Maria Margaret Bankes (1825-37), baptised at St. Marylebone, 24 January 1825; died young and was buried at Mortlake, 2 June 1837;
(3) Edmund George Bankes (1826-60) (q.v.);
(4) Henry Hyde Nugent Bankes (1828-83) of Wraysbury (Bucks), born 10 April and baptised at St George, Hanover Square, 23 April 1828; educated at Eton, Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1846; BA 1850; MA 1853) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1850; called to bar 1854); revising barrister; an officer in the West Kent Yeomanry Cavalry (Cornet, 1852); DL for Dorset; author of a novel, Melchior Gorles: A Tale of Modern Mesmerism (1867) under the pseudonym "Henry Aitchenbie"; married 1st, 26 March 1857 at Dresden (Germany), Hon. Lalage Letitia Caroline (d. 1875), daughter of Sir Richard Hussey Vivian, 1st Baron Vivian, and had issue three sons and five daughters; married 2nd, 30 November 1879, Ellen Catherine (1837-1922) (who m3, 2 June 1885, Sir William Henry Marsham Style, 9th bt.), daughter of Edward Taylor Massy and widow of Rev. Charles Henry Barham; died in London, 26 March 1883; will proved 1 June 1883 (effects £27,193);
(5) Edward Dee Bankes (1830-43), baptised at St George, Hanover Square, London, 3 February 1830; died young and was buried at Studland, 28 June 1843;
(6) Adelaide Bankes (1831-78), baptised at St George, Hanover Square, London, 21 April 1831; married, 17 June 1856 at St Margaret, Westminster, as his second wife, Charles Wriothesley Digby (1802-73) of Meriden Hall (Warks), and had issue one son and five daughters; died at Marseilles (France), 19 May 1878; will proved 24 July 1878 (effects under £8,000);
(7) twin, Augusta Anne Bankes (1833-80), baptised at Mortlake (Surrey), 10 April 1833; married, 16 July 1857, Hon. Edward William Douglas (1825-1918) (who m2, 27 September 1881, Hon. Evelyn Ann (d. 1911), daughter of Charles Rudolph Trefusis, 19th Baron Clinton, and had issue), fourth son of George Sholto Douglas, 17th Earl of Morton, but had no issue; died 6 May 1880; will proved 11 June 1880 (effects under £10,000);
(8) twin, Octavia Elizabeth Bankes (1833-55), baptised at Mortlake, 10 April 1833; died unmarried and was buried at Studland, 22 December 1855;
(9) Frederick Wynne Banks (1835-37), baptised at Mortlake, 14 May 1835; died in infancy and was buried at Mortlake, 26 June 1837;
(10) William George Hawtrey Bankes VC (1836-58), born 11 September and baptised at Mortlake, 5 October 1836; educated at Westminster School; an officer in the 7th Hussars (Cornet), 1857-58; served during the Indian Mutiny and was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry in thrice charging a party of the enemy who eventually surrounded him and 'cut him almost to pieces' in an action near Lucknow (India); he died of his wounds eighteen days later, 6 April 1858; will proved 27 May 1859 (effects under £16,000);
(11) Wynne Albert Bankes (1840-1913), of Wolfeton House (Dorset), born 31 May 1840; entered the Royal Navy and served as a midshipman in the Baltic and the Black Sea, 1854-55, where he was present at the taking of Sebastopol; educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1860; BA 1864) and Inner Temple (admitted 1864; called to bar 1867); barrister-at-law on the western circuit; an officer in the Cambridgeshire Rifle Volunteers (Capt. 1862) and later the Dorset Rifle Corps (Capt., 1869); JP and DL (from 1866) for Dorset; married, 10 September 1873 at Ellingham (Hants), Florence Mary Anne (d. 1947), second daughter of Rev. Frederick Fane of Moyles Court, Ringwood (Hants) and had issue one daughter; died 16 April and was buried at Studland, 21 April 1913; will proved 14 May 1913 (estate £36,439),
He lived in Old Palace Yard, Westminster (Middx) and built Studland Manor (Dorset) from 1825 onwards as a holiday home. When his brother went into exile in Venice in 1841, he signed over the Kingston Lacy estate to George, but the house was occupied by his widowed sister, Lady Falmouth and he never moved there. 
He died 5 July and was buried at Studland, 15 July 1856; his will was proved in the PCC, 15 August 1856. His widow married 2nd, 2 June 1863 at St John the Evangelist, Westminster, Sir Edward Manningham-Buller (1800-82), 1st bt. of Dilhorne Hall (Staffs); died at Westminster, 7 December 1875; her will was proved 10 March 1876 (effects under £30,000).

Edmund George Bankes (1826-60)
Image: National Trust/Simon Harris
Bankes, Edmund George (1826-60). Eldest son of Rt. Hon. George Bankes MP (1787-1856) and his wife Georgina, only daughter and heiress of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Edmund Nugent GCB, born 24 April and baptised at St George, Hanover Square, London, 3 May 1826. Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1845). Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1856-60. He was a keen yachtsman. He married, 25 January 1848 at Stourpaine (Dorset), Rosa Louisa (1827-78), fourth daughter of Percival North Bastard of Stourpaine, and had issue:
(1) Henry John Percival Bankes (1850-69), born 11 February and baptised at St Helier (Jersey), 13 March 1850; educated at Harrow; Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1860-69; inherited the Kingston Lacy estate from his father in 1860 but died unmarried with travelling in Canada, 6 January 1869 and was buried at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Montréal (Canada) on the same day; administration of his goods was granted 29 June 1869 (effects under £9,000);
(2) Walter Ralph Bankes (1853-1904) (q.v.);
(3) Adelaide Anne Bankes (1855-1909), born 1 October 1855 at Avranches, Normandy (France); died unmarried, 1 November and was buried at Studland, 5 November 1909; will proved 15 December 1909 (estate £23,614).
He inherited the Kingston Lacy estate from his father in 1856, but seems to have lived at Studland. After his death the estate passed to his two sons in turn.
He died 28 January 1860; his will was proved 7 July 1860 (effects under £12,000). His widow died 6 April 1878; her will was proved 25 May 1878 (effects under £30,000).

Walter Ralph Bankes
Bankes, Walter Ralph (1853-1904). Younger son of Edmund George Bankes (1826-60) and his wife Rosa Louisa, fourth daughter of Percival Bastard of Stourpaine (Dorset), born 25 June and baptised at Shapwick (Dorset), 5 August 1853. Educated at Harrow School, Trinity College and Downing College, Cambridge (matriculated 1871). JP and DL for Dorset; High Sheriff of Dorset, 1880. Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1869-1904. As a young man, he was a keen horseman, huntsman and gardener, and travelled regularly in Europe. He possessed "a dangerous sophistication" which was said to be attractive to women, and for many years he apparently enjoyed the freedom of a bachelor life; but after his marriage he became an increasingly taciturn husband who preferred solitary country pursuits in Dorset to his social life in London. He married, 21 July 1897 at Holy Trinity, Chelsea (Middx), Henrietta Jane (1868-1953), daughter of William Thomson Fraser, HM consul in Java, and had issue:
(1) Daphne Maude Adelaide Bankes (1898-1967), of Manor Cottage, Studland (Dorset), born 23 June and baptised at Holy Trinity, Chelsea, 21 July 1898; ran the Studland Bay Café in Dorset; travelled extensively; died unmarried, 28 July 1967; will proved 16 February 1968 (estate £14,670);
(2) Viola Frances Geraldine Bankes (1900-89), born 11 February 1900; author; married, without her mother's approval, 4 February 1927, Dr Norman Bruce Hall OBE MD (1893-1970) of London SW1, son of James Hall of Adelaide (Australia), and had issue two daughters; died 30 August 1989; will proved 2 February 1990 (estate £340,164).
(3) Henry John Ralph Bankes (1902-81) (q.v.).
He inherited the Kingston Lacy estate from his elder brother in 1869 and commissioned T.H. Wyatt to design a new stable block in 1880. His widow lived latterly at 61 Brook St., Mayfair (London).
He died of a heart attack, 20 November 1904; will proved 10 December and 11 February 1905 (estate £240,723). His widow died 29 November 1953; her will was proved 9 February 1954 (estate £68,813).

Henry John Ralph Bankes (1902-81)
Image: National Trust
Bankes, Henry John Ralph (1902-81). Only son of Walter Ralph Bankes (1853-1904) and his wife Henrietta Jane, daughter of William Thomson Fraser, born 14 July and baptised at Wimborne Minster, 23 September 1902. Educated at Eton, Magdalen College, Oxford (BA 1923) and Inner Temple (admitted 1921; called to bar, 1925). Barrister-at-law; JP for Dorset from 1936; High Sheriff of Dorset, 1939-40. Hereditary Admiral of Isle of Purbeck, 1904-81; served in Second World War with Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1939-45. As a young man he was 'somewhat reserved' but a keen participant in field sports, especially shooting and hunting with the Portman hounds; after his wife died he became increasingly reclusive. He married, 19 September 1935 at Sigglesthorne (Yorks ER), Hilary Margaret (1908-66), daughter of Lt-Col. Frederick Charles Strickland-Constable of Wassand Hall (Yorks ER) and had issue:
(1) John Ralph Bankes (1937-96), born 10 February and baptised 30 May 1937; educated at Eton and University College, Oxford; an officer in the Coldstream Guards; amateur magician; died unmarried, 28 August 1996; will proved 7 November 1996;
(2) Mary Bankes (b. 1940), born 25 April 1940.
He inherited the Kingston Lacy estate from his father in 1904 and came of age in 1923. At his death his trustees were asked to gift the entire 16,000 acre estate, including all the contents of Kingston Lacy, to the nation, and the following year they were vested in The National Trust.
He died 19 August 1981; his will was proved 21 December 1981 (estate £21,563,179) and administration of his remaining effects (£101,273) was granted 22 October 1993; his whole estate was left to the National Trust except for £50,000 to each of his children and a few small legacies to staff. His wife died 11 September 1966; her will was proved 16 January 1967 (estate £134,039).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1965, pp. 37-39; J. Pouncy, Dorsetshire Photographically Illustrated, 1857, vol. 1; R.T. Gunther, The architecture of Sir Roger Pratt, 1928, pp. 98-116; J. Cornforth, 'Kingston Lacy revisited', parts 1-4, Country Life, 17-24 April and 5-12 June 1986; A. Cleminson, 'The Transition from Kingston Hall to Kingston Lacy: The Bankes' Fifty-Year Search for an Adequate Dining Room', Architectural History, 1988, pp. 120-35; Patricia Usick, The Adventures in Egypt and Nubia: The Travels of William John Bankes (1786–1855), 2002; A. Sebba, The exiled collector: William Bankes and the making of an English country house, 2004; M. Hill, East Dorset Country Houses, 2013, pp. 128-33, 228-44; National Trust guidebook, 1988 and 1994 editions; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entries on Sir John Bankes (1589-1644), Henry Bankes (1757-1834) and William John Bankes (1786-1855); History of Parliament biographies of many members of the family.

Location of archives

Bankes of Kingston Lacy and Corfe Castle: deeds, manorial, estate and family papers, architectural plans and diaries, 1348-1981 [Dorset History Centre, D-BKL; D/CRL B4/1-5]
Bankes, Sir John (1589-1644), kt.: papers as attorney general, 1634-40 [Bodleian Library, Oxford, MSS.Bankes 1-76]

Coat of arms

Sable, a cross engrailed ermine, between four fleurs-de-lis or.

Notes about missing information and help wanted with this entry

  • I would be most grateful if anyone can provide additional genealogical or career information about the earlier generations of this family. 
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 29 December 2018 and was updated 31 December 2018, 26 August 2020 and 16 June 2023.