Saturday 30 June 2018

(336) Baker of Owletts

In 1942, James Lees-Milne, the Historic Buildings Secretary of the National Trust (which had recently been given Owletts by Sir Herbert Baker), recorded in his diary a visit to the ageing Sir Herbert and his wife at the house. Sir Herbert was 'kind, Christian-like, and cultivated' and Lady Baker 'no less delightful than her husband'. He noted that "They call themselves with justifiable pride, yeomen of Kent; but they are more than that', which was a fair assessment not just of his hosts, but of their lineage: over many generations, the family have had one foot in the world of the gentry and the other in the workaday world of business and the professions. 

The genealogy below begins with Samuel Baker (1761-1836), who was apparently the third of his name to be a prominent figure in Rochester (Kent). He was a timber merchant and carpenter, joined the city's common council in 1787 and was mayor in 1797 and 1802. During the Napoleonic Wars he began undertaking lucrative building contracts for the public sector, and under the influence of his son's brother-in-law, the architect Robert Smirke, he started to use new materials such as steel and concrete, to solve problems that had defeated other contractors. Although not all of his projects were correctly costed, and he occasionally lost money, on the whole his wealth and reputation grew, and the son who took over his business, George Baker (1790-1862) moved to London and continued the development of the firm.

Samuel's third son, Thomas Baker (1793-1871), went to sea and in the 1820s became the captain of East India Company ships trading with India and China. In 1822, he married Maria, the daughter of Henry Edmeades of Nurstead Court (Kent), a family which was more firmly established among the minor gentry of Kent, and in 1835 they inherited from her father the house called Owletts at Cobham. Owletts was not a manor house, but had been built for an upwardly mobile yeoman farmer called Bonham Hayes in the late 17th century. It has the dignity required of a gentry residence even though it was only associated with some 250 acres of land, and it made a clear statement about the social status of the owners. With the inheritance, Capt. Baker retired from the sea and entered upon a new life of farming. He became a JP for Kent as well as Rochester, and at his death handed the estate on to his only surviving son, Thomas Henry Baker (1825-1904), who was a JP and a gentleman farmer until the 1890s, when he sold most of the land associated with Owletts. It is not clear whether the sale was motivated by the impact of the Agricultural Depression, or whether he made the sale to support his younger sons in their chosen careers. 

Thomas Henry Baker had a large family, of whom nine sons and one daughter survived to maturity. The career paths of the sons are interesting, and again speak of the slightly borderline gentry status of the family: only two of the sons went to University and none became clergymen or attended the Inns of Court. The eldest and fifth sons became career soldiers; the second and sixth sons became solicitors in Rochester; the third went to farm in America but died on arrival; the fourth (Sir Herbert Baker (1862-1946)) became an architect; the seventh became a fruit farmer in South Africa and later in Sussex; the eighth was a civil servant in India; and the youngest became a land surveyor and senior administrator in Kenya. It is not clear why T.H. Baker decided to leave Owletts to his architect son, but he was by some distance the most financially successful, and also possessed a profound love for the house. He seems to have come into his inheritance on the death of his mother in 1916, by which time Baker had returned from an early and remarkably successful professional career in South Africa, and was working with Lutyens on the designs for New Delhi, as well as projects in England. 

Even more than Lutyens, Baker can be identified with Britain's late 19th and early 20th century imperial project. His personal friends included other leading imperialists such as Cecil Rhodes, Jan Smuts, Lord Milner, Rudyard Kipling and T.E. Lawrence, and he had an immense influence on the national architecture of South Africa and Kenya as well as India. Now that the darker side of colonialism has been exposed and has so decisively cast into the shade its achievements, it is no surprise to find that Baker's significance as an architect has been quietly forgotten. Certainly his reputation has been eclipsed by that of Lutyens, whose appeal was always more aesthetic and intuitive than the the studied and intellectual - if sometimes equally slick - classicism of Baker. Already in the closing years of his career his reputation was fading, and in 1938 he gave Owletts to the National Trust so that the place could be a memorial to his work, and especially to his love of South Africa. The agreement with the Trust allowed Sir Herbert and his widow to live on in the house for their lifetimes, and since Lady Baker's death in 1965 much of the house has continued to be let to members of the family, although the main rooms have been open to the public. The tenant at first was Sir Herbert's son, Henry Edmeades Baker (1905-94), an engineer who was a respectful guardian of his father's legacy. In 1984 he was succeeded by his son, Michael Baker (b. 1937), an electrical engineer who has spent much of his working life abroad. Now it is the turn of his son, David Baker (b. 1969), who moved into the house at the end of 2012, and who with his wife and sister takes an active part in presenting the house to the public.

Owletts, Cobham, Kent

Owletts, Cobham: a five-bay house of 1683-84, given single-bay projecting wings in about 1700.

A handsome but plain two-storey brick house, of five bays by three with a big hipped roof, built in 1683-84 for Bonham Hayes, and given distinction by the symmetrical placing of the two large chimneystacks and by the deeply moulded brick stringcourse between the two floors. At the rear, the central three bays project slightly and have large windows lighting the staircase, with horizontally-set oval windows above. In about 1700, single-bay projecting wings were added at either end of the main front, and it is these which lift the house decisively into the gentry category. Further changes to the fabric followed: in 1754 the house was given a panelled parapet in place of the original eaves, and there are various low additions at the back of the house which are apparently 19th and early 20th century. 

Owletts, Cobham: the staircase landing, showing the ceiling of 1684 and the screen introduced by Sir Herbert Baker.

Inside, the glory of the house is the staircase hall, with a staircase with stout twisted balusters and a fine plaster ceiling dated 1684 consisting of two big circular wreaths of foliage and flowers occupying almost the entire surface of the ceiling. In the early 20th century, Sir Herbert Baker added the porch, reusing a late 18th century doorcase, and also made some internal alterations, including the screen of Ionic columns on the staircase landing. In 2011-13 the house was repaired and modernised, and the library (which had been converted to a kitchen) was recreated, allowing Sir Herbert Baker's books to be brought together once more. In the garden are a pair of finely carved Corinthian capitals and bases of c.1770 from Sir Robert Taylor's Bank of England, removed when Sir Herbert reconstructed the bank in the 1920s and 1930s.

Descent: Bonham Hayes (d. 1720); to younger son, Richard Hayes (d. 1754); to son, Richard Hayes (d. 1790); to Henry Edmeades (d. 1835) of Nurstead; to daughter, Maria, wife of Thomas Baker (1793-1871); to son, Thomas Henry Baker (1825-1904); to son, Sir Herbert Baker (1862-1946), kt.; given in 1938 to National Trust, which later let it to Sir Herbert's son, Henry Edmeades Baker (1905-94), grandson, Michael Baker (b. 1937) and now great-grandson, David Baker (b. 1969).

Baker family of Owletts

Baker, Samuel (1761-1836). Eldest son of Samuel Baker of Rochester and his wife Ruth Alexander, born 25 December 1761. Timber merchant, carpenter and building contractor, who worked extensively with his son's brother-in-law, Robert Smirke, and was noted for his innovative use of steel and concrete; his larger projects included the Millbank Penitentiary in London (1816), the Custom House, London (1825-27) and the east wing of the British Museum (1823-27). JP for Rochester. He was elected a member of Rochester Common Council in 1787 and served as Mayor of the city in 1797 and 1802. When he died, he was regarded as 'the father of the city' having been 'the active promoter, through a long life, of every public undertaking which could either benefit or improve it'. He married, 8 January 1787 at St Nicholas, Rochester (Kent), Catherine (1764-1830), daughter of Samuel Nicholson of Rochester, and had issue:
(1) Samuel Baker (1787-1829), born 2 December 1787 and baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 28 February 1788; married, 30 March 1816 at St Pancras (Middx), Sarah (1786-1855), daughter of the artist Robert Smirke RA and sister of the architects Robert and Sydney Smirke, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died in his father's lifetime, 29 May 1829;
(2) Katherine Baker (1789-1861), baptised 20 March 1789 at St Nicholas, Rochester; married, 24 September 1814 at St Nicholas, Rochester, Peter Gunning (c.1787-1852) and had issue five sons and three daughters; died 30 May 1861;
(3) George Baker (1790-1862), born 18 April and baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 25 May 1790; timber merchant and building contractor in London, working especially on projects for the naval dockyards; an Associate of the Institute of Civil Engineers, 1836-40; married, 30 April 1816 at St Margaret, Rochester, Lucy Jane (1790-1873), daughter of Howland Roberts, and had issue five sons and one daughter; died 22 March 1862;
(4) Sarah Baker (b. 1791), baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 30 December 1791; probably died young;
(5) Thomas Baker (1793-1871) (q.v.);
(6) Ann Baker (1795-1882), baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 13 October 1795; died unmarried, 19 February 1882;
(7) Robert Baker (b. 1797), baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 13 June 1797; died young before 1802;
(8) William Baker (b. 1798), baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 9 August 1798; died young before 1803;
(9) John Baker (b. 1799), baptised at St. Nicholas, Rochester, 13 September 1799; perhaps died young;
(10) Elizabeth Baker (b. 1801), baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 16 June 1801; perhaps died young;
(11) Robert Baker (b. 1802), baptised at St. Nicholas, Rochester, 9 August 1802;
(12) William Baker (b. 1803), baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 18 November 1803.
He lived at Satis House, Boley Hill, Rochester.
He died 5 November 1836 and was buried in Rochester Cathedral, where he is commemorated by a monument erected by public subscription. His wife died 12 July 1830.

Baker, Capt. Thomas (1793-1871). Third son of Samuel Baker (1761-1836) and his wife, born 5 August 1793 and baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 8 January 1794. A ship's captain in the East India Company's service in the 1820s and early 1830s. JP for Kent and Rochester. He married, 12 December 1822 at Cobham, Maria (1795-1847), daughter of Henry Edmeades, and had issue:
(1) Thomas Henry Baker (1825-1904);
(2) Maria Catherine Baker (1827-39), born 21 February and baptised at Cobham, 14 March 1827; died 23 February 1839 and was buried at St Nicholas, Rochester (Kent);
(3) Louisa Baker (1828-30), born 20 December 1828 and baptised at Cobham, 11 January 1829; died in infancy, 27 December 1830, and was buried at St Nicholas, Rochester (Kent);
(4) Frederick Baker (b. & d. 1830), born 17 May and baptised at Cobham, 11 July 1830; died in infancy, 29 December 1830, and was buried at St. Nicholas, Rochester;
(5) Emma Baker (1832-1910), born 23 June and baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 11 August 1832; married, 11 August 1852, Edward James Hayward (1829-87), son of James Hayward of Wokingham (Berks), and had issue two sons and five daughters; died at Dover (Kent), 14 February 1910; will proved 10 March 1910 (estate £851);
(6) Louisa Baker (b. & d. 1835), born May and baptised at St Nicholas, Rochester, 11 June 1835; died in infancy, 18 June 1835 and was buried at St Nicholas, Rochester.
He lived at Boley Hill, Rochester until he inherited Owletts in right of his wife on the death of his father-in-law in 1835.
He died at Owletts, 8 January 1871, and was buried at Nurstead (Kent); his will was proved 8 April 1871 (effects under £5,000). His wife died 27 December 1847 and was buried at Nurstead.

Thomas Henry Baker (1824-1904)
Baker, Thomas Henry (1825-1904). Son of Thomas Baker (1793-1871) and his wife Maria, daughter of Henry Edmeades, born in Westminster (Middx), 27 March 1825 and baptised at Cobham, 18 August 1826. Gentleman farmer; director of the Kent Fire & Life Insurance Co.; JP for Kent. He married, 15 June 1852 at St Nicholas, Rochester, Frances Georgiana (1830-1916), daughter of William Davis of Rochester (Kent), and had issue:
(1) A son (b. & d. 1853), born 29 June 1853 but lived only a few hours;
(2) Maj. Henry Edmeades Baker (1854-1929), born 9 June and baptised at Cobham, 10 July 1854; an officer in the Royal Lancashire Militia (Lt.) and later the King's Own Royal Lancashire Regiment (Lt., 1874; Capt., 1884; retired as Maj., 1890); married, 16 February 1904 at Wakefield Cathedral, Edith, daughter of George Cradock, wire rope manufacturer, of Westfield House; died at Scarborough (Yorks), 21 February 1929 and was buried at Cobham; administration of his goods granted to his widow, 17 June 1929 (estate £729);
(3) Maria Frances Baker (1856-61), born 28 February and baptised at Cobham, 2 April 1856; died young, 21 December 1861 and was buried at Nurstead;
(4) Edward Lowther Baker (1857-1925), born 21 September and baptised at Cobham, 25 November 1857; solicitor with Arnold Baker & Day of Rochester; clerk to Rochester Petty Sessions; married, 12 June 1888 at St Margaret, Rochester, Sophia (1864-1943), daughter of John Hobbis of Grove (Berks), and had issue two sons and three daughters; died in Chichester (Sussex), 21 August 1925; will proved 21 October 1925 (estate £2,601);
(5) Lillian Baker (b. & d. 1859), born 8 March and baptised at Cobham, 9 March 1859; died in infancy, 18 March 1859 and was buried at Nurstead;
(6) Francis James Baker (1860-81), born 13 September 1860; emigrated to America with the intention of farming, but died unmarried of typhoid at Le Mars, Plymouth County, Iowa (USA), 10 June 1881;
(7) Sir Herbert Baker (1862-1946), kt. (q.v.);
(8) Alfred William Baker (1864-99), born 6 March and baptised at Cobham, 24 April 1864; educated at Tonbridge School; an officer in the Durham Light Infantry (Lt., 1884; Capt., 1893); died of blackwater fever on active service with West African Expeditionary Force at Jebba (Nigeria), 26 December 1898; administration of his goods granted to his father, 19 May 1899 (estate £506);
(9) Beatrice Emma Baker (1866-1948), born 15 February and baptised at Cobham, 25 April 1866; lived with her brother Lionel in Sussex; died unmarried, 4 June 1948; will proved 4 September 1948 (estate £1,859);
(10) Percy Thomas Baker (1867-1946), born 13 November 1867 and baptised at Cobham, 29 March 1868; educated at Tonbridge School and Trinity College, Oxford (matriculated 1886; BA 1890; MA 1894?); schoolmaster and later solicitor in partnership with his brother Edward; married, July 1908, Ida Mary Cameron Waters (d. 1939), daughter of Col. Henry Taylor of Silverdale, Bexleyheath (Kent); died in Portslade (Hants), 22 September 1946; will proved 9 December 1946 (estate £925);
(11) Lionel Baker (1870-1964), born 9 January and baptised at Cobham, 10 May 1870; as a young man emigrated to South Africa where he became a fruit farmer; returned to England and became a fruit farmer at Kirdford (Sussex); JP for Sussex; married, 25 June 1913 at King's Worthy (Hants), Rosamond (1878-1964), daughter of Matthew Hodgson, and had issue; died aged 94, 21 April 1964; will proved 25 June 1964 (estate £3,545);
(12) Charles Maurice Baker (1872-1952), born 3 March and baptised at Cobham, 26 May 1872; educated at Trinity College, Oxford (matriculated 1890; BA 1894; MA 1898); civil servant in India from 1894; retired to Meopham (Kent); married, 30 October 1902, Mabel (1872-1947), second daughter of Maj-Gen. Henry Edmeades of Nurstead Court (Kent); died 16 March 1952; will proved 5 July 1952 (estate £10,947);
(13) Arthur George Baker (b. 1876), born 11 June and baptised at Cobham, 27 August 1876; educated at Tonbridge School; surveyor; Director of Land Surveys and later Commissioner of Lands in Kenya.
He inherited Owletts from his father in 1871, but sold most of the land in the 1890s. At his death it passed to his widow.
He died 25 July 1904; his will was proved 6 September 1904 (estate £8,148). His widow died 21 December 1916; her will was proved 3 February 1917 (estate £868).

Sir Herbert Baker. Image: NPG
Baker, Sir Herbert (1862-1946), kt. Fourth son of Thomas Henry Baker (1825-1904) and his wife Frances Georgina, daughter of William Davis of Rochester, born 9 June 1862. Educated at Tonbridge School. From about 1880 he trained as an architect with his cousin Arthur Baker (1841-96) in London, and was later in the office of Sir Ernest George and Harold Peto, 1882-87 (where he rose to become Principal Assistant and also studied at the Royal Academy School of Design). While studying, he made frequent sketching trips with Edwin Lutyens, who was also in the office of George & Peto at the time. He emerged from his training as a convinced classicist, and qualified as an architect in 1889 (winning the RIBA Ashpitel Prize); he opened an independent practice in Gravesend (Kent) in 1891. In 1892, he emigrated to South Africa, ostensibly to help his brother Lionel establish a fruit farm, but a chance meeting with Cecil Rhodes led to a commission to design the prime minister's Cape Town residence, Groote Schuur (completed in 1896). He practised as an architect in South Africa (in Capetown until 1902 and later in Johannesberg) until 1912, designing some 300 houses, chiefly in the 'Cape Dutch' style which he developed from a study of vernacular Dutch settler architecture, as well as the new Government offices in Pretoria (1910-13), cathedrals in Pretoria and Johannesburg, Pretoria railway station, a medical institute in Johannesburg, commercial offices, colleges, and also mineworkers' villages on the Witwatersrand. In 1912 he endowed a travelling scholarship for young South African architects at the British School in Rome, encouraging the next generation of architects to look to their classical heritage. The commission for Union Buildings in Pretoria probably led directly to his being invited to collaborate with his old friend Lutyens in designing the vast Government office complex of New Delhi (India). In 1912 he moved his practice and family back to the UK, and for the next decade and a half travelled frequently to India as need arose to work on the Delhi commissions. He also designed many First World War memorials in France, 1917-28; in England he was chiefly noted for his rebuilding of the Bank of England behind Soane's perimeter walls between 1921 and 1942, which destroyed most of the famous interiors by Soane and Sir Robert Taylor. He also built banks, office blocks and official buildings including India House (1928-30), South Africa House (1930-35), and Church House (1935-40; bombed) in London; Rhodes House at Oxford; and a new stand for Lords' Cricket Ground. He was knighted in 1926 (KCIE 1930) and was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA, 1900; royal gold medal, 1927). He became a member of the Royal Academy (ARA 1922; RA 1932; senior RA 1938), and was awarded honorary degrees by the Universities of Witwatersrand (LLD, 1934) and Oxford (DCL, 1937). His circle of friends included many of the leading figures of Britain's imperial heyday, including Rhodes, Smuts and Milner in South Africa; and Kipling, Lutyens, and T.E. Lawrence (who wrote the Seven Pillars of Wisdom while living in a flat above Baker's London office). He was seen as a patriot, a pious Anglican, and as reserved and idealistic. He had literary interests, translated French verse, and wrote several books, including Cecil Rhodes by his architect (1934), and an autobiography, Architecture and Personalities (1944). He was keen on sport at school, and continued to play cricket in South Africa and to ride in India; on his return to England he became a keen supporter of Kent County Cricket Club. In the late 1930s he suffered a disabling stroke and retired to his home at Owletts. He married, 21 June 1904 at Nurstead (Kent), Florence (1878-1965), third daughter of Maj-Gen. Henry Edmeades of Nurstead Court, and had issue:
(1) Henry Edmeades Baker (1905-94) (q.v.);
(2) (Herbert) Allaire Edmeades Baker (1908-90), born 12 September 1908; lived at Kirdford (Sussex); married, Apr-Jun 1940, Elizabeth Sanden (b. 1910), daughter of Newland Tompkins of Pulborough (Sussex); died 21 December 1990; will proved 12 March 1991 (estate £296,789);
(3) Alfred Patrick Edmeades Baker (1913-85), born in Johannesberg (South Africa), 14 August 1913; an officer in the Royal Regt of Artillery (2nd Lt., 1940; Capt., 1949); lived at Cobhambury House, Cobham; married, Jan-Mar 1942, Helen Daphne (1911-2004), daughter of Lt-Col. Sir Francis Humphrys, and had issue three children; died 29 May 1985 and was buried at Cobham; will proved 24 September 1985 (estate £278,304);
(4) Ann Mildred Baker (1916-97), born 26 June 1916; married, September 1948, John Francis Deryk Frazer MB BCh (1916-2008), surgeon, son of John Ernest Sullivan Frazer, and had issue four daughters; died 18 March 1997; will proved 29 September 1997.
He inherited Owletts on the death of his mother in 1916, and gave it to the National Trust in 1938.
He died 4 February 1946 and his ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey, 12 February 1946; his will was proved 25 July 1946 (estate £60,221). His widow died 11 November 1965; her will was proved 24 February 1966 (estate £29,442).

Baker, Henry Edmeades (1905-94). Eldest son of Sir Herbert Baker (1862-1946) and his wife Florence Edmeades, born 1905. Consulting engineer. He married, 2 May 1936 at Hexham Abbey (Northbld), Helen (1911-85), daughter of Norbert Merz of Fourstones (Northbld), and had issue:
(1) Michael H. Baker (b. 1937) (q.v.);
(2) Charles F. Baker; (b. 1943), born 25 April 1943;
(3) Frances H. Baker (b. 1945), born at Corbridge (Northbld), 9 June 1945; married, 4 November 1967 at Cobham, Robert Charles Phillips Dower (b. 1938), architect, of Cambo House (Northbld), son of John Gordon Dower, and had issue;
(4) Robert W.H. Baker (b. 1951); married, Jul-Sep 1980, Jacqueline A. Chapman (1956-2001).
He leased Owletts from the National Trust until 1984, when he was succeeded in the tenancy by his eldest son.
He died at Owletts, 13 October 1994; his will was proved 2 June 1995 (estate £150,845). His wife died 20 January 1985; her will was proved 22 March 1985 (estate £151,125).

Baker, Michael H. (b. 1937). Son of Henry Edmeades Baker (1905-94) and his wife Helen Merz, born 1937. Electrical engineer. He married 1st, 1 June 1968 at Flora Mission Church, Marquard, Orange Free State (South Africa), Elizabeth Anne (1939-84), daughter of Gordon Nicholson of Bergville, Natal (South Africa), and 2nd, 5 April 1986 at Cambo (Northbld.), Caroline (b. 1945), daughter of Sir Tobias (k/a Toby) Rushton Weaver, kt., and had issue:
(1.1) David William Baker (b. 1969), born November 1969; director of Bjork Baker Ltd., business consultants; tenant of Owletts since 2012; married, before 2005, Gabriella Bjork-Gabbitas (b. 1965), actress, and had issue two daughters;
(1.2) Gordon Baker; married and had issue one son and two daughters;
(1.3) Camilla Baker (b. 1975); educated at Sevenoaks School, Oxford University (BA 1997; MA 2001) and University of Pennsylvania (MSEd, 1999); schoolteacher and teacher of meditation; had issue one son.
He leased Owletts from 1984 until he moved out in 1994. His eldest son took on the lease in 2012.
Now living.


J. Lees-Milne, Ancestral Voices: diaries 1942-43, 1975, pp. 129-30; J. Newman, The buildings of England: Kent - West and the Weald, 3rd edn., 2012, p. 194; ODNB entry on Sir Herbert Baker;

Location of archives

Baker, Sir Herbert (1862-1946): diaries, personal correspondence, practice and literary papers, presscuttings and historical materials, 1877-1989 [Royal Institute of British Architects, BaH]

Coat of arms

None known.

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  • If any member of the family would be willing to provide fuller or corrected information about recent generations, I should be very pleased to hear from them.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 30 June 2018.

Monday 25 June 2018

(335) Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) of Loventor and Rode Hall, baronets

Baker of Loventor
This post considers the story of the Baker family of Loventor (Devon), who at the end of the 19th century married into the Wilbrahams of Rode Hall and became Baker Wilbrahams (most frequently but not invariably without a hyphen). A future post will give an account of the Wilbraham family before 1900.

When Aaron Baker (1652-1728) went up to Wadham College, Oxford in 1669, his origins were described as plebeian, although his uncle Aaron Baker (1610-83) had been the East India Company's first Governor of Madras. He subsequently took holy orders and after a brief period as a reader or lecturer in Putney (Surrey) became rector of West Alvington in Devon. His own four sons all went to either Oxford or Cambridge, clearly indicating that he recognised the value a university education had given him, and wished to confer it on his own children. The eldest, Aaron Baker (1681-1750) subsequently went on to the Middle Temple and became a barrister, and spent the last twenty-five years of his life as town clerk of Plymouth. The two youngest sons both became Fellows of Wadham College, but his second son, George Baker (1687-1722) followed him into the church and ended up as Archdeacon of Totnes and a canon of Exeter Cathedral. Such senior preferment clearly marked him as a gentleman, and his three sons all went to university. Of the two who survived to maturity, the younger followed family tradition, inherited his father's livings, and became a canon of St. Asaph. The elder, George Baker (1723-1809), chose the medical profession, and it was he who moved the family decisively into the landed gentry.

Dr. George Baker was educated at Cambridge and at first set up practice at Stamford (Lincs), but soon moved to London, where he quickly gained a fashionable clientele, including the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. His success led to successive appointments as physician to the Queen's household, to the Queen herself, and to the King, and in 1781 he was rewarded with a baronetcy. It was Sir George Baker who attended the King during his first attack of 'madness' in 1788, and who recommended that the King took the waters at Cheltenham, which thereafter developed rapidly as a spa town. In about 1780, Sir George bought the Loventor estate in south Devon, and built two new wings onto the house, which became his country residence after he retired from practice in 1798, although he continued to spend much of his time in London. After his death in 1809, the estate passed to his only son, Sir Frederick Francis Baker (1772-1830), 2nd bt., but he seems to have preferred life in London and made little use of the house, which he let from 1826 onwards. Sir Frederick seems to have been singularly unlucky. His house in Jermyn St., London, was destroyed by fire in 1824 and though quickly rebuilt, was again rendered uninhabitable by a fire that started in the house next door in November 1827. And in 1830, during a holiday with his young family at Hastings, he took his children to see a windmill and, while explaining how it worked, was hit on the head by one of the rotating sails and killed in front of them. One wonders whether their exposure to such a traumatic experience in childhood in any way explains why his two younger sons were admitted to a private lunatic asylum in London in 1846 and spent the rest of their lives in such institutions.

The eldest son and heir, Sir George Baker (1816-82), 3rd bt., seems to have shared his father's preference for London over rural solitude at Loventor, and continued to let that house. In 1866 he inherited the Woodhouse estate at Uplyme (Devon) from Edward Rhodes, who was a distant relation, and some years later he decided to build a new country house there, which he commissioned from Sir Ernest George, who had recently completed two larger houses in Devon, including the nearby Rousdon. Unfortunately, Sir George died a few weeks after moving into his new house, which was only occupied by the family until the death of his widow in 1893. 

Sir George's son and heir, the bachelor Sir Frederick Edward (1843-1911), 4th bt., had taken the name Rhodes in lieu of Baker in 1878 after receiving a second inheritance from that family, but seems not to have used either Loventor or Woodhouse, which were both let, and instead lived at various addresses in Sussex. When he died in 1911, his heir was his younger brother, Sir George Barrington Baker Wilbraham (1845-1912), 5th bt., who had married the only daughter and heiress of General Sir Richard Wilbraham (1811-1900) of Rode Hall (Cheshire). Sir George and his wife took the additional name Wilbraham on inheriting Rode Hall in 1900, and from that time the family's seat has been at Rode. Sir George died a few months after inheriting the family baronetcy from his brother, and was succeeded by his son, Sir Philip Wilbraham Baker Wilbraham (1875-1957), 6th bt., who was a barrister and an increasingly important legal figure in the Church of England. Sir Philip sold Woodhouse in 1922 to the Misses Prescott, whose family had occupied it as tenants since 1896, but perhaps out of family piety he continued to retained the freehold of Loventor, which had long since become a rather grand farmhouse. The money from the sale of Woodhouse was used to modernise Rode Hall, which had been little altered since 1813. He removed the stucco from what was revealed as a red brick house, and replaced a rather ungainly Victorian porte-cochere with an elegant new portico.

Sir Philip, who was awarded a KBE and a Lambeth doctorate for his services to the Church of England, died in 1957 and was succeeded by his only son, Sir Randle John Baker Wilbraham (1906-80), 7th bt. He handed on his estates to his son, the present Sir Richard Baker Wilbraham (b. 1934), 8th bt., who finally sold Loventor in 1978, after it had been tenanted for more than one hundred and fifty years. Sir Richard has restored Rode Hall and opens it regularly to the public. The older part of the house, which the family now use most of the time, has recently been modernised and improved to the designs of his son-in-law, the architect Tim Makower. 

Loventor, Berry Pomeroy, Devon

A modest gentry house which began as a two room farmhouse with a cross-passage, built perhaps in the 14th century when the Damerel family acquired the property from the Arundells of Trerice. By about 1600 the house had passed to the Lyde family, who enlarged it by the addition of front and back porches and a kitchen on the north end, and who raised the roof to allow the creation of an upper storey, accessible from an external staircase. This range is now a five bay block with a gabled slate roof and (renewed) 18th century casement windows. 

Loventor, Berry Pomeroy: the south front of the house built after 1780, with the older wing behind. Image: Bob Lillie.

Despite the Lydes' enlargement, the house remained little more than a farmhouse until it was bought in about 1780 by Sir George Baker (1723-1809), 1st bt., who had Devon origins and who was raised to a baronetcy for his medical services to the royal family. He added a seven bay south wing at right-angles to its predecessor and a return wing facing west (with a six-bay front, in which the windows are grouped 1-4-1), which backed onto the earlier part of the house.
Loventor: the estate shown on the 1st edition 6" map, 1886.
The south front was of seven bays and two storeys, with a hipped roof and a central doorcase that led into an entrance hall with a staircase behind it. A letting advertisement from 1830 describes the accommodation as consisting of 'a dining parlour and drawing room (which presumably stood either side of the hall), with excellent offices of every description on the ground floor; a library or breakfast room and six bedrooms; convenient closets and servants' apartments on the other floor; cellars; large commodious stables; coach house; yard; and other convenient outbuildings'.

The house was only occupied by the Baker family until about 1826, when it was leased to the first of a long series of short-term tenants. The 2nd and 3rd baronets lived chiefly in London, and the 4th baronet rented houses in Sussex. Normally a house which was abandoned for so long by its owners would be sold, or even demolished, but Loventor continued to be let until 1978, when the present Sir Richard Baker Wilbraham sold it for conversion into an hotel. This went bankrupt in 1981 and the house was subsequently divided into three dwellings, in the process losing almost all its historic fittings, except for the front doors, so that only the exterior retains much aesthetic value or coherence.

Descent: sold c.1780 to Sir George Baker (1723-1809), 1st bt.; to son, Sir Frederick Francis Baker (1772-1830), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir George Baker (1816-82), 3rd bt.; to son, Sir Frederick Edward Baker (later Rhodes) (1843-1911), 4th bt.; to brother, Sir George Barrington Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1845-1912), 5th bt.; to son, Sir Philip Wilbraham Baker Wilbraham (1875-1957), 6th bt.; to son, Sir Randle John Baker Wilbraham (1906-80), 7th bt.; to son, Sir Richard Baker Wilbraham (b. 1934), 8th bt., who sold 1978 to Ann White; sold 1981 for conversion to multiple occupation. Tenants included J.W.C. Whitbread (in 1830s), John Tyrrell (in later 1840s) and John Blackaller (in 1860s).

Woodhouse, Uplyme, Devon

The site was occupied originally by a 16th century hunting lodge known as Old Woodhouse, which came into the possession of the Rhodes family in 1811. On the death of Edward Rhodes in 1866, the estate was bequeathed to Sir George Baker (1816-82), 3rd bt., who was a distant relation and also his brother's godson. In 1879, Sir George commissioned a new 'Old English' style house on the site from Sir Ernest George & Peto, who had just finished building Rousdon for the Peek family nearby. Construction cost a remarkably modest £4,325.

Woodhouse, Uplyme: entrance front, as designed by Sir Ernest George & Peto, 1879-81. Image: Building News, 2 July 1880.

The house stands in a fine position with views over Lyme Bay and was built close to its predecessor, which was retained as a service block. In view of the relatively exposed situation, it was planned around a central block of hearths so that the heat loss from external stacks was avoided.
Woodhouse: the estate as shown on the 1st edition 6" map, 1887.
The ground floor is of stone and the upper parts are timber-framed and stuccoed, with tile-hanging on the first floor and the timbering exposed in the gables. The entrance front has 
a three-storey tile-hung porch resting on carved posts with a gable above, and to its right, two timber-framed gables with decorated stucco panels; while the garden front has two gables and a half-octagon bay window on the ground floor with a lead roof. The side elevation also has two gables, set above a pair of oval bow windows, which have stucco panels with incised
graffito decoration between them. 

Inside, the principal rooms face south and west, and open off a staircase hall with an inglenook fireplace set on the north side. When it was first built, a single large drawing room with a 17th century style plaster ceiling occupied the entire west end of the house, and was lit by the two bay windows on the end elevation. The dining room lay at the east end of the south front, adjacent to the service wing. Upstairs, there were ten family and guest bedrooms.

Woodhouse, Uplyme: the north-facing entrance front in 2015.

After the house came into the ownership of J.R. Prescott in 1968 it was restored and modernised, but in the process the service block containing the original 16th century house was pulled down. In 1984 the property became a care home, known as Lymewood, specialising in the treatment of dementia patients, which closed in 2015 after the publication of an adverse report by the Care Quality Commission. It has since been divided into three dwellings.

Descent: Edward Rhodes (d. 1866); to kinsman, Sir George Baker (1816-82), 3rd bt., who built a new house in 1879-82; to son, Sir George Barrington Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1845-1912), 5th bt.; to son, Sir Frederick Edward Baker (later Rhodes) (1843-1911), who leased 1896 to Mrs. Frances Prescott; to brother, Sir George Barrington Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1845-1912); to son, Sir Philip Baker Wilbraham (1875-1957), who sold 1922 to the tenants, the Misses Prescott, the last of whom died c.1968; to Capt. John Richard Prescott RN; who sold 1979 for conversion to flats; sold again 1984 for conversion to nursing home; sold 2016 for division into three dwellings.

Rode Hall, Odd Rode, Cheshire

There was already a house on the site of Rode Hall (Cheshire) when the estate was acquired by Roger Wilbraham (1623-1707) of Nantwich in 1669, but the family probably did not move here until his son, Randle Wilbraham I (1663-1732), built a new house on the site. This house, which was recorded as recently completed in 1708 and must therefore have been started in his father's lifetime, still stands, having been retained as the service wing when a larger new house was built alongside it in 1752 for Randle Wilbraham II (1694-1770). The old house is long and low, and consists of two storeys with a hipped roof. The middle five bays are slightly recessed and have cross-windows, which were distinctly old-fashioned by 1700. The wings, by contrast, have Venetian windows with circular oeils de boeuf above, which must be an 18th century alteration, like the central doorway with a semicircular head with a Gibbs surround. The pretty octagonal onion-domed cupola (which is repeated on the stable block) must also be later than the original house. The external angles oddly have quoins on the ground floor only.

Rode Hall: the old hall of 1708 on the right, retained as the service wing of the new hall built in 1752 and altered in 1799-1813. Photograph of before 1927, when the Victorian porte-cochère and the stucco were removed. Image: Historic England.
In 1752 Randle Wilbraham II built a completely new house north-west of the old one, which was joined to it by an arcaded courtyard that was filled in during the early 19th century. It was very plain, five bays by four, and of two-and-a-half storeys. A painting of Wilbraham holding an elevation drawing indicates that the main (north-west) front originally had architrave surrounds to the windows, and an early photograph suggests that those on the top floor (at least) survived into the late 19th century. The front may also at first have had the big Venetian doorway shown on the portrait, although it is also possible that another design was adopted when the house was built, as an estate map with a vignette of the house shows a pedimented porch in this location. There is a little evidence that the architect may have been one of the Hiorne brothers of Warwick; perhaps David Hiorne, who had a fondness for Venetian windows. Today, without the architraves, the north-west front of the house looks very calm and spacious, with its windows unusually widely-spaced. At either end were two-storey polygonal bays, set on the ends of the range, which again have quoins on the ground floor only.

Rode Hall descended to Richard Wilbraham (1725-96), who took the additional name of Bootle in 1755 on his marriage to Mary, the daughter and heiress of Robert Bootle of Lathom House (Lancs). When he died, his eldest son, Edward Wilbraham Bootle, inherited Lathom, and Rode was left to his second son, Randle Wilbraham III (1773-1861), who along with his siblings did not adopt the Bootle name. The next campaign of work at Rode Hall was carried out by John Hope of Liverpool for Randle Wilbraham III between 1799 and 1808 and was continued after Hope's death by Lewis Wyatt, who was employed until 1813. The house was entirely reorganised and reorientated, and also covered in stucco. The mid 18th century polygonal bays were raised to the full height of the house and made roughly semicircular, and the entrance was moved to the south-west front, which was made symmetrical by the addition of a second bow on the other side of the new entrance door. The back (north-east) face of the house was also extended, but without a second bow. At some point in the mid 19th century the outer windows of the big semi-circular bows were blocked, probably to improve insulation, and a large porte-cochere was added to the main entrance (known irreverently in the family as 'St Pancras'!). The present portico on the north-west front, a severe Grecian design, was probably added in about 1820.

Rode Hall: the north-west front with its porch of c.1820. Image: Professional Gardeners Guild.
Rode Hall: the estate depicted on the first edition 6" map surveyed in 1874.
On the death of Randle Wilbraham III in 1861 the estate passed to his son, General Sir Richard Wilbraham (1811-1900), whose heir was his daughter, Katherine (d. 1945), the wife of George Barrington Baker (1845-1912). When the General died in 1900 and they inherited the house, they took the additional name of Wilbraham. In 1911, on the death of George's unmarried older brother, he inherited the Baker baronetcy, and both the estate and title remain in the family today. Sir George's eldest surviving son was Sir Philip Baker Wilbraham (1875-1967), 6th bt., a lawyer who became the chief legal officer of the Church of England as Judge of the Provincial Courts of Canterbury & York, Chancellor of six dioceses, Vicar-General, and First Church Estates Commissioner. In 1927 he carried out significant works to the house to revive and modernise it. The architect Darcy Braddell removed the stucco to expose the 18th century brickwork, and replaced the Victorian porte-cochere with a big tetrastyle Ionic portico which fills the gap between the bows on the south-east front. He also made some internal changes and redecorated the interior. In 1957 the house passed to Sir Randle John Baker Wilbraham (1906-80), whose son, Sir Richard Baker Wilbraham (b. 1934), is the 8th and present baronet. He has carried out further works to the house, repairing the brickwork exposed in the 1920s, and creating new family rooms in the older part of the house, to the design of his son-in-law, the architect Tim Makower. The house is now regularly open to the public.

Rode Hall: the south-west front today, as altered by Darcy Braddell in 1927. Image: Rode Hall.
Rode Hall: dining room designed by Lewis Wyatt in about 1810.
The main rooms are chiefly of the early 19th century period. John Hope created a new entrance hall, much larger than its predecessor, with screens of Tuscan columns immediately inside the door and about three-quarters of the way down its length. Behind the hall is the main staircase, the one room which survives substantially intact from the mid 18th century house. The balustrade has two fluted columns per tread and exceptionally richly-carved tread-ends. The walls and ceiling have a good deal of Rococo plasterwork, including a fine eagle under the landing, picking up on a motif in the staircase joinery. The original entrance hall in the centre of the north-west front was made octagonal in the early 19th century, when it became an ante-room between the library and drawing room. It has severe Soanian doorcases with rosettes in the corners and a white marble chimneypiece in the same style. The drawing room has similar doorcases and a fine chimneypiece with musical trophies. The handsome library incorporates bookcases by Gillow. On the north-east side of the house is the dining room, which was designed and decorated by Lewis Wyatt in about 1810. The room has a shallow segmental vault, with an apse at one end decorated with rays of stiff plaster foliage. On each long wall are two dark-green scagliola Ionic columns carrying wide arches across the vault. The room preserves its original cool colour scheme, largely green and ivory, with black doors and skirtings, and a black marble mantelpiece.

The stables, standing south-east of the original house and at right-angles to it, are designed in a similar style but are believed to be part of the rebuilding of the 1750s. They are six bays wide, the middle two projecting under a pediment with twin segmental archways meeting very oddly on a central column. All the ground-floor windows are round-headed and the upstairs ones are circular. The block has a hipped roof and a cupola like that on the old house.

Rode Hall: the sham castle built on Mow Cop as an eyecatcher in about 1754. Image: Historic England.
An early interest in landscaping the estate is evidenced by the very large folly known as Mow Cop Castle, built in 1754 by Randle Wilbraham as an eyecatcher from his new house. It is clearly influenced by Sanderson Miller's slightly earlier sham castle designs, and may well have been designed by the Hiorne brothers, who had dealings with Miller. Rather later, Humphry Repton was invited to Rode in 1790 to make proposals for improving the grounds, but his suggestions did not find favour with his client, Richard Wilbraham Bootle. It was left to Randle Wilbraham III to partially carry out Repton's scheme, under the direction of John Webb, c.1803-12. The work included joining and extending stretches of water to form a large lake west of the house, and realigning the roads to the north and east. A wild garden with curving paths, much rockwork, and a stone grotto was created in the area between the house and the lake. An axial path leading to the lakeside now terminates in an obelisk, probably of the early 19th century, which was brought from elsewhere in 1970. In 1861, William Andrewes Nesfield was brought in create a terraced garden and a rose garden west of the house, and some elements of this scheme to survive.

Descent: sold 1669 to Roger Wilbraham (1623-1707); to son, Randle Wilbraham (1663-1732); to younger son, Randle Wilbraham (1694-1770); to son, Richard Wilbraham (later Bootle) (1725-96); to younger son, Randle Wilbraham (1773-1861); to son, Gen. Sir Richard Wilbraham KCB (1811-1900); to daughter, Katherine, wife of Sir George Barrington Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1845-1912), 5th bt.; to son, Sir Philip Wilbraham Baker Wilbraham (1875-1957), 6th bt.; to son, Sir Randle John Baker Wilbraham (1906-80), 7th bt.; to son, Sir Richard Baker Wilbraham (b. 1934), 8th bt.

Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) family of Loventor, baronets

Baker, Rev. Aaron (1652-1729). Second son of John Baker (b. 1614) of Alvington (Devon), farmer and member of Salisbury corporation, born 1652. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford (matriculated 1668; BA 1671; MA 1674). Ordained deacon, 1674 and priest, 1677. Rector of West Alvington (Devon), 1679-1728. He married. c.1680, Martha (1657-1742), daughter of Rev. Joseph Tompson of Exminster (Devon), and had issue:
(1) Aaron Baker (1681-1750), baptised at West Alvington, 12 June 1681; educated at Wadham College, Oxford (matriculated 1698; BA 1701/2; MA 1704) and Middle Temple (called to bar 1707); barrister-at-law; Town Clerk of Plymouth, 1725-50; married, 31 October 1708 at Sunningwell (Berks), Mary Dew (d. 1753) of Oxford, and had issue two sons and three daughters; buried at St Andrew, Plymouth, 14 May 1750;
(2) Martha Baker (b. 1684), baptised 4 November 1684;
(3) Ven. Dr. George Baker (1687-1772) (q.v.);
(4) John Baker (1689-1719), baptised 17 September 1689; educated at Wadham College, Oxford (matriculated 1707; BA 1711; MA 1713/4); Fellow of Wadham College, 1714-19; died unmarried while in office as junior proctor of the University; buried at St Michael, Oxford, 29 April 1719;
(5) Mellony Baker (b. 1691), baptised 7 March 1691; married, before 1720, John Scobell (d. c.1742) of Nutcombe (Devon) and had issue;
(6) Elizabeth Baker (b. 1694), baptised 10 September 1694;
(7) Anthony Baker (1696-c.1741), born 11 October and baptised at West Alvington, 22 December 1696; educated at Wadham College, Oxford (matriculated 1715; BA 1718; MA 1721); Fellow of Wadham College; died about 1741.
He was buried at West Alvington, 25 February 1728/9; his will was proved at Exeter in 1729. His widow was also buried at West Alvington, 27 May 1742.

Baker, Ven. Dr. George (1687-1772). Second son of Rev. Aaron Baker (b. 1652) and his wife Martha, daughter of Rev. Joseph Tompson of Exminster (Devon), born at West Alvington, 1687. Educated at Eton (scholar) and Kings College, Cambridge (matriculated 1706; scholar; BA 1709/10; MA 1713; DD). Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge, 1709. Schoolmaster and Vicar of Modbury (Devon), 1715-72 and vicar of Staverton (Devon), 1730-59; Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral, 1725-72 and Archdeacon of Totnes 1740-72. He married 1st, 10 November 1713 at Duxford (Cambs), Bridget Harris, and 2nd, 24 January 1738 at Dawlish (Devon), Mary, daughter of Rt. Rev. Stephen Weston, Bishop of Exeter, and had issue:
(1.1) Martha Baker (1715-88), said to have been born in 1715; died unmarried, 16 June, and was buried in Exeter Cathedral, 27 June 1788, where she is commemorated on her father's monument; 
(1.2) Elizabeth Baker (1716-57), born 22 November and baptised at Modbury, 18 December 1716; married, 18 August 1740 at Exeter Cathedral, George Rhodes (1703-72), son of Ambrose Rhodes, and had issue six sons and two daughters; died at Modbury, June 1757;
(1.3) Bridget Baker (b. 1718), born 29 August and baptised at Modbury, 26 September 1718; probably died young;
(1.4) Mellony Baker (b. 1720), baptised at Modbury, 26 August 1720; probably died young;
(1.5) Sir George Baker (1723-1809), 1st bt. (q.v.)
(1.6) Aaron Baker (1725-47), baptised at Modbury, 22 September 1725; educated at Wadham College, Oxford (matriculated 1742/3; BA 1746); died early in 1747;
(1.7) Rev. Thomas Baker (1727-1803), baptised at Modbury, 22 December 1727; educated at Merton and Exeter Colleges, Oxford (matriculated 1749; BA 1754; MA 1756; BD and DD, 1778); ordained priest, 1756; curate of Modbury, c.1756-58; rector of St Martin, Exeter, 1758-59; vicar of Staverton, 1759-1803 and Bampton, 1766-80; prebendary of Exeter Cathedral, 1757-1803 and canon of St Asaph Cathedral from 1777-1803; married, 18 May 1772 at Totnes, Elizabeth Marshall of Totnes (Devon), but had no issue; will proved 7 June 1803;
(1.8) Sarah Baker (1730-60), baptised at Modbury, 7 August 1730; married, 27 September 1753 at Modbury, Rev. William Hatherly (1719-82) of Colyton (Devon), and had issue one daughter; died 4 April 1760 and was buried in Exeter Cathedral, where she is commemorated on her father's monument. 
He died 16 January 1772 and was buried in Exeter Cathedral, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved 6 March 1772. His first wife died in 1734. His second wife died 3 March 1777 and is commemorated on her husband's monument.

Sir George Baker (1723-1809) by Ozias Humphry.
Image: Royal College  of Physicians. Some rights reserved.
Baker, Sir George (1723-1809), 1st bt. Only son of Ven. George Baker (1687-1772) and his first wife, Bridget Harris, born at Modbury (Devon) and baptised there, 8 February 1722/3. Educated at Eton (scholar, 1741) and King's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1742; BA 1745; MA 1749; MD 1756); Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. Elected a Fellow of Royal College of Physicians, 1757 (Harveian Orator, 1761; President 1785-90, 1792-93 and 1795). He set up in practice at Stamford (Lincs) but moved to London in about 1761, where he developed a lucrative private practice (his patients including Sir Joshua Reynolds) and became physician to the household of the Queen Consort, Physician in Ordinary to the Queen (by 1776), and Physician in Ordinary to King George III. He was in attendance on the king during his first attack of 'madness' in 1788, and recommended the king's visit to take the waters at Cheltenham (Glos) which launched the success of Cheltenham as a watering place; he retired from practice in about 1798. His most important discovery was that the use of lead in cider presses in his native Devon was the cause of high rates of colic in the county. This discovery led to a wider awareness of the dangers of lead poisoning in food and water. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and was a first rate Greek and Latin scholar, widely known for his graceful Latin prose and amusing epigrams. He was created a baronet, 19 September 1776, in recognition of his medical services. He married, 28 June 1768 at St James Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), Jane (1741-1813), daughter of Roger Morris of York, and had issue:
(1) Sir Frederick Francis Baker (1772-1830), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Maria Charlotte Baker (1775-1842), born 7 March and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 2 April 1775; married, 1 May 1821 at St George, Hanover Square, London, as his third wife, Lt-Col. Sir John Hutton Cooper, 1st & last bt., MP, MB, FRS (1765-1828), but had no issue; died in London, 7 February 1842; her will was proved 23 February 1842.
He purchased the Loventor estate in about 1780 and greatly enlarged the house over the next few years.
He died 15 June and was buried at St James, Piccadilly, 24 June 1809, where he was commemorated by a monument; his will was proved in 1809. His widow died 13 July 1813; her will was proved 1813.

Sir Frederick Baker, 2nd bt.,
after Hoppner. Image: NPG
Baker, Sir Frederick Francis (1772-1830), 2nd bt. Only son of Sir George Baker (1723-1809), 1st bt., and his wife Jane, daughter of Roger Morris of York, born in Jermyn St., London, 13 May and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, 17 June 1772. Educated at Balliol College, Oxford (matriculated 1791; BA 1792; MA 1796). Fellow of the Royal Society, 1811, and of the Society of Antiquaries of London. In 1818 he published a collected edition of his father's Medical Tracts, read at the College of Physicians, 1767-85. He succeeded his father as 2nd baronet, 15 June 1809. He was very short-sighted, a fact which contributed to the accident which ended his life. He married, 6 July 1814, Harriet (d. 1845), third daughter of Sir John Simeon, 1st bt., and had issue:
(1) Sir George Baker (1816-82), 3rd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Jane Maria Baker (1819-1860), born 13 June 1819; married, 26 November 1840 at St George, Hanover Square, London, Sir John Simeon (1815-70), 3rd bt. of Swainston (IoW) (who married 2nd, 1861, Catherine Dorothea Colville), and had issue four sons and four daughters; died following childbirth, 24 August 1860;
(3) Frederick Francis Baker (1822-92), born 29 January and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 24 February 1822; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1840); admitted to a lunatic asylum in London with his younger brother, 10 February 1846 and apparently remained confined for the rest of his life; died 2 June 1892; administration of goods granted 4 July 1892 (effects £113,351);
(4) Harriet Eliza Baker (1824-25), born 23 June and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster, 1 July 1824; died in infancy, 20 February 1825;
(5) Henry Cooper Baker (1826-92), born 8 January and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster, 14 January 1826; admitted to a lunatic asylum in London with his elder brother, 10 February 1846 and apparently remained confined for the rest of his life; died 12 January 1892; adminstration of goods granted 17 February 1892 (effects £95,972).
He inherited Loventor from his father in 1809 but seems to have lived chiefly at his house in Jermyn St., Westminster, which was destroyed by fire in about 1824 and after being rebuilt was again badly damaged by a fire that started in the house next door in November 1827. Loventor was first advertised to let in 1826.
He died accidentally  at Hastings (Sussex) while explaining the operation of a windmill to his children, when he was struck by one of its turning sails, 1 October 1830; his will was proved in October 1830 and again in March 1846. His widow died in London, 15 November 1845; her will was proved in February 1846.

Baker, Sir George (1816-82), 3rd bt. Eldest son of Sir Frederick Francis Baker (1772-1830), 2nd bt., and his wife Harriet, third daughter of Sir John Simeon, 1st bt., born in Paris (France), 16 June 1816. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1834; BA 1837) and Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1836). He succeeded his father as 3rd baronet, 1 October 1830. He married 1st, 2 June 1840 at St George, Hanover Sq., London, Mary Isabella (1818-55), second daughter of Robert Nassau Sutton, and 2nd, 16 November 1858, Augusta Catherine (d. 1893), youngest daughter of Sir Robert Fitzwygram (né Wigram), 2nd bt., and had issue:
(1.1) A son (b. 1841), born in Rome (Italy), 17 April 1841; probably died in infancy;
(1.2) Isabella Maria Baker (1842-1927), born 24 April and baptised at St George, Hanover Square, London, 4 June 1842; married, 14 December 1865, Charles Oliver Frederick Cator (1836-76), of Beckenham (Kent), barrister-at-law, fifth son of Rev. Thomas Cator of Skelbrook Park (Yorks WR), and had issue one son; died 1 December 1927; will proved 3 February 1928 (estate £17,448);
(1.3) Sir Frederick Edward Baker (1843-1911), 4th bt. (q.v.);
(1.4) Sir George Barrington Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1845-1912), 5th bt. (q.v.);
(1.5) Alice Emily Jane Baker (1847-1901), born 17 March and baptised at St George, Hanover Square, London, 12 May 1847; married, 11 November 1885 at St John, Paddington (Middx), Rt. Rev. Charles Waldegrave Sandford DD (1828-1903), Bishop of Gibraltar, but had no issue; died at Cannes (France), 1 June 1901; will proved 26 August 1901 (effects £485);
(1.6) Evelyn Nina Frances Baker (1849-1904), born 29 September and baptised at St George, Hanover Square, London, 31 December 1849; married, 23 August 1877 at Fillongley (Warks), Herbert Perrott Murray Pakington, 3rd Baron Hampton (1848-1906), and had issue four sons and five daughters; died 19 August 1904; administration of goods granted 29 March 1905 (estate £843);
(1.7) Francis Manners Baker (1852-78), born 10 February and baptised at the British chaplaincy in Rome, 10 March 1852; an officer in 1st Royal Cheshire Light Infantry militia (Lt., 1871) and later 73rd Foot (Lt., 1874); died unmarried, of fever, at Lucknow, Bengal (India), 2 October 1878; administration of goods granted to his father, 7 November 1878 (effects under £450).
He inherited Loventor from his father in 1830, but let it and lived elsewhere. In 1866 he inherited the Woodhouse estate at Uplyme from Edward Rhodes and in 1879-82 he built a new house there to the designs of Sir Ernest George & Peto, which was finished a few weeks before his death.
He died at Woodhouse, Uplyme (Devon), 27 August 1882. His first wife died at Netherwood near Lyndhurst, 6 May 1855. His widow died at Woodhouse, 13 November 1893.

Baker (later Rhodes), Sir Frederick Edward (1843-1911), 4th bt. Eldest son of Sir George Baker (1816-82), 3rd bt., and his first wife, Mary Isabella, second daughter of Robert Nassau Sutton, born in London, 12 July 1843. Educated at Harrow. He assumed the name of Rhodes in lieu of Baker by royal licence, 29 October 1878, in accordance with the will of Ambrose Rhodes of Bellair, Heavitree, Exeter. He succeeded his father as 4th baronet, 27 August 1882, but seems to have played no part in public life. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Loventor and Woodhouse from his father in 1882, but appears to have let both houses and lived at various rented houses in Sussex.
He died at St. Leonards-on-Sea (Sussex), 4 October 1911; he died intestate and administration of his goods was granted to his brother, 2 February 1912 (effects £24,163); a further grant was made to his sister Isabella, 11 July 1913.

Baker (later Baker Wilbraham), Sir George Barrington (1845-1912), 5th bt. Second son of Sir George Baker (1816-82), 3rd bt., and his first wife, Mary Isabella, second daughter of Robert Nassau Sutton, born 26 January 1845. Educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (matriculated 1863; BA 1868; MA 1870) and Lincoln's Inn (called to bar 1870). Barrister-at-law. Chairman of Cheshire County Council Education Committee and of Holmes Chapel Agricultural Society. He assumed the additional name and arms of Wilbraham by royal licence, 14 July 1900, and succeeded his elder brother as 5th baronet, 4 October 1911. He succeeded his father-in-law as High Steward of Congleton, 1900-12. He married, 4 April 1872, Katharine Frances (d. 1945), only child of Gen. Sir Richard Wilbraham (d. 1900), KCB, of Rode Hall (Cheshire), and had issue:
(1) Wilbraham George Baker (1873-75), born 15 November 1873; died in infancy, 16 March 1875;
(2) Sir Philip Wilbraham Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1875-1957), 6th bt. (q.v.);
(3) Katharine Mary Baker (1878-1937), baptised at St John, Paddington (Middx), 23 June 1878; matron of Rode Hall Hospital during First World War; awarded MBE, 1920; Scholar in Theology (Lambeth, 1931); married, 25 July 1899 at Odd Rode (Ches.), Canon Piers John Benedict Ffoulkes (1858-1927), canon of Chester Cathedral, but had no issue; died 25 March 1937; will proved 22 June 1937 (estate £20,526);
(4) Margaret Isabel Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1879-1968), baptised at St John, Paddington, 2 November 1879; married, 28 April 1914 at Odd Rode, Canon Martin Stewart Ware (d. 1934) of Tilford House (Surrey), hon. canon of Winchester Cathedral, and had issue; died 26 February 1968; will proved 19 June 1968 (estate £1,274);
(5) Sibylla Frances Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1881-1969), baptised at St John, Paddington, 2 October 1881; married, 30 December 1920, Ven. Percy Barnabas Emmet MA (1876-1963), Archdeacon of Nandyal in southern India, son of Rev. William Edward Emmet, but had no issue; died 10 March 1969; will proved 13 June 1969 (estate £22,777).
He inherited Rode Hall in right of his wife, presumably in 1900. He inherited Loventor and Woodhouse from his elder brother in 1911.
He died 28 August 1912; his will was proved 30 January 1913 (estate £112,042). His widow died 8 February 1945; her will was proved 21 July 1945 (estate £8,884).

Baker (later Baker Wilbraham), Sir Philip Wilbraham (1875-1957), 6th bt. Second, but eldest surviving, son of Sir George Barrington Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) (1845-1912), 5th bt., and his wife Katherine Frances, only child of Gen. Sir Richard Wilbraham KCB, born 17 September 1875. Educated at Harrow, Balliol College, Oxford (BA 1898; MA 1901) and Lincolns Inn (called to bar, 1901; bencher, 1942). Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, 1899-96. Barrister-at-law. Chancellor of Diocese of Chester, 1913, and later also of the Dioceses of York, Durham, Chester, Chelmsford and Truro; Chancellor and Vicar-General of the Province of York, 1915; Secretary of the National Assembly of the Church of England, 1920-39; Dean of the Court of Arches, Master of the Faculties, Judge of the Provincial Courts of Canterbury and York and Vicar-General of the Province of Canterbury, 1934-57; awarded a Lambeth doctorate (DCL 1936); Commissary to Dean & Chapter of St. Paul's Cathedral from 1942; First Church Estates Commissioner, 1939-54. JP for Cheshire; High Steward of Congleton (Cheshire), 1912-57. He succeeded his father as 6th baronet, 28 August 1912, and was appointed KBE, 1954. He married, 8 August 1901, Joyce Christabel (1876-1958), younger daughter of Rt. Hon. Sir John Henry Kennaway PC CB, 3rd bt., and had issue:
(1) Joyce Katharine Baker Wilbraham MBE (1902-99), born 29 June 1902; educated at Somerville College, Oxford (MA); administrator for married quarters, Ministry of Supply, 1949-60 and Civilian Housing administrator, Ministry of Defence (Army dept), 1961-67; Fellow of the Institute of Housing Managers; died unmarried aged 96, 12 March 1999; will proved 11 May 1999;
(2) Mary Frances Baker Wilbraham (1904-94), born 19 August 1904; married, 1 April 1937 at Chelsea Register Office, Prof. Elliott Perkins (1901-85), Professor of History and former Master of Lovell House, Harvard University (USA), eldest son of Thomas Nelson Perkins of Westwood, Massachusetts (USA); died without issue, 6 March 1994 and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA);
(3) Sir Randle John Baker Wilbraham (1906-80), 7th bt. (q.v.);
(4) Elisabeth Sibylla Baker Wilbraham (1908-89), born 1 May 1908; married, 24 September 1938 at Odd Rode (Ches.), Lt-Col. Hugh Morris Carstairs Jones-Mortimer (1908-80) of Hartsheath, Mold (Flints) and Plas Newydd, Llanfair-Dyffryn-Clwyd (Denbighs) and had issue one son and two daughters; died 16 June 1989; will proved 2 July 1990 (estate £4,101,235).
He inherited Loventor, Woodhouse and Rode Hall from his father in 1912, but sold Woodhouse to the tenants in 1922. He continued to let Loventor. Rode Hall was used as a VAD hospital, 1917-19. In 1923 he sold Mow Cop and the surrounding lands to Joseph Lovatt for quarrying.
He died 11 October 1957; his will was proved 29 November 1957 (estate £34,916). His widow died 25 August 1958; her will was proved 28 November 1958 (estate £11,095).

Baker Wilbraham, Sir Randle John (1906-80), 7th bt. Only son of Sir Philip Wilbraham Baker (later Baker Wilbraham) and his wife Joyce Christabel, younger daughter of Rt. Hon. Sir John Henry Kennaway PC CB, 3rd bt., born 31 March 1906. Educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford (BA 1928). He served in the Second World War as an officer in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (Sq. Ldr.). JP (from 1954) and DL (from 1959) for Cheshire; High Sheriff of Cheshire, 1953. High Steward of Congleton, 1957-80. Fellow of the Chartered Land Agents Association (President, 1958). He succeeded his father as 7th baronet, 11 October 1957. He married, 26 February 1930 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Betty Ann CBE (1907-75), elder daughter of Matt Torrens of The Grove, Hayes (Kent), and had issue:
(1) Letitia Ann Baker Wilbraham (b. 1931), born 6 February 1931; married, 30 April 1960, as his second wife, Timothy George Kirkbride (1931-2015) of Spen Green Farm, Smallwood (Ches.), younger son of Lt-Col. George Kirkbride, and had issue one son and one daughter; now living;
(2) Sir Richard Baker Wilbraham (b. 1934), 8th bt. (q.v.).
He inherited Loventor and Rode Hall from his father in 1957, but continued to let Loventor. He handed his properties over to his son before 1978.
He died 24 February 1980; his will was proved 16 April 1980 (estate £856,969). His wife died 2 October 1975; her will was proved 15 December 1975 (estate £61,992).

Baker Wilbraham, Sir Richard (b. 1934), 8th bt. Only son of Sir Randle John Baker Wilbraham (1906-80), 7th bt., and his wife Betty, elder daughter of Matt Torrens of The Grove, Hayes (Kent), born 5 February 1934. Educated at Harrow. An officer in the Welsh Guards (2nd Lt., 1953; Lt., 1957). He succeeded his father as 8th baronet, 24 February 1980. Director of J. Henry Schroeder Wagg & Co., 1969-89, Majendie Investments plc, 1989-2001; Bibby Line Group, 1989-97 (Chairman, 1992-97); Brixton Estate plc, 1985-2001 (Deputy Chairman, 1994-2001). Chairman of Christie Hospital NHS Trust, 1990-96; a trustee of the Grosvenor Estate, 1981-99 and of Dyson Perrins Museum of Worcester Porcelain, 1993-98; Governor of Harrow School, 1982-92, King's School, Macclesfield, 1986-after 2005 and Nuffield Hospitals, 1990-2001. A Church Commissioner, 1994-2001. Renter Bailiff of Weavers Company, 1993-94 and Upper Bailiff, 1994-95. High Sheriff of Cheshire, 1991 and DL for Cheshire, 1992-2005. He married, 2 March 1962, Anne Christine Peto, eldest daughter of Charles Peto Bennett OBE of La Haute, Fliquet (Jersey), and had issue:
(1) Randle Baker Wilbraham (b. 1963), born 28 May 1963; educated at Harrow; married, 17 May 1997, Amanda Jane (b. 1966), eldest daughter of Robert Glossop of Dogmersfield (Hants) and had issue one son and two daughters;
(2) Sibella Caroline Baker Wilbraham (b. 1965), born 20 February 1965; married, 3 September 1994, Timothy Makower (b. 1965), architect, son of Peter Makower of Barnes, London SW13 and had issue one son and two daughters;
(3) Charlotte Cecilia Anne Baker Wilbraham (b. 1968), born 24 January 1968; photographer;
(4) Alice Maria Elizabeth Baker Wilbraham (b. 1971), born 7 May 1971.
He was given Loventor and Rode Hall by his father before 1978 and sold Loventor in that year.
Now living.


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp. 228-9; M.C. Owen, Sewells of the Isle of Wight, 1906, pp. 129-32; B. Cherry & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Devon, 2nd edn., 1989, p. 166; H.J. Grainger, The architecture of Sir Ernest George, 2011, pp. 101-03, 200; H. Meller, The country houses of Devon, 2016, pp. 632-33, 1134-35.

Location of archives

Baker Wilbraham family of Loventor and Rode Hall, baronets: deeds, estate, legal, family and personal papers of the Baker and Wilbraham families, c.1219-1909 [Cheshire Archives & Local Studies, DBW]

Coat of arms

Argent, on a saltire engrailed sable, five escallopes of the field, on a chief sable, a lion passant argent.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
  • Can anyone provide photographs of the interior of Loventor before most of the historic fittings were removed in the early 1980s?
  • Does anyone know more about the circumstances which led to the two younger sons of Sir Frederick Francis Baker (1772-1830), 2nd bt., being admitted to a London lunatic asylum on the same day in 1846 and confined for the rest of their lives?
  • Any further genealogical or career information about children of the Rev. Aaron Baker and the Ven. George Baker would be gratefully received.
  • Can anyone supply additional portraits or photographs of the people whose names are given in bold above?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 25 June 2018.