Tuesday 7 August 2018

(340) Baker (later Meath Baker) of Fenton House and Hasfield Court

The Bakers of Fenton House, and later of Hasfield Court, are a cadet branch of the Bakers of Highfields. William Baker (1705-71), an architect who married the heiress to the Highfields estate in Audlem (Cheshire) and settled there in the mid 18th century, had two sons. The elder (Richard Baker) followed his father's profession and inherited Highfields and the brickworks his father ran on the estate. For the younger son, William Baker (1744-84), his father purchased a property at Fenton in the parish of Stoke-on-Trent in 1765. This was not a gentleman's residence, and the area was already rapidly industrialising, so the intention seems to have been from the first that William junior would derive an income from the exploitation of the estate's natural resources, which included coal and brick clay, and perhaps that he would become a pottery manufacturer. In 1767 William married Sarah, the daughter of Thomas Bagnall, whose family had been in the pottery industry for more than half a century, and in the same year he set up in business with his father-in-law as Baker & Bagnall, pottery manufacturers. William died young in 1784, leaving as his son and heir William Baker (1771-1833), who was too young to be actively engaged in the business for several more years. It is not clear where the management of the concern lay at this time, but in 1793 Sarah Baker married for a second time. Her new husband was Ralph Bourne (1773-1835), a scion of another established potting family, who was a full generation her junior and who was soon in partnership with her son as Bourne & Baker. To consolidate the alliance, in 1794 William Baker married Ralph's sister, Molly (1767-1855). Ralph's brother John was also for a time a partner in the concern. Bourne & Baker was sufficiently prosperous for William to build a new house for himself and his family, conveniently sited close to his main pottery works. This house, later known as Fenton House, survived until the 1960s, but has now disappeared without trace.

After the deaths of William Baker in 1833 and Ralph Bourne in 1835, the partnership of Bourne & Baker was dissolved, and the business was taken on by William's eldest son, William Baker (1800-65), who was joined briefly by his younger brother, John Baker (1806-37). Under William's guidance, the firm grew rapidly so that it soon employed 500 men and was the largest pottery business in Fenton. William also operated a brickworks and made the encaustic tiles which the Victorians liked to use for flooring in churches, entrance halls and conservatories. William ran the firm on his own for many years, but around 1860 he took into partnership Charles Challinor (1829-93) and began a gradual withdrawal from the firm prior to retirement. It seems to have been at this point that Fenton House ceased to be the main family residence, and a coal mine was opened by Challinor & Co. on the land just behind the house in 1865. William purchased the Hasfield Court estate in Gloucestershire in 1863, and at once commissioned the Staffordshire architect Henry Ward to modernise it, but he died in 1865 before work had commenced. As he had never married, the Hasfield estate and his interest in the pottery business both passed to his brother, the Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75), who was a retired clergyman living in Bristol. Challinor seems to have taken over the management of the business, and the family house at Fenton was occupied by two of Ralph's sisters (Charlotte Baker and Sarah Hitchman) until their deaths in 1874 and 1890. Ralph carried out the plans prepared for altering Hasfield Court, but it is not clear whether he ever lived there, since he still had his house in Clifton when he died in 1875.

The heir to both Hasfield and the Fenton estate in 1875 was Ralph's only son, William Meath Baker (1857-1935), who owed his middle name to the fact that his maternal grandfather had been the Bishop of Meath in Ireland. He came of age in 1880, and although he was very active in the management of his estates and took a philanthropic concern for his tenants and the communities they lived in, he does not seem to have played an active role in the management of the pottery business. He lived at Hasfield and made occasional visits to Fenton, where the family house remained at his disposal until the 1890s at least, and possibly later, though it was certainly leased by the 1920s. The heyday of the pottery industry had passed by then, and William Baker sold his interests in the industry in 1932. At Hasfield, he had a circle of literary and artistic friends, including the composer Sir Edward Elgar, who caricatured him in the Enigma Variations published in 1899.

A little surprisingly for a property bought as late as 1863, the Hasfield estate had been entailed either by William Baker (d. 1865) or the Rev. Ralph Baker. When, in 1918, William Meath Baker's eldest son became a Roman Catholic priest and it was therefore clear he would never have legitimate issue, it was agreed within the family to break the entail so that the estate could pass at William Meath Baker's death to his second son, Francis Ralph Meath Baker (1886-1940). Unfortunately, Francis did not long survive his father, and died leaving a young family in the care of his widow, Madeleine Susan Meath Baker (1901-88). After the Second World War she married again, first to Lt-Col. Arden Beaman, who died just two years later, and then in 1953 to James Lamplugh Brooksbank (1889-1974). Mrs Brooksbank lived at Hasfield Court until she was widowed for the third time, and then handed the estate over to her son, Gregory Meath-Baker (b. 1930). He married Priscilla Ann Gurney (b. 1937), and their eldest son, Clovis Meath-Baker (b. 1959) has inherited her family seat at Walsingham Abbey (Norfolk). Hasfield Court continues to be occupied by the family.

Fenton House, Staffordshire

In 1767, William Baker of Highfields bought a property at Fenton (Staffs) for his younger son, William Baker (1744-84). William Baker's early death left his property and pottery interests to his young son, William Baker (1771-1835), and when he came of age he seems to have built a new house, later called Fenton House, on a site close to his factory and just south of Victoria Place, an irregular paved area formed at the junction of City Road and Victoria Road in the centre of Fenton. 

Fenton House: the site on the 1st edition 6" map, surveyed 1866-77.

The new house, although clearly not a country house by any definition, was a substantial square two-storey brick building in its own grounds. It was altered and extended in the late 19th century, when it was also given a stone front. It continued to be used by the Baker family until at least 1896 and probably later, but in the 1920s it was sold to the Church of England as a vicarage for the nearby Christ Church, Fenton, and in about 1960 the house was converted into a pottery factory. It was demolished between 1963 and 1974, and no visual record of it has been found, apart from an aerial photograph of 1937.

Descent: built c.1800 for William Baker (1771-1835); to son, William Meath Baker (1800-65); to brother, Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75); to son, William Meath Baker (1857-1935), who sold it as a vicarage c.1920; sold again c.1960 and demolished c.1970.

Hasfield Court, Gloucestershire

Hasfield Court: entrance front in 2008. Image: Paul Larsen. Some rights reserved.

A casual glance at the compact and intensely Victorian stone-built elevations of Hasfield Court would hardly suggest the complexity of its history, much of which can still be detected in the surviving fabric.  The manor of Hasfield belonged in the medieval period to the Pauncefoot family, who retained it until 1598.  Hasfield seems to have been their most important property, and it is likely that the small lake in the garden of the Court is a surviving section of a former moat around the manor house.  If the medieval building was on the present site, this would imply an extremely large moat, for which there is as yet no archaeological evidence, and as no part of the present house shows dateable evidence of medieval features, it is perhaps more likely that the present house was built on a new site.

In 1516 John Pauncefoot was murdered, apparently while carrying out his duties as a Justice of the Peace, leaving a four-year-old son, Richard, as his heir.  One of John’s creditors seems to have gained possession of the manor and subsequently to have sold it to John Browne.  Browne claimed to have been expelled from the manor by force in 1531, and although he regained possession was still disputing his rights with Richard Pauncefoot in the Star Chamber in c.1537.  These proceedings are significant because the earliest identifiable part of the present house dates from the years before Richard’s death in 1558, when he had finally recovered his birthright. It is the rear half of the main block which dates from this period; although much altered in subsequent rebuildings, it would seem that the roof structure is fundamentally of this date, whilst on the ground floor the former dining room has a 16th century cornice with a biblical quotation and the initials R.P. and D.P. (for Richard and his wife Dorothy).  It seems unlikely that this small block represents the full extent of the 16th century house: it was perhaps a new cross-wing built onto an earlier hall block which has since been demolished.  Another survival from Richard Pauncefoot's time would appear to be the four-centred archway with a pair of pierced quatrefoils above, which now forms a projecting central entrance into the stable block north-west of the house.  This might have been part of a free-standing gatehouse to the 16th century building, although there is no independent evidence for the existence of such a structure.

Hasfield Court: the late 17th century house, recorded in a photograph of c.1865. Image: Gregory Meath-Baker.

The house changed hands several times in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, but there is no evidence that it was altered until Edward Parker (d. 1728) inherited it in 1692. He seems to have added the front half of the main block and remodelled the exterior of the older part of the house to make it consistent with the new work.  Its appearance following this work can be made out from the photograph of c.1865 above, which shows that the house had a main south front of seven bays, topped by narrow straight gables, and an east front of five similarly gabled bays. The house had a plain and rather narrow porch on the south front.  The internal arrangements of the range have again been largely altered later, but the drawing room to the right of the entrance retains its original proportions and fragments of an egg-and-dart frieze.  The present staircase is Victorian in siting and construction, but appears to incorporate some balusters of c.1700 which may come from its predecessor.  The former dovecote by the lake, south-east of the house, appears likely to be coeval in origin with these alterations to the house.  It was remodelled, however, in the mid 19th century (perhaps by Thomas Fulljames), when the windows with marginal lights and the bargeboards were added.

At the beginning of the 19th century, John Stone separated the house from the attached manorial estate by selling the former to Thomas Fulljames senior, a land surveyor who made a substantial fortune from acting as an inclosure commissioner and invested it in land at Ashleworth and Hasfield. Fulljames apparently lived at Hasfield Court until his death in 1847, but in 1826 (when he may have been affected by the general financial crash of that year) he tried to sell the house back to the Stone family. His initial overtures to Edward Gresley Stone met with some encouragement, and he was therefore annoyed when a formal proposition was rudely dismissed, Stone reportedly saying that ‘he considered the house a mere stack of red bricks’, and that he would prefer Clifford Chambers Court, which was also on the market.  This comment moved Fulljames to expostulate:

“there is not a red brick to be seen, and the house of full one half of stone work and the rest of brick, and will be of much longer duration than that at Chambers Court, which to compare with this, gives any one the Idea of its being the residence of some Tailor rather than that of a country gentleman; whereas this is what everyone would call the cast of a house for the residence of a ….Country Esquire”.

The description of Hasfield was ‘full one half of stone work’ is interesting, since the main block appears to have been entirely constructed of blue lias; the brick part must have been service accommodation to the north and west of the main building, since demolished.

The manor and house were eventually reunited in 1845 when Fulljames bought the manor and remaining land.  He died two years later, and his widow seems to have reached an agreement with her nephew and eventual heir, the architect Thomas Fulljames, to share Hasfield Court with his family. When he acquired full control of the property at her death in 1858, he may have considered remodelling the house, but in the end offered it for sale in 1863, preferring to build an entirely new house at Foscombe in Ashleworth. Despite the younger Fulljames’ occupation, no alterations can be traced with confidence to his time.  The possible exception is a three-light ‘Tudor’ window on the west side of the house.  This appears to be largely 19th century, but some parts, notably the spandrels, look more genuine, and could conceivably have been removed from Hasfield church during Fulljames’ restoration of 1847-48.

The purchaser in 1863 was William Baker (1800-65), who owned interests in the china, earthenware and coal industries at Stoke-on-Trent.  He commissioned Henry Ward, the borough architect of Stafford, who had perhaps worked for the family in the Midlands, to remodel and entirely refront the house on the south and east sides. It is probable that one occasion of the work was the condition of the original blue lias stone walling, which is unlikely to have survived well in Hasfield’s relatively exposed situation.  William Baker actually died in 1865 before work was begun, but the estate passed to his brother, the Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker, who continued with the project.  Collins & Godfrey, the builders, submitted their tender of £1025 in October 1865, with the option of adding bay windows for a further £220, and it was decided to proceed with the larger scheme. The porch, projecting bays, windows with basket heads, and shaped gables linked by a balustraded parapet, all date from this time.  

Hasfield Court: the house as remodelled in 1866 by Henry Ward for the Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker. Image: Gregory Meath-Baker.

Curiously, Collins & Godfrey’s tender makes no mention of any internal alterations and the tender value seems too low for much internal work to have been included, but it must have been at about this time that the present arrangement of the interior was contrived.  The main changes seem to have been lowering the floor levels in the oldest part of the house to align them with those in the 17th century block; inserting a flat roof in place of the central valley so as to obtain more usable space in the attics; and creating the present staircase. The staircase cannot be much before this date, and not all the room dimensions match up with those stated in the sale particulars of 1863. The dining room (with the black letter inscription) in particular appears to have been extended. All these works have a mildly amateurish feel, and it is possible that no architect was involved in them: the alterations to the roof structure compromised its stability, and necessitated strengthening work some forty years ago. Collins and Godfrey were, however, also involved in the construction of the walled garden, for which a tender was submitted in September 1866.  This is notable for the height of the 6 metre walls and for its use of unusual ribbed bricks, perforated through the ribs at intervals for vertical plant wires, which were perhaps made to order in the Baker brickworks at Fenton.

Hasfield Court: the east front, with the single-storey billiard room added c.1880-86 by Waller & Son on the right. Image: Paul Larsen. Some rights reserved.

Ralph Baker's widow commissioned designs for alterations and additions to the service accommodation from Waller & Son of Gloucester in 1876, but the work did not meet with the approval of her son’s trustees, and had to be abandoned. A few years later, William Meath Baker, having come of age, went back to Waller & Son for the addition of a new music room and conservatory which project as a single-storey range to the west, and a new billiard room and business room, which project to the north.  The work was carried out between 1880 and 1886 to designs prepared by F.W. Waller, whose use of Free Renaissance and Adam-style detailing here achieves one of its happiest results.  The Music Room in particular is very successful; a high, rectangular room with curved angles and pretty decoration in the Adam style.  The former library, left of the entrance hall, became an ante room to the Music Room, and was redecorated by Waller. 

Hasfield Court: the conservatory added by Waller & Son, c.1880-86. Image: Paul Larsen. Some rights reserved.

Hasfield Court: the Music Room added by Waller & Son, c.1880-86. Image: Paul Larsen. Some rights reserved.

A final Victorian addition was the installation of some 17th century panelling from Holdfast Manor, Queenhill (Worcs) in the drawing room, where it obscures the original room cornice and fragments of a William Morris wallpaper.  The panelling was apparently installed c.1890 and altered to accommodate bookshelves. 

Descent: John Pauncefoot (d. 1516); to son, Richard Pauncefoot (c.1512-58); to son, John Pauncefoot (fl. 1584); to son, Richard Pauncefoot, who sold 1598 to Edward Barker; sold before 1601 to Sir Paul Tracy (d. 1626), 1st bt., of Stanway; to son, Sir Richard Tracy (d. 1637), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir Humphrey Tracy, 3rd bt., who sold 1654 to John Parker (d. 1692); to son, Edward Parker (d. 1728); to son, John Parker (d. c.1735); to son, John Parker (d. c.1774); to son, John Parker, who sold 1806 to John Stone (d. 1811), who sold c.1807 to Thomas Fulljames (d. 1847), surveyor; to widow (d. 1858), who shared the house with his nephew and ultimate heir, Thomas Fulljames (1808-74), who sold 1863 to William Meath Baker (1800-65); to brother, Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75); to son, William Meath Baker (1857-1935); to son, Francis Meath Baker (1886-1940); to widow, Madeleine Susan (1901-88), later the wife of Lt-Col. Beaman (d. 1950) and Mr J.L. Brooksbank (d. 1974); to son, (William) Gregory Meath Baker (b. 1930).

Baker (later Meath Baker) family of Hasfield Court

Baker, William (1744-84). Second son of William Baker (1705-71), architectand his second wife, Jane, elder daughter and sole heiress of George Dod, barrister-at-law, of Highfields, Audlem (Cheshire), baptised at Bridgnorth, 18 April 1745. Potter, initially in partnership with his father-in-law, as Baker & Bagnall of Fenton (Staffs) from 1767. Lord of the Manor of Fenton Culvert. DL and JP for Staffordshire. He married, 22 August 1770 at Norton-le-Moors (Staffs), Sarah (c.1753-1833), daughter of Thomas Bagnall, and had issue:
(1) William Baker (1771-1833) (q.v.);
(2) twin, Richard Baker (b. 1774), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 16 October 1774;
(3) twin, Samuel Baker (1774-1814?), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 16 October 1774; possibly the man of that name buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 23 June 1814;
(4) Mary Baker (b. 1777), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 15 July 1777;
(5) Jeremiah Baker (b. 1778), born 28 September 1770 and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 25 February 1779; married, 1 December 1800 at Norton-le-Moors, Mary Aynsley;
(6) Jane Baker (b. 1786), probably born posthumously and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 30 November 1786.
He was bought a property at Fenton (Staffs) by his father in about 1767.
He died 25 November and was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 29 November 1784. His widow married 2nd, 21 December 1793 at Norton-le-Moors, Ralph Bourne (1773-1835), pottery manufacturer, of Hilderstone Hall (Staffs), and had further issue; she was buried at Hilderstone, 26 June 1833.

Baker, William (1771-1833). Son of William Baker (1744-84) of Fenton and his wife Sarah, daughter of Thomas Bagnall, baptised at Stoke on Trent, 3 July 1771.  Pottery and earthenware manufacturer, in partnership with his stepfather, Ralph Bourne, as Bourne & Baker, from c.1790. He married, 13 October 1794 at Bucknall cum Bagnall (Staffs), Mary (k/a Molly) (1767-1855), daughter of James Bourne, and sister of Ralph Bourne, and had issue:
(1) Harriet Baker (1794-1834), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 29 September 1794; married, 14 April 1825 at Stoke-on-Trent, Henry Cartwright* of New Inn Mill, Trentham (Staffs) and had issue one daughter; buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 28 January 1834;
(2) Charity Baker (1796-1844), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 5 February 1796; married, 14 April 1825 at Stoke-on-Trent, Philip Barnes Broade JP (1803-52) of Fenton Manor House and Fenton Vivian, but had no issue; buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 30 July 1844;
(3) Mary Baker (1799-1834), probably baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 2 August 1799**; married, 25 October 1831 at Stoke-on-Trent, as his second wife, John Harvey JP of Blurton in Trentham (Staffs) and had issue one daughter; buried at Trentham, 21 November 1834;
(4) William Baker (1800-65) (q.v.);
(5) Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75) (q.v.);
(6) Jane Baker (1804-60), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 6 January 1805; died unmarried and was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 31 May 1860; will proved 29 October 1860 (estate under £12,000); 
(7) John Baker (1806-37), born 10 July and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 26 July 1806; in partnership with his brother William in the 1830s; died unmarried and was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 30 May 1837;
(8) Sarah Baker (1808-90), born 23 June and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 13 July 1813; married, 26 April 1832 at Stoke-on-Trent, John Hitchman (d. 1867) of Leamington (Warks), surgeon; as a widow lived at Fenton House; died at Hawkstone Inn (Shropshire), 7 July 1890; will proved 11 September 1890 (estate £69,777);
(9) Charlotte Baker (1810-74), born 1810 and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 12 May 1812; lived at Fenton House; died unmarried, 26 December 1874; will proved 1 February 1875 (effects under £60,000);
(10) Elizabeth Baker (1812-27), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 12 May 1812; died young and was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 14 July 1827.
He lived at Fenton House (Staffs).
He was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 2 July 1833; his will was proved 19 August 1833. His widow was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 11 December 1855.
*Cartwright was a tenant of the Trentham estate and was given notice to quit for non-payment of rent in 1833.
** Although in that entry the mother's name is given as Jane.

Baker, William (1800-65). Eldest son of William Baker (1771-1833) and his wife Mary, daughter of James Bourne, baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 2 February 1800 and 22 April 1804. JP for Staffordshire. Pottery and encaustic tile manufacturer, in partnership with Ralph Bourne and John Bourne as Bourne, Baker & Bourne at Fenton (dissolved 1835), and later as William Baker & Co and Bourne & Challinor; the firm flourished under his leadership and by the mid 19th century had 500 employees and was the largest firm in Fenton. He also operated a colliery (Glebe Colliery) on land adjacent to Fenton House and a brickworks. His philanthropic benefactions to Fenton included building the chancel and vicarage of Christ Church, Fenton and an infants' school. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Fenton House from his father in 1833 and purchased the Hasfield Court estate (Glos) in 1863 for £42,500. At his death his property passed to his next brother, Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker.
He died 8 August, and was buried at Fenton, 15 August 1865, where he is commemorated by a monument erected by his brother; his will was proved February 1866 (effects under £120,000).

Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker.
Image: NPG.
Baker, Rev. Ralph Bourne (1802-75). Second son of William Baker (1771-1833) and his wife Mary, daughter of James Bourne, baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 31 October 1802. Educated at Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1822; BA 1826; MA 1829). Ordained deacon, 1827 and priest, 1828. Rector of Hilderstone (Staffs), 1833-60; Rural Dean of Stone, 1840-60; Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Meath, 1852; Vicar of Brompton Chapel, Kensington (Middx), 1860-63; Secretary of the Bristol & Clifton Association for the Moral and Religious Improvement of Ireland, 1863. JP for Staffordshire (from 1850) and Gloucestershire (from 1869). Author of several theological works. He married, 28 March 1845 at Taney (Co. Dublin), Frances Crofton (c.1823-81), daughter of Most Rev. & Rt. Hon. Joseph Henderson Singer DD, Bishop of Meath, of Mount Anville Park (Co. Dublin), and had issue:
(1) Mary Frances Baker (1848-1937), born 21 April and baptised at St Peter, Dublin, 29 May 1848; married, 28 August 1895, Canon Alfred Penny (1845-1935), prebendary and Rural Dean of Lichfield, son of Rev. Charles Joseph Penny, rector of Bubbenhall (Warks), but had no issue; died 30 December 1937; will proved 15 March 1938 (estate £16,144);
(2) Sarah Adelaide Baker (1850-51), born July and baptised at Hilderstone, 13 August 1850; died in infancy, 24 April 1851;
(3) Letitia Jane Dorothea Baker (1852-1930), born 29 February and baptised at St Peter, Dublin, 29 April 1852; married, 28 July 1881 at Hasfield, Richard Baxter Townshend (1846-1923), youngest son of Rev. Chambré Corker Townshend, but had no issue; died 30 November 1930; will proved 28 March 1931 (estate £18,255);
(4) William Meath Baker (1857-1935) (q.v.).
After giving up his rectory, he lived at Royal York Crescent, Clifton (Glos). He inherited Hasfield Court and Fenton House from his brother in 1865. He also owned Doveridge Wood House (Derbys), a farm of some 200 acres, which was sold by his executors c.1884.
He died at Hasfield Court, 25 May 1875; his will was proved 30 June 1875 (effects under £140,000). His widow died at Hasfield Court, 18 October 1881; her will was proved 3 December 1881 (effects £5,165).

William Meath Baker (1857-1935)
Baker, William Meath (1857-1935). Only son of Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75) of Hasfield Court, Fenton House and Doveridge Wood House, and his wife Frances Crofton, daughter of Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Joseph Henderson Singer DD, Bishop of Meath, born 1 November 1857 and baptised at Hilderstone (Staffs), 10 January 1858. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1876; BA 1880; MA 1888). JP for Gloucestershire (from 1891) and Staffordshire; High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, 1896. Governor of Gloucester Royal Infirmary and a Guardian of the Tewkesbury Poor Law Union. He was a close friend of the composer, Sir Edward Elgar, and was one of the friends portrayed in Elgar's 'Enigma Variations' of 1899. Before the First World War he was keen member of the local hunts and often climbed in the Swiss Alps, becoming a member of the Alpine Club. He did not take an active part in the family pottery business (William Baker & Co.) at Fenton, but made a number of philanthropic gifts to support community facilities in the town. He married 1st, 24 May 1884, Hannah Mary (1859-1906), only daughter of Capt. R.J. Corbet of La Pinedo, Hyères (France), and 2nd, 5 August 1909 at Holy Trinity, Brompton (Middx), Sybil Agatha Wyrley (1869-1930), youngest daughter of Wyrley Wyrley-Birch of Wretham Hall, West Wretham (Norfk), and had issue:
(1.1) Rev. William George Corbet Baker (1885-1947), born 13 May and baptised at Hasfield, 19 July 1885; educated at Trinity College, Oxford (MA 1910); ordained in the Church of England; curate of West Hoe, Plymouth, 1913; converted to Roman Catholicism in 1918 and became a priest at the Brompton Oratory; died unmarried, 25 April 1947 and was buried at Sydenham (London); will proved 18 October 1947 (estate £40,464);
(1.2) Francis Ralph Meath Baker (1886-1940) (q.v.);
(1.3) Edward John Baker (1887-1936), born 4 August 1887; yacht designer; served in First World War as a sapper in Royal Engineers, 1914-16 (discharged medically unfit); lived in Sussex; died unmarried, 5 April and was buried at Hasfield, 8 April 1936.
He inherited Hasfield Court and Fenton House from his father in 1875 and came of age in 1880. After his eldest son joined the Roman Catholic church in 1918 they agreed to break the entail on the estate so that it could be left to his second son.
He died 15 January 1935 and was buried at Hasfield; his will was proved 8 April 1936 (estate £74,265). His first wife died 4 April and was buried at Hasfield, 7 April 1906; her will was proved 8 June 1906 (estate £1,569). His second wife died 10 July and was buried at Hasfield, 14 July 1930; her will was proved 30 December 1930 (estate £3,476).

Baker, Francis Ralph Meath (1886-1940). Second son of William Meath Baker (1857-1935) and his first wife, Hannah Mary, only daughter of Capt. R.J. Corbet of La Pinedo, Hyères (France), born 23 June 1886. Educated privately and at Trinity College, Oxford (BA). He served in the First World War with the Royal Field Artillery, 1914-16 (Lt.; invalided out). JP for Gloucestershire. A committee member of the Ledbury Hunt. He married, 12 April 1921 at St Mary, Eaton Square, Westminster (Middx), Madeleine Susan JP (1901-88), Chairman of Gloucester Petty Sessions and of Hasfield Parish Council, daughter of Arthur Hugh Bryan of London SW1, and had issue:
(1) Lucinda Helen Mary Francis Meath Baker (1922-2013), born 15 January 1922; married, 31 July 1948, Sir John Julius Wells MP (1925-2017), kt., of Mere House, Mereworth (Kent), only son of Rev. Arthur Reginald Kemble Wells of Sampford Arundel (Somerset), and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 24 February 2013; her will was proved 12 November 2013;
(2) Judith Veronica Sybil Mary Francis Meath Baker (1924-74), born 13 July 1924; served in Second World War with WRNS; Vice-President of the Girls Friendly Society, 1966-74?; lived at Hasfield Court with her mother; died unmarried, 2 December 1974; will proved 11 April 1975 (estate £40,239);
(3) (William) Gregory Francis Meath Baker (b. 1930) (q.v.);
(4) Prudence Dorothea Mary Francis Meath Baker (b. 1932), born 11 February 1932; married, 29 June 1957, Sir Anthony Houlton Salt (1931-91), 6th bt., of Elsenham (Essex), second son of Sir John William Titus Salt, 4th bt., and had issue four daughters.
He inherited the Hasfield Court estate from his father in 1935. At his death it passed to his widow, who sold three farms in 1948 and conveyed the rest of the estate in trust for the children of her son Gregory in 1965.
He died in Cheltenham, 7 June 1940 and was buried at Hasfield; his will was proved 28 December 1940 (estate £86,806). His widow married 2nd, 17 January 1948 at Gloucester Cathedral, Lt-Col. Arden Arthur Hulme Beaman DSO JP (c.1886-1950), High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, 1949, son of Sir Frank Beaman of Lugano (Switzerland), and 3rd, 15 July 1953, as his second wife, James Lamplugh Brooksbank (1889-1974), only son of Walter Lamplugh Brooksbank of Lamplugh Hall (Cumbld.), and died 5 June 1988; her will was proved 20 October 1988 (estate £299,476).

Baker, (William) Gregory Francis Meath (1930-2019). Only son of Francis Ralph Meath Baker (1886-1940) and his wife Madeleine Susan, daughter of Arthur Hugh Bryan of London SW1, born 22 April 1930. Educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge (MA). An officer in Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, 1955-59 (2nd Lt., 1955; Lt., 1955). High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, 1997-98. He married, 31 May 1958, Priscilla Ann (b. 1937), eldest daughter of John Gurney JP of Walsingham Abbey (Norfk), and had issue:
(1) (William John) Clovis Meath Baker (b. 1959), born 11 May 1959; educated at Eton and Oxford University, where he was editor of Cherwell and a member of the Bullingdon Club; an officer in the Brigade of Gurkhas (2nd Lt., 1981; Lt., 1984); civil servant with Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Director, retired 2013), where he developed expertise in South Asian and Middle Eastern terrorism; seconded to GCHQ as director of intelligence production, 2010-13; appointed OBE, 2003 and CMG, 2013; Associate Fellow of Royal United Services Institute; lives at Walsingham Abbey (Norfk); married, 10 August 1985, Elizabeth Diana (b. 1959), daughter of Charles Woodham-Smith, and had issue four daughters;
(2) (Samuel) Justin Francis Meath Baker (b. 1961), born 4 November 1961; educated at Eton and Edinburgh School of Art; landscape architect and later furniture and interior designer; worked with Christopher Nevile on restoration of Harrington Hall (Lincs) and later founded Meath Baker Design, 1998-2005; director of interior design, Marriott International, 2006-08; director of GloMo digital transformations, 2008-15; design director, Trucktel, 2015-17; led the purchase and restoration for community use of Fenton Town Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, 2015; married, December 1989, Eliza Rose Robertson (b. 1964), daughter of Air Vice Marshal Geoffrey Cairns, and had issue two sons (one died in infancy);
(3) (Hugh) Lysander Luke Meath Baker (b. 1964), born 11 February 1964; educated at Eton, Cambridge University (MA) and Royal College of Art; sales director of Digivate Ltd., 1998-2010; private investor, 2008-date; married, April 2003, Louisa-Ann, daughter of Daniel Oliver of Washington DC (USA);
(4) Joshua Ralph Meath Baker (b. 1965), born 1 December 1965; educated at Eton and the Courtauld Institute, University of London; artist; director of the Medici Society, 2007-date.
He lived at The Old Rectory, Blisworth (Northants) before moving to Hasfield Court in about 1975.
He died 12 September 2019. His wife is now living.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1965, pp. 27-28; VCH Staffordshire, vol. 8, 1963, pp. 205-24; VCH Glos, vol. 8, 1968, p. 283; B. Carne, ‘Thomas Fulljames, 1808-74: surveyor, architect and civil engineer’, TBGAS, cxiii, 1995, pp. 7-20; A. Brodie, A. Felstead et alDirectory of British architects, 1834-1914, 2001, ii, p. 912; N.W. Kingsley & M. Hill, The country houses of Gloucestershire: vol. 3, 1830-2000, 2001, pp. 151-53;  Glos Archives, RF152.3

Location of archives

Meath Baker of Fenton House and Hasfield Court: deeds and papers, 16th-20th cents [Gloucestershire Archives, D1326, D1800, D4667/1].

Coat of arms

None recorded.

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 an illustration of Fenton House? (It should not be confused with Great Fenton House, which stood further south).
  • Can any provide portraits or photographs of those whose names appear in bold above, for whom they are not already given?
  • If anyone has additional or corrected biographical or genealogical information about members of the family I should be most grateful to receive it.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 7 August 2018 and updated 31 August 2018 and 15 March 2022.


  1. In this piece you state that William Baker's father purchased for him the manor of Fenton Vivian. In fact Baker never owned this manor. It was owned by the Broade family. Baker's estate was not even in Fenton Vivian, it was in Fenton Culvert. Later you describe him as the "Lord of the Manor of Fenton Culvert". This may be true but his status was not reflected in the size of his estate which was tiny compared to that of the largest landowner in Fenton Culvert, Smith of Great Fenton Hall. You also state that Baker built Fenton House between his main pottery works and his coal mine (Glebe Colliery). This is misleading as the house was built c.1800 but Glebe Colliery was not opened until 1865. Also it cannot really be called Baker's coal mine since although it was on his land it belonged to Challinor & Co.

    1. Thank you for the corrections, which I will incorporate above. Ownership of the manorial rights does not, of course, imply anything about the scale of landownership. The Bakers do seem to have described themselves as coal owners from time to time: do you think this referred to Glebe Colliery or did they have coal-mining interests elsewhere?


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