Sunday 22 December 2019

(269) Ashton of Soulton Hall

This family is a branch of the Ashton family which was settled at Darwen and Blackburn (Lancs) from the 17th century onwards. In the early 19th century, William Ashton (1798-1835) joined the booming Lancashire cotton industry, but he died young, and his surviving son, William Thomas Ashton (1832-94) had to make a new start in the trade. He joined the leading firm of Eccles Shorrock & Co. (to which he was connected by the marriage of his uncle, Thomas Ashton) in 1847, and after gaining experience set up his own company in partnership with Samuel Nicholls in 1857. Their partnership was dissolved ten years later, and Ashton continued the business on his own, eventually taking his sons Henry and Sidney into the firm, which traded as W.H. Ashton & Son until the 1960s. Ashton was a Presbyterian and it was perhaps through nonconformist connections that he met his wife, Lydia (1841-1932), the daughter of Henry Deakin (1810-92), a prosperous yeoman farmer who was the tenant of Soulton Hall on Lord Hill's Hawkestone estate in Shropshire.
Ashdale, Darwen in 2019.
In about 1871 the couple built a substantial villa at Darwen, called Ashdale, as their home, but by the 1890s, W.T. Ashton was in failing health and spent increasing amounts of time at Soulton, where the pure country air suited him better than the heavy pollution of industrial Lancashire. After his father-in-law's death in 1892 he seems to have lived mainly at Soulton, and when he died in 1894, it became his widow's home, where she remained until her death in 1932. The family's tenure of the house was, however, threatened by the parlous financial position of their landlord, Viscount Hill of Hawkestone Hall, who hovered on the verge of bankruptcy. In 1899 his mortgagees foreclosed on their mortgage on the Hawkestone estate and put Soulton and other properties up for sale, and Soulton, with some 500 acres, was bought by W.H. Ashton's sons, Henry Deakin Ashton (1861-1925), Sidney Antrobus Ashton (1868-1953) and William Ashton (1870-1947), the last of whom seems to have farmed the land. It was, however, Sidney Ashton who made most use of the house after his mother's death. It was let in the 1940s but then taken over by his son, Mark Ashton (1908-94), who farmed here in the 1950s and 1960s. However, after Mark's eldest son, John Sidney Ashton (b. 1944), married in 1968, he handed the property over to him. In order to make the estate an economic proposition, John and his wife Ann have made the house into a family run hotel, which has received warm reviews over several decades. The farm is now run by their son, Timothy John Ashton (b. 1986), who has adopted a 'no-till' approach to arable farming in the interests of soil conservation. He has also further diversified in an unusual way by constructing an architecturally satisfying and atmospheric long barrow on the property, to be used much as such structures were in Neolithic times, as a place for the storage of cremated remains and the commemoration of the dead.

Soulton Hall, Wem, Shropshire

Soulton Hall: the house from the north-east, 2008. Image: Rgbnht at English Wikipedia
An attractive square late Elizabethan house, rising abruptly out of the landscape in the flat pastures east of Wem, which makes a curiously cuboid impression because it has a flat roof concealed behind a parapet and tall facades of three storeys above a full basement. The east and west sides are treated as four bays and have rectangular corner turrets at either end rising the full height of the house, containing closets; while the entrance front and rear elevation have just two larger five-light windows on each floor. The house is built of red brick, with some diapering, and liberal use of Grinshill stone dressings for quoins, window surrounds, and the continuous string courses which separate the floors, adding tension to the design. The four prominent brick chimneystacks with their tall clustered shafts rise symmetrically from the wall-head on the east and west sides.

Soulton Hall: the upper part of the doorcase and the pediment added in 1668. Image: 1086day. Some rights reserved.

In the centre of the north front is an elaborately carved doorcase with fluted Doric columns carrying an incorrectly decorated entablature, all probably of the late 16th century. On top of this is a broken semicircular pediment enclosing an achievement of the arms of a member of the Hill family, which must have been added later, probably at the same time as the door lintel with swags and strapwork, and the prominent date 1668. Other changes were no doubt made at the same time, probably including the construction of the terrace before the north front, and the steps up to it between stone panels, again carved with swags and strapwork.

Shropshire is notable for having a small group of Elizabethan houses with either a square footprint or a double-pile plan, or both.
Whitehall, Shrewsbury: the house in c.1905.
The earliest in the sequence is likely to be Whitehall, Shrewsbury, built between 1578 and 1582, which is the earliest datable example in the country of a double-pile plan (in which rooms face outwards in both directions from a spinal wall). Whitehall and Acton Scott Hall (of c.1580-90), are both square and double-piled, but both have traditional gables, unlike Soulton, which has a flat roof concealed behind a parapet. This is unlikely to have been the original arrangement, but there seems to be no evidence that the house was formerly gabled, so perhaps the original form was a low hipped roof behind the parapet, as at Verulam House (Herts) a generation later. 

The interiors of Soulton Hall were so much altered in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries that their original form is not easy to discern.  However, it would seem that the internal partitions were at least partly timber-framed (as they were at Whitehall): one room has exposed square panels and close studding with incised decoration in the rendered infill. On the ground floor, one room preserves an original square-headed stone fireplace with a moulded mantel-shelf, but otherwise all the chimneypieces and doorcases were replaced in later centuries. The main staircase is 19th century but a surviving fragment of the back staircase between the first and second floors has a moulded handrail and pointed finials and may be original.

Descent: Edward Twynnhoe sold 1549 to Sir Rowland Hill (c.1495-1561), who settled it on his cousin, William Hill of Bletchley (Bucks); to son, Rowland Hill (1558-1639); to son, Rowland Hill (1601-67); to son, Thomas Hill (fl. 1681); to son, Thomas Hill (d. 1711); to son, Thomas Hill (1680-1722), who sold 1716 to Richard Corbet (1649-1718) of Shawbury; to son, Andrew Corbet (d. 1757); to son, Andrew Corbet (1720-96); to nephew, Sir Andrew Corbert (1766-1835), 1st bt., who sold 1802 to Sir Richard Hill (1732-1808), 2nd bt., of Hawkestone; to brother, Sir John Hill (1740-1824), 3rd bt.; to grandson, Sir Rowland Hill (1800-75), 4th bt. and later 2nd Viscount Hill; to son, Rowland Clegg-Hill (1833-95), 3rd Viscount Hill; ; to son, Rowland Richard Clegg-Hill (1863-1923), 4th Viscount Hill; seized by mortgagees, 1899 and sold 1900 to Sidney Antrobus Ashton (1868-1953) and his brothers; to son, Mark Ashton (1908-94); to son, John Sidney Ashton (b. 1944). The house was leased to Henry Deakin (d. by 1836) and his son, Henry Deakin (1810-92), and in the 1940s to L.W. Chesters, as a farm.

Ashton family of Soulton Hall

Ashton, William Thomas (1832-94). Youngest son of William Ashton (1790-1835), cotton manufacturer, and his wife Susannah (d. 1871), youngest daughter of Joseph Barker of Beardwood Fold, Blackburn (Lancs), born 1 January 1832. Educated privately at Blackburn. Manager for Messrs. Eccles Shorrock, 1847-57; cotton manufacturer from 1857 (in partnership with Samuel Nicholls, 1857-67), then on his own, and finally with his sons Henry and Sidney (as W.T. Ashton & Son). He was a nonconformist in religion and a Liberal in politics until the Home Rule crisis of 1885, when he joined the Conservatives. He played a prominent role in local Blackburn affairs, and was instrumental in securing public access to Darwen Moor. JP for Darwen Borough from 1881. He married, 30 May 1860 at Chapel St. chapel, Wem (Shrops.), Lydia Grace (1841-1932), daughter of Henry Deakin of Soulton Hall (Shrops.), and had issue:
(1) Henry Deakin Ashton (1861-1925), born 8 April 1861; cotton manufacturer with W.T. Ashton & Son; JP for Darwen (from 1905); married, 24 February 1886 at Bethel Chapel, Belmont, Bolton (Lancs), Louisa (1857-1911), daughter of Edward Deakin of Belmont, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 4 July 1925; will proved 10 October 1925 (estate £132,248); commemorated by a public garden in Wells (Somerset), a city which he visited frequently as 'a place of tranquillity';
(2) Grace Ashton (1863-1903), born 23 February 1863; died unmarried, 23 August 1903; will proved 16 September 1903 (estate £1,716);
(3) Lucy Ashton (b. 1864), born 28 October 1864; married, 10 September 1896 at Clive (Shrops.), Edmund William Abram (1869-1929), journalist, inventor and colliery manager (bankrupt 1923), son of William Alexander Abram of Blackburn, and had issue two sons and two daughters; death not traced;
(4) Alice Ashton (1866-1956), born 19 August 1866; married Dr. Herbert John Hickin (1861-1943) of Wolverhampton (Staffs) and later of Weston, nr. Wem (Shrops.), but had no issue; died 21 March 1956; will proved 12 June 1956 (estate £12,471);
(5) Sidney Antrobus Ashton (1868-1953) (q.v.);
(6) William Ashton (1870-1947), born 3 June 1870; farmer at Brockhurst, Wem (Shrops.); married, 14 October 1897 at Garstang (Lancs), Evelyn (1867-1932), daughter of John Edward Simpson of Garstang and had issue four sons and three daughters; died 30 July 1947; will proved 19 November 1947 (estate £61,058);
(7) Rose Ashton (1872-75), born 13 March 1872; died young, 13 September 1875;
(8) Clive Ashton (1873-75), born 26 December 1873; died in infancy, 13 September 1875;
(9) Muriel Ashton (1880-90), born 1 June 1880; died young, 25 August 1890.
He lived at Blackburn, but in his last few years spent increasing amounts of time at Soulton Hall for health reasons. His widow lived at Soulton Hall with her unmarried sister.
He died at Soulton Hall, 3 September 1894 and was buried at Darwen Cemetery, 7 September 1894; his will was proved 9 October 1894 (effects £18,790). His widow died at Soulton Hall, 7 August 1932; her will was proved 2 November 1932 (estate £1,704).

Ashton, Sidney Antrobus (1868-1953). Second son of William Thomas Ashton (1832-94) and his wife Lydia Grace, daughter of Henry Deakin of Soulton Hall (Shrops.), born 1 June 1868. Educated at Tettenhall College (Staffs). Cotton manufacturer (W.T. Ashton & Son) at Darwen (Lancs). JP for Lancashire and Darwen; Trustee and Governor of Blackburn Royal Infirmary. He married, 1 June 1905, Janet Emily (1878-1948), daughter of Dr. George Hindle, of Holker House, Darwen (Lancs), and had issue:
(1) Clive Ashton (1906-84), born 14 March 1906; educated at Sedbergh Sch.; chairman of W.T. Ashton & Son, cotton manufacturers, at Darwen (Lancs) and Irvinestown (Northern Ireland); JP for Lancashire and for Co. Fermanagh (from 1961); married, 20 October 1938, Nora Eileen (1915-2003), daughter of Horace Grime of Cheadle Hulme, Stockport (Cheshire) and had issue two daughters; died 26 December 1984;
(2) Mark Ashton (1908-94) (q.v.);
(3) Oliver Deakin Ashton (1911-2002), born 12 July 1911; educated at Charterhouse; an officer in the Royal Artillery in the Second World War; director and secretary of W.T. Ashton & Son, cotton manufacturers; emigrated to Canada before 1963; married, 9 April 1942 at Whalley (Lancs), Isabella (1917-2008), daughter of Roger Green of Whalley, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died in Orangeville, Ontario (Canada), 5 June 2002 and was buried in St John's Cemetery, Mono, Dufferin County, Ontario.
He lived at Ashdale, Darwen but in 1900 bought Soulton Hall with his brothers from the trustees of the Portland Marylebone estate, who had acquired it by foreclosing on a mortgage to Lord Hill.
He died on 7 January 1953; his will was proved 7 August 1953 (estate £30,516). His wife died 7 March 1948; her will was proved 22 July 1948 (estate £6,504).

Ashton, Mark (1908-94). Second son of Sidney Antrobus Ashton (1868-1953) and his wife Janet Emily, daughter of Dr. George Hindle of Holker House, Darwen (Lancs), born 28 October 1908. Educated at Charterhouse. Managing director of W.T. Ashton & Son, cotton manufacturers. He married, 30 April 1942, Winifred Lamont (1909-75), daughter of Albert Bone, and had issue:
(1) John Sidney Ashton (b. 1944) (q.v.);
(2) Peter Mark Ashton (b. 1946), born 12 March 1946; married, 1970, Angela M. Cooper and had issue;
(3) Richard Adair Ashton (b. 1948), born 29 May 1948; married, Jan-Mar 1971, Josephine G., daughter of David Spier.
He lived at Ellerslie, Darwen and Soulton Hall.
He died Jul-Sept. 1994. His wife died 21 June 1975; her will was proved 14 November 1975 (estate £14,614).

Ashton, John Sidney (b. 1944). Eldest son of Mark Ashton (1908-94) and his wife Winifred Lamont, daughter of Albert Bone, born 8 July 1944. Farmer and hotel proprietor. He married, 1968, Ann P. Hadley (b. 1946), and had issue:
(1) Carol Ann Ashton (b. 1970);
(2) Katharine Margaret Ashton (b. 1973); married, September 2005, Martin S. Edwards, younger son of Kenneth Edwards;
(3) Elizabeth Helen Ashton (b. 1975);
(4) twin, Fiona Lamont Ashton (b. 1986); educated at Edinburgh University;
(5) twin, Timothy John Ashton (b. 1986); educated at Shrewsbury School, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (MA) and Harper Adams University, Newport (Shrops.); farmer at Soulton Hall.
He took over the running of Soulton Hall from his father in about 1970 and converted it into an hotel.
Now living.

Principal sources

Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, pp. 64-65; J. Newman & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Shropshire, 2nd edn., 2006, pp. 35, 677-78; A. Maguire & A. Gomme, Design and plan in the country house, 2008, pp. 199-201, 311. 

Location of archives

No significant accumulation is known to exist.

Coat of arms

None recorded, although another descendant of the Ashtons of Darwen received a grant of arms (Sable, on a pile argent, between two bezants each charged with a rose gules, barbed and seeded proper, a pierced mullet of the first).

Can you help?

  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 22 December 2019.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

(268) Aldworth of Stanlake Park and Frogmore House

Aldworth of Stanlake Park
Richard Aldworth (1557-1623), with whom the genealogy below begins, was related to the established Tudor gentry family of Aldworth, who were settled around Wantage (Berks) and in Reading (Berks). The Aldworth family of Newmarket Court in County Cork sprang from the same stem, but there seems to be no close connection between the two families.

Richard Aldworth became a prosperous London grocer, and in addition to houses in London and Reading, in 1610 he bought an extensive estate centred on Stanlake Park in Berkshire, which extended into half a dozen different parishes. Either he or his son, Richard Aldworth (1589-1639) then built the present house at Stanlake, which was evidently complete by 1626. The younger Richard is probably not the London alderman of this name who was Master of the Skinners Company in London in 1630, for he is said to have died in 1643, and it is not known whether this Richard continued his father's business an overseas merchant or not. He died fairly young in 1639, and was succeeded by his eldest son and heir, Richard Aldworth (1615-80), who may have been brought up in the household of Archbishop Laud (a distant kinsman) and who was at the Middle Temple at the time of his father's death. As the association with Laud implies, he was a Royalist during the Civil War, and acted as auditor of the Royalist army c.1643-46. He also raised troops and took an active part in the fighting at Newbury, Bristol and elsewhere. At the end of the Second Civil War he fled to Holland, and on his return in 1650 he was fined by Parliament, but his fine, at £200, seems modest by comparison with others. At the Restoration he became Secretary to successive Archbishops of Canterbury, and was rewarded for his loyalty to the Crown with a number of  well-paid auditing posts in Government and the royal household, some of which he managed to hand on to his two eldest sons, Richard Aldworth (1646-1706) and William Aldworth (1647-1700). His success in securing auditing posts was doubtless due to the influence of his father-in-law, William Gwynne (d. 1667), who was an auditor in the Exchequer. In 1664 Gwynne assigned him the lease of a Crown estate property at Windsor, which became the site of Frogmore House.

In 1679 Richard Aldworth renewed the lease of his Frogmore property in favour of his own son-in-law, Thomas May (c.1645-1718), whose uncle Hugh May (d. 1684) was the King's architect at Windsor Castle. Thomas was then already at work building a new house at Frogmore, almost certainly to his uncle's design. However, when Hugh May died, he left Thomas his property in Sussex, and Thomas and his wife moved away. The lease of Frogmore was taken on by William Aldworth (1647-1700), who held a number of auditing posts in the royal household and no doubt found a home at Windsor very convenient. He had already bought the lease of an adjoining house (later Little Frogmore) and further extended his property by buying a 99-year lease of the manor of Shaw. His close association with James II must have put his loyalty under suspicion after the accession of William III, but he seems to have retained his official posts. Despite the income which they gave him, he was plunged into a personal financial crisis in the mid-1690s, when he claimed he had been defrauded by his solicitor, Sir James Tillie of Pentillie Castle (Cornwall), who was even more colourful in death than in life. As a result, when William died in 1700, his children found that his debts exceeded the value of his personal effects, and they were obliged to sell the lease of Frogmore House and move to the adjacent but much smaller Little Frogmore to pay off the debts. Charles Aldworth, the son and heir, was an enthusiastic Jacobite, and was killed in a duel in 1714, after which Little Frogmore passed to his unmarried sisters, Susanna and Elizabeth, and on Elizabeth's death in 1745 reverted to the branch of the family settled at Stanlake Park.

Richard Aldworth (1646-1706), who had inherited Stanlake in 1680, was trained as a lawyer in the Middle Temple, and became secretary to the Earl of Essex as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1672-77. On this foundation, Richard built himself a career in the public adminstration of Ireland, at the centre of which was his role as Chief Remembrancer of the Irish Exchequer. In the 1690s, he was also Chief Secretary for Ireland and an MP in the Irish Parliament. These roles, even if discharged by deputy as far as possible, must have taken him to Ireland on a regular basis, and he found an Irish bride. However, he does not seem to have lived chiefly in Ireland, for his children were all baptised in London and made their lives in England. He was succeeded at Stanlake by his eldest son, John Aldworth (1680-1710), who married but had no issue, and died young, to be succeeded by his brother, Richard Aldworth (1684-1738). Richard's career in the public service, which culminated in his appointment as Yeoman of the Jewel House (second in command of the protection of the Crown jewels) does not seem to have been hindered by his killing a guest in a duel after an altercation at his birthday party in 1720, although it did lead to an unsuccessful attempt in Parliament to legislate against duelling.

When Richard died in 1738 his only child and successor was his son, Richard Neville Aldworth (1717-93), who came of age about four months later. With no parents or guardians to restrain him, and no siblings to provide for, Richard was in the happy and unusual position for a young man of his time in being able to follow his own inclinations. He undertook an extended Grand Tour, 1739-44, wintering at Geneva where he was part of a very smart group of high-spirited but cultured 'young bloods' known as the Common Room Set. On his return to England he was elected to the Society of Dilettanti, but quickly settled down to marriage and the role in public affairs which he was expected to perform. He was a Whig in politics, in contrast to earlier generations of his family, and closely associated with the Duke of Bedford, who secured his election as an MP and took him as his secretary when he was ambassador to France in 1762-63. In 1745 he inherited the Little Frogmore estate at Windsor from his cousin, Elizabeth Aldworth, and in 1762 the much larger Billingbear estate (Berks) from his maternal aunt, Lady Portsmouth, which had a transformative effect on his finances, and as a consequence of which he was obliged to take the additional surname Neville. He retained all his property until his death, except Little Frogmore, which Queen Charlotte bought in 1790 as a calm retreat for herself and her daughters from the official parade of Windsor Castle. 

Sadly, Richard's Swiss wife died in 1750 after only two years of marriage, leaving him with one son and one daughter. His son, Richard Aldworth-Neville (1750-1825) inherited from his father both the Neville family estate at Billingbear Park, with lands in Wargrave, Warfield and elsewhere, and the Stanlake estate, including lands in Ruscombe and Hurst, as well as the Shaw estate adjoining Frogmore House. Four years later, on the death of his third cousin, John Griffin Griffin (1719-97), 4th Lord Howard de Walden and 1st Baron Braybrooke, he also inherited the barony of Braybrooke (but not that of Howard), and two thirds of the Audley End estate in Essex, and was required to take the name Griffin in place of Aldworth-Neville. Between 1798 and 1804 he sold the Stanlake estate to Sir Nathaniel Dukinfield (1746-1824), 5th bt, but in 1814 he purchased the remaining third of the Audley End estate from the Marquess of Bristol, which consisted of lands at Littlebury (Essex). The changes of name and of estate in his lifetime, and the fact that his grandson reverted to the surname Neville, makes it seem more appropriate to give accounts of Billingbear House and Audley End, and of his descendants, in a future post on the Neville family, Barons Braybrooke. 

Stanlake Park, Berkshire*

A moated platform in a plantation on the estate is thought to have been the site of the original manor house, but this may have been superseded by a house on the present site long before the present two-storey gabled H-shaped house of brick with stone dressings was built in the early 17th century for Richard Aldworth. 
Stanlake Park: drawing by John Buckler, c.1820. Image: British Library
This building is usually dated to 1626, on the basis of a royal coat of arms painted on a window in a first-floor bedroom with that date, but it is not really clear whether the house was begun for the first Richard Aldworth, a London grocer who purchased the estate in 1610,  and finished by his son, Richard Aldworth (d. 1639) in that year or not begun until the second Richard inherited in 1623: all that can really be said is that 1626 represents a terminus ante quem for the construction of the house. It was from the first symmetrical in both plan and elevation, and has attics and dormers in the tiled roof, and tall chimneystacks. The house was perhaps originally entered directly into the hall, but it had a classical porch by c.1820, which was replaced in the late 19th century, when the house was generally restored and modernised. The original plan consisted of a large hall, with smaller rooms to either side, lit from the front by the large bay windows, which seem to be an original feature although the details were all renewed in the 19th century. The open-well staircase with turned balusters and a moulded handrail, was originally situated at the rear of the house on the north side, but was moved to its present position on the south side of the hall in the late 19th century

Stanlake Park: garden front in 2014. Image: Des Blenkinsopp. Some rights reserved.
In the 18th century a three bay wing of red brick with a tiled roof was added on the north side to accommodate new service accommodation and additional bedrooms. At the same time a new drawing room was created behind the hall that extends into a central projecting wing with a two-storey canted bow window on the end. The rooms in the older part of the house were almost all redecorated in the 18th century, with only one bedroom retaining its original fireplace. The Georgian wing, which overlooked a small landscaped park in which a stream was widened to create a small lake, was largely demolished some time after 1923, and probably around the time the house was sold by the Barker family in 1952.

Descent: Henry & Agnes Reynold sold 1502 to Sir Reginald Bray (d. 1503); to niece Margaret, wife of Sir William Sandys (c.1470-1540), 1st Baron Sandys of The Vyne; to son Thomas Sandys (d. 1560), 2nd Baron Sandys of The Vyne; to son, William Sandys (d. 1623), 3rd Baron Sandys of The Vyne, who sold c.1599 to Miles Sandys (1520-1601); to son, Sir Edwin Sandys (1561-1629), who sold 1606 to Sir Thomas Windebank (1538-1607), kt.; to son, Francis Windebank (1582-1646), Secretary of State, who sold 1610 to Richard Aldworth (1557-1623), a London grocer; to son, Richard Aldworth (1589-1639); to son, Richard Aldworth (1615-80); to son, Richard Aldworth (1646-1706); to son, John Aldworth (1680-1710); to brother, Richard Aldworth (1684- 1738); to son, Richard Neville Aldworth (later Aldworth-Neville) (1717-93); to son, Richard Aldworth-Neville (later Griffin) (1750-1825), 2nd Baron Braybrooke; sold to Sir Nathaniel Dukinfield (1746-1824), 5th bt.; to son, Sir John Lloyd Dukinfield (1785-1836), 6th bt.; to brother, Rev. Sir Henry Robert Dukinfield (1791-1858), 7th bt., who sold 1847 to George Barker (1795-1868); to son, George William Barker (1831-69); to mother, Emma Sophia Barker (1799-1886) and then to brother, Rev. Alfred Gresley Barker (1835-1906), who let it to E.M. Sturges; to son, Frederick George Barker (1866-1951); sold 1952 to S.E. Leighton; to Jonathan Leighton (b. 1934); sold 2005 to Peter and Annette Dart.

* Stanlake Park lay in a detached exclave of Wiltshire until 1844.

Frogmore House, Windsor, Berkshire

The Frogmore estate has belonged to the Crown since the reign of Henry VIII, and has been an important royal residence for more than two centuries, but until 1793 it was occupied by a succession of Crown tenants who were responsible for the construction of the building and its subsequent adaption for more than a century. At the time of the Cromwellian survey of the estate in 1649, there were two separate holdings, with closely-adjacent timber-framed houses, one of which was a 'capital mansion house', later known as Frogmore Farm, while the smaller house was later known as Gwynne Farm. The latter derived its name from its tenancy by William Gwynne (d. 1667), whose daughter and heiress, Anne, was the wife of Richard Aldworth (1614-80). In the 1670s small areas from both estates had been taken into the King's hands as part of Windsor Little Park to assist in the laying out of the grounds around the new Ranger's House. In 1679 Richard Aldworth petitioned for a renewal of his lease pointing out that the buildings on his land were so decrepit that they must be rebuilt, and since they overlooked the King's park they needed 'to be made uniforme and handsome, which require a Great expence and charge'.
Frogmore House: appearance in 1697 from a lost estate map,
published in Tighe & Davis' Annals of Windsor, 1858.
Indeed, it would seem that work had already been begun, since it was reported to the Treasury that 'he hath already expended a very considerable sum of money'. The new lease was made not to Richard Aldworth (who lived elsewhere and died in 1680), but to his daughter Anne and her husband, Thomas May. Since Thomas was the nephew of Hugh May, the King's architect at Windsor Castle from 1675 onwards, it seems next to certain that the new house which Thomas and Anne May built around 1680 was designed by Hugh May. A sketch on an estate map of 1697 shows the new house as a seven bay block of two storeys above a basement, with a central pediment and a tall hipped roof with dormers, carried on a timber cornice. Structural investigation of the building in the 1980s showed that it was similar on both the main (east and west) fronts, and that it was built of red brick with the window surrounds being a brighter red brick and having gauged heads. The central window on the first floor, as the 1697 drawing suggests, was at first twice the width of the other windows, although it was narrowed to match the others in the early 18th century. The house had a marked resemblance to that which Hugh May designed for Sir Stephen Fox at Chiswick in 1682-84, later known as Moreton Hall and demolished by the Duke of Devonshire in the early 19th century. 

Frogmore House: survey plan by William Biggs c.1750 (east at the bottom).
Image: © Sir John Soane's Museum 43/5/36.
The fortunate survival of an inventory taken in 1700 and a survey plan of c.1750 has enabled the original internal layout of the house to be reconstructed. In essence, it was a double-pile house, with a spinal wall separating the parlour and entrance/staircase hall on the east front from the dining room and principal bedroom on the west front. The four corners of the house were occupied by closets, with back staircases rising between them. The staircase was of the open-well type, and rose to a first floor picture gallery occupying the centre of the house from east to west and providing access to three bedroom suites, each of which had a closet in the corner of the house: an unusually simple and satisfying layout. The attic, accessible only from the back stairs and no doubt devoted to service accommodation, had four large and four small garrets, but curiously also had an upper gallery immediately above the first-floor gallery, that was reached from the backstairs only through the four larger garret rooms: its purpose is unclear.

Thomas and Anne May did not, however, occupy their new house at Frogmore for very long, for within a few years they inherited Hugh May's estate at Rawmere and relocated to Sussex, and Anne's brother, William Aldworth (d. 1700) who had bought the lease of Frogmore Farm in 1684 at a price later assessed as having been well over the market rate, took on their lease and combined the two estates, of which he obtained a further new 60-year lease in 1688. By 1697 the old mansion house of Frogmore Farm had been demolished and replaced by a smaller house - later known as Little Frogmore. Although William had a good income from a number of important positions as the Auditor of various members of the royal family and Government bodies, he was a victim of fraud in the 1690s, and died leaving debts greater than his assets. In these circumstances his son Charles Aldworth (d. 1714) and his sisters had little choice but to the sell the remainder of their lease of Frogmore House and move to Little Frogmore, which they did in 1709. The lease of the great house was bought by George Fitzroy (1665-1716), Duke of Northumberland, who was Constable of Windsor Castle and the illegitimate son of Charles II and Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland.

Frogmore House: murals attributed to Louis Laguerre, revealed during restoration work in 1983 and since restored. Image: Crown Copyright.

It would seem to have been the Duke who, in his relatively brief occupation of Frogmore, made the first changes to the house. The original wooden cross windows were lengthened and replaced by sashes; the first floor central window was narrowed to the same width as the others; the hipped roof was altered with the removal of the dormer windows and the installation of a parapet in place of the earlier cornice, and the doorcase was altered to remove its old-fashioned hood. Inside, the walls of the staircase were decorated with mural paintings based on scenes from the Aeneid which were particularly relevant to the Duke's own life. These paintings, which were covered over in about 1760, were revealed during restoration works in the 1980s and have since been restored. The style and quality of the paintings suggests that they were probably the work of Louis Laguerre (1663-1721). A new stable block (now flats) was apparently built as part of the works, since it houses a bell dated 1711, and the long range of outbuildings connecting the house to the stables, which is evident on the survey plan of c.1745, was probably of the same date.

In 1748 the lease of Frogmore was bought by Edward Walpole, the somewhat reclusive second son of the Prime Minister, Robert Walpole and brother of Horace Walpole (with whom he was not on speaking terms). He was apparently responsible for covering over the mural paintings on the staircase hall in 1760. His successors were responsible for repairs in 1770 and 1774, but the house was still fundamentally the one which Thomas May had built over a century earlier when Queen Charlotte bought the lease in 1792. The Queen had previously bought the adjoining Little Frogmore, which she renamed Amelia Cottage, in 1790, and her first thought was to transform this into a small villa with a garden where she could have privacy and develop her botanical interests. James Wyatt produced an enchanting scheme to replace the existing house with a Gothic villa with four rooms on each floor and four towers, which was sadly never built.

Frogmore House: engraving by Samuel Howitt of the garden front between the first and second phases of Wyatt's alterations, 1802.
Image: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

Frogmore House: garden front as remodelled by James Wyatt, c.1792-95 and c.1804.
Image: Nick Kingsley. Some rights reserved.

After buying the much larger Frogmore House, Queen Charlotte asked James Wyatt to modernize and remodel it, with much of the internal painted decoration being actually executed by the Queen and her daughters. Wyatt seems to have done the work pro bono, perhaps with the thought that it would lead to further and more lucrative commissions from the royal family. Externally, Wyatt's main changes were to remove the original hipped roof and replace it with an attic storey and a low-pitched roof; to coat the house in stucco; to add the Doric porte-cochère to the entrance front and the seven-bay Doric colonnade to the garden front, with a pavilion at either end; and to build the wings. The latter were constructed in two stages: first the inner rooms with tripartite windows in 1792-95, and then the outer sections including the bow windows in c.1804. The colonnade on the west front was originally open, but had been enclosed with windows by 1818.

Frogmore House: a hand-coloured photograph of the Wyatt staircase, 1861.
Image: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
Inside the house, Wyatt redecorated most of the interiors, although the elegant simplicity of his room schemes has in many places been overlaid by the more elaborate wall treatments and painted decoration favoured by Duchess of Kent, who lived here from 1841. Wyatt's greatest change was to the staircase hall, where he took out the original open-well staircase and replaced it by a new one with a wrought iron balustrade, which rises in a single-flight to a half landing and returns in two flights to a gallery carried on new Ionic columns. The square Oak Room to the left of the entrance hall retains a 17th century appearance, but the doorway has been moved and the panelling altered in consequence. The rooms behind the west front retain their 17th century layout but were all redecorated by Wyatt. The south wing is largely occupied by two big reception rooms: the Duchess of Kent's Drawing Room (previously Queen Charlotte's Dining Room), and the Britannia Room (formerly Queen Charlotte's Library), a dining room which since 1998 houses furniture and works of art from the former royal yacht of that name. On the first floor, the gallery running across the house from east to west retains its 17th century form, but was redecorated with pretty painted Pompeian decoration by Princess Elizabeth, the most talented of Queen Charlotte's daughters. Two further rooms which she decorated in Chinoiserie style have sadly been lost. The Queen's friend Mary Moser also provided decoration for the house, including the beautiful flower garlands on the walls and ceiling of the Mary Moser Room south of the colonnade.

Frogmore House: Queen Charlotte's Library in the south wing, 1817. Image: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019.

As soon as Queen Charlotte acquired the Little Frogmore estate in 1790 she began laying out the grounds and the work was greatly expanded in scale once she had acquired the 53 acres of the Frogmore House grounds. Her chief adviser seems to have been William Price, brother of the Picturesque pioneer, Sir Uvedale Price, who became her Vice-Chamberlain at this time. An ornamental canal was remodelled as a serpentine lake, and garden buildings were designed by both Princess Elizabeth and James Wyatt. This layout is largely intact, although of the buildings only the Gothic Ruin survives.
Frogmore House: the Gothic Ruin designed by James Wyatt.
Image: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
The feel of the grounds was considerably altered by the later construction of the mauseolea for the Duchess of Kent (designed by Prof. Ludwig Grűner, c.1858-61) and Prince Albert (by Ludwig Grűner and A.J. Humbert, 1862-71), which strike a discordantly sombre and Germanic note. More in tune with the original spirit is 
Queen Victoria's Tea House, a surprisingly charming building of c.1869-70 attributed to S.S. Teulon which consists of a pair of octagonal rooms (the tea house and kitchen) surrounded by timber verandas and linked by a little quadrant loggia.

Frogmore House: the delightful rustic hermitage, perhaps designed by Princess Elizabeth (demolished).
Image: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

Descent: Crown leased to William Gwynne (d. 1667); given 1664 to daughter Anne, wife of Richard Aldworth (1615-80); to daughter, Anne (1649-1726), wife of Sir Thomas May, kt. (c.1645-1718); sold c.1685 to brother, William Aldworth (1647-1700); to son, Charles Aldworth (c.1677-1714); sold 1709 to George Fitzroy (1665-1716), 1st Duke of Northumberland; to widow, Mary (née Dutton) (d. 1738), Duchess of Northumberland; to niece, Grace Parsons (who sublet it); sold 1748 to Edward Walpole (1706-84); sold 1766 to Dr. Stephen Waller; sold 1773 to Miss Anne Egerton; sold 1792 to Queen Charlotte (1744-1818); to daughter, Princess Augusta Sophia (1768-1840); to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1786-1861), Duchess of Kent; since her death the house has been used by members of the royal family as a short-term residence and (by Queen Mary) as a family museum. Since the restoration of 1983-90 this pattern has resumed and it is also occasionally open for public group tours.

Aldworth family of Stanlake Park

Aldworth, Richard (1557-1623). Son of John Aldworth (fl. 1594) and his wife Alice [maiden name unknown], and nephew of Richard Aldworth, who was thrice mayor of Reading and a benefactor of that town. Citizen and grocer of London; he was one of the 'Company of Eastland Merchants' who petitioned the Government about measures against plague, 1603, and was admitted to the Spanish Company in 1605. He married 1st, probably 5 June 1587 at Clapham (Surrey), Anne alias Agnes, daughter of Richard May of London, and 2nd, c.1605, Margaret, daughter of Thomas Deane of Reading, clothier, and had issue*:
(1.1) Richard Aldworth (1589-1639) (q.v.);
(2.1) Margaret Aldworth (1606-95), baptised at Wargrave, 19 October 1606; married, 4 September 1623 at St James, Clerkenwell (Middx), Sir George Wilmot (c.1601-71), kt., of Letcombe and Charlton near Wantage, and had issue two sons; buried at Lambourn (Berks), 13 February 1695.
(2.2) Thomas Aldworth (b. 1609), baptised at St Lawrence Jewry, London, 26 January 1609; died before 1623;
(2.3) William Aldworth (b. 1610), baptised at St Augustine, Watling St., London, 26 June 1610; died before 1623.
He had houses in Reading and Aldermanbury, London, and purchased Stanlake Park from Francis Windebank in 1610. Either he or his son built a new house there which was complete by 1626.
He died 13 May 1623; his will was proved 26 June 1623. His first wife died about 1595. His second wife also predeceased him but her date of death is unknown.
* Some sources also mention two daughters by his first wife, Alice and Anne, but I can find no record of them.

Aldworth, Richard (1589-1639). Only son of Richard Aldworth (1557-1623) and his first wife Anne alias Agnes, daughter of Richard May of London, baptised at Holy Trinity, Clapham (Surrey), 4 May 1589. (He seems not to be the same man as the Richard Aldworth (d. 1643?) who was Master of the Skinners Company in 1630 and an Alderman of London.) He married, 1614 (settlement 21 November), Amy (d. 1672), daughter of Thomas Parsons of Great Milton and Easington (Oxon), and had issue:
(1) Richard Aldworth (1615-80) (q.v.);
(2) Thomas Aldworth (b. 1616), baptised at Great Milton, 4 December 1616; the Visitation of Berkshire implies that he was married but perhaps had no issue;
(3) Agnes/Anne Aldworth (1618-44), baptised at Wargrave, 17 May 1618; died unmarried and was buried at Ruscombe, 17 March 1644;
(4) John Aldworth (1619-20), baptised at Wargrave, 6 December 1619; died in infancy and was buried at Wargrave, 7 December 1620;
(5) Robert Aldworth (1620-52), baptised at Wargrave, 1 January 1621; died without issue at Milford on his passage to Ireland, 1652; administration of his goods was granted to his mother;
(6) Henry Aldworth (1622-64), baptised at Wargrave, 1 January 1623; an East India merchant; died unmarried; will proved 12 August 1664;
(7) George Aldworth (1624-87); baptised at Wargrave, 25 March 1624; buried at Ruscombe, 16 September 1687;
(8) John Aldworth (b. 1625); baptised at Wargrave, 28 August 1625; died without issue before 1664;
(9) William Aldworth; born after 1625; living in 1664.

He inherited Stanlake Park from his father in 1623 and either he or his father built the new house there which was complete by 1626.
He was buried at Ruscombe, 17 March 1638/9; his will was proved at Salisbury, 1639. His widow was buried at Ruscombe, 26 November 1672.

Aldworth, Richard (1615-80). Eldest son of Richard Aldworth (1589-1639) and his wife Amy, daughter of Thomas Parsons of Great Milton (Oxon), baptised at Great Milton, 13 April 1615. Probably brought up in the household of Archbishop Laud of Canterbury, who was a distant relative, where he had 'education in the affairs of the council chamber'; he also studied at St John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1635; BCL 1642) and the Middle Temple (admitted 1637). During the Civil War he was an officer in the Royalist cavalry (Capt., 1642; Maj. 1646), and fought at the Battles of Newbury and Bristol and elsewhere; he fled to Holland in 1648 but returned in 1650 and was fined £200 by Parliament. Auditor of the Army c.1643-46. Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1660-80; Auditor of Land Revenues for Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland, 1661-80; MP for Reading, 1661-79; Auditor of the Exchequer, 1668-80 (Chief Auditor, 1672-80); Sub-Commissioner for Prizes, 1672-74; DL for Berkshire, c.1670-80; JP for Berkshire, 1660-80 and for Wiltshire, 1662-80. He married, c.1645, Anne (d. 1705), daughter of William Gwynne of New Windsor, and had issue:
(1) Richard Aldworth (1646-1706) (q.v.);
(2) William Aldworth (1647-1700) [for whom see Aldworth of Frogmore House below];
(3) Charles Aldworth (1648-1720), born 1648; educated at St John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1666) and Magdalen College, Oxford (demy, 1668-72; BA 1670; MA 1672; BCL and DCL 1686); Fellow of Magdalen College, 1672-1720 (Vice-President c.1687-1720); in 1687 he was among the fellows who attempted to resist James II's arbitrary intrusion of the Bishop of Oxford into the vacant Presidency of Magdalen, and was turned out of his office and fellowship, but he was restored by King William III, 1688; he was elected Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford, 1691-1720, although Thomas Hearne considered him 'a great Blockhead' and 'a person of no learning'; died unmarried, 15 April 1720; will proved 14 June 1720;
(4) Anne Aldworth (1649-1726), baptised at Ruscombe, 12 March 1648/9; her father settled Frogmore House on her and her husband in 1680, and they rebuilt the house, almost certainly to the designs of his uncle, the architect Hugh May, before inheriting Rawmere, Mid Lavant (Sussex) from the same uncle in 1684 and moving there; she married, 14 May 1675 at Sepulchre, Holborn (Middx), Sir Thomas May (c.1645-1718), kt., of Rawmere, but had no issue; buried at Mid Lavant, 22 July 1726; will proved 5 August 1726;
(5) Amy Aldworth (1653-72), baptised at Ruscombe, 29 September 1653; died unmarried and was buried at Ruscombe, 20 July 1672;
(6) Susanna Aldworth (1655-1731), baptised at Ruscombe, 7 January 1654/5; married, 5 June 1679 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster (Middx), Robert Hester of Shiplake (Oxon), but had no issue; widowed by 1724 (and possibly much earlier) and lived with her brother at East Lockinge (Berks); buried at Lockinge, 17 May 1731; will proved 10 July 1731;
(7) John Aldworth (1656-1729), baptised at Ruscombe, 24 January 1655/6; educated at St John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1668; BA 1672); Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, c.1673-83 (MA 1676); rector of Elmley (Kent), 1683-84 and Lockinge (Berks), 1684-1729; died unmarried, 26 July 1729; will proved 23 September 1729;
(8) Margaret Aldworth (c.1658-1725?), born about 1658; married, 21 May 1684 at St Marylebone (Middx), Thomas Parsons (d. 1689) of Westminster and Easington, Chilton (Bucks), and had issue at least one son; living in 1721 and possibly the woman of this name buried at St Margaret, Westminster, 13 July 1725;
(9) Henry Aldworth (c.1659-84); born about 1659; died unmarried and was buried at Ruscombe, 17 February 1683/4;
(10) Elizabeth Aldworth (c.1661-73), born about 1661; died young and was buried at Ruscombe, 19 February 1673;
(11) Robert Aldworth (c.1663-72), born about 1663; died young and was buried at Ruscombe, 18 May 1672;
(12) Dorothy Aldworth (1665-1715), baptised at Ruscombe, 3 June 1665; died unmarried and was buried at Mid Lavant, 23 December 1715; will proved 31 January 1715/6.
He inherited Stanlake Park from his father in 1649 and his father-in-law assigned him a Crown lease of the site of Frogmore House at Windsor in 1663-64, which he transferred on renewal in 1680 to his daughter Anne and her husband, who rebuilt the house.
He died 5 October 1680 and was buried in the chancel at Ruscombe, 29 October 1680, where he is commemorated by a monument which pays tribute to the faith and zeal with which he served the restored monarchy and the Church of England. His widow was buried at Ruscombe, 12 July 1705.

Aldworth, Rt. Hon. Richard (1646-1706). Eldest son of Richard Aldworth (1615-80) and his wife Anne Gwyn, born at Lambeth; baptised at Ruscombe, 21 March 1645/6. Educated at St John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1661; BA 1665) and All Souls College, Oxford (MA 1668; LLD), and at the Middle Temple (admitted 1664; called 1672). Barrister-at-law; Second Secretary to Earl of Essex as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1672-77; Receiver of Crown Revenues in Yorkshire and County Durham in succession to his father, 1680-1706; Chief Remembrancer of the Exchequer in Ireland, 1676-1706; Craner (port official) in Dublin, 1677-95; Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1693-96; MP for Dublin University, 1695-99; sworn of the Privy Council of Ireland, 1695. He married, 1677 (licence 25 April), Mary (c.1642-1705), daughter of William Crofton MP of Temple House (Co. Sligo) and widow of George Perceval (1635-75), son of Sir Philip Perceval, kt., and had issue:
(1) Anne Aldworth (c.1678-1723); married 1st, 1691 (bond 12 August), aged about fourteen, Edward Standen (d. 1708) of Arborfield (Berks), and had issue one son; married 2nd, 9 February 1708/9 at Arborfield, Charles Palmer MD (d. 1713) of Arborfield; buried with her second husband at Finchampstead (Berks), 2 December 1723;
(2) John Aldworth (1680-1710) (q.v.);
(3) Jane Aldworth (1682-1746), born about 22 January and baptised at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, 28 January 1781/2; married, 1703 (bond 21 December) at Ruscombe, Rev. Dr. Gilbert Jackson (b. 1684) of Cuddesdon (Oxon) and had issue five sons and seven daughters; buried at Titchfield (Hants), 25 February 1746;
(4) Richard Aldworth (1684-1738) (q.v.);
(5) Mary Aldworth (1686-1745), baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 10 July 1686; married, 2 July 1713 at Arborfield, James Hayes (d. 1750) of Chuffs, Holyport (Berks), barrister, and had issue; buried at Bray (Berks), 28 July 1745;
(6) Rose Aldworth (1687-1741), baptised at St James, Piccadilly, 28 November 1687; married, 1725 (licence 28 August), Capt. Christopher Keene; buried at Ruscombe, 7 April 1741;
(7) Arabella Aldworth (1689-1710), baptised at St James, Piccadilly, 10 September 1689; died unmarried and was buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields, 22 December 1710.
He inherited Stanlake Park from his father in 1680.
He died 14 November and was buried at Ruscombe, 19 November 1706; his will was proved in Dublin, 5 December 1706. His wife died 15 October and was buried at Ruscombe, 19 October 1705.

Aldworth, John (1680-1710). Elder son of Richard Aldworth (1646-1706) and his wife Mary, daughter of William Crofton MP of Temple House (Co. Sligo), born 1680. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1696). He married, 18 December 1700 at St Paul, Covent Garden, London, Mary (c.1677-1766), daughter of James Tyrrell of Shotover (Oxon), but died without issue.
He inherited Stanlake Park from his father in 1707. His widow lived latterly at Windsor.
He was buried in the chancel of Ruscombe church, 21 July 1710; his will was proved 22 February 1710/11. His widow died at the age of 89, and was buried at Ruscombe, 5 February 1766; her will, proved 4 March 1766, left £50 for the erection of a monument to the memory of her husband and herself at Ruscombe.

Aldworth, Richard (1684-1738). Younger son of Richard Aldworth (1646-1706) and his wife Mary, daughter of William Crofton MP of Temple House (Co. Sligo), born 6 March and baptised 10 March 1683/4. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford (matriculated 1701). Verderer of Windsor Forest (probably from 1706, in succession to his father) and Deputy Warden (or Lieutenant) of the Forest 1732-38; one of the Tax Commissioners by 1720-1738; Yeoman of the Jewel Office, 1725-38. In 1720 he was probably the subject of a report in the Political Register which recorded that a William [sic] Aldworth, one of the Tax Commissioners, held a birthday party at which one of the guests was his friend, Owen Buckingham, MP for Reading, 'but both being elevated with wine, some hot words arose between them, and being gone out of the house to fight in the dark, Mr. Buckingham received a mortal wound; and with his dying breath owned he had given the provocation'; this sad affair moved the Master of the Rolls to introduce a bill into Parliament to outlaw duelling, but Aldworth does not seem to have suffered any punishment or loss of public office. He married, 19 August 1714 at Binfield (Berks), Catherine (1691-1720), daughter of Richard Neville of Billingbear House (Berks), and had issue:
(1) Richard Neville Aldworth (later Aldworth-Neville) (1717-93) (q.v.).
He inherited Stanlake Park from his elder brother in 1710.
He died at Shiplake (Oxon) but was buried at Ruscombe, 6 May 1738. His wife was buried at Ruscombe, 23 November 1720.

Richard Aldworth-Neville (1717-93)
Aldworth (later Aldworth-Neville), Richard Neville (1717-93). Only child of Richard Aldworth (1684-1738) and his wife Catherine, daughter of Richard Neville of Billingbear House (Berks), born 3 September 1717. Educated at Eton, 1728-32 and Merton College, Oxford (matriculated 1736) and undertook the Grand Tour, visiting Rome in 1740-41, Milan and Florence in 1744-45, and spending every winter in Geneva from 1739-44, where he was part of a group known as The Bloods or the Common Room Set, and was described as 'one of the merriest devils in the world'. He was back in England by the end of 1745 and was elected a member of the Society of Dilettanti, 1746, but he spent further periods on the continent later - in Paris in 1762-63 and in Geneva, 1771-74. He was a Whig in politics, and a supporter of the Duke of Bedford, to whose interest and financial support he was indebted for his election as MP for Reading, 1747-54, Wallingford, 1754-61 and Tavistock, 1761-74; after which his recurrent health problems obliged him to retire. He served in the Government as Under-Secretary of State, 1748-51, was attached to the Duke of Bedford's embassy in Paris in 1762-63 (as Secretary, 1762-63 and Minister Plenipotentiary, 1763) and was in the Government again as Paymaster of Pensions, 1763-65. He was a DL for Wiltshire (from 1756). He took the additional name of Neville on succeeding to the estates of that family in 1762. He married, 4 July 1748 at St James the Apostle, Dover (Kent), Magdalena (1718-50), daughter of Francis Calandrini, first syndic of Geneva (Switzerland) and had issue:
(1) Frances Aldworth-Neville (1749-1824), born 12 June and baptised at St Margaret, Westminster, 26 June 1749; lived at Stanlake Park until her husband died (after which her brother sold it); married, 9 August 1794 at St. Marylebone (Middx), Francis Jalabert (d. 1798) of Crouchland, Kirdford (Sussex), a Swiss national naturalised in England in 1756; died November 1824;
(2) Richard Aldworth-Neville (later Griffin) (1750-1825), 2nd Baron Braybrooke (q.v.).
He inherited Stanlake Park from his father in 1738, the Little Frogmore and Shaw estates at Windsor from his cousin Elizabeth Aldworth on her death in 1745, and the Neville family's Billingbear estate (Berks) on the death of his aunt, Elizabeth, Countess of Portsmouth, in 1762. He sold little Frogmore to Queen Charlotte in 1790.
He died 17 July 1793. His wife was buried at Ruscombe, 1 July 1750.

Richard Aldworth-Neville (later
Griffin), 2nd Baron Braybrooke
Aldworth-Neville (later Griffin), Richard (1750-1825), 2nd Baron Braybrooke. Only son of Richard Neville Aldworth (later Aldworth-Neville) and his wife Magadalen, daughter of Francis Calendrini of Geneva (Switzerland), born in Duke St., Westminster, 3 July 1750*. Educated at Eton and Merton College, Oxford (matriculated 1768; MA 1771) and undertook a Grand Tour, visiting Switzerland, Florence, Naples and Rome, at least partly in the company of his father, who was with him when he visited Voltaire at the Chateau de Ferney in 1772. An officer in the Berkshire militia (Lt.), 1778-79. A Tory in politics, he was MP for Grampound, 1774-80, Buckingham, 1780-82 and Reading, 1782-97. In 1797 he took the name and arms of Griffin in lieu of Aldworth-Neville for himself and his successors in the Griffin estates on succeeding his third cousin (by special limitation in the peerage patent) as 2nd Baron Braybrooke. Lord Lieutenant and Vice-Admiral of Essex, 1798-1825; Provost-Marshal of Jamaica; Recorder of Saffron Walden, 1797-1825. High Steward of Wokingham; Hereditary Visitor of Magdalene College, Cambridge. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London from 1792. He was awarded honorary degrees by the Universities of Oxford (DCL, 1810) and Cambridge (LLD 1819). He married, 19 June 1780 at Stowe (Bucks), Catherine (1761-96), youngest daughter of Rt. Hon. George Grenville, Prime Minister, and sister of George Temple-Nugent-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham, and had issue:
(1) Hon. Catherine Neville (1782-1841), born 23 February and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 27 February 1782; noted for her charitable disposition and good works on the Audley End estate; died unmarried at Billingbear, 19 December 1841;
(2) Richard Griffin (1783-1858), 3rd Baron Braybrooke, born at Stanlake, 26 September 1783 and baptised at Ruscombe; educated at Eton, Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1801; hon DCL 1810) and Magdalene College, Cambridge (matriculated 1811; hon MA 1811); Whig MP for Thirsk, 1805-06, Saltash, 1807, Buckingham, 1807-12 and Berkshire, 1812-25; High Steward of Wokingham; Recorder of Saffron Walden, 1825-35; editor of The diary of Samuel Pepys (1825) and author of The history of Audley End and Saffron Walden (1835) and a Life of Jane, Lady Cornwallis (1842); elected FSA, 1838; President of the Camden Society, 1853-58; married, 13 May 1819 at St James, Piccadilly, Lady Jane (1798-1856), eldest daughter and coheir of Charles Cornwallis, 2nd Marquess Cornwallis, and had issue five sons and three daughters; died 13 March 1858 and was buried at Littlebury (Essex); 
(3) Hon. Mary Neville (1786-1854), born at Stanlake, 5 August 1786; married, 11 April 1806 at St George, Hanover Sq., London, Sir Stephen Richard Glynne (1780-1815), 8th bt., and had issue two sons and two daughters; buried at Hawarden (Flints), 13 May 1854; will proved 31 May 1854;
(4) Capt. Hon. Henry Neville (1788-1809), born 1 March and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, 2 March 1788; an officer in the 14th Light Dragoons (Cornet, 1804; Lt., 1805; Capt., 1806); died at Santa Cruz near Truxillo (Spain) from 'a fever brought on by excessive fatigue' after the battle of Talavera, 31 July 1809;
(5) Very Rev. Hon. George Neville (later Neville-Grenville) (1789-1854), born 17 August 1789; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1807; MA 1810); ordained deacon and priest, 1813; Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1813-53; Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, 1818-19; rector of Hawarden (Flints), 1814-34; Dean of St George's Chapel, Windsor, 1846-54; chaplain in ordinary to Queen Victoria; inherited the Butleigh Court (Som.) estate from his maternal uncle, Thomas Grenville, 1825, and took the additional surname Grenville by royal licence; rebuilt Butleigh Court to the designs of J.C. Buckler in 1851; married, 9 May 1816 at St James Piccadilly, Lady Charlotte Legge (d. 1877), daughter of George Legge, 3rd Earl of Dartmouth, and had issue six sons and five daughters; died 10 June and was buried at Butleigh, 17 June 1854; will proved 20 July 1854;
(6) Hon. Caroline Neville (1792-1868), born 6 October 1792; married, 10 May 1817, Paul Beilby Lawley (later Thompson) (1784-1852), 1st Baron Wenlock, of Escrick Park (Yorks), and had issue four sons and one daughter; died in London, 2 May 1868; will proved 19 August 1868 (effects under £100,000);
(7) Hon. William Neville (1796-1803), born 11 June and baptised at St George, Hanover Sq., London, 19 June 1796; died young, 25 April 1803.
He inherited Stanlake Park and Billingbear Park from his father in 1793, but sold the former to Sir Nathaniel Dukinfield and the Shaw estate adjoining Frogmore to Queen Charlotte in 1806. He inherited the Griffin family's Audley End estate (Essex) from the 1st Baron Braybrooke in 1797. He had a town house at 52 Grosvenor St. from 1796-1803.
He died at Billingbear, 28 February 1825, and was buried at Waltham St. Lawrence (Berks); his will was proved in June 1825. His wife died 6 November 1796 and was also buried at Waltham St. Lawrence.
* Some accounts give the date as 3 June or 22 June.

Aldworth family of Frogmore House

Aldworth, William (1647-1700). Second son of Richard Aldworth and his wife Anne, daughter of William Gwyn of New Windsor, baptised at Ruscombe, 19 April 1647. He was Bailiff of Barnsley (Yorks), 1672, alderman of Windsor, 1685-88, freeman of Reading, 1685-1700 and a JP for Berkshire, 1688-1700; Deputy Auditor of the Exchequer, 1675; Auditor-General to Duke of York by 1679; Auditor and Comptroller of Hearth Tax, 1684-89; Auditor-General to Queen Mary of Modena, 1685-88; MP for Reading, 1685-88; Auditor General of Casual Revenues under the Penal Laws, 1689-1700, of Land Revenues, 1690-1700 and of the Post Office, by 1694; Auditor General to Queen Catherine of Braganza by 1694. He was a supporter of King James II, and was approached to lend James money in 1694, but soon afterwards was himself in financial difficulties, partly because of unpaid debts from the Crown but also because he was defrauded by a solicitor, Sir James Tillie. He was obliged to mortgage his estate at Frogmore, but even so, when he died his debts exceeded his assets. He married Anne [surname unknown] (d. 1695) and had issue:
(1) Charles Aldworth MP (1677-1714) (q.v.);
(2) Richard Aldworth (b. 1682), baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, 30 November 1682; died young;
(3) Susanna Aldworth (b. 1683), born 4 November and baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, 9 November 1683; living in 1726; died unmarried;
(4) Anne Aldworth (b. 1684), born 28 December 1684 and baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, 9 January 1685; died young;
(5) Elizabeth Aldworth (1685-1745), baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 15 December 1685; died unmarried and was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor, 5 February 1744/5;
(6) Dorothy Aldworth (b. & d. 1687), born 15 January and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, February 1687; died in infancy and was buried in the same place, 3 August 1687.
He was granted a new lease of Frogmore House by King James II in 1687, and he later purchased the manor of Shaw in Old Windsor on a 99-year lease. In the 1680s he made two purchases of land at Shiplake (Oxon), one from his brother-in-law, Robert Hester.
He was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor, 26 August 1700; his will was proved 23 December 1700. His wife was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor, 13 September 1695 and is commemorated by a monument in the Dean's Cloister.

Aldworth, Charles (c.1677-1714). Only son of William Aldworth (1647-1700) and his wife Anne, baptised at Westminster, 30 November 1677. Educated at King's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1693) and Inner Temple (admitted 1695; called 1703). Barrister-at-law. In 1696 he was granted licence to travel to Holland, and from there made his way to the Stuart court in exile at St. Germain, travelling under the name of St. Bernard; he remained at St Germain until his father's death in 1700. Once back in England, he petitioned the Commons in 1701 for his Windsor estates to be exempted from the bill to make void Jacobite Crown grants, which seems to have been successful, and in 1702 he obtained an Act of Parliament to enable him to sell part of his father’s estates in Berkshire, Lincolnshire and Kent to pay debts then amounting to £1,262 and provide portions of £4,000 and £3,500 for his two sisters. He was a Tory and a Jacobite and was elected MP for New Windsor, 1712-14 on the interest of the Duke of Northumberland and Samuel Masham. Being ‘a young rash gentleman’, he was ‘so indiscreet as publicly to drink the Pretender’s health, which drew upon him several unlucky quarrels’, one of which led to the duel in which he was killed. It is said that his death in the duel was ‘no great wonder, for he had from childhood such a weakness in both his arms that he could not stretch them'. He was unmarried and without issue.
He and his sisters inherited the lease of Frogmore House from his father in 1700, but sold it to the Duke of Northumberland in 1709. He retained Little Frogmore and the Shaw estate, however, and these passed after his death and those of his sisters to the senior branch of the family. His father's Shiplake property also passed to the three siblings, but it was sold in 1738/9.
He was killed in a duel by Col. Chudleigh, 21 September 1714, and was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, 28 September 1714.

Principal sources

Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 2003, pp. 490-91; Calendar of Treasury Books, vol. 8, 1923, pp. 1685-89; VCH Berkshire, vol. 3, 1923, pp. 247-60; N. Smith, 'Frogmore House before James Wyatt', Antiquaries Journal, 1985, pp. 402-26; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy, 1701-1800, 1997, pp. 13, 701-02; J. Roberts, Royal Landscape: the gardens and parks of Windsor, 1997, ch. 16; Historical Manuscripts Commission, Principal family and estate collections, L-W, 1998, pp. 36-39; S. Jeffery, 'Fox's 'Extraordinarily Fine' Chiswick Garden', Brentford and Chiswick Local History Journal, no. 15, 2006; G. Tyack, S. Bradley & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Berkshire, 2nd edn., 2010, pp. 338-39, 677-83; History of Parliament biographies of Charles Aldworth (d. 1714), Richard Aldworth (1615-80) and William Aldworth (d. 1700); unpublished genealogical notes compiled by Deborah Hodgdon, in the possession of the author.

Location of archives

Aldworth and Neville families of Stanlake and Billingbear: deeds, manorial and hundred court records; estate, legal and family papers, 1221-1930 [Berkshire Record Office, D/EN]

Coat of arms

Argent, a chevron gules between three boars heads couped erect and ten crosses crosslet fitchee azure.

Can you help?

  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 18 December 2019. I am most grateful for the assistance of Deborah Hodgdon, who kindly shared with me her research on this family.