Wednesday 10 July 2019

(382) Barker of Gaskyns and Dulas Court

This family had long roots in the Yorkshire textile industry, and settled in Wakefield (Yorks WR), where they were woollen and carpet manufacturers over several generations. In 1783, John Barker (1758-1811) married Mary (1762-91), the daughter of Joshua Heatherington (d. 1764), a man of considerable property in Wakefield who had left his estate to his wife, Hannah. Mary's mother had subsequently remarried to another woolstapler named Thomas Crowther  (d. 1810) and produced another daughter, Hannah, who married John Egremont of Reedness Hall near Goole (Yorks). When Crowther died in 1810, he left his whole estate to Hannah and her husband, including the money which he had acquired through his wife from the Heatheringtons; the Barker descendants of Mary Heatherington were ignored. Hannah is said to have felt this was wrong, but since the inheritance was controlled by her husband who did not share her scruples, she could do nothing about it.  Awareness of the injustice seems to have been perpetuated within the family, however, and when Hannah's granddaughter, Jane Crane Maitland, died in 1928, she left the bulk of her estate of some £15,000 to her half second cousin twice removed, Frederick Lynch Barker (1904-80), on condition that he took the additional names Egremont-Lee. 

The sons of John Barker (1758-1811) followed him in the woollen and carpet manufacturing business, and his youngest son, John Barker (1789-1841) moved to London to act as the firm's agent. Unfortunately the business struggled and the partners became bankrupt in 1811 and again in 1826. After that, John seems to have established a more general wool-broking business in London, which seems to have been more successful, and the latter part of his life was lived in some prosperity at Clapham Common, although one source suggests that he lost a lot of money at the end of his life in a tea speculation. I have found no evidence to confirm that, but his elder son, John Barker (1824-1906), became a coffee merchant, so he at least had connections with the trade. His younger son, Frederick Barker (1825-1906), moved to Leeds and became the agent for the Leeds Iron Works, who were manufacturers of wrought iron, and he may also have had interests in the family's woollen industry businesses in Yorkshire. Whether from these sources or through inheritance, he was wealthy enough when he retired in the 1880s to buy the Gaskyns estate in Sussex and built a country house there to replace the existing yeoman farmer's house. This was his home for the rest of his life, and was handed on to his only surviving son, (Geoffrey) Claude Barker (1870-1961), who played a leading part in village life until 1930.  For reasons which remain obscure, Claude and his wife seem then to have decided to move to Herefordshire, a part of the country with which neither seems to have had any previous association. In 1929 he bought Dulas Court, a house of about the same size as Gaskyns, and at once put in hand alterations and additions to the property. When these were complete, he sold Gaskyns and relocated. Judging by the press reports of the fond farewell organised by the people of Rudgwick, he was sad to leave and the local people were sad to see him go. So why did he? It has previously been speculated that he had lost money in the Great Depression and was forced to move, but even though Gaskyns in fashionable Sussex was probably worth more than he paid for Dulas Court the running costs would have been similar and he invested in improving Dulas before moving in, so a purely financial motive seems unlikely. He remained at Dulas until shortly before his death, and it was sold soon after his widow died in 1965, later to become a care home for the elderly. It was Claude's eldest son, Frederick Lynch Barker (1904-80), who received the inheritance from Jane Crane Maitland in 1928 and took the additional surnames Egremont-Lee. He became a company director and lived latterly in Essex. His younger brother, Alan Meek Barker (1906-96), became a solicitor and was for many years Diocesan Registrar for Salisbury diocese, and several of Claude's daughters married into landowning families.

Gaskyns, Rudgwick, Sussex

The site was formerly occupied by a semi-timbered yeoman's farmhouse called Gaskins which belonged in the 19th century to the Bunny (later St. John) family of Slinfold. (Confusingly, there is another farmhouse at Slinfold of the same name). In the late 1880s the property was acquired by Frederick Barker (1825-1906), who pulled down the old farmhouse and built a new mansion, completed in 1892. His architect is not certain, but was perhaps William Henry Harrison, who certainly designed the semi-timbered lodge cottages at the bottom of the drive, for which he published designs in 1894. If the house was also designed by Harrison, who qualified as an architect in 1889 and died in 1925, it would be one of his earliest commissions. 
Gaskyns, Rudgwick: the house in about 1920, from an old postcard.

The house consists of two parallel brick ranges of different heights, with oversailing semi-timbered gable ends, connected by a lower block, which has been much reworked in later alterations. The ground-floor window of the canted bay under the left-hand gable was originally treated as an 'Ipswich window' of a form which was particularly fashionable in about 1890.

Gaskyns, Rudgwick: the house today forms the main block of Pennthorpe School.

After the Barker family sold the house in 1930 it seems to have remained unoccupied, with the new owner, a London film dealer, living in one of the lodge cottages. The house was requisitioned for military use in the Second World War, and sold afterwards to Pennthorpe School, which remains in occupation. The school acquired only part of the site, which has since been intensively developed with school buildings; the remainder of the land was sold for housing development in 1963.

Descent: built c.1890 for Frederick Barker (1825-1906); to son, (Geoffrey) Claude Barker (1870-1961); sold 1930 to David Jamilly; sold 1947 to Pennthorpe School.

Dulas Court, Herefordshire

The Dulas estate belonged by Elizabethan times to a branch of the Parrys of Newcourt, who built a modest house here in Jacobean times, which was added to in the Georgian period. It remained 'a small square house, built of rubble stone', with a small two-cell Norman and 13th century parish church close to its east side, when it was sold to the Rev. R.M. Feilden in 1857. The house seems, up to this point, to have been a sporting estate rather than a permanent residence: among its attractions were 109 acres of woodland 'well adapted for the preservation of game' and the good fishing in the Dulas Brook, but there were no gardens to speak of. Lt-Col. Robert Feilden, who inherited the estate in 1862, however, made it his main residence, and he brought in George Cowley Haddon (1839-85), (who was at this time in partnership with the older Edmund Wallace Elmslie and Frederick Franey in Hereford and London) to rebuild the house and to replace the old church with a new building (now redundant and being converted into holiday accommodation) across the main road to the south of the house.

Dulas Court: the east and south fronts of the house as remodelled in 1864-65 and 1930.
The new house was built in 1864-65 at a cost of approximately £6,000, and incorporated the predecessor building, which was encased in new stone-built reception rooms in a restrained Gothic style. Inside, the reception rooms were given much imported 17th-18th century panelling and carving. The dining room appears to retain its original 18th century decoration, and the drawing room added by Haddon on the south-west corner of the house has a good late 18th century marble chimneypiece with terms. Haddon also added a 'bold and lofty' entrance porch on the east front and a long service wing to the north. Rebuilding of the church followed in 1865-66, after which the old church was demolished and the site cleared to form a lawn. Some sculptured fragments of the Norman west doorway were reused to form a doorway into the walled garden which was created north of the house, a new drive was laid out from the south-east with a lodge at the end, and a pleasure garden was created between the house and the Dulas Brook.

Dulas Court: the garden (west) front showing the tower added in 1930.

The house seems to have remained in this form until it was sold in 1929 to Claude Barker, who at once remodelled it. He added a new central tower with a higher battlemented stair-turret, converted the Victorian porch into a porte cochere, and added two shallow bow windows next to the porch on the north side. Inside, he created a new top-lit rear staircase.

Descent: Rev. William Parry (d. 1767); to nephews, John Parry and Rev. Thomas Parry... sold 1827 to Rev. William Hopton of Canon Frome; to son, James Michael Parsons Hopton (d. 1855); to widow, who sold 1857 to Rev. Robert Mosley Feilden (c.1794-1862), rector of Bebington (Cheshire); to son, Lt-Col. Robert Feilden (1824-74), who rebuilt the house; to executors, who leased the house to Rev. John Thomas Cyril Stacey (1827-95) and later Cecil Butler (fl. 1891); sold to John Charles Tyrwhitt Drake (1834-1915) of Shardeloes (Bucks)...sold 1929 to (Geoffrey) Claude Barker (1870-1961); sold 1965 and converted into a residential care home.

Barker family of Gaskyns and Dulas Court

Barker, John (1758-1811). Possibly the son of John Barker (1733-1808) of Wakefield and his wife Hannah Soothill, born 1758 and perhaps the child of this name baptised at Elland (Yorks), 8 October and or 12 December 1758. Woolstapler in Wakefield; Constable of Wakefield, 1799-1801. He married, 19 January 1783 at Wakefield, Mary (1762-91), daughter of Joshua Heatherington (d. 1764), and had issue:
(1) Richard Henry Barker (1783-1816), born 15 October and baptised at Wakefield, 22 November 1783; married, 1 December 1806 at Wakefield, Charlotte Armitage, but had no issue; died 19 July 1816;
(2) Frederick Augustus Barker (b. 1784); died in infancy;
(3) Thomas Heatherington Barker (1785-1868), baptised at Wakefield, 29 October 1785; carpet and woollen manufacturer at Heckmondwike (bankrupted in 1811 and 1826) and later a cloth merchant in Leeds and a coal merchant of Gomersal; married 22 September 1825 at Thorne (Yorks WR), Mary Rayner (d. 1828), daughter of Thomas Child of Thorne, and had issue; died 20 July 1868 and was buried at Meanwood (Yorks WR);
(4) Harriet Barker (1787-90), baptised at Wakefield, 15 September 1787; died young, 26 April,  and was buried at Wakefield, 29 April 1790;
(5) John Barker (1789-1841) (q.v.);
(6) Eliza Maria Barker (1790-1855), baptised at Wakefield, 8 November 1790; married, 1818 on Corfu (Greece), Robert William St. John (1791-1844), consul-general at Algiers (Algeria), son of Gen. the Hon. Frederick St. John, and had issue three sons and five daughters; died in 1855; will proved at York.
He lived in Wakefield.
He died 4 September and was buried at Wakefield, 9 September 1811. His wife was buried at Wakefield, 20 December 1791.

Barker, John (1789-1841). Fourth son of John Barker (1758-1811) of Wakefield (Yorks WR), and his wife Mary Heatherington, born 26 May and baptised at Wakefield, 27 June 1789. He was in partnership with his brother Thomas and others as carpet and woollen manufacturers at Heckmondwike, and moved to London before 1811 to represent the business in the capital; the firm evidently struggled and became bankrupt in 1811 and again in 1826; John later developed a more broadly-based wool broking business, but at the end of his life he is said to have lost a lot of money in a tea speculation. He married 1st, 16 May 1820 at St Pancras Old Church (Middx), Jane (1800-40), daughter of George Meek of Durham, and 2nd, 14 September 1841 at Stamford Hill chapel (Middx), Elizabeth (b. c.1790), the daughter of William Jervis and widow of Stephen Atkinson (1770-1839) of Beaminster (Dorset), and had issue:
(1.1) Mary Barker (1821-98); married, 22 June 1841 at Holy Trinity, Clapham, Benjamin Oldham (1814-87) of Penge (Surrey), son of Joseph Oldham, gent., and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 23 March 1898;
(1.2) John Barker (1824-1906); coffee merchant in London; lived in Hackney and latterly at St. Leonards-on-Sea (Sussex); married 1st, 3 July 1849 at St Thomas, Hackney (Middx), Frederica Caroline Wood (1830-50), daughter of Lt-Col. John Jervis and had issue one son; married 2nd, 27 April 1858 at Stoke Newington (Middx), Mary Jane (1831-95), daughter of Frank Thomas Gardner of Rogate (Sussex), gent., and had further issue two sons and three daughters; died Apr-Jun 1906;
(1.3) Frederick Barker (1825-1906) (q.v.);
He lived at Clapham Common South Side (Surrey).
He died 16 December 1841 and was buried at Holy Trinity, Clapham (Surrey), 24 December 1841. His first wife died 6 July and was buried at Holy Trinity, Clapham, 11 July 1840. His second wife's date of death is unknown.

Barker, Frederick (1825-1906). Younger son of John Barker (1789-1841) of Battersea, merchant and his wife Jane Meek, born 16 October 1825 and baptised at Holy Trinity, Clapham (Surrey), 3 February 1826. Agent for Leeds Iron Works, Hunslet (closed 1888); Associate of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 1865-80. In 1892 he was the residuary legatee of Maj. Joseph Barker (d. 1892), worsted manufacturer. He married, 27 November 1862 at Wilmington (Kent), Mary Louisa (1843-94), daughter of Rev. George Thomas, vicar of St. Philip, Leeds (Yorks) and had issue (with other stillborn children):
(1) Hilda Frederica Marianne Barker (1864-69), born Jan-Mar 1864 and baptised at Meanwood, Leeds, 3 May 1864; died after eating laburnum seeds in the garden of her parents' house, 27 August 1869, and was buried at St Michael, Headingley, 4 September 1869;
(2) Frederick Hubert Barker (1865-89), born 2 February 1865; died unmarried, 1 November and was buried at St Michael, Headingley, 4 November 1889; administration of his goods granted to his father, 8 October 1892 (estate £197);
(3) Lionel Robert Barker (1866-97), born 30 March 1866; educated at Rossall School; lived at Danefold, West Grinstead (Surrey); married, 25 April 1894 at Rudgwick, Susan Dixon (1868-1962), daughter of William Matthew Peacey, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 29 July 1897; will proved 8 December 1897 (estate £9,365);
(4) Zoe Louisa Barker (1867-87), baptised at St Michael, Headingley, Leeds, 18 July 1867; died unmarried, 15 November, and was buried at St Michael, Headingley, 18 November 1887;
(5) Geoffrey Claude Barker (1870-1961) (q.v.).
He lived at The Priory, Cumberland Rd, Headingley, Leeds until he purchased the Gaskyns estate in the 1880s and built a new house there c.1890-92.
He died 30 November 1906; will proved 6 February 1907 (estate £91,591). His wife died 21 May and was buried at Rudgwick, 23 May 1894.

Barker, (Geoffrey) Claude (1870-1961). Youngest but only surviving son of Frederick Barker (1825-1906) and his wife Mary Louisa, daughter of Rev. George Thomas, vicar of St Philip, Leeds (Yorks), born 27 July and baptised at Headingley, Leeds, 11 September 1870. Educated at Charterhouse and Magdalen College, Oxford (matriculated 1889; BA 1892; MA 1896?). JP for Sussex (1918) and Herefordshire (1933); and chaired the military appeals tribunal for the Horsham district in the First World War. He was a Conservative in politics and a member of West Sussex County Council, Horsham Rural District Council, 1900-30 (latterly its Chairman), Horsham Board of Guardians and Rudgwick Parish Council. He was churchwarden of Rudgwick, 1904-30, choirmaster for almost as long, and President of the Rudgwick Band. As a young man he played cricket for the village team and was involved in amateur dramatics, and he provided grounds for the village cricket and football teams. He married, 9 November 1898 at Stoke by Guildford (Surrey), Dorothy Catherine Florence (1878-1965), elder daughter of Maj-Gen. William Wiltshire Lynch CB, and had issue:
(1) (Dorothy Mary) Cecil Barker (1900-94), born 20 November and baptised at Rudgwick, 20 December 1900; educated at St Hugh's College, Oxford (BA and MA 1927); became a member of the Religious Society of Friends and lived at East Garston (Berks), where a new meeting house was built in the garden of her cottage after her death; died unmarried, 3 January 1994; will proved 21 March 1994 (estate £276,403);
(2) (Agatha) Zoe Barker (1902-91), born 28 August 1902; married, 19 November 1928 at Rudgwick, Maj-Gen. Eric Victor Howard Fairtlough DSO MC (1887-1944) of The Manor House, Blandford St. Mary (Dorset), son of Col. Howard Fairtlough of Hurtmore Hall, Shackleford (Surrey) and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 4 June 1991; will proved 23 September 1991 (estate £19,524);
(3) Maj. Frederick Lynch Barker (later Egremont-Lee-Barker) (1904-80), born 2 February 1904; educated at Charterhouse and Magdalen College, Oxford; as a condition of an inheritance from Jane Crane Maitland in 1928 he changed his name by deed poll to Egremont-Lee-Barker in 1929, but in practice he seems to have been known subsequently as F.L.B. Egremont-Lee; in the 1930s he played squash competitively; he served in Second World War as an officer in the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (Maj.) and was subsequently a company director; married 1st, 3 October 1929 at St Mark, North Audley St., London (div.), Norah Frances (1905-2001), elder daughter of James Henderson, manager of Arracan Co. Ltd., East India merchants, and had issue one son and one daughter (who died unmarried in 1956); married 2nd, 24 September 1952, as her 4th husband, Countess Pauline Laura Aylmer Eugenie (1917-82), daughter of Count Xavier Royal Alfred de Morton de Bearnez de la Chapelle and formerly wife of Philip Harley Marsh (1905-81), Simon William Peel Vickers Fletcher (1910-2002) and Richard Godfrey Williams, but had no issue; died at Burnham-on-Crouch (Essex), 1 September 1980; will proved 2 October 1980 (estate £5,094);
(4) Alan Meek Barker (1906-96), born 21 May 1906; educated at Charterhouse and Magdalen College, Oxford; solicitor in Salisbury; registrar of Diocese of Salisbury, 1945-c.1972; married, 30 September 1933, Dorothy Isabel (1907-2000), daughter of Joseph Alfred Ellison of Hove (Sussex), entertainer, and had issue one son and four daughters; died 9 January 1996; will proved 15 February 1996;
(5) Diana Joan Barker (1908-2007), born 26 January 1908; married 1st, 22 June 1929 at Rudgwick, Lt-Cmdr. Cedric Oswald Henry de Lacy Bacon RN (1901-37), son of Walter de Lacy Bacon of Chiddingstone (Kent), and had issue two daughters; married 2nd, 3 September 1942, as his second wife, Capt. Lennox Albert Knox Boswell DSO RN (1898-1975) of Funtington House (Sussex), son of William Albert Boswell of Kensington (Middx), and had further issue three sons and one daughter; died aged 99 on 25 July 2007;
(6) Elizabeth Mary Barker (1910-2001), born 3 July 1910; married 23 October 1937, Michael Finch Wigham Richardson (1905-88) of Tannery House, Downton (Wilts), son of George B. Richardson of Newcastle-on-Tyne, shipbuilder, and had issue; died 15 January 2001; will proved 21 May 2001;
(7) Prudence Gillian Barker (1912-2001), born 17 May 1912; died unmarried, 27 January 2001; will proved 8 March 2001;
(8) Michael William McLean Barker (1917-82), born 26 June 1917; educated at Charterhouse and Royal Military College, Sandhurst; an officer in the army (Lt.) and subsequently company director; lived latterly at Pant Farm, Cross Ash, Abergavenny (Monmouths.); married, 1971, Mary (d. 2009), daughter of Edward Paget Schofield and widow of Colum Robert Gore-Booth (1913-59); died 24 August 1982; will proved 13 October 1982 (estate under £25,000).
He inherited Gaskyns from his father in 1906, and purchased Dulas Court in 1929; after moving to Dulas he sold Gaskyns in 1930. In view of this sequence of events it seems unlikely that his relocation was motivated by losses in the Great Depression, as has previously been suggested.
He died aged 91 on 8 August 1961; his will was proved 10 October 1961 (estate £10,629). His widow died 20 January 1965; her will was proved 10 March 1965 (estate £13,174).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, pp. 110-11; C.J. Robinson, A history of the mansions and manors of Herefordshire, 1872, p. 113; D. Whitehead, A survey of the historic mansions of Herefordshire, 2001, p. 135; A. Brooks & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Herefordshire, 2nd edn., 2012, pp. 210-11; E. Williamson et al., The buildings of England: Sussex - West, 2019, p. 574;

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to survive.

Coat of arms

None recorded.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone throw more light on the several minor mysteries associated with this family, and in particular on why Claude Barker decided to move from Sussex to Herefordshire in 1930?
  • 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 10 July 2019 and was updated 1 July and 12 July 2020. I am most grateful to Anthony Egerton-Lee for additions and corrections.

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