|Barrett of Milton Manor House|
The house and estate remains the property of Bryant Barrett's descendants, and remarkably has had just seven owners since 1764. Barrett's first wife died without issue in 1768 and the following year, when he was fifty-five, he married again, this time to a member of the leading Catholic family in the area, the Eystons. By his second wife he had six sons (two of whom became Catholic priests) and two daughters. His eldest son, John Richard Barrett (1771-1843), began an apprenticeship in the weaving trade in London in 1788, and the intention was probably that in due course he should take over the management of the gold and silver lace-making business. However, it seems unlikely that this ever happened, as his father died in 1790 before he had completed his term, and he probably took over the management of the Milton estate instead. When Bryant Barrett retired in 1786, he left the business in the hands of John Barrett and Thomas Corney. The John Barrett in the firm cannot have been Bryant's son (who was only fifteen in 1786 and had not yet begun his apprenticeship), but must have been a close relative. The business continued to trade as Barrett & Corney (and later as Barrett, Corney and Carney) until 1811, when Thomas Corney died. At that point the firm ceased trading and the shop stock of gold and silver wires, spangles, laces etc. and raw and dyed silks was auctioned off.
John Richard Barrett became a magistrate in Berkshire when the last anti-Catholic restrictions were finally lifted in the early 19th century, and he seems to have engaged with the administrative work of the justices of the peace as well as their judicial functions. He married four times but at his death left only one son and two daughters. His son, and the heir to Milton, was John Basil Barrett (1818-86), who comes across as a very traditional Berkshire squire, distinguished chiefly by his Catholic faith from many others who shared his preoccupations with foxhunting, farming and local public affairs. He was, however, keen on technical innovations in farming, and put a lot of money into improving steam ploughing. He and his wife had two sons and four daughters, and on his death in 1886 Milton passed first to his widow (d. 1897), and then to his elder son, Louis Arthur Barrett (1869-1951), who never married. Perhaps because, as a bachelor, he found the house absurdly large for his needs, by 1908 he had moved out to a farm on the estate. The fine library built up by Bryant Barrett in the 18th century was dispersed at a Sothebys auction in 1911, and although the house was not abandoned it became neglected. It was requisitioned by the Government during the Second World War, when a lack of maintenance took a further toll on the fabric, but after the war Mr Barrett leased the house to his sister-in-law, who lived here with her daughter, and the eventual heir to Milton, Marjorie Mockler (1910-90). Marjorie, who was a passionate enthusiast for the house, its contents, and the family tradition it represented, gradually nursed the house back to life in the 1950s, helped by grant-aid and the income from opening the house to the public, which she began to do in 1951. By the 1970s, when I knew her, she was a brisk, elegant woman who enjoyed the company of those who shared her enthusiasm for the house, and she helped me enormously with my first country house research project through her advice and her generosity with introductions. After her death in 1990, Milton passed to her elder son, Anthony Mockler-Barrett (b. 1936), who took the additional name Barrett at the request of his great-uncle, and who remains the owner today.
Milton Manor House, BerkshireA charming house consisting of a square central block in the 'Artisan Mannerist' style, probably built for Paul Calton soon after his marriage in 1659, with flanking wings added in 1764-69 by Stephen Wright for Bryant Barrett.
|Milton Manor House: the entrance front photographed by John Piper in the mid 20th century. Image: Tate Gallery Archive 8728/1/2/156.|
The five bay central block is a fine example of the compact, classically inspired and Dutch-influenced red brick houses which became popular around London in the mid 17th century. Its date has been the subject of much debate, since a stylistically incredible tradition (which was already current when the house was sold in 1764) that it was designed by Inigo Jones has prompted some writers to suggest a date before the Civil War, while a reference to it being 'newly built' in 1696 has misled others. In practice it seems to have been built between 1659, when Paul Calton was given the estate on his marriage, and 1663, when the house was taxed on 19 hearths, which would be about right for the completed building. Calton's wife brought him a dowry in the form of a one-sixth share of an estate in the Isle of Ely, which the couple sold in 1661, and which no doubt funded the building of the new house. After 1666 Calton was raising money by mortgaging parts of the estate, and by the 1690s the bailiffs were in possession, seeking payment of a debt which was disputed between Calton and his son. It seems unlikely, therefore, that a date much after 1663 is feasible. The designer could have been Peter Mills, for the house is clearly influenced by the form of Thorpe Hall (Hunts), a house that may well have been familiar to Calton's wife, Susanna Ballam, who came from the Isle of Ely.
The house has three storeys above the basement, a wooden modillion cornice, hipped roof, and lanky Ionic giant pilasters of stone that articulate the east and west fronts. As originally built, there were dormers in the roof and taller chimneystacks (removed after 1771), which would have added yet more height to the composition. The giant pilasters are coupled at the angles, but the outer ones turn rather awkwardly into flat raised quoins above the stringcourse that separates the ground and first floors. The pilasters are further decorated with fleurs-de-lys at first floor level and have carved wreaths between the volutes of the capitals which are very like those on the College of Arms building in London (of 1671-73).
|Milton Manor House: garden front in 2007. Adapted from an image by Des Blenkinsopp. Some rights reserved.|
|Milton Manor House: sketch ground plan of central block (wings omitted).|
Milton is a double-pile house with the rooms on the two fronts divided by a wall running from north to south that contains all the chimneystacks and rises from the basement to the attic. It is also divided from east to west on each floor by a passage (as was also the case at Thorpe Hall), with the result that each floor is divided into four segments. The main entrance on the east front leads into one end of the ground floor cross passage, which is here separated from the hall in the north-east corner by rounded wooden arches. The hall itself has an elaborate wooden chimneypiece which formerly stood in a second-floor bedroom. The fireplace is flanked by thick carved garlands and the overmantel incorporates a still life painting of game birds set below a cartouche of the Calton arms held between a pair of robustly-carved ladies holding cornucopias. According to tradition, the overmantel was designed by John Webb for Gunnersbury House (c.1658-63) and was moved to Milton after Gunnersbury was rebuilt in 1801.
|Milton Manor House: hall chimneypiece brought from a second-floor|
bedroom, with an overmantel formerly at Gunnersbury House.
Image: Country Life.
|Milton Manor House: drawing room chimneypiece. |
Image: Country Life.
The drawing room stands on the other side of the corridor, in the south-east corner, and has an original plaster ceiling, subdivided by beams decorated with oak leaves into nine compartments of unequal size, each of which has a laurel wreath in the centre. The panelling and cornice of the room are, however, 18th century. The south-west corner is occupied by the staircase, which is of oak and rises round a narrow open well from the ground floor. The balustrade is composed of robust turned balusters, now regrettably painted white in contrast to the dark oak of the simple newel posts and moulded handrail. The north-west corner of the house is occupied by the dining room, which was redecorated when the wings were added, and has plain panelling, two round-headed serving niches on the north wall, and a pedimented overmantel, carved by Stephen Laurence, which seems not to fit the much broader fireplace beneath. On the first floor the decoration is simpler and was altered more in the 18th century, when one bedroom and its dressing room were given a Chinese wallpaper.
|Milton Manor House: the library in the south wing, completed in 1772. Image: A.F. Kersting/Historic England.|
The south wing added between 1764 and 1772 contains on the ground floor a library and above it, a Catholic chapel. Both rooms, rather unexpectedly, are Gothick, and this is still the light, Rococo Gothick of Strawberry Hill (where Stephen Laurence, who is known to have done carving at the house, also worked) and of William Kent, for whom Stephen Wright had worked in the 1740s, and some of whose buildings he completed. The library has a plain ceiling but ogee-arched bookcases with clustered shafts supporting canopies containing quatrefoil decoration, and similar window surrounds with Gothick pendants in the embrasures. The chapel above is less playful, with low-relief panelling formed of interlaced ogee arches, but has an ornamented coved plaster ceiling with thin ribs and pendants. The sanctuary windows have late 14th century stained glass brought here from Steventon church, and also some 16th century Dutch glass, installed when the chapel was built in 1772.
|Milton Manor House: the chapel. Image: A.F. Kersting/Historic England.|
At the time of the 18th century remodelling, the grounds were laid out for Bryant Barrett, with lawns surrounding the house and a small serpentine lake facing the entrance front. It is possible that the design was produced by Stephen Wright, although he is not otherwise known as a landscape designer, but given Barrett's Catholic faith and connections, it is also possible that he engaged Richard Woods (1715-93), who worked for so many Catholic patrons in the south of England, and who has three known commissions in Berkshire.
Descent: Crown granted 1546 to Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, who sold later the same year to Thomas Calton of London, goldsmith; to widow (d. 1571); to grandson, Thomas Calton (c.1563-87); to son, Paul Calton (d. 1637); to kinsman, Robert Calton of Goring, who in 1639 settled it on his son Robert Calton (b. 1592), who in turn in 1659 settled it on his son, Paul Calton, who rebuilt it; he also settled it on his son, Paul Calton, in 1688 but subsequently fell out with him; to son, Paul Calton (d. 1752); to sisters and co-heirs, who sold 1764 to Bryant Barrett (1714-90), who added the wings; to son, John Richard Barrett (1771-1843); to son, John Basil Barrett (1818-86); to widow, Ellen Barrett (c.1837-97); to son, Louis Arthur Barrett (1869-1951); to niece, Marjorie Mockler (1910-90); to son, Anthony Bryan Patrick Barrett (later Moulton-Barrett) (b. 1936).
Barrett family of Milton Manor House
Barrett, Bryant (1714-90). Third and youngest son of Nicholas Barrett (d. 1721) of London, wax chandler, and his wife Letitia (d. 1735?), daughter of Isaac Hancock, baptised at St Clement Danes, London, 29 August 1714. Apprenticed to William Basnett, weaver, in London, 1730. He became a gold and silver lace maker and merchant in The Strand, London, and built a profitable business from the supply of luxury fabrics to the Court and the elite. He held a royal warrant for the supply of such goods to the Royal Mews and when he retired from business in 1786, he was succeeded by John Barrett (no doubt a relation but apparently not his son, who had not yet served his apprenticeship) and Thomas Corney, who continued the business until Corney's death in 1811. A study of the library of some 2,000 volumes which he built up (and catalogues of which survive), reveals him as an eminently practical man who was also an intellectual: a devout Roman Catholic who was also a well-read man of the world. He married 1st, 3 September 1750, Mary (d. 1768), daughter of Maurice Belson of Stokenchurch and Aston Rowant (Oxon), and 2nd, 19 December 1769 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Winifred (d. c.1826), daughter of Thomas John Eyston of East Hendred (Berks), and had issue including:
(2.1) John Richard Barrett (1771-1843) (q.v.);
(2.2) (Joseph) Bryant Barrett (1773-1818), born at Milton, 28 October 1773; probably a solicitor at Grays Inn and perhaps in partnership with his younger brother; married, 18 September 1804 at St George, Hanover Sq., London, Martha, daughter of Thomas Richard Spence, and had issue two daughters; died in March 1818; will proved in the PCC, 14 June 1821;
(2.3) Charles Isaac Barrett (1775-1832), born at Milton, 25 April 1775; married and had issue; buried at St John, Waterloo, Lambeth (Surrey), 14 February 1832;
(2.4) James William Barrett (1776-1864), born at Milton, 24 July 1776; educated at Douai College; said to have been the first Roman Catholic to be admitted a solicitor after the relaxation of the penal laws; practised in Abingdon (Berks) and at Grays Inn; married, 25 January 1808 at St Pancras (Middx), Mary Maria (1787-1855?), daughter of Samuel Tibbitts, and had issue two sons and six daughters; died at Speen Hill, Newbury (Berks), 20 February 1864; will proved 23 April 1864 (effects under £14,000);
(2.5) Fr. George Barrett (b. 1779), born at Milton, 10 April 1779; educated at St. Omer but was forced to return to England by the French Revolution and went subsequently to Douai College in exile at Crook Hall (Co. Durham), where he trained as a Roman Catholic priest, and was subsequently priest at East Hendred (Berks); living in 1815;
(2.6) Mary Letitia Barrett (1780-1841?), born at Milton, 15 May 1780; unmarried and living in 1815; probably the Letitia Barrett who was buried at St Pancras (Middx), 19 May 1841;
(2.7) Fr. Basil Richard Barrett (1781-1858), born at Milton, 11 May 1781; educated at St. Omer but was forced to return to England by the French Revolution and went subsequently to Douai College at Crook Hall (Co. Durham); ordained as a Roman Catholic priest about July 1806, and served at Pocklington (Yorks ER) and Yealand Conyers (Lancs), where he wrote a Life of Cardinal Ximenes (1813) and other works; in 1818 he seems to have had a mental breakdown, and after an unsuccessful attempt to return to work at a chapel in Lincolns Inn Fields he was in 1821 placed in the care of Dr. Edward Long Fox at Brislington House Asylum, Bristol, from where he was removed in 1829 to a hospital for the care of invalid priests at Froidement (Belgium), where he died 3 May 1858;
(2.8) Sarah Winifred Barrett (1783-1857), born at Milton, 17 June 1783; died unmarried in Worcester, 6 December, and was buried at Overbury (Worcs) RC burial ground, 12 December 1857; will proved 20 February 1858 (estate under £2,000).
He purchased the Milton Manor estate in 1764, and added the wings.
He was buried at Milton, 7 April 1790; his will was proved in the PCC, 17 April 1790. His first wife died 9 December and was buried at Milton, 20 December 1768. His widow died in about 1826; her will was proved 18 January 1827.
Barrett, John Richard (1771-1843). Eldest son of Bryant Barrett (1714-90) and his wife Winifred, daughter of Thomas John Eyston of East Hendred (Berks), born at Milton, 30 September 1771. Apprenticed to Timothy Elsam of London, weaver, 1788. JP for Berkshire and a member of the Finance Committee of Quarter Sessions. He married 1st, Louisa Grano (c.1777-99); 2nd, 11 May 1800 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Martha Thorne (d. 1811) of 'Hallutt' [recte Hulcott?] (Bucks); 3rd, 21 November 1812 at St Katherine Cree, London, Martha (1794-1818), daughter of Charles Norrington; and 4th, 14 May 1821 at Sutton Courtenay (Berks), Elizabeth (c.1782-1862), daughter and co-heir of Francis Elderfield of The Manor House, Sutton Courtenay, and had issue:
(2.1) Elizabeth Barrett (1802-93), born 2 July and was baptised 3 July 1802; married John Hutchinson Bourne (1804-45), Chief Justice of Newfoundland, son of John Bourne of Eastwood (Notts), and had issue; died 27 December and was buried in Reading Cemetery, 30 December 1893;
(2.2) John Richard Barrett (b. & d. 1804); buried at Milton, 25 August 1804;
(2.3) John Richard Barrett (d. 1806); buried at Milton, 12 August 1806;
(2.4) George Barrett (c.1810-38), said to have been born 27 October and was baptised 28 October 1812, but this cannot be right as his mother died in September 1811; died unmarried in the lifetime of his father, 15 March 1838, and was buried at St Mary RC church, Moorfields, London;
(3.1) Louisa Catherine Barrett (1813-94), born 14 September and baptised at Catholic chapel in Lincoln's Inn Fields, 27 September 1813; married, 9 August 1849, Martin Archer Shee QC (1804-99), son of Sir Martin Archer Shee PRA, but had no issue; died 22 April 1894;
(3.2) John Basil Barrett (1818-86) (q.v.).
He inherited the Milton Manor estate from his father.
He died 9 or 14 November 1843; his will was proved in the PCC, 19 March 1844. His first wife was buried at Cowes (IoW), 27 July 1799. His second wife died at Milton, 11 September 1811. His third wife was buried at Milton, 12 April 1818. His widow died 30 November 1862.
Barrett, John Basil (1818-86). Only surviving son of John Richard Barrett (1771-1843) by his third wife, Martha, daughter of Charles Norrington, said to have born 29 August and baptised 30 August 1818, but this cannot be right as his mother died in April 1818. Educated at Oscott College, Birmingham and then articled clerk to William Robert Hall of Hungerford, solicitor, 1838. JP for Berkshire from 1844; Steward of Abingdon Wool Fair, 1847, 1857; Chairman of Abingdon Highway Board. He was a pioneer of steam ploughing, and invested a good deal of money in developing that technology. He was also a keen foxhunting man, riding with the Old Berkshire and Vale of White Horse Hunts. A Roman Catholic in religion. He married, 10 October 1861 at Abingdon RC church, Ellen (c.1837-97), eldest daughter and co-heiress of John Box of Abingdon (Berks) and The Priory, Great Milton (Oxon), and had issue:
(1) Ellen Mary Louisa Barrett (1863-69), born 2 May and baptised at East Hendred RC church, 20 May 1863; died young, 7 November and was buried at Milton, 9 November 1869;
(2) Theresa Barrett (1864-1928), born 2 July and baptised at East Hendred RC church, 14 July 1864; died unmarried at Torquay (Devon), 25 November 1928; will proved 23 January 1929 (estate £6,143);
(3) John Basil Joseph Barrett (1865-81), born 1 December and baptised at East Hendred RC church, 12 December 1865; died young at Milton, 9 March and was buried at Milton, 16 March 1881;
(4) George Bryant Martin Barrett (1867-83), born 23 October and baptised at East Hendred RC church, 5 November 1867; died young at Ramsgate (Kent), 6 May 1883;
(5) Louis Arthur Barrett (1869-1951) (q.v.);
(6) Herbert Augustine Barrett (1871-1941) (q.v.);
He inherited the Milton Manor estate from his father in 1843. At his death it passed to his widow for life and then to his elder surviving son.
He died 27 December 1886 and was buried at Milton, 3 January 1887; his will was proved 9 May 1887 (effects £5,757). His widow died 17 March and was buried at Milton, 22 March 1897.
Barrett, Louis Arthur (1869-1951). Third, but oldest surviving, son of John Basil Barrett (1818-86) and his wife Ellen, eldest daughter and co-heiress of John Box of Abingdon (Berks) and The Priory, Great Milton (Oxon), born 25 August and was baptised at East Hendred RC church, 31 August 1869. Educated at Beaumont College. A Roman Catholic in religion. He seems to have had few interests outside farming, and took no part in public affairs. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited the Milton Manor estate on the death of his mother in 1897, but probably found the house too big for him as a bachelor. By 1908 the house was unoccupied and in 1911 he sold the library at Sothebys. After 1908 he lived chiefly at Manor Farm.
He died 14 March 1951; his will was proved 7 June 1951 (estate £43,800).
Barrett, Herbert Augustine (1871-1941). Fourth son of John Basil Barrett (1818-86) and his wife Ellen, eldest daughter and co-heiress of John Box of Abingdon (Berks) and The Priory, Great Milton (Oxon), born 26 May and baptised at East Hendred RC church, 5 June 1871. Educated at Beaumont College. Colonial merchant in London and director of Stoughton (Perak) Rubber Plantations Ltd. A Roman Catholic in religion. He married, 1 June 1907 at Buckland RC church (Berks), Florence Constance (1882-1956), daughter of Richard Stephen Watton Teevan, and had issue:
(1) Marjorie Mary Barrett (1910-90) (q.v.).
He lived at Overy Manor, Dorchester-on-Thames (Oxon) and at 1 Kent Terrace, Regent's Park, London.
He died 16 January 1941; his will was proved 25 April 1941 (estate £12,393). His widow died 17 May 1956; her will was proved 16 July 1956 (estate £8,951).
Barrett, Marjorie Mary (1910-90). Only child of Herbert Augustine Barrett (1871-1941) of Overy Manor, Dorchester-on-Thames (Oxon) and his wife Florence Constance, daughter of Richard Stephen Watton Teevan, born 9 June 1910. A Roman Catholic in religion. She married, 9 February 1935 in Malta, Surgeon-Capt. Edmond Joseph Mockler MB DPH RN (1902-83), son of Thomas Mockler of Ardeen, Blackrock (Co. Cork), and had issue:
(1) Anthony Bryan Patrick Mockler (b. 1936) (q.v.);
(2) Jacqueline Frances Mockler (b. 1939), born Apr-Jun 1939;
(3) Suzanne Mary Mockler (b. 1941), born in Singapore, 9 July 1941; had a brief career as an actress; married, July 1976, John M. von Pflügl, antiques dealer, and had issue one daughter;
(4) Christopher Geoffrey Mockler (b. 1945), born January 1945; educated at Hertford College, Oxford (matriculated 1963; MA); public affairs and policy adviser with Conservative Party research department in 1970s and more recently in the health sector; married, 17 June 1968 in the chapel at Milton Manor, Lucy, elder daughter of John van Sickle of Barnstaple, Massachusetts (USA), and had issue two sons.
She inherited the Milton Manor estate from her uncle, Louis Arthur Barrett, in 1951, restored the house and opened it to the public.
She died 18 November 1990 and was buried at St Mary's RC churchyard, East Hendred; her will was proved 7-8 January 1991 (estate £1,881,263). Her husband died 20 January 1983 and was buried at St Mary's RC churchyard, East Hendred; his will was proved 23 May 1983 (estate £79,523).
Mockler (later Mockler-Barrett), Anthony Bryan Patrick (b. 1936). Elder son of Surgeon-Capt. Edmond J. Mockler MB DPH RN and his wife Marjorie Mary, daughter of Herbert Augustine Barrett of Overy Manor, Dorchester-on-Thames (Oxon), born 18 February 1936. Barrister-at-law, but practised only briefly before embarking on a varied career as a breeder of Shetland ponies, the proprietor of a package holiday company, and an author of historical biographies of figures as varied as Haile Selassie, Cardinal Newman and Graham Greene. He has campaigned for the Vale of White Horse to be returned from Oxfordshire to Berkshire, built new thatched cottages on his estate, and stood for Parliament in Wantage as a Wessex Regionalist (in 1983). A Roman Catholic in religion. He is unmarried and without issue, but lives in a partnership with the actress and comedienne, Gwenda Marsh.
He lived in Hammersmith before inheriting the Milton Manor estate from his mother in 1990.
Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, p.121; J.J. Howard & F.A. Crisp, The visitation of England & Wales, vol. 8, 1893, p. 57; A. Oswald, 'The Manor House, Milton, Berkshire', Country Life, 17 December 1948, pp. 1274-77 and 24 December 1948, pp. 1330-33; G. Worsley, 'Milton Manor, Berkshire', Country Life, 14 November 1991, pp. 58-61; A. Gomme & A. Maguire, Design and plan in the country house, 2008, pp. 144, 214-15; G. Tyack, S. Bradley & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Berkshire, 2nd edn., 2010, pp. 385-87.
Location of archives
Barrett family of Milton Manor House: deeds, manorial records, estate and family papers, 16th-19th cents. [Berkshire Record Office, D/EBt]. Some further records are understood to remain at the house.
Coat of arms
Gules on a chief indented argent, three escallops of the field.
Can you help?
- Can anyone provide further information about the careers of the younger children of Bryant Barrett (1714-90), and particularly a date of death for Fr. George Barrett?
- 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.
This post was first published 22 February 2020 and was updated 9 August 2020.