Monday 22 March 2021

(450) Bathurst of Franks, and Bathurst of Hothorpe, Cirencester and Langwith, Earls Bathurst - part 1

Bathurst of Cirencester
This post is divided into two parts: this section includes the introduction to the family and the descriptions of the houses they built or owned over the last five hundred years; and part 2 contains the biographical and genealogical details of the owners.

The Bathurst family are said to have come originally from Sussex, and to have been of gentry status there in the later middle ages. One Laurence Bathurst sided with the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses and was executed and dispossessed of his estates by King Edward IV after the defeat of King Henry VI at the Battle of Hexham in 1463. Laurence's descendants lived afterwards at Canterbury and Cranbrook (Kent), and his great-grandson, Edward Bathurst, moved to Staplehurst (Kent), where he owned lands. One of Edward's sons, Lancelot Bathurst (1529-96), became a London grocer and later alderman of the City, and it was evidently his wealth that returned the family to the ranks of the gentry. Like so many of his contemporaries, he invested his surplus capital in land, ending up with a scattered portfolio of property across south-east England. The two most important estates were, however, a manor at Sutton-at-Hone (Kent) and the nearby Franks Hall estate at Horton Kirby (Kent), where Lancelot built a sophisticated and fashionable new mansion in about 1590. These two properties formed the basis of a compact estate that eventually extended along the Darent valley to Hawley. Lancelot Bathurst (with whom the genealogy in part 2 of this post begins) and his wife Judith had ten known children, all of whom seem to have lived to maturity. Franks Hall passed to his eldest son, Randolph Bathurst (1576-1644), but several of the younger sons seem to have settled on the estate as well, although they may have combined farming with mercantile occupations in London, which was within easy reach. At the end of his life, Randolph Bathurst took part in the so-called 'Kentish rebellion' of 1643 against attempts by the Parliamentarian County Committee to make every adult in the county take a 'Solemn Vow and Covenant' declaring their support for the Parliamentary army. This rising was swiftly put down and prominent participants, including Bathurst, were heavily fined. Unfortunately, the parish registers for Horton Kirby do not survive before the late 17th century, so there are many gaps in the genealogical record, including the precise date of death of Randolph Bathurst, who was alive in October 1643 but dead by the following March. Franks Hall descended to his eldest surviving son, Sir Edward Bathurst (c.1603-80?), kt., who had been knighted by King Charles I in 1625, and who has frequently been confused with his contemporary and namesake, Sir Edward Bathurst of Lechlade (1603-74), who was made a baronet in 1642 [the Bathursts of Lechlade will be the subject of a future post]. Sir Edward Bathurst of Franks seems to have been a more moderate Royalist than his father, and seems to have avoided further trouble during the Civil War, his sequestration being discharged in 1648.

It was perhaps because of the turbulent conditions in England and the presence of the exiled court on the continent that Sir Edward's only surviving son, Thomas, was sent to the University of Leiden, when he graduated as a Doctor of Medicine in 1659. He returned to England at the Restoration of the Monarchy and evidently intended to practice medicine, for he joined the Royal College of Physicians in 1662, although we know nothing about his medical career. He was knighted in 1665 but did not succeed to the Franks estate until 1680, and he enjoyed it for less than a decade before his own death in 1688. His heir was his elder surviving son, Francis Bathurst (1667-1738), who produced two sons and a daughter by his first wife in the 1690s. Sadly, the two sons both died in 1709 - presumably of an infectious disease, since they were buried on the same day - and three further marriages over the next fifteen years failed to produce a new male heir. Francis was therefore obliged to make his daughter, Berenice (1692-1748) his heir. She married Joseph Fletcher of London, but by 1730 was living apart from him, having had only a daughter, Susan Fletcher (1721-57), who became her heir and inherited Franks Hall in 1748. Susan married a solicitor, John Tasker (c.1720-96), but they had no children, and on Susan's death in 1757, the estate passed to him absolutely, and so out of the Bathurst family.

Returning to the children of Lancelot Bathurst (1529-96), the youngest but one son was George Bathurst (1589-1656), who was sent to Trinity College, Oxford in 1605, where he formed an attachment to Elizabeth Villiers (1594-1650) the young stepdaughter of the Principal, Dr. Kettel. They were married in 1610, and the Villiers estate at Hothorpe and Theddingworth, either side of the Northamptonshire-Leicestershire border was settled on the young couple. Although George's income at the time of his marriage was as little as £300 a year, the estate provided a good income, which is just as well, for the couple enjoyed notable fecundity, producing thirteen sons and four daughters, all but one of whom lived to maturity, between 1612 and 1638. Kippis tells us that the children were 'very ingenious and prosperous in the world, and most of them handsome', which seems to be borne out by the biographical details which can be assembled about them and surviving portraits. Kippis is less accurate, however, when he tells us that six of the thirteen sons were killed in the Civil War. Although the family were ardently loyal to the Royalist cause, only the eldest son, George Bathurst (1612-44), who was a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, is definitely known to have perished in arms, dying from a wound in the thigh at the siege of Faringdon (Berks). Another son, Thomas Bathurst (b. 1626), who was apprenticed to a London grocer during the Civil War, may also have been a war casualty, as there seems to be no record of him after the war. Of the ten other sons, Edward (1614-68) became a clergyman; John (1616-56) was a London fishmonger; James (1618-82) went to Ireland; Ralph (1620-1704) was a polymath with the unusual distinctiion of being both a doctor of medicine and a doctor of divinity, and became President of Trinity College, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Wells Cathedral; Henry (1623-76) was a barrister, who became a judge in Ireland; Lancelot (1624-69), Samuel (1627-66?) and Moses (1628-1705) became merchants in London, and Moses also inherited Hothorpe; while Joseph (b. 1634) became a plantation owner and lawyer in Jamaica. 

George's youngest son, later Sir Benjamin Bathurst (1638-1704) took the family to a new level of social prominence by establishing his presence at Court. He was a financial wizard who eclipsed the success of his brothers as a merchant (being Governor of the East India Company in 1688-90 and prominent in several other major trading companies) and began lending money to the Government in the 1680s. In 1682 he married Frances Apsley (d. 1727), the daughter of Sir Allen Apsley (1616-85), kt. She was a close friend and confidant of Princess Anne, and her influence may have helped him secure a series of appointments to manage the private finances of the Duke of York (later James II) and Princess Anne (later Queen Anne). The couple had three sons and one daughter, but this comparative modest family (by the standards of the time) produced no less than 82 grandchildren, so that one wonders how many people now living can count Sir Benjamin among their ancestors! Out of the profits of his investments and court appointments, Sir Benjamin purchased an estate at Paulerspury (Northants) for himself in the 1670s, and later he made generous provision for his four children, buying the Cirencester estate for his eldest son, Allen Bathurst (1684-1775) in 1695, and lands in Lincolnshire for his second son Peter, as well settling a substantial dowry on his daughter and leaving his youngest son enough money to buy estates in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire when he came of age. Both of his younger sons founded significant gentry families that continue today and which will be the subject of future articles here. 

Sir Benjamin's brother-in-law, Sir Peter Apsley (d. 1691), kt., who had enlarged his family's property, died comparatively young leaving his wife pregnant and with an infant daughter. In these circumstances, he bequeathed his property to Sir Benjamin in trust for the posthumous child, should it be a boy, and otherwise for his daughter. The unborn child was indeed a son (Peter Apsley), and he and his sister Catherine, were brought up with the Bathursts at Paulerspury after their mother died in 1696. In the light of this close relationship between the two families, it is perhaps not surprising that an eight year old Allen Bathurst and a four year old Catherine Apsley should have been put through a form of marriage 'in jest' in 1692. This should, perhaps, be regarded as a formal betrothal or a declaration of intent between the families, for it had no legal force, but in 1704 the couple - now twenty and sixteen respectively - were married in earnest.  The result was, that when Catherine's brother Peter died in 1708 before coming of age, the Apsley family estates including Richings Park at Iver (Bucks) and Langwith Lodge (Notts) devolved upon the young couple, who had already inherited the Cirencester estate from Sir Benjamin Bathurst in 1704, and the Hothorpe estate in Northamptonshire from Allen's childless uncle Moses Bathurst in 1705. They had also bought the Battlesden estate in Bedfordshire in 1706 and were given Paulerspury by Allen's mother in 1707.

Not only did the successful unification of all this property make Allen Bathurst a rich young man, but the reputation of his father and his mother's close friendship with Queen Anne meant that the doors were open for him at Court too. In 1705 he entered Parliament, representing Cirencester, where his extensive property more or less guaranteed his election, and seven years later, when the Queen was anxious to force the Treaty of Utrecht through Parliament but faced opposition in the House of Lords, he was chosen as one of twelve new peers, as Baron Bathurst of Battlesden (Beds), created to ensure a majority for the peace in both houses. He was then at the height of his power and influence, and seems to have lived primarily at Richings Park (which was convenient for both London and Windsor), where he began about 1710 to create a new garden, and where he entertained his political, literary and aristrocratic friends in a generous way. In 1714, however, with the death of Queen Anne and the advent of the Hanoverian dynasty, who favoured the Whigs over the Tories, much of Bathurst's influence evaporated overnight. It was, no doubt, not entirely unexpected since the Queen had been ailing for some years and the succession was known, but after the failure of the 1715 rebellion to restore the Stuarts to the throne, Lord Bathurst seems to have accepted that there was no future for him in politics, and turned his mind to other things. At Richings he had taken great pleasure in the creation of a garden, and as he began to spend more time at Cirencester he began to see the potential for doing so there too, on a much grander scale. In 1716 he bought the Sapperton Manor estate and Oakley Wood to the west of his existing property, which provided him with a stretch of country over five miles long from east to west that was interrupted only by a single public road.  All through the 1720s and 1730s there was sustained investment in planting and building at Cirencester, and it is apparent that money was sometimes tight. With no supplementary income from Government office or place-holding under Walpole's Whig regime, all these costs, and those of Lord Bathurst's large family of thirteen children, had to be met from the estates, and cash injections were provided by the disposal of some property: the manor of Battlesden in 1727, for instance, and Richings in 1739. From about 1718, with the advice of Pope, and perhaps some professional support from Stephen Switzer, Lord Bathurst began the creation of a 'forest landscape' that was to be his major preoccupation for the rest of his long life, and some features of which, including the woodland drive along the northern perimeter, echo aspects of the design at Richings. He also undertook a remodelling of the house, to the designs of the mason-architect William Townesend of Oxford, but he seems to have been not greatly concerned by the rather unsatisfactory results, 'I trust to you' he wrote to Pope 'to give an account how it comes to be so oddly bad'

After the fall of Walpole in 1742, Lord Bathurst's complete exclusion from politics and office-holding came to an end. King George III gave him a pension of £2,000 a year, which must have eased his financial worries considerably, and in 1772, when he was 88, he was also made 1st Earl Bathurst. At an advanced age he remained 'uncommonly vigorous', walking or riding around the Cirencester estate every day, regularly consuming two bottles of port after dinner, and being proud of the fact that he could still drink his heir under the table. His eldest son having died in 1767, the heir was his second son, Henry Bathurst (1714-94), who became a barrister and later a judge in the court of common pleas. His judicial duties required him to be in London a good deal and in 1771-78 he built Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner - later sold to and remodelled for the Duke of Wellington - to the designs of Robert Adam. By 1771 he had also either built or bought a house called Fairy Hill (later Fairy Hall) at Mottingham (Kent) as a bolt hole to use when he could get away for a few days. When the Lord Chancellorship fell vacant in 1770 he was one of the senior judges who jointly held the post 'in commission', but since he was not very highly regarded by his contemporaries there was general surprise when he was chosen to fill the office on a substantive basis the following year. Since the Lord Chancellor acted as speaker of the House of Lords, it was necessary that he should be a peer, and he was accordingly made 1st Baron Apsley at the same time. In 1778 he was eased out of the Lord Chancellorship as a result of a disagreement over American policy, but he became Lord President of the Council, 1779-82. His father having died in 1775, he was by then the 2nd Earl Bathurst and had come into possession of Cirencester, where he continued his father's tree planting, extending the main axial ride of the park westwards to Sapperton.

The 2nd Earl's ministerial career did not quite overlap with that of his eldest son, Henry Bathurst (1762-1834), 3rd Earl Bathurst, who was still undertaking his Grand Tour when his father left office for the last time. From 1783 until he inherited the peerage in 1794 he was MP for Cirencester, and he was at once brought into Government as a lord of the Admiralty and later of the Treasury. After he moved to the Lords he was a member of the Board of Control for India and later President of the Board of Trade, Foreign Secretary, and Secretary of State for War and the Colonies before ending his career, like his father, as Lord President of the Council, 1828-30. At this time, ministerial office brought little direct financial reward (and MPs were not paid at all), and it was usual for ministers to be appointed to other posts which did attract a salary and which were either sinecures with little or no work, or with real duties which could be discharged by a deputy paid a fraction of the salary. Over a long career, the 3rd Earl accumulated a great many such appointments, and by the 1820s his income from these sources was said to be over £10,000 a year, attracting hostile comment in the Liberal press. Despite the disparaging remarks from his political opponents, however, he seems to have been a competent administrator and a natural conciliator, often finding a way to reconcile divergent views among his cabinet colleagues. The 3rd Earl's political career has tended to overshadow his other achievements, and particularly his impact on the Cirencester estate. It was the 3rd Earl who remodelled the house at Cirencester into its current form in two campaigns in the early 19th century. He also managed to close the public road that divided the Home Park from Oakley Park, replacing it with a new road to the south of the park. And it was the 3rd Earl who extended the Broad Walk through the Home Park to the top of Cecily Hill, creating the layout of the park we know today.

When the 3rd Earl died in 1834 his estates passed to his son, Henry George Bathurst (1790-1866), 4th Earl Bathurst. From 1812 until he succeeded to the title, he was MP for Cirencester and went out of his way to be involved in some of the most stirring episodes of the Napoleonic Wars, including being present at the Battle of Waterloo, as a civilian volunteer member of Wellington's staff. His self-confidence is apparent, but he never married and after succeeding to the title he took no part in public affairs, his manner later in life being described as kindly but 'shy and reserved'. In 1844 he sold Langwith Lodge to the Duke of Portland, while retaining those parts of the estate that were coal-bearing, and the following year he leased a site south of the park at Cirencester for the building of the Royal Agricultural College, which was the first institution of its kind in the country. The 4th Earl was succeeded by his brother, William Lennox Bathurst (1791-1878), 5th Earl Bathurst, a London lawyer who was over a long period one of the clerks to the Privy Council. He too was unmarried, and he was notable for his support of church building and restoration projects. When he died in 1878 he was succeeded by his nephew, Allen Alexander Bathurst (1832-92), 6th Earl Bathurst, who although not brought up at Cirencester had been the heir presumptive for many years. He was MP for Cirencester from 1857 until he succeeded to the title, and played a fuller part in the life of the county than his predecessors had had the time or inclination to do, most especially in the militia (his father had been a professional soldier). He was also a keen hunting man and was responsible for the creation of the Cirencester Park Polo Club in the park in 1894. It was perhaps his marriage to Meriel Leicester Warren which introduced a more intellectual and literary streak into the family that is apparent over the next two generations. When the 6th Earl died, comparatively young, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Seymour Henry Bathurst (1864-1943), 7th Earl Bathurst, who combined his father's activities in the county and the militia with being a model landlord, a prominent freemason, and holding wide-ranging cultural and charitable positions. In 1893 he married Lilias Borthwick, the daughter and heiress of Lord Glenesk, the proprietor of the Morning Post, a right-of-centre daily newspaper. In 1906 Lady Bathurst inherited the newspaper from her father, and she remained its proprietor until 1937, when it was merged with the Daily Telegraph. The newspaper provided valuable opportunities for several members of the family, not least Lord Bathurst's younger brother, Lancelot Julian Bathurst (1868-1928), who in addition to being 'perhaps the greatest living authority on hunting' was its manager from 1910-15. The remaining portions of the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire estate were finally sold in from the 1920s onwards.

The 7th Earl's eldest son and heir apparent, Allen Algernon Bathurst (1895-1942), known by the courtesy title of Lord Apsley, was something of a latter-day Renaissance man. He joined the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars at the start of the First World War and won the MC and the DSO. He remained in the Hussars between the wars and saw further service, latterly with the Arab Legion, in the Second World War. He was a Conservative MP from 1922-29 and 1931-42, and sometimes a junior minister. He was a keen amateur pilot, and undeterred by many forced landings and a crash landing in the Solent, he founded a successful short-haul passenger aircraft company based at Weston-super-Mare. Tragically, he was killed in a plane crash while on active service in the Second World War: perhaps ironically, he was not the pilot. His wife Viola (1895-1966) was equally energetic, and despite having been disabled in a riding accident in the 1930s, she succeeded him in many of his roles, including as MP for Bristol (Central), 1943-45. She, incidentally, was brought up at Richings Park, the estate which the Bathursts had sold in 1739, but sold it in 1922, a year before her marriage. The Apsleys had two sons, the elder of whom, Henry Allen John Bathurst (1927-2011) succeeded as 8th Earl Bathurst at the age of 16 on his grandfather's death in 1943. The fact that the 8th Earl inherited directly from his grandfather, coupled with the longevity of both the 7th and 8th Earls, has undoubtedly been a key factor in the preservation of the Cirencester estate intact through the period of very high capital taxation in the 20th century. It is now owned  by the elder son of the 8th Earl, Allen Christopher Bertram Bathurst (b. 1961), 9th Earl Bathurst.

Franks Hall, Horton Kirby, Kent

The original manor house was built on the opposite bank of the River Darent in 1220 by the Frankish family. When the Frankish family died out in the fifteenth century the property passed to the Martin family, and the house was purchased from their descendants by Lancelot Bathurst (1529-96), who built the present house in about 1590. It is a square two-storey building, with gabled attics, consisting of four ranges around a small central courtyard: a plan had been used in Kent for more than a century. 

Franks Hall, Horton Kirby: entrance front and side elevation in 1913. Image: Country Life.
The five-bay entrance front has a two storey bay window under a gable at either end, while the middle three bays are taken up by the hall in the recessed centre, with its entrance porch to the left, and dais window to the right. The side elevations are given a regular rhythm by the projecting chimney breasts, but fail to achieve symmetry. The house is built of warm red brick, laid in English bond, with flint footings and ashlar quoins and dressings. Architecturally it is very plain, except for the entrance doorway, which has a round classical arch with unfluted Doric columns to either side, supporting a triglyph frieze, segmental pediment and finials. The straight-sided gables and tall octagonal chimneystacks are untouched by classical influences. The large windows, with two or three mullions and a transom, and straight-headed lights give away the late Elizabethan date.

Franks Hall, Horton Kirby: the hall in 1913. Image: Country Life.
The late 16th century interior is generally well-preserved. The front door opens into a screens passage, which originally opened through two archways (now blocked) into the hall. The screen itself supports a first-floor gallery that projects forward at the ends, and has a lattice grille running the full width of the room. The hall has a simple Tudor arched fireplace with a low wainscot overmantel and above that, a magnificent plaster achievement of the arms of Queen Elizabeth. The plaster ceiling has low-relief ribs forming overlapping circles, ogees and squares, and is dated 1591. At the dais end of the hall a doorway leads through to the parlour (now dining room) beyond, which has a similar ceiling, here surrounding the royal arms, and is also dated 1591. The walls have a deep strapwork plaster frieze, and there is a grey marble chimneypiece. The Great Chamber above the hall now has a 19th century ceiling, but preserves another grey marble chimneypiece and a tall wainscot overmantel with pilasters as well as the usual rectangles and arches. The doorcases to left and right of the chimneypiece have herms to either side. The east corner room on this floor (now called the Queen's Room) was the Withdrawing Chamber. The ceiling here, again dated 1591, was richly decorated with a dense pattern of broad ribs decorated with honeysuckle, enclosing five shields of the royal arms. The deep plaster frieze has drapery looped above mounds of fruit. The chimneypiece is again of grey marble, but is here made fully classical by a bolection frieze and cornice, and above it is a good overmantel, with paired colonnettes and strapwork crests enclosing intarsia panels of ruins, shown in perspective.

Franks Hall, Horton Kirby: postcard view showing the large conservatory attached to the west front in the late 19th century.
In the 1850s the house was used as a barn by the farmer owner and became semi-derelict. After Robert Bradford bought it in 1860 he had the house repaired and remodelled by R.L. Roumieu in 1860-61. The chimneystacks and gables on the north-west front are his, and he altered the parapets and the south-west bay window, but his most important alteration was to fill in the courtyard with a spacious top-lit neo-Elizabethan staircase. Further changes were to come. Vavasour Earle, who bought the estate in 1883, built a picture gallery at the end of the lime avenue, but it was largely destroyed by incendiary bombs during the Second World War and only the outside walls remain now. He was probably also responsible for the addition of a large conservatory or winter garden on the south-west side elevation. In 1910 the house was bought by the 7th Earl Bathurst, thus returning it to the family after a long break. He was probably responsible for the decoration of the Ladies Room on the ground floor of the house, which was copied from now lost plasterwork at Beaudesert (Staffs). Lord Bathurst gave Franks Hall to his son Lord Apsley in 1923 as a wedding present, but the Apsleys only lived in it for a few months and it then stood empty for about ten years. It passed through several hands before being acquired by Findlay Publications Ltd who restored it for use as their headquarters in 1980. The house has since been sold and has reverted to being a private residence.

Descent: built for Lancelot Bathurst (1529-96); to son, Randolph Bathurst (1576-1644); to son, Sir Edward Bathurst (c.1603-80); to son, Sir Thomas Bathurst (c.1628-88), kt.; to son, Francis Bathurst (c.1667-1738); to daughter, Berenice (1692-1748), wife of Joseph Fletcher (d. c.1739); to daughter Susan (1721-57), wife of John Tasker (d. 1796) of Dartford; to his second wife (d. 1814) and then his niece...sold 1850s to Nicholas Ray (d. 1860); sold 1860 to Robert Bradford; sold c.1877 to Frederick Power; sold 1883 to Vavasour Earle; sold c.1910 to Somerset Henry Bathurst (1864-1943), 7th Earl Bathurst, who gave it in 1923 to his son Allen Algernon Bathurst (1895-1942), Lord Apsley, as a wedding present; sold 1930s to Morris Wheeler (d. 1962) of Bexley; to widow (d. 1977); sold to Michael Berry; sold 1980 to Findlay Publications Ltd.; sold 2005 and restored to a private residence.

Hothorpe Hall, Northamptonshire

The hamlet of Hothorpe anciently formed part of the parish of Theddingworth, the main part of which lay on the other side of the River Welland in Leicestershire, although modern administrative convenience dictates that it is now part of the parish of Marston Trussell (Northants). Hothorpe Hall, with its lodge and outbuildings, is indeed all that remains today of the hamlet, which had largely disappeared by the middle of the 16th century. The first manor house of which there is any record appears to have stood nearer the river than the present one, and was a stone building of two stories and attics, having mullioned windows and a principal front of five bays. Two of the bays formed small projecting wings surmounted by gables; the base of one wing served as an entrance porch, the other probably contained the staircase. The style of the house suggests that it was built in the early 17th century, most probably by George Bathurst (d. 1656), but possibly by his father-in-law, Edward Villiers (d. 1600). 

Hothorpe Hall: the house built in 1799-1801 and later greatly extended.
When John Cook inherited the estate from his father, he built the present Hothorpe Hall on a new site about half a mile further from the river in 1799-1801.  The new house was an roughly  square two-storey brick building with a five-bay entrance front and a central stone porch surmounted by a pediment. After the de Trafford family acquired the estate, additions were made in 1882-84 when the house was cement rendered and embellished with Renaissance ornament, plate-glass windows were inserted, a bay window was added to the drawing room, and a service wing to the north was either rebuilt or much enlarged. Further additions were  made in 1892-95, when a Roman Catholic chapel was built in the grounds to the northeast of the house and the two storey octagonal wing on the west front was built. Several features of mid 18th century character survive inside, including a staircase and fireplaces, but it is not clear whether these survive from the Georgian house or are later introductions. The east lodges and most of the outbuildings date from the late 19th century. After 1955 the outbuildings of the house were converted to provide additional accommodation.

Descent: Edward Villiers (d. 1600); to widow Sibell, later wife of Dr. Ralph Kettel of Trinity College, Oxford; to youngest daughter Elizabeth (1595-1650), wife of George Bathurst (1589-1656); to son, Moses Bathurst (1628-1705); to nephew, Allen Bathurst (1684-1775), 1st Earl Bathurst; to son, Henry Bathurst (1714-94), 1st Baron Apsley and 2nd Earl Bathurst, who sold 1788 to Maj. William Cook of Enfield; to son, John Cook (d. c.1868), who rebuilt the house; to great-nephew, Henry Everitt; sold 1881 to Sir Humphrey de Trafford (1808-86), 2nd bt., who gave it to his son, Charles de Trafford; sold 1941 and requisitioned for wartime use as a home for evacuees; sold 1955 to Lutheran Council of Great Britain for use as a youth centre; sold 1984 to private owners for Christian conference and wedding use; sold 2021 for similar purposes.

Great House, Paulerspury, Northamptonshire

The manor house of Paulerspury stood in the field immediately north of the church, adjoining the lane to Pury End.  In 1550 the medieval house was said to be ruinous and was ordered to be repaired. In 1593 Sir Arthur Throckmorton began building a new mansion on the site of the old house, which he made his home until his death in 1626. We know a great deal about the building process because of the fortunate survival of his diary for the years 1593-95. Early in the campaign he visited Stowe (Bucks.) and Holdenby (Northants), presumably looking for ideas for his own building, and also the more modest Moulton (Northants), where he consulted James Furness. In May 1595 Furness was paid 10 French crowns for 'directing the building' and he was probably responsible for its design, although Throckmorton made separate piecework bargains with individual master tradesmen, rather than engaging Furness as a single main contractor. William Green undertook all the freemasonry (except coloured work and pilasters), at 3d. a foot, and also did the bricklaying, which suggests that the house may have had brick internal walls and chimneybreasts. Stone came from Throckmorton’s own quarries at Silverstone and Cosgrove, and oak timber for scaffolding and floorboards from his woods at Silverstone and Tiffield.

By July 1595 work was sufficiently advanced for a locksmith to be engaged to supply 12 locks and for wainscot to be ordered from a joiner in Southwark, including both plain work and ‘French panelling’. In August 1595 a chimney-piece of 'Sussex marble, alabaster, touch and rance' (i.e. a mixture of cream, red and black stone) was ordered from Garret Johnson, the Southwark marble carver, for the hall, to be carved according to a pattern left with him. This cost £60, including gilding. In September 1595 Throckmorton bought a Turkey carpet, although this might have been for his London house. By October the building work was drawing to a close and he was replacing the old fences, posts and rails round the park. The resulting house was described in the mid 17th century as ‘a fair capital messuage of stone, with barns, stables, coach-houses, outhouses, gardens and orchards’, but by then the mansion was already let as a farmstead. The former manor house, known as the Great House, was still tenanted in 1772, when part of the site was being used as a parish workhouse. In 1791 the Dukes of Grafton were buying stone from the Great House for re-use elsewhere, and much of the structure was apparently taken down before the end of the 18th century. The manor house site had probably been cleared by the 1820s, although some farm buildings survived until the second half of the 20th century, when they too were taken down, leaving only earthworks to indicate the site of the mansion and its gardens running down to the brook west of the church.

One volume of Throckmorton's diary ends in 1595 and when it resumes in 1609 he was laying out new gardens around his house, engaging a carpenter named Truslowe to make doors and masons named Russell to build the walls. A gardener came from Mixbury (Oxon.) in September that year to design new gardens, although he and his son broke their contract almost at once, and advice was also obtained from Lord Stanhope's gardener at Harrington, a man named Daniel, and from the gardener at Holdenby. Terraces were laid out across the slope which ran down from the house towards the stream which bounds the site to the west, a causeway was built from the mansion to the churchyard, and seats were made for the garden, including one near the bowling green. Fruit trees, including apricots, were trained and spread in espaliers against one of the walls of the mansion. In the spring of 1611 waterworks were being installed and by July the long walk in the great garden had been levelled.

Descent: Sir John St. John sold 1541 to King Henry VIII as part of a complex exchange agreement; in 1551 the Crown granted the estate, with other lands, in return for the surrender of an annuity, to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (d. 1571); to son, Sir Arthur Throckmorton (d. 1626); to widow Anne, Lady Throckmorton, who sold her life interest in 1628 to their daughter Mary, wife of Thomas Wotton (1587-1630), 2nd Lord Wotton of Marley; to daughter Anne, later wife of Sir Edward Hales of Tunstall (Kent), 2nd bt; sold 1668 to their son and heir, Edward Hales, who sold 1673-74 to Sir Benjamin Bathurst (1638-1704); to widow Frances Bathurst (d. 1727), who gave the estate in 1707 to her eldest son, Allen Bathurst (1684-1775), 1st Earl Bathurst; to son, Henry Bathurst (1714-94), 1st Baron Apsley and 2nd Earl Bathurst; to son, Henry Bathurst (1762-1834), 3rd Earl Bathurst; who sold 1805 to Robert Shedden (d. 1826); to son George (1769-1855); to son, William George Shedden (d. 1872); to brother, Roscow Cole Shedden (d. 1877) of East Cowes (Isle of Wight); to son George Shedden, who in 1920 sold the remaining 600 acres to the sitting tenant, Thomas Roddis; sold to Edgar Eales (fl. 1939).

Richings Park, Iver, Buckinghamshire

The estate takes its name from a family called Richking who owned it in the 14th and 15th centuries. From them it passed through several hands until, as Richings, it was bought in 1576 by William Salter (1526‐1606), a London grocer. His son, Sir Edward Salter (1562‐ 1647) became a barrister at Grays Inn, and in the next generation his sons Sir William and Sir Christopher Salter were courtiers to James I and Charles I, and entertained members of the royal family at Richings, which contemporary wills show was richly furnished.

After the property came into the hands of Allen Bathurst (1684‐1775), later 1st Earl Bathurst, in 1708, there was a period of about eight years when Richings (or Riskins as it was often called at the time) was his main residence. At this time he was a prominent figure at Court and in Parliament, and the house was convenient for both London and Windsor. He entertained at Richings both his political associates, like Lord Bolingbroke, and the leading Tory writers and wits like Addison, Pope, Congreve, Gay and Swift. After 1714, when the Tory Bathurst’s star was eclipsed for a generation by the death of Queen Anne and the advent of the Hanoverian regime, he spent increasing amounts of time at Cirencester Park, and although work at Richings did not stop altogether, the focus of his landscaping activities moved to Gloucestershire. We have no information about what the gardens at Richings were like when Lord Bathurst inherited the property, but he developed them as one of the earliest examples of a ferme ornée: in which areas of productive pasture and arable were interwoven with decorative walks and rides through narrow belts of woodland. The gardener and landscape designer Stephen Switzer is known to have been involved in the work (he describes the layout in Ichnographia Rustica and dedicated his Practical Kitchen Gardener to Bathurst as ‘the best of Masters, best of Friends’) but whether he really took a leading role in the design is unclear. The fuller evidence for Cirencester Park suggests that Bathurst was himself the principal designer there, but the situation at Richings may have been different, as Bathurst would then have been less experienced and perhaps did not have the leisure to direct the works himself. Alexander Pope was no doubt also involved, as he was at Cirencester later on, and Bathurst dedicated both a seat and an avenue of horse chestnut trees at Richings to Pope.
Richings Park, Iver: the 'regulated Epitomy'
published by Stephen Switzer in 1742

Richings Park, Iver: plan from a county map of 1761

In 1739 Lord Bathurst sold Richings to the Earl and Countess of Hertford (from 1748 the Duke and Duchess of Somerset), and they renamed it Percy Lodge. They continued to enhance Bathurst’s ferme ornée. Lady Hertford in her letters to Henrietta Knight, Lady Luxborough, details the changes planned for the house and grounds; “We have just now taken a house by Colnbrook. It belongs to Lord Bathhurst, and is what Mr. Pope called his ‘Extravagant Bergerie’. The environs perfectly answer that title, and come nearer to my idea of a scene in Arcadia than any place I ever saw…The house is old but convenient, and when you are got within the little paddock it stands in, you would believe yourself one hundred miles from London….” She describes some of its romantic features; “a cave overhung with periwinkles” with a spring gushing out of the back of it; “with little arbours interwoven with lilacs, woodbine, syringas and laurels…; an astounding number of nightingales” After her husband’s death in 1750, the Dowager Duchess continued to enhance the estate including a Porter’s Lodge “at my Gate” and “some Change in my Rosary, and Openings in other Parts of the Park. I have erected a little Hermitage in one of the Woods near the Canal, whose roof is thatched, and its Walls of Straw”.

For an estate which was so well-known in the 18th century, it is remarkable that not a single drawing appears to survive that shows the house or the garden at this time. Our only information comes from a plan published by Switzer in Ichnographia Rustica (1742), and two county maps of the 1750s by John Rocque. Switzer calls his drawing a ‘regulated Epitomy’: this appears to be an idealised version of reality that is based on the irregular layout shown by Rocque but which is rendered symmetrical, the better to support his didactic purpose. John Rocque’s Maps of Middlesex (1754) and Berkshire (1761), show the reality, but at a very small scale. The centrepiece of the layout was a canal some 555 yards long (L-shaped not straight as Switzer suggests), with a central circular pool, formal allées cut through wooded parkland south of the house and a ‘circumferential ride’. West of the house was a menagerie, and on the site of a former chapel, a grotto and greenhouse and the “Abbey Walk of beech trees with a statue at the end”. Whereas Switzer shows the house as a regular square building on the axis of the canal, Rocque shows an irregular house set at the north-west corner of the site, which seems to sit better with Lady Hertford’s description of it as ‘old but convenient’.

Richings Park, Iver: the entrance front of the house built c.1790. Image: Historic England

Richings Park, Iver: the garden front of the house built c.1790. Image: Historic England.
The estate changed hands several times in the later 18th century, and Stiff Leadbetter was evidently making improvements to the house in 1763 for the 1st Duke of Northumberland, but nothing is known of the nature of these works. In 1786 the estate was sold to John Sullivan (d. 1839), an East India Company ‘nabob’ who had made a large fortune at Tanjore by supplying the British troops in India. The old house at Richings burned down in 1788, and after his marriage to a daughter of the Earl of Buckinghamshire in 1789, Sullivan built a new rectangular villa on slightly higher ground about 130 yards north-east of the old stable block. The new house was a three-storey six-bay yellow brick building with two-storey pavilions, linked to the house by single storey colonnades. The main block was neo-classical but astylar, with cornice and parapet, and a central porch on the entrance front. The garden front had a semi-circular full height bow and faced south. Full-length sash windows on the ground floor provided views of the park and its canalSullivan also purchased the adjoining Parsonage House property allowing him to enlarge the park to the north. He then moved the public road to the new northern boundary and re-landscaped the park with new drives and lodges, and a three‐arched bridge. By 1810 the new landscape was largely complete, with informal parkland with specimen trees, boundary woodland and belts. The 18th century canal remained a key feature, but the banks were made sinuous and irregular.

In 1922 the estate was sold to the Sykes Brothers, who occupied the house and retained some of the land for farming, but began developing the rest as a residential estate (Richings Park). Some houses were built, but their company went into receivership in 1932, and in 1938 the park was sold to William Boyer & Sons, aggregate merchants. In 1938‐40 the villa was taken over briefly by Bomber Command, but in 1950 the villa was demolished, possibly as a result of wartime damage or neglect; parts of the foundations and the cellars are said survive amid scrub. In 1963 the M4 was built through the south section of the park, cutting through the south tip of the canal, and in the mid‐1990s the majority of the estate was developed as a golf course.

Descent: sold 1576 to William Salter (1526‐1606), a London grocer, for his son Sir Edward Salter (1562‐1647); to son... sold 1678 to Sir Peter Apsley (d. 1691); to son, Peter Apsley (d. 1708); to sister Catherine (1688-1768), wife of Allen Bathurst (1684-1775), 1st Earl Bathurst; sold 1739 to Algernon Seymour (1684-1750), Earl of Hertford and later 7th Duke of Somerset; to son-in-law, Sir Hugh Smithson (later Percy) (c.1714-86), 4th bt. and 1st Duke of Northumberland; sold 1776 to Sir John Coghill (d. 1785), 1st bt.; to widow, Hester Coghill, Dowager Countess of Charleville, who sold 1786 to John Sullivan (d. 1839); to nephew, Augustus Sullivan; sold 1855 to Charles Meeking; to son, Lt-Col. Charles Meeking (d. 1912); to granddaughter, Miss Viola Meeking; sold 1922 to Sykes family; sold 1938 to William Boyer & Sons, aggregate merchants; requisitioned for wartime use by Bomber Command; demolished 1950.

Cirencester Park (aka Oakley Lodge), Gloucestershire

The great house and park at Cirencester which we know today are largely the creation of Allen, 1st Earl Bathurst (1684-1775), but the mansion had an illustrious late 16th century predecessor, sometimes called Oakley Lodge, which was recorded by Kip but has since been largely forgotten. 

The House
Cirencester Park: detail of Kip's view of Cirencester, showing the Elizabethan house built for Sir John Danvers
The Elizabethan house was built for Sir John Danvers (d. 1594) of Dauntsey (Wilts), who was in possession by 1588, and was presumably complete by 1592 when one of Queen Elizabeth's progresses included an overnight stay at 'Sir John Danvers new House'. It was a large symmetrical U-shaped building on the west side of Park Street, with its front facing east and a rear elevation facing the home park behind. On the east side, long multi-gabled wings stretched out to embrace a forecourt, and beyond this an outer court was defined by a curved wall, a rebuilt version of which forms the present street boundary. Since at least 1779 a great yew hedge has been grown along its length to conceal and insulate the house from the town. As depicted by Kip, the house was a notable example of the recession which the Elizabethan and Jacobean age found so desirable: the wings themselves being stepped on the inner face, the corners of the main block extruded and the centre emphasised not by a porch but by a single central gable. Such an elaborate system of recession in the main façade would have been distinctly avant garde for a house entirely of c.1590, and the tradition quoted by Neale that the house was built in 1626 may be due to a distant memory of early alterations for Sir Henry Poole which enhanced the system of recession on this front.  The internal arrangement of the house cannot now be fully reconstructed, although it is known that the space now occupied by the main staircase was formerly the great hall.  A structural survey would probably reveal further helpful evidence. 

In 1695, the estate was sold to Sir Benjamin Bathurst, whose son Allen, later 1st Baron Bathurst, inherited it in 1704. After a brief career in politics that was cut short by the death of Queen Anne, he turned his attention to the improvement of his house, and the creation of one of the grandest landscaped parks of 18th century England. There has been much discussion of just when the old house was rebuilt. It has usually been assumed that work was begun in 1715, and in August 1718 Bathurst was being 'disturbed with the noise of saws and hammers which has no other ill effect whatsoever attending it but only that it is apt to melt money sometimes'. In May 1722, however, Bathurst’s friend Alexander Pope wrote enthusiastically of ‘the Palace that is to be built, the Pavilions that are to glitter, the Colonnades that are to adorn them’, and since there is now archival evidence that the major remodelling was not carried out until 1725-27, when William Townsend was the architect, he was presumably thinking of a new house which Bathurst was then contemplating. The reality was much less architecturally impressive than Pope’s vision, for the net effect of Townesend’s work was that the wings of the Jacobean house were pulled down leaving only the narrow double pile main block, which was given new, rather plain, 13 bay, two and a half storey facades, depicted in vignettes on the plan of the Home Park published in Rudder's Gloucestershire.  

Cirencester Park: the west (left) and east (right) fronts of the house as remodelled in 1723-27. The tower visible in the left hand view is that of the parish church not part of the house.
The new east front was a relatively long and featureless elevation: the ground floor windows were arched, the rest plain sashes. More articulation was provided for the (little altered) thirteen-bay west front, which has a three-bay centre under a segmental pediment and wider end bays that project forward under rather insignificant pediments. Its three-bay porch was rusticated, matching in character the parkland buildings which were about to be erected. As remodelled, the house really lacked sufficient depth to provide rooms of Georgian proportions, and later alterations have failed to solve this problem, so that the house remains cramped, especially in the entrance hall. Lord Bathurst was the first to admit that the remodelling was not a great success, and wrote to his friend Alexander Pope: 'I trust to you to give an account how it comes to be so oddly bad'.  This comment and his remark to his cousin, Lord Strafford, that ‘I think any house good enough to sleep in’, suggest that he had not yet developed that interest in architecture which he later displayed.  Bathurst’s decision to remodel the old house rather than rebuild it on a new site, which ensured that it remained an adjunct of the town and did not become an aloof mansion isolated in its park, was in keeping with his Tory sympathies.  The same spirit may have pursuaded him to employ a mason-architect like Townesend rather than a gentleman-architect like Vanbrugh or Gibbs; he will have wanted a quiet house, not an assertive one.

When the 1st Earl Bathurst died in 1775 at the age of 90, the the house was apparently unsound.  The property and earldom passed to his eldest surviving son, Henry Bathurst (1714-94), 1st Baron Apsley, who was just completing Apsley House in London to the design of Robert Adam when he inherited. The 2nd Earl feared that he would need to take Cirencester Park down and rebuilt it, but in the end nothing was done until 1810-11, when the 3rd Earl employed the young and fashionable Tory architect, Robert Smirke, to add the present north wing and demolish the west porch. Smirke will have been known to him because he designed the new building for the Royal Mint during the 3rd Earl's term as Master of the Mint. The commission would seem to have been Smirke’s first employment in Gloucestershire, and he probably owed several later projects in the county, including the building of a new Shire Hall, to recommendations from Lord Bathurst. Smirke was employed at Cirencester by the 3rd Earl for a second time in the late 1820s, and it was probably then that he rebuilt the east front facing the town, creating a severely plain fifteen bay facade which was evidently complete by 1829 when it was recorded in a drawing by Admiral Lord Mark Kerr

Cirencester Park: a view of the east front from within the yew hedge by H.W. Taunt, c.1895. Image: Oxfordshire Libraries.
The east front has a three-bay central pediment and is articulated by stepping forward the central five bays to create the effect of a villa with wings of equal height.  The ground floor was brought forward from the earlier building line to create rooms of better proportions along the entrance front, and this necessitated an almost complete remodelling of the interiors, which were decorated with an unexpectedly severe plainness. A staircase and gallery were provided in the space formerly occupied by the Elizabethan great hall, and a set of four antique marble columns, acquired in Italy in 1815, were set up against the entrance wall.  To the north of the house, Smirke built a new quadrangle of stables, which was much altered for the 6th Earl in 1878 by John Birch, who may also have been responsible for laying out the Italian Garden. Since 1830, the mansion has escaped significant external alteration, although little survives of Smirke’s internal decoration. 

The Park
Before beginning work at Cirencester, it is thought Lord Bathurst had already employed the landscape gardener and writer, Stephen Switzer, to improve his ornamental farm at Richings Park in Buckinghamshire.  Certainly Switzer’s concept of ‘Rural and extensive gardening’, based on the grand layout and formality of French gardens but ‘set off... by the luxury of Nature’ underlies what was to be achieved at Cirencester.  In 1727 Switzer dedicated The practical kitchin gardener to Bathurst as ‘the best of masters and best of friends’, but there is no evidence that he played an active role at Cirencester.  In 1718, if not before, Lord Bathurst became a friend of the poet, Alexander Pope, who was a leading figure in London architectural and gardening circles, and he became a regular correspondent of the Earl and a frequent visitor to Cirencester.  It seems to have been Pope whose judgement and aesthetic sense guided Lord Bathurst’s creation of a forest park at Cirencester.  That autumn, Pope recorded how he and Lord Bathurst occupied their time: ‘[We] draw Plans for Houses and Gardens, open Avenues, cut Glades, plant Firrs, contrive waterworks, all very fine and beautiful in our own imagination’. In 1716, Bathurst had bought a tract of land west of the Home Park that comprised Oakley Wood and the Sapperton Manor estate from the executors of Sir Robert Atkyns. Although the Home Park and Oakley Wood remained separated by a public road until the early 19th century, the two areas were designed as an integrated landscape.  Kip shows the land west of the mansion as a meadow, with trees informally fringing an open plain. From 1718, new planting was introduced, creating a series of intersecting avenues crossing a central route aligned on the centre of the mansion and Cirencester church tower beyond it. Along the northern edge of the park, a narrow belt of densely planted trees containing winding paths was planted. The conception developed slowly, and became more informal as it developed, but the bones of the layout remained the great rides. Bathurst laid great emphasis on seasonal colouring, and his calculated efforts to achieve it contribute to his reputation as a great gardener. Chestnut, elm and oak trees were used to give variety to the dominant beech, and yews and other conifers introduced where a sombre atmosphere was desired.  Pope indeed equated Bathurst’s prodigious tree-planting with the architectural activities of Lord Burlington in his Epistle to Lord Burlington with the line, “Who plants like Bathurst or builds like Boyle”.  For the romantic imagination of Pope, the woods of Cirencester were an enchanted forest, and he wrote “I look upon myself as the Magician appropriated to the place, without whom no mortal can penetrate the Recesses of these sacred Shades”. 

Cirencester Park: plan of the Home Park
as laid out by the 1st Earl, published in 1779.
Cirencester Park: plan of Oakley Park
as laid out by the 1st Earl, published in 1779

All the key positions in the layout were highlighted by architectural features, for which Lord Bathurst seems to have been his own architect, although he consulted Pope a great deal.  Among those surviving are Pope's Seat (at the north end of a cross avenue aligned on Kemble church tower), the Horse Temple (moved nearer to the house in the 19th century), and the Hexagon, all of about 1736. At the point known as Seven Rides, where several avenues radiated, a column was erected in 1741, crowned by a statue of Queen Anne. Towards the south-west end of the the Home Park, a naturalistic lake was constructed in 1736, somewhat in advance of the general fashion for such lakes, as promoted by Capability Brown: its banks followed the contours of the ground and its ends were concealed by tree-planting, so that, as Rudder noted, it appears to be ‘part of a considerable river’. Its construction encountered considerable difficulty because of the lack of a convenient water supply.

Cirencester Park: Pope's Seat in 1895.
Cirencester Park: The Hexagon in 1895.

In Oakley Park,  a more dramatic layout was adopted, with ten rides radiating out from another ronde point, the longest being the east-west Broad Ride, eventually some five miles in length, for which clearing and planting was in progress in 1728. Further landscape buildings were erected here by Lord Bathurst, including the simply Gothick Ivy Lodge of c.1720 and the more important Alfred's Hall. This incorporated or superseded an earlier structure called Oakley Bower or the Wood House, which was used for the accommodation of distinguished guests such as Pope, but which is said to have collapsed one morning after Jonathan Swift had been lodging in it overnight. After 1721, this was rebuilt with a round tower at either end, some simple Gothick fenestration, and battlements, as a lodge which was referred to as King Arthur’s Castle. 

Cirencester Park: engraving of Alfred's Hall published in 1763 after a drawing by Thomas Robins. The drawing shows the sham ruins added to the grounds after 1730.
Pope dreamed up the notion that this was where King Alfred, disguised as a minstrel, had spied on the Danish camp at Cirencester, and coined the final name, Alfred’s Hall.  It was probably always Gothick, although its original appearance is unclear, for in about 1730 Lord Bathurst demolished Sapperton Manor and took windows, doorways, battlements and sculpture from the Jacobean house to construct artificial ruins around the building and give the lodge a more romantic appearance. The mock ruins are clearly shown in two views by Thomas Robins that were engraved in 1763. So successful and unexpected was this confection that a visitor soon afterwards took it for the remains of the old family home ‘built with stone, in the old manner, with battlements round the top, and a towr with an old gate to go into it, which gives it much the look of a Castle; this my Lord has left a good deal of standing, and furnish’d it, and makes a summer house of it, and it is a very Romantick pretty place’. 

When Lord Bathurst finally died in 1775 at the age of 90, the park was unfinished. The 2nd Earl continued his planting plan, and in 1813-14 the 3rd Earl succeeded in closing the public road that separated the two parks and made them one physical space. He also extended the Broad Walk that cuts through Oakley Park eastward to a new terminus at the end of Cecily Hill, where a public entrance to the park was created in 1843 and improved c.1856. Successive generations of Earls have continued to harvest and renew the trees through to the present day, so that it remains, as it has been since the early 18th century, the finest forest landscape in England.  Most of the 1st Earl’s garden buildings survive too, although Alfred’s Hall, without doubt the most important of them, is now in an advanced state of decay and on the Buildings at Risk Register.  

Descent: Crown sold 1554 to Sir Anthony Kingston (d. 1556); to illeg. son, Anthony or Edmund; sold 1563 to Sir John Danvers (d. 1594), kt.; to son, Henry Danvers, 1st Baron Danvers and later 1st Earl of Danby; sold 1615 to Sir Henry Poole (d. 1616); to son, Sir Henry Poole (d. 1645), kt.; to son, Sir William Poole (d. 1651), kt.; to son, Henry Poole, who sold? to his sister Anne (d. 1692) and her husband, James Levingston (d. 1670), 1st Viscount of Newburgh and later 1st Earl of Newburgh; to son, Charles Levingston (d. 1694), 2nd Earl of Newburgh; to widow, Frances (d. 1736), Countess of Newburgh and later wife of Richard Bellew, 3rd Baron Bellew, who sold 1695 to Sir Benjamin Bathurst (1638-1704), kt.; to son, Rt. Hon. Allen Bathurst (1684-1775), 1st Baron and later 1st Earl Bathurst; to son, Rt. Hon. Henry Bathurst (1714-94), 1st Baron Apsley and later 2nd Earl Bathurst; to son, Rt. Hon. Henry Bathurst (1762-1834), 3rd Earl Bathurst; to son, Henry George Bathurst (1790-1866), 4th Earl Bathurst; to brother, William Lennox Bathurst (1791-1878), 5th Earl Bathurst; to nephew, Allen Alexander Bathurst (1832-92), 6th Earl Bathurst; to son, Seymour Henry Bathurst (1864-1943), 7th Earl Bathurst; to grandson, Henry John Allen Bathurst (1927-2011), 8th Earl Bathurst; to son, Allen Christopher Bertram Bathurst (b. 1961), 9th Earl Bathurst.

Langwith Lodge, Nether Langwith, Nottinghamshire

The village of Langwith between Mansfield (Notts) and Chesterfield (Derbys) is divided into two parts, with Upper Langwith to the west lying in Derbyshire and Nether Langwith to the east forming part of Nottinghamshire.The original manorial residence was the 17th century ‘Old Hall’ at Upper Langwith, which is said to have been built in 1632 and has mullioned windows and gabled dormers. This house survives but has been divided into three dwellings. In 1690 the estate, which extended into the adjoining villages of Cuckney, Scarcliffe and Palterton, was sold by the Pierrepont family to Sir Peter Apsley (d. 1691), whose son, also Peter Apsley, died in 1708 leaving the estate to his sister Catherine, the wife of Allen Bathurst (1684-1775), 1st Earl Bathurst.

Langwith Old Hall in 2013. Image: John Slater. Some rights reserved.

The Old Hall was superseded by the house now known as Langwith Lodge east of Nether Langwith. The only early illustration of this which I can trace shows a three-bay house with sash windows, to which wings with canted bays were added in the mid 18th century. The proportions of the centre block suggest strongly that it was originally a late 17th century building with mullioned windows, which were replaced with sashes, probably rather earlier than the addition of the wings. The house was originally called Langwith Hall, and first appears on a map of 1774 as such, but the later name was in use by the early 19th century. 

Langwith Lodge: drawing by S.H. Grimm, 1785, showing the possibly late 17th century house with its 18th century wings.
Image: Yale Center for British Art.

In the 1780s, a cotton mill was constructed by the Bathursts to the east of the site (creating substantial new employment and leading to an increase in the size of the village) and the river was dammed in front of Langwith Lodge to form a lake to supply the mill with water. The lake and grounds were landscaped in 1794, when James Dowland, the local agent of the Bathursts, had trees planted around the site, many of which survive around the lake and alongside the road. A lodge was also built around this time at the south eastern entrance. The view referred to shows a party of ladies and gentlemen in a rowing boat on the lake, and the 2nd Earl Bathurst seems to have used the house occasionally, but already in 1797 Throsby noted that "This family residence is seldom used as such by the present owner, indeed it is not frequently visited by the family", and it may have been occupied by James Dowland and his successors as agent. From the early 19th century it was generally leased: Robert Nassau Sutton was recorded as resident in 1823, and his son Peter Nassau Sutton in 1832; Henry Hollins, a local cotton merchant, lived there in 1841, soon followed by Captain Samuel William Need, a grandson of Samuel Need, the business partner of cotton miller Richard Arkwright.

The 4th Earl Bathurst sold Langwith Lodge with some land to the Duke of Portland in 1844, but retained those parts of the estate which formed part of the north Derbyshire coalfield until the early 20th century. In the 19th century there were large coal mining operations at Scarcliffe and Palterton and much of the landscape was obliterated by spoil heaps, now all smoothed away. When the house was sold, Captain S.W. Need remained as tenant, but in the same year changed his surname to Welfitt (his maternal uncle’s surname). Welfitt eventually became Colonel of the local yeomanry, and a JP, and remained at Langwith Lodge until his death in 1889. His widow died in 1899, and soon afterwards, in February 1900, the surviving contents of the house were auctioned off, and the building was demolished. It is not clear why: some accounts state that the house was damaged by fire after Mrs. Welfitt's death, but there are no reports of such a fire in the local press and the notices of the sale of the contents make no reference to any of the goods being damaged or smoke blackened, so this seems unlikely; it was probably just in poor condition. 

Langwith Lodge: engraving from The Building News, 1903 showing the design and plan of the new house.

Langwith Lodge: a postcard view of the new house in the early 20th century.
The 6th Duke of Portland commissioned the Yorkshire architect Louis Ambler to design a replacement house in the neo-Georgian style as a home for his agent. This was constructed in a very red brick with yellow stone dressings and completed in 1904. It is somewhat in the manner of Ernest Newton, and has an eleven bay front with slightly projecting wings and centre. The majority of the windows are plain sashes with segmental heads, but the wings have shallow canted bays on the ground floor and Venetian windows in the pedimented gable-ends. In the centre of the eleven-bay front is a single-storey porch with a segmental hood, and this has another Venetian window above it under a smaller pedimental gable. The skyline is kept busy with a series of closely-spaced segmental-pedimented dormer windows between the gables and on the side elevations, and tall chimneys. In 1920, the house and park was sold to H.A. Longbottom, who left in 1923, and then to W.H.T. Davies, who put it on the market in 1951. The house was purchased by the Ministry of Health in 1954 and converted into a diabetic hospital. Since then, there has been some building on the former grounds, but the open aspect over the lake to the south survives. The diabetic hospital closed in or about 1987 and the house then became a nursing home.

Descent: Pierrepont family sold 1691 to Sir Peter Apsley (d. 1691); to son, Peter Apsley (d. 1708); to sister, Catherine (1688-1768), wife of Allen Bathurst (1684-1775), 1st Earl Bathurst; to son, Henry Bathurst (1714-94), 2nd Earl Bathurst; to son, Henry Bathurst (1762-1834), 3rd Earl Bathurst; to son, Henry George Bathurst (1790-1866), 4th Earl Bathurst, who sold 1844 to William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck (1768-1854), 4th Duke of Portland; to son, William John Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck (1808-79), 5th Duke of Portland; to cousin, William John Arthur Charles James Cavendish-Bentinck (1857-1943), 6th Duke of Portland; sold 1920 to H.A. Longbotham; sold c.1923 to W.H.T. Davies; sold 1954 to Ministry of Health.

Fairy Hill (later Fairy Hall), Mottingham, Kent

An 18th century villa, known initially as Fairy Hill but from the late 1770s as Fairy Hall, which was either built for or sold before 1771 to, Henry Bathurst, 1st Baron Apsley and later 2nd Earl Bathurst, who made this his chief residence during his term as Lord Chancellor. Although Lord Apsley was employing Robert Adam to design his London town house from 1771, there are no drawings in the Soane Museum to connect Adam with work on this site.

Fairy Hall, Mottingham: the house as rebuilt in 1857 for James Hartley.
No record has been found of its appearance, for it was either remodelled or rebuilt in 1857 for James Hartley, a shipowner, as a five bay rendered house of two storeys with a central single-storey porch carried on four Tuscan columns. There is a tripartite window above the porch and a rather limp pediment above that. It was given an Italianate tower at one corner, and the building was later estimated to have cost £25,000. In the 1880s, the house was acquired by the Royal Naval School, the former home of which at New Cross had become too industrial to be a suitable location. Fairy Hall was enlarged by the addition of wings either side of the existing building in a matching style, which were completed before the school opened in 1889. A chapel was built between the house and the road in 1903, but the School closed in 1910 and the premises were sold in 1912 to the School for the Sons and Orphans of Missionaries, which later developed into the present co-educational Eltham College.

Fairy Hall, Mottingham: the house as enlarged in 1889 for the Royal Naval School. The house is now the home of Eltham College.
Image: Eltham College.

Descent: Henry Bathurst (1714-94), 1st Baron Apsley and 2nd Earl Bathurst; to son, Henry Bathurst (1762-1834), 3rd Earl Bathurst; sold before 1797 to Mr Nelson of London; sold to William Smith (d. by 1839); to Alfred Brettle (fl. 1843); to John Griffith Frith (fl. 1846); to James Hartley (d. 1857); to widow Jane Hartley; to R.B. Carson (fl. 1866-68); to R.H. Atkinson (fl. 1869) sold c.1889 to Royal Naval School; sold 1912 to School for Sons and Orphans of Missionaries, later Eltham College.

Principal sources

Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp.; A. Kippis, Biographia Britannica, 1778, vol. 1, p. 692; J.A. Hankey, History of the Apsley and Bathurst families, 1889; G.E. C[okayne], The complete peerage, vol. 2, 1912, pp. 28-32; Country Life, 26 July 1913, p. 126; Country Life, 16 June 1950, p. 1796; G. Sherburn (ed), The correspondence of Alexander Pope, 1956, ii, p. 116; J. Lees-Milne, Earls of Creation, 1962, pp. 22-33;  C. Hussey, English gardens and landscapes, 1700-50, 1967, pp. 78-83; Sir N. Pevsner & J. Sherwood, The buildings of England: Oxfordshire, 1974, pp. 202-07; A. Everitt, The community of Kent and the Great Rebellion, 1640-60, 1986, pp. 189-90, 200; M. Batey & D. Lambert, The English garden tour, 1990, p. 152; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam, 1991, pp. 264, 279-85; N.W. Kingsley, The country houses of Gloucestershire: vol. 2, 1660-1830, 1992, pp. 100-03;  Sir N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, The buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, 2nd edn., 1994, p. 415; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy, 1701-1800, 1999, pp. 60-61; Sir H.M. Colvin, ‘The Townesends of Oxford’, Georgian Group Journal, x, 2000, p. 48; E. Harris, ‘Adam at No 1 London’, Country Life, 1 Nov. 2001; N.W. Kingsley, The country houses of Gloucestershire: vol. 1, 1500-1660, 2nd edn., 2001, pp. 71-72; T. Mowl, Historic gardens of Glos, 2002, p. 12, 67-72; VCH Northamptonshire, vol. 5, 2002, pp. 245-89; T. Warrener, A History of Langwith, Nether Langwith & Whaley Thorns, 2008; W.A. Brogden, Ichnographia Rustica: Stephen Switzer and the designed landscape, 2017, pp. 51-55, 81-90.

Location of archives

Bathurst of Cirencester, Earls Bathurst: deeds, estate papers (Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire) and family papers, 14th-20th cents [Gloucestershire Archives, D2525, D4483]; Hothorpe estate deeds and estate papers, 17th-18th cents [Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland DE30]; family correspondence and papers, 18th-19th cents [British Library, MS Loan 57]; business correspondence re Morning Post, 20th cent. [Leeds University Library, Special Collections, MS Dep 1990/1]

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide an image of the Georgian house at Fairy Hill, Mottingham before it was rebuilt in 1857?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 22 March 2021 and updated 25 March 2021. I am particularly grateful to my friends Mike Hill and Freddie Hervey-Bathurst for their assistance with this entry.

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