Monday 11 October 2021

(270) Aldous of Freston House and Chediston Hall

Aldous of Fressingfield etc. 
The genealogy of the Aldous family can be traced continuously from William Adams (d. c.1531) of Fressingfield (Suffk), in which village they were yeomen and minor gentry over several generations. William's great-grandson, Richard Aldous (1578-1656) settled at nearby Wingfield (Suffk), and his descendants were prosperous farmers who owned or leased properties in Wingfield, Hoxne and Stradbrooke through the 17th and 18th centuries: their social apogee was probably achieved when R
ichard Aldous (1686-1751), rented Wingfield Castle from Sir Charles Turner in the early 18th century. Their arms were recorded at the herald's visitation of 1664, but were subsequently respited, which probably implies a perceived decline in the family's social status, and Jonathan Aldous (1714-86) of Hoxne and Tannington was described simply as 'farmer'.  Jonathan's great-grandson, James Aldous (1802-68), moved to London, where he was working as a blacksmith by the 1820s, when he married Elizabeth Bugg (d. 1843), the daughter of another smith. He seems later to have found work in the railway industry and was described as an engineer in the 1851 census, by which time he had married again and produced a second family.

James' son by his first marriage, James Robert Aldous (1827-76), with whom the genealogy below begins, was thus born into pretty humble circumstances, but in his relatively short life he achieved a considerable reversal of the family fortunes. He is said to have broken all connection with his father after the death of his mother when he was sixteen, and he became a salesman for J. & W. Nicholson, the London gin distillers (who are still in business), and was recorded in several documents as a commercial traveller. By 1867, however, he had become a partner in the firm, which suggests that he was an exceptionally good salesman, whose loyalty the firm needed to reward. It was probably this partnership which enabled him to send two of his sons to Cambridge University and to leave at his death a personal estate of £35,000. Although he left this property to his widow for life, with the capital to be divided equally between his children on his death, the family seem to have agreed a different arrangement, as his widow lived on until 1913, and by 1893 we know that each of the five sons had received money from their father's estate.

Of the five sons, the eldest, James Edward Aldous (1855-1920), became a barrister; he lived in London and married but had no children. The second son, Ralph Aldous (1857-93), went to Australia but came back and farmed in Surrey with a friend until he was killed in a shooting accident. The three remaining sons went into the brewing industry, and of these it was the eldest, Hugh Graham Aldous (1859-1930), who was the most successful, becoming managing director of Mitchell & Aldous at the Kilburn Brewery in north London until he retired in 1920.
Gedding Hall: aerial view in 2014.
In 1910 he obtained a regrant of the family coat of arms, and in 1924 he bought the spectacular moated Gedding Hall in Suffolk, although he lived to enjoy it for only six years. His three sons sold Gedding in 1933, but after the Second World War his youngest son, Guy Travers Aldous (1906-81), a barrister, settled at Freston House, which his wife's parents had bought in 1934. The eldest of the three brothers, James Robert Travers Aldous (1898-1985), pursued a career in the army, retiring in 1950 as a Brigadier-General. He bought Hitcham House (Suffk) in 1952, and his widow continued to live there until 1993. Freston House was occupied by Guy Aldous' widow and then his daughter until she sold it in about 1998, moving to a smaller property in Freston village.

Guy Aldous' eldest son, James Aldous (1933-2010), bought the Chediston Hall estate in Suffolk in 1969. The Tudor and 19th century house here had sadly been demolished in 1955, but James built a much smaller new house to act as a centre for the estate, which remains the property of his family today.

Freston House, Suffolk

Freston House: engraving of the house in 1854, showing it before the addition of the bow windows.
The house was built in the early 1850s as the rectory for the Rev. Alfred Bond (1827-1908), whose father had been the rector here until his death in 1831, and whose elder brother was the major local landowner. Alfred was the incumbent from 1853 until 1880, but it is possible that the house was built in anticipation of his being presented to the living as the family owned the advowson and could therefore ensure his appointment on the death or resignation of the existing incumbent. This is suggested by an engraving published in 1854 which shows the house complete. As first built it was a plain square three storey building given an Italianate air by wide oversailing eaves and a low pitched roof. The east and west fronts had three bays, and the north front two widely-spaced ones; a lower service wing lay on the south side. The house was altered by the addition of two canted bay windows on the north front and another two on the east front in about 1870

Freston House: the east front and service wing from an early 20th century postcard.
In 1887-88 a new rectory was built nearby, and this building passed into private ownership. It seems to have been little altered in the 20th century, but the present owners have built a large extension onto the south end of the house, more than doubling it in size, and have laid out a fine garden, which is occasionally open to the public under the National Gardens Scheme.

Descent: built c.1853 for Rev. Alfred Bond (1827-1908); sold by Church Commissioners c.1890 to Herbert Jervis-White-Jervis (1858-1934); sold after his death to Stuart Paul (1879-1961) of Freston Lodge for use of his daughter Elizabeth Angela (1910-89), wife of Guy Travers Aldous (1906-81); to daughter, Elizabeth Aldous (b. 1947), who sold c.1998 to Alfred Johnson Elbrick (b. 1938); sold 2004 to Andrew & Judith Whittle.

Chediston Hall, Suffolk

The house stands about halfway between the village of Chediston and the neighbouring town of Halesworth. An archaeological survey of the site did not reveal any evidence of medieval occupation, so it seems likely that the medieval manor house was in the village, and that the first house on this site was a timber-framed building of Tudor date, perhaps built for Walter Norton (d. 1609), whose father, Robert Norton (d. 1561), acquired the estate in about 1550. The Nortons sold the estate during or just before the Civil War to Sir John Pettus, a prominent Royalist, whose estate was sequestrated by the Parliamentarians, although he recovered it on payment of a fine of £886. In 1722, the estate was sold to Walter Plumer (d. 1746), and an estate map which was made at the time shows the Tudor house to have had a traditional E-plan form, with long wings projecting either side of a central hall range, and enclosing a courtyard which was closed on the fourth side by a high wall with large gates. There was a full-height porch in the centre of the hall range. Walter Plumer was said in 1735 to have 'lately rebuilt the Hall in a beautiful Manner and made it his seat', but later estate maps still show the E-plan. It seems likely that what Plumer did was to demolish the enclosing wall on the fourth side of the courtyard, shorten the wings, and provide new fenestration and new interiors, while retaining the basic E-plan form. He may also have laid out a garden, as a long rectangular canal in the grounds today is thought to be 18th century.

Chediston descended to William Plumer (d. 1822), being described in 1819 as 'now a farmhouse'. Plumer's widow married a Capt. Lewin and then the author Robert Ward, who took the additional name Plumer. He first mortgaged the estate to a company which exceeded its limited powers to hold land, with the result that the estate escheated to the Crown. The Crown regranted the estate to Ward, who then sold it in 1833 to George Parkyns (d. 1845), a scion of the Parkyns family of Bunny Hall (Notts), who is said to have rebuilt the house in neo-Jacobean style. This 'rebuilding' was again more in the nature of a remodelling than a complete reconstruction. Designs are known to have been prepared by Edward Blore, and although none of his known schemes was followed exactly, it seems possible that he was also responsible for the final design. The timber-framed building was encased in white bricks, and the full-height porch with polygonal angle-turrets was probably rebuilt. The house was given a battlemented parapet and string courses between the floors.

Chediston Hall: aerial view of the Tudor house altered by Edward Blore in 1932.

Chediston Hall: view of the house from the south-west.
After Parkyns' death it came to light that his title was defective, as he had been born in France and under the law as it then stood, was technically an alien and incapable of holding land in England, so the property again escheated to the Crown. The situation was regularised by the Crown regranting the property to Parkyns' daughter and heiress, Madame Marie Claire Leguen de Lacroix, who was naturalised as a British subject, and it then passed uneventfully to her descendants until the mid 20th century, although it was generally let to tenants. During the Second World War the house was requisitioned for military use, and was apparently badly damaged by a fire while being used to house Italian prisoners of war. After the war, the estate is said to have been acquired by Sir Bernard Docker's London Metropolitan Railway Co., but the house was not lived in again and was demolished in 1955.

Chediston Hall: the modern house of 1969. Image: Charles Aldous.
In 1969, the estate was bought by James Aldous (1933-2010). He built a new house as a centre for the estate to the designs of R.G. Carter (Norwich) Ltd. in 1969-70, which is essentially a five-bay, two storey block of red brick with a rear wing. The house is solidly constructed and pleasantly light and airy inside. The slightly broader central bay is fenestrated as three narrow bays, which gives a nod to a Georgian composition, but the proportions and materials of the building are otherwise entirely contemporary and urban. 

Descent: sold c.1550 to Robert Norton (d. 1561); to son, Walter Norton (d. 1609); to son, Henry Norton (d. 1638); sold after his death to Sir John Pettus; sold after 1662 to George Fleetwood (d. c.1695); to widow; to son, Gustavus Fleetwood (d. 1722); sold after his death to Walter Plumer (d. 1746); to brother, William Plumer (d. 1768); to son, William Plumer (d. 1822); to widow, who married Capt. Lewin and then Robert Ward (later Robert Plumer Ward); sold 1833 to George Parkyns (d. 1845); seized by Crown but regranted 1846 to Marie Claire Leguen de Lacroix...Eugene Jean Louis Leguen de Lacroix (d. 1936)...sold c.1950 to Sir Bernard Docker (London Metropolitan Railway Co.) and demolished; site sold 1969 to James Aldous (1933-2010), who built a new house; to widow, Sally Aldous.

Aldous family of Freston Hall and Chediston Hall

Aldous, James Robert (1827-76). Son of James Aldous (1802-68), blacksmith and later engineer, and his first wife Elizabeth Bugg (d. 1843), born 26 February, and baptised* at St George in the East, Tower Hamlets, 25 March 1827. He is said to have severed all connection with his father after the death of his mother and his father's subsequent marriage to his mistress. He became a traveller for J. & W. Nicholson & Co., gin distillers, and presumably functioned as the firm's sales manager; he became a partner by 1867. He married, 13 July 1854, Rebecca Susannah Crawte (1828-1913), daughter of Edward Thomas Scoones of East Farleigh (Kent), blacksmith, and had issue:
(1) James Edward Aldous (1855-1920), born 7 April and baptised at Dalston (Middx), 13 June 1855; educated at Sherborne School and Queens' College, Cambridge (matriculated 1874; BA 1878; MA 1919) and Inner Temple (admitted 1878; called 1881); barrister-at-law on the South-Eastern Circuit; examiner to the Inns of Court, 1887; married, 27 August 1907 at All Saints, Battersea Park, London, Agnes (1865-1949), daughter of William Clark, but had no issue; died 24 October 1920 and was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery; will proved 17 December 1920 (estate £5,231);
(2) Ralph Aldous (1857-93), born 26 March and baptised at Dalston, 14 October 1857; spent some time in Australia but returned to England and became a gentleman farmer at Dormansland (Surrey) in partnership with Frank Woodin from about 1889; died unmarried as the result of a shooting accident or possible suicide, 4 November 1893;
(3) Hugh Graham Aldous (1859-1930) (q.v.);
(4) Thomas Duncan Aldous (1861-1921), born 5 July 1861; consulting brewer; married, 20 January 1887 at St John the Evangelist, Clifton, Bristol (Glos), Blanche Mary (1861-1942), daughter of Harry Joseph Manley, Bank of England clerk, but had no issue; died 12 November 1921; will proved 20 December 1921 (estate £8,095);
(5) Elizabeth Mary Rebecca Aldous (1863-1957), born 11 September and baptised at St Mary, Islington (Middx), 18 November 1863; married, 2 July 1895 at St Mary, The Boltons, Kensington (Middx), Rev. John Theodore Thomas Robinson (1864-1939), vicar of St Michael, Highgate (Middx), son of Rev. Charles Edward Robinson of Torquay (Devon), and had issue three children; died aged 93 on 25 January 1957; will proved 3 June 1957 (estate £376);
(6) Arthur George Aldous (1867-1942), born 3 January 1867; educated at Sherborne and Hertford College, Oxford (matriculated 1886; BA 1890; MA); hop merchant; married, 17 April 1902, Alice Maude (d. 1944), daughter of Edward Mackenzie Young of Adelaide, South Australia, and had issue one daughter; died 27 February 1942; will proved 11 May 1942 (estate £11,615);
(7) Edith Anne Aldous (1870-1958), born 24 September 1870; spent much of her life in mental hospitals and died unmarried at The Priory, Roehampton (Surrey), 15 April 1958; administration of goods (with will annexed) granted 28 November 1958 (estate £4,652).
He lived in the Hackney and Islington area of north London. His widow moved to Earls Court (Middx).
He died 7 December 1876; his will was proved 8 January 1877 (effects under £35,000). His widow died 29 September 1913; her will was proved 4 November 1913 (estate £485).
* James Robert was baptised as the child of James and Elizabeth Bugg, but in 1837 his father swore an affidavit that the name should have been entered as Aldous. James and Elizabeth Aldous were in fact married at Finsbury (Middx) on Christmas Day, 1825.

Aldous, Hugh Graham (1859-1930). Third son of James Robert Aldous (1827-76) and his wife Rebecca Susannah Crawte, daughter of Edward Thomas Scoones of Barming (Kent), born 15 May and baptised at All Saints, Haggerston (Middx),28 August 1859. Educated at Sherborne School and the Royal School of Mines, Cornwall. Managing director of Mitchell & Aldous, brewers at Kilburn Brewery (Middx) (retired 1920), and Vice-President of the Institute of Brewing; he became a member of the Institute's 'Laboratory Club' and was a pioneer in the application of scientific methods to brewing. He obtained a regrant of the family coat of arms in 1910. He married, 20 January 1898 at St Mary, The Boltons, Kensington (Middx), Catherine May Inez (1868-1946), only daughter of Maj-Gen. Richard Henry Travers, and had issue:
(1) Brig. James Robert Travers Aldous (1898-1985) (q.v.);
(2) Maj. Hugh Francis Travers Aldous (1900-79), born 30 September and baptised at St Mary, The Boltons, Kensington (Middx), 2 November 1900; educated at Cheltenham College; an officer in the Royal Engineers (2nd Lt., 1919; Lt., 1921; Capt., 1930; Maj. by 1938; retired disabled 1946); Associate Member of Institution of Electricial Engineers; married 1st, 27 June 1928 at St Peter, Pimlico, Westminster (Middx) (div. 1937), Aline Hester Vernon (1906-92), eldest daughter of William Evelyn Long of Hurts Hall (Suffk), and had issue one son and two daughters; married 2nd, 29 August 1941, Emily (1914-2008?), eldest daughter of Frank Watkinson of Scarborough (Yorks), and had further issue one son; died Apr-Jun 1979;
(3) Guy Travers Aldous (1906-81) (q.v.).
He purchased Gedding Hall (Suffk) in 1924, but it was sold by his executors in 1933.
He died 17 July 1930; his will was proved 17 October 1930 (estate £22,318). His widow died 9 March 1946 and was buried at Gedding; administration of her goods was granted 19 October 1946 (estate £2,873).

Aldous, Brigadier James Robert Travers (1898-1985). Eldest son of Hugh Graham Aldous (1859-1930) and his wife Catherine May Inez, only daughter of Col. Richard Henry Travers, born 5 October and baptised at St Mary, The Boltons, Kensington (Middx), 12 November 1898. Educated at Cheltenham College, Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and (after the First World War) at Magdalene College, Cambridge. An officer in the Royal Engineers (2nd Lt., 1916; Lt., 1917; Capt., 1925; Maj., 1934; Lt-Col., 1941; Col., 1944; Brig. 1948; retired 1950); awarded MC, 1918, appointed CBE, 1946 and awarded King Haakon VII Liberty Cross (Norway), 1949. DL for Suffolk, 1964; High Sheriff of Suffolk, 1969-70; County Councillor, 1952 and County Alderman, 1962 for West Suffolk; Vice-Chairman of West Suffolk County Council; member of East Anglian Regional Hospital Board, 1959. As a young man he was a member of the Oxford University Arctic Expedition of 1924, and he became a member of the Alpine Club, 1932. Author of Family Notebook (1964), about the Morse family and its links to the Pasteurs. He married, 31 October 1925, Nancy Corona JP (1902-93), only daughter of Sir George Henry Morse of Thorpe St. Andrew (Norfk), and had issue:
(1) Pamela Nancy Aldous (1926-2019), born 16 July 1926; married, 16 June 1956, Henry Anthony Lillingston (1925-2017), youngest son of Lt-Col. Edward George Grey Lillingston DSO of Salcombe (Devon) and had issue one son and two daughters; died aged 92 on 14 February 2019; will proved 4 September 2019;
(2) Inez Rosemary Aldous (1928-2013), born 13 July 1928; educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, Girton College, Cambridge (MB, 1955; BCh; DCH, 1958; DPH) and St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London; admitted LRCP, 1954; involved in controversial testing programme for measles vaccine, c.1960, and later physician in public health service; died unmarried, 30 September 2013; will proved 18 March 2014;
(3) Col. James Graham Aldous (b. 1942), born 4 October 1942; educated at Eton; an officer in the army (2nd Lt., 1963; Lt., 1966; Capt., 1969; Maj., 1975; Lt-Col., 1980; Col., 1989; retired 1997); awarded OBE, 1988; married, 13 December 1969, Susan Elizabeth Harding (b. 1944) and had issue two sons and three daughters; now living.
He lived bought Hitcham House (Suffk) before 1952; it was sold after his widow's death in 1993.
He died 11 July 1985; his will was proved 30 January 1986 (estate £172,174). His widow died 24 December 1993; her will was proved 1 February 1994 (estate £545,109).

Aldous, Guy Travers (1906-81). Third son of Hugh Graham Aldous (1859-1930) and his wife Catherine May Inez, only daughter of Col. Richard Henry Travers, born 30 August and baptised at St Mary, The Boltons, Kensington (Middx), 23 October 1906. Educated at Harrow, Trinity College, Cambridge (BA; LLB) and the Inner Temple (admitted 1926; called 1930; bencher, 1963); barrister-at-law specialising in patent and tax law (QC 1956; retired from bar, 1967). Director of Showerings Ltd., 1968-81; Master of Suffolk Hunt, 1958-60, and of Essex & Suffolk Hunt, 1967-76. He married, 22 September 1932, Elizabeth Angela (1910-89), daughter of Stuart Paul of Freston Lodge (Suffk), and had issue:
(1) James Aldous (1933-2010) (q.v.);
(2) Rt. Hon. Sir William Aldous (1936-2018), kt., born 17 March 1936; educated at Harrow, Trinity College, Cambridge (BA 1957; MA 1960) and Inner Temple (called 1960; bencher, 1983); barrister-at-law (QC 1976); chairman of the Performing Rights Tribunal, 1986-88; a judge of the Chancery division of the High Court, 1988-95; a Lord Justice of Appeal, 1995-2003, and a Lord Justice of Appeal for Gibraltar, 2005-15; knighted, 1988 and sworn of the Privy Council, 1995; lived at Layham Lodge, Lower Layham (Suffk); chairman of British Eventing, 2005-06; married, 3 September 1960, Gillian Frances (fl. 2021), only daughter of John Gordon Henson CBE of Boothby Graffoe (Lincs), and had issue one son and two daughters; died 17 March 2018; will proved 19 July 2018;
(3) Thomas Aldous (b. 1938), of Steeple Claydon (Bucks), born 5 July 1938; educated at Harrow; director of Gillman & Spencer Ltd of Ipswich, brewers; married, 31 March 1962, Serena Margaret Clare (b. 1941), daughter of Col. Michael George Howard Henley CBE of Maunditts Park Farm, Little Somerford (Wilts), and had issue one son and one daughter; now living;
(4) Charles Aldous (b. 1943), born 3 July 1943; educated at Harrow, University College, London (LLB) and Inner Temple (called 1967); barrister-at-law (QC 1985); bencher of Lincoln's Inn, 1993; married, 17 May 1969, Hermione Sara (b. 1944), daughter of Montague George de Courcy-Ireland of Abington Pigotts Hall (Cambs), and had issue one son and three daughters;
(5) Elizabeth Aldous (b. 1947), born 23 April 1947; farmer; lived at Freston House, which she sold c.1998, and later in the village; chairman of Freston Parish Council.
His father-in-law bought Freston House (Suffolk) in 1934 and he lived there until his death, after which it was occupied by his widow and daughter.
He died 4 August 1981 and was buried at Freston; his will was proved 12 February 1982 (estate £399,729). His widow died 2 June 1989 and was also buried at Freston; her will was proved 17 January 1990 (estate £964,511).

Aldous, James (1933-2010). Eldest son of Guy Travers Aldous (1906-81) and his wife Elizabeth Angela, daughter of Stuart Paul of Freston Lodge (Suffk), born 16 October 1933. Educated at Harrow. An officer in the Prince of Wales' Dragoon Guards (Lt.); director of Paul's Foods Ltd, Ipswich (to 1969); farmer at Chediston Hall estate (from 1969) and a member of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists. He married, 2 April 1960, Dorothy Sarah (k/a Sally), elder daughter of Richard Peter Heywood of Manor Farm, Ingoldisthorpe (Norfk), and had issue:
(1) Peter James Guy Aldous (b. 1961), of Bonners Farm, Wissett (Suffk), born 26 August 1961; educated at Harrow and Reading Univ. (BSc, 1982); chartered surveyor in private practice in Norwich and Ipswich, 1983-2010; member of Suffolk County Council, 2001-05; Conservative MP for Waveney, 2010-date;
(2) Robert John Aldous (b. 1963), born 7 October 1963; educated at Harrow, Girton College, Cambridge (MA) and Inner Temple (called 1985); barrister-at-law in Norwich; married, 10 October 1998, Helen E., daughter of Edmund Charles Prinn, and has issue two sons;
(3) Simon Henry Aldous (b. 1972), born 20 June 1972; educated at Harrow; married, 2002, Vicky I. Cowley, and had issue one son and one daughter.
He purchased the Chedington Hall estate and built a new house there in 1969-70, funded in part by the sale of two Elizabeth farmhouses on the estate.
He died 28 July 2010; his will was proved 18 May 2011. His widow is now living.

Principal sources
Burke's Landed Gentry, 1965, pp. 7-9; P. Reid et al, Burke's & Savills Guide to Country Houses: vol. 3, East Anglia, 1981, p. 222; W.M. Roberts, Lost country houses of Suffolk, 2010, pp. 56-57

Location of archives
No significant accumulation is known to survive.

Coat of arms
Argent, a chevron between three parrots rising gules, on a chief sable, as many mullets of the first, pierced.

Can you help?
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above.
  • If anyone can offer further information or corrections I should be most grateful. I am always particularly pleased to hear from current owners or the descendants of families associated with a property who can supply information from their own research or personal knowledge for inclusion.

Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 11 October 2021 and updated 31 October 2021. I am most grateful for the encouragement of Charles Aldous to prepare this post.

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