Sunday 26 February 2023

(536) Bell of Bourne Park

Bell of Bourne Park
This family owed its place in the landed gentry entirely to the brilliance and diligence of one man: John Bell (1764-1836), with whom the genealogy below begins. He came from a middle-class background in Kendal (Westmorland) but had the misfortune to be orphaned at an early age, and was raised by his aunt. Sent to local grammar schools, he proved an enthusiastic student, and at Cambridge he emerged as the Senior Wrangler (the student with the highest marks in the final exams in the Mathematics tripos), which has been called 'the greatest intellectual achievement attainable in Britain'. He then went on to the Middle Temple (and later to Grays Inn) to train as a barrister, being called to the bar in 1792. It was a career for which he was in some ways curious unfitted, since he spoke all his life with a strong regional accent, had a stammer, and wrote a hand which was barely legible at the best of times. His ability as a lawyer outweighed all these difficulties, however, and he became highly successful in a very competitive environment: the Lord Chancellor thought him the ablest lawyer at the Chancery bar. His public career is well-documented, but his private life is more obscure. He had evidently been widowed after a childless marriage before, in 1815, he married Jane Grove. They had only one child: a son called Matthew Bell (1817-1903), and when John died in 1836 his wealth was distributed between his widow and his son, who came of age two years later. Although John had been some years retired by then, and had bought an estate at Milton near Canterbury (where he rebuilt the church in 1829), much of his wealth was still held in the form of investments. 

In his will, John Bell expressed the hope that his son would train for the law, but Matthew's inclinations were much more to the life of the country gentleman. He sold out many of his father's investments in order to buy the Bourne Park estate at Bishopsbourne, which had a significantly grander house than existed at Milton, and in the late 1840s he undertook a substantial programme of improvements to it, including the creation of the lake which is such an important feature of the grounds today. He served his turn as High Sheriff in 1850, and occupied himself with being an active farmer and hop-grower as well as being a JP and Deputy Lieutenant for the county and taking his place on the boards of local charities. He seems to have been regarded as a good and generous landlord, and in the late 1840s, when many tenants were struggling to pay their rent, he remitted 10% of what was due to him. He married in 1839 and his wife bore eleven children over the next twenty years: five sons and six daughters, of whom only one son died in infancy, although another died aged nineteen, perhaps of tuberculosis. His heir apparent was his eldest son, Matthew John Bell (1840-1902), who went into the army but retired as a captain in 1869, shortly before his marriage in 1870 to Kathleen Reilly, the daughter of a Dublin barrister. They had one son and two daughters, but Matthew John died after a long illness in 1902 before inheriting the Bourne estate. His father seems not to have recovered from the shock of losing his eldest son, and died the following year, leaving as his heir Matthew John's only son, Matthew Gerald Edward Bell (1871-1926), who also joined the army. He retired as a captain in 1909, but rejoined his regiment in the First World War, serving on the General Staff, and finally retired as a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1919. His uncle, Herbert James Bell (1853-1918), who lived on the Bourne estate and was a solicitor, assisted with the management of the estate while Matthew was in the army, but died shortly before the end of the First World War. Matthew came back to Bourne and took up the reins of estate management, taking much of his land in hand and farming it himself in an effort to get a better return. When he died at a comparatively young age in 1926 his son was still a minor, and his executors took the decision to sell the estate, bringing to a close the family's brief century as landed gentry.

Bourne Park, Bishopbourne, Kent

This house has been described in a previous post.

Bell family of Bourne Park

John Bell (1765-1836) 
Bell, John (1764-1836).
Son of Matthew Bell (1733-66) of Kirkland, Kendal (Westmld) and his wife Agnes, daughter of William Yeats of Beetham (Lancs), born at Kendal, 23 October 1764. Orphaned at an early age, he was brought up by an aunt. Educated at Kirkby Lonsdale School, Beetham Grammar School, Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1781; BA (senior wrangler), 1786; MA 1789), Middle Temple (admitted 1787) and Grays Inn (migrated 1790; called 1792; bencher 1813; treasurer, 1818-19, 1834-35). He became a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1787, was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1797, and was made a KC in 1816 and a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1824. The Lord Chancellor (Lord Eldon) thought him the ablest lawyer at the Chancery bar, 
though he could 'neither read, write, walk, nor talk': Bell was lame, spoke with a broad Westmorland accent, the effect of which was heightened by a stammer, and wrote in a hand never more than barely legible*. He was a vehement opponent of changes to the operation of the law courts and expressed his views in evidence to a royal commission in 1824 and a pamphlet, Thoughts on the proposed alterations in the court of Chancery, (1830), but he was a Whig in politics. He married**, 29 July 1815 at St Giles in the Fields, Holborn (Middx), Jane (d. 1855), daughter of Henry Grove, and had issue:
(1) Matthew Bell (1817-1903) (q.v.).
He lived at Bedford Square in London, but had purchased an estate at Milton near Canterbury (Kent) before 1829. His widow lived latterly at Oswalds, Bishopsbourne (Kent).
He died 6 February, and was buried at Milton near Canterbury, 18 February 1836; his will was proved in the PCC, 26 February 1836. His widow died 4 October 1855; her will was proved in the PCC, 24 November 1855.
* According to his obituaries, he 'used facetiously to say. when asked what sort of hand he thought he really wrote, that had three sorts—one that himself could read—one that his clerk could read—and one that neither he nor his clerk could read'!
** This was apparently at least his second marriage, as he is described as a widower in the register; his first marriage may have been at the lawyers' church of St Andrew Holborn, where a John Bell married Diana Higgins in 1788 and a John Bell married a Sarah Hancock in 1792, but there are many other possibilities.

Bell, Matthew (1817-1903). Only son of John Bell (1764-1836) and his wife Jane, daughter of Henry Grove, born 7 July and baptised at St Giles in the Fields, Holborn (Middx), 2 August 1817. Educated at Eton, Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1834; BA 1838; MA 1841) and Grays Inn (admitted 1836). JP and DL (from 1852) for Kent; High Sheriff of Kent, 1850. An officer in the East Kent Yeomanry (Capt., 1853). Landowner, farmer and hop-grower. He was a trustee of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and the Rochester Bridge Trust, and a director of the Equitable Life Assurance Society. He married, 13 June 1839 at St Mary, Bryanston Sq., Westminster (Middx), Fanny Cecilia (1815-1908), youngest daughter of Thomas Hanway Bigge (1776?-1824) of Newcastle-on-Tyne and Longbenton (Northbld), banker, and had issue:
(1) Matthew John Bell (1840-1902) (q.v.);
(2) Edward Shurland Bell (1841-61), born 1 September and baptised at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Westminster, 29 September 1841; died unmarried, 16 April 1861;
(3) Florence Jane Bell (1842-1921), born 18 September and baptised at Bishopsbourne, 24 November 1842; married, 28 July 1868 at Bishopsbourne, Maj. Allen George Douglas (1834-93), only son of Henry Hamilton Douglas, and had issue one daughter; died 26 January 1921 (estate £22,648);
(4) Charles George Bell (1843-85), born 6 September and baptised at Bishopsbourne, 26 October 1843; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1861); an officer in the 23rd Foot (Ensign, 1863; Lt., 1868; ret. 1873), who was apparently subsequently a planter in Ceylon; married, 17 July 1875 at St Paul, Knightsbridge (Middx), Frances Emma Honoria (later k/a Fanny Beresford) (c.1851-1921), second daughter of Col. John James Whyte of Newtown Manor (Co. Leitrim), and had issue one son and two daughters; died at sea on his passage home from Ceylon, 18 May 1885, and was buried in the Red Sea; administration of his goods granted to his widow, 7 December 1886 (effects £183);
(5) An unnamed son (b. & d. 1845), born 10 March 1845 but died the same day;
(6) Fanny Alice Bell (1846-1928), born 5 April and baptised at Bishopsbourne, 22 May 1846; married, 26 October 1865 at Bishopsbourne, Charles Stewart Hardy (1842-1914) of Chilham Castle (Kent) and had issue five sons and three daughters; died 14 June 1928 and was buried at Chilham;
(7) Augusta Rose Bell (1848-1945), born 27 January and baptised at St Mary, Bryanston Sq., Westminster (Middx), 28 February 1848; married, 4 January 1876 at Bishopsbourne, Lt. William Gaven Eden RN (1849-1931) of Benburb, East Grinstead (Sussex), eldest son of Rev. Arthur Eden, vicar of Ticehurst (Sussex), and had issue two sons and four daughters; died aged 97 on 13 December 1945; will proved 3 May 1946 (estate £4,027);
(8) Eleanor Margaret Bell (1849-1933), born 8 July and baptised at Bishopsbourne, 7 September 1849; married, 16 July 1874 at Bishopsbourne, Canon Arthur Ellison Molineux (1846-1919), vicar of Minster-in-Thanet (Kent), rural dean of Westbere and hon. Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, fourth son of George Molineux of Lewes (Sussex), banker, and had issue two daughters; died 23 April 1933; will proved 31 July 1933 (estate £13,364);
(9) Constance Georgina Bell (1851-1940), born 7 April and baptised at Bishopsbourne, 25 May 1851; married, 30 July 1872 at Bishopsbourne, Maj-Gen. Frederick Thomas Whinyates (1833-1915) of Abbotsleigh, Bournemouth (Hants), but had no issue; died 18 December 1940; will proved 15 March 1941 (estate £17,486);
(10) Herbert James Bell (1853-1918), born 16 August 1853; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1871); solicitor; died unmarried, 14 September 1918 and was buried at Bishopsbourne; will proved 7 November 1918 (estate £31,918);
(11) Gertrude Cecilia Bell (1858-1946), born 9 August and baptised at Bishopsbourne, 26 September 1858; married, 23 June 1885 at Bishopsbourne, Maj. Philip Francis Durham (1852-1932) of Wingfield, Highcliffe, Christchurch (Hants), eldest son of Patrick Francis Durham (1808-81) of Glanymor House, Aberystwyth (Cardigans.), and had issue one son and one daughter; died 24 January 1946; will proved 16 August 1946 (estate £6,074).
He purchased Bourne Park in 1844 and remodelled it to the designs of John Shaw in 1848-49.
He died 24 December 1903 and was buried at Bishopsbourne, where he is commemorated by a brass plaque; his will was proved 21 January 1904 (estate £55,106). His widow died at Bordighera (Italy), 17 December 1908 but was buried at Bishopsbourne, where she is also commemorated by a brass plaque; her will was proved 4 February 1909 (estate £3,906).

Bell, Matthew John (1840-1902). Eldest son of Matthew Bell (1817-1903) and his wife Fanny Cecilia, youngest daughter of Thomas Hanway Bigge of Newcastle-on-Tyne and Longbenton (Northbld), born 3 May and baptised at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Westminster (Middx), 20 June 1840. Educated at Eton. An officer in the 13th Foot (Ensign, 1858; Lt., 1860; Capt., 1866; ret. 1869) and later in the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles (Lt., 1870). JP for Folkestone, 1879. He married, 7 July 1870 at Taney (Co. Dublin), Kathleen Matilda (1851-1911), second daughter of John Reilly of St. Bridget's, Clonskeagh (Co. Dublin), barrister-at-law, and had issue:
(1) Matthew Gerald Edward Bell (1871-1926) (q.v.);
(2) Maude Cecilia Bell (1873-1920), born 26 October 1873; married, 5 January 1897 at St George, Hanover Sq., Westminster (Middx), Major-Gen. Sir Charles John Sackville-West KBE CMG CB (1870-1962), later 4th Baron Sackville (who m2, 30 January 1924, Anne (d. 1961), daughter of William Meredith of New York (USA) and widow of Stephen Sohier Bigelow of Boston (USA)), and had issue one son and one daughter; died in Paris (France), 7 December 1920; administration of her goods was granted 4 February 1921 and 7 November 1928 (estate £10,996);
(3) Kathleen Bell (1877-1908), born 10 June and baptised at St Brelade (Jersey), 15 July 1877; died unmarried and was buried at Bishopsbourne, 13 August 1908; administration of her goods was granted November 1908 and 7 July 1911 (estate £4,254).
He died after a long illness in the lifetime of his father, 8 February 1902, and was buried at Bishopsbourne, where he is commemorated by a brass plaque; administration of his goods was granted to his widow, 24 April 1902 (estate £2,209). His widow died at Nice (France), 28 March 1911; her will was proved 13 May 1911 (estate £30,069).

Bell, Matthew Gerald Edward (1871-1926). Only son of Matthew John Bell (1840-1902) and his wife Kathleen Matilda, second daughter of John Reilly of St. Bridget's, Clonskeagh (Co. Dublin), born 24 July 1871. Educated at Eton. An officer in the Rifle Brigade (2nd Lt., 1895; Lt., 1896; Capt., 1900; retired 1909; returned to colours as Maj., 1914; Lt-Col., 1917; retired 1919); appointed OBE. JP for Kent from 1922. After retiring from the army in 1919 he took his estate in hand and farmed it himself, winning prizes for hop growing and stock breeding. He married, 11 July 1905 in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace (where his bride was a Maid of Honour to HM Queen Alexandra, 1901-05), Hon. Mary (1875-1962), daughter of Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart-Dyke (1837-1931), 7th bt., of Lullingstone Castle (Kent), and had issue:
(1) Matthew Alexander Henry Bell (1908-59), born 25 August 1908; educated at Eton; lived at Old House Farm, Coolham (Sussex) and later in Canterbury (Kent); married, 21 April 1936 at Chelsea Old Church (Middx) (div. 1948), Dawn Elizabeth (1909-66) (who m2, 24 January 1949, Sydney Ernest Lodington Baddeley (1886-1971), youngest son of Col. Paul Frederick Michael Baddeley), daughter of Lt-Col. George McClintock of  Eaton Terrace SW1, but had no issue; died 6 April 1959; will proved 1 February 1960 (estate £3,095).
He inherited Bourne Park from his grandfather in 1903, but it was sold by his executors in 1927 following his death. His widow lived subsequently at Bredon House (Worcs).
He died 8 May 1926; his will was proved 7 August and 10-11 September 1926 (estate £72,911). His widow died 7 October 1962.

Principal sources

Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, p. 149; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on John Bell (1764-1836).

Location of archives

Bell family of Bourne Park: deeds and estate papers, 18th-19th cents. [Kent History Centre, U806]

Coat of arms

Sable, on a chevron between three bells argent, as many lions heads erased gules.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide portraits of the people whose names appear in bold above, for whom no image is currently shown?
  • If anyone can offer further information or corrections to any part of this article 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 26 February 2023.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

(535) Bell of Beaupre Hall and Wallington Hall

Bell of Beaupre Hall and Wallington Hall 
This family came to prominence with Sir Robert Bell (c.1525-77), kt., the son of a Norwich merchant who became a lawyer and politician in Elizabethan England. He sat in three Parliaments as MP for Kings Lynn, and was elected Speaker of the House of Commons in 1572. He was initially something of a thorn in the side of the Government, but after being summoned before the Privy Council and given a sound wigging, he became more amenable, and by the end of his term he was more favourably regarded, and was rewarded with a knighthood and by being appointed Serjeant-at-Law and Chief Baron of the Exchequer. His judicial career was brief, however, for when he first went out on circuit in the summer of 1577 he caught 'gaol fever' while trying cases at Oxford, from which he died at Leominster soon afterwards, aged about fifty. The true nature of the fever is uncertain, but some 500 men who had been in attendance at the Oxford Assizes as judges, barristers, witnesses, jurors and clerks died within a few weeks from its effects. The spectacular mortality led to its becoming known as the Black Assizes.

Sir Robert was married to Dorothy, the daughter and heir of Edmund Beaupre or Beaupré (d. 1567) of Outwell (Norfk), from whom they inherited Beaupre Hall, South Acre Hall, and extensive property in south-west Norfolk. Sir Robert also acquired estates elsewhere, including two manors in Hertfordshire, and he completed the rebuilding of Beaupre Hall, begun by his wife's grandfather and carried on by her father. Sir Robert's untimely death left a young family, and his widow married again a couple of years later, bringing her second husband, Sir John Peyton (1554-1630) to live at Beaupre Hall. Each of Sir Robert's sons eventually inherited a proportion of his property, and the eldest, Sir Edmund Bell (1562-1607), kt., settled at South Acre Hall, presumably because the Peytons were ensconced at Beaupre. As a young man, Sir Edmund speculated in the funding of privateers operating against the Spanish, in the hope of securing large prizes, but in 1586 he was in debt to the tune of £1,500 and his creditors had him consigned to the Fleet Prison. He was able to exercise sufficient influence (probably through his father-in-law, Peter Osborn) to secure his release, and a few months later he secured election to Parliament for the small Suffolk borough of Aldeburgh, which offered him protection from arrest for debt. He must have cleared his debts and learned his lesson, for he neither sought election to subsequent Parliaments nor found himself in the Fleet again. He married three times and produced sixteen children, some of whom are well-documented and some of whom have left little trace after their baptism. They may have died young, but there is a persistent tradition that members of this family were early settlers in America, and if this is correct it may account for their absence from later British records. There is some colour for the story in that one of his younger sons, Philip Bell (b. 1590) certainly made a career for himself as Governor of a succession of territories in the Carribean.

When Sir Edmund died in 1607, the heir to Beaupre and South Acre Halls was his son, Sir Robert Bell (1589-1639), kt., who sold South Acre in 1610, the year of his marriage. He and his wife had ten children, many of whom died young. His eldest son, Edmund Bell (d. 1666) inherited the family estate in 1639, but although his sympathies seem to have lain with the Parliamentary side in the Civil War and he would thus have avoided financial penalties at that time, he seems to have sold it to his younger brother, Philip Bell (d. 1678), who also bought Wallington Hall from the Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham, and other lands in Norfolk. Philip was apparently an army officer and West Indies merchant, but very little about his career has yet come to light. He died without issue, and bequeathed this property to two nephews, Beaupre Bell (c.1673-1730) and Philip Bell (c.1676-1746), the sons of his brother Francis Bell (1627-80), Beaupre receiving Beaupre Hall, and Philip, Wallington Hall. The former proved to be a poor steward of his patrimony, apparently because of a tendency to miserliness and eccentricity that grew on him with age. He is said to have starved his only son of funds with which to cut an appropriate figure in the world, and allowed Beaupre Hall to fall into such disrepair that parts of it became roofless. His one extravagance was breeding horses, which were never broken but allowed to form a wild herd of up to five hundred animals roaming the park at Beaupre. His son, also Beaupre Bell (1704-41), eventually inherited the estate in 1737. His father's meanness does not seem to have extended to his education, which took him to Westminster School, the Middle Temple and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he developed antiquarian interests, and as an adult he became a friend and correspondent of many of the leading antiquarians of his day, as well as developing a specialist expertise in ancient coins. He lived chiefly at Stamford (Lincs), and does not seem to have spent anything on repairs to Beaupre Hall, although in 1737 he was resident there when his life was threatened by unknown malefactors and one of his servants was shot by mistake for him. He died of tuberculosis in 1741 and Beaupre passed to his sister Elizabeth, whose husband William Greaves (d. 1787) took the additional names Beaupre Bell. William finally undertook the repairs which the house had so long required, but may also have pulled down a large section of the building, which had certainly gone by the end of the 18th century. On his death the estate passed to a kinsman, Col. Richard Townley (1726-1801), and thus out of the Bell family.

The Wallington Hall estate passed in 1678 to Beaupre Bell's younger brother, Philip Bell (c.1676-1746), who was hardly more than a baby at the time. By the time he reached adulthood, he had become a Roman Catholic. Very little is known about his life, but as a Catholic he was debarred from public office and at least theoretically subject to significant financial penalties. His only son Henry Bell (1702-53) was probably raised as a Catholic but by the time of his marriage in 1738 had conformed to the established church. He was probably responsible for the remodelling of Wallington Hall, although the work may have been unfinished at the time of his death: it is usually dated to 1790, but such a late date is stylistically unlikely. Henry's heir was his elder surviving son, Henry Bell (1748-1820), who became a solicitor in Kings Lynn and was mayor of that town in 1789. He had five sons and four daughters, but his eldest son, Scarlet Browne Bell (1774-1805) predeceased him, having died while serving as a captain in the East India Co.'s Bombay army. Although Scarlet had left two sons and a daughter who were still living in 1820, Henry's desire to support his widow and other children led him to instruct his executors to sell Wallington Hall, which they achieved in 1828, bringing to an end his family's position as Norfolk landed gentry.

Beaupre Hall, Outwell, Norfolk

The wide, flat, fenlands of south-west Norfolk were never rich in country houses, and many of those that did exist have been lost since the 18th century as owners built houses in more favoured and more accessible locations. Beaupre Hall survived longer than most, and was the subject of several haunting and elegiac photographs which somehow capture the sadness and pathos of its decline and eventual demolition. It was written up by Christopher Hussey for Country Life in 1923 and also for the Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire (Outwell parish being partly in that county), an account apparently written in 1937 and updated in 1951 though not published until 1957. Unfortunately Hussey somehow became badly confused about his compass directions, and some subsequent authors have copied and multiplied his errors.

Beaupre Hall, Outwell: the site shown on the Ordnance Survey 25" plan of 1886, showing the house as it then existed, the garden canal and the walled gardens. 
The manor of Beaupre is reputed to have been granted by the 13th century to the St. Omer family, from whom it passed by marriage a century or so later to John de Beaupre. There was no doubt a medieval manor house on or close to the site of the later dwelling, but construction of its replacement began in the early 16th century for Nicholas Beaupre, and continued at intervals throughout the 16th century, creating a complex house, much of which survived until the 1960s. The earliest part of the 16th century house, built for Sir Nicholas Beaupre (d. 1515), consisted of the northern half of the brick hall range (aligned roughly north-south) and a range running east at a slight angle to it, the further end of which contained a chapel. The angle between the hall range and the chapel range may imply that the chapel was older in origin, and originally formed part of the previous house, and that its alignment dictated that of the linking building connecting it to the new hall, but this must remain a pure conjecture. To the south of the hall range, parts of the older, probably timber-framed, house may have survived, including its hall, but they were rebuilt later.

Sir Nicholas died in 1515 with his project for rebuilding Beaupre Hall incomplete, and was succeeded by his son, later Sir Edmund Beaupre (d. 1567), who was then a minor. He seems to have resumed the task of rebuilding a decade or so later, when a very handsome brick gatehouse tower of brick and stone was built west of the hall range, which has marked similarities to the gatehouse at Giffords Hall (Suffk). This was connected to the hall block by a range one room thick (and later by a parallel passage). Some form of wall must be envisaged linking the gatehouse to the north and south ends of the house, but it had hardly any defensive value, for photographs show its impressive turrets were mere semi-circular screens. 

Beaupre Hall, Outwell: engraving of the house 'in its ancient state' published in 1827. In fact the right-hand wing had already been demolished by then, and parts of the remainder were becoming derelict. From W. Watson, Historical Account of the Ancient Town and Port of Wisbech, 1827.
In 1567 the house passed to Sir Edmund's daughter by his second marriage, Dorothy, and her husband Sir Robert Bell (c.1525-77), kt., a man of consequence in Elizabethan England. They appear finally to have completed the rebuilding of the house with the construction of a new L-shaped hall and parlour range to the south and south-west of the hall, adding porches to both the east and west sides of the house, building an external chimneybreast onto the gatehouse so that its upper room could be heated, and building the small detached building - probably originally a dovecote - at the north-west corner of the site. If they did not exist before, walls were built connecting the gatehouse with the buildings to its north and south, forming two small enclosed courtyards on the west side of the building. Little is known about the interiors of this date because of later alterations, but linenfold panelling survived in several first floor rooms until the house was demolished. The most important survivals of this phase of work were two unusually fine groups of heraldic stained glass panels, which were installed in windows on the east and west sides of the new hall (and which are now in the Victoria & Albert Museum). The Bells may also have been responsible for the handsome farm buildings which stood north-west of the house and are visible in some of the early photographs of Beaupre Hall.

Beaupre Hall, Outwell: the side and rear elevations of the gatehouse. The 16th century farm buildings north-west of the house
are visible in the background. Image: Country Life.
At some point, perhaps in the late 17th century, the house seems have been given a formal garden, for the earliest Ordnance Survey map shows a long canal (marked as a moat) which was clearly a garden canal. William Faden's map of Norfolk, published in 1797, shows the hall set in a small park edged with trees, and a similar parkland impression is given by the OS map a century later. There were walled kitchen gardens south-east of the house.

Beaupre Hall, Outwell: the west front in 1923. Image: Country Life.
The house descended in 1678 to Beaupre Bell senior (d. c.1730), a man of 'many singularities', who 'suffered his house to be much dilapidated'. His son, the antiquarian, Beaupre Bell junior (1704-41), also seems not to have done much to the house, and it was left to his sister Elizabeth and her husband, William Greaves (d. 1787) to invest in repairs and some internal remodelling. They may, however, have demolished the parlour wing at the south end of the house shown in the engraving above, but which had been pulled down by the end of the 18th century; although its gable wall with flanking finials survived until it was taken down for safety reasons in the 19th century. There was some 19th century modernisation, accounting for the sash windows on the garden front of the house, some of which were restored in the inter-war period to their original mullioned and transomed form.

Beaupre Hall, Outwell: the east front in 1923. Image: Country Life.
In the 1880s the house was finally sold by the descendants of the Bells to Edward Fordham Newling, who for more than forty years fought a losing battle to keep the house weathertight. A gale in 1915 damaged the house badly and the chapel lost its roof and was allowed to become derelict. In 1939 the house was requisitioned for the use of the Royal Air Force, who erected prefabricated barrack rooms in the grounds. Lack of maintenance accelerated the decay of the house and after the war it was abandoned, although the wartime huts in the grounds were used in the 1950s for students on the 'Holidays with Pay' scheme run by the Government to provide fruit pickers for local farmers. There was a significant fire in 1953, and in the same year the house was offered to the National Trust, who not surprisingly turned it down. The house was put up for sale with 13 acres of land, and the new owners seem to have been more interested in the redevelopment possibilities than in restoration. 

Beaupre Hall, Outwell: the crumbling house in the path of redevelopment, c.1963. Image: Country Life.

Beaupre Hall, Outwell: demolition in progress, 1966. Image: Edwin Smith Collection, RIBA.
The 16th century farm buildings went first, being replaced by a double line of bungalows built either side of a new road in 1963, and in 1966 what was left of the house itself was bulldozed. It was originally intended to preserve the gatehouse as a feature in the new development, but the demolition of the surrounding buildings is said to have destabilized it, and it too was pulled down. An additional, slightly larger, bungalow was built on the site.

Descent: Sir Nicholas Beaupre (d. 1515); to son, Sir Edmund Beaupre (d. 1567); to daughter Dorothy, wife of Sir Richard Bell (d. 1577), kt.; to son, Sir Edmund Bell (1562-1607), kt.; to son, Sir Robert Bell (1589-1639), kt.; to son, Edmund Bell (d. 1666), who sold to his brother, Philip Bell (d. 1678); to nephew, Beaupre Bell (c.1673-1737); to son, Beaupre Bell (1704-41); to sister Elizabeth, wife of William Greaves (later Beaupre Bell) (d. 1787); to kinsman, Col. Richard Townley (1726-1801); to son, Richard Greaves Townley (1751-1826); to son, Richard Greaves Townley (1786-1855); to son, Charles Watson Townley (1824-93), who sold c.1883 to Edward Fordham Newling (1844-1932);to widow (fl. 1938-52), later the wife of Stuart Kinsman, but requisitioned by RAF, 1939-45; sold 1953 to Mathew and Fredrick Booty; sold 1964 to Mr Buckenham, who demolished the house.

South Acre Hall, Norfolk

An account of this house has been given in a previous post.

Wallington Hall, Runcton Holme, Norfolk

The original rubble-stone hall house was probably built for Thomas Gawsell (d. 1500) in the late 15th century. Sir William Coningsby bought the estate in 1525 and seems at once to have pulled down the existing parlour wing at the east end, floored over the open hall, and built a much larger new east wing. As part of the work, he encased the surviving part of the original house in brick and constructed the diapered brick north porch with its terracotta detailing.

Wallington Hall: engraving of the porch by John Sell Cotman, 1818.
Wallington Hall: the porch with its terracotta panels.
Image: Country Life.

The porch has polygonal angle-shafts which are decorated with six tiers of trefoiled terracotta panels up to first-floor level, then continue undecorated to the stumpy crocketed pinnacles. A third pinnacle rises from the parapet halfway between then angle pinnacles. There are also four tiers of lively if naive terracotta decoration forming a deep band between the entrance arch and the first-floor window. Although terracotta decoration of this kind was a fashion in East Anglia in the 1520s, the motifs used at Wallington are not known from other places, and there is none of the proto-Renaissance decoration which is found on much terracotta work of this time.

To the left of the porch lies the hall, with a prominent external chimneybreast, and beyond that the blocked archway and four-centred head of the former dais window, now partially reopened to provide a smaller 20th century window. East of the hall, where the original solar wing must have been, is now a tall wing with a stepped gable and five-light mullioned and transomed windows which must be late 16th or even early 17th century. The wing beyond that now has sash windows but its fabric seems to be much earlier, for its five bays are irregularly divided by two shallow projections like two-storey oriel windows, with battlements and arched and cusped friezes below. All is not as it seems, however, for a photograph of 1916 shows that both these projections were then chimneybreasts, and while the left-hand one has its battlements as a kind of collar halfway up the stack, the window below is absent and the right-hand chimneystack is completely undecorated. 

Wallington Hall: the north front in 1916. Image: Curt di Camillo.

Wallington Hall: the north front in 1929. Image: Country Life.
While the existence of external chimneybreasts probably still points to a 16th century origin for the wing, much of the evidence others have drawn for that from these features is unreliable as they were created in their current form as part of the alterations of 1918.

In the late 16th century, the house was one of the Norfolk homes of the leading judge, Sir Francis Gawdy (d. 1605). Although he does not seem to have had a major impact on the house, tradition credits him with the creation of a small park around it, at the expense of the former hamlet of Wallington, which is said to have been flattened except for the tower of the parish church. The village is likely enough to have been the victim of a 16th century enclosure scheme, but this may have been in the interest of creating profitable sheep pasture rather than a recreational park. Certainly the church tower remained for centuries as an accusatory sentinel in the park, with the last vestiges only collapsing about twenty years ago. There is no evidence of a park as such before William Faden's map of 1797, which shows a park of about fifty acres, but by the 1820s this had been expanded to the north and south, and contained several rectangular ponds 'well stored with fish' and walled gardens.  A new lodge was built at the foot of the drive to the designs of William Donthorn in 1853.

Wallington Hall: south front in 2020. Image: Jan Wilson
In the mid 18th century, and perhaps for Henry Bell, who inherited in 1746 and died in 1753, the main entrance was moved from the west end of the north side to the east end of the south front, where a new doorway with a shallow pediment was made and the front of the range was Georgianized, with three floors of sash windows below a battlemented parapet. In the easternmost bay are timber casement windows reinstated in 1918.

Wallington Hall: dining room (former hall) in 1929.
Image: Country Life.
Wallington Hall: sitting room in 1929.
Image: Country Life.

The house is essentially a single-pile range, although the eastern end had a corridor behind the new front door on the south side, facilitating access to the family rooms at this end of the building. A good deal of remodelling was done both in the later 18th century and in 1918, and there are few surviving in situ 16th century features. The former hall (now the dining room) has a good early Elizabethan fireplace and a later Elizabethan overmantel, and small-framed panelling, all imported in 1918, but the fine beamed ceiling seems to be original work of c.1525. Part of the dais staircase at the south-east corner of the hall survives, but only the upper parts have the original treads. Adjoining it to the east is the new open-well main staircase inserted in the 18th century, which has turned balusters, square newels and a moulded handrail. The sitting room to the north of this, below the stepped gable on the north front, has a complete scheme of Rococo decoration with a marble chimneypiece and low-relief plasterwork forming panels separated by elegant drops of foliage and flowers. All the 18th century work in the house is said to date from 1790, but the form of the staircase and the style of this plasterwork looks earlier, and I wonder if it was carried out or at least begun by Henry Bell (d. 1753) and perhaps just finished off later, work having ceased unfinished when Henry died? At the east end of the house, behind the reinstated mullioned and transomed windows, is the former smoking room, which seems to have an original beamed ceiling but modern panelling and fire surround.

Descent: built for Thomas Gawsell (d. 1500); to widow, Catherine (d. 1507); to son, John Gawsell; to son, Thomas Gawsell, who sold 1525 to Sir William Coningsby (d. c.1541), kt.; to son, Christopher Coningsby (d. 1547); to daughters as co-heirs, of whom Wallington fell to Elizabeth, wife of Sir Francis Gawdy (d. 1605); to daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Sir William Newport (later Hatton); to daughter, Frances (1590-c.1623), wife of Robert Rich (1587-1658), 2nd Earl of Warwick; to son, Robert Rich (1611-59), 3rd Earl of Warwick; to daughter, Lady Essex Rich (c.1652-84), wife of Daniel Finch (1647-1730), 2nd Earl of Nottingham and later 7th Earl of Winchilsea, who sold to Philip Bell (d. 1678); to nephew, Philip Bell (c.1676-1746); to son, Henry Bell (1702-53); to son, Henry Bell (1748-1820); sold by his executors 1828 to Robert Peel (c.1774-1842); to widow (d. 1850); to son, Hugh Peel (fl. 1903), who leased it to Lt-Col. Marcon (c.1819-83), Maj. Pearson (fl. 1899) and R. Wood-Smith (fl. 1905); sold 1907 to James Little Luddington (1853-1935); to son, Maj. James Hilton Little Luddington (1902-74); to son, Edward Luddington; handed over to son, Andrew William Luddington (b. 1965), who sold 2006 to John Plaxton (b. 1955) and his wife Tian.

Bell family of Beaupre Hall

Bell, Sir Robert (c.1525-77), kt. Son of Robert Bell of Norwich, merchant, born about 1525. Educated at the Middle Temple (admitted c.1545-47; called 1551; bencher, 1565; reader, 1565, 1571). Barrister-at-law; Recorder of Kings Lynn, 1561; JP for Norfolk, 1564-77; Serjeant-at-Law, 1577; Chief Baron of the Exchequer, 1577. MP for Kings Lynn, 1563, 1571, 1572-76; Speaker of the House of Commons, 1572-76. He was knighted after retiring as Speaker, January 1576/7. He married*, 15 October 1559 at Outwell, Dorothy (d. 1603), daughter of Edmund Beaupre of Outwell, and had issue:
(1) Mary Bell (c.1560-91), born about 1560; married, 6 August 1582 at Outwell, Sir Nicholas Le Strange (d. 1592) (who m2, 1591, Anne, daughter of Sir William Paston and widow of Sir George Chaworth of Wiveton (Notts)) of Hunstanton (Norfk), and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 14 September 1591;
(2) Sir Edmund Bell (1562-1607), kt. (q.v.);
(3) Robert Bell (c.1563-93), kt., of Upwell (Norfk); inherited manors of Chamberlains and Challers, at Reed (Herts) from his father and came of age about 1584; he was an officer in the Dutch service (Capt.) and died unmarried, 1593; after his death his property reverted to his mother and passed to her Peyton descendants;
(4) Synulph Bell (1564-1636), born 25 March 1564; inherited manor of Gayton Thorpe (Norfk) from his father in 1577 and came of age in 1585; JP for Isle of Ely, 1612; married 1st, about 1585, Jane (1560-1622), daughter of Christopher Calthorpe of Cockthorpe (Norfk), and had issue eight sons and three daughters; married 2nd, c.1625, Martha [surname unknown]; buried at Upwell, where he and his first wife are commemorated by a monument; will proved in the PCC, 29 April 1637;
(5) Beaupre Bell (b. c.1570), born before 1572; inherited lands at North Walsham and Mundesley (Norfk) from his father, 1577 and came of age about 1591; educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (matriculated 1588) and Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1594); Fellow of Queens College, Cambridge 1593 (MA 1594) and incorporated at Oxford, 1594; sometimes said to have died in 1638 but this is a confusion with his great-nephew and namesake;
(6) Dorothy Bell (1572-1641), baptised at Outwell, 19 October 1572; married, 22 April 1590 at Blickling (Norfk), Sir Henry Hobart (c.1554-1625), 1st bt., of Blickling Hall, Attorney General and Chief Justice of Common Pleas, and had issue twelve sons and four daughters; died in London, 30 April 1641; will proved 19 April 1643;
(7) Philip Bell (1574-1610?), youngest son, baptised at Outwell, 14 June 1574; received lands in Gayton Thorpe from his father, 1577 and came of age about 1595; educated at Queens' College, Cambridge (matriculated 1590; BA 1593); Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, 1593-97; possibly the man of this name buried at Chesterton (Cambs), 6 September 1610;
(8) Frances Bell (1577-1657), born posthumously, 2 December 1577; married, as his second wife, Sir Anthony Dering (c.1558-1636) of Surrenden Dering (Kent), and had issue seven sons; died 9 November 1657 and was buried at Pluckley (Kent).
He inherited Beaupre Hall and South Acre Hall in right of his wife in 1569, and remodelled the house extensively.
He caught 'gaol fever' at the 'Black Assizes' in Oxford and died of it while on circuit at Leominster (Herefs), 25 July 1577, where he was buried on the same day; his will was proved in the PCC, 5 September 1577. His widow married 2nd, 8 June 1579, Rt. Hon. Sir John Peyton (1544-1630) of Doddington (Cambs), Governor of Guernsey and Lieutenant-Governor of the Tower of London, who also succeeded her first husband as MP for Kings Lynn, and had further issue one son; she died before 28 February 1602/3, when her death was mentioned in a letter from Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton.
* He is usually said to have married three times, but the marriage claimed to Mary Chester is a confusion with his grandson and namesake, and that to an Elizabeth Anderson appears to be a confusion with the second marriage of his son, Sir Edmund Bell.

Bell, Sir Edmund (1562-1607), kt. Eldest son of Sir Robert Bell (c.1525-77), kt., and his wife, Dorothy, daughter of Edmund Beaupre of Outwell, baptised 7 April 1562. Probably the man of this name educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge (matriculated 1579). MP for Aldeburgh, 1586; JP for Norfolk, c.1599-1607. Knighted, 13 May 1603. He invested heavily in privateering, and four months before his election to Parliament he was in the Fleet prison, owing £1,500; it is therefore likely that he sought election as a way of evading his creditors. The Privy Council ordered the Commissioners for the Relief of Poor Prisoners to compound with his creditors to achieve his release before warmer weather made the insanitary conditions of the Fleet a danger to his health. He married 1st, 1583 (licence 30 April), Ann (1563-c.1601), daughter of Peter Osborn (d. 1592) of Chicksands (Beds) and London; 2nd, 5 July 1604 at St Saviour, Southwark (Surrey) Elizabeth (d. 1605), daughter of Thomas Inkpen and widow of Edward Anderson (1573-c.1603); and 3rd, 30 October 1605, Muriel (fl. 1648), daughter of Sir Thomas Knyvett (c.1539-1618), of Ashwellthorpe (Norfk), 4th Baron Berners, and had issue:
(1.1) Dorothy Bell (b. & d. 1586), baptised at Southacre, 7 February 1585/6; died in infancy and was buried at Southacre, 7 August 1586;
(1.2) Elizabeth Bell (b. 1588), baptised at Southacre, 11 February 1587/8;
(1.3) Sir Robert Bell (1589-1639), kt. (q.v.);
(1.4) Philip Bell (b. 1590; fl. 1652), baptised at Southacre, 18 June 1590; Governor of Bermuda, 1626-29, then of Providence Island, 1629-36, then of Barbados, 1640-50; during his latter two postings his colonies moved from using indentured servants from England to slaves from Africa on their plantations; he was arrested after an armed rising by Royalists and replaced as Governor by Francis, Lord Willoughby, appointed by King Charles II while in exile, 1650; married 1st, Anne Peyton; married 2nd, probably in Providence Island, Mary, daughter of Daniel Elfrith (fl. 1603-41); living in Barbados in 1652, when he was 'a weak old man and fearful';
(1.5) Henry Bell (1591-1615), baptised at Southacre, 24 August 1591; mentioned in his father's will in 1607; educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1608; BA 1612; MA 1615); Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge, 1610-15; died at the home of Sir Thomas Holland, kt. at Quidenham (Norfk), and was buried there, 23 August 1615; will proved in the PCC, 5 October 1615;
(1.6) Peter Bell (fl. 1607); mentioned in his father's will in 1607, but perhaps died young;
(1.7) Beaupre Bell; not mentioned in his father's will and probably died young;
(1.8) Frances Bell (d. 1627), born after 1587; married, after 1607, Sir Heneage Finch MP (1580-1631), of Kensington (Middx), Speaker of the House of Commons in 1626 (who m2, 16 April 1629, Elizabeth (d. 1661), daughter of William Craddock and widow of Richard Bennett (d. 1628) of London and Beachampton (Bucks), mercer), and had issue eleven children; died 11 April 1627 and was buried at Eastwell (Kent), where she was commemorated by a monument;
(1.8) Synolphus Bell (b. 1596; fl. 1607), baptised at Southacre, 29 August 1596; mentioned in his father's will in 1607;
(1.10) Humphrey Bell (b. 1597), baptised at Southacre, 5 October 1597; probably died young;
(1.11) Susan Bell (b. 1598), baptised at Southacre, 15 October 1598; married, by 1621, Henry Goldwell* of Wisbech (Cambs), and had issue;
(1.12) Jane Bell (b. 1599), baptised at Southacre, 1 October 1599; married, 4 October 1620 at St Christopher-le-Stock, London, John Ramsey of Ealing (Middx);
(1.13) Catherine Bell (1601-62?), baptised at Southacre, 18 July 1601; married 1st, as his second wife, Charles Trippe (c.1584-1625) of Trapham, Wingham (Kent), and had issue two sons; married 2nd, 1626 (licence 9 September), John Betts of Chatteris (Cambs) (b. c.1581); probably the Catherine Betts buried at Wiveton (Norfk), 20 January 1661/2;
(2.1) Richard Bell (b. 1605), baptised at Outwell, 9 June 1605;
(3.1) Edmund Bell (b. 1606), baptised at Southacre, 9 October 1606; educated in Norfolk, and at Eton, Christ's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1624) and the Inner Temple (admitted 1626)**;
(3.2) Robert Bell (b. 1608), born posthumously, 1608; educated at Christ's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1625; BA 1627).
He inherited Beaupre Hall and South Acre Hall from his father in 1577, but lived chiefly at South Acre.
He died 22 December and was buried at Southacre, 23 December 1607; his will was proved 9 February 1607/8. His first wife died in or after 1601. His second wife was buried at Outwell, 18 June 1605. His widow lived at her family home at Ashwellthorpe, and perhaps for a short period with her sister, Lady Paston; she survived until at least 1648, and is said to have been buried at Wilby (Norfk).
* Some sources give the name as Coldwell, but this appears to be a transcription error.
** Not, as some sources claim, the man of this name buried at Oulton (Norfk) in 1636, who had been married for thirty-six years.

Bell, Sir Robert (1589-1639), kt. Eldest son of Sir Edmund Bell (1562-1607), kt., and his first wife, Ann, daughter of Peter Osborn of Chicksands (Beds) and London, born 15 January and baptised at Southacre (Norfk), 25 February 1588/9. Educated at King's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1606). On his father's death in 1607 Sir Ralph Hare of Stow Bardolph, a family friend, purchased his wardship. He came of age in 1610 and was knighted, March 1610/11 or 26 November 1613*. JP for Norfolk and the Isle of Ely, 1622-39; MP for Norfolk, 1626. He was 'noted for bitter and sarcastic jesting'. He married, 16 August 1610 at St Gregory-by-St Paul, London, Mary (1590-1656), daughter of Sir Anthony Chester of Chicheley (Bucks), and had issue:
(1) Edmund Bell (d. 1666), eldest son; educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1635); inherited his father's property at Outwell but sold it to his younger brother Philip; was summoned to enter his pedigree at the herald's visitation of Norfolk in 1664 but did not do so; was unmarried and without issue; said to have been killed in 1666;
(2) Robert Bell (d. 1640); educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1635); was unmarried and without issue when killed in 1640;
(3) Henry Bell; died young in the lifetime of his father;
(4) Beaupre Bell (d. 1638); died young in the lifetime of his father, and was buried at Outwell, 27 August 1638;
(5) Francis Bell (1627-80) (q.v.);
(6) Synulph Bell; died young in the lifetime of his father;
(7) Anthony Bell (d. 1631); died young in the lifetime of his father, and was buried at Outwell, 20 May 1631;
(8) Philip Bell (d. 1678); apparently an army officer (Maj., by 1661; Lt-Col. by 1667) and West India merchant, and probably the man of this name who was appointed a councillor in Barbados in 1664; purchased Wallington Hall from the Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham, and the lands at Outwell and Upwell from his brother Edmund and George Underwood; married Mary [surname unknown]; died without issue and was buried at Outwell, 13 March 1677/8; will proved in the PCC, 10 May 1678;
(9) Mary Bell (d. 1645); died unmarried and was buried at Outwell, 16 April 1645;
(10) Elizabeth Bell (d. 1629); died young and was buried at Outwell, 2 August 1629.
He inherited Beaupre Hall and South Acre Hall from his father in 1607, but sold the latter in 1610.
He was buried at Outwell, 31 October 1639, where he is commemorated by a monument; he died intestate and administration of his goods was granted in the PCC to a creditor, 25 February 1639/40, his widow and sons and his daughter Mary having renounced it. His widow was buried at Outwell, 10 September 1656.
* The knighthood of two Robert Bells is recorded on these dates; it is not clear which date relates to him, or who the other man was.

Bell, Francis (1627-80). Fifth son of Sir Robert Bell (1589-1639), kt. and his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Anthony Chester of Chicheley (Bucks), baptised 5 March 1626/7. He married Dorothy (d. 1682), daughter of Lawrence Oxburgh (1611-78) of Hagbeach Hall, Emneth (Norfk), and had issue:
(1) Beaupre Bell (c.1673-c.1730) (q.v.);
(2) Philip Bell (c.1676-1746) [for whom see Bell family of Wallington Hall below];
(3) Elizabeth Bell (d. 1673), buried 5 August 1673;
(4) Dorothy Bell (d. 1676); buried at Outwell, 4 September 1676;
(5) Mary Bell (d. 1685); buried at Outwell, 20 May 1685;
(6) Frances Bell (fl. 1678); living in 1678 when she was mentioned in her father's will;
(7) Jane Bell (fl. 1678); living in 1678 when she was mentioned in her father's will;
(8) Catherine Bell (d. 1685); buried 14 September 1685.
He inherited an interest in Beaupre Hall from his brother Philip in 1678 which would have expired when his son Beaupre reached the age of sixteen, but he died before this happened.
He was buried at Outwell, 4 November 1680; his will was proved in the PCC, 5 February 1680/1. His widow was buried at Outwell, 14 April 1682.

Bell, Beaupré (c.1673-1737). Elder son of Francis Bell (1627-80) and his wife Dorothy, daughter of Lawrence Oxburgh of Hagbeach Hall, Emneth (Norfk), born about 1673. High Sheriff of Norfolk, 1706-07. He was an eccentric of miserly tendencies, and scarcely gave his son a sufficient allowance for food and clothing, while allowing Beaupre Hall to fall into disrepair. However, he is said to have kept five hundred wild, unbroken, horses in his park, which found shelter in the parts of the house which had become dilapidated. He married, 1 April 1703, Margaret (1681-1720), eldest daughter of Sir John Oldfield (1659-1705), 2nd bt. of Spalding (Lincs), and had issue:
(1) Beaupre Bell (1704-41) (q.v.);
(2) Margaret Bell (b. c.1706), born about 1706; married, probably* on 19 April 1738 at St Benet's Pauls Wharf, London, Joseph Jackson of Edmonton (Middx), but had no issue;
(3) Elizabeth alias Dorothy Bell (d. 1766); inherited Beaupre Hall from her brother; married, 20 January 1741/2 or 15 April 1742, William Greaves (who took the additional names Beaupre Bell) (d. 1787) of Fulbourn (Cambs), Commissary of Cambridge University, but had no surviving issue; buried at Outwell, 27 March 1765/6.
He inherited Beaupre Hall from his uncle Philip but neglected it.
He was buried at Outwell, 13 April 1737; administration of his goods was granted to his son, 17 June 1737. His wife was buried 20 October 1720.
* The bride was there described as 'Margaret Benn of Well, co. Norfolk'.

Bell, Beaupré (1704-41). Only son of Beaupre Bell (c.1673-1737) and his wife Margaret, eldest daughter of Sir John Oldfield, 2nd bt., of Spalding (Lincs), born 1704. Educated at Westminster, Middle Temple (admitted 1722) and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1722; BA 1725; MA 1729). He devoted himself to antiquarian pursuits and was a particular expert on ancient coins. He was member of the Peterborough Society, the Spalding Gentlemens' Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. In 1734 he published proposals for a work called Tabulae Augustae, to contain a chronological account of the Roman emperors, but he did not live to see it completed; he also assisted Francis Blomefield and Thomas Hearne in their researches, and corresponded with Samuel Pegge. In 1737, his life was being threatened for unknown reasons: his servant had been shot in mistake for Bell and his house surrounded on several occasions; the Government was moved to advertise in the London Gazette, offering a pardon to any of the conspirators who would disclose the identity of his accomplices. As a further inducement Bell offered a reward of £50.He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Beaupre Hall from his father in 1737, but resided chiefly at Stamford (Lincs). At his death Beaupre passed to his sister Elizabeth and her husband. His antiquarian collections and coins were left to Trinity College, Cambridge.
He died while travelling to Bath, and was buried at Outwell, 6 September 1741; his will was proved in the PCC, 9 October 1741.

Bell family of Wallington Hall

Bell, Philip (c.1676-1746). Younger son of Francis Bell (1627-80) [for whom see above] and his wife Dorothy, daughter of Lawrence Oxburgh of Hagbeach Hall, Emneth (Norfk), born about 1676. A Roman Catholic in religion. He married, 15 June 1698 at Elm (Cambs), Anne (d. 1737), daughter of Sir Algernon Peyton (d. 1671), 1st bt., of Doddington (Cambs), and had issue:
(1) Anne Bell (c.1699-1701), born about 1699; buried at Runcton Holme, 13 November 1701;
(2) Frances Bell (b. 1700), born at Runcton Holme, 1700 and entered in the parish register as 'not baptised';
(3) Henry Bell (1702-53) (q.v.);
(4) Algerina Bell (1704-91), born 8 July 1704 at Runcton Holme; married, 20 December 1728 at Narford (Norfk), Martin Sandiver (b. 1706) of Kings Lynn, son of William Sandiver (1664-1740) of Newmarket (Suffk), and had issue; buried at Swaffham, 14 July 1791.
He inherited Wallington Hall from his uncle and namesake, Philip Bell (d. 1678).
He was buried at Runcton Holme, 5 May 1746; his will was proved at Norwich in 1746. His wife was buried at Elm (Cambs), 19 October 1737.

Bell, Henry (1702-53). Only recorded son of Philip Bell (c.1676-1746) and his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Algernon Peyton, bt., of Doddington (Cambs), probably the unnamed son born 27 March 1702 noted in the parish register of Runcton Holme. He married, 8 December 1738 at West Dereham (Norfk), Catherine (c.1712-1801), daughter of John Warmoll of Boyland Hall (Norfk), and had issue:
(1) Catherine Bell (b. 1739), baptised at Watlington (Norfk), 18 October 1739; married, 22 April 1762 at Runcton Holme, Rev. John Astley (1734-1803), rector of Thornage, Bintree and Foulsham, son of Sir Jacob Astley (1692-1760), 3rd bt., and had issue two daughters;
(2) Anne Bell (1740-41), baptised at Watlington, 14 October 1740; died in infancy and was buried at Runcton Holme, 3 February 1740/1;
(3) Philip Beaupre Bell (1741-42), baptised at Watlington, 19 October 1741; died in infancy and was buried at Runcton Holme, 28 December 1742;
(4) Anne Bell (1742-43), baptised at Denver (Norfk), 10 November 1742; died in infancy and was buried at Runcton Holme, 9 March 1742/3;
(5) Henry Bell (b. 1743), baptised at Denver, 20 December 1743; died young;
(6) Elizabeth Bell (1746-1804), baptised at Runcton Holme, 28 December 1746; married, 26 September 1765 at Runcton Holme, William Say (d. 1775) of Downham Market (Norfk), and had issue one son; buried at Downham Market, 28 December 1804;
(7) Henry Bell (1748-1820) (q.v.);
(8) Rev. Philip Bell (1751-1834), baptised at Runcton Holme, 23 March 1750/1; educated at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (matriculated 1771; BA 1774; MA 1777); Fellow of Gonville & Caius College, 1774-78; ordained deacon, 1774 and priest, 1776; rector of Runcton Holme with Wallington, 1778-1834 and Wimbotsham, 1779-1834, and vicar of Stow Bardolph, 1779-1834; married, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of John Collinson of Thornham, and had issue at least one son and three daughters; died 3 May 1834 and was buried at Wimbotsham; will proved in the PCC, 9 September 1834.
He inherited Wallington Hall from his father in 1746, and may have initiated a remodelling.
He was buried at Runcton Holme, 12 November 1753; his will was proved at Norwich in 1754. His widow died aged 89 and was buried at Runcton Holme, 26 January 1801.

Bell, Henry (1748-1820). Third, but eldest surviving, son of Henry Bell (1702-53) and his wife Catherine, daughter of John Warmoll of Boyland Hall (Norfk), baptised at Runcton Holme, 7 May 1748. Solicitor in Kings Lynn; Mayor of Kings Lynn, 1789. He married, 6 December 1773 at Wallington, Elizabeth (d. 1830), daughter and heir of Scarlet Browne of King's Lynn (Norfk), and had issue:
(1) Scarlet Browne Bell (1774-1805) (q.v.);
(2) Rev. Henry Bell (1776-1822), baptised at St Nicholas, Kings Lynn, 6 April 1776; educated at Kings Lynn GS and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1795; BA 1798; MA 1801); ordained deacon, 1799 and priest, 1801; rector of Bawsey, Bintry and Themelthorpe (all Norfk), 1804-22; apparently had an illegitimate son (James Leach) by Sarah Atkins, for whom he made provision in his will; died unmarried, 22 October 1822; will proved in the PCC, 28 February 1823;
(3) Elizabeth Bell (1777-1832), baptised at Runcton Holme, 27 March 1777; died unmarried, 23 March and was buried at Runcton Holme, 30 March 1832; will proved 25 May 1832;
(4) Philip Bell (1778-1826), born 21 and baptised 23 October 1778; married, 1812, Marianne, daughter of Edmund Jenny of Bungay (Suffk); buried at Shouldham Thorpe (Norfk), 12 May 1826; will proved in the PCC, 14 June 1826;
(5) Frederic Bell (1783-1812), baptised at Runcton Holme, 16 February 1783; died of tuberculosis and was buried at Runcton Holme, 29 February 1812;
(6) Edward Bell (1787-1869), born 1 March and baptised at Runcton Holme, 3 March 1787; evidently incapacitated as his mother's will charged his sisters with caring for him; died unmarried at Thorpland (Norfk), 5 June, and was buried at Runcton Holme, 12 June 1869;
(7) Catherine Bell (1788-1841), born at Kings Lynn and baptised at Runcton Holme, 27 August 1788; died unmarried, 21 February, and was buried at Runcton Holme, 27 February 1841;
(8) Mary Anne Bell (1790-1864), born 13 March and baptised at Kings Lynn, 15 March 1790; died unmarried, 17 November 1864; will proved 26 January 1865 and 8 February 1869 (effects under £14,000);
(9) Harriot Bell (1793-1868), baptised at St Margaret, Kings Lynn, 11 January 1793; died unmarried, 29 December 1868, and was buried at Runcton Holme, 2 January 1869; will proved 12 February 1869 (effects under £16,000).
He inherited Wallington Hall from his father in 1753, and came of age in 1769. The estate was sold in accordance with the directions in his will in 1828.
He died as a result of a riding accident, 20 September, and was buried at Runcton Holme, 28 September 1820; his will was proved in the PCC, 17 January 1821. His widow died 7 May 1830; her will was proved in the PCC, 10 June 1830.

Bell, Capt. Scarlet Browne (1774-1805). Eldest son of Henry Bell (d. 1820) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Scarlet Browne of King's Lynn (Norfk), born 25 October and baptised at Runcton Holme, 26 October 1774. An officer in the 8th Native Infantry of the Bombay Army (Cadet, 1795; Ensign, 1797; Lt., 1797; Capt. 1802). He married, 7 December 1801 at Surat, Gurujat (India), Frances (1784-1812), daughter of Francis Brodie, barrister-at-law, and had issue:
(1) Henry Francis Bell (1802-26), born at Surat (India), 12 November 1802 and baptised at Runcton Holme (Norfk), 2 January 1804; articled clerk to George Cooper, solicitor, 1819, but abandoned a legal career and became an officer in 58th Foot (Ensign, 1825; Lt., 1826); died as a result of a parade ground shooting accident in Dublin, 8 August 1826;
(2) Frederic Browne Bell (1804-63), born at sea off Madagascar, 29 August 1804; articled clerk to Meadows Taylor of Diss (Norfolk), solicitor, 1821; practised as a solicitor at Downham Market (Norfk); married, 22 July 1830 at Diss (Norfk), Eliza Browne, and had issue four sons and three daughters; died 19 February and was buried at Runcton Holme, 26 February 1863; administration of goods granted to his widow, 7 May 1863 (effects under £12,000); 
(3) Elizabeth Bell (1806-81) (q.v.).
He died in India, 31 December 1805. His widow married 2nd, 16 August 1807, Lt. Henry Jones of the Madras Native Infantry; she died in India in about 1812.

Bell, Elizabeth (1806-81). Posthumous daughter of Capt. Scarlet Browne Bell (1774-1805) and his wife Frances, daughter of Francis Brodie, born 29 May 1806 and baptised at Bombay (India), 8 September 1807. She married, 9 February 1831 at St Nicholas, Kings Lynn (Norfk), George Josselyn (1807-88) of Ipswich, solicitor and thrice mayor of Ipswich (1842, 1851, 1859), son of John Josselyn (1769-1841) of Belstead (Suffk) and Sproughton (Suffk), and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Josselyn (1833-1912), baptised at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich, 12 October 1833; married, 1859, Thomas William Salmon (1830-86), solicitor, of Diss (Norfk) and had issue five children; died at Kensington (Middx), 1912;
(2) John Henry Josselyn (1834-1905), born 17 December 1834; educated at Ipswich Grammar School and Charterhouse; admitted a solicitor, 1858, and was in practice with his father and later with his brother George; a Conservative in politics; mayor of Ipswich, 1888-89; JP for Ipswich; an officer in the Ipswich Rifle Corps, later 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment (Private, 1859; Sergeant, 1859; Ensign, 1860; Lt., 1860; Capt., 1871; Maj., 1880; Lt-Col., 1888; retired 1895); he was 'a distinguished citizen of Ipswich' but 'his pride of lineage and long descent, and his contempt for the vox populi... threw him out of sympathy somewhat with the times'; he died unmarried, 22 January 1905 and was buried in Ipswich Old Cemetery; will proved 10 February 1905 (estate £8,582);
(3) Mary Ann Josselyn (1836-1905), born 13 May and baptised at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich, 21 May 1836; died unmarried, 21 March 1905 and was buried at Ipswich Old Cemetery; will proved 10 April 1905 (estate £6,024);
(4) George Josselyn (1837-45), born 20 September and baptised at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich, 1 October 1837; died young, 31 August 1845 and was buried at Sproughton, 5 September 1845;
(5) Rose Josselyn (1839-1910), born 12 February and baptised at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich, 5 March 1839; died unmarried, 20 November 1910 and was buried at Ipswich Old Cemetery; will proved 28 December 1910 (estate £10,013);
(6) Catherine Emily Josselyn (1840-89), born 11 July and baptised at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich, 25 August 1840; died unmarried, 16 August 1889 and was buried at Sproughton; will proved 24 September 1889 (effects £4,139);
(7) Frederic Josselyn (1842-1900), born and baptised at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich, 19 August 1842; civil engineer and iron founder with Great Eastern Railway and later a partner in Allen Ransome & Co. Ltd., agricultural machinery manufacturers; a Conservative in politics; an officer in 1st Middlesex Engineer Volunteer Corps (2nd Lt.; Lt., 1871; Capt., 1872; Lt-Col. and Hon. Col.); married 1st, 21 October 1868 at St George, Shrewsbury, Mary Elizabeth Oswell (1841-84) and had six sons and five daughters; married 2nd, 14 November 1889 at All Souls, Langham Place, Westminster (Middx), Frances Harriet (1841-1932), youngest daughter of Alexander Henry Bartlet, physician and surgeon; died of pneumonia at Kensington (Middx), 7 January 1900, and was buried at Sproughton, 11 January 1900; will proved 20 February 1900 (estate £15,662);
(8) James Edward Josselyn (1844-1924), born 6 July and baptised at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich, 17 July 1844; an officer in the Royal Artillery (Lt., 1865; Capt. 1877; Maj. 1884; Lt-Col., 1892; retired 1901); lived latterly at 64 Curzon St., Mayfair, Westminster (Middx); died unmarried, 29 February 1924; will proved 8 May 1924 (estate £18,526);
(9) George Francis Josselyn (1846-1908), baptised at St Mary-le-Tower, 8 May 1846; solicitor in practice with his elder brother John; mayor of Ipswich, 1895-96 and JP for Ipswich; died unmarried at Bude (Cornw.), 19 August 1908 and was buried at Ipswich Old Cemetery; will proved 21 October 1908 (estate £9,332).
She died 14 December and was buried at Sproughton, 19 December 1881. He died 27 May and was buried at Sproughton, 31 May 1888; his will was proved 3 July 1888.

Principal sources

R.E. Chester Waters, Genealogical memoirs of the extinct family of Chester of Chicheley, their ancestors and descendants, 1878 (2 vols), pp. 119-22; F.A. Crisp, Visitation of England and Wales, vol. 25, 1902, pp. 39-42; C. Hussey, 'Beaupre Hall, Wisbech', Country Life, 1 December 1923; H.A. Tipping, 'Wallington Hall, Norfolk', Country Life, 16 November 1929; Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire, vol. 4, 1957, pp. 206-19; H.M. Colvin & L.M. Wodehouse, 'Henry Bell of Kings Lynn', Architectural History, 1961, pp. 41-62; Sir N. Pevsner & B. Wilson, The buildings of England: Norfolk - North-West and South, 2nd edn, 1999, pp. 742-44; P. Dallas, R. Last & T. Williamson, Norfolk Gardens and designed landscapes, 2013, p. 357; T. Williamson, I. Ringwood & S. Spooner, Lost country houses of Norfolk, 2015, pp. 90-92;

Location of archives

No significant accumulation is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Sable, a fesse ermine between three bells argent (for Bell); 2nd and 3rd, Argent, on a bend azure three crosses crosslet (for Beaupre).

Can you help?

  • It seems likely that there was some kinship between the Bells of Beaupre Hall and Henry Bell (1647-1711), the gentleman architect and alderman of Kings Lynn, whose father was also Henry Bell. Can anyone show what the connection was?
  • Can anyone provide portraits of the people whose names appear in bold above, for whom no image is currently shown?
  • If anyone can offer further information or corrections to any part of this article 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 22 February 2023 and updated 23 February and 26 October 2023. I am grateful to Bill Smith for additional information about Beaupre Hall.