Wednesday 8 November 2023

(562) Bennett of North Cadbury Court and Sparkford Hall

Bennett of Cadbury and Sparkford 
The first of this family to achieve landed gentry status was James Bennett (1746-1815), a London wine merchant and grocer, who in 1792 invested some of his capital in the purchase of the reversion of the Cadbury House estate in Somerset. This meant that on the death of the current owner, which occurred in 1796, he came into possession of the estate, which consisted of most of the parishes of North and South Cadbury and Sparkford. It is a little surprising that James, who remained a partner in his London business until his death, chose to purchase an estate so far from the capital, but his use of the same coat of arms as the Bennetts of Widcombe Manor (with a crescent for difference) suggests that he may have wished to purchase a property in the area from which his forebears had come: the Widcombe family had long owned property at Maperton and around Wincanton, only a few miles from North Cadbury. Having acquired the estate, James invested in the improvement of Cadbury House, which was given a new garden front with a two-storey semi-circular bow. Very little is known about James' business, which was continued after his death by his partners, Henry Coape and Joseph Jellicoe, but it had obviously generated serious wealth, for the probate valuation of James' estate was £125,000. £50,000 of this was capital still invested in the partnership, and James' will gave his partners several years to release this to his executors.

James left two sons and four daughters, two of whom were married and had been provided for under their marriage settlements. His younger daughters were left portions payable from his personal estate, and his real estate was divided between the two sons. The elder, James Bennett (1792-1872), was left Cadbury House and the portion of the estate in North and South Cadbury, while the younger, Henry Bennett (1795-1874) was left the part of the estate in Sparkford, which did not have a house of any consequence but provided a useful income. At the time of his inheritance the younger James was an officer in the army, but he retired on half-pay in 1816 (when the army was being slimmed down after the defeat of Napoleon), and returned to Somerset to manage his estates. He and his wife produced five sons and two daughters, but his eldest son died in India while serving with the army, so the Cadbury estate descended to his second son, Frederick Wentworth Bennett (1827-81). He had a short career in the army too, but retired in 1850. Little is known about his career in the next twenty years, but after he inherited the Cadbury estate he indulged a taste for amateur dramatics and put on performances at Cadbury House for the entertainment of his tenants and neighbours, in which his two sons also took part. His elder son, Frederick James Wentworth Bennett (1856-1908) was noted more for his prowess as a composer and musician than as an actor, but he continued the tradition of entertainments at Cadbury, building a concert hall on the estate in the 1880s for these performances, and involving professional musicians as well as musically-talented neighbours. All went well until about 1890 when - perhaps as a result of the agricultural depression - he found that he could no longer afford to live at Cadbury House or to sustain the lifestyle of a gentleman. He resigned his commission in the Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry and leased out Cadbury House, and went to study at the Royal Academy of Music, presumably with a view to becoming a professional composer. By 1901 he was living with his wife and children in a suburban house in Bedford, but soon afterwards his wife left him on the grounds of his cruelty and adultery, and in 1906 they were divorced and she was granted custody of their children. F.J.W. Bennett then moved to Bournemouth with a mistress whom he passed off as his wife, but she too left him after many rows in 1908, taking most of their household furniture with her. By then he is said to have been an habitual drug user, and he died a couple of months later of an overdose. Press reports of the inquest into his death give the strong impression that the coroner who conducted it found the sordid descent of a gentleman of property into such circumstances unspeakably embarrassing, and prevented the full story being told in court; but happily the press had no such scruples and sought out the witnesses whom the court did not admit, and published the full story. The Cadbury estate was sold as soon as possible after his death, in 1910.

Henry Bennett (1795-1874), who inherited Sparkford at the tender age of 20, went to Cambridge and then travelled extensively on the continent with his mother. While they were in St Petersburg (Russia) he fell in love with Emily Moberly, the daughter of the British consul there, and they were married in 1821, before he returned to England and (reputedly at his father-in-law's request) took his degree and entered the church. For about ten years, he and his wife travelled around Europe to cities where he acted as Anglican chaplain to the British ex-pat community and visitors. This agreeable lifestyle took them to St Petersburg, Dresden, Genoa and Naples, and probably other places as well, but in 1836 the opportunity arose for Henry to appoint himself rector of South Cadbury and Sparkford, where the family owned the right of presentation. They lived in the rectory at South Cadbury and presumably employed a curate at Sparkford. In 1853, however, Henry built a new manor house at Sparkford and moved there. In 1866 he relinquished the living at South Cadbury and appointed one of his younger sons, the Rev. James Arthur Bennett (1835-90) in his place, but he remained rector of Sparkford until his death.

Henry and Emily had a remarkable total of fifteen children between 1822 and 1845 (who in turn gave him at least seventy grandchildren!), only one of whom died in infancy -  a considerable achievement when infant mortality was so high. Of the seven sons who survived to maturity, two (James and Charles) followed their father into the church and became the rectors of South Cadbury and Sparkford. James, at South Cadbury, became a noted antiquarian, and was one of the founders of the Somerset Record Society. Several of the daughters also married clergymen, one of whom rose to be Dean of St Paul's Cathedral. Of the other sons, William became a solicitor; Edward and George were civil servants (in Australia and England respectively) and Francis became a merchant in St Petersburg, like his maternal grandfather. The eldest son, Henry Edward Bennett (1822-97), who inherited the Sparkford Hall estate, was a barrister-at-law and a company director. In the 1850s he spent several years in Canada, where he met and married his wife Louisa, the daughter of the chief justice in Toronto. When H.E. Bennett died, he left the Sparkford estate to his seven surviving children jointly, and the property was let until the 1930s, when the remaining children agreed to sell it. Of the three sons who lived to maturity, the eldest became a solicitor in Frome (Som.) and Clerk of the Peace for Somerset, before retiring in 1905 and moving to Canada. The two younger sons both became distinguished clergymen. The Very Rev. Frank Selwyn Macaulay Bennett (1866-1947) was dean of Chester Cathedral between the First and Second World Wars and played an important role in ensuring English cathedrals were open to visitors, free of charge.

North Cadbury Court (aka Cadbury House), Somerset

The manor house, now known as North Cadbury Court but formerly as Cadbury House and The Manor House, is essentially a late 16th century U-plan Elizabethan stone mansion of two and a half storeys, although its west wing incorporates the roof (dated by dendrochronology to the years around 1300) and no doubt some of the fabric of its medieval predecessor. The house was evidently rebuilt between 1586 and 1592 for Sir Francis Hastings MP, a puritan pamphleteer and the brother of the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, although Collinson's History of Somerset mentions a date of 1581 (perhaps a misreading of 1587) over one of the doors in the great hall. 

North Cadbury Court: late 17th century painting of the entrance front and church, showing the gatehouse demolished c.1715. 
Image: Matt Bristow © University of London.

North Cadbury Court: late 17th century painting of the garden front, showing the Tudor stair tower and gabled projecting wings.
Image: Matt Bristow © University of London
Two paintings, probably late 17th century overmantel panels in origin, that were returned to the house in the late 20th century, show the two main facades as they stood before later alterations. One shows the north front with the forecourt and two-storey gatehouse demolished in the first changes, made c.1715 for Francis Newman. The second painting shows the less regular south front overlooking an elaborate walled garden; this side was greatly altered in a radical, remodelling that was probably carried out by James Bennett (d. 1815) after he gained possession of the house in 1797. There was a careful restoration by Melville Seth-Ward in 1912-16 for Sir Archibald Langman, who also carried out alterations in the 1930s. The house was used as an evacuee nursery during the Second World War, and was a YMCA training centre between 1948 and 1966, before being returned to private occupation.

North Cadbury Court: entrance front in the early 20th century. Image: Historic England BB55/2934
The entirely Elizabethan north (entrance) front is of six bays and two storeys and attics, under four gables which do not align exactly with the bays below. The house is very similar in design to the five-bay Newton Surmaville House (Som.), built some twenty years later, which must have been modelled on North Cadbury but which is a slightly more sophisticated design. It is fenestrated with eight-light double-transomed windows to the outer bays and four-light transomed windows to the two central bays which contain the great hall. The second bay contains a porch projection, the fifth a balancing bay window lighting the dais end of the hall, both with classical cresting. Two shallow wings project to the south, and are unusual in being L-plan, making the south front two bays wider at either end than the entrance front. Any Elizabethan fabric in the south front is masked by the remodelling of c.1800, when the gap between the wings was infilled with a bow-fronted saloon and the facade was given plain sash windows and parapets concealing tiled roofs and dormers. The form of the roofs was further altered in 1914 to create a more unified, Georgian effect.

North Cadbury Court: garden front in the mid 20th century.
The Elizabethan plan was conventional in having a central two-storey great hall, perhaps reflecting the footprint of the medieval hall range, but the present hall is a neo-Elizabethan re-creation of 1912-16. At its high end, the windows of the two-storey bay contain original armorial glass showing the Hastings family connections. A substantial polygonal stair turret, which projected south from the hall at the high end and was lit by a window from the hall, was removed when the saloon was constructed c.1800. The service rooms lay to the east of the hall, the parlours and great chamber to the west. The great chamber has a 16th century fireplace, but the ribbed plaster ceiling looks like a 20th century re-creation. A long gallery (now subdivided), ran along the north front above the hall and great chamber, necessitating some resetting of the medieval roof timbers. A generously planned new staircase was inserted into the north end of the west wing in the 20th century, destroying any evidence of previous arrangements in this area. The ceiling above it has a huge plaster pendant copied from that at Chelvey Court (Som.). West of the staircase hall is an apsidal late 18th century cantilevered stone staircase, which was the main stair until 1914. The saloon in the centre of the south front, which was opened up through a screen of columns to the corridor behind in the early 20th century restoration, has an Adamish triglyph frieze with paterae and a yellow marble chimneypiece. Two early Georgian rooms have fielded panelling and bolection-moulded doorways. 

North Cadbury Court: the house and its setting as depicted on the 1st edn 25" plan of 1886.
In 1715, Francis Newman demolished the two-storey gatehouse which had faced the north front of the house, and replaced it with a pair of square Doulting stone ashlar gate piers. A late 17th century pair of gatepiers had already been constructed further north, and between the two and adjoining the churchyard to the west, he built an eleven-bay two-storey stable block of ashlar with re-used 17th century door heads. A concert hall was built north-west of the house before 1886, and fishponds were adapted as part of a woodland garden to the south-west, but unusually there seems no evidence of the grounds being landscaped in the 18th or early 19th centuries.

Descent: Mary, Lady Hungerford, Hastings, Botreaux and Moleyns, later wife of Sir Richard Sacheverell (d. 1534); to son, George Hastings (d. 1545), 1st Earl of Huntingdon; to son, Francis Hastings (1514-61), 2nd Earl of Huntingdon; to widow, Katherine (d. 1570) and then to son, Henry Hastings (c.1536-95), 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, who sold 1586 to brother, Sir Francis Hastings, who rebuilt the house; sold 1596 to Matthew Ewans (d. 1598) and his wife Frances (d. c.1611), later wife of Francis Kelway (d. 1602); to son, Alexander Ewans (d. c.1624); to son, Matthew Ewans (d. 1628); to son, Matthew Ewans (d. 1633); sold after his death to Arthur Duck (d. 1648); to daughters, Martha and Mary (d. by 1683), wife of William Harbord; to daughters Mary (d. 1684/5), Margaret and Grace, who all sold their shares by 1689 to Richard Newman, who settled the reunited estate on his son, Francis Holles Newman (d. 1714); to son, Francis Newman (d. 1768); to nephew, Francis Newman (d. 1796), whose heir, Francis Newman (d. 1818) sold the reversion of the manor in 1792 to James Bennett (1746-1815) and his wife Mary (1762-1853); to son, James Bennett (1792-1872); to son, Frederick Wentworth Bennett (1827-81); to son, Frederick Bennett (1856-1908); sold 1910 to Sir Archibald Langman (1872-1949), 2nd bt.; to widow, Eleanor, Lady Langman (1878-1963) and then to daughter Nora Elizabeth Ferrar (1919-2010), wife of John Archibald Montgomery (1912-90); to son, Archibald John Montgomery (b. 1957).

Sparkford Hall, Somerset

From the 17th century until 1815, the manor of Sparkford was attached to the North Cadbury Court estate and had no separate manor house. James Bennett (1746-1815), by his will, separated the two properties and bequeathed Sparkford to his younger son, the Rev. Henry Bennett (1795-1874), who after spending many years acting as a Protestant chaplain around Europe, settled back in Somerset. In 1853 he built, on a previously unoccupied site, a new square manor house of pale golden-grey Doulting stone, which has a three-bay entrance front and four-bay side and rear elevations. A large extension of two storeys and attics was added to the north side later in the 19th century as a service wing. 

Sparkford Hall: entrance front.

Sparkford Hall: the side and rear elevations.
The plain elevations are enlivened by an unusually deep stone cornice, and have wooden cross-windows on the ground floor and square four-pane sash windows on the first-floor, all set in moulded stone architraves. The window to the right of the front door was blocked up at some point and there is an intrusive asymmetrically-placed chimneystack rising between the porch and the windows to its right.
Sparkford Hall: staircase hall
The interiors are correspondingly simple, with decoration concentrated on the staircase hall in the centre of the house, where the staircase has a cast iron balustrade and rises under a coved ceiling with two large skylights in it to a first-floor balcony with a similar balustrade. The drawing room and dining room along the east front have the simplest possible cornices and can be thrown into one room for entertaining purposes. The library, in the north-west corner of the house, has bookcases recessed into the panelling. 
The grounds were landscaped at the time the house was built, and were described as having 'a park-like appearance' in the late 19th century, something which remains true today. The house has recently been available for private rental as a holiday house and for parties, but appears to have ceased trading in 2023.

Descent: built for Rev. Henry Bennett (1795-1874); to son, Henry Edward Bennett (1822-97), who left it jointly to his nine children, who let it and the survivors sold 1936 to Mrs. W.M. Watson; sold to Col. Aylmer (fl. 1947); sold to Brig. Edwyn Sandys Dawes Martin (b. 1895; fl. 1954); sold 1955 to Mr Stead Henry Stead-Ellis (1911-95)...

Bennett family of North Cadbury Court

Bennett, James (1746-1815). Son of James Bennett of London, citizen and salter, and his wife Elizabeth, baptised at Old Jewry Presbyterian Church, London, 30 September 1746. Apprenticed to his father, 1760. Wine merchant and grocer in London by 1766, latterly trading as Bennett, Coape & Jellicoe; the business was continued after his death as Coape & Jellicoe and he may have been largely a sleeping partner after moving to Somerset, although his will shows that he still had some £50,000 invested in the business at the time of his death. High Sheriff of Somerset, 1799-1800. He married, 14 August 1789 at Truro (Cornw.), Mary (1762-1853), daughter of Thomas Clutterbuck of Marazion (Cornw.), and had issue:
(1) Mary Bennett (1790-1867), born 1 November and baptised at St Gabriel, Fenchurch St., London, 24 November 1790; married, 6 July 1808 at Horsington (Som.), Rev. Thomas Wickham (1774-1855), of Horsington (Som.) and had issue four daughters; died at Weston-super-Mare (Som.), 12 December 1867; will proved 10 January 1868 (effects under £1,500);
(2) Eliza Bennett (1791-1873), born 8 November and baptised at St Gabriel, Fenchurch St., London, 1 December 1791; married, 13 September 1812 at North Cadbury, Capt. James Clarke (1788-1845) of Salcombe Regis (Devon), son of James Clarke of Ansford (Som.), and had issue two sons and six daughters; died 28 February and was buried at Bathwick (Som.), 5 March 1873;
(3) James Bennett (1792-1872) (q.v.);
(4) Rev. Henry Bennett (1795-1874) [for whom see below, Bennett family of Sparkford Hall];
(5) Juliana Sarah Bennett (1796-1878), born 26 December 1796 and baptised at St George, Bloomsbury, 28? March 1797; married, 8 August 1820 at St Marylebone (Middx), Charles Aaron Moody MP (1792-1867), son of Aaron Moody of Kingsdon (Som.), but had no issue; lived latterly at Chesterfield House, Tunbridge Wells (Kent), where she died 23 December 1878; will proved 12 April 1879 (effects under £45,000);
(6) Frances Anna Bennett (1799-1846), born 17 May and baptised at St George, Bloomsbury, 12 June 1799; married, 3 April 1827 at Bathwick (Som.), Rev. Richard Hill (1799-1880), rector of Timsbury (Som.), 1841-80; died Oct-Dec 1846; administration of goods granted in the PCC, July 1847 and a further grant was made 11 May 1881.
He purchased the reversion of the North Cadbury Court (aka Cadbury House) estate in 1792 and came into possession in 1796.
He died 8 January 1815 and was buried at North Cadbury, 18 January 1815, where he is commemorated by a funerary monument signed by Thomas Ashton of London; his will was proved in the PCC, 3 March 1815 (effects under £125,000). His widow died 14 June 1853 and was buried at North Cadbury.

Bennett, James (1792-1872). Elder son of James Bennett (1746-1815) and his wife Mary, daughter of Thomas Clutterbuck of Marazion (Cornw.), born 7 October 1792. An officer in the 14th Light Dragoons (Cornet, 1812; Lt., 1813; retired on half-pay 1816) and North Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry (Lt-Col.). JP for Somerset; High Sheriff of Somerset, 1836-37. He married, 11 January 1821 at Shepton Mallet (Som.), Annabella (1798-1878), daughter of Rev. William Provis Wickham (1767-1843) of Charlton House (Som.), and had issue:
(1) Annabella Mary Bennett (1823-81), baptised at North Cadbury, 16 May 1823; married, 5 August 1852 at West Lydford (Som.), Frederic George Urquhart (1829-81), son of Rev. Frederick Urquhart of Broadmayne (Dorset), and had issue one daughter; died 24 January 1881; will proved 12 March 1881 (effects under £800);
(2) James Wentworth Bennett (1824-49), baptised at North Cadbury, 11 July 1824; an officer in the army (Cornet, 1846; Lt. 1847); died 27 February 1849 and was buried at St John, Calcutta (India), the following day;
(3) Frederick Wentworth Bennett (1827-81) (q.v.);
(4) Charles Wentworth Bennett (1828-80), baptised at North Cadbury, 3 June 1828; lived at Pluckley (Kent); married, 15 April 1859 at Leith (Midl.), Mary Ann (1832-62), daughter of George Ellerton High of Leith, but had no issue; died 7 November 1880; will proved 9 September 1883 (effects £3,003);
(5) Edward Wentworth Bennett (1832-86), born 18 January and baptised at North Cadbury, 8 February 1832; an officer in the army (Ensign, 1850); then in the 2nd Somerset Militia (Ensign, 1854) and then in the army again (Ensign, 1855; retired 1858); died unmarried in London, 19 January 1886;
(6) Arthur Provis Wentworth Bennett (1834-73), born 11 October and baptised at North Cadbury, 26 October 1834; an officer in the Hertfordshire militia (Ensign, 1855); died unmarried, 27 April and was buried at North Cadbury, 3 May 1873; administration of goods granted 25 July 1873 (effects under £1,000); 
(7) Emma Bennett (1839-1908), baptised at North Cadbury, 11 May 1839; married 1st, 23 April 1861 at St Thomas, Portman Sq., Westminster (Middx) (div. 1882 on grounds of his cruelty and adultery), Capt. Gordon Stonhouse Hughes (1837-1901), son of Gen. Samuel Hughes, and had issue four sons and one daughter; married 2nd, 27 July 1885 at St Luke, Kentish Town (Middx), Reginald William Urquhart (1837-1910), son of Rev. Frederick Urquhart of Broadmayne (Dorset); died 8 December and was buried at Bexhill-on-Sea (Sussex), 11 December 1908; administration of goods granted 15 January 1909 (estate £273).
He inherited North Cadbury Court from his father in 1815.
He died 29 October 1872; his will was proved 22 January 1873 (effects under £30,000). His widow died 15 October 1878; her will was proved 7 December 1878 (effects under £1,500).

Bennett, Frederick Wentworth (1827-81). Second, but eldest surviving, son of James Bennett (1792-1872) and his wife Annabella, baptised at North Cadbury, 26 March 1827. Educated at Sherborne School. An officer in the army (Cornet, 1844; Lt., 1846; Capt., 1850; retired on half-pay, 1850). JP for Somerset (by 1860). He was interested in amateur dramatics, and organised occasional performances at North Cadbury for his tenants and neighbours. He married, 24 March 1855 at Sherborne (Dorset), Catherine Eliza (1827-75), only surviving child of John Croft of Wick, Brislington (Som.), and had issue:
(1) Frederick James Wentworth Bennett (1856-1908) (q.v.);
(2) Croft Charles Wentworth Bennett (1858-82), born 14 November 1858 and baptised at North Cadbury, 30 January 1859; an officer in the 1st Royal Lanarkshire Militia (2nd Lt., 1878); amateur artist and actor; died unmarried of typhoid fever at Lane's Hotel, London, 21 July 1882, and was buried at North Cadbury; administration of goods granted to his brother, 31 August 1882 (effects £1,325).
He inherited North Cadbury Court from his father in 1872, but sold some land in 1877.
He died 2 August 1881; his will was proved 3 August 1882 (effects £10,597). His wife died 5 July 1875; administration of her goods was granted to her husband, 25 April 1876 (effects under £200).

Bennett, Frederick James Wentworth (1856-1908). Son of Frederick Wentworth Bennett (1827-81) and his wife Catherine Eliza, daughter of John Croft of Sherborne (Dorset), born 21 May and baptised at North Cadbury, 22 June 1856. An officer in the army (Lt., 1875; retired 1881) and North Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry (Lt., 1882; Capt., 1886; ret. 1890). JP for Somerset, 1882. A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He was a noted amateur composer and musician, chiefly performing on the flute and cornet, and in 1882 he built a concert hall at North Cadbury at which he arranged concerts 'with the finest talent he could obtain'. After letting North Cadbury Court, he studied at the Royal Academy of Music. After his divorce in 1906 he set up home in a newly-built suburban villa in Bournemouth, with a lady who was understood to be his wife, but who was in reality a mistress, with whom he quarrelled repeatedly; she left him about two months before his death, taking most of the household furniture with her. In his last weeks he left alone, with no staff and only a few articles of furniture. He married, 12 June 1884 at Compton Pauncefoote (Som.) (sep. 1903; div. 1906 on grounds of his cruelty and adultery), Eleanor Catherine (1862-1944), daughter of Rev. James Senior, rector of Compton Pauncefoote, and had issue:
(1) Francis Montagu Wentworth Bennett (1885-1957), born 6 January 1885; died unmarried, 12 February 1957; will proved 10 May 1957 (estate £2,565);
(2) Victor Cyril Wentworth Bennett (1887-1918), born 4 June 1887; an officer in the merchant navy (second mate, 1908) and in the army in the First World War (2nd Lt., 1916; Lt., 1917); died of pneumonia, 13 October 1918 and was buried at Faenza Military Cemetery, Ravenna (Italy); administration of goods granted 22 May 1919 (estate £638);
(3) Una Violet Wentworth Bennett (1890-1970), born 18 January and baptised at St Stephen, South Kensington (Middx), 20 February 1890; married 1st, 7 September 1911 at St Stephen, South Kensington (div.), Percy Douglas Saxton (1883-1950), son of George Shadwell Saxton of the Ceylon Civil Service, and 2nd, Apr-Jun 1922, Maj. Frank James; died 27 August 1970; will proved 19 March 1971 (estate £10,014);
(4) Ivan Provis Wentworth Bennett (1891-1916), born 4 February and baptised at Compton Pauncefoote, 29 March 1891; educated at Wellington College; articled clerk to a solicitor; an officer in the army (Capt.); died on active service in France, 13 July 1916; administration of goods granted to his mother, 18 October 1916 (effects £308);
(5) Vere Dorothy Wentworth Bennett (1896-1973), born 1 November 1896; married, 24 February 1926 at All Souls, Langham Place, St Marylebone (Middx), Arthur Loraine Claude Fuller (1890-1958), private secretary, son of Henry Claude Fuller; died 2 December 1973; will proved 27 February 1974 (estate £25,257).
He inherited North Cadbury Court from his father in 1881, but let the house from 1890. Following his death, the estate was sold in 1910.
He was reputed to be an habitual drug user, and died of narcotic poisoning at his house in Bournemouth, on or about 21 June 1908 and was buried at North Cadbury; administration of his goods was granted 14 October 1908 (estate £13,080). His ex-wife died 22 May 1944 and was buried at North Cadbury; her will was proved 26 October 1944 (estate £1,056).

Bennett family of Sparkford Hall

Bennett, Rev. Henry (1795-1874). Younger son of James Bennett (1746-1815) and his wife Mary, daughter of Thomas Clutterbuck of Marazion (Cornw.), born in London, 30 October 1795 and baptised at St George, Bloomsbury (Middx), 1 January 1796. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1815; LLB 1822). He travelled in Europe with his mother c.1820. Ordained deacon, 1822 and priest, 1823. Rector of South Cadbury (Som.), 1836-66 and Sparkford, 1836-74. He married, 16 July 1821 at the British chaplaincy in St Petersburg (Russia), Emily (1800-82), daughter of Edward Moberly, British consul in St. Petersburg, and had issue:
(1) Henry Edward Bennett (1822-97) (q.v.);
(2) Emily Sarah Bennett (1823-97), born 22 December 1823; married, 28 April 1846 at Sparkford, Charles Crokat (c.1815-88), of Sydenham (Kent), merchant, and had issue four sons and ten daughters; died 28 February and was buried at Parkstone (Dorset), 4 March 1897; will proved 4 May 1897 (effects £10,094);
(3) Julia Ann Bennett (1825-1901), born at Queen Camel (Som.), 1825; died unmarried at Villa Benedetta, Alassio, Liguria (Italy), 18 April 1901; will proved 1 July 1901 (estate £113);
(4) Helen Frances Bennett (1826-1905), born in St Petersburg, 13 July and baptised at the British chaplaincy there, 8 August 1826; married, 5 July 1853 at Sparkford, Very Rev. Richard William Church (1815-90), rector of Whatley (Som.) and later dean of St Paul's Cathedral, son of John Dearman Church (1781-1828), wine merchant, and had issue one son and three daughters; died 10 May and was buried at Whatley (Som.), 15 May 1905; will proved 12 July 1905 (estate £24,440);
(5) William Henry Bennett (1827-1914), born at Dresden (Germany), 11 January 1827; educated at Winchester College; solicitor; married, 17 November 1860 at Surbiton (Surrey), Helen Charlotte (1834-1923), daughter of Charles John Shebbeare, barrister-at-law, and had issue six sons and three daughters; died 15 June 1914 and was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery (Surrey);
(6) Edward James Bennett (1829-1920), born in Genoa (Italy), 13 March 1829; educated at Winchester College; emigrated to Australia, 1850, and worked in the office of the Surveyor General of Queensland; married, 18 November 1851 at Echunga, South Australia, Anne (1824-96), daughter of Robert Gooding and had issue five sons and five daughters; died at Brisbane, Queensland, 14 August 1920, and was buried at Toowong Cemetery;
(7) Mary Isabel Bennett (1830-64), born in Naples (Italy), 1830; married, 22 September 1857 at Sparkford, Rev. James Baker (1825-97) of Croft (Yorks NR), son of Rev. James Baker, and had issue one son and four daughters; died at Winchester (Hants), 11 January 1864;
(8) George Bennett (1832-1913), born at Naples (Italy), 2 August and baptised at the British chaplaincy in Naples, 2 September 1832; educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford (matriculated 1851; SCL 1854; BA and MA 1858), where he rowed and played cricket for the University; Fellow of New College, Oxford, 1855-88; civil servant in department of woods and forests; married, 14 October 1882 at St Peter, Bayswater (Middx), Mary Grafton (1849-1916), daughter of Charles Moberly of St Petersburg (Russia), merchant, but had no issue; died 11 March 1913; will proved 19 April 1913 (estate £2,308);
(9) Arthur James Bennett (1833-34), born at Woolstone House near Wincanton (Som.), 27 October 1833 and baptised at South Cadbury, 5 January 1834; died in infancy and was buried at South Cadbury, 7 May 1834;
(10) Rev. James Arthur Bennett (1835-90), born 12 June and baptised at South Cadbury, 26 July 1835; educated at Winchester College and Durham University (BA 1856); ordained deacon, 1858, and priest, 1859; curate of Ellingham (Northbld), 1858-60 and Alvechurch (Worcs), 1860-66; rector of South Cadbury (Som.), 1866-90; a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, who acted as an inspecting officer for the Historical Manuscripts Commission, 1873-91, was Hon. Sec. of the Somerset Archaeological Society, and one of the founders of the Somerset Record Society; married, 21 June 1864 at Halton in Lonsdale (Lancs), Margaret (b. c.1831), daughter of Cdr. Thomas Benn RN, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 5 December and was buried at South Cadbury, 11 December 1890;
(11) Elizabeth Mary Bennett (1836-1922), baptised at South Cadbury, 23 October 1836; married, 11 July 1861 at Sparkford, Canon Charles Marcus Church (1823-1915), principal of Wells Theological College, sub-dean of Wells Cathedral, and antiquarian, son of John Dearman Church (1781-1828), wine merchant, and had issue three sons and five daughters; died 27 April 1922; will proved 20 May 1922 (estate £4,593);
(12) Susan Fanny Bennett (1838-73), born 26 February and baptised at South Cadbury, 7 May 1838; married, 31 January 1861 at Sparkford, Archibald Hamilton Grahame (1823-89) of Stirling, accountant, son of Thomas Grahame WS, and had issue three sons and five daughters; died in childbirth, 19 June 1873;
(13) Agnes Emily Bennett (1841-99), baptised at South Cadbury, 25 August 1841; died unmarried at Alassio, Liguria (Italy), 29 September 1899; will proved 29 December 1899 (effects £120);
(14) Francis Cayley Bennett (1842-1919), born 21 July 1842; educated at Winchester College; merchant with Messrs. Cattley & Co., St. Petersburg 1858-89 (partner 1867-89, retired 1889); married 1st, 1868, Mary (1845-96), daughter of William Blessig of St Petersburg, and 2nd, 3 August 1898 at All Saints, Maidstone (Kent), Helen Drayton, daughter of Frederic Hailey of Hanwell, and had issue one son; died 25 April 1919; will proved 16 July 1919 (estate £5,099);
(15) Rev. Charles William Bennett (1845-1934), born 26 May 1845; educated at Winchester College; ordained deacon, 1871 and priest, 1872; curate of Chesterton (Staffs), 1871-73 and Beaminster (Dorset), 1873-74; rector of Sparkford, 1874-99 and vicar of Pilton (Som.), 1899-1934; rural dean of Shepton Mallet (Som.), 1917-23; married, 26 May 1864 at Earley (Berks), Mary Anne (1840-1903), daughter of Thomas Grahame WS; died 6 March 1934; administration of goods granted 25 May 1934 (estate £2,277).
He inherited the manor of Sparkford from his father in 1815, and built a new manor house in 1853. He lived at South Cadbury rectory from 1836-53.
He died 1 September, and was buried at Sparkford, 5 September 1874; his will was proved 6 November 1874 (effects under £7,000). His widow died 12 September and was buried at Sparkford, 16 September 1882.

Bennett, Henry Edward (1822-97). Eldest son of Rev. Henry Bennett (1795-1874) and his wife Emily, daughter of Edward Moberly, British consul in St. Petersburg (Russia), born 10 September 1822 and baptised at North Cadbury, 3 January 1823. Educated at Winchester, St John's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1840) and the Inner Temple (admitted 1845; called 1848). Barrister-at-law. He was sworn in as a special constable during the Chartist riots, 1848, and was later an officer in the Somerset militia (Lt., 1868; Capt., 1872); JP for Somerset (by 1867). A director of the Albion Life Assurance Society (retired 1875) and other companies. He married, 26 November 1857 at Toronto Cathedral (Canada), Louisa Birchall (1834-92), daughter and co-heiress of Sir James Buchanan Macaulay, chief justice of Toronto, and had issue:
(1) Emily Louisa Bennett (1858-1937), born in Canada, 19 December 1858; married, 14 June 1900 at Sparkford, Rev. Trevor Griffiths (1871-1947), rector of Sparkford (Som.), but had no issue; died 14 September 1937 and was buried at Sparkford;
(2) Kate Adelaide Bennett (1860-66), born 13 December 1860; died young, 20 April and was buried at Sparkford, 28 April 1866;
(3) Harry Macaulay Bennett (1863-1920), born 7 February 1863; educated at Winchester and St John's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1881; BA 1884); admitted a solicitor, 1888 and practised at Frome (Som.); appointed Clerk of the Peace for Somerset and Clerk of Somerset County Council (retired 1905); emigrated to Canada, 1906; married, 7 November 1901 at Shepton Mallet (Som.), Evelyn (b. c.1866), third daughter of George Mackenzie Mackay of Shepton Mallet, and had issue two sons; died in Vancouver, 27 September 1920 and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada);
(4) James Buchanan Macaulay Bennett (b. & d. 1865), born 4 July and baptised at St Michael & All Angels, Paddington (Middx), 2 August 1865; died in infancy. 10 August 1865;
(5) Very Rev. Frank Selwyn Macaulay Bennett (1866-1947), born 28 October and baptised at Torquay (Devon), 28 December 1866; educated at Sherborne School and Keble College, Oxford (matriculated 1885; BA 1889; MA 1905); ordained deacon, 1892 and priest, 1894; secretary and chaplain to Bishop of Chester, 1892-97; curate of Eccleston (Ches.) and librarian to Duke of Westminster, 1895-97; vicar of Portwood (Ches), 1897-1907 and Christ Church, Chester, 1907-10; rector of Hawarden (Flints), 1910-20 and chaplain to Bishop of Chester, 1913-20; dean of Chester Cathedral, 1920-37, in which capacity he inspired and led a national movement to make cathedrals accessible to the general public 'without fence or fee', that is with long opening hours and free of charge; he was a freemason from 1911; author of M. Coué and his gospel of health (1924), A soul in the making (1925); The nature of a cathedral (1925), Expecto - an essay towards a biology of the world to come (1926) and The resurrection of the dead (1929), among other works; married, 15 November 1900 at Portwood (Ches.), Ida (1873-1951), third daughter of Clegg Livesey of Arden, Bredbury, and had issue four children, of whom one son survived infancy; died 14 November 1947 and was buried at Sparkford; will proved 30 January 1948 (estate £7,486);
(6) Mildred Rachel Bennett (1868-1954), born 11 June 1868; art lecturer and artist; apparently lived latterly with her cousin, Evelyn Mary Bennett (1864-1949) at Holmbury St Mary (Surrey); died unmarried, 22 February 1954; will proved 29 June 1954 (estate £446); 
(7) Edith Mary Bennett (1869-1946), born 13 October 1869; lived with her brother George and probably acted as his housekeeper; died unmarried, 2 February 1946, and was buried at Sparkford;
(8) Beatrice Marian Bennett (1871-1932); lived with her brother George; died unmarried, 30 October 1932, and was buried at Sparkford; will proved 6 December 1932 (estate £944);
(9) Rev. George Edward Macaulay Bennett (1873-1954), born 3 July 1873; ed. at Clifton College, Bristol and Lincoln College, Oxford (matriculated 1892; BA 1897; MA 1907), ordained deacon, 1898 and priest, 1899; vicar of Portwood (Ches.), 1907-11 and of Christ Church, Chester, 1911-34; rural dean of Chester, 1922-34; hon. canon of Chester Cathedral, 1927; vicar of Wilton (Som.), 1934-43; died unmarried, 30 May 1954 and was buried at Sparkford; will proved 29 July 1954 (estate £3,663).
He lived for some years in the 1850s in Upper Canada. He inherited Sparkford Hall from his father in 1874, but after his wife's death moved to a house in Chester. At his death Sparkford was left to his surviving children jointly.
He died 22 May and was buried at Sparkford, 26 May 1897; his will was proved 26 July 1897 (effects £2,278). His wife died 12 September and was buried at Sparkford, 17 September 1892.

Principal sources

Burke's Landed Gentry, 1925, p. 116; A.J. Jewers, 'Heraldry in the Manor House of North Cadbury, with the heraldry and monuments in the church', Proceedings of Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Soc., 1890, pp. 137-67; J. Orbach & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Somerset - South and West, 2014, pp. 488-89; M. Siraut (ed.), VCH Somerset, vol. xi, 2015, pp. 66-70, 172-73.

Location of archives

Bennett family of North Cadbury Court and Sparkford Hall: deeds and papers, 1799-1878 [Dorset History Centre, D 148/12/62-67]

Coat of arms

Gules, a bezant between three demi-lions rampant argent, a crescent for difference.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide fuller information about the 20th and 21st century ownership of Sparkford Hall?
  • Can anyone provide photographs or 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 8 November 2023.

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