The Village Histories, Portrait of Slindon by Josephine Duggan Rees and the Aspects of the Religious History of Slindon Since the Reformation, published recently, give interesting accounts of previous owners of the Slindon Estate – most notably, of course, that from 686 to 1542 of the Archbishops of Canterbury, followed by the Kempes, Newburghs, Eyres/Leslies and Isaacsons before passing to the National Trust.
The Kempe tenure dates from the gift of the estate by Queen Mary Tudor to her faithful supporter, Anthony Kempe, in about 1555. Their ownership is particularly marked by their strong support for the Roman Catholic faith, making Slindon a key centre in the South before eventual religious tolerance came towards the end of the 18th Century and in the 19th Century.
What is not always appreciated is the close connection between the Kempes and the Radclyffes, Earls of Derwentwater, who fought valiantly for the exiled Stuarts in the Jacobite cause.
The Radclyffes, originally from Lancashire, were established in Northumberland with extensive estates centred at Dilston Castle near the River Tyne, some 18 miles west of Newcastle upon Tyne.
They were fiercely loyal to the Stuarts and fought for King Charles I in the Civil War. After confiscation during The Commonwealth, their estates were returned to them on the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.
The 2nd Earl of Derwentwater married Lady Mary Tudor, natural daughter of Charles II by the actress Mary “Moll” Davies, on 18 August 1687.
Mary “Moll” Davies or Davis Actress & Singer by Sir Peter Lely
Edward Radclyffe 1655-1705 2nd Earl of Derwentwater
Lady Mary Tudor 1673-1726 Countess of Derwentwater
Their eldest son James, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, 1689-1716, married Anna Maria Webb in 1712. She died in Brussels in 1723.
The 3rd Earl, painted by Godfrey Kneller
Anna Maria Webb by Kneller 1712
James and his brother Charles fought in the 1715 Jacobite Uprising, both being captured and attainted for treason and their estates and titles forfeited. James, imprisoned in The Tower of London, was beheaded on Tower Hill on 26 February 1716, the powerful Whig politicians led by Robert Walpole and King George I having absolutely refused all pleas for clemency.
In 1712 James married Anna Maria Webb, daughter of Sir John Webb, 3rd Baronet of Odstock. He left a baby son John, titular 4th Earl, born in 1713 and died in 1731, and a daughter Anna Maria, born in 1716 after his execution. She married Robert Petre, 8th Baron Petre, 1713-1742, in St. Paul’s Cathedral on 2 May 1734. She died in 1760 leaving many descendants, including the present Baron, John Petre, 18th Baron Petre, born in 1942.
Charles Radclyffe managed to escape from Newgate Prison, living the rest of his life on the Continent.
Accounts vary as to his character but he is remembered as being one of the bravest and most loyal supporters of the House of Stuart.
He is recorded as a wild philandering character in his youth, and was said to have fathered a number of illegitimate children. The most recognised of these is his daughter, Jane or Jenny, by Margaret Snowden (1694–1723) of a local Northumbrian family “with whom he went through a form of marriage which was not legally binding”, according to a Wikipedia biography.
However, he married Charlotte Maria Livingstone, 3rd Countess of Newburgh, on 24 June 1724 in Brussels. They had several children, the eldest son James, Viscount Kinnaird, being born in 1725. Charles became titular 5th Earl of Derwentwater in 1731 when his nephew died.
Charles remained at the centre of Jacobite intrigue, moving in 1738 to Rome, and becoming a well-known figure at the Court of James III. Whilst returning with his son, Lord Kinnaird, to Scotland in November 1745 with the intention of fighting for Prince Charles Edward, “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, he was captured at sea.
Charles, condemned under his outstanding death sentence of 1716, was sent to the Tower of London and beheaded on Tower Hill on 8 December 1746. His son James, imprisoned with him, was however released and allowed to leave the country on the grounds of being an alien.
Charles Radclyffe 1693–1746 Titular 5th Earl of Derwentwater
The direct connection with Slindon then came when Charles’s son James, born 23 August 1727 at Vincennes, France, returned and settled in England and married the last of the Kempes, Barbara Kempe (1727–1797) in 1749 in the Chapel at Slindon House. He died in Slindon on 2 January 1786.
He inherited the title of 4th Earl of Newburgh from his mother when she died on 4 August 1755.
Possible picture of Barbara Kemp (from an Ancestry Family Tree; style of dress suggests however that it is of a later date) 1727-1797
Coat of Arms of James Bartholomew Radclyffe 4th Earl of Newburgh 1725-1786 Titular 6th Earl of Derwentwater
The Radclyffe estates had been confiscated in 1715 and the income used for the completion of Greenwich Hospital.
Despite continuing representations by the 4th and 5th Earls of Newburgh, the estates were never returned, though a substantial settlement was eventually agreed and paid together with an annuity to them and to Anne, Countess of Newburgh, until her death in 1861.
With the 5th Earl of Newburgh’s death in 1814, the Earldom of Derwentwater became extinct.
Anthony James Radclyffe, 5th Earl of Newburgh Titular 7th Earl of Derwentwater 1757-1814
Anne Webb, wife of the 5th Earl 1763-1861
Anne Webb, daughter of Sir John Webb 5th Baronet of Odstock, was born at Hatheroe, Gloucester on 14 February 1763. She married Anthony James Radclyffe on 30 June 1789 and died at Slindon House, Slindon on 4 August 1861.
The Webb links with Slindon go further back as a Mary Kemp, daughter of Anthony Kemp of Slindon, was connected by marriage with the family.
She ran the Slindon Estate after her husband’s death in 1814 until she died in her 99th year.
William “ Jimmy” Pearse
William Jimmy Pearse is remembered in Slindon as the Slindon House butler from around 1920 until 1941, and by his legacy of impressive watercolours of the village and surrounding countryside.
I am indebted to his great-nephew, Roy Pearse, and his wife, Julie, for additional family history, to the writings of Josephine Duggan Rees, to memories of other villagers and to Robin Upton for his skilled photographs of pictures known to us. We are also grateful to Stella and Cliff Stone of Coldwaltham who have a lovely collection of some 13 of his paintings.
We also had the pleasure of a visit in the Autumn of 2010 from Roy and Julie who live in Somerset. Here, Roy is photographed in the Butler’s Room of his great-uncle at Slindon House.
In addition to pictures in village collections, I am also grateful to the West Sussex Record Office for permission to include those held by them and kindly lent to the Slindon History Group for its public Open Day in March 2006.
William was born in Benhall, Suffolk on 29 February 1970 to Charles Pearse, a wheelwright, and his wife, Hannah née Bloomfield. He was one of 10 children. His father died in 1877 leaving his mother to run the village Post Office and she died in 1918.
It would seem he spent his most of his working life in service which was not unusual in those days when the stately homes employed vast numbers, and we have a photograph of the staff at Slindon House numbering 80. Most village families had members who were in service at the ‘Big House’ or larger village houses or who worked on the farms.
Census records for 1891 show him already “in Service” as a footman at Woolton House, East Woodhay for Lt Colonel Critchon-Stuart, and in 1901 as butler at Shotesham Park, Shotesham St. Mary, Norfolk for Mr Robert Fellowes, a magistrate.
It was here that he married Maria Elizabeth Nunn on 28 March 1905 and later, when he was innkeeper at the Goat Inn, Wymondham, their daughter Dorothy Kate, known as Dolly, was born on 28 February 1908.
However, by 1911 he was back working as butler for Mr Fellowes who died in his late 90s in 1915.
Some research indicates war service in WWI but inconclusively, and at least one of his paintings is of the Arundel area during this period. So far, we have been unable to trace him satisfactorily again until 1920.
It is understood that he came to Slindon as butler to the Squire, Frederick Wooton Isaacson, and his sister Violet, Lady Beaumont, in 1920.
Frederick Isaacson had come to live at Slindon House in 1908, originally renting it until finally completing his purchase of the Estate in 1913. He largely rebuilt Slindon House in 1914–1917 and we have a superb photographic record in his albums of the various stages of the restoration. On completion in 1917, it became a Convalescent Hospital for recuperating officers, presided over by Lady Beaumont as Commandant. After the War, the Squire and Lady Beaumont were able to fully occupy the house and again resume the normal lifestyle of country estate owners. This was clearly a heyday of life at the house with much entertaining of leading political and social figures of the day, requiring diligent control of the staff by the ‘formidable’ butler and his team.
He continued as butler until retiring in 1941 when the Isaacons left Slindon for Somerset, renting Stavordale Priory for the duration of WWII, and Slindon House was requisitioned.
During his service William, his wife and daughter lived at No 11 Slindon in Church Hill. His wife, Maria, was a part-time needlewoman at Slindon House but sadly she died, aged 57, on 10 May 1931.
He had bought a bungalow, “The Refuge”, in Sunnybox Lane for his retirement and he lived here with his daughter until his death, aged 74, on 8 April 1944. Dolly married William Ephraim Stearn in 1944 who died, aged 64, in 1972. Dolly gave music lessons and died, aged 70, in 1978. When Robin and Tricia Alp bought the property from her estate, the walls of the front sitting room were covered with his paintings.
Tricia and Robin very kindly welcomed Roy and Julie to “The Refuge” on their 2010 visit.
All the family are buried in St Mary’s Churchyard.
Character – What was he like
Many recall the tall, upright man of medium build, red-faced with thick hair, snow white in his later years. Some say that he had a forbidding, irascible temperament; others that he was a person of great thoroughness and enthusiasm in everything he undertook. All agree he was a firm disciplinarian and no slipshod work from any of the four male staff under his charge escaped his stern reprimand, and with the housekeeper, Mrs Bridger, maintaining a strict “upstairs, downstairs” atmosphere. This was no doubt essential given the exacting and autocratic reputation of Lady Beaumont.
The only recorded unfortunate moment for him occurred in 1929 when a lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary, staying with her husband King George V at Craigwell, rang to ask if the Queen could visit Slindon House. In shock, he dropped the phone but nonetheless the Queen did visit Slindon House, though Mr Isaacson and Lady Beaumont were away, and continued on to the village afterwards.
This photograph was kindly provided by Norma Temperton after she and her sister Julie, daughters of former housemaid Lottie Knowles and nieces of ‘Mrs’ Bridger the Cook, visited Slindon House in 2010. The butler always declined to be photographed with the staff.
Throughout his life he sang in the choir at St Mary’s Church and, on account of his lunchtime duties at Slindon House, he was always first out of the Vestry but in time to drown a couple of pints in the Lime Tree Ale House at the top of Church Hill. He would first enter the tap room, drink his first pint as he walked into the other room where the second pint awaited him. The Lime Tree was his favourite and nearest pub which he painted many times.
He was clearly an enthusiastic amateur painter and villagers recall that he was an energetic man, setting off, always at a brisk pace, a canvas stool with his painting bag on his shoulder, for more distant scenes that took his fancy.
When sitting absorbed in his hobby, he often drew a group of village children around him but, as Helen Litten recalls, he didn’t object as long as they were quiet. She and other children do appear in his paintings and apparently he once asked a small boy to drive a herd of cows in a meadow for him to portray.
Richard Izard, now 90, on a recent visit (August 2013) to his nephew Robert and Robert’s wife Sandra, remembered him well and commented on the quality of his painting and how well he sang. Here is a selection of twelve of his paintings.