SHUGBOROUGH AND THE ANSON FAMILY - PART 3

Thomas George Anson (1825-1892) Second Earl of Lichfield

 

The first Earl was succeeded by his son Thomas George (b.15 Aug 1825, d.7 Jan 1892). He was educated at Eton College and then worked in the Foreign Office between 1846 and 1847, including being a précis writer for Lord Palmerston. On his parents return to England abandoned the Foreign Office to stand as MP (liberal) for Lichfield between 1847 and 1854, the last member of the family to do so after an almost uninterrupted run in the seat for nearly one hundred years. In 1848 he agreed to the railway line running through the edge of the estate on the condition that a station was built at Great Haywood, largely for his own convenience.

 

Thomas inherited the title in 1854. The following year he married Lady Harriet Georgiana Louisa Hamilton on April 10th, eldest daughter of fourteen children of the first Duke of Abercorn, K.G., and granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Bedford. To say the Abercorns were well-connected is perhaps an understatement. Lady Harriet’s mother wrote to Queen Victoria announcing her daughters engagement, to which she received a reply from the Queen at Windsor Castle dated October 25th 1854. ‘The news you gave me was quite unexpected but not the less gratifying to us. You can only do me justice in alluding to the interest I take in your dear girls – and particularly in dear Etta. We sincerely hope that your future son-in-law may prove in every way worthy of so amiable and charming a wife as he will have in her and that she may have a long and happy life secured to her by her marriage with Lord Lichfield, who, as you say, she has been so long attached to. The Prince joins in all my expressions and we both beg you not only to accept yourself our best wishes on this happy occasion but to convey the same to Lord Abercorn and dear Etta herself.’[1] For the wedding Queen Victoria sent a note to Harriet’s mother dated April 8th 1855 requesting ‘I beg you to give the accompanying shawl in my name to dear Etta on her wedding day with every kind and good wish on my part. May she be as happy as she deserves.’[2] From an early age she was always known as Etta, and would sign letters the same.[3]

 

Despite being one of fourteen Lady Harriet provided a substantial dowry which was injected into the House. Thomas and Harriet had thirteen children[4]:

 

·        Thomas Francis, third Earl (b.31 Jan 1856, d.29 July 1918).

 

·        George Augustus (Sir)(b.22 Dec 1857, d.25 May 1947) M.V.O., Lieutenant-Colonel late R.F.A. Territorial Force Reserves, formerly 3rd North Midland Brigade, R.F.A., and Captain R.A., D.L. Staffordshire, Chief Constable of Staffordshire from 1888 and awarded the Police medal. He prosecuted and condemned George Edalji in the infamous Wyrley Gang Case. He married Blanche Mary, daughter of George Miller of Brentry, Gloucestershire, on September 27th 1884. Issue.[5] Sir George’s wife, Blanche, and only daughter Barbara were tragically killed when a bomb fell on their London home in April 1941.

 

·        Henry James (b.29 Dec 1858, dsp.26 Feb 1904), Major Highland, L.I., A.D.C. to Governor-General of Canada. He married Lady Adelaide Audrey Ryder of Knowle, Dunster, Somerset, daughter of Henry Dudley, 4th Earl of Harrowby.

 

·        Frederick William (b.4 Feb 1862, d.2 April 1917), J.P., Herts. He married Florence Louisa Jane (d.11 Feb 1908) daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Bagot Lane of Kings Bromley on August 3rd 1886. Issue.[6] After the death of his first wife he married again to Edith Rowland on June 16th 1915. He died on April 2nd 1917.

 

·        Claud (b.11 Jan 1864, d.25 Dec 1947), J.P., D.L., and Vice-Lieutenant of Waterford, Ireland, High Sheriff 1909 (Ballysagertmore, Lismore, County Waterford). He married Lady Clodagh Beresford, daughter of John Henry, 5th Marquis of Waterford on February 27th 1901. Issue.[7]

 

·        Francis (b.7 March 1867, d.13 April 1928), Captain Breckonshire Battalion South Wales Borderers 1915-16 and resident at 37 Princess Gardens, London S.W. Married Caroline, daughter of George Cleveland of Coleman, Texas on March 7th 1867. Issue.[8]

 

·        William (b.19 April 1872, d.22 June 1926) Served as a Captain in the U.S. Army (head of River Ranch, Christoval, Texas). Married Louisa Goddard Van Wagener on July 17th 1917.

 

·        Alfred (b.15 April 1876, d.25 March 1944), Captain of the Sussex Yeomanry, served in First World War, Officer of the Crown in Italy. Married Lela, daughter of General C.T. Alexander of Washington, D.C., on July 1st 1912. He had homes in both Malborough, Wiltshire and New York.

 

·        Florence Beatrice (b.1860, d.25 Sept 1946), married Colonel Henry Streatfield, K.C.V.O., C.B., C.M.G of Chiddingstone, Kent, on August 15th 1885, Grenadier Guards, private secretary and equerry to Queen Alexandra. Issue

 

·        Beatrice (b.1865, d.15 Dec 1919), married Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hamilton Rawson of Gravenhurst, Sussex, D.L., M.P. for Reigate, Captain of 1st Life Guards, on July 30th 1890. He died October 18th 1918, she died December 15th 1919. Issue.

 

·        Mary Maude (b.1869, d.22 Sept 1961), O.B.E. (1920), married the Honourable Edward Alan Dudley Ryder of Oakfield, Crawley, Sussex, son of Henry, 4th earl of Harrowby, on July 19th 1893.

 

·        Edith (b.1870, d.8 Oct 1932), married Lionel Fortescue, 3rd Earl of Lovelace, D.S.O. on April 29th 1895. Issue.

 

·        Evelyn, b.1874, d.unm July 2nd 1895.

 

Between 1863 and 1871 Thomas was Lord-Lieutenant for Staffordshire, after persistent pressure from his former colleague Lord Palmerston. He took a keen interest in prison reform and was an active worker in the movement for the establishment of reformatories with an emphasis on reclamation rather than the punishment of prisoners. He was first chairman of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Offenders.

 

Upon his marriage, largely financed through his wife’s dowry, he set about refurbishing and refurnishing Shugborough which had stood empty for twelve years. The house in St James’s Square was sold[9] although he was unable to reduce the mortgage on the estate which remained at £600,000 until 1880. Output from the Farm together with an agricultural boom helped to pay the interest. However, the agricultural depression of the 1870s following the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1845, cheaper food imports from the Colonies, and a succession of poor harvests resulted in a reduction in the estate revenue and the interest rates continued to be a severe drain. At this time of rapid industrial growth the second Earl also made investments in new ventures including railways and steel production. By this period he was accredited with ownership of 21,443 acres of land in Staffordshire and was the largest private landowner. The land consisted of Ranton and Eccleshall (10,000 acres), Shugborough (5,500 acres) and Alrewas (5,000 acres) – all agricultural, and Bentley, Lichfield and Rugeley (2,500 acres) – classed as residential/industrial.[10]

 

The curved walls of the boudoir, the private room of the Countess, were hung with a white watered-satin paper bordered with a ‘Broad-Heath flower pattern’ and edged with gilded mouldings, while the areas in between were painted a rich blue. The windows were hung with elaborate curtains of a rich blue and white figured satin-stripe tabaret (a type of silk) lined with blue merino and edged with a silk fringe. In addition there were fine white embroidered lace curtains. Each window was fitted with Holland blinds to keep the sun out. To prevent draughts the door was hung with a heavy crimson velvet portiere curtain with floral satin borders. The room was furnished, to the taste of Victorian overcrowding, with two settees, three easy chairs plus four smaller ones, two French cabinets, a circular table and one for writing, a music stool (so perhaps also a piano), a telescope stand, a cheval screen, two flower stands and numerous items of bric-a-brac. Adjoining the boudoir was ‘His Lordship’s bedroom’, the wallpaper supplied in 1795 by Eckhardt & Co. was cleaned by rubbing with bread, the soft crumb of which removes surface dust without damage.[11]

 

The saloon was redecorated with a silver-crescent figured paper on a cream satin ground. The dining room was not decorated at this time although the coat-of-arms above the window was altered to include an Earl’s coronet and shield, and the eight large ruin paintings were also cleaned and restored.[12] During the next decade the Earl began to refurnish the house, including compiling an inventory of the library, and restocking to fill the gaps left by the sale.

 

Throughout the 19th century hand-basins continued to be used in the bedrooms with all the hot water being carried up from the only source, the boiler incorporated in the kitchen range. Only the Earl and his wife enjoyed the luxury of a full-size bath which was installed in a cupboard in their bedroom, this then being on the ground floor in what is now the Anson Room. The bath had a small attached charcoal heater and produced hot water in about half an hour, although users were warned to extinguish the fire once the correct temperature had been reached. Central heating was not installed until the 1920s.[13]

 

The House was connected to the service wing by a stone-walled tunnel which opens onto brick-vaulted cellars on each side which stored wine and beer. The Butler’s Pantry was also at this level with a nearby strongroom for storage of silver and other valuables. Access for the servants to the Entrance Hall was previously by steps leading up to the Garden Room, which also may have been used as a serving room when the early dining room (in the upper part of the Saloon) was in use. The later main Dining Room was served by the Ante Room where a hot cupboard was installed. This was necessary because of the long distance which the food had to travel from the kitchen at the far end of the service wing. This apparently inconvenient position was deliberately chosen as the Victorians had a strong aversion to cooking odours. Most roasting of meat, of which great deal was consumed, was still carried out on spits before open fires, so the fumes from this must have been considerable. The volume of meals produced would compare to that of an hotel kitchen of today, with different times and menus for those of the Dining Room, Nurseries, School Room and Servants Hall. The present cast-iron kitchen range is Victorian, but as early as 1773 the Pantry and the Servant’s Hall both had ‘a range set in brickwork.’ In addition there were built-in stewing stoves burning charcoal, a recurring item in the housekeeper’s accounts of this period.[14]

 

In the late 19th century the staff numbered about forty men and women, each having a specific job with its own place in the rigid hierarchy of ‘below stairs.’ The relative importance of each servant was reflected in the position and furnishing of their work place, which ranged from the comfort of the Housekeeper’s Room with its Turkey carpet, mahogany table and chairs, card table, writing desk, easy chairs and sofa, to the very basic Servants Hall with its long deal table and benches. While the upper servants were comfortably housed and not overworked, those of the lower status did heavy menial tasks in cheerless surroundings.

 

The second Earl was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. He had the gardens redesigned to provide a grander setting for the house. At the rear of the House the informal lawns sweeping down to the river were replaced by the formal terraces and paths with decorative urns, much as they are at present.[15] The Earl died on January 7th 1892, while his wife Harriet lived until March 14th 1912.

 

Thomas Francis Anson (1856-1918) Third Earl of Lichfield

 

The third Earl, Thomas Francis (b. 1856, d.29 July 1918), B.A. Trinity College, Cambridge, J.P., C.A., and D.L. for Staffordshire. Thomas renewed the Anson-Coke connection by marrying his first cousin twice removed, Lady Mildred Coke of Holkham, the youngest daughter of the second Earl of Leicester, on November 5th 1878. They had the following six children[16]:

 

·        Thomas Edward, fourth Earl (9 Dec 1883 - 14 Sept 1960).

 

·        Arthur Augustus (29 July 1887 – 30 Aug 1960), known as ‘Arty.’ Educated at harrow-on-the-Hill School. Married Beatrice Dora James 31 July 1929.

 

·        Rupert (7 Nov 1889 – 20 Dec 1966), Captain of the 7th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, married Mollie, daughter of James Halliday of Harrow-on-the-Hill on November 26th 1919. Had four children: Ann Rosemary[17], Felicity Marion, Geoffrey Rupert (28 Jan 1929 – 5 June 1997), & Major Thomas Peter (b.5 March 1933).

 

·        Bertha (22 Aug 1879 – 30 Aug 1959), married the Honourable Thomas Henry Frederick Egerton, son of the 3rd Earl of Ellsmere, on October 23rd 1902. They had two children – Mildred Helen (15 November 1903 – 1980) and Pamela Katherine (12 May 1918 – 8 Nov 2004).

 

·        Mabel (18 July 1882 – 21 March 1972) married Atholl Laurence Cunyngham Forbes, the 21st Lord Forbes on October 12th 1914. They had two children – Major Nigel Ivan Forbes, 22nd Lord Forbes (b.19 Feb 1918) and the honourable Malcolm Atholl Forbes (9 Dec 1928 – 6 March 1929).

 

·        Violet (21 April 1886 – 17 Sept 1974), married Lancelot Mare Gregson, of Reigate, Major in the Grenadier Guards, on July 29th 1912. They had five children – Elizabeth (b.20 June 1914), Hermonie (30 June 1915 – 19 June 1994), Margaret Anne (16 March 1918 – 21 Feb 1931), Jean Mary (b.10 November 1919) and David Lancelot (b.17 February 1928).

 

Thomas was described as ‘an unflappable Englishman.’[18] His home was at 5 Granville Place, London, just off Regent Street.[19] During August and September the family would leave Granville Place ‘to be at home for the holidays’ at Shugborough. Every Christmas several weeks would be spent at Holkham in Norfolk, Lady Mildred’s childhood home.

 

During the spring of 1889 the Ansons visited relatives in Ireland. The 3rd earl’s maternal grandparents were the 1st Duke and Duchess of Abercorn whose estate was at Baron’s Court, Omagh, Co. Tyrone. Several years earlier his uncle had succeeded to the title although his grandmother was still alive. Another visit included Lady Mildred’s sister and brother-in-law, Lord and Lady Leitrim who lived at Mulroy, Co. Donegal. Another Ireland visit in 1893 included Muckross House in Killarney, a Victorian mock-Elizabethan mansion built in 1840 for Henry Herbert, M.P. for Kerry. In 1893 the family moved from Granville Place to nearby 38 Great Cumberland.

 

Their daughter Evelyn died in 1895 at the age of 21 after contracting measles from one of the housemaids at Great Cumberland Place. Although an illness that the sufferer would easily recover from in childhood, when caught as an adult it was a much more serious illness. Unfortunately Lady Evelyn developed pneumonia for which there was no anti-biotic cure at the time. Despite strenuous attempts by doctors she did not survive.

 

During the early months of 1896 the 3rd Earl and his wife took a villa in the remote town of Pau in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The children remained either at school or at home in the care of their governess. Lady Mildred developed a serious case of German measles which, due to the poor English spoken by the local doctors, forced their return to London.

 

Thomas inherited Shugborough in 1892, but had already taken over the management of the estate from his father in 1880 who did not feel capable of handling the substantial financial burden. His first action was to dismiss the agent for the estate, Robert Harvey Wyatt. Although Wyatt was the third generation of his family to serve at Shugborough, it was considered that he lacked the flexibility and drive of his predecessors.

 

Before succeeding as the third earl Thomas paid off the mortgage with the Prudential Assurance Company, replacing it with several smaller mortgages in the hands of friends and relatives thereby making the estate more secure. He made up the deficit caused by the decline in agricultural rents from his estates by diversifying, investing money in the colonies, and taking on city directorships at both the National Provincial Bank and the Bank of Australasia. Between 1880 and 1910 he placed much of his own resources into Shugborough, as well as re-investing all the income from the estate, thereby paying off large parts of the mortgage. He attempted to sell the Ranton estate but this failed to reach the asking price and so instead it was let for rent. Ranton was eventually sold but later re-purchased by the fifth Earl.

 

The third Earl took an active interest in both the history of his family and the House. He made notes based on the family archives and re-arranged the contents of the House to emphasise their importance in relation to the family’s history. He rescued objects from outbuildings, including James Athenian Stuart’s carved door cases and window shutters from the Temple of the Winds. These were built into the Blue Drawing Room and Swallow Passage in the 1890s. Admiral Anson’s Chinese porcelain and hand-painted mirrors, and the elaborate plaster ceilings from the Chinese House were carefully removed and reinstated in the main House. At the same time the Georgian character of the House was restored and new alterations made in the style of the original using, amongst other things, 18th century chimney pieces.

 

As well as restoring architectural features from buildings in the grounds the third Earl also made alterations to the house, but these, due to the financial climate, were considerably more modest. His changes were mainly internal decorations, in the general move away from Victorian claustrophobic clutter towards lighter, more spacious interiors. With the exception of the mahogany doors all the woodwork was painted white, as were the yellow columns in the entrance hall and saloon. The rose-red paint used for the walls of the hall, ante-dining room and corridors on the ground floor was a popular colour of the period, after excavations at Pompeii had revealed a similar colour scheme. The same Pompeian interiors were also the source of the Victorian fashion for the division of the interior wall space into three distinct areas of a deep dado, a wider middle section, and a heavy frieze above them.[20]

 

The upper floor corridors and landings were painted green which was another popular colour. Other rooms such as the bust parlour and the Billiard, Business, and Smoking Rooms were repapered but no details exist. The smoking room was the one exception to the white painted woodwork, being finished ‘as mahogany’ which would not discolour through smoke.[21]

 

The chief structural alterations carried out by the architect Joubert were in the staircase hall and also seem to have been motivated by the trend for lighter interiors. As a result, two arched openings, fitted with balusters to match those of the staircase, were made in the wall of the first floor corridor. The carved banisters leading to the State bedroom suite were taken from the Tower of the Winds in the park. Mahogany doors were added between the entrance and staircase halls and fitted with an architrave from the blue drawing room. The ceiling of the latter was decorated, as a letter to the Earl reports ‘the Blue Drawing Room ceiling ornament is finished and is very successful – the gilt pearls to be inserted after it is painted.’ Nothing of this remains as the ceiling was damaged during the dry-rot repairs on the 1920s, and so only dates from this time. Another feature added by Joubert which is still in place is the back staircase with carved oak barley-sugar twist banisters brought from Orgeave Hall.[22]

 

Around 1892 the first bathrooms were installed, with just one on each of bedroom floor besides one for the nurseries and a private one for the Earl. The solid fuel hot water boiler was in the Stable Block where two bathrooms were provided for the servants. Further bathrooms were added during the 1920-1924 dry-rot restoration, including that attached to the State Bedroom suite. In addition to the provision of bathrooms, the 1892 drainage report also advised various improvements to the water-closets, several of which had been installed a century before. The water-closet in a ground floor dressing room was unventilated so its removal was advised, despite it being the only one for ladies on that floor.[23]

 

The earliest photographs of the interior were published in 1899 by the Lichfield Mercury newspaper in ‘Mansions and Country Seats of Staffordshire and Warwickshire.’[24] These appear to have been taken before the alterations were made as the columns of the saloon are not yet painted white. The Saloon also shows all the paintings hung in a straight line and the chairs carefully placed. According to the article the picture that had pride of place was an engraving of Queen Victoria with her mother. The Queen had presented it to the 3rd Earl during her diamond jubilee year (1897) as a memento of the visit she made with her mother in October 1832. With the exception of the dining room all are furnished with a similar random arrangement of easy chairs, small tables, screens and an assortment of ornaments in a typically cluttered Victorian way.[25] The Countess’s boudoir had a less formal appearance. The article described it as ‘a cosy and comfortable room arranged in the best taste.’ Especially noticeable were the family photographs, of which there were at least seven on display.

 

The third Earl’s sitting room which he used as a Study is now the Anson Room, and like the Blue Drawing Room, the dry-rot repairs of the 1922 meant the removal of the original ceiling. This room is also referred to in the 1855 refurnishing accounts as the 2nd Earl’s bedroom. The first Earl had also used it as a bedroom, probably because he suffered from gout and would have found climbing stairs difficult.[26]

 

In 1911 the third Earl made changes by combining the Billiard Room, first mentioned in 1795 at the time of Wyatt’s alterations, and the Garden Room into a more open area, afterwards known as the Billiard-Room Lounge, and now the Verandah Room. New access was made to the Smoking Room from the Billiard Room and also to the Garden. This included the removal of most of the wall between the two rooms and replaced with a wide flattened archway. A similar arch opened up the Billiard Room to the corridor, while that between the Garden Room and the corridor was removed altogether and the space filled with three, Italian-style arches, supported by plain columns. Billiards were a popular pastime among the gentry on wet days in the countryside. In addition the size of the Billiard Room was increased by extending its outside wall into part of the Verandah, with a new garden entrance door. New carved wooden double doors provided direct access to the adjoining Smoking Room (now Lord Lichfield’s Dining Room) previously only entered from the service passage. Modifications were also made to the bedrooms directly above, which included the provision of a new bathroom and W.C.[27]

 

The third Earl was concerned with social welfare and supported many local projects. He was president of Staffordshire General Infirmary for twenty-one years. On being re-elected for the twenty-first time he commented on his ‘coming of age’ in that capacity and remarked dryly that it was an argument in favour of fresh blood. He was chairman of the isolation hospitals sub-committee and took an active part in providing sanatoria for consumptives.

 

He took an active part in education being a member of Staffordshire Education Committee and a member of the finance committee of the county council. He was also one of the founder members of the Staffordshire Farmers Association, a member of the Staffordshire Agricultural Society and during the First World War a member of the County War Agricultural Committee. This demonstration of social awareness was typical of the changes in attitude of the aristocracy during the second half of the 19th century as Regency abandon gave way to Victorian prudence.[28]

 

During the 1880s he formed the Shugborough Museum, which consisted mainly of stuffed birds. He was a keen naturalist and a good huntsman, and during 1912-1913 was Vice President of the Stafford and District harriers, a cross-country running club.

 

He took a keen interest in cricket and was president of Middlesex Cricket Club in 1897. At the time of his death he was one of the trustees of the club. As a player he showed potential and secured a place in the Harrow Eleven in 1874. He was described as an excellent batsman, including a score of 144 for MCC against the South Wales Club at Lords in 1879. He instigated an annual ‘Cricket Week’ at Shugborough and granted the local club free use of the ground which was the venue for many half-day matches. Two photographs of Shugborough Cricket Club from August 1912 show the Earl as umpire seated in the middle of the group.[29]

 

He died alone while out shooting in the grounds at Shugborough. The ‘Staffordshire Advertiser’ of Saturday August 3rd 1918 reported the death of the 3rd Earl at the age of sixty-two. The previous Monday evening the Earl had gone out with a gun with the intention of shooting wild duck for dinner later that week. He left the house at 7pm after arranging for dinner that evening to be delayed until 8.15. When he did not return a search was organised, and the estate gamekeeper found the body lying face downwards in the river with his gun lying close by.

 

An inquest was held at Shugborough Hall on Tuesday evening before the coroner Mr S W Morgan, and Mr P M Bridgwood, alderman and JP of Great Haywood acting as foreman of the jury. The first witness was the Earls’ son, Arthur Augustus Anson, of 63 Montague Square, London. He last saw his father ‘in town’ [London] on Thursday. He said that his father often went out duck shooting in the evening and that the place he was found was one of his two favourite places for shooting.

 

Housekeeper Alice Mary Wilson was possibly the last person to see him alive. About 7.10pm she saw the Earl from the passage window going across the lawn with his gun on his shoulder and walking in the direction of the river.

 

Gamekeeper James Hine left home at 8pm with the intention of shooting rabbits. He had heard two shots by the Hall and about 8.15 Lady Lichfield came to him and asked whether it was him that had fired the shots, but he said it wasn’t. She explained that the Earl had gone out to shoot ducks but had not yet returned. She suggested to Hine that they look in places where the Earl was likely to be. Going along the riverside they came to a place where someone had gone through a clump of nettles and where there were some ducks on the river. They then retraced their steps and went around by the Chinese House and down to the little lodge but there was no sign of the Earl. Lady Lichfield returned to the Hall and Hine continued searching. At about 9pm Hine returned to the Hall to tell Lady Lichfield that there was still no sign of the Earl. She asked him to resume his search where he had seen the ducks. He went through the nettle bank again while Lady Lichfield remained in the open park. When Hine had got halfway between the iron bridge and the ‘Dark Lanthern’ he came across the Earls’ hat on the riverbank. He then discovered his body in the water.

 

The coroner asked Hine how he was lying and he replied face downwards in the water as if he had fallen straight in. His feet were just clear of the bank and he could see the back of his head, but not the legs at first as it was beginning to get dark. Hine immediately pulled the Earls’ body from the water which he described as lifeless and cold. He noticed a mark on the face which he thought was mud. Lady Lichfield, on reaching the spot, remarked that it was an injury and she was the first to notice that. The foreman of the jury, Mr Bridgwood, asked about the surface of the ground and Hine stated that it was very uneven and slippery, and a place where it would be easy to trip up. Hine also stated that there was a gun in the water by the side of the Earl. Both barrels were loaded but only one cartridge had been discharged

 

The body was taken to the Hall and Dr Bull, the Earls’ medical attendant from Great Haywood, was summoned. Dr Bull reported that the body had a large gunshot wound to the left side of the neck and cheek. Asked by the coroner if the gun had been fired at close range Bull said that the muzzle could not have been very close to the head because there was no blackening of the wound, but it was evident that the shot had spread because the wound was large. In response to other questions Bull said that the Earl had been in frail health for some time. Asked whether it was possible that the Earl had fainted or suffered a heart attack it was Bulls’ opinion that the Earl had either fainted or slipped due to the ground being very uneven. It was also at the foot of a tree where the roots were sticking out and the ground was mossy. Bull said that he too had almost slipped and ended up in the river.

 

Asked whether the Earl had suffered any fainting attacks previously Bull stated that he had not although once or twice during conversation he appeared as if he had fallen asleep, and added that he had not been sleeping well lately. Asked whether a twig or something else might have discharged the gun Bull said that the jerk in falling forward may have done it and concluded that the cause of death was the gunshot wound in the neck.

 

The coroner, in summing up, said that he thought the jury would have very little difficulty in returning a verdict of accidental death after the very clear way in which the evidence had been given. So far as he could see they could come to no other verdict and there was not the slightest reason to suggest anything else. The evidence clearly showed that the gun was not fired at very close quarters.

 

The jury unanimously returned a verdict of accidental death and the foreman expressed their sympathy to Lady Lichfield. They had all known the Earl for many years, as had the coroner, who also added his sympathy.

 

His funeral was at St Stephen’s church at Great Haywood, founded by his father, on Friday August 2nd. Immediate relatives and friends conveyed the coffin from the Hall on a wheel bier, the coffin being made of solid oak by Mr Gould, an employee of the Ranton estate. The church was full to capacity and attended by a large number of mourners – relatives, friends and villagers. The King and Queen also send a telegram of condolence to Lady Lichfield. He was interred on the east side of the churchyard.

 


[1] SRO. D615/P(S)/9/2/60.

[2] SRO. D615/P(S)/9/2/61.

[3] SRO. D615/P(S)/9/1/4. Collection of five letters from Harriet as a young girl to her mother.

[4] Burke’s Peerage, 1922, p1393-1394.

[5] George and his wife had the following children: John George (b.14 July 1886), Lieutenant 3rd North Midland Brigade R.F.A.; Claude Ronald (b.3 May 1895), Lieutenant 3rd North Midland brigade R.F.A., wounded in the First World War. He married Frederica, daughter of James Harrison of Maer Hall and had three children of his own – Yvonne (b.1916), Mary (b.1918) and Joan (b.1919); Barbara Grace (b.4 march 1889).

[6] Frederick by his first wife had six children: Ernald Henry (b.28 June 1893), Lieutenant 3rd Company of London Yeoman; Frederick (twin b.3 March 1896), Lieutenant Grenadier Guards, wounded in First World War; Arthur (twin b.3 March 1896), Lieutenant Grenadier Guards, killed in action in France October 8th 1915; Helen Frances (b.7 June 1892), married Captain Frederick Horace Gale, Bedfordshire Regiment; Sybil Florence (b.24 Sept 1894, dunm April 1914); Beryl Susan (b.12 Nov 1904).

[7] Claud and his wife had three children: Anthony John (b.1 Jan 1904); Hugo Edward (b.1 June 1908) and Clodagh Blanche (b.28 Feb 1902).

[8] Francis and his wife had five children: Thomas George (b.27 July 1894), Major Reserve of Officers, 7th Dragoon Guards, served in the First World War and was wounded twice; Henry Adelbert (b.21 Dec 1895), Lieutenant Breckonshire Battalion, South Wales Borderers and R.A.F.; William Alfred (b.18 March 1897), Lieutenant 18th Hussars, wounded during the First World War. Married Dorothy Helme, daughter of Richard Mashiter, Glamorgan, on October 7th 1919; Francis Edward (b.16 Feb 1901, d.8 June 1918); Frances (b.10 May 1893).

[9] 15 St. James’s Square was sold in 1856 to the Clerical, Medical and General Life Assurance Company who still occupy the premises today.

[10] Pamela Sambrook, ‘Aristocratic Indebtedness’, p6-7. Prior to 1880 income from the Anson estates was largely agricultural, although from the 1860s the family were also receiving coal-mining royalties from the Bentley estate. The immediate estate acreage in 2011 is 900 acres.

[11] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p50.

[12] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p51-52.

[13] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p91.

[14] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p93-94.

[15] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p52.

[16] Burke’s Peerage, 1922, p1393-1394.

[17] Ann Rosemary married Paul Noorish Coombe on 4th December 1946. They had three children – Diane Mary Coombe (b.28 September 1947), Geoffrey Paul Coombe (b.28 July 1951), and Michael Anthony Coombe (b.27 May 1955). They divorced in 1974.

[18] In ‘Yes M’Lady.’

[19] This is the area behind where Selfridges would later be built. Their domestic staff included a butler, housekeeper, cook, valet, governess, nanny, parlour maid, nursery maid, kitchen maid and two footmen.

[20] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p55.

[21] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p56.

[22] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p57.

[23] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p89.

[24] SCRO. D615/E(H)2/5.

[25] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p57.

[26] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p58.

[27] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p63.

[28] The loss of much of the wealth and influence of the aristocracy, coupled with the need to accept that of the rising middle classes, newly powerful through England’s transition to an industrial society, was instrumental in bringing this about. Many were unable to adapt without recourse to the sale of their estates, especially after the imposition of death duties in 1889. Shugborough survived, although the period has seen its fortunes range from the peak of prosperity to its lowest ebb. By the end of the century a relative stability had been reached, but the decline in country houses was gaining momentum and for many the events of the early decades of the 20th century would make their demise inevitable.

[29]

SRO. D615/P(s)/10/21.

Thomas George Anson (1825-1892) Second Earl of Lichfield

 

 

 

The first Earl was succeeded by his son Thomas George (b.15 Aug 1825, d.7 Jan 1892). He was educated at Eton College and then worked in the Foreign Office between 1846 and 1847, including being a précis writer for Lord Palmerston. On his parents return to England abandoned the Foreign Office to stand as MP (liberal) for Lichfield between 1847 and 1854, the last member of the family to do so after an almost uninterrupted run in the seat for nearly one hundred years. In 1848 he agreed to the railway line running through the edge of the estate on the condition that a station was built at Great Haywood, largely for his own convenience.

 

 

 

Thomas inherited the title in 1854. The following year he married Lady Harriet Georgiana Louisa Hamilton on April 10th, eldest daughter of fourteen children of the first Duke

 

of Abercorn, K.G., and granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Bedford. To say the Abercorns were well-connected is perhaps an understatement. Lady Harriet’s mother wrote to Queen Victoria announcing her daughters engagement, to which she received a reply from the Queen at Windsor Castle dated October 25th 1854. ‘The news you gave me was quite unexpected but not the less gratifying to us. You can only do me justice in alluding to the interest I take in your dear girls – and particularly in dear Etta. We sincerely hope that your future son-in-law may prove in every way worthy of so amiable and charming a wife as he will have in her and that she may have a long and happy life secured to her by her marriage with Lord Lichfield, who, as you say, she has been so long attached to. The Prince joins in all my expressions and we both beg you not only to accept yourself our best wishes on this happy occasion but to convey the same to Lord Abercorn and dear Etta herself.’[1] For the wedding Queen Victoria sent a note to Harriet’s mother dated April 8th 1855 requesting ‘I beg you to give the accompanying shawl in my name to dear Etta on her wedding day with every kind and good wish on my part. May she be as happy as she deserves.’[2] From an early age she was always known as Etta, and would sign letters the same.[3]

 

 

 

Despite being one of fourteen Lady Harriet provided a substantial dowry which was injected into the House. Thomas and Harriet had thirteen children[4]:

 

 

 

·        Thomas Francis, third Earl (b.31 Jan 1856, d.29 July 1918).

 

·        George Augustus (Sir)(b.22 Dec 1857, d.25 May 1947) M.V.O., Lieutenant-Colonel late R.F.A. Territorial Force Reserves, formerly 3rd North Midland Brigade, R.F.A., and Captain R.A., D.L. Staffordshire, Chief Constable of Staffordshire from 1888 and awarded the Police medal. He prosecuted and condemned George Edalji in the infamous Wyrley Gang Case. He married Blanche Mary, daughter of George Miller of Brentry, Gloucestershire, on September 27th 1884. Issue.[5] Sir George’s wife, Blanche, and only daughter Barbara were tragically killed when a bomb fell on their London home in April 1941.

 

·        Henry James (b.29 Dec 1858, dsp.26 Feb 1904), Major Highland, L.I., A.D.C. to Governor-General of Canada. He married Lady Adelaide Audrey Ryder of Knowle, Dunster, Somerset, daughter of Henry Dudley, 4th Earl of Harrowby.

 

·        Frederick William (b.4 Feb 1862, d.2 April 1917), J.P., Herts. He married Florence Louisa Jane (d.11 Feb 1908) daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Bagot Lane of Kings Bromley on August 3rd 1886. Issue.[6] After the death of his first wife he married again to Edith Rowland on June 16th 1915. He died on April 2nd 1917.

 

·        Claud (b.11 Jan 1864, d.25 Dec 1947), J.P., D.L., and Vice-Lieutenant of Waterford, Ireland, High Sheriff 1909 (Ballysagertmore, Lismore, County Waterford). He married Lady Clodagh Beresford, daughter of John Henry, 5th Marquis of Waterford on February 27th 1901. Issue.[7]

 

·        Francis (b.7 March 1867, d.13 April 1928), Captain Breckonshire Battalion South Wales Borderers 1915-16 and resident at 37 Princess Gardens, London S.W. Married Caroline, daughter of George Cleveland of Coleman, Texas on March 7th 1867. Issue.[8]

 

·        William (b.19 April 1872, d.22 June 1926) Served as a Captain in the U.S. Army (head of River Ranch, Christoval, Texas). Married Louisa Goddard Van Wagener on July 17th 1917.

 

·        Alfred (b.15 April 1876, d.25 March 1944), Captain of the Sussex Yeomanry, served in First World War, Officer of the Crown in Italy. Married Lela, daughter of General C.T. Alexander of Washington, D.C., on July 1st 1912. He had homes in both Malborough, Wiltshire and New York.

 

·        Florence Beatrice (b.1860, d.25 Sept 1946), married Colonel Henry Streatfield, K.C.V.O., C.B., C.M.G of Chiddingstone, Kent, on August 15th 1885, Grenadier Guards, private secretary and equerry to Queen Alexandra. Issue

 

·        Beatrice (b.1865, d.15 Dec 1919), married Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hamilton Rawson of Gravenhurst, Sussex, D.L., M.P. for Reigate, Captain of 1st Life Guards, on July 30th 1890. He died October 18th 1918, she died December 15th 1919. Issue.

 

·        Mary Maude (b.1869, d.22 Sept 1961), O.B.E. (1920), married the Honourable Edward Alan Dudley Ryder of Oakfield, Crawley, Sussex, son of Henry, 4th earl of Harrowby, on July 19th 1893.

 

·        Edith (b.1870, d.8 Oct 1932), married Lionel Fortescue, 3rd Earl of Lovelace, D.S.O. on April 29th 1895. Issue.

 

·        Evelyn, b.1874, d.unm July 2nd 1895.

 

 

 

Between 1863 and 1871 Thomas was Lord-Lieutenant for Staffordshire, after persistent pressure from his former colleague Lord Palmerston. He took a keen interest in prison reform and was an active worker in the movement for the establishment of reformatories with an emphasis on reclamation rather than the punishment of prisoners. He was first chairman of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Offenders.

 

 

 

Upon his marriage, largely financed through his wife’s dowry, he set about refurbishing and refurnishing Shugborough which had stood empty for twelve years. The house in St James’s Square was sold[9] although he was unable to reduce the mortgage on the estate which remained at £600,000 until 1880. Output from the Farm together with an agricultural boom helped to pay the interest. However, the agricultural depression of the 1870s following the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1845, cheaper food imports from the Colonies, and a succession of poor harvests resulted in a reduction in the estate revenue and the interest rates continued to be a severe drain. At this time of rapid industrial growth the second Earl also made investments in new ventures including railways and steel production. By this period he was accredited with ownership of 21,443 acres of land in Staffordshire and was the largest private landowner. The land consisted of Ranton and Eccleshall (10,000 acres), Shugborough (5,500 acres) and Alrewas (5,000 acres) – all agricultural, and Bentley, Lichfield and Rugeley (2,500 acres) – classed as residential/industrial.[10]

 

 

 

The curved walls of the boudoir, the private room of the Countess, were hung with a white watered-satin paper bordered with a ‘Broad-Heath flower pattern’ and edged with gilded mouldings, while the areas in between were painted a rich blue. The windows were hung with elaborate curtains of a rich blue and white figured satin-stripe tabaret (a type of silk) lined with blue merino and edged with a silk fringe. In addition there were fine white embroidered lace curtains. Each window was fitted with Holland blinds to keep the sun out. To prevent draughts the door was hung with a heavy crimson velvet portiere curtain with floral satin borders. The room was furnished, to the taste of Victorian overcrowding, with two settees, three easy chairs plus four smaller ones, two French cabinets, a circular table and one for writing, a music stool (so perhaps also a piano), a telescope stand, a cheval screen, two flower stands and numerous items of bric-a-brac. Adjoining the boudoir was ‘His Lordship’s bedroom’, the wallpaper supplied in 1795 by Eckhardt & Co. was cleaned by rubbing with bread, the soft crumb of which removes surface dust without damage.[11]

 

 

 

The saloon was redecorated with a silver-crescent figured paper on a cream satin ground. The dining room was not decorated at this time although the coat-of-arms above the window was altered to include an Earl’s coronet and shield, and the eight large ruin paintings were also cleaned and restored.[12] During the next decade the Earl began to refurnish the house, including compiling an inventory of the library, and restocking to fill the gaps left by the sale.

 

 

 

Throughout the 19th century hand-basins continued to be used in the bedrooms with all the hot water being carried up from the only source, the boiler incorporated in the kitchen range. Only the Earl and his wife enjoyed the luxury of a full-size bath which was installed in a cupboard in their bedroom, this then being on the ground floor in what is now the Anson Room. The bath had a small attached charcoal heater and produced hot water in about half an hour, although users were warned to extinguish the fire once the correct temperature had been reached. Central heating was not installed until the 1920s.[13]

 

 

 

The House was connected to the service wing by a stone-walled tunnel which opens onto brick-vaulted cellars on each side which stored wine and beer. The Butler’s Pantry was also at this level with a nearby strongroom for storage of silver and other valuables. Access for the servants to the Entrance Hall was previously by steps leading up to the Garden Room, which also may have been used as a serving room when the early dining room (in the upper part of the Saloon) was in use. The later main Dining Room was served by the Ante Room where a hot cupboard was installed. This was necessary because of the long distance which the food had to travel from the kitchen at the far end of the service wing. This apparently inconvenient position was deliberately chosen as the Victorians had a strong aversion to cooking odours. Most roasting of meat, of which great deal was consumed, was still carried out on spits before open fires, so the fumes from this must have been considerable. The volume of meals produced would compare to that of an hotel kitchen of today, with different times and menus for those of the Dining Room, Nurseries, School Room and Servants Hall. The present cast-iron kitchen range is Victorian, but as early as 1773 the Pantry and the Servant’s Hall both had ‘a range set in brickwork.’ In addition there were built-in stewing stoves burning charcoal, a recurring item in the housekeeper’s accounts of this period.[14]

 

 

 

In the late 19th century the staff numbered about forty men and women, each having a specific job with its own place in the rigid hierarchy of ‘below stairs.’ The relative importance of each servant was reflected in the position and furnishing of their work place, which ranged from the comfort of the Housekeeper’s Room with its Turkey carpet, mahogany table and chairs, card table, writing desk, easy chairs and sofa, to the very basic Servants Hall with its long deal table and benches. While the upper servants were comfortably housed and not overworked, those of the lower status did heavy menial tasks in cheerless surroundings.

 

 

 

The second Earl was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. He had the gardens redesigned to provide a grander setting for the house. At the rear of the House the informal lawns sweeping down to the river were replaced by the formal terraces and paths with decorative urns, much as they are at present.[15] The Earl died on January 7th 1892, while his wife Harriet lived until March 14th 1912.

 

Thomas Francis Anson (1856-1918) Third Earl of Lichfield

 

 

 

The third Earl, Thomas Francis (b. 1856, d.29 July 1918), B.A. Trinity College, Cambridge, J.P., C.A., and D.L. for Staffordshire. Thomas renewed the Anson-Coke connection by marrying his first cousin twice removed, Lady Mildred Coke of Holkham, the youngest daughter of the second Earl of Leicester, on November 5th 1878. They had the following six children[16]:

 

 

 

·        Thomas Edward, fourth Earl (9 Dec 1883 - 14 Sept 1960).

 

·        Arthur Augustus (29 July 1887 – 30 Aug 1960), known as ‘Arty.’ Educated at harrow-on-the-Hill School. Married Beatrice Dora James 31 July 1929.

 

·        Rupert (7 Nov 1889 – 20 Dec 1966), Captain of the 7th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, married Mollie, daughter of James Halliday of Harrow-on-the-Hill on November 26th 1919. Had four children: Ann Rosemary[17], Felicity Marion, Geoffrey Rupert (28 Jan 1929 – 5 June 1997), & Major Thomas Peter (b.5 March 1933).

 

·        Bertha (22 Aug 1879 – 30 Aug 1959), married the Honourable Thomas Henry Frederick Egerton, son of the 3rd Earl of Ellsmere, on October 23rd 1902. They had two children – Mildred Helen (15 November 1903 – 1980) and Pamela Katherine (12 May 1918 – 8 Nov 2004).

 

·        Mabel (18 July 1882 – 21 March 1972) married Atholl Laurence Cunyngham Forbes, the 21st Lord Forbes on October 12th 1914. They had two children – Major Nigel Ivan Forbes, 22nd Lord Forbes (b.19 Feb 1918) and the honourable Malcolm Atholl Forbes (9 Dec 1928 – 6 March 1929).

 

·        Violet (21 April 1886 – 17 Sept 1974), married Lancelot Mare Gregson, of Reigate, Major in the Grenadier Guards, on July 29th 1912. They had five children – Elizabeth (b.20 June 1914), Hermonie (30 June 1915 – 19 June 1994), Margaret Anne (16 March 1918 – 21 Feb 1931), Jean Mary (b.10 November 1919) and David Lancelot (b.17 February 1928).

 

 

 

Thomas was described as ‘an unflappable Englishman.’[18] His home was at 5 Granville Place, London, just off Regent Street.[19] During August and September the family would leave Granville Place ‘to be at home for the holidays’ at Shugborough. Every Christmas several weeks would be spent at Holkham in Norfolk, Lady Mildred’s childhood home.

 

 

 

During the spring of 1889 the Ansons visited relatives in Ireland. The 3rd earl’s maternal grandparents were the 1st Duke and Duchess of Abercorn whose estate was at Baron’s Court, Omagh, Co. Tyrone. Several years earlier his uncle had succeeded to the title although his grandmother was still alive. Another visit included Lady Mildred’s sister and brother-in-law, Lord and Lady Leitrim who lived at Mulroy, Co. Donegal. Another Ireland visit in 1893 included Muckross House in Killarney, a Victorian mock-Elizabethan mansion built in 1840 for Henry Herbert, M.P. for Kerry. In 1893 the family moved from Granville Place to nearby 38 Great Cumberland.

 

 

 

Their daughter Evelyn died in 1895 at the age of 21 after contracting measles from one of the housemaids at Great Cumberland Place. Although an illness that the sufferer would easily recover from in childhood, when caught as an adult it was a much more serious illness. Unfortunately Lady Evelyn developed pneumonia for which there was no anti-biotic cure at the time. Despite strenuous attempts by doctors she did not survive.

 

 

 

During the early months of 1896 the 3rd Earl and his wife took a villa in the remote town of Pau in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The children remained either at school or at home in the care of their governess. Lady Mildred developed a serious case of German measles which, due to the poor English spoken by the local doctors, forced their return to London.

 

 

 

Thomas inherited Shugborough in 1892, but had already taken over the management of the estate from his father in 1880 who did not feel capable of handling the substantial financial burden. His first action was to dismiss the agent for the estate, Robert Harvey Wyatt. Although Wyatt was the third generation of his family to serve at Shugborough, it was considered that he lacked the flexibility and drive of his predecessors.

 

 

 

Before succeeding as the third earl Thomas paid off the mortgage with the Prudential Assurance Company, replacing it with several smaller mortgages in the hands of friends and relatives thereby making the estate more secure. He made up the deficit caused by the decline in agricultural rents from his estates by diversifying, investing money in the colonies, and taking on city directorships at both the National Provincial Bank and the Bank of Australasia. Between 1880 and 1910 he placed much of his own resources into Shugborough, as well as re-investing all the income from the estate, thereby paying off large parts of the mortgage. He attempted to sell the Ranton estate but this failed to reach the asking price and so instead it was let for rent. Ranton was eventually sold but later re-purchased by the fifth Earl.

 

 

 

The third Earl took an active interest in both the history of his family and the House. He made notes based on the family archives and re-arranged the contents of the House to emphasise their importance in relation to the family’s history. He rescued objects from outbuildings, including James Athenian Stuart’s carved door cases and window shutters from the Temple of the Winds. These were built into the Blue Drawing Room and Swallow Passage in the 1890s. Admiral Anson’s Chinese porcelain and hand-painted mirrors, and the elaborate plaster ceilings from the Chinese House were carefully removed and reinstated in the main House. At the same time the Georgian character of the House was restored and new alterations made in the style of the original using, amongst other things, 18th century chimney pieces.

 

 

 

As well as restoring architectural features from buildings in the grounds the third Earl also made alterations to the house, but these, due to the financial climate, were considerably more modest. His changes were mainly internal decorations, in the general move away from Victorian claustrophobic clutter towards lighter, more spacious interiors. With the exception of the mahogany doors all the woodwork was painted white, as were the yellow columns in the entrance hall and saloon. The rose-red paint used for the walls of the hall, ante-dining room and corridors on the ground floor was a popular colour of the period, after excavations at Pompeii had revealed a similar colour scheme. The same Pompeian interiors were also the source of the Victorian fashion for the division of the interior wall space into three distinct areas of a deep dado, a wider middle section, and a heavy frieze above them.[20]

 

 

 

The upper floor corridors and landings were painted green which was another popular colour. Other rooms such as the bust parlour and the Billiard, Business, and Smoking Rooms were repapered but no details exist. The smoking room was the one exception to the white painted woodwork, being finished ‘as mahogany’ which would not discolour through smoke.[21]

 

 

 

The chief structural alterations carried out by the architect Joubert were in the staircase hall and also seem to have been motivated by the trend for lighter interiors. As a result, two arched openings, fitted with balusters to match those of the staircase, were made in the wall of the first floor corridor. The carved banisters leading to the State bedroom suite were taken from the Tower of the Winds in the park. Mahogany doors were added between the entrance and staircase halls and fitted with an architrave from the blue drawing room. The ceiling of the latter was decorated, as a letter to the Earl reports ‘the Blue Drawing Room ceiling ornament is finished and is very successful – the gilt pearls to be inserted after it is painted.’ Nothing of this remains as the ceiling was damaged during the dry-rot repairs on the 1920s, and so only dates from this time. Another feature added by Joubert which is still in place is the back staircase with carved oak barley-sugar twist banisters brought from Orgeave Hall.[22]

 

 

 

Around 1892 the first bathrooms were installed, with just one on each of bedroom floor besides one for the nurseries and a private one for the Earl. The solid fuel hot water boiler was in the Stable Block where two bathrooms were provided for the servants. Further bathrooms were added during the 1920-1924 dry-rot restoration, including that attached to the State Bedroom suite. In addition to the provision of bathrooms, the 1892 drainage report also advised various improvements to the water-closets, several of which had been installed a century before. The water-closet in a ground floor dressing room was unventilated so its removal was advised, despite it being the only one for ladies on that floor.[23]

 

 

 

The earliest photographs of the interior were published in 1899 by the Lichfield Mercury newspaper in ‘Mansions and Country Seats of Staffordshire and Warwickshire.’[24] These appear to have been taken before the alterations were made as the columns of the saloon are not yet painted white. The Saloon also shows all the paintings hung in a straight line and the chairs carefully placed. According to the article the picture that had pride of place was an engraving of Queen Victoria with her mother. The Queen had presented it to the 3rd Earl during her diamond jubilee year (1897) as a memento of the visit she made with her mother in October 1832. With the exception of the dining room all are furnished with a similar random arrangement of easy chairs, small tables, screens and an assortment of ornaments in a typically cluttered Victorian way.[25] The Countess’s boudoir had a less formal appearance. The article described it as ‘a cosy and comfortable room arranged in the best taste.’ Especially noticeable were the family photographs, of which there were at least seven on display.

 

 

 

The third Earl’s sitting room which he used as a Study is now the Anson Room, and like the Blue Drawing Room, the dry-rot repairs of the 1922 meant the removal of the original ceiling. This room is also referred to in the 1855 refurnishing accounts as the 2nd Earl’s bedroom. The first Earl had also used it as a bedroom, probably because he suffered from gout and would have found climbing stairs difficult.[26]

 

 

 

In 1911 the third Earl made changes by combining the Billiard Room, first mentioned in 1795 at the time of Wyatt’s alterations, and the Garden Room into a more open area, afterwards known as the Billiard-Room Lounge, and now the Verandah Room. New access was made to the Smoking Room from the Billiard Room and also to the Garden. This included the removal of most of the wall between the two rooms and replaced with a wide flattened archway. A similar arch opened up the Billiard Room to the corridor, while that between the Garden Room and the corridor was removed altogether and the space filled with three, Italian-style arches, supported by plain columns. Billiards were a popular pastime among the gentry on wet days in the countryside. In addition the size of the Billiard Room was increased by extending its outside wall into part of the Verandah, with a new garden entrance door. New carved wooden double doors provided direct access to the adjoining Smoking Room (now Lord Lichfield’s Dining Room) previously only entered from the service passage. Modifications were also made to the bedrooms directly above, which included the provision of a new bathroom and W.C.[27]

 

 

 

The third Earl was concerned with social welfare and supported many local projects. He was president of Staffordshire General Infirmary for twenty-one years. On being re-elected for the twenty-first time he commented on his ‘coming of age’ in that capacity and remarked dryly that it was an argument in favour of fresh blood. He was chairman of the isolation hospitals sub-committee and took an active part in providing sanatoria for consumptives.

 

 

 

He took an active part in education being a member of Staffordshire Education Committee and a member of the finance committee of the county council. He was also one of the founder members of the Staffordshire Farmers Association, a member of the Staffordshire Agricultural Society and during the First World War a member of the County War Agricultural Committee. This demonstration of social awareness was typical of the changes in attitude of the aristocracy during the second half of the 19th century as Regency abandon gave way to Victorian prudence.[28]

 

 

 

During the 1880s he formed the Shugborough Museum, which consisted mainly of stuffed birds. He was a keen naturalist and a good huntsman, and during 1912-1913 was Vice President of the Stafford and District harriers, a cross-country running club.

 

 

 

He took a keen interest in cricket and was president of Middlesex Cricket Club in 1897. At the time of his death he was one of the trustees of the club. As a player he showed potential and secured a place in the Harrow Eleven in 1874. He was described as an excellent batsman, including a score of 144 for MCC against the South Wales Club at Lords in 1879. He instigated an annual ‘Cricket Week’ at Shugborough and granted the local club free use of the ground which was the venue for many half-day matches. Two photographs of Shugborough Cricket Club from August 1912 show the Earl as umpire seated in the middle of the group.[29]

 

 

 

He died alone while out shooting in the grounds at Shugborough. The ‘Staffordshire Advertiser’ of Saturday August 3rd 1918 reported the death of the 3rd Earl at the age of sixty-two. The previous Monday evening the Earl had gone out with a gun with the intention of shooting wild duck for dinner later that week. He left the house at 7pm after arranging for dinner that evening to be delayed until 8.15. When he did not return a search was organised, and the estate gamekeeper found the body lying face downwards in the river with his gun lying close by.

 

 

 

An inquest was held at Shugborough Hall on Tuesday evening before the coroner Mr S W Morgan, and Mr P M Bridgwood, alderman and JP of Great Haywood acting as foreman of the jury. The first witness was the Earls’ son, Arthur Augustus Anson, of 63 Montague Square, London. He last saw his father ‘in town’ [London] on Thursday. He said that his father often went out duck shooting in the evening and that the place he was found was one of his two favourite places for shooting.

 

 

 

Housekeeper Alice Mary Wilson was possibly the last person to see him alive. About 7.10pm she saw the Earl from the passage window going across the lawn with his gun on his shoulder and walking in the direction of the river.

 

 

 

Gamekeeper James Hine left home at 8pm with the intention of shooting rabbits. He had heard two shots by the Hall and about 8.15 Lady Lichfield came to him and asked whether it was him that had fired the shots, but he said it wasn’t. She explained that the Earl had gone out to shoot ducks but had not yet returned. She suggested to Hine that they look in places where the Earl was likely to be. Going along the riverside they came to a place where someone had gone through a clump of nettles and where there were some ducks on the river. They then retraced their steps and went around by the Chinese House and down to the little lodge but there was no sign of the Earl. Lady Lichfield returned to the Hall and Hine continued searching. At about 9pm Hine returned to the Hall to tell Lady Lichfield that there was still no sign of the Earl. She asked him to resume his search where he had seen the ducks. He went through the nettle bank again while Lady Lichfield remained in the open park. When Hine had got halfway between the iron bridge and the ‘Dark Lanthern’ he came across the Earls’ hat on the riverbank. He then discovered his body in the water.

 

 

 

The coroner asked Hine how he was lying and he replied face downwards in the water as if he had fallen straight in. His feet were just clear of the bank and he could see the back of his head, but not the legs at first as it was beginning to get dark. Hine immediately pulled the Earls’ body from the water which he described as lifeless and cold. He noticed a mark on the face which he thought was mud. Lady Lichfield, on reaching the spot, remarked that it was an injury and she was the first to notice that. The foreman of the jury, Mr Bridgwood, asked about the surface of the ground and Hine stated that it was very uneven and slippery, and a place where it would be easy to trip up. Hine also stated that there was a gun in the water by the side of the Earl. Both barrels were loaded but only one cartridge had been discharged

 

 

 

The body was taken to the Hall and Dr Bull, the Earls’ medical attendant from Great Haywood, was summoned. Dr Bull reported that the body had a large gunshot wound to the left side of the neck and cheek. Asked by the coroner if the gun had been fired at close range Bull said that the muzzle could not have been very close to the head because there was no blackening of the wound, but it was evident that the shot had spread because the wound was large. In response to other questions Bull said that the Earl had been in frail health for some time. Asked whether it was possible that the Earl had fainted or suffered a heart attack it was Bulls’ opinion that the Earl had either fainted or slipped due to the ground being very uneven. It was also at the foot of a tree where the roots were sticking out and the ground was mossy. Bull said that he too had almost slipped and ended up in the river.

 

 

 

Asked whether the Earl had suffered any fainting attacks previously Bull stated that he had not although once or twice during conversation he appeared as if he had fallen asleep, and added that he had not been sleeping well lately. Asked whether a twig or something else might have discharged the gun Bull said that the jerk in falling forward may have done it and concluded that the cause of death was the gunshot wound in the neck.

 

 

 

The coroner, in summing up, said that he thought the jury would have very little difficulty in returning a verdict of accidental death after the very clear way in which the evidence had been given. So far as he could see they could come to no other verdict and there was not the slightest reason to suggest anything else. The evidence clearly showed that the gun was not fired at very close quarters.

 

 

 

The jury unanimously returned a verdict of accidental death and the foreman expressed their sympathy to Lady Lichfield. They had all known the Earl for many years, as had the coroner, who also added his sympathy.

 

 

 

His funeral was at St Stephen’s church at Great Haywood, founded by his father, on Friday August 2nd. Immediate relatives and friends conveyed the coffin from the Hall on a wheel bier, the coffin being made of solid oak by Mr Gould, an employee of the Ranton estate. The church was full to capacity and attended by a large number of mourners – relatives, friends and villagers. The King and Queen also send a telegram of condolence to Lady Lichfield. He was interred on the east side of the churchyard.

 



[1] SRO. D615/P(S)/9/2/60.

[2] SRO. D615/P(S)/9/2/61.

[3] SRO. D615/P(S)/9/1/4. Collection of five letters from Harriet as a young girl to her mother.

[4] Burke’s Peerage, 1922, p1393-1394.

[5] George and his wife had the following children: John George (b.14 July 1886), Lieutenant 3rd North Midland Brigade R.F.A.; Claude Ronald (b.3 May 1895), Lieutenant 3rd North Midland brigade R.F.A., wounded in the First World War. He married Frederica, daughter of James Harrison of Maer Hall and had three children of his own – Yvonne (b.1916), Mary (b.1918) and Joan (b.1919); Barbara Grace (b.4 march 1889).

[6] Frederick by his first wife had six children: Ernald Henry (b.28 June 1893), Lieutenant 3rd Company of London Yeoman; Frederick (twin b.3 March 1896), Lieutenant Grenadier Guards, wounded in First World War; Arthur (twin b.3 March 1896), Lieutenant Grenadier Guards, killed in action in France October 8th 1915; Helen Frances (b.7 June 1892), married Captain Frederick Horace Gale, Bedfordshire Regiment; Sybil Florence (b.24 Sept 1894, dunm April 1914); Beryl Susan (b.12 Nov 1904).

[7] Claud and his wife had three children: Anthony John (b.1 Jan 1904); Hugo Edward (b.1 June 1908) and Clodagh Blanche (b.28 Feb 1902).

[8] Francis and his wife had five children: Thomas George (b.27 July 1894), Major Reserve of Officers, 7th Dragoon Guards, served in the First World War and was wounded twice; Henry Adelbert (b.21 Dec 1895), Lieutenant Breckonshire Battalion, South Wales Borderers and R.A.F.; William Alfred (b.18 March 1897), Lieutenant 18th Hussars, wounded during the First World War. Married Dorothy Helme, daughter of Richard Mashiter, Glamorgan, on October 7th 1919; Francis Edward (b.16 Feb 1901, d.8 June 1918); Frances (b.10 May 1893).

[9] 15 St. James’s Square was sold in 1856 to the Clerical, Medical and General Life Assurance Company who still occupy the premises today.

[10] Pamela Sambrook, ‘Aristocratic Indebtedness’, p6-7. Prior to 1880 income from the Anson estates was largely agricultural, although from the 1860s the family were also receiving coal-mining royalties from the Bentley estate. The immediate estate acreage in 2011 is 900 acres.

[11] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p50.

[12] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p51-52.

[13] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p91.

[14] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p93-94.

[15] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p52.

[16] Burke’s Peerage, 1922, p1393-1394.

[17] Ann Rosemary married Paul Noorish Coombe on 4th December 1946. They had three children – Diane Mary Coombe (b.28 September 1947), Geoffrey Paul Coombe (b.28 July 1951), and Michael Anthony Coombe (b.27 May 1955). They divorced in 1974.

[18] In ‘Yes M’Lady.’

[19] This is the area behind where Selfridges would later be built. Their domestic staff included a butler, housekeeper, cook, valet, governess, nanny, parlour maid, nursery maid, kitchen maid and two footmen.

[20] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p55.

[21] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p56.

[22] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p57.

[23] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p89.

[24] SCRO. D615/E(H)2/5.

[25] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p57.

[26] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p58.

[27] Johnson, Constance, ‘The Evolution of Shugborough’, p63.

[28] The loss of much of the wealth and influence of the aristocracy, coupled with the need to accept that of the rising middle classes, newly powerful through England’s transition to an industrial society, was instrumental in bringing this about. Many were unable to adapt without recourse to the sale of their estates, especially after the imposition of death duties in 1889. Shugborough survived, although the period has seen its fortunes range from the peak of prosperity to its lowest ebb. By the end of the century a relative stability had been reached, but the decline in country houses was gaining momentum and for many the events of the early decades of the 20th century would make their demise inevitable.

[29] SRO. D615/P(s)/10/21.