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As you might well be aware by now, the rejuvenated Craven Lodge which sits opposite my window in all its glory and now re-branded 'Craven Court', is currently one of my very favourite subjects and while this warmth remains I have been digging out some related stories of the past which you might wish to share. The rich history of this residence and its owners has been well documented of late and since local doctor, Mr Keal, first had the foundations laid as long ago as 1827 there have been nine further owners of the property. Each of these incumbents seem to have been of interesting character and perhaps are all worthy of having their personal stories told, but I recently came across a newspaper article that started me off on yet another merry chase to discover all I could about the lives and times of one of those families in particular. In 1884 Mr William Younger of the famous brewing family of Scotland sold his interest in the Lodge after a residency of some ten years with his young family. His particular tenure is probably best remembered for the moment when, in 1877, he received an overnight visit from probably one of the most notorious and feared members of the Victorian underworld when the scary Mr Charles Peace, known countrywide in the popular press of the day as the 'King of Thieves and Murderers', entered, uninvited via a ground floor window. He is reported to have escaped with a great amount of jewellery before attempting a similar forced entry at Wicklow Lodge just further up the road. The bulk of the jewellery was later recovered and not long after this unwanted visit, Peace was arrested and eventually hanged for his many atrocious crimes, which indeed included three murders. But that is another fascinating story for another day as my present interest is focussed on the man to whom  Mr Younger handed over the keys. The sixth occupant of Craven Lodge was the recently married Colonel Edward Holmes Baldock, a long time lover of Melton Mowbray with its sporting life and everything else that it stood for, who brought his new wife and his baby daughter to the big house where he was to remain ensconced from 1884 for the next 3 decades.

The Baldock Family

Post Queen Victoria and in the very early days of the twentieth century, at the commencement of the nascent Edwardian era, the new-fangled motor-car with its noisy and smelly method of power was beginning to create a buzz amongst the country's elite and to be a motorist was soon to be considered as extremely chic and such possession indicated a certain wealth and grandness within society and amongst the young and daring bloods who had not yet anticipated the coming of the 'flying machine' which would not be seen until 1911. Around the turn of the century, the people of Melton Mowbray would get an early experience of these still rare machines due to the presence of so many rich and sporting people. It is recorded that it was in 1897 that the first actual sighting of a motor-car in the town caused such a great sensation - and perhaps not without a little bit of fear and trepidation to go with it. Without doubt, Count Zborowski would have been a keen and early motorist and it is reported that in 1903 a wealthy American, Mr Foxall Keene, who was resident at the then North Lodge, fell foul of our English laws when he was charged with speeding at 30 mph and for failing to stop for a police officer. The Chairman of the Bench is said to have reflected that it was "the worst case that had ever come before them" with the result that he was fined the substantial sum then, of £10. So it was no surprise that Colonel Baldock was to add yet another motor car to the tight streets of Melton Mowbray, no doubt to the great chagrin of the locals. In the early months of 1901, members of the local District Council were to receive a missive from what the local newspaper reported as 'a 'substantial rate-payer on Burton Road', to the effect that the Melton Mowbray to Oakham road (later to become the A606) outside Craven Lodge was far too narrow for modern use. This happened to be at the time when the new Burton Street railway bridge was being constructed to replace the old level crossing which had long passed its sell-by date. A massive civil engineering project in its day with the demolition of several buildings beneath it, the road outside the lodge would be widened and scooped out to provide material for the raised approaches. So Colonel Baldock would have been granted his wish and the good citizens of neighbouring town of Oakham who previously would need to attract the attention of the gate keeper, would henceforth have a trouble-free time crossing both the railway line and the unpredictable River Eye on their way home from market.

So who then, was this Colonel Baldock who possibly drove the first motor car up the driveway of Craven Lodge? Well, for a start, he was not a local. Edward Holmes Baldock was the only son of Edward Holmes Baldock (1812-1875) M.P. for Shrewsbury from 1847 to 1857 and Elizabeth Mary Corbet, daughter of Sir Andrew Vincent Corbet, 2nd Bt., of Moreton Corbet, Shropshire sister of sir Vincent Rowland Corbet, 5th daughter of sir Andrew Vincent Corbet of Acton Reynald and Morton Corbet.

Nellie, a Sister of Repute.

Fascinatingly for Royal historians, the Colonel was brother to a quite notorious younger sibling who grew to be something of  a society beauty and whose presence was considered to be vital at all of the social gatherings of the day, if only for the pleasure of the chattering classes to discover the gossip. Ellen Baldock was to marry Lord Kilmorey of Newry whom the details as:
    Francis Charles Needham, 3rd Earl of Kilmorey was born on 3 August 1842 He was the son of Francis Jack Needham, Viscount Newry and Mourne and Anne Amelia Colville. He married Ellen Constance Baldock, only daughter of Edward Holmes Baldock, on 23 June 1881. He died on 28 July 1915 at age 72.
     He was educated at Eton College, Windsor, Berkshire, England. He graduated from Christ Church, Oxford University, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, in 1867 with a Master of Arts (M.A.). He gained the rank of Captain between 1868 and 1880 in the service of the South Down Militia. He held the office of High Sheriff of County Down in 1871. He held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) (Conservative) for Newry between 1871 and 1874. He succeeded to the title of 14th Viscount Kilmorey, in Queen's Co. on 20 June 1880. He succeeded to the title of 3rd Viscount Newry and Mourne, co. Down on 20 June 1880. He succeeded to the title of 3rd Earl of Kilmorey on 20 June 1880. He was invested as a Representative Peer [Ireland] between 1881 and 1915. He was Lieutenant-Colonel of the Shropshire Imperial Yeomanry between 1889 and 1896. He was invested as a Knight, Order of St. Patrick (K.P.) in 1890. He gained the rank of Honorary Colonel in 1897. He held the office of Justice of the Peace (J.P.) for Shropshire. He was invested as a Knight of Grace, Order of St. John of Jerusalem (K.G.St.J.). He held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) of Shropshire. He held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) of County Armagh. He held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) of County Down. He held the office of Yeomanry Aide-de-Camp to HM King Edward VII in 1901.
Children of Francis Charles Needham, 3rd Earl of Kilmorey and Ellen Constance Baldock:
Francis Charles Adelbert Henry Needham, 4th Earl of Kilmorey+3 b. 26 Nov 1883, d. 11 Jan 1961
Major Hon. Francis Edward Needham+3 b. 6 Mar 1886, d. 24 Oct 1955

Lady Cynthia Almina Constance Mary Needham+3 b. 7 Nov 1889, d. 12 Jan 1947
It appears from the above (which I present in detail only to assist in understanding the status of the personalities involved) that Francis was an extremely busy socialite/politician which probably kept him away from home a lot, but controversy was soon to follow the beautiful but obdurate Ellen which was mainly created through her own default. As Ellen, Countess of Kilmorey, she was notoriously the mistress of Prince Francis  of Teck - a nephew of Queen Mary - who is said to have caused outrage by bequeathing Ellen the priceless 'Teck' emeralds - or Cambridge Emeralds - of the Royal Family in his will; these were later recovered by Queen Mary after the death of Ellen in 1920. There was chit-chat relating to an illegitimate child and reputedly, an affair with the future King Edward VII whose coronation she is said to have attended as a guest in what was known in court circles as the 'loose box' - an area for former royal mistresses. As we might say today, not only "Frankie', but E. H.'s sister too, were probably "no better than they ought to be".

Edward himself had only the very best of formal education, spending his formative years at Eton College and later matriculating to Cambridge University, he entered Magdelene College on Jan 29th 1874 at the age of 20. He first joined the Shropshire Yeomanry and was the Colonel commanding from 1897 to 1902. He subsequently joined the 3rd County of London (Sharpshooters) Yeomanry in 1904, then in 1909 he relinquished his commission and retired at the age of 54 years.

In between these years, in 1880, the family notices column of the 'Times' newspaper officially announced to the world the following:
'On the 20th Jan., 1880, in the Chapel Royal, Savoy, by the Rev. Henry White, M.A. Chaplain of the Savoy and Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. EDWARD HOLMES BALDOCK, Esq. only son of the late Edward Holmes Baldock, Esq. M.P. to AGNES JESSIE, third daughter of J.J. Bibby, Esq., of Hardwicke Grange, Shropshire.'

The Bibby Empire

The Bibby's were - and are still to this day - a well known Liverpool family of wealthy ship owners and their magnificent family home  Hardwicke Grange in Shropshire once stood as one of the great houses of England until it was demolished in 1930, apparently through 'a lack of wealth'. Agnes Bibby was one of four daughters of this family and was born in 1849 when the Bibby company was at its peak. Their brother Frank, born in 1857 was the last born sibling, but as the only male he would eventually inherit the bulk of the family estate. Wikipedia tells us:
The Bibby Line was founded in 1807 by the first John Bibby (1775–1840). It has operated in most areas of shipping throughout its 200 year history, and claims to be the oldest independently owned deep sea shipping line in the world. Along with other British ship owners, it endured hard economic conditions in the 1970s and 1980s, but survived through diversification into floating accommodation. The Group diversified further into Distribution and Financial Services in the late 1980s and 1990s.
It is for sure that the Bibby sisters of H.E.s day would have attracted much attention from the sons of the American millionaires of the day.

So the Baldocks settled in to their home up-country whilst retaining an interest in his parents's magnificent No. 8 Grosvenor Square home which snuggled up to the home of their near neighbours, Victoria and Albert at Buckingham Palace. Their new Melton Mowbray home was in fact purchased from Mr William Younger by Agnes's father, J. J. Bibby in 1885, but in his will of 1897, he "... settled Craven Lodge in favour of his daughter Mrs. Baldock ..."  Edward was a sport loving man and his interests lay mainly in the fields of hunting, fishing and other field sports. He was said to be a keen golfer and had a passion for the 'new' pastime of polo - equestrian football - for which land near to the railway crossing gates at Brentingby was procured for the purpose of accommodating its numerous aficionados. Jack Brownlow in his Queen of the Shires recounts:

'... an attempt was made in 1893 to form a Golf Club backed by Colonel Baldock and other members of the Hunt, together with several local gentlemen. An excellent course had been secured on Mr Spreckley's land, near the Swans Nest swimming club beside the River Eye about half a mile east of Burton End Bridge. The project fell through, largely because of strong local opposition to play being permitted on Sundays. Mr Labouchere castigated these people in Truth as busybodies and bigots.'  For several years he was the principal organiser of the Melton Hunt Ball, although most of the work was undertaken by Mr J. W. Warner and later by his son, Frank. Colonel Baldock and Mr Beeby were largely instrumental in the founding of the Melton Polo Club in 1908, first on a field near Sysonby Lodge on Nottingham Road and then at Brentingby where it became a popular and successful Club until the advent of the First World War ...'

On Tuesday the 12th July 1881, the Baldocks proudly announced to the world from No 8 Grosvenor Square, that a girl had been born into the family. Turning out to be their only surviving child, Sarah Frances Constance Lillian Baldock would be the only heir to the family's vast fortune and when she was just four years of age she became a resident of Melton Mowbray when the family moved in to the Lodge. It is fascinating to see in the census for 1891, the 20+ domestic staff who were employed to ministrate to the three of them. The 1901 Census later indicates that young Sarah had achieved her rite of passage in reaching her 18th birthday; allegedly a wilful child, she also comes across as both handsome and spirited in a positive sense, but her salad days would soon be be entering a devastating and destructive period both for her and her parents when she began to court the man of her dreams and the Baldocks' hereditary aspirations were crumbled into dust and ignominy....


Part II of The Bishop Family, remains under construction and when certain facts have been verified or certified, I hope to conclude this bizarre little tale. I am now being guided by family members who are in possession of useful facts!


  1. John
    An informative post, and helps flesh out my research on Edward Holmes BALDOCK and his relatives....

    Many thanks.

    Steve Baldock
    contact AT
    Facebook: baldockfaggfamily
    Twitter: @baldockfaggfam
    Norfolk FHS # 12782
    Kent FHS # 12869
    GOONS # 5618

    1. Thanks for your input Steve. I have looked at your data but cannot see a connection as yet to my line of Baldocks. I am pretty sure that the existence of that particular branch of the family became extinct with the death of Sarah, as there were no takers to the great amount of family property left. There is a family tomb in Sussex, England, but Sarah doesn't merit space there.

      John McQuaid
      GCE 'O' Level - (French) (English Language) 1956

  2. You always do fascinating detailed researches in history and literature. Check for some future inspiration and if you want to know how to fix some google bugs.


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