Monday, 6 May 2019

THE LOST CHILDREN OF FRED AND MARY TYLER.





IN AFFECTIONATE 
REMEMBRANCE OF 
—————
JULIANA
Born May 6th, died September 27th, 1843.
FREDERICK
Born September 21st, 1844, died May 25th, 1846.
ARTHUR
Born November 2nd, 1845, died January 11th, 1846.
MARY
Born December 8th, 1846, died May 25th, 1847.
JULIA
Born December 16th, died March 10th, 1848.
FREDERICK
Born January 28th, died October 6th, 1849.
SARAH ELIZABETH
Born January 22nd, died July 31st, 1850.
MARY JANE
Born March 7th, died August 31st, 1851.
LOUISA
Born May 22nd, died October 15th, 1852.
RICHARD
Born July 3rd, died September 24th, 1855.
FANNY
Born December 6th, 1856, died January 21st, 1859.
THE BELOVED CHILDREN OF FREDERICK & MARY TYLER.
 ---------------------------------



Accustomed as I am to wandering around my local graveyards about the town - especially on a Sunday morning when there are less people to see me go about my odd pastime - I occasionally come across a few words inscribed on the headstones which give me great food for thought.  I have been moved to write in the past of the story of three young men, siblings all, who had passed away in the summer months of a century ago during the visit of a massive weather event to the area.  The sad story which unfolded of the tragic events at the small village of Barsby on a dark stormy night in October of 1927, I have written about elsewhere, but my point is that it was my meanderings which created my ongoing interest in cemeteries and the ancient gravestones which have retained the mostly forgotten stories of the past.

During a more recent Sunday stroll in the St Mary’s Gardens, behind ‘Tubes Night-Club, I was attracted to a particularly large and beautifully embellished stone of dark-grey Swithland slate which was exquisitely inscribed by an obviously skilled artisan. The name ‘WEAVER’ appended at the very bottom of the slab told me that it was crafted by Mr Samuel Weaver,  builder and stonemason/engraver then of Sage Cross Street and the year was likely 1859.  But I was not only attracted by the fine handiwork displayed, as what really drew my attention was the amount of script he had inserted into his allotted space.  As depicted in the above photograph, (and my transcript beneath), the names of no fewer that 11 children - 7 girls and 4 boys - all belonging to parents Frederick and Mary Tyler are shown, all of which had died at a very young age, some most likely at the time of their birth. The more I perused the still very readable script, the more I wondered whatever lay behind the tragic story of this ‘message’ of over 150 years ago.

You do the math.  I gave up on the task as I started to work out the ages or days lived by each of these eleven babies; perhaps you might like to work this out for yourself. Puzzled and ever inquisitive, I engaged in the task of discovering who this desperate couple might have been, especially the poor mother who had obviously suffered the bulk of the wasted endeavour and the long days, months and years of grieving and likely puzzlement of their own.  I can pretty well safely say that Mary spent at least 23 years in confinement and can assert that in this period of time she was to give birth to a grand total of no less than 17 children of which only 3 boys and 3 girls seem to have survived to adulthood. Bizarrely, five of these were comprised of the first five born to Mary.  The sixth survivor was a ‘Fred’ who was born much later in 1854 and who grew up to marry and have a family of his own.

Fred and Mary Tyler.


Mary Roell was a Melton Mowbray girl who married Frederick Tyler in the August of 1836. I believe that this family name is mis-spelled and should be ‘Rowell’, but I have gained no useful knowledge as to her family background.  Her first-born child was Mary, in 1836 and it is perhaps ironic that as a widow, she would be living with this particular daughter when she passed away at the age of 77 years.  Mary is on record as having been employed as a laundry worker, but I’m sure that she spent more time working as a mother!
In 1841, the couple are recorded as living in Scalford Road, Fred being shown as a publican and there are four children present, but ten years later in 1851 he is shown as a watch-maker by occupation and there are now five children, with baby Mary Jane only just born in February of 1851.  A change of address tells us that they were now living in their better known address of Sage Cross Street, possibly newly built.  A salient point to mention here is the fact that baby Mary Jane was by then her eleventh born child!  In 1861, the family is still in Sage Cross Street, next door to the builder’s yard of his friend, master mason, Robert Weaver and his family and it is possible that Sam had even crafted the family tombstone for them by then.  It is interesting to also note that at least three of the Tyler children were by now in their 20’s and what’s more, there was by now a one year old, Arthur, who was named as a ‘grandson’.
By 1871, the large Tyler family was still dwindling, with Fred and Mary still in charge there now remained with them only Emma, a widow at 29, but likely the mother of 10 years old Arthur who was still resident and shown as an ‘errand boy’.  I leave my search here of a family, totally irrelevant to me and of no particular personal interest, apart from me gaining an insight into a world now passed which seemed to have retained so many sad stories.  Mary was to die in March 1888 after Frederick who had passed some 8 years earlier at the age of 70.
That then, is the sad story behind the names on the beautiful gravestone which drew my intention. What follows is a potted history of the those burial grounds in Melton Mowbray up to the present day.

______________________________



THE BURIAL GROUNDS OF MELTON MOWBRAY


It may be of interest to learn that the three main cemeteries of Melton Mowbray have each evolved from the basic conundrum of available space divided by the required demand from an increasing population. Simply resolved, when the hallowed ground comprising the limited curtilage of St Mary’s Church yard became no longer comfortably viable for the acceptance of more remains, suitable and available land was acquired from the garden area which then joined King street at the rear of the Generous Briton public house with Norman Street to the north of the town.  This was to be known as the ‘New Cemetery’.

A brief knowledge of the history of the Nation’s religious problems tells us that Melton Mowbray was very much a part of the schism which grew to be  a rancorous separation of the long established church by a smaller dissenting community in various scattered guises. Dissent was very much a proactive part of the social scene, but suffice to comment for now that the split which existed at the time of this change of location, created a ‘them-and-us’ scenario with Dissenters being laid to rest only in the northern one third of the ground provided, whilst the larger ‘established’ number of ‘remainers’ of the high church, were allocated the remaining two-thirds.

With the inevitable crowding out of the loyal deceased parishioners from the small graveyard of St Mary’s which abutted BurtonEnd, it was vital that somewhere be found to carry the ever increasing overflow. There were several acres of grassland behind the Church apparently doing little apart from providing one or two small allotments, but these were owned by wealthy outsiders then, so an alternative compromise on the grounds of cost was arranged when the Town Estate property was utilised off King Street. See the small maps  which clearly show the ‘new’ cemetery layouts.

The enforced removal from the original church grounds to the virgin land off King Street in that late Summer of 1845. was to prove not to be a permanent answer to the space problem, more a relatively short term solution and as the town expanded towards the end of the Victorian era, its useful days were to become numbered once more, when, in 1898, Meltonians would  celebrate the opening of a what was planned to be the ultimate answer to the burial problem when the new purpose-built facility in Thorpe Road was officially opened. though its future too, is now currently in doubt as the onward march of each generation continues to quickly fill up the existing allocations.  In the meantime I present below, a short account of the opening in 1845 of the ‘new’ town cemetery in 1845, through the eyes of the irascible Leicester Chronicle which is bizarrely presented with an edge of humour in some sort of reference to a competitive newspaper.
(Reproduced from the Leicester Chronicle of Saturday 25 October 1845) 
FIRST INTERMENT IN THE NEW CEMETERY, MELTON MOWBRAY. 


The coffin has been made, 
To receive its fallen dead. 
And therein 'twill be laid. 
When its tiny spark has fled, — 
'Twill be buried with the grandeur it deserves; 
And thus it will be sung. 
Whilst the great bell will be rung, 
" It died of sap among All its nerves “— Old Song. 
On Friday, the 3rd inst., (says a correspondent,) the new burying ground in Melton was consecrated. In anticipation of this event, the ‘Recorder’ had been ‘lying in state,’ ever since its demise, at the office of the Publisher, for its ‘nobility’ could not, even in dust, blend with the ignoble democrats over the wall ; and on Monday, the 20th inst., the ‘maiden sod’ was upturned, that its remains might be deposited in the silent tomb.  At present all that marks the mournfully interesting spot - the grave of Melton's hope - is a pasteboard tablet (in imitation of marble) bearing the following inscription; 
"HIC JACET 
all that was mortal of 
'THE MELTON RECORDER’ , 
After a lingering and painful illness, 
it departed this life 
the 14th day of July, 1845, Aged 20 weeks. 
Ye readers kind, who now lament, 
Be thankful while you weep. 
For I, who made you drowsy once. 
Myself am fallen asleep."  

But of course this will not be deemed a sufficient tribute to its ‘memory dear’ by its admirers. It is therefore proposed either to erect a statue to, or build a nest for, the ci-devant Editor, testifying thereby that his herculean labours have not been wholly unappreciated. If the statue is decided upon, a premium will be offered to artists for designs.



Sir Francis Grant President R.A. (1803-1878)  

Meanwhile, On a related note, referring to my recent presence at the cemetery, I might draw attention to the placement in this former cemetery - now not recognised as such in its present state - of the monument of one of our town’s most prominent former residents. By the way of a diversion from the theme of this article, I speak of the world-renowned artist and long term popular resident, Sir Francis Grant, President of the Royal Academy of Arts. A Scot, he was born in Edinburgh on the 18th January 1803. At first a student at Harrow on-the-Hill school as a young child, he was later educated in Edinburgh, but not at university nor did he achieving any significant degree. Arriving in Melton Mowbray, attracted by its reputation, he was to gain the friendship of two locally established artists, the well regarded Ferneley brothers.  Without formal training he would learn to paint and in later years, to advance this self-taught expertise to a standard beyond even his own wildest dreams. Francis grew up to become a formal portrait painter of some great renown, specialising mainly in the portraiture of many aristocratic and political figures of his time, including that of his greatest admirer, Queen Victoria. 

The Grant family home in London was at No 27 Sussex Place, Marylebone, where he spent the early days of a spoiled life with his two brothers and from where, with an inheritance of more than £10,000 from his deceased father’s estate, he vowed to spend his early years spending it all, with a further promise to train later as a lawyer.  He achieved his first avowal to spend but did not quite make his visit to the halls of higher education, instead, wasting his precious moments in his great passion of hunting and gambling, pastimes which were to bring him inevitably to Melton Mowbray, where only the very best of this popular sport was to be achieved amongst some of the most important people in world society.  

At the age of 23 years he met his wife-to-be, Emily Farquharson who also hailed from Scotland and they were married in 1826, but sadly, in circumstances seemingly unknown, young Emily, without issue, was to die in 1828, it being less than two years after their nuptials and for a short time Francis was on his own again. Extremely handsome and reportedly most attractive to the ladies of his time, the young budding artist was not to mourn for too long before he was courting local lady, the highly sought and esteemed society beauty, Isabella Elizabeth Norman (1805-1894) a relative of the Manners family of Belvoir.  On the 8th July, 1829, Melton Mowbray was to witness the wedding of all weddings at the Parish Church of St Mary’s, when Francis married for a second time. No children had emanated from his first marriage with Emily, but this new union was to eventually produce five girls and three boys born between 1830 and 1847.  I understand that one of these eight children is said to have been born out of wedlock, but I have as yet, no further details.  The Grants lived in the large house, then known simply as ‘The Lodge,’ today extant on the lower slope of Dalby Road almost opposite the swimming baths. In the 1930’s, the residence was renamed for some reason as ‘Dorian Lodge’, the name which it currently retains. When, as a popular and respected Associate of the esteemed Royal Academy of Art in London, he became their President in 1866 being simultaneously rewarded with a Knighthood from his Queen in recognition of his valuable and prolific services to art.

With a very much dispersed family of children, we usually hear mainly of two or three of his young daughters who remained in Melton as their home town. Sir Francis and Dame Isabella had retained the family home at 27 Sussex Place in Marylebone, adjoining Regents Park and in the Spring of 1871 they are to be found there in residence with four house staff and a carriage in the driveway. His work in the capital city ensured a close connection with his art, but by now it was more with the business of administration and exhibitions.  
Finally, as they say, ‘All good things come to an end’ and it was on the 5th day of October, 1878, when apparently without prior warning, Sir Francis Grant suffered what was described as a ‘massive’ fatal heart attack whilst resting at Dalby Road with his daughter, Daisy.  His funeral service at St Mary’s was widely reported as being one of the biggest turnouts ever seen in the town.


THE NEW, NEW CEMETERY IN THORPE ROAD 

‘APPOINTMENT OF CEMETERY SUPERINTENDENT 

At the meeting of the Local Board, on Wednesday evening, Mr Joseph Smith, of Nottingham Road, Melton, was appointed superintendent of the new Cemetery out of fourteen applicants for the post.’     
 (Grantham Journal, 3rd June, 1893.)

Towards the end of the 19th Century, it is apparent that the ‘new’ cemetery in King Street was now becoming as congested as that of the church of half a century before and it became once more the business of the local board, in partnership with representatives of the various denominations now proliferating in the town, to provide the extra space for a future generation of the residents. In 1893, land was acquired at the side of the Thorpe Road, then utilised as public allotment gardens, for the purpose of providing an up-to-date and ‘state-of-the-art’ new facility. The Leicester Chronicle of the day, described the opening event.

OPENING OF THE NEW CEMETERY AT MELTON MOWBRAY. 


On Thursday morning last, the new Cemetery provided for the locals of the town of Melton (a full description of which appeared in these columns some few weeks ago) was formally opened after having been handed over to the Board at a special meeting on the previous evening. The proceedings were of the simplest character possible, the members of the Board meeting at the Lodge, where the Chairman (Mr. J. J. Fast), in a few words, “opened the place.” It had been suggested that a dedicatory service of some kind should be held to mark the event, the proposal being that the whole of the ministers in the town should take part in it, but no definite steps in this direction were not taken, and consequently nothing was done as regards any religious ceremony. The whole of the cemetery is open, i.e no pets it is consecrated as is the custom in many towns, according to the rites of the Church of England.  Though complete as regards its buildings and the laying out of the various intersecting pathways, the Cemetery as yet presents by no means a finished appearance, no trees or shrubs having been planted, as doubtless there will be in time, and the ground near the Chapel and also the lodge still bears traces of the “hands" of the builders. When the ornamentation of the place in these respects has been carried out it will look very pretty, and we think that Meltonians will have no reason to be dissatisfied with the new burial ground when it is got into proper order. 
As stated, the Cemetery was opened in the most formal manner, with a special meeting of the Board being convened for ten o'clock that Thursday morning at the keeper's lodge. There were present— J. Fast (chairman of the Board), J. Glover, J. Gill, W. Willcox, G. N. Wing, J. Anderson, C. Callis, Rd. Barker (Clerk), and K. Jeeves (Surveyor). The grounds were formally inspected and they then, proceeding to the room where the ministers robe, the Chairman said they were there that day for the purpose of formally declaring the Cemetery open to the public, and he hoped they would all live long enough to hear the public say that they looked upon it as a boon. He would like to have expressed entire satisfaction with regard to one or two small matters which had been detected, he supposed there was nothing perfect in this world, and they must put up with things as they found them unless they had the power to remedy them. Mr. Willcox said that he thought it would a great boon to the town at large when the place was properly set out, and hoped it would not fall so heavily upon the ratepayers that some of their friends have imagined, because no doubt they would derive a considerable revenue from here on.  Mr. Glover remarked that he had no wish to see the cemetery pay its way, which would only mean a heavy death-rate.—A slight discussion then ensued with reference to the letting of the plot of ground attached to the cemetery, and it was ultimately resolved to let it by tender. 
The proceedings then terminated. The first funeral took place at four o'clock in the afternoon when the body of Mrs. Sophia Clarke, wife of Mr. Henry Clarke, refreshment-house keeper of Church-lane, Melton, was interred. The deceased, who was sixty-eight years of age, died on Monday after a somewhat lengthy  illness. Mrs Clarke was well known in the town and highly respected. The obsequies were conducted by the Vicar (Rev. R. Blakeney) the first part of the service being held the Parish Church, and then completed at the grave-side where a short dedicatory prayer was said.  The funeral was witnessed by a large number of people. The Parish Magazine for June had announced that the custom which has hitherto prevailed of the portion of the burial service being read in the Parish Church, can still observed in every case in which it is desired.
(Leicester Chronicle.)




———————————————





And what of tomorrow?


For more than a century the Thorpe Road Cemetery has served the people of Melton Mowbray. Its fine lodge at the main entrance still stands today, overlooking the large, manicured area of the various sections representing the religious followings of its occupants, which must now amount to many hundreds over time.  Little seems to have changed over these years, during which time the spare plot mentioned at its opening ceremony was indeed utilised for extra space.  There is talk today, in 2019, of the sale of the lodge house as a private dwelling and news of a possible end of term for the facilities so lovingly provided all those long years past. There is even a current  public discourse on the subject of bringing to an end the ancient practice of burial in the ground in civic open spaces, leaving no doubt, much contention amongst the religious groups who will no doubt need to organise alternative methods of the disposition of loved ones.  Watch this space!

© John McQuaid 2019
   


Friday, 22 February 2019

THE HOUSES




MEMORIALS OF A GREAT MELTON FAMILY. 1793-1933


THE HOUSE

Relating to the life and times of one of the most iconic of Melton’s Lodges, ’The House’, which once stood in Sherrard Street and could be said to epitomise the life and times of a great period in the colourful history of the old market town of Melton Mowbray.

REMEMBERING JOSIAH GILL (1874-1933)

Yet another valued son of old Melton Mowbray who is now almost lost - or forgotten -  in the mists of time was Josiah Gill, the son of a farmer of the same name who owned and worked his land in the very small village of Holwell, just to the north of the town.  A first-born child to the former Mary Ann Gilson of Twyford, he was soon to be one of seven siblings, but at the age of 26 years Josiah, articulate and well schooled locally as a child entered college as a pharmacy student in London and as expected, he qualified as a dispensing chemist.  Returning to Melton at the end of this training, he set up in business as the proprietor of a combined chemist and grocery shop and in the summer of 1915 he married Kathleen Broxholme of Ashby-de-la- Zouch, though no children were born to the marriage.  A younger brother, Leonard Gill, was also to open a shop in Melton which was remembered until quite recently as ‘Leonard Gill’s Hardware’ in the Market Place. Kathleen died in 1961 and Leonard followed in 1965.  Both of the businesses were to cease trading within the lifetime of the the following generation.

Josiah was greatly interested and personally involved in the social and political side of his home town, and county, especially in the matter of childrens’ education and in particular, the Sunday schools of which he was the local superintendent in which he frequently taught and preached. Politics interested him very much and he was at different times, Chairman of the Melton Mowbray Urban District Council and a prospective councillor for the Leicestershire County Council, making frequent attempts at election to that body - all unfortunately, abortive.  He did achieve success as a member for the Liberal Party in his town. As Second-in-Command of the local branch of the Salvation Army, Josiah was said to be thrilled to be deputed to meet and greet with General Booth and his wife who visited Melton to great fanfare and excitement in his ubiquitous open automobile, to speak at the Corn Exchange in Nottingham street in July of 1907.  His father sadly took his own life in 1917 at the age of 70 in 1917 and Josiah himself was to pass away in June, 1933 at the young age of 59 years.  Thankfully, much of his work is still discoverable.

I have ‘rediscovered’ Josiah Gill in this new, twenty-first century by reason of the fact that amongst all of his many interests, like myself, he had a great passion for the social history of his beloved town and was to produce a number of scholarly and readable articles for occasional publication in the local press. I have no scruples about occasionally 'lifting' a whole piece of prose in the interests of presenting an accurate account and so, as an example of one of Josiah's valuable literary contributions, I have reproduced the following article from The Grantham Journal of Saturday June 25th, 1932, which memorialises in the wonderful detail and style of the time the life and times of one of the most iconic of Melton’s many old hunting lodges -‘The House.’  



'MEMORIALS OF A GREAT MELTON FAMILY  1793-1932. 

‘The House’ and Other Famous Local Residences. 


By Josiah Gill.


Sporting and artistic ghosts of a full century must have mingled their sighs when last week they watched the fall of the hammer which broke for ever the link between a distinguished family and the town of Melton Mowbray. With the departure of the venerable Miss Grant and the Hon. Mrs. Walsh, another of those old homesteads, which may be compendiously classified as Victorian, has closed its doors.  

The story of the Norman - Grant - Markham family in Melton commencing with the coming of Richard Norman, Esquire, who anon wedded the Lady Elizabeth Isabella Manners, daughter of the fourth Duke of Rutland, a popular nobleman in the days of Pitt and Fox.  Their two chief mansions have for their title of honour the definite article only, the single word ‘The’ rightly giving to these historic homesteads a stateliness and dignity all their own. In respect of Squire Norman’s newly-acquired properly, the simple grandeur of the appellative is considerably intensified, for in all probability ‘The House’ was the cradle, as it were, of the Melton Hunt. To it, so the records declare, came William Lambton when, in 1787, that pioneer Nimrod decided to make this town his headquarters and by so doing incidentally raised the place from  a townlet of small importance to the front rank among fashionable resorts. 

After about six years of being the hub and heart of the rising Hunt, the centre of ‘a most select company of noblemen and gentry of sporting celebrity,’ the fortunes of ‘The House’ appear to have changed. In the September assessment for the year 1793, the name of Lambton is erased, and that of ‘Norman’ substituted by pencil. The House was forthwith designated after the new owner and so remained until comparatively recent years when it unaccountably characterised itself having no prefix to its generic name.

With all the dignity and amenity of a country house, planted in the very heart of the town, ‘Norman House’ continued for upwards of half a century, the abode of one of Melton’s most honoured families.  Lady Elizabeth Norman, generally known by the appellation of ‘The Good Lady Elizabeth,’ was a veritable ‘Lady Bountiful’ amongst her humbler neighbours.  The sense of ceaseless responsibility to poorer neighbours of the noblesse oblige, was strong in those days and during very many years Lady Elizabeth’s discerning sympathy and delicate generosity were the means of brightening the lives of scores of her fellow-citizens.  Her benevolence among the poor was unbounded; wherever there was sickness or distress her heart was open to sympathise and her hand to relieve. Often she was found at the bedside of the afflicted, reading portions of Holy Writ, and many times was she observed on her way to the house of some sick and almost destitute person, herself carrying the means to minister to their needs. 

At her funeral, in 1852. hearse nor carriage was present, but members of the families of Manners, Grant, Straton and Forester, headed by the Marquis of Granby, were numbered among the mourners who witnessed the interment by Orlando, afterwards fourth Lord Forester, in the almost forgotten God’s acre hidden away off King Street.  In relieving the poor, Lady Elizabeth not only fed them, but physicked them also.

Perhaps the most enduring memorial of this great lady is found in the form of a homely recipe, which even to-day survives as a magnificent proof of her benevolence and charity.  Within last few days enquiries have reached the town from Africa respecting the formula of this cheap, effective medicine, with a view of employing it among indigent natives of Umtata. Owing to lapse of time the appellation of dignity very often varied by the present generation from “Lady” to “Queen,” “Mother,” “Aunt,” “Mary” and even ‘Saint’ Elizabeth’s cough mixture.  Thus is paid unwittingly the highest compliment due to a good soul of bygone days.

After the death of Mr. Norman, the beautiful font, with its exquisitely carved oak canopy, was erected to his memory in the Parish Church. ‘As a token of love and affection by his widow and fourteen surviving children.’
A romantic interest attaches to this house from its close connection with ‘the most beautiful woman in the Kingdom of high rank’ as Wraxall styles Mary Isabella, widow of His Excellency the Duke of Rutland' who died Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in 1787.  Towards the close of her life, this magnificent Peeress - four times painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds - spent a portion of several winters at The Poplars, a house now almost lost in modern uses to which trade has converted it. Apropos of this circumstance, the Duchess not infrequently provided her immediate neighbours with one of those wonderful pieces of pomp and pageantry which in that era were so often associated with the most common-place events in life, for we have it on excellent authority that when this Ex-Vicereine paid a casual visit to her daughter, who resided on the opposite side of the street, she invariably chartered her four-in-hand pony phaeton, with its complement of liveried servants, by which in almost semi-regal state she traversed the few yards of thoroughfare. 

But ‘The Duchess Rooms’ of today suggest to us a much more intimate and prolonged association with ‘The House’ than was conceded to its neighbour.  That the Duchess and her dandy sons were great habitués of the place is certain.  In an interesting side-light on the social life of this mansion about a century ago, Mr. Brereton, the gossipy Headmaster of the School, was accustomed to give private instruction to the juvenile members of the Norman family.  On one occasion, after exhibiting some experiments, this local diarist confided to his journal under date 1822, “The Duchess of Rutland is electrified.”

The best features cf country-house life were again united during the long residence here of Colonel and Mrs. Markham and their numerous family.  Colonel Markham considerably enlarged the house and also beautified the gardens. Thenceforth the place became a most agreeable rendezvous for the junior members of the hunting families, where festivities and jollifications of merry young folk frequently took place.

On December 12th, 1877, this mansion formed fitting background for a bridal cortege.  Surely no more splendid spectacle ever graced old St. Mary’s Church than the nuptials of Cecile Markham and Cecil Samuda when a great throng of the elite of the town, dressed in full hunting attire, honoured the ceremony by their presence. On emerging from the Church the bridal party, which included ten bridesmaids, each wearing a robin in her hat, passed under an avenue cf garlands supported by scarlet-coated huntsmen, among them the venerable Duke of Rutland.

Benevolence, like hunting, runs in families, and Mrs Markham inherited from her grandmother a keen sense of personal responsibility for her neighbours welfare.  The House again became sacred to scores of townspeople who reverenced the character or benighted by the unostentatious charity so naturally bestowed by this hereditary, 'Lady bountiful.'  Melton was stirred to its depth, when, on July 20th, 1880, it heard of the death of this great-hearted lady, at the age of 44 years.  This sad event left upon the mind of the writer an ineffaceable impression.  Two days afterwards there took place the National Sunday school centenary celebration.  The silencing of the bands and the dipping of the flags and banners, as the great procession, on its way to Church, passed The House, was a token of affection towards one, who, in many ways, had befriended the youth of the town.

The only other name which counts in the annals of this mansion during the past fifty years is that of John Adrian, Earl of Hopetoun, a Chamberlain to Queen Victoria and one of her favourite ministers.  After leaving Melton, Lord Hopetoun achieved distinction by becoming first Governor-General of the Australian Commonwealth, and eventually received the honour of a Marquisate.  Since the death of Mrs. Lionel Powell in 1929 ‘The House’ has stood forlorn and dismantled, awaiting, doubtless, only the coup de grâce it will one day receive at the builder’s hand. 

Few Melton houses carry more historical reminiscences than does the old homestead situated in illustrious obscurity on the southern slope of Mount Pleasant, the name of which we again crown with the definite article.  The earliest notices we possess of ‘The Lodge’ appear in the year 1870 when it functioned as the hunting-box of that popular patron of 'agricultural improvements’, the ninth Lord Kinnaird.  The place conjures up memories of many notable people to whom it has been let during the century.  In the ’seventies, when in the tenancy of Lord and Lady Dupplin, King Edward added a distinctly interesting page to its history by a brief visit.  Again, the Americanisation of Melton may be said to have been set when James Gordon Bennett, son of the founder and himself the proprietor of the “New York Herald,” first took up his residence at this house during the absence of the Grants.

Mr. Moreton Frewen tells how on one occasion, he dined here with that great sportsman, ‘sitting next to a strange hard-bitten American who regarded Melton as a ‘lunatic asylum in pink coats.’ “I did not catch my neighbour’s name and enquired of my host.” “Oh” he said. “ Its Stanley, a man I am sending to Africa to hunt up Livingstone.”  Art, rather than rank, has, however, given to The Lodge its greatest distinction. For the one name of supreme importance and consequence in its annals is, of course, that of Sir Francis Grant.  Indeed there never was a place so associated with with the memory of one man as is this villa with the once popular President of the Royal Academy.

Sir Francis Grant came to Melton as far back as the early ‘thirties.  He began to paint and little by little, by dint of his genius and ability, he worked his way steadily onward until at length he gained a secure place among great English painters, ultimately reaching the highest position in his branch of art in this country. Three or four years before settling in Melton, young Grant commanded the notice of Sir Walter Scott in the following delightful entry in his ‘journal’ — ‘He is not going to be content with sitting at the bottom of his father’s table and passing the claret, but in giving himself heart and soul in following a delightful, though most arduous profession, and achieving in it a marked and independent position,’  But the great Scotsman did not live long enough to see how brilliantly his foreshadowing of Grant’s career was realised.

Lady Dorothy Neville represents him as the only painter she ever knew who painted by gaslight, and he was further described by a lady at Court in the words of Queen Victoria as “ the handsomest man and the most gifted artist in the three kingdoms.”  Two pictures, representing the company at Melton during the reign of the ‘Sailor King’ hang in numerous houses of the town.  ‘The Melton Breakfast’ alone, with its graceful strength and repose, is sufficient to make immortal the name of the painter who exhibited during his career not less than 253 works.

As a rider, Sir Francis stood in the first rank. ‘Nimrod’ says of him;  “He possessed the combined arts of riding over not only fences and brooks, but now and then over horses and men in the morning and by delighting Society in the evening by the sallies of his wit and humour.

It is not always that honours such as attended this young man’s funeral ceremony are so fitly bestowed.  His friends seemed to have shared the feelings of the relatives of Lord Kelvin and Florence Nightingale, who alike declined the honour of a national burial which the nation, had it been permitted, would gladly have paid to the dead by interment in the central shrine of English Christendom.

Like his great predecessor, Sir. Godfrey Kneller, Sir Francis lies far from the bustle of the capital having found sepulture in the old cemetery in King Street among the hunting scenes he loved so well.  The funeral, on October 12th, 1878, marked perhaps, one of the most imposing and impressive obsequies ever witnessed in Melton.  Previous to the hour of burial, about three hundred members of the Royal Academy had luncheon at Norman House, and afterwards joined the funeral cortège. Nobles counted it an honour to support the pall, among the bearers being Lord Kinnaird, Mr. Cope R.A., the Duke of Rutland, Viscount Hardinge, the Marquis of Bristol, and other men of high consideration.  The public attended in great numbers and the ‘Archbishop of Society’ as the northern Primate was styled, took the service.

Right to the end, while still the home of his venerated daughter, the gentle presence of the great painter seemed to hover around the house he loved so well and which remained much as it was in his time, replete with beautiful productions and souvenirs.

Among street scenes of rather less than fifty years ago, which we remember as little more than shadows, the little donkey carriage carrying lady Grant and accompanied by her majestic daughter, stands out real and tangible.  Daughter of Richard and Lady Elizabeth Norman, Lady Grant was born at “The House’ on May 25th, 1805.  After the death of Sir Francis, Lady Grant made their winter hunting box her permanent home, until in the year 1893, she ‘shuttled off the mortal coil.’ Memories of this old and respected family are revived by inspecting the windows in the Norman Chapel of the Parish Church. Especially noteworthy is the beautiful memorial to the great artist, the subject of which is a full length figure of Saint Luke as a painter. 
  
Despite the brisk, pleasant modernity of young Mr ‘Hammerdown the Fourth’ [the auctioneer] cheerfully stripping The Lodge of its historic souvenirs, one could not but view with genuine sadness the scene which marked not merely the end - as far as patrician associations are concerned - of two historic houses, but also deprived Melton of the last in direct succession of the fine old families which through five generations identified them with the life of the community.'


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