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Craven Lodge.

The rejuvenated 'Craven Lodge' in Burton Road, Melton Mowbray, a lovely old house which sits opposite my window in all its glory is now re-branded 'Craven Court', but it remains one of my very favourite subjects in the town and while this warmth of my interest remains I have been seeking out some related stories from its past which you might wish to share. The rich history of this residence - originally known as Burton House - which as long ago as 1860 was changed to its more familiar title of 'Craven Lodge' by the Hon. W.G. Craven of Fulham Football Club fame, records a long list of previous owners over a period of almost two centuries. Since local doctor Mr Keal first laid the foundations as long ago as 1827 there have been at least nine further owners of the popular hunting lodge. Each of these incumbents seem to have been of interesting character in one way or another and perhaps each is worthy of having their personal stories told, but I recently came across an old newspaper article that started me off on an investigative journey to discover all that I could about the lives and times of one of those families in particular: that of Colonel Edward Holmes Baldock. 

In 1884 the incumbent resident, 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 tenure was probably best remembered for the moment when, in 1877, he received an overnight, uninvited visit from probably one of the most notorious and feared members of the Victorian underworld, when the scary Mr Charles Peace, a notorious and prolific burglar known countrywide and especially by the the popular press of the day as the 'King of Thieves and Murderers', entered, uninvited in the dark hours of a summer's night via an insecure ground floor window. He is said to have escaped with a great amount of jewellery before attempting a similar forced entry at Wicklow Lodge, another large house just further up the road. This particular attempt was said to have been thwarted and due to further enquiries in the town the bulk of the Baldock's jewellery was recovered. It was not long after this unwanted visit to the town that Peace was arrested and eventually hanged for his many atrocious crimes, which indeed included three murders. But that is another fascinating story for another time as my present interest is focussed not on the story of the house, but on the family who were to move in on the Younger's departure departure.

The sixth owner of Craven Lodge in 1885 was the recently married Colonel Edward Holmes Baldock of Surrey and Knightsbridge, a long time lover of Melton Mowbray with its sporting life and everything else that it stood for. With the Lodge purchased as a wedding present for the couple by the bride's wealthy father, shipowner John J Bibby, the family moved in with their first - and only - child into the large residence in which they were to remain ensconced for the next three decades. 

The Baldock Family

Exit Queen Victoria and in the very early days of the twentieth century as King Edward took the reins of sovereignty from his mother, 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. He was to receive only the very best of formal education, spending his formative years at Eton College and later matriculating to Cambridge University where 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 and subsequently  the 3rd County of London (Sharpshooters) Yeomanry in 1904. In 1909 he relinquished his commission and retired at the age of 54 years.

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 (popularly know as 'Nellie' ) 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

... and her lover.

It appears from the above (which I present in some 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 playboy nephew of Queen Mary - who is said to have caused outrage in Royal circles 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 also 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 then 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  Nellie, were probably "no better than they ought to be".

Amid the social gatherings, the family notices column of the 'Times' newspaper officially was to announce 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 death of Edward's father, the senior Edward Holmes Baldock, in 1875 was described at the time as a 'sad and melancholy' event. Newspaper reports inform us that the ex-Member of Parliament, after a lifetime of representing the Shropshire constituency of Shrewsbury, was attending a house sale in nearby Kensington Gardens when an awful tragedy occurred. Amongst luxurious additions to one of the apartments of the property was a conservatory filled with superb exotics and Mr Baldock, desirous of gaining a closer look walked straight through a large sheet of plate glass which had covered the door. One of his legs suffered severe lacerations just above the knee which seriously damaged the nerves and tendons with the result that Erysipelas [a bacterial skin infection] set in to such an extent that it was not possible to reduce it. He died within the week at the age of 63.

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 Company was at its peak. Her 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 newly married Baldocks settled in to their home up-country whilst Edward retained an interest in his parents's magnificent house No. 8 Grosvenor Square home, an opulent residence which snuggled up to the home of their near neighbours Victoria and Albert at Buckingham Palace. Craven Lodge, their 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 reportedly a man who loved sport of all kinds 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 - hockey on horses - for which suitable 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 ...'

A Child is Born.

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....



E. F. Duvall and Co. Engravers.

For many years there existed in Northumberland Street in the Strand, central London, amongst a great multitude of divers other small businesses, a small workshop which was owned and being operated by a 'Duvall' family who seem to have arrived in England about the time that the persecuted Huguenots began their immigration. John Duvall (1770-1836) a noted and respected engraver, might have established or inherited the business there, together with his wife Martha. The art of engraving was a very important one at this time and good artisans and practitioners were highly respected and usually remunerated handsomely for their patient skills which would have been utilised for illuminating books and documents, personalising glass or metal, or producing fine seals for use on official documents, not to mention many other aspects of the trade which are today covered by the use of computers. At the time, the French and Italians were looked upon as leaders in the field.

John and Martha Duvall had just one child, John Charles Adrian, who was born in 1798 and by the 1830's he was satisfactorily  trained and probably sufficiently capable of carrying on his father's business with the assistance  of an  expanding number of skilled employees. Around 1820 he  married Elizabeth Badham and by 1837 three girls and two boys were born, but sadly, on 23 November, 1839, Elizabeth was to die quite unexpectedly at a very young age.

Trade Directories at the turn of the century show the firm as 'E.F. Duvall and Co., Engravers, No. 3 Northumberland, Strand, London' but I was to search for a long while before discovering the relevance of the initials 'E.F.' in the title, as these related to none of the existing family. The answer might lie in the fact that almost exactly one year after the death of his beloved wife Elizabeth and just four years following that of his father in 1936, John junior would marry Eleanor Frances, the daughter of Daniel O'Hara. This marriage took place on the 26 November 1840 at All Soul's Church, St Marylebone, but there were no further children added to the family from this second union. By now, as the incumbent proprietor of the firm, might John Duvall have re-named it after his new wife?

Enter The Bishop Family.

Elizabeth Mary Duvall was John Duvall's eldest daughter of his seven children; she was born in 1820 and following her time spent at school and what other higher education was considered necessary or affordable, she probably took an apprenticeship after which she too was to acquire a knowledge of the skilled art of engraving and would eventually take up a place at her father's benches in the Strand workshop. Elizabeth was probably working there when her stepmother Eleanor O'Hara arrived on the scene. Also working at Duvalls around the same time was a young artisan from Gloucestershire; now living in the capital city, William Thomas Bishop was born in Cirencester in1817 and in the January of 1840, he would marry Elizabeth and thus become a part of the Company which was by now trading as E.F. Duvall and Company, Engravers.

The first born child to William and Elizabeth Bishop, was William John; he was born on the 30th May 1841 in London, Their next child was Elizabeth who was born in 1846, but by this time the family were resident in Ireland where also, Mary 1848, Henry 1850, Thomas 1856 and Charles Edward 1858, were born. I have not discovered the reason for their sojourn across the Irish sea though it might possibly have been for business purposes. In 1862, Clara Charlotte was born in Bermondsey and she would be their last making a total of 7 in all and by this time the family seem to have returned home to London. Father William was to die on the 18th July 1882 when the family were living apparently quite comfortably in Kensington and Elizabeth passed away on 17th January 1893 in St James, Westminster.

The above mentioned William John Bishop, married in his middle twenties but the certificate cannot be located to date. His bride was a Clara Miller who was born around 1839 but once again, her actual date of birth is only to be estimated as no official record is at hand. Their first born child was named Arthur Duvall Bishop, with the middle name an obvious connection with his grandmother. Arthur was born on the 26th July 1866 in Brixton, London, followed two years later by his sister Bertha in 1868 and finally Evelyn in 1969. By this time the family was living in the Strand, possibly at or close to, the workshop. But before any more children were born, tragedy seems to have arrived in the form of Clara's untimely death in the Spring of 1871 at the young age of about 32 years.

With a living to pursue and with the sole responsibility for three young children now under his care, William was soon to meet Mary Clayforth, a Yorkshire lass who was born near to Leeds. In the Spring of 1871 Elizabeth was living in nearby Wombwell at the residence of her brother Henry Clayforth who was then the Rector of that town. How they met or whether she had moved to London at the time is not made clear, but on the 20th June 1972 the couple tied the marital knot at her local church in Tadcaster and in the process was to create five more step-siblings to make a grand total of eight. The first three of Elizabeth's children all received the inclusion of her family name; Hugh Clayforth Bishop was born in 1874, Cecil Clayforth in 1877 and Hilda Clayforth in 1878. Penultimate child Reginald Bishop seemed to have escaped this pattern in 1881 and oddly, in December 1883, the final addition was a boy, christened Cyril Duvall Bishop, whom we can only assume was named as an obvious re-connection with his grandmother. All of this second batch of Duvall siblings were born in Sidcup in Kent.

Cyril Duval Bishop

So the majority of the Bishop siblings tended to become absorbed into London life and some inevitably moved away to pastures new, but it is with the young Cyril, the last born, that my preoccupation is now to be concentrated as he grew into a man in the busy streets of South London. It is recorded that he was an extremely handsome and engaging youth who pursued the usual boyhood interests of the day, in particular he was to develop a fascination into the workings of the newly emerging petrol driven motor-cars which were rapidly taking the place of the horse-propelled variety. Then, at some time around 1899 when Cyril was just about sixteen years of age he met 17 years old Annie Matilda Hallows whose family was then living in Lewisham High Road in South London, Her father, Thomas Hallows, was piano teacher and her Mother was formerly Matilda Pitt. Employed as an assistant in a milliners shop, Annie shared her home with a sister, Olive Helen Hallows, who was five years younger. Sometime during that year of their meeting, there was no doubt that a great passage of angst would have existed within the domestic comings and goings of number 19, Lewisham High Road, when Annie was to inform her parents that as a result of her liaison with young Cyril she was pregnant. In the true course of nature, on Sunday, 11th March 1900, a boy was duly born to Annie. According to the official Certificate, the birth was not registered until the 9th May that year and the father's particulars were not recorded but the child is clearly named as Cyril Mervyn Bishop. In 1900, becoming an unmarried mother would have been pretty catastrophic for all parties involved and due to the parents being adolescents, marriage not only would have been out of the question, but would probably not have been legal, so one could be sure to believe that much trepidation and hand-wringing was abroad in the Hallow's household in those early months of 1890. I am informed on good authority that a decision was eventually made by Annie's parents to 'adopt' Cyril and to bring him up ostensibly as part of their existing family. In the 1901 Census he is shown as Mervyn C.B. Hallows - 'grandson' and in 1911 as 'adopted son'. Mervyn's putative parents, Cyril and Annie never did marry and the names 'Cyril and Bishop' were to remain reduced to 'C.B.' .

Cupid Calls Again.

By the time he had reached 18 years of age, the handsome and apparently debonair young Cyril Duvall Bishop remained a bachelor and indeed, already had eyes for another when he was to meet and fall in love with the aforementioned Miss Sarah Frances Constance Lillian Baldock, only daughter of Colonel E.H. Baldock and his wife, the former Agnes Jessie Bibby heiress to a share of the famous shipping empire of the name. It is sad to say though, that this 'Romeo and Juliet' affair would very soon gain the stature of a festering sore and a mounting problem to the very wealthy and highly regarded Baldocks and has already been mentioned, their societal existence and hereditary aspirations were threatened with disintegrating into public ignominy. High Society has long been plagued with tales of derring-do and dipping below their station by potentially wealthy Heiresses - especially those of American business magnates who came to England in large numbers seeking a title - or even an entrance in to the world of Royalty - to match their wealth. Nothing is more up-to-date than the fictional storyline of ..... and .... in the T.V. series, 'Downton Abbey' and of course we all remember the meanderings of Grace Kelly in the iconic film of 'High Society'.

It seems that a great passion of Colonel Baldock's life, especially during his residence at Melton,  and aside of his great love of sport, was the ubiquitous motor-car and it was for sure that this affection was to throw together his daughter and the young motor mechanic, but he would never have dreamed of the outcome. In 1903, on the occasion of her birthday, Sarah received a motor-car as a gift from her parents, but who was to drive her around or in fact, teach her how to drive it? Well, an enthusiastic young man had recently set up a small garage and chauffeur business in her little market town and he fitted the bill perfectly. The resulting story of this liaison of two unlikely and totally unmatched young people is perhaps one of joy to some and perhaps more, to many others, a tale of great tragedy. Against massive odds and against all the wise thinking of those around them, the couple would marry and take a leap into the unknown. The wedding was not covered by the 'better' newspapers, but the populars ones carried varying romantic accounts of the big day. My favourite version, which was picked up from the 'Chronicle' in England, was re-reported on the far side of the world in the New Zealand, 'Auckland Star'. On page 9 of its edition of Saturday, 10th June, 1905, readers would have been attracted by the byline;


   Three years ago Colonel Edward Holmes Baldock, the wealthy commander of the 3rd County of London Imperial Yeomanry and a Leicestershire County magnate [magistrate?], gave his daughter Miss Sarah Frances Constance Lilian (who is a niece of the Countess of Kilmorey) a motor car as a birthday present. The chauffeur he selected to initiate his daughter into the mysteries of motoring was a very good-looking young man bearing the by no means plebeian name of Cyril Duvall Bishop. Miss Baldock knew nothing about motoring to start with, but very soon became an enthusiast. Day after day, accompanied by the chauffeur, he would indulge in long country drives and golf, tennis, hunting, in their seasons, lost all attractions for the young lady. Not one of her family or friends suspected that the delight of swiftly rushing through the country lanes were not the only attractions the car provided for Miss Baldock until about a year ago. Then it suddenly dawned upon the Colonel that his daughter had fallen violently in love with the chauffeur and his eyes being opened, he very soon discovered that not only had the couple plighted their troth, but had made all arrangements for an early marriage. The Colonel was furious, and, with one exception, the feminine element in the Baldock family, set to work to try to cure Miss Baldock of her infatuation. The chauffeur was approached, and a very considerable sum of money was dangled before his eyes as an inducement to to take himself out of Miss Baldock's life. But Bishop refused firmly to anything of the kind, and all the family's efforts to bring Sarah to her senses were alike fruitless. She wanted her chauffeur for her husband and she meant to have him. However, at that time she was not of age, and the fortune to which she was heiress was not under her control. The family, therefore, decided to see what a separation of the lovers would effect, and sent Miss Baldock first to France and then to Ceylon in the hope that she would forget her lowly lover.  When they imagined a cure had been effected Miss Baldock was allowed to come home again, having meanwhile, 'come of age.' Being a free agent, Miss Baldock at once sought her lover, and without loss of time the pair arranged for an immediate marriage at St Peter's, Eaton Square and on Thursday, April 28th, Miss Baldock, society belle and heiress, became Mrs Bishop. The family's oppositon being as great as ever, Miss Baldock took precautions to prevent any interference with her nuptials. Solicitors representing the bride and bridegroom were present, and police officers were stationed both inside and outside the church, to prevent any attempt at the abduction of Miss Baldock, should such a desperate measure be resorted to by her incensed relatives.
   But no one appeared to even challenge the Church's right to make the heiress the chauffeur's wife. So, unattended by bridesmaids and with only an aunt to represent her family, and her solicitor to give her away, Miss Baldock, simply clad in a dark blue travelling costume, was married to the man of her choice. The happy pair are now spending their honeymoon at Bournemouth.


Interestingly, again on the far side of the world in the burgeoning new territory of Australia, a much more formal account of the wedding was reported in 'The Barrier Miner', a newspaper based at Broken Hill. I will quote from this one too as a lot more detailed information is to be gleaned. In their edition of Tuesday June 20th the paper reported;



An Heiress Marries a Chauffeur.

   A romantic wedding took place late in April at St. Peter's, Eaton Square, London. The parties were Miss Sarah Constance Lilian Baldock (23), the only child of Colonel E.H. Baldock, of 8 Grosvenor -place, S.W., and Mr Cyril Duvall Bishop (22), of Beachcroft-avenue, Southall, formerly chauffeur in the service of the bride's father.
   Mr. Duerdin Dutton, solicitor for the bridegroom, was present in the church, as also were several police officers, some opposition to the wedding having been threatened on the part of the bride's relatives, but everything passed off lightly.
   The bride was most simply attired in a brown travelling costume. Her black hat was trimmed with green velvet, and she wore a large boa. She was accompanied by a Miss Bibby, her aunt of Charles-street, Mayfair. She was received by her solicitor  Mr. Rider, of 8 New-square, Lincoln-inn-fields, who gave her away. The bridegroom's best man was Mr. Arthur Bishop, his brother. All told, not more than a dozen persons were present during the ceremony. After the marriage, which was by special license, the happy pair drove off in a pair brougham to Waterloo for Bournemouth.
   The bride is a tall, athletic young woman and an enthusiastic devotee of outdoor pursuits - an expert motorist, a capital driver of horses and a good shot. At different times she may have been seen managing a four-in-hand in Hyde-park and at Melton Mowbray, or deer-stalking over her father's Scotch moor at Kirriemuir. A Niece of Mr. Frank Bibby, of Liverpool, the owner of Kirkland, the winner of the Grand National, she is a granddaughter of the founder of the firm of steamship owners on the Mersey, and it is understood inherits considerable wealth.
   Mr Bishop is the fourth son of the late Mr. W. J. Bishop of Messrs.  E. F. Duval and Co., a firm of engravers who have been established in the neighbourhood of the Strand for upwards of a century, and whose business is now carried on for his widowed mother. He was educated at Aske's school at Hatcham, the governers of which are the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers. Leaving there he was bound to a firm of motor-car manufacturers in the City, and afterwards started off in his own account as a maker of motor-car parts.
   When Colonel Baldock advertised for a chauffeur to teach his daughter at his place in Melton Mowbray, Bishop obtained the post, and at the same time started a business of his own. He and Miss Baldock were thrown much together, and on one occasion there was an accident, the motor-car colliding with a gate and being badly damaged. The chauffeur managed to save his pupil from injury. A strong affinity grew up between them, which eventually came to the notice of the young lady's father.
   He is said to have offered Bishop £10,000 to go away. The offer was declined but the chauffeur threw up his post and returned to London. Her family did all they could to induce Miss Baldock to think no more of her lover, but to no purpose, and at last her health broke down and her parents sent her on a long tour to the east with her aunt. She returned with her mind made up to marry Mr. Bishop. On her way home, Bishop tried to secure a meeting with the young lady at Paris, but Colonel Baldock intervened, and the attempt failed.
   It is understood that she will will have in her own right, under two settlements, the sum of £300, 000 on the death of her parents. She has at the present time an allowance of £1,000. Through her solicitor she has made an arrangement whereby her husband's future prosperity will be well secured in the event of her death.
J.J.'s Bequest

Of interest to existing members of the family (who are scrutinising me closely!) is the mention of a 'Miss Bibby' who seems to have taken Sarah under her wing during her stressful ordeal and probably acted as a governess when she was banished to Europe. She also crops up when mentioned as being present at the wedding, ostensibly representing the Baldock/Bibby family. I can only surmise that this person was most likely to have been her auntie Sarah (Bibby), the only one of the four sisters to have not married. I really could not imagine that her other three aunties would have been able to put themselves into such a situation. So the die was cast. The determined young lovers were now free to set up home and to become a happily - legal - married couple. This vision of the future seemed to be all the sweeter because, as a legatee of her Grandfather's will in May 1897, she was, upon the death of her mother, destined to receive a huge windfall, as J.J. Bibby's will had deposed; "... for his daughter, Agnes Jessie Baldock and her issue £125,000 ..." [worth £12,643,750 today!]. But, sad to say, life was not to be sweet for long for either of the participants of the contentious union. Whether Mrs Sarah Bishop was aware at the time of their nuptials of her brand new husband's very recent excursion into fatherhood is not known, but it is not rocket science to suggest that it would have been almost impossible to have kept it a secret. If she was not aware - ?????? !!!!!!!

Sad to say, but there is a poignant denouement to this initially happy story of rags and riches, unrequited love and unwelcome angst, which could well have been the timeless plot of a work of fiction and I am not sure that it might have sparked off just that effect over the years, but to the cast of players involved I'm not sure that there would have been a great rush to read it .


What started me off on this by now, increasingly convoluted narrative of riches and romance, was initially an immutable interest in the divers characters who have at one time or another inhabited the now ancient walls of Craven Lodge which has been located here in my home town of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire for almost two centuries. In choosing the Baldock family - resident from about 1887 until a few years just after the First World War - I scarcely realised what an interesting story I would unearth. Colonel Edward Henry Baldock who inherited great wealth from the land and property purchases of his M.P. father, moved in with his wife Agnes Jessie Bibby who was the third daughter of the extremely wealthy Liverpool based shipping magnate and owner of countless tranches of property and stately homes, James Jenkinson, (J.J.) Bibby: He was indeed one of the very richest Victorians of his time and had in 1887 purchased the Lodge on a whim - as we might buy an electric blanket - from the then incumbent William Young of Scottish brewing fame, as a wedding present for his daughter and her new husband to provide a rural escape from the frequently suffocating high society trappings of Knightsbridge et al. Agnes was a country girl at heart and her family home was then the magnificent Hardwicke Grange in Shropshire. Their only daughter Sarah Baldock was therefore a very eligible socialite who apparently grew up into a beautiful young lady in the country lanes of Melton, between occasional forays on the train to the bright lights and gay balls of the capital city some 100 miles away.
But disaster stalked the Baldocks as Sarah grew into a young woman and was to pounce with a vengeance when their attractive young daughter fell head over heels in love with a bright young motor-mechanic who was newly arrived in town and was setting up a small garage. In response to an advertisement for which he was the ideal candidate, he would  double as Sarah's personal chauffeur and driving instructor for her newly acquired automobile. But the personable Cyril Duvall Bishop carried a worrying personal secret in that at the age of only 17 years he had recently become the un-registered father of a male child who was born to a young milliner's assistant of Lewisham, London whom he had courted whilst Sarah had travelled abroad. Worse for her parents and the extended Baldock and Bibby families, it appears that Cyril had no intention of ever marrying the mother of this illegitimate child and despite all of the robust efforts of the Baldocks and Bibbys, the young lovers defied all the odds against them, ducked the slings and arrows fired from all directions and resisted the many attractive incentives of exceptionally large amounts of money which were offered; they simply went ahead and got married.



As I have turned up more and more of the details of this story, I have wandered into avenues that I would perhaps at other times choose not to go down, but what with one intrigue or another I have allowed myself to become diverted. The reverberations of the great disappointment of Sarah's 'scandalous' wedding for Edward and Agnes Baldock were likely to become in the end a begrudging acceptance that their beloved and only daughter had determined her own destiny and departed with her chosen  husband - who could never be properly integrated into the 'Debrett' set, but with no male heir, Sarah's position was legally inviolate and she would inherit everything that her parents left behind. Of course the bulk of her inheritance had already been decided at her grandfather's deathbed in 1875 and then, through her mother's connection so this could not be taken from her. Whatever the situation, her parents did snub the wedding and seemed to have made no further efforts to intercede. 

I have heard of many people who profess to have endured more than their fair share of ill-luck in their lives, but in my opinion, Sarah Frances Constance Lilian Baldock would head any list of them all. An American lady of whom I have written recently was an Astor Heiress who married Count Zborowski in controversial circumstances, resulting in them spending the rest of their lives in England. Today, the whole of their small family lies almost unremembered in a church vault near to Melton Mowbray. American newspapers of the day talked widely of the 'curse of the Countess Margaret Laura Zborowski' as everyone she professed to love died in front of her: read the story here. But there is an even more tragic ending to Sarah's story, not to mention a few poignant moments along the way, but first, I wish to provide you with some of the peripheral minutiae I have unearthed in my journey and which are relevant to the story.

Mr Bibby's Will.

I must concern myself with Mr Bibby and his contribution to Melton Mowbray, even only if he was an investor in real estate here. He did actually purchase Craven Lodge from brewer William Younger in 1885, maybe as an investment but more than likely as a wedding present for one of his precious daughters who became a permanent participant in local life. As a well-known benefactor to a lot of causes, I am not sure that he wouldn't have invested further in the Lodge when extensive and no doubt, expensive, alterations and extensions were applied in 1890 Following his death in 1897 'The Manchester Guardian' published the following official announcement (which I have reduced for the comfort of my readers):

   The personal estate has been valued at £1,783,062. 6s. gross, and £1,776,432. 12s. 6d. net, of Mr. James Jenkinson Bibby, of 25, Hill-street, London, of Hardwicke Grange, Salop, and of Liverpool, shipowner, who died on the 8th January last, aged 83 years. The will bears the date the 4th November, 1890 with codicils  ...  Mr Bibby bequeathed to his wife, Mrs Sarah Bibby, daughter of Mr T. Cook of Dewsbury, £10,000, the furniture of his residences, and the indoor and outdoor effects, the use and enjoyment of either one or both of his houses for her personal occupation, and a life annuity of £10,000. He bequeathed upon trusts for his daughter Sarah [unmarried], £200,000, for his daughter Agnes Jessie Baldock and her issue £125,000 and for his daughter Gertrude Wormald and her issue £125,000  ...  Mr Bibby settled Craven Lodge Melton Mowbray in favour of his daughter Mrs Baldock, and he left his Mansion House in the county of Salop in trust for his daughter Sarah during her life ...

This is where and how Sarah Baldock was to link into her grandfather's will and a share of the family estate; through her mother Agnes. The young Heiress would inherit when she became of age on 12th July 1902 and receive the windfall on the eventual death of her mother. James's only son and his main heir, Frank Bibby was to receive the bulk of the considerable family estate and he took over the reins of the family business by joining the Board of the Bibby Management. The Will also requested that the funeral should be 'plain and unostentatious'; and interestingly, no charitable bequests were made though Mr Bibby was well enough known, especially in the North, for his great philanthropy at other times of his life.

To Chelsea.

I would assume that Sarah and Cyril Bishop, after that very special wedding which was followed by the traditional honeymoon in Bournemouth, were soon safely ensconsed in the very best of contemporary addresses. They were indeed, very well set up. Opposite Sloane Square in Chelsea and forming part of the Royal Hospitals district was - and remains today - a delightful high-rise apartment block of the very finest residences that money could then buy. Initially the couple took up  residence in No. 69 Burton Court, Lower Sloane Street where they would have been pampered by as many servants, chauffeurs and attendants of any service that their heart's desired. But I have learned nothing of their life there apart from the fact that soon after becoming Mrs Bishop, Sarah was to drop her first three christian names from general usage. From now on she was to be known socially as just 'Lilian', a change in which she succeeded for a while in misdirecting me away from a lot of my research!

In the ensuing years it is believed that her parents were not too frequent as visitors at Burton Court and Lilian was to bear no children and living in the lap of guaranteed and permanent luxury would not necessarily provide total contentment. Combined with her apparent inability to provide an heir or heiresss, another great sadness was looming, when, on the 4th February 1911, Cyril died suddenly at home. The Certificate shows that Lillian was not a witness to his death and that his brother Arthur, who had also been present as his best man at the wedding, had signed the official document: Cyril was just 28 years of age and the contentious marriage had lasted just short of six years in total. He had provided a will and on his death, considering the style of his life and the standing of his wife, his assets were perhaps considered to be pretty meagre. Lilian received his declared assets of just £289 18s. 9d. (worth around £27,000 in 2012.) A relative informs me that Cyril died of some form of heart disease which would probably have been easily dealt with today by the use of up-to-date medicines or tablets.

Richard Cecil Philpott.

In mentioning a presence at the time and place of Cyril's death, I have perhaps hinted that all might not have been well in the Bishop household and I might add to this, the fact that only Cyril's name ever appeared on the Voter's Register during the period of their residency at Burton Court. To go one step further, it appears that within a very short time of her bereavement, Sarah was meeting with another young man and in the summer of 1912 she would marry a young brewer, 28yrs old Charles Cecil Philpott, a native of Kent but who had spent a few years in Manchester with his parents. His Father Herbert Philpott was a apparently a brewer of some repute who plied his trade at Hulme, Manchester and his mother was Maria (Bushell). The couple stayed at Burton Court as their residence of choice, but they now, perhaps understandably for Lilian, would transfer to No. 11. where, once again, I have to assume that they lived happily for a while.

During this period of her life and hoping to settle down with her new husband Cecil - as she preferred to call him - Lilian, (still without children from her new husband and so whether as a matter of inability or choice could be debated, but if it was the former then it was most likely on her side that the problem lay) would experience first, the passing of her father Edward who by now stayed less frequently at Melton Mowbray. He seems to have been suffering for some time with  a debilitating illness which was slowly taking away his life. The Baldocks had acquired a very nice property at the south coast seaside town of Hove, next to Brighton, in the county of their birth, Sussex and it was in their retirement house at No 2, Fourth Avenue in the town on Friday, 14th February 1913 that Edward Henry Baldock peacefully passed away.


The Observer duly reported that Edward had suffered a 'long and painful illness, borne with great patience and fortitude.' ... and that he had served 31 years in the Yeomanry. The funeral was arranged for the 19th February at Christ Church, Buxted, Surrey. Noticeably, none of the reports made any mention of his only daughter Sarah, almost as if she was by now 'persona non grata'. It is not thought that any of the Baldock family ever returned again to reside at Craven Lodge which was to be put up for sale within days of his death, but seemingly, with a war looming it remained unsold. It would probably have stood unoccupied for the duration of the first World War and could well have been requisitioned by the Military for war purposes. Above is an advertisement from The Times which was posted shortly after his death: On 5th April 1913 Edward Baldock's personal Estate provided probate to his wife Agnes Jesse, his effects being valued at £14,662 5s. 6d. (£1,317,552.03), a relatively small amount as the wealth remained with Agnes from whom Lilian would eventually benefit.

How Lillian took the passing of her father is not recorded but she was to remain with Cecil through any grief which she might have suffered. She also had a very close lady friend who seems to have shared the apartment at 11 Burton Court, a Miss Anne Eleanor Morris, native of Stourbridge who was about 8 years Lilian's senior and said to be her former Governess. She and Cecil were to be together when the time arrived of news of the death of her mother Agnes. I would like to think that she was informed a lot earlier, but on the morning of Wednesday, 28th June 1922, the Deaths Notices of The Times reported to the world;

Buxted Parish Church in Sussex was the family grave of the Baldocks where Edward and Agnes are both interred. Notice again that the fact that Agnes had a living daughter is not touched upon and I quietly believe that Lilian was by now well and truly out of her parents lives. Her Probate amounted to a little more than Edward and seems to have been the personal wealth of the couple only - float, we might call it - but this time it was going to Lilian's estate as can be seen below. It was only at this moment, upon the death of her mother and her remaining childless, that she would inherit the whole of the family estate and become a very rich lady indeed. Notice too that mother Agnes in her final days and without her beloved husband was by now resident at No. 99 Eaton Square which was another fine residence owned by the Bibby family; It would have been quite close to Burton Court.


The pathos of this story of the Baldock family, once notably of Craven Lodge, came to a crashing climax in the year of 1931, but Lilian's penultimate personal tragedy was to arrive some three years earlier when on Friday 28th April 1928, her husband died at home at the young age of 47 years. A short and simple notice in The Times informed its readers:

PHILPOTT. -- On April 20, 1928, at 11, Burton-court, Lower Sloane-street, S.W., RICHARD CECIL PHILPOTT, the devoted and beloved husband of Lilian Philpott.

So Lilian had been robbed again of a loved one, this time after just 16 years and she still three years from her fiftieth birthday; how cruel could life be? Now with her parents gone and tragically, her supposed lifetime companion, she must have wondered of whatever use was it that she was by now an extremely rich woman, albeit surrounded by her lady friends and a number of servants. But something did happen within the walls of apartment No. 11 Burton Court after the death of Richard, culminating in the final tragedy which would end Lilian's short life.

When I discovered that Lilian was to die just three years after Richard, I began to get a whiff of something out of the ordinary. I wasn't quite able to form an intelligent guess as to what had caused her demise - but I suspected that something was afoot. Then when I put together the dates on which each of them died and realised that she had died on the same date as her husband, albeit three years apart, I was to shout out aloud, "eureka", being then convinced that a desperately depressed woman had taken her own life. For the first time in my research I made an executive decision to spend all of ten pounds on an official Death Certificate, perhaps to throw some light on the matter, even though I  fully realised that such things could always be covered up in high places if you were in the right strata of society in 1930. Then, completely out of the blue, a big light flashed above my head and sparks flew all around me when I was to realise that I had wasted my money after all, for there, in front of my very eyes on page 5 of the Nottingham Evening Post of Thursday, April 23rd, 1931 was the stunning and for me, shocking, headline:



   A story of a woman's worry over an action brought against her to restrain her from writing further anonymous letters was told at a Hammersmith, London, inquest today on Sarah Frances Lilian Philpott, 49, widow of a brewer, who was found dead in her flat at Burton-court, Chelsea, with her head resting on a pillow by a gas ring, and two open razors by her side.
  The Coroner found that she committed suicide, but that there was insufficient evidence to show the state of mind.
   Mr Philip Gardener, a solicitor, said Mrs. Philpott had been worried over an action being brought against her.
   The Coroner: I understand there had been anonymous letters written, and there was an action to obtain an injunction to restrain her. She subsequently admitted writing the letters.
   Mr Gardener:  Yes, and she had undoubtedly worried over this.
  After medical evidence that death was due to coal gas poisoning, the Coroner, in recording the verdict, said Mrs. Philpott had made elaborate preparations for taking her life, and left letters giving instructions to various people as to what was to be done after her death.

So, I was right - well, almost! - but I was indeed truly astonished at my discovery and have by now written to the Coroner's Officer at Hammersmith in the vain hope that the file is still alive and available for examination. But it is here that I really must move on from the saga of the apparently despondent life of Sarah Frances Lilian Constance Baldock, the pretty little girl who came to live in Melton Mowbray in the 1880's and once played in the beautiful gardens behind the high wall just across the road from my house. I will also give a quiet thought to the 100th anniversary of her father, the good Colonel's death which will pass on the 14th of February this year.


Still to come will be my endeavours at the unravelling of Sarah's amazing Last Will and Testament, a copy of which only dropped through my letter box just the other day. Its 18+ pages will take some time to digest and properly understand but I hope that I will be able to do it justice. Please bear with me as I prepare the 'epilogue' and, as I usually say, "Watch this space!"



(Always Faithful)

Lilian Philpott - born into Victorian England as Sarah Frances Constance Lilian Baldock -  was to die alone in her apartment at Sloane Square, Chelsea on the 21st April, 1931; she was not quite 50 years of age. The desperate and tragic circumstances that seem to have overtaken her at the time of her committing suicide by the self-administration of coal-gas are still not clear to me in any detail, only a newspaper report to the effect that she is alleged to have written anonymous letters to some person or persons. On her behalf, her lawyer was to surmise that it was feasible to suggest that as a result of her identity being discovered and the likely consequence of her subsequently receiving an appearance in Court, she was to make the ultimate personal sacrifice rather than be subjected to any public scrutiny or personal humiliation. I do not believe that the reasons offered at the Coroner's Inquest for her drastic act of self-destruction were necessarily the sole reason for her actions. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I believe that there was a hint of despair now present in her life, as, after the death of her second husband Cecil Philott in 1929, she would have been without immediate family of any sort; was the young aristocrat ever forgiven for her rebellious first marriage to the 'proletarian commoner' Cyril Bishop all those long years ago? More than likely, a solitary future - especially socially - would have beckoned and when she died exactly two years to the day after the death of her beloved Cecil, I believe that there was an inkling of purpose and pre-planning afoot. I have obtained a copy of Lilian's will which is evidence indeed of the legal-writers art, a wieldy manuscript document of some 25 clauses and 4 codicils. Within are possible clues as to her state of mind. With Probate signed off on the 6th June 1931, the bottom-line figures were to read;

   Gross value of Estate ...........................  £245,006 13s 3d
   Net value of Personal Estate ................ £141,913 19s 9d

I hope to be able to explain and maybe expound upon, the contents of her Will in some detail later, but I make the point at this time that it was drawn up and finally signed within a couple of years of Cecil's sad demise, almost as if she was preparing the way ahead.

A Diversion - Jubilee 2012

On Sunday 3 June 2012, as part of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Anniversary Year, over 1,000 vessels participated in a flotilla on the River Thames from Battersea to Tower Bridge. It was one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river, with rowed boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes beautifully dressed and turned out in their finest rigs. We will always remember that the day was terribly marred by extremely wet and cold, windy weather, but spirits were to stay high as millions around the world watched on TV. Of particular interest to me was the discovery of the fact that one of the 1000 vessels heading east that day was amongst other celebrated survivors of the iconic rescue of British troops across the Channel from the Dunkirk beaches of France during World War II to the safety of British ports. This boat's name was 'STENOA', but in an earlier life and for about thirty years she had served her time as the official lifeboat for the Sussex port of Newhaven with the registered name of, 'The Cecil and Lilian Philpott'. Built and later launched on the 8th July 1931, it was a benevolent gesture of Lilians to provide that county with a new lifeboat as it appears that she had always retained a soft spot for the RNLI as a charity. The date of its launching suggests that it was her wish for it to serve as a tangible memorial to Cecil who had recently died.

But an engaging fact emerges from Lilian's Will, in that she was to be belatedly desirous that there would be a reciprocal and similar donation in respect of her first love, Cyril Bishop. This time it was to be for the benefit of the people of Hastings and would carry the appellation: "The Cyril and Lilian Bishop". Being the home County of her family seat. was probably as much a donation to the people of Sussex, a codicil to the Will states:

' I desire the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as a condition of the benefits due to them by my Will to name one of their new lieboats to be completed and launched as soon as reasonably can be after my death 'The Cyril and Lilian Bishop'  Provided always in case during my lifetime a lifeboat shall be constructed and completed bearing the name of 'The Cyril and Lilian Bishop'  by arrangement between the Institution and myself  then this Codicil will be void. Dated the 31st day of December One thousand nine hundred and twenty nine.'



In the preamble to the many bequests and specific instructions of Lilian Philpott's final wishes, laid out on the first page of the document at paragraph 3 is the following rather bizarre direction:

'Before the Undertakers carry out their last offices I direct that my body shall be examined by a medical man who shall sever an artery or arteries or perform some other surgical operation upon my body to make sure that life is finally extinct and incapable of returning  I direct that my body shall be cremated and that my ashes be placed in the bronze urn which I already have and deposited in my vault in Clive Churchyard near Shrewsbury  And I particularly desire that my two wedding rings  my signet ring and the tiny dark blue enamel ring with "Semper Fidelis" in gold on it may be cremated with me and buried with my ashes  It is my wish that my friends will not send any flowers for my funeral and that they will not wear any mourning for me.'

Whatever was in her mind to assert the precise insertion of such a specific direction, had she some previous experience of a dubious death? It is also interesting that Lilian's wished her remains to be laid to rest at All Saint's Church in Clive, Shropshire, which is well known today as the location of the Bibby family vault. The majority of the Baldock Family's remains now lie in a vault at Pound Green, Buxted, in Sussex. This arrangement was probably as a result of her grandfather's Will in 1875 and through her mother, Agnes Bibby. Whether Cecil joined Lilian at Clive I am not sure.

Recorded in the ensuing pages of the Will are recorded numerous detailed bequests by which means she was to share her treasured possessions mainly with her friends and many of her loyal staff who seemed to have remained faithful over the years. Some of these people were to become suddenly very rich overnight, not to mention the many thousands of pounds bequeathed to the medical and legal people who had served her through her life. It is not practical at this place to give a verbatim account of the contents, though a newspaper report of the time covered much space in only dealing with the basic philanthropic gifts. It is worth noting that, unlike her grandfather's very significant Will of 1875, Lilian was to give the bulk of her wealth to charitable causes; of course, by now she had no family to pass it on to and there was of course, a lot of it.


On Friday, 12th June, 1931, amongst the several newspapers papers itching to inform their readers of these breathtaking bequests,‘The Manchester Guardian’ ran a long column.


Over £90,000 for Charities.

Mrs. Sarah Frances Constance Lilian Philpott, of 11, Burton Court, Lower Sloane Street, London, S.W., who died on April 21 last, aged 49 years, widow of Richard Cecil Philpott, left estate in her own disposition of the gross value of £245,000, with net personality £141,913.  She left :- 
  £20,000 to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
  £10,000 to the Middlesex Hospital for research work in the discretion of the governing body.
  £10,000 to St. Dunstan’s Hospital for Blinded Sailors and Soldiers.
  £5,000 to the Hospital for Diseases of the Throat, Nose and Ear, Golden Square, London, W.
  £5,000 for the National Hospital for Diseases of the Heart.
  £5,000 to the British Home and Hospital for Incurables, Streatham, London, S.W.
  £5,000 to the City of London Hospital for Diseases of the Heart and Lungs, Victoria Park, London E.
  £5,000 to the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital, CIty Road, London, E.C.
  £5,000 to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton.
  £5,000 to the Sussex Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Brighton.
  £5,000 to the New Sussex Hospital for Women and Children, Brighton.
  £5,000 to St Mary’s Convalescant Home for Children, Broadstairs, Kent.
  £1000 to the Blue Cross Fund.
  £300 to the Blackheath and Carlton Hospital, London, S.E.
  £300 for the Workshops for the Blind of Kent, Greenwich, London, S.E.
  £100 to the Boy Scouts Association, for the benefit of the North London First Islington  Troop.
  £6,500 to Leonard A Swindon, late Master of Boy Scouts of Clissold Park, London, N.
  £5,000 each to Dr. David Malcolmson Barcroft, of Sloane Street, London, S.W. And Hugh Nethersole Fletcher, surgeon of Hove.
  £5,600 (in addition to professional charges), to Philip Murray Gardner, of Bucklersbury,  London E. C. of her firm of solicitors.
  £5,000 to Charles Gardner, solicitor at that firm.
  To her former governess, Miss Annie Eleanor Morris, the bulk of her pictures and plate and  the income for life from a trust fund of £5,000, with remainder to her [governess’s]  niece Molly Morris, of Park Hill, Shrewsbury.
  To her late husband’s “valued chauffeur and friend” Louis Kirkland, £500, her motor-cars  and everything in connection therewith, and £500 to his daughter Margaret Kirkland, and £6,000 upon trust for him and his wife and issue.
  To her maid Annie Ellen Green, whether still in her srvice of not,£1,000, her furs and  wearing apparel, ornamental china and glass, ivories and curios, and certain furniture.
  To P. Carr, hall porter at 11, Barton Court, Lower Sloane Street, a life annuity of £100, to be continued to his wife, if she should survive him.
  £1,000 to nurse Jeanie Stoddart, of Rostrevor, Co. Down, with which to buy herself an annuity.
As the death duties(in the form of estate and legacy duties) will amount to nearly £80,000, a residuary bequest to the Royal National Lifeboat Association will be a comparatively small sum as compared with the large bequests above.

In a nutshell and reduced to its basic content, this was the kernel of the will of Lilian Philpott, but there are detailed and somewhat delicious descriptions of some of the properties handed on, such as: ' ... all my furs and other wearing apparel and all my ornamental china and glass and all my ivories and curios and objets d'art including particularly the glass house full of Miss Beatrice Hindley's models of flowers etcetera but not including pictures or plate ....

Beatrice Hindley's model flowers are a product of the 1920s and are said to have been avidly collected among others by members of the Royal Family. They are said to be exquisite and it goes without saying that to day they fetch large amounts of money - see this site .  Or what about;  ... the oil painted pictures of caravan subjects by Munnings now in my dining room ... and all the rest of my pictures and all my engravings  prints  and photographs and all my plate and plated articles including any deposited at the bank for safe custody as well as such as may be in my residence ...


Sir Alfred Munnings is today famous for his depictions of horses and caravan related scenes, the one pictured here which might well have once belonged to Lilian, is currently worth around £300,000. Goodness knows now what Lillian and Cecil must have mustered together over the years of their marriage.

To Her Staff

To her loyal chauffeur: ' ... I bequeath all my motor cars with their fittings and accessories and also all lathes and other machinery and tools and fittings in and about any garage which I may own or occupy at the time of my death and all stores of petrol and oil and other chattels used or intended for use in connection with my motor cars  to my late husband's valued chauffeur and friend Louis Kirkland ...'  then to her mother-in-law; ' ... to my Husband's mother Mrs Maria Philpott my leasehold house  No 48 Bishopsthorpe Road  Sydenham ...  also an annuity of £564 per annum during her life to be payable quarterly in advance ... to all servants who shall be in my employ at the date of my death  five years wages at the rate then payable to them in addition to all wages due to them up to the date when they shall leave the service of myself ... etcetera and much, much more.

Somehow, I have laboured with the notion that a message was evident in this massive outpouring of generosity and public goodwill and the apparently genuine love of her domestic staff, in that there was no reference to Sarah’s lifetime family connection with the Bibbys or the Baldocks. None of her property and heirlooms were passed on to family members, almost as if she has been cast off from an island to drift at will. I have discovered no obituary or other official notice of her demise within the ‘better’ publications of the day and have wondered whether her marriages to Cyril Bishop and Richard Philpott were really to uncouple her from her assumed connections to the incestuous world of English High Society. When her mother's young brother Frank Bibby - who next headed the great Bibby enterprise - died in 1923, his memorial service was widely reported in the national press together with the attendees  but there is no mention of Lilian or Cecil. Frank's name is now inscribed on a plate at the entrance to the family vault in Shropshire, along with those of some of her favourite aunties from her childhood days, in particular, that of her maiden aunt Sarah Bibby who attended at her wedding and chaperoned her trips to Europe many years earlier; but I cannot see Lilian's name.


I produce below the following chart which is the basic descendant tree of the Baldock family as it would have related to Lillian Philpott at the time of her death. It is not exhaustive, or up to date and deals purely with the names only.


As I come to the end of this intriguing but sad little tale of the love, wealth, isolation and too early demise of a young woman, I do admit to feeling just a little remorse for my re-discovery and re-telling of her story. It was not my initial intention, but the facts just unfolded before me. As the only precious child of the Baldocks and thus being a ring-fenced Heiress and living in a time when social precision and ethics were paramount, the agonising days of her impulsive teenage years must have been devastating for them. The idea of a commoner daring to advance into the insulated world of the aristocracy is far from a novel concept and many such examples have been played out over the years. The reality is of course, that little has changed socially since Sarah Baldock was a child; it is just that the considerable number of such landed, aristocratic families, especially since the great watershed of the last World War, has diminished significantly. Today as I glance out of my window to the newly manicured grounds of that lovely old 'Burton House', recently renovated and once again filled with the sight and sounds of living people, I can still imagine the presence of that determined little girl with whom I have now become so familiar, growing into womanhood there. Perhaps it is also for the best that I have yet to see a photograph or other likeness of her. (late information - see above!)

May Sarah Frances Constance Lillian rest in peace.

© John McQuaid - 2013


  1. Dear John,

    What a fascinating yet tragic story. Especially interesting to me being a 3x Great Grandaughter of John Charles Adrian Duvall.
    I am a descendant of Thomas George Duvall, brother of Elizabeth. I was aware of William Bishop working alongside Eleanor Francis Duvall in her later years but knew nothing of William's children.
    I have a little more information for you regarding the Duvalls.
    John and Martha Duvall had at least seven children, although one presumably died in infancy as there were two Charles Duvalls baptised, one Jan 21st 1800, the other Sept 12th 1803. They had three daughters, Elizabeth Mary, Martha and Mary Ann Duvall. JCA was their first born and William was born in 1807.
    I began dabbling in family history about 11 years ago and got the bug! Unfortunately over the past few years I have just been too busy to really get involved with it. I must say I now feel inspired to start researching again.
    Thank you for such a wonderful insight into the lives of these people.
    Also being a resident of Broadstairs I was very interested to see that Lillian had left £5,000 to St. Marys convalescent home for children. I have fond memories of visiting the home as a child with my parents. Every summer they would hold a summer fete to raise funds.I can remember being allowed to go into the grand house and feeling quite sad when I saw the bedrooms where the children slept.

    Thank you again John

    1. Thanks for your kind words Sandra. The story just unfolded as I searched for info on the Baldocks family and what a sad irony, that all of the family's wealth (probably as much as Abramovich owns in todays money) was just blown to the four winds due to the fact that there was no one left in poor Sarah's truncated life. I have looked further into the Duvall family and you are so right! - And look at their daughter Mary Ann and her three marriages.

      Thanks once more and I hope to provide more for the furture


    2. ...and I picked up your wonderful picture of Thomas George et al; excellent!

  2. I shall look forward to that very much John.


  3. Thank you for an interesting article John.

  4. Amazing Article and piece of detective work Mr Mcquaid
    I really enjoyed it from Canada. Next time i'm in the UK i will be stopping to have a look at Craven Lodge.
    I too am related to Cyril Duvall Bishop thru Thomas George
    Sandra if you managed to get any data on Louis drop me a line
    Thanks Again John

  5. Thank you for answering so many of my outstanding questions about Cyril Duvall Bishop (not least where the "Duvall" came from; and the Kent boy's connection with Melton Mowbray). I can barely conceive the number of hours you must have dedicated to researching this story. I ought to declare a paramount interest here: I am the grandson of Mervyn Cyril Bishop Hallows. Kind regards, Stuart

  6. Thank your for your kind comments Stuart, they encourage me to continue! I'm pleased that you have discovered some unknown facts and I will look into you connection with the family. The research was hard at times, but the story was not to be missed, so I hope I have got all things correct.

    Thanks again,

  7. I met Annie Hallows on just the one occasion. It was, I think, in the summer of 1962. We were in Scotland visiting my paternal grandparents, who at that time were living in Dunoon. Annie had settled in Perth and her afterlife is almost as interesting as her liaison with Cyril. In 1911 she married William Aslett, who hailed from a family of naval constructors attached to the Portsmouth dockyards. In 1919, William (returned, I suspect, from the Great War) took a job at the Moncrieff Glassworks in Perth (makers of Monart glassware), where he ended up as a director. Hence our diversion from Dunoon to a substantial house set in its own grounds in the environs of Perth during that summer of '62. She was a spry old lady, "Auntie" Annie. I think my mother knew by then what had gone on all those years ago, but she was scarcely going to confide it to an 8-year-old child. It seems the Bibby family (most likely in the guise of Lilian's aunt, Sarah) did make a last-ditch attempt to marry Annie off to Cyril, probably lubricated by a huge bribe. Certainly, according to family lore, a Bibby aunt visited the Hallows household. The initiative having failed, Aunt Sarah (if that's who it was) presumably came round to Lilian's point of view. Mervyn CB was brought up in a family where his mother was apparently his "Aunt", though – as you rightly speculate – no one is sure how long this convenient fiction remained in place.

    Kind regards

    P.S. A small detail. I've got Cyril's mother down as Mary Clayforth rather than Elizabeth. That may be my mistake...

  8. Stuart

    Nice to hear from you again, I have had to brush up on the sad tale of Miss Baldock and her failed romances, easily one of my favourite stories as I look out of my window tonight and see across the road the very house in which she was born and raised as a single child. She had as much money as anyone could ever have needed, but her life was short and a wretched failure.

    You are correct, I do have the name Elizabeth Clayforth where it should be Mary; well spotted and thank you for drawing the fact to my attention. I am currently in the process of retyping and replacing all of the illustrations which were lost somewhere along the way as I wish to keep the story in the public eye. Pass me your email address and I will keep you informed of any progress I make. (summer days rather restrict the indoor activities I’m afraid)

    The Asletts did loosely claim that Cyril was indeed a product of high society, but having read my account they seemed to concede the true facts.

    Once again, thanks for your interest and all the best


  9. It's certainly a sad and moving story. I wonder whether Julian Fellowes was inspired by it when writing the parts of Lady Sybil and Tom Brandon for Downton Abbey. (Then again, maybe affairs between chauffeurs and titled young ladies were more commonplace than I imagine, in my un-researched way.) The life of Lilian would, for sure, make a good screenplay in its own right.

    Please do contact me if you have any further insights. My email address is:

    Kind regards



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