Monday, May 28, 2012

Lady Johanna's Booke - Part 2

This summer sees a celebration of all things Lady Johanna related at Lydiard Park.  In recent months volunteers have been busy transcribing her famous 1680 book and even trying out a few of the recipes for pills, potions and perfumes.

The flowers and herbs for her receipts were grown at Lydiard where her steward Thomas Hardyman supervised the planting.  A drawing of the house dating from Johanna’s reign shows both a formal and a walled garden to the south east of the old mansion house, predating the recently restored walled garden to the west.  These features were swept away when Johanna’s grandson remodelled the house and landscaped the gardens some fifty years later.

Everyday 17th century remedies were quite literally home grown and Lady Johanna’s book is a repository of tried and tested family remedies.

One such remedy was ‘For Melancholy the medicine wch cured my Lady Bernard.’  Elizabeth, Lady Bernard was Johanna’s half sister, the daughter of Oliver St John, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and his second wife Elizabeth Cromwell.  It was for Elizabeth, who lost five of her nine young children, that Johanna brewed this medicine.

‘Take of the Juyce of the Herb Mercury 8 pound Juyce of Borage & Buglos each 2 pound you must be at the Herbs three times over & squees them in an Almon press the last straining is the best clarified Hony 12 pound boyle them a little then let them runn thurou a Flannel Bag

You must have 48 hower in a close pot or Tankard 3 pints of whitewine 6 ounces of orrace rootes beaten 3 ounces of Gentian Rootes sliced thin straine these thurow the same Bag with out pressing put the white wine so strained into the Hony & Juyces boyle them to a syrop take a spoonful or two in Ale or any Liquor & the same in the morning Afternoon if the person can beare it the first must be taken fasting this must be done at least 2 months.’

Another kinswoman, Aunt Masham, provided a Ricket Oyntment.  Johanna’s grandmother Elizabeth Barrington married Sir William Masham of High Laver, Essex following the death of her first husband John Altham.

‘My Aunt Mashams Ricket Oyntment – Rosemary Fetherfew spike Hysops thime pennyroyal southernwood maidenhare bay leaves each a handful boyle them in 3 pints of salet oyle or 2 pound of unsalted Butter straine it & anoint the knots on the ribs & Joynts & Breast therwith if it be narrow keep warme’

The green sickness better known today as hypochromic anemia, took its name from the green skin tones in sufferers.  At about the time Johanna was compiling her book, English physician Thomas Sydenham classified green sickness or ‘virgin’s disease’ as a hysterical disease affecting adolescent girls and ‘slender and weakly women that seem consumptive.’  Symptoms included weakness, an absence of menstruation and general lethargy but Lady Johanna’s cure sounds worse – ‘a wine pint of a Boys urin of 10 years old seeth in it an ounce & a halfe of wheat leven a qw of an hower strain it give it at 4 in the afternoon.’

But not all Lady Johanna’s receipts were for medicinal purposes.  As a society hostess who frequently entertained Charles II at her Battersea home, Johanna paid attention to her appearance, especially her hands.

‘To make the Hands white – A Manchitt steep it 2 howers in milk then boyle it an hower then boyle it with thes following things an hower more a qtr of a pound of Bitter Almons the 4 cold seeds each an ounce white poppy seeds an ounce spermaitty halfe a dram camphor 12 granes Borax one dram roach Alom halfe a dram then heat the yold of an new layd egge let it just boyle after it is in rub all yr hands with as much as a walnut of it very hard & well & wash them with a little water & wipe them.’

On Wednesday June 20 and Saturday June 23 visitors to Lydiard Park can explore the history of garden plants and their medicinal properties as used by Lady Johanna.  And on August 10 – 12 Swindon Youth Theatre presents Johanna’s Miracle Garden.  For more information visit the website on

Windmill Leaze Farm

Lady Johanna St John of Lydiard Park would have been perfectly at ease with internet shopping – she was operating her own version of it in the 17th century. 

Based at their Battersea home for most of the year, Lady Johanna sent regular shopping lists to her steward Thomas Hardyman at Lydiard - ..make for us 4 lofe cheeses and some cream ons as thick as ordinary chees...and when you send us any venison you may send us a dozen or 2 of butter..reads one letter.  Bullocks were driven up to London from Lydiard and requests for rabbits and swans appeared regularly in the letters.

Mr Hardyman’s chief source of supply was the Lydiard estate home farm, then called Windmill Leaze.  The present farmhouse is about 200 years old but the farm itself dates back much further than this.  In Lady Johanna’s day an estate ‘Rent Rooll’ dated 1672 records Anthony Street paying an annual rent of £116 for lands at Winmill Leeze.

At the beginning of the 19th century Elizabeth Beames was the tenant but by the 1820s Thomas and Maria Kinchin had taken over the reins, a tenancy that would last for more than 80 years. 

Following Maria’s death in 1837, Thomas married for a second time but died in 1840 and census returns for 1841 show his widow Martha running the farm with her two stepsons.  At this time the farm measured 290 acres with fields named Great and Little Spannells, Gooses and Green Down.

In 1851 Thomas’ son William married Catherine Plummer from nearby East Leaze Farm, the daughter of another of Lord Bolingbroke’s tenants, Richard Plummer, and the dynasty continued.

Their children William J.P. and Kate A.E. Kinchin took over the farm following their father’s death in 1898 but by the second decade of the new century the Kinchin family had gone.  The 1911 census records Frank H. Allen and his wife Ella at what was then called Park Farm, but a new dynasty would soon make an appearance.

Frank Rumming had been born just up the road at Hook Farm where his father farmed 133 acres in 1881 and he was anxious to return to Lydiard Tregoze.  He married Annie M Tucker in 1915 and the young couple soon moved into Windmill Leaze.

Following Lady Bolingbroke’s death in 1940 what remained of the Lydiard Park estate was sold by her trustees.  In the 1943 sale catalogue Windmill Leaze was described as an exceptionally attractive dairy and grazing farm with a substantially built brick and stone farmhouse.  The long time tenant Frank Rumming, who was paying £264 annual rent, bought the farm where the Rumming family have remained ever since.

Portrait of Lady Johanna courtesy of Lydiard Park visit their website on
19th century view of Windmill Leaze Farm with the Kinchin family is courtesy of the Rumming family.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lydiard House Rysbrack bust

One of the few items that escaped the great dispersal sale of the 1940s was the Rysbrack bust of Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke. 

Henry, philosopher and politician, was Queen Anne’s Secretary at War from 1704-1708 but blotted his copybook after the Queen’s death when he aligned himself to the Jacobite Pretender and was attainted for treason.

The bust is the work of Flemish sculptor John Michael Rysbrack.  Born in Antwerp in 1694 Rysbrack moved to London in 1720 where he lived and worked for 50 years. Rysbrack left a large body of work.  Among his commissions were  busts, memorials and statues. Here are just a few of his pieces.
marble bust of Oliver Cromwell photographed at Huntingdon Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden in Pasadena, California.
William III - 1736 bronze equestrian statue in the centre of Queen Square, Bristol

Marble statue of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, dressed as a Roman Commander 1744  Wentworth Castle.

John Barnard 1744

Monument to Sir Edward Seymour - All Saints Church, Maiden Bradley

The story goes that a faithful old retainer removed the prized Henry Bolingbroke bust under cover of darkness and hid it in the vault of St Mary’s Church, returning it when the sale was done and dusted.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wick Farm

Today Wick Farmhouse is a substantial six bedroom house overlooking the Prinnels housing development in West Swindon.

Once part of the extensive Bolingbroke estate, the former 150 acre dairy farm dates back to the medieval period. Aerial photographs taken in the 1970s clearly show the ridge and furrow pattern of open field farming.

During the 19th century Wick Farm was home to Jonas Clarke senior for more than 26 years. The Clarke family were pretty unconventional by Victorian social mores. Although married in his late twenties, Jonas soon began an alliance with a servant girl called Alice Pinnell. Thirty years and seven children later they eventually married at St. Mary's Church, Lydiard Tregoze in 1853, after the death of Jonas' first wife.

Following Jonas senior's death in 1862 the tenancy at Wick Farm passed to his son, Jonas Clarke junior. A desirable property, the Clarke family obviously wanted to keep their stake in the farm, resulting in a Victorian mystery, which today remains unsolved.

On 3rd April 1881 - census night, Jonas junior, aged 56, head of the Wick Farm household, is apparently in residence. With him is his cousin Kate, employed as his housekeeper, and three young children, Jonas 4, Sarah S. aged 2 years and two week old Robert. Cousin Kate was the children's mother but their birth certificates contain no details of a father.

However, Jonas couldn't possibly have been at the farm on census night. He had died in February of the previous year.

To add to the mystery, a report in the North Wilts Herald the previous month stated that - 'Mr Jonas Clark, farmer of Lydiard' was summoned for the non payment of £24 6s 3d poor rate.

Were the Clarke family trying to keep his death a secret? In a small rural parish this would have been impossible, or would it? Perhaps Kate was trying to hang on to the farm? Was Jonas the father of her three illegitimate children? Was she really a 'cousin’ or was the relationship more intimate - like his father, Jonas junior already had a wife.

Whatever Kate's intentions an auction held at the farm on 4th March 1881 saw the sale of 60 head of cattle, 7 cart horses and colts, 2 Nag Geldings, a grey pony and all the agricultural implements and dairy utensils.

By the end of that same year local farmer Thomas Richard Plummer Kinchin had taken over the tenancy. Ten years later and Kate's family no longer appears to be living in Lydiard Tregoze.

Jonas and Alice had children baptised at the following churches:
All Saints'. Oaksey. Jane Feb. 17th 1822 Sarah Feb. 5th 1824 Jonas Jan. 22nd 1826 Benjamin Jan. 19th 1829

St. Michael's. Brinkworth
Mary Clarke Pinnell 14th Oct. 1827
Ann Clarke Pinnel 11th June 1837

Various Clarke Pinnell marriages took place at:
St. Mary's. Lydiard Tregoze
28th October 1839
John William Wyatt a farmer from Wootton Bassett to Alice Clark Pinnell.

A double wedding took place on 4th May 1841 between -
Thomas Hall a yeoman from Broad Blunsdon to Sarah Clark Pinnell
and Francis Carey a yeoman from Broad Blunsdon and Jane Clark Pinnell.
4th May 1847

William Knapp a grocer from Swindon to Mary Clark Pinnnel on 2nd June 1853
Jonas Clark a yeoman from Lydiard Tregoze to Alice Pinnell on 26th February 1859
Jonas Clarke a yeoman from Lydiard Tregoze to Elizabeth Bathe Humphries, widow of Abraham Humphries on 11th June 1860
Walter Lowden a draper from Aldershot to Anne Clarke

A memorial in the churchyard at St. Mary’s, Lydiard Tregoze records the burial of: Jonas Clarke died March 31st 1862 aged 74; Cordelia Ann Carey, his granddaughter, died December 8th 1861 aged 16 years old and Jonas Carey, his grandson, died January 18th 1863 aged 14.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lydiard Park Estate Workers

If your ancestor worked on the Lydiard Park estate between 1868 – 1889 there’s a good chance their name will appear in the only two surviving wage books - and Lydiard volunteer Sharon is getting pretty close to tracking them all down.

Although not quite on the scale of a year in the life of Chatsworth – a TV documentary aired this week about the vast Devonshire family estate in Derbyshire -  the wage book entries provide a snapshot of the workings of 19th century Lydiard Park.

Up at the house Jesse Turner and his wife Jane worked as butler and housekeeper from 1840-1860.  Sarah Turner was employed as a housemaid in 1861 and Emily, a niece also worked as a housemaid in 1871.

Out on the estate Charles Fletcher was paid 10s for two days work thrashing and winnowing while his wife received just 4s for ‘helping’ him. An entry made in 1887 records ‘bird keeping boy off the wheat 14s 20 days.’ Tenant farmer Noah Ody sold his barley to the St Johns while the Misses Kibblewhite hired their two horses for two days drilling work on the estate.

The last Lady Bolingbroke at Lydiard Park was Mary Howard, whose secret marriage to Henry the 5th Viscount was only revealed after his death. 

Mary was born in the neighbouring village of Lydiard Millicent, the eldest child of Robert Howard and his wife Susannah.  Robert worked variously as a blacksmith, gardener, carter and in 1871 the family lived in Newport Street, Old Swindon where he was employed as a Mailcart driver.

Susannah had much closer links with Lydiard Park where her father Robert Hiscock followed in a long line of estate gamekeepers.

Following Henry’s death in 1899 and the grand reveal, the former Mary Howard found herself giving orders to the estate workers she had grown up alongside.  It couldn’t have been easy.  As Sharon continued to research the wage books she found many of those employed were connected to the Howard and Hiscock families by birth or by marriage. Perhaps that’s why Lady Mary appointed her cousin Edward Hiscock as estate manager.  He appeared to have no problem telling people what to do and earned himself the derisory title of Lord Ted among the tenant farmers.

Sharon is happy to help family historians as she continues to build up a picture of the Lydiard Park workers and can be contacted on

Images - Lady Mary and gamekeeper Henry Hiscock courtesy of Lydiard Park

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Woodvilles

Visitors will experience a glimpse of medieval military life when the Woodvilles bring their team of soldiers and camp followers to Lydiard Park next weekend, Saturday May 19 – Sunday May 20.

This 15th century re-enactment group founded in Hampshire in the early 1990s takes its inspiration from Sir Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers and his illustrious kin.

To describe the Woodville family as ambitious would be somewhat of an understatement.  Descended from Richard Woodville, a former squire to Henry V, the Woodville’s were adept at backing the winning side, changing their allegiance from Lancastrian to Yorkist as necessity demanded during the 15th century conflict.

The War of the Roses began in August 1453 with a skirmish at Stamford Bridge between the Lancastrian House of Percy and the Yorkist House of Neville.  It would be more than 30 years before a victory was declared when Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.  Reconciliation between the warring sides was sealed with the marriage of the new Tudor king to Elizabeth the daughter of Lancastrian Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

But what has this period of history to do with the St John family’s Georgian mansion in Lydiard Park? During the 14th century the manor of Lydiard was owned by the Beauchamp family.  Margaret Beauchamp, the daughter of John Beauchamp and his second wife Edith Stourton, brought power, prestige and a royal ancestry to the St. John family. 

Following the death of her first husband Oliver St John in 1437/8 Margaret married John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset.  Their only daughter Margaret was married off to Edmund Tudor, Henry VI’s half-brother, at the tender age of 12. A year later she gave birth to a son who would become Henry VII, founder of a Tudor dynasty that would span more than two hundred years.

The remodelled Palladian mansion of Lydiard House stands on the footprint of a much earlier property; a 15th century H shaped manor house dominated by a Tudor Hall and courtyard with kitchens and services in the west wing and family rooms in the solar wing.

The Woodville visitors will be cooking up an average meal, performing arts and crafts of the day and possibly engaging in some combat when they set up camp at the weekend.  For a taste of what the Woodville’s will be bringing to Lydiard visit their website  For more details about events at Lydiard House and Park this summer visit

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Mapledurham House portrait

You know how it is - you flip through the family photograph album and suddenly you come across that old snap, a woman standing in the back garden.  She's definitely a relative - she's got grandma's nose and cousin Edith's smile, but who is she?

Well the St John's have just such a portrait.

The manor of Purley Magna came into the St John family as the result of a 16th century marriage between Jane Iwardeby and John St John.  When Jane died in 1553 her grandson Nicholas inherited the estate which came to him by right of settlement on his wife, the former Elizabeth Blount from neighbouring Mapledurham House.

The medieval Mapledurham manor house near Reading was partially demolished in the 17th century as successive members of the Blount family renovated and rebuilt the property but for more than 200 years a full length portrait of Lady St John of Bletso hung in the dining room.  Attributed to William Larkin, dubbed the 'Curtain Master,' for placing his sitters framed by shiny drapes and a carpet boarder, this Lady stands against a woodland backdrop.

Diana Cecil painted by William Larkin
A guide book available in the 1990s identified the sitter as 'probably' Catherine Dormer d.1615, the widow of John 2nd Baron St John of Bletso d. 1596, one of the peers who tried Mary, Queen of Scots.  The Lady St John portrait arrived at Mapledurham in 1755 as part of the inheritance of Mary Agnes Blount from her father Sir Henry Joseph Tichbourne who died in 1743.

In 1969/70 the portrait went on loan to the Tate Gallery for 'The Elizabethan Image' exhibition and in 1985 was part of the Treasure House of Britain exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  In the catalogue that accompanied that exhibition art historian Sir Roy Strong questioned the identity of the lady in black and suggested she might be Anne Leighton, first wife of Sir John St John, 1st Baronet.

Sir Roy compares the Mapledurham portrait with the representation of Anne on the St John polyptych, also thought to have been painted by William Larkin.

Unfortunately the polyptych has been subject to 400 years of fiddling and fussing, considerable overpainting with copious amounts of varnish applied to the portrait. Conservation work in the 1980s saw most of the damage reversed, but sadly the portrait of Anne had suffered.  She appears with a ghostly white face on the arm of her husband , but a comparison of the fashion bears up well to the Mapledurham matron.

What do you think? I think she has her mother's eyes.

Images - Lady St John; Mapledurham Manor House; Diana Cecil, Countess of Oxford and the St John polyptych.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Robert Rich, 3rd Earl of Warwick

A portrait of Robert Rich, 3rd Earl of Warwick, attributed to 17th century artist John Greenhill, was returned to Lydiard House in 2010 after more than 70 years in private ownership.  The painting that had once hung in the State Bedroom had been sold in the 1940s dispersal sale when the house and parkland was acquired by Swindon Corporation.

Robert Rich was born in c1611, the eldest son of the 2nd Earl of Warwick and his second wife Frances Hatton.  Robert the 2nd Earl, described as a 'Puritan pirate' in C.V. Wedgewood's seminal work The King's Peace/The King's War, was active in various colonial ventures and no friend of Charles I.  He was involved in securing the patent for the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the 'Saybrook' patent in Connecticut.  While at home in England he opposed the king's fund raising Ship Money tax and Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud's, church policy.

However, his son Robert barely raised his head above the historical parapet. The only mention of Robert junior during the English Civil Wars is that he joined the King at York but never bore arms.

Robert married twice.  His first wife was Lady Anne Cavendish, the daughter of William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Devonshire and his wife the Hon. Christian Bruce. This marriage produced a son and heir also named Robert who later married Oliver Cromwell's daughter Frances.

Following Anne's death in 1638 Robert married his cousin Anne Cheeke, picture below in the white dress.  Three daughters were born of this marriage, Anne, Mary and Essex.

It was Mary who married Henry St John in 1673 and became mother of the Tory politician Henry, Viscount Bolingbroke, born at Lydiard House.

Robert came into his inheritance in 1658 but died the following year.  His son had predeceased him so the title went to his younger brother Charles along with guardianship of his three young daughters.

If Robert made a mark on 17th century history it has been largely lost or overlooked.   But not so his portrait which returned with a flourish to Lydiard House.  The purchase was made possible by grants from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Treasures for Ever Scheme, the Art Fund and the Friends of Lydiard Park.