Mary Cecil Hay

Mary Cecil Hay (1839-1886) was a novelist who grew up in Shropshire, England and spent the final years of her life in a small village on the Sussex coast called East Preston.  Her work was often serialised and appeared in periodicals and weeklies in the UK, America and Australia.

She was the daughter of Cecilia Carbin and clockmaker Thomas William Hay of Shrewsbury who had three sons and three daughters:  Arthur, their eldest son, was apprenticed to a bookseller and printer in Wolverhampton, and at the age of fifteen took his own life.  Thomas, the youngest son, followed his father into the clockmaking business whilst the middle son, Walter, became a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.  He was an organist, ran his own music school, conducted orchestras and was the Diocesan Inspector of Choirs for the Rural Deanery of Shrewsbury. One of his pupils was the composer Sir Edward German.

The three daughters, Francis, Mary and Susan, remained unmarried, and lived primarily in the family home, first in Shrewsbury, later moving to Chiswick with their mother.  The children were all baptised in the Shrewsbury, Swan Hill Chapel, an independent church based on Congregationalist principles whose worshipers were referred to as Nonconformists.  Mary was christened Mary Cecilia Hay but adopted the middle name of her brother Walter Cecil Hay

Mary’s father died in 1856 aged sixty-five; his wife Cecilia continued to run the business in Shrewsbury despite financial difficulties.  In 1867 her son Walter was one of two trustees appointed to manage her affairs due to bankruptcy.  In 1872 she passed the business to her son, Thomas, who became the third generation of clockmakers in the family.  He had also been declared bankrupt in 1867 with trustees appointed to manage his affairs.  A newspaper report indicated that he died in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1873.

Out of the five censuses that covered Mary’s life (1841 to 1881) only one shows her away from the family home, and this was in 1861 when she was governess at the Grade and Ruan Minor rectory in Cornwall.  This was the home of Rev. Frederick Christian Jackson, a talented and exhibited painter who sold his works to raise money for church repairs.  The story goes that he also persuaded actress Madame Modjeska, to put on an impromptu performance in the rectory grounds for the organ restoration fund.  It was said of Jackson that he welcomed “Nonconformists as well as Churchmen”. Mary’s novel, For Her Dear Sake, is part set near the Lizard in Cornwall, a short distance from the Grade and Ruan parishes.

Starting in the late 1860s Mary’s poetry and short stories were published in periodicals such a Family Herald, The Argosy and The Belgravia, initially under the pseudonyms of Mark Hardcastle, Markham Howard or Sidney Howard. The Arrandel Motto was her first full length novel published in about 1871 using the name Mark Hardcastle, later re-issued as The Arundel Motto (approx. 150,000 words).

In the early 1870s the pseudonyms were dropped and  work appeared under her own name of M. Cecil Hay and later Mary Cecil Hay. Her novels were sometimes published with a collection of her short stories, for example:

The first full length novel using her own name was Hidden Perils of about 117,000 words in three volumes, published in England in 1873 by Hurst & Blackett and in America by Harper & Brothers. These three volume versions were intended for subscription libraries, whereas the single volumes were for direct sale to the public.

Although the literary critics paid little regard to  Hay’s work she was a highly read author, published in countries outside the UK such as America and Australia.  One of her most acclaimed books was Old Myddelton’s Money, a long novel of over 130,000 words.  Old Myddelton of the title was a very wealthy unmarried man, murdered (supposedly) by his nephew Gabriel, who was tried and convicted of the murder, but escaped.  The murdered man’s fortune passes to Myddelton’s sister, Lady Lawrence, who is childless, and it is supposed that she will leave the money to various of her in-laws.  A stranger called Royston Keith arrives in town and takes interest in the affairs of the family, much to the concern of a villainous lawyer who hopes to be one of the beneficiaries.   The stranger and another potential beneficiary, Honor Craven, form an attraction, and it goes on from there.   One of the villains is called Bickerton Slimp and the middle name of a trustee in the 1867 Hay’s bankruptcy was Bickerton.  Perhaps no coincidence that she gave this unusual name to the most despised person in the book.

East Preston 

In the 1881 census Mary was living with her mother and two sisters in Woodstock Road, Chiswick and her occupation was given as “Author”.  In this same census, her sister Susan listed herself as “Artist” and mother listed her occupation as “Literary Pursuits”, possibly assisting Mary.  Not long after this the ladies moved to the house in East Preston on the Sussex Coast called Bay Trees.  The house is believed to be still in existence and located in The Street opposite the Sea Lane Junction (now a rest home), but due to there being a Bay Tree farm in the vicinity some years ago this name has several occurrences in the village.

On July 3, 1884, Mary was present at the death of her sister, Francis Ann Hay, in East Preston.  Two years later she herself  died on July 24, 1886 at Bay Trees after a long and painful illness.  Her personal estate was valued at £272 0s. 6d.; a rough estimate of this today is about £32,000.  The executor of her estate was her sister, Susan Elizabeth Hay, of Gloucester Road, Kew.

Mary’s mother died in 1888 and her death was registered in Kingston, Surrey, near to where she had been living with her daughter, Susan, in Kew.  Susan died in 1908 and her executor was her niece, Amy Isabel Dovaston (daughter of Mary’s brother Walter and his wife Emily (Henshaw) Hay).  Amy was mother to artist  Margaret Dovaston.

Listed below in alphabetical order are many of Mary Cecil Hay’s novels and short stories.  It is not comprehensive and some stories may have had alternative titles when published outside the UK.  A small number were published under her pseudonyms of Mark Hardcastle, although they may have been republished later in her life under her real name.

Mary also contributed reviews to The Art Journal for the exhibitions at the Royal Academy and the Grosvenor Gallery.


Write your own eulogy – before it’s too late.

Attending your first funeral is a daunting affair.  What is the protocol? What do you wear?  What do you say to the next of kin after the service?  With the passing of time you sadly attend more as friends, work colleagues and elders pass away.  These can be dour and solemn affairs, or a celebration of life, full of warmth and amusing memories.  The tone is reflected in the eulogy, read out before the internment by a clergyman, humanist, friend or relation. They can be serious and factual – providing a simple timeline of the deceased’s life – or anecdotal and amusing.

The person who writes and delivers the eulogy is often a stranger to the family, someone who is paid to orchestrate the event, and has taken information about the deceased from a relative.  Some cynics may wonder if the same eulogy is used time and again, with just a  few changes to the names and dates.

People do not like to think about their mortality, which is often the reason for not writing a will – the ostrich head in sand syndrome; and when you are young you expect to live forever anyway.  So are we bothered about the eulogy at our own funeral?  Obituaries for people of note and in the public eye are prepared by the media in advance so that they can be quickly retrieved and published when needed.  So why not prepare your own whilst you can still remember what has happened in your life?

Start off with key dates, locations, names, education and occupations.  Use diaries, social media and photographs for research.  Write about those you have loved, liked and hated.  Work on amusing stories and contrast with tragedies.  If you are inclined why not video your own eulogy, and leave instructions for it to be played at your funeral?  But perhaps this is a bit too macabre.

Anyone who has done genealogical research of their family would love to have access to the  biographies of their ancestors.  One day someone will want yours so why not leave one for them.




West Dean Estate – The James Family

West Dean House

The West Dean estate, situated near Chichester, West Sussex was purchased in 1891 by William Dodge James.  He bought the property from Frederick Bowers, a merchant who had owned West Dean since the death of its previous owner, Caroline Mary (Peachey) Vernon Harcourt (1785-1871).  She had inherited the estate when her brother, Henry John Peachey, 3rd Baron Selsey died in 1838.

William Dodge James’s wealth came from his father, American merchant Daniel James, who was a farmer’s son born in Truxton, New York State in 1801.  He moved to New York City to start a wholesale grocery business in the 1820s where he met and married Elizabeth Woodbridge Phelps.  She was the eldest daughter of a successful businessman, Anson Green Phelps, who exported cotton to England and in return imported manufactured goods.  He sold these in America using peddlers who travelled to inland settlements, selling or bartering their goods in exchange for furs.

The rapidly expanding population in America created an almost limitless market for both raw and manufactured goods from Britain. In about 1821, Phelps sent a partner to Liverpool, England, called Elisha Peck to act as the company’s agent.  Peck used his specialist knowledge of the metals market to lay the foundations for an organisation that would become the dominant importer of metal into America during the 19th century.

In 1832 Phelps and Peck attempted to set up their own metal manufacturing works in America by importing equipment such as rolling mills and skilled labour from Britain.  Peck left Liverpool to front this operation and was replaced in England by Daniel James who was made a partner in his father-in-law’s business.  He had limited knowledge of the metal trades and was new to the British business environment so relied heavily on his senior clerk, Welshman, Thomas Bank.  Due to a world recession the business failed in 1837, but James gradually paid off his creditors and by the early 1840s was again solvent.  He spent the rest of his life in Liverpool becoming one of the most respected American merchants in the country.  The exports to America that passed through his side of the operation during this period were in excess of $300 million.  In 1866 he also became a naturalized British citizen.

Naturalization application May 21, 1866


Daniel married three times.  There were five children from his first marriage to Elizabeth.  Their eldest son, Anson, was tragically killed in an accident in America while visiting his grandparents when a horse bolted and threw the boy from a carriage.  Their youngest son, Henry, born in 1839 died when just a few months old and their eldest daughter, Elizabeth was an invalid with a spinal problem.  Their surviving son, Daniel Willis James, moved to America when he was fifteen to work with his grandfather and his uncle, eventually becoming a senior partner in the business.  Their youngest daughter, Olivia, born in 1837 married Robert Hoe, who designed printing presses for the newspaper industry.

In 1847 Daniel’s first wife Elizabeth died; she had contracting small pox several years before and never fully recovered.  Two years later he married another American called Sofia Hall Hitchcock who was twenty seven.  They had three children, all boys – Frank Linsly born in 1851, John Arthur in 1853 and William Dodge in 1854.  They grew up and were educated in Britain, attending establishments such as Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge.  Sofia died in 1870, and the following year Daniel remarried to his children’s former governess, Ruth Lancaster Dickinson, who was 49.  They had five years together before Daniel died in 1876.

Daniel James (1801-1876) m. 1829 Elizabeth Woodbridge Phelps (1807-1847)  Children:

  • Anson Greene Phelps James (1830-1842)
  • Daniel Willis James(1832-1907) m.1854 Ellen Stebbins Curtiss (1833-1916)
  • Elizabeth Eggleston James (1833-1868)
  • Olivia James (1837-1935) m.1863 Robert Hoe III (1839-1909)
  • Henry James (1839-1839

Daniel James (1801-1876) m. 1849 Sophia Hall Hitchcock (1820-1870)  Children:

  • Frank Linsly James (1851-1890)
  • John Arthur James (1853-1917) m.1885 Mary Venetia Cavendish-Bentinck (1861-1948)
  • William Dodge James (1854-1912) m.1889 Evelyn Elizabeth Forbes (1867-1927)

Daniel James (1801-1876) m. 1871 Ruth Lancaster Dickinson (1824-1907)  No children from this union.

Daniel’s Will

At the time of his death, the Phelps Dodge/Phelps James company was owned and run by three families, all related by marriage.  Daniel James and his American based son, Daniel Willis James, had a 36% share of the business, the Dodge family had 34% and the Stokes 30%.  The business was capitalised at $4,500,000 made up of 100 shares each worth $45,000 apportioned as follows:

Partner Shares
Daniel James 18
Daniel Willis James 18
William Earl Dodge 10
William E. Dodge Jr. 18
Charles C. Dodge 6
James Stokes 9
Anson P. Stokes 16
Thomas Stokes 5

Daniel James made his will in 1870, adding two codicils at later dates.  Although not published, an estimate of his wealth at this time was $6 million.   He appointed executors in both Britain and America.  Those in the UK were his son Frank Linsly plus his business partner, Welshman, William Daniel Rees.  In America he appointed his younger brother, Henry, and his son Daniel Willis James.  The first codicil added in 1874 made provision for his wife, Ruth Dickinson.  She was allowed to live in the family home during her lifetime; she also received an immediate £1000 and the income for life from $300,000 invested on her behalf by the American trustees.  She died in 1907 leaving over £56,000.

Daniel left $100,000 to each of his four sons.  The eldest son, American based Daniel Willis James, received his legacy in cash.  The three boys living in England were given the interest only from these cash sums by trustees until the youngest of them reached the age of twenty five, at which time they all received the capital sums from this plus other investments and business interests.   In his will, Daniel James left instructions that his three sons in England were to be given the opportunity to take over his partnerships if they so wished.   For a period, John Arthur became a partner in Phelps Dodge/Phelps James, working with William Daniel Rees, but at the beginning of 1879  changes happened, with Rees being replaced and John Arthur leaving.  This date coincided with William Dodge James becoming twenty-five years of age, triggering the release of the capital from Daniel James estate to the three sons in England.

Daniel James had shares in large areas of lumber in America and a partnership with his brother Henry who marketed the processed timber for Phelps Dodge in Baltimore.  Daniel’s son in America, Daniel Willis  James and his cousin William Earl Dodge Jr. ran Phelps Dodge in partnership for the next 25+ years, changing it from a mercantile operation into one of the largest copper mining and copper production companies in the world.  Daniel Willis James had a son, Arthur Curtiss James, who joined the business and also invested in railroads, becoming one of the richest men in America before the depression reduced his wealth to $38 million.

In England, Daniel and Sophia’s three sons became English gentlemen, enjoying their inherited wealth, big game hunting and exploring.  Frank Linsly James died in 1890 during a hunting trip in Africa; he was unmarried and his wealth was left to his two brothers.  They married into British high society and became friends of Edward, Prince of Wales who later became Edward VII.  John Arthur James married Mary Venetia Cavendish-Bentinck and they bred race horses in Coton House near Rugby.  William Dodge James married Evelyn Elizabeth Forbes and they lived in West Dean House in West Sussex.

Charitable Legacies

Daniel James was a religious man, a Presbyterians from English puritan descent, as were his American partners.   They saw it as a duty to help those less fortunate and to spread the word of God.  In his will Daniel left the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions $10,000; the  London Missionary Society £2000; the Liverpool Town Missionary Society £1000; the governors of the Lancashire Congregational Union the sum of £500; the Liverpool Seamen’s Friend and Emigrant Society the sum of £500 and the British and Foreign Bible Society the sum of £500 pounds.  (£100 in 1876 is probably the equivalent of £10,400 today)

daniel-james-will-1Probate granted September 27, 1878

Final Resting Place

Daniel and Elizabeth James’s headstone is in the churchyard of St. Andrew behind West Dean House.  However they are not buried there.  Their remains are several hundred mile away in Liverpool in land that was once the Liverpool Necropolis.  This cemetery became hazardous due to the  large number of burial (80,000) and was closed.  It was landscaped with ornamental gardens and renamed the Grant Gardens.  The James’ headstones were moved to West Dean in the early part of the 20th century but the graves were not disturbed, and are now  unmarked.  The Liverpool Necropolis cemetery was used for the burial of nonconformists and this would have been in keeping with Daniel James’s Presbyterian beliefs.  This may also have been a consideration at the time for not exhuming the James family remains and moving them to the Episcopal church of St. Andrew in West Dean.  In contrast, the remains of Frank Linsly James, who was killed in Africa by a wounded elephant in 1890, were moved from Kensal Green Cemetery in 1917 and reburied in the James family plot in West Dean.

James Family Burial Plot
Tombstone of Elizabeth & Daniel James
Elizabeth Eccleston James and Sofia Hall (Hitchcock) James


William Blake – Sedition

William Blake is remembered today as a poet and artist, but failed to receive popular recognition in his lifetime, and even struggled to make a living in his trade as an engraver.  His work was often inspired by celestial visions, but he also suffered debilitating periods of depression and was considered by some to be mad.  In 1800, at the age of 43, Blake was given an opportunity to work under the patronage of William Hayley.  This was to be an inspirational period, providing some financial security, but sadly ended in disillusionment and Blake facing a prison term.

The arrangement came following a commission from Hayley, a man of independent means with many connections in the literary circles of the day; a patron to struggling artists and a well know poet (although fellow poets, including Blake, had little regard for his work).  Hayley had originally asked Blake to create some illustrations for his dying son.  However, this did not go well, as the illustrations were late, not to Hayley’s satisfaction and his son sadly died before they were completed.  Blake sent Hayley a letter of condolence, telling of his belief that those who had passed away were still with us, and telling of his own dead brother whom he said was constantly by his side.  Such words would have been a great comfort to Hayley and may have helped form a bond of respect and even friendship between the two men.

Blake visited Hayley at his home in Felpham (on the south coast of England) in the summer of 1800 to work on a portrait of the dead son.  At the end of his time there it was agreed that Blake would move down from London to work for Hayley.  Blake could see that with Hayley’s connections and patronage there would be financial and creative opportunities.  The beauty of the surrounding countryside and coastline had also inspired Blake during his visit, so he returned home to his wife Catherine full of enthusiasm.  The move would mean giving up her home, her friends, family, and moving to a location that she had never seen before so this could not have been easy for her to accept.  However, in September they moved with their belongings some 70 miles to a cottage that can still be seen in Felpham.  It was rented from the landlord of The Fox inn, being not far from the beach, nor from Hayley’s residence.  Having lived in London all their lives, this must have seemed like a great adventure, with the sights, sounds and smell of the ocean, the openness of the country and the rolling hills of the South Downs.

Site of William Hayley’s Turret House, Felpham.  Now apartment blocks.

Blake was the son of a hosier, schooled at home and apprenticed to an engraver for 7 years from the age of 14, so his education was limited.  The well meaning Hayley, who in contrast had attended Eton and Cambridge, took it upon himself to improve Blake’s education and taught him to read Latin, Greek and Hebrew and gave him access to his library.  There followed a fruitful period in Blake’s creative life but he came to resent Hayley’s stifling influence and found his own work starting to suffer as a result.  To add to his problems, both he and his wife were often ill due to the damp conditions of the cottage.  So in 1803 and before the onset of another winter, Blake decided to move back to London.  But before he left, an incident was to put at risk both his reputation and his liberty.

In August of 1803 Blake found a trespasser in his garden – a soldier by the name of Private John Scofield – who was billeted at The Fox.  He requested that Scofield leave and after some heated discussions, forcibly ejected him.  Strong words obviously passed between the two men and Scofield later claimed that Blake had used seditious language, damning the King and indicating support for the French.  This was the equivalent of treason at a time when the country was on high alert, fearing an invasion from Napoleon’s forces across the English Channel.  Scofield later made a statement to a magistrate (with fellow witness John Cox) to this effect that resulted in Blake being charged with High Treason and bailed to appear in court at Chichester.

Felpham: Blake's cottage located on the right, Fox Inn at the end of he road
Blake’s cottage located on the right is about 200 yards from the beach. The Fox Inn is visible at the end of the road and Hayley’s house is about 100 yards beyond the inn.

There is no evidence that Scofield made a habit of accusing people of sedition, so it does seem likely that Blake, who was a republican and anti-monarchist, did make some unwise remarks during their quarrel.  Blake denied this and believed that the events of the day were a conspiracy, orchestrated by the authorities to entrap him.  He was to become paranoid and even started to suspect his friends of treachery.  At his trial however, the prosecution failed to raise the issue of Blake’s radical views, so his conspiracy fears seems to have been groundless.

So why was Scofield in Blake’s garden?  Some have suggested that Scofield was there to assist William the gardener (who was also the ostler at The Fox), but it is unlikely that in a well tended garden William would have needed help.  However, if the garden had been neglected during Blake’s tenancy William may have sought assistance to help clear it.  Alternatively Scofield may have stopped by to chat with William, whom he knew from the inn.  There is also the possibility that Scofield, a serving soldier far from home, entered the garden hoping to see and talk to Catherine (Blake’s wife) or her sister Sarah for some female company.  If this was the case it may explain why Blake became so angry.

Hayley helped organise Blake’s bail and engaged the services of prominent barrister and friend Samuel Rose; the trial took place in the Guildhall at Chichester in the middle of winter (January 1804).  Rose addressed the court and painted a picture of Blake as a loyal subject and supporter of the king.  Rose was either blissfully unaware of Blake’s radical

Chichester Guildhall, location of Blake's trial
Chichester Guildhall, location of Blake’s trial

views, or confident that the prosecution knew nothing of them.  The witnesses for the defence were local people from Felpham who had been in the vicinity of the quarrel; they confirmed that they had not heard Blake make seditious remarks.  Hayley, trying to be as helpful as ever, wanted to appear in court as a character witness but had he been questioned about Blake’s political views he may have been forced to contradict what Rose had already told the court.  Fortunately for Blake this did not happen but there must have been some anxious moments.

The prosecution’s case depended on the evidence given by Cox and Scofield, but their story of events appeared to be conflicting.  The jury took a short time to reach their verdict of not guilty and many in the court, and elsewhere, must have wondered why such a case had been brought in the first place.  When Scofield made his accusations back in August, he had little concept of how events would unfold, but by the time he was in the witness stand he realised he was isolated, totally out of his depth and his story in shreds.  His only consolation (if he ever knew) was to be immortalised later in verse by Blake.

Samuel Rose the barrister became ill during the trial; he had never been a well person, but the cold winter conditions in court and the journey from London may have proved too much for him; he failed to recover and died later that year.  It is possible that Hayley felt some blame for exposing a person with such a delicate constitution to these conditions.  Both Blake and his wife Catherine had been made ill by the events at Felpham and although they recovered, Blake probably carried the mental scars for the rest of his life.

With his strong radical views, his outspokenness and short temper it was always likely that Blake would end up in trouble with the authorities.  That it happened whilst he was under the protection of his benefactor Hayley was probably for the best, and it seems that the lessons learnt from this episode made Blake a more cautious person.  However, his financial situation failed to improve and he continued to struggle to make a living.  In his later years he was ‘rediscovered’ by a new generation referred to as the Shoreham Ancients; they helped the couple financially and showed Blake the greatest respect until his death in 1827.

William Hayley died in 1820 aged 75.  Although little respected for his poetry, he led an extraordinary life, being one of the great characters of his age.  He was generous and enthusiastic but could be a destructive influence (without intention) to the creative spirit of others, which pretty much sums up his relationship with Blake.  But without Hayley’s support, the story of Blake’s brush with the law would almost certainly have ended differently.

Whilst at Felpham Blake probably wrote the draft for the poem “And did those feet in ancient time” influenced by the beauty of the South Downs.  Set to music by Hubert Parry over 100 years later as the hymn “Jerusalem”, it has become an anthem in the United Kingdom.  The story assumes that Jesus visited England’s shores with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea who was a tin merchant.  The South Downs of Sussex being the green and pleasant Land and the dark Satanic Mills representing the industrial revolution.

Blake’s poem:

And did those feet in ancient time.

Walk upon Englands mountains green:

And was the holy Lamb of God,

On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,

Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

And was Jerusalem builded here,

Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;

Bring me my Arrows of desire:

Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!

Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,

Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:

Till we have built Jerusalem,

In Englands green & pleasant Land

Lily Langtry – Life in Sussex

Woodend, West Stoke, c1919. The de Bathe Sussex residence.

Lily Langtry became Lady de Bathe in 1907 after her husband succeeded to the title.  They inherited various properties including a 17 bedroom home in Sussex called Woodend.

Early life

Langtry, born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton in 1853, married widower Edward Langtry in 1874 and moved to London from her home in Jersey.  Her beauty and charm attracted attention in society and she was introduced to Edward, Prince of Wales, who became her lover.  Their affair lasted until 1880, by which time she had achieved celebrity status – but not financial security.  Her name was linked with other men at this time including the Earl of Shrewsbury and Prince Louis of Battenberg.  She also had a child born in 1881 – a daughter she named Jeanne Marie.

Her friend, Oscar Wilde, suggested she try acting as a way of making money.  Langtry was coached by actress Henrietta Labouchere (wife of Liberal MP Henry Labouchere) before appearing in an amateur production in 1881.  Success in the professional theatre followed and she was invited to tour in the USA.  In New York she met a young wealthy American called Frederick Gebhard with whom she had an affair that lasted for about 9 years – despite her still being married to Edward Langtry.

The relationship with Gebhard cooled and in 1891 Langtry met a young wealthy Scotsman called George Alexander Baird.  His passions were horse racing and boxing and he gave Langtry a horse called Milford that won several races for her.  She had to register it under the colours of “Mr Jersey”, because this was still a male preserve.

Whilst in this relationship with Baird she travelled to Paris with another lover.  Baird found out and flew into a violent rage.  They eventually returned to some kind of normality after Baird gave her gifts of jewellery and a 200ft luxury yacht.  Baird died in 1893 aged just thirty-three.

Langtry’s relationships with Gebhard and Baird fostered her interest in horse racing.  After Baird’s death she acquired several horses and had them trained at Newmarket.  Many wealthy owners also had horses in training there including the Prince of Wales, whose residence at Sandringham was about 45 miles to the north of Newmarket.  In 1895 Langtry purchased a house in the area called Regal Lodge in the village of Kentford where she trained and kept her horses.

Hugo Gerald de Bathe

In 1897 Langtry at last secured a divorce from her husband Edward.  Almost immediately the popular press spread rumours of her impending marriage to Prince Esterhazy.  This was not to be, but in 1899 she did remarry, and her new husband was 28 year old Hugo Gerald de Bathe.  His father, Sir Henry de Bathe, 4th Baronet – who was himself a competent amateur actor – did not approve of the marriage.

When Sir Henry died in 1907 the title passed to Hugo by succession, at which time Langtry became Lady de Bathe.  Hugo inherited properties in Sussex, Devon and Ireland; those in Sussex were in the hamlet of West Stoke near Chichester.  These were:

  • Woodend, 17 bedrooms set in 71 acres;
  • Hollandsfield, 10 bedrooms set in 52 acres;
  • Balsom’s Farm of 206 acres.

Woodend was retained as their residence whilst the smaller Hollandsfield was let.  Lady Helen Percy, daughter of the 7th Duke of Richmond and the future Duchess of Northumberland, became one of their tenants.


During the early years of the 19th century Woodend had been owned by Sir George Cranfield Berkeley (1753-1818) .  He married Emilia Charlotte Lennox, a grand-daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond.  Their daughter, Louisa Emily Anne, married Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy, who commanded HMS Victory at Trafalgar.  After Hardy’s death in 1839 Louisa remarried to Lord Charles Rose Ellis, 1st Baron Seaford, and they lived at Woodend until his death in 1845.   Today the buildings retain their period appearance, but modifications and additions have been made and the complex is now multi-occupancy.  One of the houses on the site is named Langtry  and another Hardy.

Sales detail of Woodend 1919.  Also included 71 acres of farm and woodlands with buildings.

The Duke of Richmond’s Goodwood estate bordered the de Bathe’s Sussex properties.  Langtry attended social events there and her horses ran at the Goodwood race track; these included Merman, who won the prestigious Goodwood Cup in 1899 on the day of her wedding to Hugo.

Sale of their properties

She remained on friendly terms with the Prince of Wales, meeting him on social occasions, at race meetings and he visited her at her home in Kenford.  Langtry retained Regal Lodge until it was sold in 1919; Hugo sold his properties at the same time and the couple moved to the South of France – but lived separately.

Sales details of Woodend, Hollandsfield and Balsom’s Farm

Langtry died in Monaco on 12 February 1929. Hugo remarried after her death and he died in 1940.  His nephew,  Christopher Albert de Bathe, became the 6th Baronet but in 1941 was killed in an aircraft crash, and with no male successor the baronetcy became extinct.

Footnote: In 1922, London County Council alderman, Louis Courtauld, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, were living in the de Bathe’s old Hollandsfield house in West Stoke.  A shocking discovery was made by a servant in their bedroom on February 6.  Mr Courtauld, whilst deranged, had shot his wife and cut his own throat.  Louis Courtauld was the nephew of George Courtauld, textile manufacturer.