Monday, July 2, 2012

A house for a "Gentleman of Fortune" near St Albans

During the reign of Queen Victoria there were a lot of upwardly mobile business people who wanted somewhere pleasant to live in the country, not too far from a railway station, and with a reasonable amount of ground and accommodation for a bevy of resident servants. I decided to do a case study on one such house near St Albans.

Hawkswick was a large house, just off the St Albans to Harpenden Road, which was an ideal residence for someone who had made money during the boom years towards the end of Queen Victoria's reign. It was built in about 1870 by George Whittingstall, a prosperous Watford brewer. He was followed by George Checkland, who was an iron master and colliery owner and John Sherriff Smith who was a merchant and ship owner. Next the Dowger Countess of Limerick moved in after the death of her husband, but soon moved out after she remarried.  She was succeeded by Walter Reynolds, who was a provision merchant from London. In each case it would seem they had about half a dozen residential staff - in addition to any gardeners, etc., living elsewhere.

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