The Ardens of Rickmansworth Park

We last left Rickmansworth Park in the possession of the Ardens ( as an occasional residence with London the primary residence. Joseph Arden was a barrister of the Court of King’s Bench, the court of law for cases of bankruptcy. King’s Bench Prison took its name from this court and is where Mary Fotherley-Whitfield had ended up with debts arising from Park House.

Julia Arden was Joseph’s elder daughter and had married John William Birch, of Mildred, Goyeneche and Co, Spanish merchants of London. He later became a Director of the Bank of England (Deputy Governor, 1877-79; Governor, 1879-81).

When Julia’s father died, she and her husband purchased Rickmansworth Park from his estate. Perhaps they were the ones who lived there most often. Or it could be that the eldest Arden son, as presumed legatee, was a bit short of the readies and offered the estate to his brother-in-law in return for a lump sum. Whatever was behind the transaction, Rickmansworth Park became the property of John William & Julia Birch. After his death, she inherited it and later bequeathed it to the widow of her eldest son. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here so let us go back to 1879 when Joseph Arden died and the Birches took on Park House and the estate. Rather as his father in law had done, John William Birch used Rickmansworth Park as a country residence as his address is given as 27 Cavendish Square. Interestingly, this is now the site of the RBS bank so it has moved from being the residence of a Governor of the Bank of England to the residence of a bank.

In 1881 the Birches’ eldest son, John Arden Birch, married Charlotte Mary Leycester Stopford and Cavendish Square is given as his residence.

However, it is her residence that is interesting here: Hampton Court Palace.

Grace and favour apartments inside a royal palace were preserved for widows ‘in straitened circumstances’ whose husbands had given service to the Crown. These apartments were

“not always the most comfortable places to live. Residents regularly complained that the palace was ‘perishingly cold’ and damp, and some had no access to hot water.”

Why Charlotte Stopford’s family had an apartment is unknown. Although her mother was widowed young with three small children, her husband, Major George Montagu Stopford, is not noted amongst the King’s loyal servants. However, Charlotte’s grandfather, Field Marshal Sir John Fox Burgoyne, was.

‘From his first entrance into the army [1796], John Burgoyne commenced a career of active and laborious service, which continued without intermission for the extraordinary period of seventy-one years.’

His achievements include acting as a Royal Commissioner to superintend the completion of the new Palace of Westminster (1848), closely followed by a report into old Westminster Bridge as a result of which the old bridge was replaced by the one currently there. He was present in the Crimean War in 1865


‘by Lord Raglan’s side through the battle of the Alma, accompanied him in the subsequent long march, and slept on the ground in the open air, like the youngest soldier of the army’ (ibid)

He was given the title of Constable of the Tower of London and Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets in 1865, the first commoner ever to be granted these titles. He was in full vigour until he was 88 years old when his only son died after the vessel of which he was captain capsized in a storm and all but 19 sailors were drowned. Thereafter, he went into a decline and died within a year.

In Waterloo Gardens, there is a statue to him:

Despite the acres of print about his remarkable career, there is no reference to him being given the use of a grace and favour apartment at Hampton Court Palace but it remains a possibility that this is why his granddaughter lived in one and, according to her own autobiography, Through Eighty Years, had done so since she was a child.

It is worth noting that, although the ‘residence’ of Hampton Court Palace is given on several documents, none of the census returns ever place either Charlotte Birch nee Stopford or her husband there, even though his burial record again gives his residence as the Palace.














But then, if you are entitled to give a palace as your address, why not trot it out at every opportunity? Especially if doing so enables you to marry in what was once upon a time a very exclusive venue – Hampton Court Chapel Royal.

John and Charlotte had five children, three sons and two daughters; Dorothy, John, Cicely, George & Francis (Frank). There is an outside chance that this last born had a different kind of connection to the School but that’s the way coincidence works. As an adult, he was a cryptographer with Naval intelligence in both world wars. He joined the Naval section at Bletchley Park in September 1939, and was involved in work on the enigma code. And the connection to the School? Well two former pupils also worked at Bletchley Park at this time: Violet Elsie Geddes-Ruffle, also assigned to naval Intelligence as an 18 year old ‘Wren’, and Pamela Mary Lidstone, Block B. Naval Section. NS IV, Japanese codes. Whether these two ever encountered each other, or Frank, will never be known.

Violet Geddes-Ruffle and Pamela Lidstone, former pupils

Frank was only three when his father suffered a catastrophic stroke that rendered him paralysed for the remaining four years of his life. John Arden Birch died in 1896 and his father (John William Birch) was so utterly devastated that he also became very ill. To aid his recovery, he took a break in the South of France. On his return, however, he stayed overnight in a hotel and there died of a gunshot wound to the head. The coroner stated that, whilst it was clear that this was self-administered, it may have been accidental and he therefore allowed the death to be recorded as this. It should be remembered that until 1961, suicide was regarded as a criminal offence. Anyone who attempted and failed could be prosecuted and imprisoned, while the families of those who succeeded could also be prosecuted and the estate taken by the Crown.


‘The suicide of an adult male could reduce his survivors to pauperism’ (

In allowing an element of doubt, the coroner was allowing the Birch estates to be inherited rather than being confiscated. His effects of £65,330 remained in the family and Julia inherited Rickmansworth Park.

She remained in residence until her death although, as before, ‘residence’ did not always mean she was physically there! It is a moot point whether she was there in 1911 when a murder took place in the Park. Rosa Gurney, a widow, was walking there with a man friend. Quite what happened is known only to the two of them – there being no witnesses– but she was stabbed a number of times and subsequently died. The Police next day arrested the man who (natch!) declared himself to be innocent. He claimed that, whilst walking, they had met two other men, Rosa had started talking to them and he got fed up waiting for her and left. Smacks rather like ‘a big boy done it and run away’ and clearly the Police thought so too. The bloodstains found on his clothing were the clinching factor and he was arrested.

Julia Arden died in 1917 and the estate came to the widow of her eldest son who had subsequently married (1905) Walter Bulkeley Barrington (1848-1933), 9th Viscount Barrington. On her first husband’s death, Charlotte had been left with five children to provide for, the oldest of whom was only 14.Her second marriage, to Lord Barrington, was a boon to her sons, no less than to herself.”

Lord and Lady Barrington lived at Becketts in Shrivenham, Berkshire, the house now being part of Cranfield University.

Here, Viscountess Barrington undertook the role of lady of the manor.

‘… a large part of her life at her country home is devoted to the care and comfort of the aged and sick and to the advancement of the children of her poorer neighbours.’ From Onlooker October 15, 1910 and cited by

In one aspect however, her beliefs would not gel with the girls’ school that bought Rickmansworth Park. Charlotte Barrington was a ‘convinced opponent of Woman Suffrage’ [sic] and sought

‘to inculcate among the girls of the village the first principles of domestic economy. Cooking, sewing, and housewifely traits are part of the education she considers necessary for every young woman’ (ibid.)

Rickmansworth Park was put up for sale by auction. It failed to meet its reserve price but it remained on the market until the School opened negotiations. These were protracted and it was a case of who blinked first. The School had the property independently valued (£45,000); it was advised that £50,000 should secure it but Viscountess Barrington was holding out for £70,000. Eventually, after much discussion, a figure of £65,000 was agreed with the curious stipulation that Lady Barrington could remain in residence until building began. Curious because, by all accounts the house was being looked after by a caretaker couple. And yet, in the School archives, letters between the School and Lady B clearly show her address as Park House. But then, when you have a multitude of houses at your disposal (there was also property in Ireland), you can use which of the addresses you like as and when it suits you!

Portrait in the National Portrait Gallery

The conclusion of the sale of Rickmansworth Park ended the Arden family’s connection with the estate after almost a century. Park House would, in due course, be demolished and the School begin its tenure. That in turn is rapidly approaching its centenary – the purchase of the estate in 2026 and the transferring of the School from its former home in London in 2034.

Putting them in the picture



This, the last posting of the Stothard sequence, contains four names of import: Ten Broeke, the Earl of Moira, Lord Rancliffe, and the Stadtholder.

This tight little group, standing immediately behind the Prince Regent (Dr Boyes makes up the quintet) tells its own story about perceived importance in the eyes of Stothard. Or possibly, if the portrait represented a single event, how they perceived their own importance at the time. If this were a sort of historical photograph, their positioning by design or a degree of elbow-jostling infers a status on the individuals. The closer you were to the future king at an event might indicate how close you were to the future king. The positioning is highly likely to have been choreographed in a real event. If it were a composite image of a number of similar events, quite possibly Stothard was instructed where to place people. On the other hand, the darker colours are enhanced by the splendid scarlet of the uniform jacket so for artistic licence it works. We are not party to all the preparation for event or image so we can only speculate whether deeper meaning can be read into this grouping or not.

Anthony Ten Broeke was certainly important in the School’s history. A founder of the Caledonian Lodge, Ten Broeke was also one of the nine freemasons who established the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School in 1788. Born in 1736, he would have been in his prime at the time. His surname is Dutch in origin and until very recently there was a serving Dutch politician of that name: Hans Ten Broeke. The surname appears to derive from ‘on the marsh’ – a broeke is a marshy area or a creek and, of course, is linked to the English word ‘brook’. So Anthony Ten Broeke would be Tony Marsh or Tony Brook perhaps.

This portrait of him is in the Library of Freemasonry having been presented in 1938 and since restored. It portrays him as Master of the Caledonian Lodge which he became in 1766.

The Caledonian Lodge itself has a strong association with the School. It has long supported the School financially – until 1978 when the present day school became independent – particularly when capital expenditure was required to meet the costs of development. For example, when the School moved from its first site in Somers Place East to its second, and first purpose-built establishment, in St George’s Fields, Southwark, the Caledonian lodge was on hand with support. The new site included a Committee Room

so meetings no longer had to be held in coffee houses etc. Said committee room required furnishing so the lodge presented to the School a fine set of 25 chairs which can still be found at the modern day School.

One of these chairs, known as the King’s Chair, is the one used by any visiting royalty and has a label attached to it identifying the occasions when it was thus used.







Anthony Ten Broeke left a masonic dynasty in the lodge, with the Master in its 250th year, Graham Ten Broeke, continuing the family tradition. Indeed, a celebration was held at the School to mark this occasion as an indication of the longevity of the association.

Ten Broeke died in 1812 and is buried in Austin Friars Churchyard (Nederlandse Kerk Londen) in the North Aisle. This church was destroyed by fire in 1862 and its replacement destroyed in the Blitz. The current church on this site was built in the 1950s.

The Earl of Moira also has a connection with the School that goes beyond the individual depicted by Stothard. When the School moved to its current site in 1934, the eight boarding houses were given names that reflected the School’s history. One of those names was Moira. Francis Edward Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings, was known as The Earl of Moira between 1793 and 1816 – so whichever of the dates we select for the Stothard portrait, he was the Earl of Moira in it. He had served with British forces during the American Revolutionary War and in 1794 during the French Revolution, hence his depiction in military uniform.

He married late in life (he was fifty at the time) and, as this was on 12 July 1804, he was single at the time of the portrait. He and his wife, Flora Campbell, Countess of Loudoun, had six children. It would appear to have been a love match as, after his death at sea off Naples in 1824 and following his earlier directions, she arranged for his right hand to be cut off and preserved, to be buried with her when she died. He had been serving as Governor of Malta and had been on board the ship to return to his wife when he died. His body was laid to rest in Hastings Gardens, Valletta which is named for the Earl. His hand was eventually interred, clasped with hers, in the family vault at Loudoun Kirk.

He had inherited Donnington Hall from an uncle and then had it rebuilt in a Gothic style at about the date of the Stothard portrait. Requisitioned at the start of World War I by the British government and turned into a prisoner of war camp, it is now the headquarters of the Norton Motorcycle Company.






Lord Rancliffe, placed under the guardianship of the Earl of Moira when his father died, was George Augustus Henry Anne Parkyns (1785-1850). He was given his first two forenames in honour of his godfather, later George IV. So his position in the Stothard portrait is explained by his connections to both the Earl of Moira and the Prince Regent. Strictly, however, he should not have been referred to as Lord Rancliffe in the portrait as he did not succeed to the baronetcy until 1806. However, the Right Hon The Lord Rancliffe is how he appears on the outline image.

On his 21st birthday he came into his inheritance which included an annual income of £21,000. A sum not to be sniffed at now, it was the equivalent of £5.5 million in today’s money. He also inherited the delightfully named Bunny Hall in Nottinghamshire which had been in the family since 1574.

Actually, the name Bunny is nothing to do with cute furry creatures but is derived from Old English Bune, meaning reed. In White’s Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1853 it is spelled Bunney.

In October 1807 – so still a very young man – Rancliffe married Lady Elizabeth Mary Theresa Forbes, daughter of the Earl of Granard, and also niece to the Earl of Moira. The marriage was not successful and they separated, although did not divorce. He returned to Nottinghamshire (from Paris) and there he made the acquaintance of Harriet Burtt. At that time, she was married to a GP, considerably older than she, who was confined to an asylum. Harriet became resident at Wymeswold (Leicestershire), under Rancliffe’s protection, and then later went to live with him at Bunny.

Bunny Hall December 1914 from

Lord Rancliffe died at Bunny Hall on 1st November 1850, after a long illness. His will caused great consternation in the family because it said:

“I give Bunny Hall to Mrs Burtt for her life, and afterwards to whosoever she may appoint to inherit the said estates. I give Mrs Burtt, for her use entirely, all the goods, furniture, and pictures, with one exception; and I give her all my plate, together with the plated silver tureen and dishes with my crest. I also leave my silver tureen presented to me by the electors of Nottingham, to Mrs Burtt; and I also leave my horses and carriages at her entire disposal.”

Eleven years later, the will was contested by his brother-in-law but to no avail. Harriet Burtt was left in full enjoyment of the estate which at the time had an income of £7000 a year (equiv. of about £250,000 today).

Mrs Burtt bequeathed the estate to her niece, Arabella Hawksley, who married Mr Robert Wilkinson Smith in 1898. When Robert died, he left the greater part of his large fortune for the benefit of Nottingham’s poor widows and spinsters.

Our final member of the Stothard group is His Serene Highness, the Stadtholder, or William V, Prince of Orange. The use of the word ‘Serene’ here is to mean supreme or royal rather as ‘Sublime’ (Ambassador to the Sublime Porte) meant principal. Queen Mary, who opened the School on its present site, was born ‘Her Serene Highness Princess Mary of Teck’ but during WWI, George V revoked recognition of this style of title for members of the family living in Britain.

William was the last Stadtholder of the Dutch republic. Born in 1748, he went into exile in London in 1795 under the title of Prince of Nassau-Orange. On his death in 1806, that title was inherited by his son William, who returned to the Netherlands in 1813 and became the first Dutch monarch from the House of Orange (William I). As a European royal, it does not come as a surprise to find that William V was related to the Prince Regent as he was George III’s cousin.

The title Stadtholder is roughly comparable to England’s historic title Lord Lieutenant and was elected rather than inherited. However, In 1747 the office had been made hereditary. William IV was the first of these and William V the last. However, what would have been William VI, the Stadtholder, became instead William I, the first King of the Netherlands. His direct descendants still hold the title (currently Willem-Alexander).


We began this little group with one person of Dutch descent and, rather neatly, we end with another. The portrait, so familiar to the School, has taken on a new life in the identification of many of the people portrayed in it. It is now not just Ruspini leading the children before assembled Freemasons but represents a moment in time recorded for future generations to witness the extraordinary breadth of support the School received.

A snapshot in time

The trouble with a big portrait is that it takes a lot of words to write about all the people in it. Or at least all the people named in it as there are several score of folks not identified at all. Even of those named, there is not always much to say because they are research-shy. Clearly deemed important enough to be named in the portrait, nevertheless Wm Williams, Mr Pride, Rev Archer Thompson, Rev Mr Lucas, Mr Humpreys [sic] and Mr Harper must all remain merely as names until any further information is recovered. Dr Boys – who was certainly at one point the Hon Surgeon to the School – is one John Boys who lived in South Molton St and was a member of Somerset House lodge. But that’s about it for the biographical information. His placement in the portrait in relative proximity to the Prince of Wales perhaps infers importance but the lack of information about him tells another story entirely.

Fortunately the ole internet has been more forthcoming about other names. Let us begin with name which seems surprising amongst the rest: ‘General Bowles, Cherokie Chief’.

Disappointingly not portrayed in a splendid First Nation headdress, John Bowles is an interesting personage to have been included at all. Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees (Mary Whatley Clarke, 2003) does not include any reference to his having travelled to England at any point. Born around the middle of the eighteenth century, Chief Di’Wali was also known as John Bowles or ‘The Bowl’. His parentage is believed to have been a trader from Scotland or Ireland and a Cherokee woman. He was described contemporaneously as ‘an auburn haired, blue eyed half blood Scottish Cherokee’ (Whatley citing History of the Cherokee Indians by Emmett Starr). It was claimed that Bowles’ father had been killed by white settlers when Bowles was a boy, and that the son killed his father’s murderers in revenge when he was fourteen.

A biography of him ( states that he could neither read nor write and did not speak English, which makes him an even more curious figure to have been at whatever occasion Stothard was portraying. He became the Chief of the tribe in 1792 when they were in Tennessee but in 1794, Bowles was involved in an altercation which became known as the Muscle Shoals massacre. Various accounts of this exist but none quite agree with any others about who started it. The outcome was that the warriors fled to Missouri and the rest of the Cherokees followed after. Following an earthquake in 1811 – which was interpreted by them as the Great Spirit telling them to leave the area – they moved into modern-day Arkansas. Unfortunately they chose land which had not been included in the treaty with the United States as that belonging to the Cherokees. So they moved again.

Chief John Bowles (Di’wali) in fact died in battle. As he had requested, his body was left on the battlefield but in 1936 a marker was placed with an inscription that reads:

“On this site the Cherokee Chief Bowles was killed on July 16, 1839 while leading 500 Indians of various tribes against 500 Texans – the last engagement between Cherokees and whites in Texas.”

Now the question we have to ask is – if General Bowles had been involved in a murder in 1794, why was he present at an event that appears to have taken place not long afterwards? And if he was ‘on the run’ in the United States, or at the very least, forced to move territory, what on earth would he have been doing in London at all? None of the accounts of his life refer to his having been in England but, equally, none of them say he wasn’t there either! And even if we accept that he might have skipped across the Pond until the heat died down, is he the sort of personage who would be welcomed in the presence of royalty? On the other hand, the Chickamunga Cherokees, of whom John Bowles was Chief, had supported the British in the American Revolution so maybe he was in London to receive thanks? Some interesting conundra here. Could it be that, like the reference to Mr Haydon which may have been wishful thinking on Stothard’s part, the Cherokee Chief was not there at all but Stothard thought him a colourful character to include? There is arguably some cachet in including Benjamin Haydon as it confers a quality on the painting which is subtle but can be read by them what know. But a Cherokee Chief with a tarnished reputation? More questions than answers, I fear.

It is almost a relief, then, to turn to George Downing, Esq. a barrister of Lincoln’s Inn. Born on 25 December 1762 in London, the son of the Rector of Ovington, Essex, he was a pupil at Dr Parr’s School at Stanmore, Middlesex and afterwards articled to a solicitor in Essex. He was called to the Bar in 1794. The previous year he had joined Somerset House Lodge (cf John Boys):

. . . George Downing was invested at The Black Boy. Here at 9:00 am. 100 brethren assembled, where a public breakfast was provided. At 10.00 am. the Lodge was opened in the presence of 160 brethren (the lodges of Essex having petitioned H.R.H. the Prince of Wales to appoint George Downing of Lincoln’s Inn and Ovington) and afterwards 180 brethren proceeded to church and a collection of L12 was made; the day ended with a dinner in the Shire Hall.

In 1799 he was appointed a Grand Steward and served as President of the Board of Grand Stewards. The same year he joined the Grand Stewards’ Lodge. In 1796 he had been appointed Provincial Grand Master of Essex, a position he held until his death in October 1800.

In addition to this, he was Senior Lieutenant in the Light Horse Volunteers and as a pastime he wrote Greek verse, which seems to have stemmed from his time with Dr Parr who was a great admirer of Greek literature.

‘This day [22nd Dec 1797] was publifhed, elegantly printed on a fine wove writing paper, hot preffed, embellifhed with a portrait of George Downing, Esq. Provincial Grand Mafter for the County of Effex, engraved by Ridley, from a miniature by Spicer, price 2s bound in red, or 2s 6d with a tuck, pockets, &c. complete.’























There is a monument to him in St Paul’s, Covent Garden, often known as the actors’ church. Among those buried at St Paul’s are Samuel Butler and the woodcarver Grinling Gibbons who did much of the carving, fortunately saved from a disastrous fire in 1705.

Image from

Next to Downing is John Jeffryes, and for him we are back to the printing trade. He is given as a printseller of 18 Ludgate Hill (Bull & Jeffryes) and afterwards in Clapham Rd (1802-1804). There is also a William Jeffryes identified with him in Ludgate Hill but whether this is a brother or father or, indeed, no relative at all is unknown. Perhaps he was known to George Downing as he is pictured by Stothard seemingly in conversation but somewhat coyly with his back to us.


Although there are sixteen references to him in the National Portrait Gallery, it is always with him being given as publisher and never as a subject so we are none the wiser about whether Stothard has captured his likeness. The British Museum holds one of Jeffryes’ trade cards but this does not contain an image of him either. It would appear that the Stothard portrait may be the only glimpse of him and we can hardly make out any features.

But then, we are using a portrait designed in one way for another purpose. We are reading across the artistic grain. Would Stothard have approved? Who knows.