13th August 1912. The Vernons: A Family of its Time.
Today in 1912 saw the death of Octavia Hill, granddaughter of the social reformer Rowland Hill, and one of the founders of the National Trust, whose first purchase was Alfriston Clergy House, Sussex in 1896, for £10: in 1967 Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire was given in lieu of death duties.
The 17th and 18th centuries, so-called, Age of Elegance, saw many of the big houses rebuilt in the ‘new style’, much inspired by the classicism of the likes of Robert Adam. In the process they departed from the old indigenous brick-built Tudor manor tradition.(1)
At that time the owners were families who had done well from monarchical service and the dissolution of the monasteries, whilst not a few had ancestors who had arrived with the Conqueror from Normandy, as with the Vernons.
William de Vernon was granted lands in the County Palatine of Chester under the patronage of Hugh Lupus 1st Earl of Chester and eventually acquired estates at Haddon and Tong where Sir Henry Vernon by the time of Henry VIII was a member of the King’s Council for Wales and High Sheriff.
William’s son Richard de Vernon, settled near Northwich, after fighting at Hastings, along with his brother Walter, and rewarded with lands in Cheshire where he was appointed one of the baronies.
In the reign of Henry III a Sir Richard de Vernon acquired Haddon and Tong and Sir George Vernon was the last of Haddon Vernons when Dorothy Vernon married Sir John Manners it passed to the Rutlands of Belvoir Castle.
Eleven generations of Vernons lived at Haslington and via marriage of relations the estates were merged with the Sudbury estates.
The Vernons eventually married Ellen the powerful Montgomery heiress and to acquire Sudbury Hall and another dynastic marriage of Margaret Swynnerton of Hilton Park Hall near Wolverhampton to Henry Vernon of Sudbury in 1547, saw the two estates incorporated on the death of Margaret.
Sudbury Hall which was designed for George Vernon who had inherited the estate in 1659, finally arrived when his grandson became Baron Vernon of Kinderton in 1762.
The Hall though built in red brick in the time of Charles II, (Caroline),though is Jacobean in concept, being E shaped, with two projecting wings and central porch at rear.
It was given to the National Trust in 1967, in lieu of death duties, with the 10th baron, who died in 2000, retaining the estate and village.
However he was not happy with what the National Trust had done to his erstwhile home saying it was too ready to destroy the character of its contents.
(1) Sudbury was leased to the widowed and pious Queen Adelaide for three years from 1840, where she wrote her funeral arrangements.
(2) Marston Montgomery is near Sudbury. The Montgomerys’ were originally Norman.
wikipedia.org/Pic of Hilton House.