George Rowland Blades

Member of Parliament for Epsom 1918 - 1928
1st Baron Ebbisham of Cobham

George Rowland Blades
George Rowland Blades
Source not known

Details of George Rowland Blades life may be found at http://barneshistorian.com/vm-blades.php and in an obituary from The Times of 25 May 1953. This article is intended to add some particulars of local connections.

He had been born at Sydenham 15 April 1868 and married Margaret Emma Reiner of Ferriby, Sutton, Surrey, (whose birth had been registered at Epsom September 1885) in 1907. The subsequent arrival of twin daughters was also recorded at Epsom in September Quarter 1908. Before 1909, the family had taken up residence in Grangemount, Grange Road, Ashtead.

Mr Blades became a common councilman in the City of London, 1913. Although his wife is reported to have served with the Red Cross at hospital units in France during WW1, he became Sheriff 1917/1918 and in that capacity was knighted on the occasion of a Royal visit to celebrate the King and Queen's silver wedding. Also in 1918 he was returned as Unionist member to represent Epsom Division of Surrey. Following the Epsom Military Riot, 20 June 1919, Sir Rowland Blades signed a letter to The Epsom Advertiser about 'The Police Services' inviting contributions to a 'Public Recognition Fund' [LINK].

Sir Rowland Blades, MP, officially inaugurated the Peace Memorial Hall, located in Woodfield Lane, Ashtead, at a ceremony on 3 November 1924.

In 1926, the year of the General Strike, he also opened a purpose-built fire station for Leatherhead UDC to house a new motor fire engine: this appliance was named 'Margaret Blades' after his daughter. Election as Lord Mayor of London followed and the vehicle joined the procession for his Show in London. During his year of office, Sir George gave an address in which he asserted that there could be no truth in the story of Dick Whittington and his cat because there had been no cats in England during his predecessor's time. His opinion caused considerable press comment and a response from Arthur R. Cotton, Clerk to Epsom Rural District Council, who had become Lord of the Manor of Ashtead in 1924 and was a fellow parishioner. Mr Cotton produced a piece of Roman tile from the kiln on Ashtead Common on which a cat had placed its paw whilst the tile was still wet to leave a clear impression. A plaster cast was taken for presentation to the Lord Mayor.

Around 1927 the Blades family left Ashtead to take up residence at Fairmile Hatch, Cobham, Surrey but Sir George Rowland Blades (said to have been 'a mixture of Dick Whittington and Peter Pan who did as much for sport as any man') subsequently became President of Ashtead Cricket Club. On 18 June 1928 (about the time of sale of Grangemount) he took the stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, ceasing to be a Member of Parliament, and, in King George V's 63rd birthday honours, he was elevated to the peerage becoming 1st Baron Ebbisham of Cobham. [The title Baron Epsom being held by Lord Rosebery.] Lord Ebbisham opened Epsom Town Hall in 1934.

Margaret, The Lady Ebbisham, appointed an officer in the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, 1933, was awarded an MBE in 1943, and made a member of the Legion d'Honneur for her work during WW2.

Lord Ebbisham sold Fairmile Hatch in 1937 when he acquired a London house. He died on 24 May 1953. The Dowager Lady Ebbisham, appointed Extra Lady in Waiting to her Highness Princess Marie Louise in 1955, survived until 2 November 1965.


Brian Bouchard © 2010
Member of Leatherhead and District Local History Society


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