George Cubitt, 1st Baron Ashcombe

The Ashcombe coat of arms
The Ashcombe coat of arms.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

George Cubitt was the first MP for the constituency of Epsom, which was established in 1885. Before that he had been MP for West Surrey since 1860. George lived on the Denbies Estate, Dorking in a grand house designed and built by his father, Thomas, in 1854. (The 3rd Baron Ashcombe had this house demolished in 1953 and the whole property was later sold by the 4th Baron: it is now the Denbies Wine Estate.)

Denbies, as built by Thomas Cubitt
Denbies, as built by Thomas Cubitt.
Image courtesy of England's Lost Country Houses at www.lostheritage.org.uk

Here is a strange coincidence. The Land Registry certificate for my house (built 1861) states, 'A Conveyance of the freehold estate in the land in this title ... dated 12 August 1881 made between (1) The Right Honourable George Cubitt and William Cubitt and (2) Thomas Henry Tuxford ...' .How was George Cubitt involved, given that my house is in Kemp Town, Brighton?

Thomas Cubitt

Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The answer to the question is that George's father, Thomas, built on the grand scale in the days when important builders were also involved in design. My place is very far from grand but this terrace used to be the accommodation for the coachmen etc who worked for the aristocracy of Sussex Square and Lewes Crescent (in reality the two places are one sweeping crescent with a square end - bisected by a road - and the boundaries of each are somewhat arbitrary). The development was the brainchild of Thomas Read Kemp, who hired Thomas Cubitt as his builder, and it took place between the 1820s and 1855. Kemp made a cardinal error in trying to finance the project himself, instead of acquiring backers, and he went bust, fleeing to France. Cubitt cleverly took part of his payment in land and he and the Earl of Bristol took over the impoverished Kemp's project. The George and William Cubitt mentioned in my Land Certificate were two of Thomas's sons and the trustees of his Estate.

Part of Thomas Cubitt's development at Lewes Crescent
Part of Thomas Cubitt's development at Lewes Crescent.
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson ©2013

Thomas (1788-1855) was originally from Buxton in Norfolk and started out as a ship's carpenter; he earned enough money from one voyage to India to start up a building firm and was eventually responsible for many prestigious developments in London and other places, such as the east front of Buckingham Palace, parts of Belgravia, Pimlico and Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Once he had finished Lewes Crescent in Kemp Town, he took up intermittent residence at Number 13, which bears a blue plaque (otherwise he lived at Clapham Park in South London, another area that he developed). One can applaud the impressive edifices that Thomas constructed and, in Brighton at least, his work all Grade 1 listed - including the railings -, still looks outstanding. A more comprehensive account of his achievements can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cubitt.

Thomas Cubitt's residence at 13 Lewes Crescent.
Thomas Cubitt's residence at 13 Lewes Crescent.
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson ©2013

Plaque on 13 Lewes Crescent
Plaque on 13 Lewes Crescent.
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson ©2013

My favourite of Thomas's Brighton builds is Fife House, Number 1 Lewes Crescent (subsequently amalgamated with an adjoining house, 14 Chichester Terrace), which was constructed in 1828. In 1829 it was bought by the 6th Duke of Devonshire - son of the notorious Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (nee Spencer) -, a close friend of the Prince Regent. From 1896 the house was occupied by the Duke of Fife, who was married to Princess Louise, daughter of King Edward VII. A private toilet was installed for the King's comfort when he visited and it is still there today, Grade 1 listed like the rest of the house, which is reckoned to be worth somewhere in the region of £2m-£3m.

Fife House (14 Chichester Terrace end on the left, 1 Lewes Crescent end on the right)
Fife House (14 Chichester Terrace end on the left, 1 Lewes Crescent end on the right).
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson ©2013

Thomas married Mary Anne Warner (born c. 1803 London, died at Denbies 19 November 1880) on 25 March 1821 at St Marylebone. Accounts vary of how many children they had, but it seems to have been somewhere around ten or twelve, several of whom died young. I shall not list them all here but will deal with those who lived into adulthood.

The Cubitt tomb in West Norwood Cemetery.
The Cubitt tomb in West Norwood Cemetery.
Image courtesy of Julia and Keld via www.findagrave.com

Anne and Lucy were both unmarried and died in 1856 and 1898 respectively.

Mary (born c.1822, died 1890) married the Reverend Charles Parker (c.1810-1885), the vicar of Bodiam in Sussex. We will return to Bodiam in due course but suffice it to say that the living was in the gift of Thomas Cubitt and, later, his trustees. The Parkers had no children.

William (born c.1834) was always described as a Lieutenant in the Army (60th Regiment - the King's Royal Rifle Corps) and seems to have been 'mere' landed gentry thereafter. His seat was at Fallapit House, East Allington, Devon, which still stands and is now the St Thomas More's School. I am not sure what happened to the estate after William's death on 23 October 1891 but in 1925 it was purchased by his nephew, the 2nd Baron Ashcombe (Henry, son of George Cubitt). There was a Mrs William Cubitt, called Frances, and she died in 1919. She was extremely elusive in censuses and not in the same place as her husband. William died a millionaire and, after providing a life interest in his estate to Frances, instructed that, if he had no children himself, the residue should go to his brother George's daughters.

Sophia (born 1830) married Edgar Alfred Bowring (1826-1911) in 1853. They had two children, who were the Reverend Edgar Francis Bowring (1854-1931) and Margaret Sophia Bowring (1856-88). Sophia died on 4 September 1857 and the following year her widower married Ellen Cubitt, Sophia's cousin (daughter of Lewis Cubitt - see later). Edgar Alfred was Registrar to the Board of Trade, Liberal MP for Exeter from 1868 to 1874 and a Companion of the Bath; his father was Sir John Bowring, sometime Governor of Hong Kong.

Charles (born 1842) was a clergyman and became vicar of Great Bourton, Oxfordshire (near Banbury). Latterly he lived at 16 Lewes Crescent, Brighton, where he died in 1891; he is buried in Woodvale Cemetery, Brighton. He married Alicia Matilda Trueman (1846-1919) in 1870. There were no children.

Charles Cubitt's residence at 16 Lewes Crescent
Charles Cubitt's residence at 16 Lewes Crescent, a particularly good example of Thomas Cubitt's imposing style.
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson ©2013

Before leaving Thomas we shall have just a brief look at his brothers, William and Lewis, since at one time they were in partnership with him in the building business.

William was born in 1791. He left the partnership in 1827 and set up William Cubitt & Co, which was responsible for Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs (now in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London): this was a development for the working classes. He also constructed the buildings of the old Covent Garden Market and the original Euston Station. William was Conservative MP for Andover, Hampshire from 1847 until 1861 and again from 1862-63; he was also Lord Mayor of London 1860-62 and died in 1863.

William Cubitt.
William Cubitt.
Image source: Wikipedia

Lewis Cubitt.
Lewis Cubitt.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Lewis, born 1799, was an architect, one of his specialities being bridges: he also designed King's Cross Station.

King's Cross Station 1852.
King's Cross Station 1852.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

He had a house in Lewes Crescent, Brighton for very many years, as well as an abode in London, but you will see from the next picture that the former was not quite as grand as some of the other buildings there.

Lewis's house at 5 Lewes Crescent
Lewis's house at 5 Lewes Crescent (with the red door, to the left of the parking sign).
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson ©2013

George Cubitt

George was born on 4 June 1828 in Clapham. We do not know what his parents had in mind for him, but it obviously was not carpentry as he was sent to Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1851. However, he continued in the family building tradition, combining that with a career in politics and lifelong philanthrophy.

In 1859 he provided the funds to build St Barnabas Church, Ranmore, Surrey, principally for the workers on the Denbies Estate, and in 1864 he bought Bodiam Castle in Sussex and set about restoration work. Over the years he purchased other properties at Bodiam, including the vicarage in 1903; among other things he contributed £1,000 towards the building of Dorking Cottage Hospital, £1000 towards the restoration of Castle Keep in Guildford, money for the establishment of a Middle-Class school in Dorking (strangely, there was already a prep school for upper-class pupils and three elementary schools for poorer children, but nothing for those in between) and he bore the whole cost of a temporary church in Plough Lane, Battersea; in 1906 he donated £100 towards the rebuilding of St Martin's, Epsom.

St Barnabas, Ranmore
St Barnabas, Ranmore.
© Copyright Ian Capper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

George was a magistrate for Surrey even before he became the MP for West Surrey in 1860 and he continued in that role; he was also a member of the Primrose League, a member of Royal Commissions, a board member of the Peabody Trust (a charitable housing association), a Church Estates Commissioner, Deputy Lieutenant for both Surrey and Middlesex, a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and Honorary Colonel of the 5th Battalion Royal West Surrey Regiment. He was appointed a Privy Councillor in 1880 and created 1st Baron Ashcombe of Dorking and of Bodiam Castle in the dissolution honours of 1892.

You will have noticed that a number of places in Surrey have been mentioned in connection with George Cubitt, but that Epsom has not been prominent amongst them: the reason is that for much of his parliamentary career he was one of the two members for West Surrey, which was a very large constituency and included Chertsey, Dorking, Farnham, Godalming, Haslemere, Walton-on-Thames, Weybridge and Woking as well as Epsom.

George married Laura Joyce in 1853: she was born in Hitcham, Buckinghamshire in about 1826 and was the daughter of a former vicar of Dorking. They had nine children, as follows.

Geoffrey George Born 1854, died 1855.
Helen Laura Born 1855 Dorking, died 1939 Devon; unmarried. She was appointed CBE in 1920 for her work as Commandant, Donor and Administrator for Lyncourt Hospital for Officers, Torquay.
Mary Agnes Born c 1858 Dorking, married Rev Edward Arthur Chichester, died 1944
Thomas Edmund Wilfred Born 1859, died 1865.
Adelaide Laura Born 1861 London married Richard Anthony Fuller-Maitland, died 1922 Marylebone
Mildred Sophia Born c. 1863 Dorking, married George William Tallents, died 1930.
Mabel Georgina Born 1864 Dorking, died 1865 Worthing district.
Henry Born 1867 London, married Maud Marianne Calvert, died 1947
Beatrice Hayward Born 1868 Dorking, married William Archibald Calvert, died 1963

Laura died on 7 July 1904 and George on 26 February 1917.

George Cubitt monument at St Barnabas, Ranmore
George Cubitt monument at St Barnabas, Ranmore.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Mary Agnes Cubitt married the Reverend Edward Arthur Chichester in 1884: he was born in County Antrim, Ireland in 1849 and was the Vicar of Dorking from 1885 to 1921. Edward died in 1925. The couple had four children, all born in Dorking, as shown below.

Harriett Laura Chichester Born c.1887, married Alexander Henry Delap West (Brigadier DSO and bar) 1915, died 1976.
Arthur O'Neill Cubitt Chichester Born 1889, married Hilda Grace Young 1924, died 1972. Lieutenant-Colonel, OBE, MC; lived at Galgorm Castle, Ballymena, Co Antrim.
Mildred Mary Chichester Born 1891, died 1965 Reading; unmarried.
William George Cubitt Chichester Born 1892 Dorking. Killed in action at High Wood, Somme 1916 (Captain, London Regiment); buried Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval.

Adelaide Laura Cubitt married Richard Anthony Fuller-Maitland in 1891: he was a member of Lloyd's, born in Wargrave, Berkshire c.1857. There were no children and Richard died in 1919.

Mildred Sophia Cubitt's husband, barrister George William Tallents (married 1883), was born in 1856 in Newark, Nottinghamshire; he died in 1924. Their children, all born in London, were as follows.

Sir Stephen George Tallents Born 1884, married Bridget Hole 1914, died 1958. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Tallents
Philip Cubitt Tallents Born 1886, died 1962 (Indian Civil Service, Bihar).
Margaret Laura Tallents Born 1888, married Bishop Octavius Maturin Davy RN 1916, died 1955.
Una Mildred Tallents Born 1890, died 1970; unmarried.
Thomas Francis Tallents Born 1896, married Sibell Agnes Howson 1922, died 1947 (Chairman of New Zealand Shipping Co, governor of Harrow School).
.
Beatrice Hayward married landowner and farmer William Archibald Calvert (1868-1943) in 1891. Their children are shown below.

Felix William Archibald Calvert Born c.1892 London, married Flora Maud Whalley 1922, died 1936.
William Robert Calvert Born 1894 Capel, Surrey, married Janet Gordon Fetherstonhaugh (nee Dove) 1923, died 1932.
Beatrice Jane Calvert Born 1898 Capel, died 1977; unmarried.
John Charles Calvert Born 1899 Capel, married Evelyn Theodore Joyce Savile 1926, died 1974.
Peter George Calvert Born 1907 Capel, married Claud Rosemary Baldwin Dove 1938 (div) and Aileen Dorothy S Dove 1948, died 1970.

Henry Cubitt, 2nd Baron Ashcombe

Henry Cubitt
Henry Cubitt
Image source: Surrey at the Opening of the Twentieth Century -
Contemporary Biographies by Hitchin, W.E. and Pike, W.T.,
published in 1906 by W T Pike & Co Brighton

Henry was the only surviving son of George and Laura and followed his father into Parliament: he was MP for Reigate from 1892 to 1906 and from 1905 to 1939 he was Lord Lieutenant of Surrey. He married Maud Marianne Calvert (1865-1945), sister of William Archibald Calvert (see above), in 1890. They had six sons, the eldest three of whom were sadly killed in the First World War.

Captain Henry Archibald Cubitt (born 1892 and known as 'Master Harry'), Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, of the Coldstream Guards was killed in action on 15 September 1916 near Ginchy, Somme: he is buried at Carnoy Military Cemetery and there is a memorial chapel to him in the south transept of Ranmore Church.

The Memorial Chapel, Ranmore Church
The Memorial Chapel, Ranmore Church
© Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Lieutenant the Hon Alick George Cubitt (born 1894) of the 15th Hussars was killed in action on 24 November 1917 and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial at Louverval, France.

Lieutenant the Hon William Hugh Cubitt (born 1896) of the 1st Dragoons died of wounds on 24 March 1918; he is buried at Noyon New British Cemetery, France.

Roland Calvert Cubitt (born 1899, later the 3rd Baron Ashcombe) married Sonia Rosemary Keppel (1900-86) in 1920 and the surname may ring a bell, for her mother, Alice, wife of the Hon George Keppel, had been a mistress of King Edward VII.

Mrs Alice Keppel
Mrs Alice Keppel.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Roland and Sonia were divorced in 1947 and he then married twice more - to Idina J Mills/Middleton in 1948 and Jean Baylis/Garland in 1959; their daughter was Rosalind Maud, who married Bruce Shand, and they were the parents of Camilla Shand/Parker-Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall. Roland died in 1962 and was succeeded by his son, Henry Edward (born 1924). At the time of writing the 4th Baron has been married three times, without issue.

Monument to Roland Cubitt at St Barnabas, Ranmore.
Monument to Roland Cubitt at St Barnabas, Ranmore.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The fifth son of Henry, the 2nd Baron, was Archibald Edward (1901-72); he married Lady Irene Helen Pratt, daughter of the Marquess of Camden, in 1926 (divorced 1933) and Sibell Margaret Norman in 1934 (divorced 1949). Archibald's grandson, Mark Edward Cubitt, is currently the heir presumptive to the barony.

The sixth son was Charles Guy (1903-79), who married Rosamund Mary Edith Cholmeley. Their son, Sir Hugh Guy Cubitt, was High Sheriff of Surrey in 1983.

The 2nd Baron died on 27 October 1947.

Monument to Henry and Maud Cubitt at St Barnabas, Ranmore.
Monument to Henry and Maud Cubitt at St Barnabas, Ranmore.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons



Linda Jackson
March 2013




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