Tag Archives: Edwardian

Family photo albums at Court Lodge

We were recently contacted by William (Bill) Thompson who has been researching General Thomas Morland, and has produced a book of his letters and diaries. General Thomas Morland was born in Canada, but his family originated in Scotland. I hadn’t heard of him, but according to Bill, he mentions my great grandfather, Henry Courtenay Morland, in his diaries. He says that he came to stay with Henry and, tellingly, that Henry was “A worrying and funny old thing, and not very nice to his wife.” Bill was not sure how our Morlands are related to his Morlands, and I wasn’t able to enlighten him. However, as we have Henry’s diaries at Court Lodge at the moment, as well as his wife Bessie’s diaries, I invited him down to look at them, to see if he could find out anything further.

I’m not sure yet whether Bill’s visit produced any firm information about how our two branches of Morlands are related, but his visit did clear up something for me. He mentioned that General Thomas Morland’s daughters had visited Henry at Court Lodge. Their names were Phyllis and Margie. This reminded me of a photo album I had come across with all sorts of Morlands in it that I knew nothing about. I was sure that one of them was called Phyllis. I went searching!

Phyllis Morland

Phyllis Morland

This little girl is Phyllis Morland. The photo dates from about 1902 when Phyllis would have been 9, so I think that is about right. The puzzling thing is that there is no mention of Margie, and according to Bill the two sisters were always together. There is another girl referred to as A. Morland, who is older than Phyllis, and about the same age as Margie would have been. All very strange.

A and P Morland. The P is Phyllis, but I'm not sure who the A is.

A and P Morland. The P is Phyllis, but I’m not sure who the A is.

There is also a lovely photo of my great auntie Vi with Phyllis and someone who’s name I can’t read. I think it must be the same girl as the A. Morland above, but neither Bill nor I can work out who she is. Vi would have been about 18 in this photo, and Phyllis about 12.


Looking at our family tree, Phyllis and her father can only be connected to us by going back several generations, as all of the members in our direct family tree are accounted for. I think that you would have to go back to the father of William Morland (1692-1774), who was the first Morland to take on Court Lodge, to find other branches of the Morland family that General Thomas Morland might have descended from. So what strikes me as odd is that these distantly related cousins were still obviously very connected, to the extent that the children came to stay. Sadly, that connection has not lasted into our generation, as my father had no idea about these distant cousins, and so, neither had I.

There were also pictures of other Morlands whose connection to us I have no idea about.

E. M. Morland and Gunn. No idea who either of them are.

E. M. Morland and Gunn. No idea who either of them are.

Dick and Jack Morland. We've no idea who they were.

Dick and Jack Morland. We’ve no idea who they were.

There are also photos of people that aren’t named, so they may be cousins, or friends. We’ve no idea. But they are all very evocative of the era, the first few years of the twentieth century.

Some children in bathing costumes circa 1904

Some children in bathing costumes circa 1904

The really lovely thing about these discoveries was that it gave me the opportunity to rummage through old photograph albums again. I find that every time I have a rummage through them I recognise more people and more places, as more of the overall picture of the history of the Morlands and Court Lodge falls into place. So here are some of the photographs I discovered, and how they fit into the bigger picture.

This is Ballard and Ashby. We know that Ballard was the Butler at Court Lodge at this time, and that he lived at 7 Manor Cottages in the village. My great great grandfather, William Courtenay Morland, had built the seven Manor Cottages in the 1870s for his staff. He reputedly housed them in order of status, so Ballard the butler was at number 7, at the top of the hill and nearest to Court Lodge. The next house down was occupied by the chauffeur, and so on down in descending order of status.

Ballard the butler and Ashby, probably the housekeeper.

Ballard the butler and Ashby, probably the housekeeper.

Ballard and Ashby would have been Court Lodge’s answer to Downton Abbey’s Carson and Mrs Hughes!

Next, I was delighted by this photograph of a group of children. They are probably cousins and friends of the Morlands, but what I love about this photograph is all the hats, and the white clothes. So different from today’s children, and so reminiscent of the Railway Children, and all those other lovely children’s novels from the early twentieth century.

Children in hats!

Children in hats!

Then there are many photographs of family members just living their ordinary lives, rather than posing stiffly as so many in photographs from this era are. These photos paint a rare and honest portrait of family members talking, chatting, and generally just living their day-to-day lives. This photo is of William Courtenay Morland, my great great grandfather, his eldest son Charles, Charles’s wife Ada, and I’m not sure who the other woman is. I think the dog was called Bumper though, as there are several other photos of him!

A relaxed family scene, so unusual in photographs from this era.

A relaxed family scene, so unusual in photographs from this era.

And then there are some positively bizarre photographs, like this one of Ada, Charles’s wife, walking across the lawn carrying a cockatoo!

Ada Morland carrying... a cockatoo?

Ada Morland carrying… a cockatoo?

There are some lovely photos of old Lamberhurst at the turn of the last century, again, depicting a slice of real life over a hundred years ago.

Lamberhurst, circa 1902

Lamberhurst, circa 1902

Lamberhurst circa 1902

Lamberhurst circa 1902

And then there are some lovely photographs of some of the rooms in the house as they were then. Here are two pictures of the library.

The library in 1904

The library in 1904

The library in 1904

The library in 1904

There are also some interesting pictures of the garden, which may reveal more about its history. On the left in the picture below you can make out what looks like a tiered circular feature. There is a similar feature depicted in one of the hand-painted plates of the garden, which is in about the same spot. We recently discovered some remnants of what looks like Pulhamite inside one of the shrubberies that is located about where this feature would have been. This suggests to us that this was part of James Pulham and Son’s original design for the Court Lodge garden.

A view of the St Mary's Church from the Court Lodge Garden. On the left you can see a circular garden feature. We think this is made from Pulhamite.

A view of St Mary’s Church from the Court Lodge Garden. On the left you can see a circular garden feature. We think this was made from Pulhamite.

Here is what we think is the very same feature depicted in one of the plates.

Image 7

I’ve really enjoyed having a good look through all these old photographs, and continuing to piece the story of the Morlands and Court Lodge together. There are many more photo albums in the house waiting for me to find the time to have a good look through them, so I’m sure I’ll be posting more of them here in the future. Watch this space!


More treasures uncovered at Court Lodge

I spent another afternoon rummaging through all the suitcases and boxes full of old papers in the safe, looking for WCM’s elusive 1868 diary. I did not find it. There are lots of letters and papers that will need to be gone through though. The task of sorting through them and seeing what is there is enormous. As there is so much material, I really want to stay focused, as otherwise it will be hard to remember all that is there, or see the significance of what is there. So I resisted as much as I could the temptation to read through old letters and diaries, choosing instead to try and keep a mental note of what sort of papers are there, rather than what they say. I tried to stay focused on the garden, and finding that 1868 diary, as that is going to help us apply for grants to restore the garden.

There is one suitcase full of my great Uncle William’s diaries, stretching from the 1940s to the 1980s. Reading and taking in all that information is going to be a gargantuan task in itself. It will be fun though, as William had a great sense of humour, which comes out in his writing. His diaries are much more engaging and witty than those of his grandfather, WCM, that I have been reading in the archives.

There is another suitcase full of much older papers and letters, some of which relate to WCM’s father, Col. Charles Morland. He died in 1828 in Paris, and one of these papers was a handwritten receipt for 600 francs for the coffin of the late Col. Charles Morland, dated 1828 in Paris. He was Aide de Camp to King George IV, which I gather was quite an important job. I imagine 600 francs was a lot of money for a coffin in 1828.

We also found a plan of the house dated 1849, which is before the Victorian alterations to the house that WCM wrote of in his diaries, in which he built the addition to the front of the house containing the conservatory.

There was another box of little gems that must have belonged to my Great Uncle William’s half-sister Violet. She was older than William and my grandfather John. She was the daughter of Henry Courtenay Morland and his first wife, Alice Maud Nevill. William and John were Henry’s sons by his second wife, Bessie Laird.

I remember Auntie Vi as a very old lady when I was a child. We used to go and visit her when we went on trips to London, as she lived in Chelsea. As a young woman, Auntie Vi dabbled in acting, an activity that was thoroughly disapproved of by her father! Among these papers were some letters to Vi. There were letters from William and John when they were young boys, which went something like this:

“Dear Ve-Ve, We have been having a lovely time with Aunt Ada. Did you know that I can now skate on one foot? Much love, John”

John was my grandfather, younger brother of Great Uncle William.

Another letter I found absolutely priceless. It was from Rosamond Hussey of Scotney Castle, dated Feb 29 but it doesn’t say which year. Since it was a leap year, though, it may be easy to narrow it down. Vi was born in 1886 and got married in 1914, so this must have been before 1914 – perhaps 1908, when she would have been 22. It is so lovely I will reproduce it in full:

“My dear Vi,

Best congratulations on your début last night. We are up in London for two days and were overjoyed to find it possible to get two tickets for your first night. You were charming and we are delighted to have seen you. I wished you had appeared a little more prominently in your very pretty frock in the Race Scene.

I hope the play will run long and merrily. But could you hint to the hero that his brown suit and yellow boots do not go well with the crimson walls of the drawing room in the last act, and he would be much more harmonious in something darker!

Best wishes for continued success.

Yours affectionately,

Rosamond Hussey”

What a wonderful piece of Edwardian history! I wish I knew what the play was!

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