March 31, 2009
Went to London by the Express Train. Went with Mr Henry Sewell to Cox in Craig’s Court, who told us that he had just heard that the house at Orchardleigh had been let for a year to the person, whom we had found in occupation. He added that he would not sell the House or Park separate from the rest of the estate. After quitting the presence of the great army agent, it struck me as a great pity that he had not told me all that before, which would have made me richer by some pounds than I was then. I have no doubt that he must manage his military affairs a good deal better. Had some conversation with my companion about the vast waste that there was in the world. No great things are ever done without great expenditure of material. This seems to be a universal law. What numbers of seeds, that are thrown into the earth, are fated to perish for one that grows! So that our journey was in a certain, and that a sound, sense no waste at all. Mr Sewell called on Mr Sharpe in Fleet St, about a church that the latter wishes to build in the Isle of Wight, – but he found him gone to Oxford to see Sewell about the letter which Sewell had written to him.
March 30, 2009
A letter from Cox, stating that the Park at Orchardleigh was let for a year, – that the house was still to be let; – but that, as to the purchase, no lease could be given without an understanding as to time & price: – all very proper. This determined us at once to go thither. Before we set off, Sewell got a letter from Mr Hornby, the incumbent of one of the largest livings in England, a gentleman of considerable fortune, great liberality, & earnest Church principles. It was an answer to one Sewell had written, seeking his support. He expressed great interest, was anxious to hear more, but warned us that, even if our place received his full concurrence, he would not be able to contribute largely to it, as he was engaged in undertakings of magnitude, being now engaged in building a Chancel to his Church, at an outlay of £4,000. He ended by saying that he feared that Sewell was about placing at the head of his projected College ‘the man, who of all others was the most unfit; – for that he understood that he (that is myself) had endeavoured to introduce at Stackallan arbitrary enactments about Fasting, and other intolerable austerities. At the same time, he added that he would not conceal his extreme anxiety to know the real truth on these points. This letter we considered most satisfactory, coming from a person of Mr. Hornby’s station, character, & influence, – for that there could be no difficulty in setting him right on the subjects which gave him such alarm. Were it a matter of opinion, to establish confidence would be a hopeless task, but it was a simple question of plain fact, which could be set at rest in a moment. Sewell accordingly despatched a hurried note, to relieve his mind for the present, promising a more enlarged account of the state of things, which ended in our retirement from Ireland.
Set off for Bath, and thence took a Post-Chaise for Orchardleigh, 12 miles off. Passing through the village of Norton-St.-Philip’s, we were struck with a beautiful old house, the Inn of the place, which had evidently not always been an Inn. Whatever might be its history, it had seen better days. The projecting windows, the arched Porch, the high roof, were so charming that Sewell insisted on our getting out of the Chaise to inspect it. A very simple, but highly picturesque, turret stands in the back-yard. It is attached to the Wall of the house, terminating below the eave, in a pointed roof with 2 ornamental details. It is a semi-hexagon, I think, and nothing can be more chaste and beautiful. This contains a staircase, which immediately brought before us our Dormitories and their wants. There is not anything of particular interest within, tho’ it was curious to see how the edges of the stone steps were entirely worn away by the trampings of human beings during centuries. The landlady seemed to know nothing of the history of her own house, though she held some vague tradition of its having ‘belonged to the Church’. However, Mr Donkin, of New College, told me afterwards that he knew the country well, & believed it to be the remains of an old Manor House.1
We entered Orchardleigh by a handsome castellated gateway, and found the Park very fine, – the ground diversified – the timber splendid, – and to our serious misgivings, – the drive interminable. How could we ever venture upon such a grand place? How could we ever hope to be the possessors of thousands of pounds worth of timber? The house did at last appear, lying low at the head of a fine lake, between two undulating banks, studded with trees, – one of them inclining to be steep. It is an old, irregular, rather dilapidated building; decent, without pretence & without interest; and unhappily, as we thought, rather small for our purpose; – a defect not at all atoned for by a fine quadrangle of offices, which we had some reason to expect. These, on the contrary, proved to be low, contracted, almost good-for-nothing.
On ringing the door-bell, and asking permission to see the house, the maid went to ask the Master’s leave. Mr Cox had given us to understand that it was untenanted, except perhaps by a mere caretaker, but a Mr Somebody soon appeared and resolutely refused us admission. It was vain to say that we were in communication with Mr. Cox about taking the house; – (perhaps a suspicion of this very thing made him so determined;) – the appeal to his courtesy on behalf of two travellers, come all the way from Oxford, was equally unavailing, – he would not let us in, – vouchsafing at the same time the intelligence that it was not in a fit state for the residence of a gentleman. It appears that he rented the Park, so after obtaining leave to walk around the grounds, we left him to what consolation might be provided by his incivility or prudence. Perhaps, after all, he had some reason which might have justified the act, – though the manner scarcely admitted of defence.
From the outside we made some calculations as to the capacity of the building, and then wandered through the Park. From the summit of the falling ground, below which the House stands, there is a fine flat, which. at the boundary fence, commands a noble view of the neighbouring country, and the town of Frome, which is scarcely 2 miles off. By the way, Monk was there at that very moment, which we as little knew, as he that we were almost in sight of him. We left Oxon at a moment’s notice, so could not have written to him at Oakhill. The view on the other side rests chiefly upon the park itself, which (as already more than hinted) is of great extent, enclosing about 300 acres. The masses of wood are very fine, and the lake, which is well contrived, stretches to a considerable extent in the hollow. It is in one place 30 feet deep, & when we asked whether it abounded in fish, we heard that it contained a wagon-load, our informant evidently thinking that a monstrous proportion.
Sewell & I then talked on the suitableness of the place to our object. The house might do, though we should have to build Chapel, Hall, School-room, & Dormitory, in which respect it was no worse than most other places. There was a grand range for the boys, dignity & some beauty would surround them, the lake would do well for bathing and boating, the position was retired, & yet a Railroad would soon be constructed, giving easy access to it, – at a convenient distance from a capital town, – building stone & gravel on the spot, & so on. On the other hand, the rent would be a very serious liability to incur, and afterwards to redeem, – the sum to be paid for the timber would be great, & much of it would be sunk, without the possibility of fructifying. The house lay low, near the head of the lake, where there must be some shallow & stagnant water; – a church in a spurious style, to which all in the Parish of Orchardleigh repair, (a very small one to be sure,) was close, entered by a little bridge over a narrow belt of fluid, which looked more like dirty soap-suds than water. This would at least impair privacy, though the outrage to tease might be endured. These were some of the points of advantage & of difficulty that we went over, while returning to Bath, and our conclusion was that I should go up to London, & make further inquiries about rent, lease, time given for purchase, &c. – Sewell also went on the Bristol, to find out, if possible, whether Mr Miles would dispose of the House & some ground at Ford Abbey.2
I got some tea, wrote away at my journal, which was sadly in arrear, & went to bed, where I got little or no sleep.
1: The George, Norton St-Philip, Somerset.
2: Forde Abbey. Miles was described as a slavetrader.
March 27, 2009
Sewell got a letter from Mr Crichton to say that he had lately sent his sons to school, but expressing earnest wishes for our success.
Passed James Johnson’s (builder’s) yard, & being struck by a large Wooden house, went in to ascertain particulars about such things. He told us that they would be very cheap, and that he could get up all that we wanted in 2 months’ time. Saw him with some Poppy heads from Stanton Harcourt, good simple fleur-de-lis, which would do well for the Stauncheons of our Cubicles; – also some well seasoned wood of the oak-kind, of suitable scantling, for the Stauncheons themselves.
It was agreed that Sewell should go to Mr Rawlinson’s place, Chadlington, near Chipping Norton, about 17 miles fm. Oxon., which we understood was to be let or sold; but letters by the late post, which had to be answered, prevented him, and the rain made me rather shrink from the expedition. As it turned out, it was a matter of no consequence that neither went, or rather, of some consequence, for he heard afterwards that we could not get it.
March 26, 2009
Sewell got a letter from Mr Bowyer to say that his brother, who was to be his heir, would not consent to a lease for so long a term as 21 years. Sewell answered it in such a way, that an anxiety to have the place might appear, without any undue pressing. He told me that he thought the brother would strike yet.
Walked in Wadham gardens together, in poor spirits enough; thought we were driven to Kneller Hall, – to me a shocking contemplation. Sewell mentioned a place, of which his brothers had the disposal, which belonged to two heiresses, neither of whom could occupy it, & which therefore would be got at a cheap rate. It is called Trawscoed, near Welshpool, on Montgomeryshire, and such were our difficulties that it was determined that Sewell should go & see it. Though it was sadly out of the way, yet it is a fine, healthy, mountainous, country, & living must be cheap.
However, he did not go after all, as he was unable to finish an article for the English Review in sufficient time.
Wrote to Mr Cox, of Craig’s Court, to inquire if the house & Park would be let or sold, – i.e. at Orchardleigh.1
March 25, 2009
Walked with Sewell for a long time up & down the Terrace in Merton Gardens, – talking of our prospects & difficulties. Saw the great uncertainty of obtaining funds in sufficient time to open on the 1st of August, – and agreed that, in any case, we must provide ourselves with Wooden houses. Sewell willing, ‘if the worst came to the worst,’ to order them on his own responsibility, & pay off the debt by instalments. Spirits by no means high.
March 24, 2009
Sewell came to my lodgings before breakfast and renewed his objections to St. Leonard’s Hill, urging that rivalry & jealousy between us & Eton would be sure to arise & be perpetuated, and thus a lasting impediment would be thrown in the way of our success; – that if we became a large School, Eton would sneer at our inferiority in numbers & class, – & that we might value ourselves upon our Religion, – which would be a miserable state of things. I saw not the matter in so strong a light, though I dreaded the collision of the two bodies in some way or other. He then said that he would take upon himself the responsibility of a negative, – to which I instantly submitted, feeling the comfort of so plain a reason as his scruple gave me, for not directing another thought to the place. He then engaged to send a parcel by Rail to his brother, with a charge to have it delivered that evening, telling him our determination. It so happened that the parcel was not delivered till the following morning, 5 minutes after Mr Henry Sewell had set out for Slough. How provoking!
Sewell met Mr Barrow of Queen’s & Mr Heathcote1 at New College Chapel; – as also his brother James Edwards Sewell, who preached the Fast Sermon there before the University. He told them of our plan, with which they were delighted. They quite agreed with him about the proximity of St. Leonard’s to Eton being fatal.
The “National Fast for Famine” Singleton mentions in the title was observed by the Church throughout England and Ireland on this day, as “a public fast and humiliation” for relief from the ongoing Irish famine.
1: William Beadon Heathcote, Fellow of New College, Oxford. He became the second Warden of Radley, 1851-52.
March 23, 2009
Left Town by the 7 o’clock train (an endless 3rd class) for Pinner, the 4th Station from London on the Birmingham line. My object was, chiefly, to see Mr Rhodes’ house at Great Stanmore, mentioned by Mr. Marriott on Sunday, and, secondly, to make the acquaintance of Mr. Monroe, who had established a small College for the sons of the poorer classes at Harrowheele.1
His present residence is 1½ miles from the College, & close to the Pinner Station. Bringing a note of introduction from Sewell, I knocked at the door at the unwarrantable hour of 8 o’clock am. I found Mr Monro just setting off to see his father, at no great distance, though he told me he hardly ever left home. However, after breakfast I was to have a guide to Stanmore, & settled to meet him at the College at 1 o’clock. A pupil, resident in his family, & lately come to him, accompanied me instead of a very little, odd-looking, boy. – & I was not sorry for the change.
Our walk lay through Lord Abinger’s Park, the House being called ‘The Priory’. On the other side of it is the Village of Stanmore, and a little above the village stands the structure which I came to see. It is a very beautiful building, composed of rubble of Kentish Rag, with Ashlar & carvings of Caen stone. The ornamental work is very elaborate in some places, & yet it is not oppressive; a lofty turret stretched up, crowned with a conical roof; the gables are good, the irregularities well disposed, (with the exception of the Oratory, which to me appears to be irregular to affectation,) and the grouping of the octagonal kitchen & other offices is very happy. Altogether, it is the best modern thing I have seen. In the interior the rooms are small, & not very numerous, – but nothing is finished, – much not near finished, and all the offices are bare shells as the Masons & Slaters left them. It would take £5000 to complete the design, so that this consideration alone would put it entirely out of our thoughts: and this is not all, for it stands in only 14½ acres, bounded by two roads & two gentlemen’s places, so that the boys wd. have no range, no room, no liberty. Indeed, what little space there is, which is not taken up by garden & pleasure ground, is so uneven that cricket would be out of the question. Yet the view from the Terrace is very fine, commanding an extensive prospect of rich country, with Harrow Hill, crowned with its Church, on the right.
The old house, (not, however, very old,) of which this is to be the successor, stands near, and is soon to be pulled down. I went over it to see if there was any possibility of making a Dormitory out of it, or any other necessary rooms, – but could find nothing to modify the positive sentence against the suitableness of the place for our purpose.
[Later note in Singleton's hand: This whole place was sold in June or July for about £6000. The house alone must have cost £20,000 at least.]
Between 1 o’clock & 2 o’clock I met Mr Monroe at his College. He has 22 boys, whom he educates, feeds & clothes, (I think) gratis, their parents resigning them to his care entirely, he undertaking to rear & fit them for the service of the Church, as Deacons, or Schoolmasters, or in any office for which they might prove suited. They are dressed in a neat frock of blay linen kept tight at the waist by a strap passing round the body. Soon after I arrived two boys came into the Hall to lay the cloth & dinner things. They kept on whistling & singing, quite unawed by the presence of a stranger. Soon afterwards the School bell, (a very respectable bell, by the way, which Mr Monro told me was the pride of the whole neighbourhood, & so reminded me of Stackallan,) rang a happy release from their studies. They all came in, & got their little books of devotion and then went upstairs into their chambers, where they remained for a quarter of an hour in silence and meditation, a few minutes being devoted to washing and brushing their hair.
The bell rang again, and they came into Hall, not without a little tumultuousness of manner. Being now arranged at table the four senior boys, in gowns over their frocks, in virtue of their office as Prefects, a grace was chanted by Mr Monroe, at the High Table, he also in his gown, to which the boys made 2 or 3 responses in harmony, concluding with the ‘Amen.’ I sat next to Mr Monroe, who had a boiled neck of mutton before him, to which he helped me, one of the prefects attending me with the plate. Mr Monro then carved his dish as far as it would go for the boys, who had likewise other very simple dishes at their table, at which Mr Ashe, Mr Monro’s assistant, presided. When the plain meal was at an end, a similar grace was similarly offered.
The Hall itself is a very unpretending room, built of brick, with a roof of good pitch, about 45 ft. by 20. ft., and yet by a little judicious management, and a little ornament well chosen & happily disposed, the effect is right good, and it bears quite a Collegiate air. The high Table is slightly raised, and the neighbouring window is a little recessed, about double the size of the others, and each of its four compartments bears a device in stained glass by Willement, such as the arms of the College, those of the Bishop of the Diocese, & 2 others.2 On the end wall behind the dais, is a beautiful picture of St. Andrew, in whose memory the College was founded. Thus a very decided character is given to the room, which cannot but tend to elevate the tone of the boys; and yet the cost was trifling: it was built in 2 months for about £100. This fact was not to be thrown away upon us. At the Entrance end was a large square board, on which hung different notices affecting school-work, the subjects for prizes to be contested on the next commemoration time. Scrolls with different texts from Holy Scripture decked the walls; including one over the door, -’the works of the flesh’ – ‘are rioting & drunkenness’, – and another over the chimney piece, which is moveable, and has reference to the Ecclesiastical seasons: – at present it was ‘Lent, – repent’.
The dormitory consists of separate, closed, chambers, containing bed, &c., and the walls of each were enlivened by several prints, one of which is furnished by Mr Monro, of a more pretending class than the rest, and chosen with reference to the inmate’s peculiar character and circumstances. These appeared to be all of German origin. Outside the chamber doors are texts & prints, illustrating our Saviour’s history or impressing some truth in connexion with sleep. To this I paid particular attention, – an important hint.3 Mr Monro’s assistant sleeps on one of the floors. In a general passage, leading to the different apartments of the College, boards are hung up, stating the boys whose occupation is assigned by rotation to each particular office, – the games to be played during the week, – & so on.
Their gardens are close at hand, and a prize is given for the one that is best kept.4 Remarked some lads at work at them, others at different sports; and never did I see a healthier or a happier set in my life. What a mistake it is to imagine that to live under strict rule is to live in melancholy & misery! The very reverse is the case. The contrast of discipline is what makes relaxation so charming. The boys go to church once a day, to an ugly brick building not above ¼ of a mile off. This, however, is to be soon superseded by a decent structure, the chancel of which is now in progress; – as is also a parsonage-house, (nearly finished) which Mr Monro will occupy. This will be very convenient, as his present residence is at a serious distance.
The Study has nothing remarkable about it, but that it shows what can be done with the most unpromising materials by a person who knows what he is about. What wonders may be done by the energy of a right principle! It raises up a world of harmony out of desert & disorder. Mr Monro has clearly got possession of the Philosopher’s stone, – he has turned his community into a Church. As for myself, I saw much to admire, much cordially to approve, & not a little to reflect upon very gravely.
By the way, I forgot to mention that when we sat down to dinner, he observed to me, ‘- you have a brother at Stackallan, have you not?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I have a brother living near it, but not at it.’ ‘And what,’ said he, ‘are you the late Warden?’ ‘Yes,’ was my answer. ‘Dear me, I must have read Sewell’s letter in a great hurry; but had I known that, I should have been in great alarm.’ I assured him that his alarm would have been quite groundless, and then enlarged upon the wonders that he seemed to have effected in so short a time, and on such uncouth subjects. I told him that after dinner I would give him a short sketch of my own history and of that of St. Columba’s. When we got into the Study the clock struck one of the quarters on a coil of steel, which gave him the opportunity of mentioning that while it is striking the hours, silence in preserved that the thoughts may dwell for a few moments on the fleeting nature of time, & on a coming Eternity. I told him the cause of our secession, which he thoroughly justified and admired, and then mentioned our project of raising a St. Columba’s in England. He was delighted; and, when asked if he anticipated a flow of boys to our College, replied that he had not the remotest doubt of it; that numbers of Parents had implored him to take their sons at any remuneration, – which his system compelled him to decline. One gentleman came to him, and said that he was anxious to present the most precious gift in his possession to Him that gave it; that that gift was his son, and he wanted to dedicate him wholly to His Maker’s use, – that he knew of no such opportunity as that which the College of St. Andrew opened out, – and would he refuse that appeal. Mr Monro could no longer withstand his wishes, – he received the boy. ‘This’ he said ‘will be sufficient to show you what interest people are taking in Church education.’ I returned with him to Pinner, and on the way he warned me against trusting in the Bishops, – that the Bishop of London had been very kind to him, – but that —- would meddle if he could. I made his mind easy by telling him that bitter experience had taught us that very lesson, & that we were resolved that their influence should not be admitted one jot farther than the Canons allowed. He took an affectionate leave of me, praying for God’s blessing on what we were about, enjoining me to make whatever use of him we thought fit, and making me promise to go & see him again.
I returned to London, drank tea with Mr Henry Sewell, and settled to meet him at Slough the day after tomorrow, if Sewell thought that St. Leonard’s should be looked at, which I was to mention by early post next morning. Got to Oxford at 10 ¼ pm, where Monk & Sewell were anxiously awaiting my coming. Told them my adventures, and laid the lithographed plans of St. Leonard’s before them. Sewell said that the building was ‘detestable’. Monk & I thought that hereafter something decent might be made of it, that it was as easy to Gothicise it as to Elizabethanize Radley. Sewell was immoveable, saying it was a nasty thing, full of pretence, & and that the only way to improve it was to pull it down, – that if I didn’t think the same, the style should not be fatal. However, he argued strongly against it, on account of its neighbourhood to the Court, and especially to that of Eton. I felt that there was much force in the remarks, but resisted the idea of the objection being unsurmountable. Mr Henry Sewell & I had gone over the same ground in London, but thought that we ought not entirely to throw it aside, especially as it was to be either let or sold. It was therefore ruled that I should go and see it on Thursday. Wrote to Mr Sewell to that effect.
1: Edward Monro, a Tractarian minister. He was the curate of Harrow Weald, where he established an agricultural college which he operated at his own expense. Entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
2: Thomas Willement was a prominent stained-glass artist of the mid-nineteenth century; six panels of heraldic glass which have been attributed to him were inserted into the wall of the barn which Sewell and Singleton converted into the Schoolroom at Radley (now the Library). Entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
3: This may be an early sign in what would be adopted at Radley as sileatur in dormitorio, one of the greatest and most far-reaching of Sewell’s school reforms. When the original Dormitory was built in 1849, it contained 70 cubicles in Upper and 43 in Lower. Each boy had his own cubicle with a curtained entrance, which was to be regarded as a sacred place, where privacy and silence were the order of the day. The resemblance to Monro’s school is very clear.
4: Sewell would later introduce individual gardens to be tended by the boys at Radley.
March 22, 2009
Went with Mr Henry Sewell to London. Called on Mr Pownall the builder, who was out, but one of the firm, or the fore-man, whom Mr Henry Sewell knew, was within. He seemed to know nothing particularly about Wooden buildings or Terra Cotta roofs. We then went to Mr. Hedgers’, the Land Agent in Bond St., who had nothing at present disposal to suit, but believed there were many such places in England. Thence to Daniel Smith in Waterloo Place, whose office contained but one case, which could possibly do. Of this we were furnished with lithographic views of House & grounds, & plan. It was denominated St. Leonard’s Hill, (I think,) and it lies 2 miles from Windsor, just outside the great Park, of which & the Royal Towers it is said to command a striking view. The House is an attempt at a ‘light Gothic’ castle, designed by Sir. James Wyattville, and covered with plaster. However, the accommodation was very extensive, out-offices abundant, fine terrace, handsome trees, and room enough in the grounds, and as the building seemed capable of improvement, we determined to consult S. about it, & if he consented, to go & see it.
We then went to Winstanley’s in the city, who knew of nothing to our purpose; – and lastly called on Mr Hoggart, still further on, who gave us no greater satisfaction. Indeed, he mentioned that they were in many places pulling down these very old houses, after which we were seeking, – an announcement, which coming from a shrewd, experienced, old gentleman, was the reverse of comfortable. The great difficulty is to obtain a long lease with a power of purchase. They all said, however, that they would be on the look out for what we wanted.
Dined with Mr Henry Sewell at his Club, & slept at the Euston Hotel, to be near the train in the morning.
March 21, 2009
Sewell & his brother Henry called on me, & we went to New College gardens, where we had a long conversation about our whole plan. Mr Henry Sewell gave us the benefit of his clear, cool, sound, legal, judgment upon its merits, entering with real interest into it. He considered the Radley project for the present premature, – that we ought to wait and prove the impossibility of obtaining a place with a permanence, before we embarked so much money on so limited a tenure, adding the he had no doubt that places were to be had, embodying all we wanted, if we could spare the time for search.
He told us that he knew of several parents, who were anxious for a proper school for their boys, but recommended us to lower the terms to £80, illustrating by anecdote that, when you asked a high price for an article, people are not much affected by your telling them that the article was one of extraordinary merit, & that others of really less value brought a higher price. I had always a doubt about the charge being too great, & as Sewell remarked that it was a good thing to teach people that education might be done at a moderate cost, we at once determined to diminish the charge to £80 per annum. We found subsequently that other persons, whose opinion was of consequence, agreed in the wisdom of the step. Mr Henry Sewell then undertook to make inquiries at different offices in London for some suitable place.
Dined in Common Room at New College with the three brothers Sewell, James Edwards (the host) William & Henry. Sewell mentioned that in the afternoon he had met Mr Marriott of Oriel,1 who, on being told what we were about, was much pleased, and said he would give us £10. He mentioned a beautiful house at Stanmore, near Harrow, which belonged to a Mr Rhodes, built by Derrick, but on so costly a scale that his employer did not think it right to finish, or live in, it. It was therefore for sale, & as Mr Marriott said it would accommodate 20 Benedictines, & stood in grounds to the extent of 30 or 40 acres, it was determined that I should go & look at it.
Sewell wrote to Mr Bowyer to say that our legal friends considered the proposed tenure of Radley so unsatisfactory that we must beg to pause a little; to which he afterwards returned a civil reply.
I also wrote to Anthony to say that I was engaged in this scheme, & might require my money. I may here mention that to this he answered, (this day week,) that we had his best wishes for our success, but that he much doubted whether the Church feeling even in England was strong enough to carry us through all the difficulties which must lie in our way. He begged of me to be cautious, and to estimate the magnitude of interest, taken in the project, by the amount of contributions; and not to trust to mere profession. He ended by saying that he could not do much in the way of helping us himself, as he felt bound to retain nearly all his funds for our perishing countrymen, but that any other year he might have done a good deal.
March 14, 2009
Sewell had letters from Miss Angela Burdett Coutts1 and Mr Bowyer. Miss A.B.C. wrote very kindly, saying how glad she was that Sewell should lay before her any scheme for the good of the Church; – that she had been much pressed by the fund for the Colonial Bishopricks, and the building & endowment of Church & Schools at Westminster. The former was paid off, but there was some unforeseen delay about the latter, & she was therefore unable to estimate her liabilities. That the design placed before her seemed an important one, in which would take an interest, but that she could not speak about the ‘money part of it till summer.’ This appeared most favourable, & Sewell wrote to her to beg on her not to take any further step until she should have consulted Dr. Jelf,2 Dr. Wordsworth,3 and other persons of that class, in whom it was known that she reposed great confidence.
Mr Bowyer’s letter was in answer to one that Sewell had written, freely opening our scheme, and at the same time forwarding his Journal; – Likewise offering a fine at the end of 7 years to enable him to build a house; an arrangement to meet his objection, – that a lease of 21 years would exclude the family from Residence on their property for that period, there being no other house that they could occupy; – Sewell also requiring a permanent site on the property for future buildings. Mr Bowyer’s reply was to this effect: – that he liked the idea of a permanent site, but that he felt great hesitation about letting us on his property at all, for that he held opinions, in accordance with those of the British Critic and the Tracts for the Times, that he had great reverence for the Roman Church, & that it would be extremely painful to him to find that he had given any encouragement to a College, which might be found railing at what he revered.
From the whole tone of his letter it was clear that we were dealing with a conscientious man & a gentleman, but we felt uncertain whether he might not be a Romanizer too, & that therefore it might be better to break off the negotiation. Sewell replied in very plain terms, saying that we belonged to no party in the Church, that we had resisted a Romish tendency at Stackallan on the one hand, and, on the other, had seceded entirely from the college, when its Visitor & Trustees were taking a more Protestant course. He then mentioned that I had been offered —— by ——, to show what other persons thought of one’s own theological views. To this Mr Bowyer replied that he was thoroughly satisfied, and would forward our wishes in every way that he could.
It was during this week that Mr Harrison,4 the Architect, came to Exeter about their Chapel, & mentioned to Sewell that wooden buildings to answer the purposes of Chapel, Hall, School, & Dormitory, might be had for a comparatively small sum. This inspired us with hope that the 1st of August might yet see us at work at Latin & Greek.
On Wednesday or Friday we went to Grimsley’s to enquire about Terra Cotta roofs; found him drawing a pretty design for one, and begged him to draw out an estimate for a room 80 feet long and 25 feet wide, which he subsequently did, & told us that a roof for such a purpose would come to £200. He said that he executed Mullioned windows at a cheap rate, & Sewell desired him to go to a Cloister window at Christ Church and see what that would cost, which he afterwards estimated at £5. We were referred to a house which he had erected for a Mr Staines, in Oxford, to which we went the next day. It was used as a factory & store for chicory & mustard, and found of great value as being fire-proof. Mr. Staines said that he found the roof, (which looked very well, with a very good series of pointed Arches,) only a trifle cheaper than timber would have been, though Mr. Grimsley said that there was no comparison between the respective prices. How hard is it to get at truth!
Sewell and I went over to Radley this week, to see where we would erect our temporary buildings. We allocated several rooms to their different purposes, already fancying that it was our own; admired the place once more, and returned.
1: Angela Burdett-Coutts, perhaps the most wealthy philanthropist in the country at this time. Entries in the Dictionary of National Biography; Wikipedia.
2: Richard Jelf, principal of King’s College, London. Entries in the Dictionary of National Biography; Wikipedia.
3: Christopher Wordsworth, the nephew of William Wordsworth, was the Canon of Westminster and would later become Bishop of Lincoln. Entries in the Dictionary of National Biography; Wikipedia.
4: Henry Harrison, architect. Entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.