Jelly Good Fun!

Jelly moulds. Perhaps not the most obvious of items to blog about, but nonetheless an interesting insight into the changing tastes and food fetishes of a country house kitchen…

Jelly has had quite a fluctuating history in terms of ingredients, methods and social trends. The use of gelatine can be traced back to Ancient Egyptian times and is even mentioned in Anglo-Saxon recipe books.[1] Its popularity as a dessert increased dramatically during the Georgian and Victorian periods, when jelly mould designs and recipes became much more adventurous.

Set of eleven assorted copper jelly moulds. Numbered 80, 109, 199, 261, 262, 422, 455, 459, 481 and 539 twice.

Set of eleven assorted copper jelly moulds. Numbered 80, 109, 199, 261, 262, 422, 455, 459, 481 and 539 twice.

Copper jelly mould, date unknown. Scotney Castle, Kent (National Trust)

Once only available to the upper classes, jellies and their moulds were a statement of wealth and affluence. It was originally savoury rather than the sweet dessert we know today, and was a complex dish to make. Before the invention of refrigerators, the concoction would have been poured into moulds, placed into a bowl of ice and then left to cool for a number of hours. Early nineteenth century moulds were often made of copper and were lined with tin to prevent the mixture from getting contaminated by copper oxidisation.[2] Their unique and creative appearance have led some food historians to describe these Victorian moulds as ‘one of the most iconic of items displayed in large historic house kitchens’.[3]

Tall circular tin-lined copper jelly mould in the shape of a castle.

Tall circular tin-lined copper jelly mould in the shape of a castle.

Copper and tin jelly mould, date unknown. Lanhydrock, Cornwall (National Trust)

In Victorian Britain, jelly moulds took on a new lease of life. The industrial revolution with its ability to mass-produce items increased the availability of factory made cheap gelatine. Combined with the growing use of huge pneumatic presses that could stamp out copper into detailed shapes, the manufacturing of jelly moulds was taken to a new level.[4] These mass-market moulds were cheap to make and were set in tin or Britannia metal to look like silver or pewter.[5] The Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal Palace helped to spread this popularity, as they served brightly coloured jellies in the refreshment rooms to visitors.[6] Such advertisement proved successful in broadening jelly’s reach in class and social spheres. This was further helped by cost-effective recipe books, such as the widely read Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, which gave advice on how to cook economically.

mrs beeton

Isabelle Beeton, Beeton’s Book of Household Management (London, 1861)

Mrs Beeton was a widely respected and well-known author, who wrote for married women on the subject of cooking and household management. Although she died at the young age of 28, she wrote over 2000 recipes which were very popular amongst the new servant-employing classes.[7] She has multiple references to jellies in her book. For example, she wrote recipes on how to make ‘Lemon Jelly’ and ‘Apple Jelly’, and made detailed notes on traditional farming methods, cultural uses of staple ingredients and natural history. Cooking and food preparation was therefore seen as encompassing a whole way of life. One food historian has even suggested that ‘cream in its natural form within a jelly mould is a nice symbolic representation of nature controlled, a favourite recurring theme… noted [in] designs of Victorian gardens’.[8]

Although the gardens at Scotney Castle go against cultivated gardens made popular by Capability Brown, it is interesting that something as simple as the presentation of jelly was seen as a symbolic reminder of nineteenth century principals. It could be argued that jelly was therefore the embodiment of a culinary, and perhaps, social ideal as it could be moulded and cultivated into a number of shapes. Food and in particular, the process of making a jelly dessert, could be seen as mankind’s attempt to control its environment and make sense of the world around them.

Four circular copper flat topped jelly moulds.

Four circular copper flat topped jelly moulds.

Metal jelly mould, date unknown, Kingston Lacey Estate, Dorset (National Trust)

Perhaps as a reaction to the sudden accessibility of jelly moulds to a variety of social classes, a more complex jelly mould arose called the Belgrave mould. This is a mould that has inner compartments that could be filled with different fillings such as juices, blancmange or rosewater.[9] This gave jelly a more sophisticated and polished appearance making it a much more refined dessert appreciated by the upper classes. In preparation for this more complex jelly pudding, the mould would have been dipped in warm water and shaken carefully to loosen the set mixture. The results are quite dramatic, especially when the outer layer of jelly is made clear and the inner fillings can be seen beneath.

A circular mould, scalloped fancy, made by McManus Belgrave. L11 registered mould.

A circular mould, scalloped fancy, made by McManus Belgrave. L11 registered mould.

Copper Belgrave mould, date unknown. Dunham Massey, Cheshire (National Trust)

Back in 1995, Petworth House (a National Trust property) had a ‘Jelly Festival’ in which one hundred jellies and their moulds, dating from the 1390s to the 1930s, were exhibited. Jelly moulds were a common item in the country house kitchen and the variety available is a testament to their popularity. Nowadays, jellies are associated with children’s parties – plonked on a plate and garnished with a dollop of ice-cream (or cream, if you are so inclined!). In many ways the ‘art’ of making a jelly has been lost with the introduction of powdered and instant mixtures. Not to diminish the concentrated cube of jelly that was created in 1932, and made this desert more accessible to households throughout the UK.  I have fond memories of making jelly at home with my siblings this way, as well as eating raw cubes before sport matches… What I am trying to say, is that the time and effort that went into making a jelly has largely changed and so it is difficult to see it as a complex and intricate pudding. The fact that it can be mixed in seconds and set in a couple of hours, to me, perhaps reduces its credibility as a ‘specially’ made pudding.

1 of a set of 15 copper jelly moulds; Circular castellated mould.

1 of a set of 15 copper jelly moulds; Circular castellated mould.

Copper jelly mould, date unknown. Castle Drogo, Devon (National Trust)

However, just by looking at the complex designs of these Victorian jelly moulds it is apparent that jellies once held centre stage on the dinner table. I would love to make a jelly in these moulds using a recipe form Mrs Beeton’s book and even more to try it! I found these jelly moulds incredibly interesting to research and they have provided a unique insight into Victorian tastes and values.


BBC Learning, ‘Mrs Beeton’ (1836 – 1865)’ (2014)

BBC News, ‘Jelly set for a hard time’ (29 March 2000)

Chatelains Antiques, ‘Jelly Moulds’,

Food History Jottings, ‘Macedoine and other eccentric jellies’ (30 June 2013)

Kay. E, Dining with the Georgians: A Delicious History (Gloucestershire, 2014)

Walker. H, Look and Feel: Studies in Texture, Appearance and incidental Characteristics of food (Devon, 1994)


[1] BBC News, ‘Jelly set for a hard time’ (29 March 2000)

[2] Chatelains Antiques, ‘Jelly Moulds’,

[3] E. Kay, Dining with the Georgians: A Delicious History (Gloucestershire, 2014) p.110

[4] Chatelains Antiques, ‘Jelly Moulds’,

[5] E. Kay, Dining with the Georgians: A Delicious History (Gloucestershire, 2014) p.110

[6] Food History Jottings, ‘Macedoine and other eccentric jellies’ (30 June 2013)

[7] E. Kay, Dining with the Georgians, p.110

[8] Ibid

[9] H. Walker, Look and Feel: Studies in Texture, Appearance and incidental Characteristics of food (Devon, 1994) p.113; BBC Learning, ‘Mrs Beeton (1836 – 1865)’ (2014)

[10] H. Walker, Look and Feel: Studies in Texture, Appearance and incidental Characteristics of food (Devon, 1994) p.113

[11] Food History Jottings, ‘Macedoine and Other Eccentric Jellies’ (30 June 2013)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Chinese ‘Dogs’ of Fo?

Objects that seem out of place or unusual in comparison to their surroundings have always intrigued me. I have visited a number of National Trust properties over the years and the anomalous ‘Dogs of Fo’ are a common sighting. Arranged over door entrances, displayed on top of fireplaces and positioned on tables, these Asiatic lion-dogs are hard to miss. Often dividing opinion over their peculiar appearance these artefacts are nevertheless an interesting addition to these historic houses.

One of a pair of large Chinese famille verte figures of Buddhist lions, seated originally with a brocaded ball, with yellow body and green head, the rectangular bases with green ice pattern grounds. This the male facing right. Kangxi, early 18th century.One of a pair of large Chinese famille verte figures of Buddhist lions, seated with a cub, with yellow body and green head, the rectangular bases with green ice pattern grounds. This the female, facing left. Kangxi early 18th century.

A pair of glazed ceramic ‘Dogs of Fo’ (c.1730) displayed at Scotney Castle, National Trust.

Originating from China, these guardian creations can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206BC – 211AD) where they were traditionally displayed in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, temples, governmental offices and homes of the wealthy.[1] They are usually presented in pairs, symbolising ‘yin’ and ‘yang’, with males positioned to the right of entrances and females to the left. It is easy to tell the gender of these dogs, as the male is nearly always depicted with a ball placed under its foot (symbolising the Earth and dominance) and the female with a cub (emphasising fertility and fruitfulness).

 Model - One of a pair of porcelain Dogs of Fo sitting on rectangular fretted pedestals and enamelled in turquoise, blue and dark purple. from the reign of K'ang Hsi.

Chinese porcelain ‘Dog of Fo’ (1662-1722) displayed at Saltram, Devon. National Trust.

There are many names for these lion-dogs, such as ‘Chinese guardian lions’, ‘Foo Dogs’ or ‘Imperial guardian lions’. Despite such variety, it has been difficult to find the genesis of the term ‘Dogs of Fo’. The word Fo comes from the Chinese term for ‘Buddha’ or ‘prosperity’. However, the Chinese refer to these objects as Shi, which simply translates as ‘lion’.[2] This begs the question, are these artefacts dogs or lions? And where did the term ‘Dogs of Fo’ come from?

 Model; Dog of Fo - One of two dogs of Fo on pedestal base. Blanc de chine. See also C.41.b. Not a pair.

Ceramic ‘Dog of Fo’ (unknown date) displayed at Dyrham, Gloucestershire. National Trust.

One explanation as to why Western cultures call these guardian creatures ‘dogs’ is that the Japanese, having been introduced to these items via a trade route through Korea, named these objects Komainu – ‘Korean dogs’.[3] Europeans may have combined both Chinese and Japanese understandings of these artefacts, creating the term ‘Dogs of Fo’. Alternatively, it may be that these lions were mistaken for representing a particular Chinese dog breed, such as a Shih Tzu, and the name remained. Past scholarship has often leant the quirky appearance of these lion-dogs to the idea that many in Pre-Modern China would not have actually seen a lion. Up until recently, it was believed that many artists would have relied on written descriptions of lions, hence the object’s often elaborate and creative design. However, with the formation of the Silk Road during the Han Dynasty connecting West and East Asia, Asiatic lions were gradually introduced to China.[4] This enabled a large proportion of the population to see these animals first hand, strengthening the argument that these guardian artefacts are indeed intended as lions.

It is also important to note that between 206BC and 211AD Buddhism was slowly being accepted as a recognised religion in China.[5] Lions were, and are, an important symbol for Buddhists as they were thought to be protectors of truth. In accordance with Buddhist legend, its founder Sakyamuni was born ‘roaring like a lion’, with one hand pointing to Heaven and the other towards the Earth.[6] The lion is therefore an extremely important symbol to those of the Buddhist faith, a physical guardian and defender of truth. Originally carved out of stone, these lions would flank the entrances to Buddhist temples, protecting its inhabitants as well as providing a good omen. This goes some way to explaining the ‘Fo’ part of the Western description, a reference to the growing Buddhist religion in China. So, an important question to ask is, why do these houses in Britain have them?

A pair of Dogs of Fo, guardian lion defenders of Buddhist temples. Guandong, China, 2nd quarter of C19. Male dog with front paw on ball. Female with front paw on cub.

Ceramic ‘Dog of Fo’ (1825-1850) displayed at Ickworth, Suffolk. National Trust.

Although these Chinese ‘Dogs of Fo’ were completely unfamiliar to Western traditions they became extremely popular in eighteenth century Europe. With the booming tea industry strengthening trade links between China and Britain, these often ceramic based dogs were brought over with great success. British consumers were both fascinated and mystified by these exotic objects that became more easily available in an increasingly globalised world.[7] The sheer variety and number of these objects that found themselves in these wOne of a pair of seated Dogs of Fo or Buddhist Lions, decorated in gilt on iron-red grounds. Rests paw on a puppy.ealthy British properties, is further indicative of their popularity.

Ceramic ‘Dog of Fo’ (1825-1850) displayed at Ickworth, Suffolk. National Trust.

Personally, I think these lion-dogs are fascinating, as I find it remarkable these peculiar objects were widely collected and sanctioned by the wealthy classes in Britain. The variety of these artefacts is extraordinary and is a testament to the creativity of the artists who designed them. Whether these objects should definitively be regarded as either lions or dogs, is perhaps a question that should be left unanswered. I like to think of them as a combination of the two; fierce lion-dogs who are keeping watch over Britain’s historic houses and their collections.

Becca Carter

Conservation Assistant, Scotney Castle


Bates. R, 29 Chinese Mysteries (Beijing, 2008) Chinese Guardian Lions, Collector’s Weekly, Johns. C, Dogs: History, Myth, Art (Hong Kong, 2008) Long. L, Chinese Stone Lions’ (October 10, 2002) Porter. D, The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 2010)

Footnotes [1] C. Johns, Dogs: History, Myth, Art (Hong Kong, 2008) p.72 [2] Chinese Guardian Lions, [3] R. Bates, 29 Chinese Mysteries (Beijing, 2008) p.62 [4] Collector’s Weekly [5] R. Bates, 29 Chinese Mysteries, p.56 [6] L. Long, Chinese Stone Lions’ (October 10, 2002) [7] D. Porter, The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 2010) p.4

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mini Beasts

Scotney Castle is home to a large array of wildlife: Green Woodpeckers, Newts and Dormice to name but a few of our flagship species. But there are plenty more that go unnoticed, unrecognised, and therefore unloved. Apart from by one gentleman, a certain John Davis, that has been become fascinated by mini beasts of Scotney Castle Estate.

Sloe Bug (Dolycoris baccarum)

Sloe Bug (Dolycoris baccarum)

All of these pictures were taken by John recently and I thought that they were too interesting not to share. Also, it is about time that these little creatures that are so important in the food chain of many bigger species, get the publicity that they deserve!


Dilophus febrilis - Fever-fly

Dilophus febrilis – Fever-fly

Adela reaumurella - Longhorn Micro Moth sp.

Adela reaumurella – Longhorn Micro Moth sp.

Rhagium mordax - Longhorn Beetle sp.

Rhagium mordax – Longhorn Beetle sp.

Rhagio scolopaceus - Snipe-fly_1

Rhagio scolopaceus – Snipe-fly

Syrphus vitripennis [female] - Hoverfly sp.

Syrphus vitripennis [female] – Hoverfly sp.

Tipula oleracea - Crane-fly sp.

Tipula oleracea – Crane-fly sp.

Propylea 14-punctata - 14-Spot Ladybird_1

Propylea 14-punctata – 14-Spot Ladybird

Pyrochroa serraticornis - Cardinal Beetle sp.

Pyrochroa serraticornis – Cardinal Beetle sp.

There is lots out there, one just has to look. Thanks for your hard work John. Mark, Ranger.

Posted in Estate & wildlife | Tagged | Leave a comment

The animals went in two by two, hurrah, hurrah!

The story of Noah’s ark is one that has long captured the imagination of adults and children alike for centuries. Stain glass windows, paintings, songs and films are just some of the ways in which the story has been communicated and expressed through the ages. And it is easy to see why the tale has been passed down with such success. It is a story containing adventure, destruction, hope and redemption – a terrifying account as to the dangers of indulging in sin:

And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. 16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth… 21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man.[1]

Although the story is full of warning and caution, the beautiful imagery of the animals ascending onto the ark in pairs is one that lingers in the mind. It is perhaps unsurprising that this iconic scene was made into a children’s toy, a religious plaything to pass on Christian values to the younger generation.

Noah's ark

Exhibited in a display case on the staircase at Scotney Castle, sits such an example.

Made in the 1830s, the Hussey’s Noah’s ark is of German origin. Most Noah’s ark toys were made in the Erzgebirge region of Germany during the nineteenth century and it was largely a cottage industry run by families.[2] Such toy arks can be traced back as early as the seventeenth century, but seem to have reached their peak in the Victorian era. This may be explained by the rapid commercialisation of the toy industry, with as many as eight hundred toymakers recorded in London by the 1850s.[3] Indeed, it is claimed that nearly all children in the late nineteenth century had one or two toys, with children from all classes forming an intense relationship with their toys, as they do today.[4]

However, Noah’s ark toys would have only been common in wealthy nurseries, due to the intricacies of the design. These toy arks were varied, but can generally be divided into three styles – flat bottom, rounded bottom and boat bottom. Early arks had detachable roofs, but as these were often misplaced, hinges were added to later models. The Hussey’s Noah’s ark has a boat bottom design, which was the most decorative and expensive.[5] It is complete with a sliding side section that opens up to a big interior for the animals to squeeze into. Although the ark is of notable size, there is not enough room for all of the animals in the Hussey collection to fit in, as there are just over one hundred pairs of animals! The Hussey’s ark set is therefore a fantastic example of an extensive and varied nineteenth century collection.

At the very least ark sets contained a boat, Noah and his wife, a few pairs of animals and a dove. The dove is extremely important to the story of Noah’s ark, as it represented God’s reconciliation with mankind after the flood:

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made…8 … he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground… 11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off, so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth…[6]


On the Hussey’s ark, the dove is painted on its roof with a bright green olive branch held in its beak [see photograph]. Placed in the middle of the roof, the dove is given central importance – a constant reminder of God’s salvation to those who have faith. Clear lessons were to be learnt from toy arks and their religious symbolism meant that they were often the only toys children were allowed to play with on Sundays.

It is also interesting that there are five figures recorded in the Hussey collection – Noah, his wife, two females and a male.

NoahWifemisc.boywife brother 2wife brother

          Noah              Noah’s Wife           Misc. Man           Misc. Woman           Misc. Woman

More extensive sets included Noah’s children and their wives and it is possible that the miscellaneous male figure may be one of Noah’s offspring – Ham, Shem or Japheth – with the other two toy brothers lost or misplaced long ago. With this in mind, the two females could be two of the brothers’ wives – Sedeqetelebab, Ne’elatama’uk or Adataneses – although this is just speculation.

What I find particularly fascinating is the diversity and variety of the animals in the collection. To name some examples there are spiders, anteaters, guinea pigs, grasshoppers, moles, polar bears, otters, camels, hares, stags, rats, monkeys and panthers. These animals were made by families in cottage industries who had limited or no knowledge of exotic creatures. As a consequence, there are some very unusual looking animals of varying colours and sizes!

Weird animalstrnage aBNIMAL 2

These two miscellaneous creatures are my personal favourites, as it shows the creativity and imagination of the individual who made them.

It is evident that this ark was much loved and played with during its glory days, as it was passed down from generation to generation. The ark has an unsigned and undated note:

‘Noah’s Ark pertaining to Mary (Hussey) and Winifred Herbert / And to their Mother (Sykes)’.

Christopher Hussey was the last to receive the ark and it is fantastic that the boat, and its vast collection, still resides at Scotney Castle. I like to think that the ark was of some significance to the family, a happy reminder of a childhood spent playing. The powerful connection between toy arks and children can be seen explored in popular literature of the time. Charles Dickens mentions a toy ark in his book Our Mutual Friend (1884) in which a sick child turned in a hospital bed ‘to fortify himself with a view of the ark and fell asleep’.[7] Noah’s ark toys were evidently well received by adults and children alike, and the variety available by the end of the nineteenth century suggests a social acceptance of such playthings for children.

I think it is great that the Hussey’s ark is on display for all to see at Scotney Castle. Although it is not possible to show more of the ark’s impressive collection of animals, it’s mere presence gives the house a light-hearted atmosphere. Despite the sombre Christian message the ark symbolises, it was a child’s plaything – a toy to be loved and played with. The intricate make up of the ark and the ingenuity of the toy animals, suggests that this was an ark designed to encourage adventurous stories. It is an interesting example of Victorian eccentricity and it is wonderful to think that the Hussey family were a part of it.

Conservation Assistant, Scotney Castle

Becca Carter


Fletcher. A, Growing Up in England: The Experience of Childhood, 1600-1914 (New Haven, 2008)

Frost. G, Victorian Childhoods (Westport, 2009)

(ed.) Johnson. R; Dickens. C, Our Mutual Friend (New York, 1884)

Genesis 7:15-22; Genesis 8:8-12, New King James Version

‘Noah’s Ark’,


[1] Genesis 7:15-22, New King James Version

[2] ‘Noah’s Ark’,

[3] A. Fletcher, Growing Up in England: The Experience of Childhood, 1600-1914 (New Haven, 2008) p.xvii

[4] G. Frost, Victorian Childhoods (Westport, 2009) pp. 76-77

[5] ‘Noah’s Ark’,

[6] Genesis 8:8-12, New King James Version

[7] (ed.) R. Johnson; C. Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (New York, 1884) p.135

Posted in House, castle & collections, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scotney to the Rescue!

This is my first ever post and as such I feel that I should introduce myself. I have recently joined the National Trust at Scotney Castle as a Conservation Assistant and it has been a fascinating first few weeks. In a short amount of time I have tried my hand at cleaning a variety of textiles, met a number of knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers and overcome my fear of leggy insects…

As one of the perks of the role, I get to blog once a month about an object that I find particularly interesting and which I feel should be given special attention. As I roamed the hallways of Scotney Castle in search of inspiration, I stumbled across a photograph of pupils from King’s School Rochester posing in front of the Victorian mansion. As an Old Roffensian of the school, I was immediately intrigued by the prospect of having a more personal association to Scotney Castle and was determined to explore the connection further.

 School photo

Taken in 1939, the photograph depicts boys from the lower years of the Junior school (1s, 2s and lower 3rds) who were evacuated to Scotney Castle at the onset of the Second World War. Although the school was later evacuated to Taunton, pupils boarded and were taught lessons in the house between September 1939 and the Spring of 1940.

A recent oral history provided by Edward Bates, an Old Roffensian, describes his experiences at Scotney Castle during the evacuation [See Recording of Edward Bates below]. Born in Chatham in 1930, Bates was nine years old when he was evacuated as a pupil from King’s School Rochester. He describes his initial reaction to the Victorian mansion as one of excitement and remarks that not much has changed to the interior of the House since his evacuation days, seventy years later [9:38]. Bates recalls that lessons were taught in the Hall and Library and that the Old Castle was essentially ‘theirs’ – that is until the ‘Kilndown’ kids came along! [4:30] Although Bates was one of two boys to be later housed in Lamberhurst, he initially shared a dormitory with five other boys in the Servant’s quarters. He fondly remembers dorm feasts brought up in paper bags in which they later dined ‘alfresco’ on the roof [12:45]… and it is easy to imagine the sense of adventure this would have been for the young boys.

Also pictured in the photograph are Edward Windsor and Rosamund Hussey who are stoically posed in the centre of the composition. It is clear that the family were proud to open their home to the school at a time of crisis and it is a testament to their generosity that they did so. Indeed, Bates recalls that a nephew of the Hussey’s taught him how to play chess and it is evident that his experience of the evacuation to Scotney Castle is one that he fondly remembers – “We had a lot of fun” [3:38]. It is curious to see that the school’s uniform has not changed much since the photograph was taken and the layout for school photographs is exactly the same!

school crestDisplayed below the photograph is a commemorative plaque depicting the school’s crest, which thanks the Hussey family for their hospitality. There is also a separate coloured sketch depicting the layout of the school on the opposite wall and it is fun to see the various buildings I was taught in at school whilst at work.


sketch of school

The school’s rather ominous motto ‘Disce aut discede’ (learn or leave) depicted beneath the school’s crest, however, sits at odds with the message of the plaque. Although the school had to leave Rochester, Scotney Castle provided the boys with a place to learn.

It gives me a warm feeling every time I walk past the photograph, as it reminds me of the huge generosity Edward Windsor and Rosamund had in opening their home to my old school. It has spurred me on to help preserve the family’s collection for future generations and perhaps give a little something back to the family who provided shelter to these boys at a time of great uncertainty.

Recording of Edward Bates

Rebecca Carter

Conservation Assistant

Posted in House, castle & collections | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SASSOON: The Mystery in Arthur Hussey’s Diaries

Sasson pic 2

When I had the privilege to be involved in the transcription of Arthur Hussey’s World War I Diaries during 2014, the name of “Sassoon” encountered on the Western Front immediately raised intrigue.

One of the idiosyncrasies of Arthur’s diary entries are that he refers to people only by their surname and almost never giving a first name or even an initial. Thus much research was required to confirm the correct identities of the many people mentioned. And so it was with Sassoon.

The first well-known person of that name to come to mind was, of course, Siegfried Sassoon, the writer and poet. After all, Siegfried had lived nearby at Matfield; his mother, Theresa Sassoon, was well known at Scotney, being a friend and acquaintance of Mrs Rosamond Hussey; and, he had had an illustrious career during the Great War. However, the very first attempts to confirm the identity of whom Arthur referred to as ‘Sassoon’ revealed that it could not have been Siegfried Sassoon.

The two references to Sassoon in the diary were from early November 1914. Firstly, on 7 November when Arthur went to Merville “in a big Rolls Royce belonging to Sassoon”; and, two days later, when he “. . . went off with Amery in Sassoon’s new car to Hinges”. The Sassoon name never appears again in any of the eleven diaries.

Rolls Royce 2

At this time, Siegfried Sassoon was still in England; having enlisted into the Sussex Yeomanry on 31 July 1914, just a few days before War was declared. Whilst undergoing training and being encamped near Canterbury, Kent, around 5 October he was asked to exercise the farrier-major’s horse. He attempted to jump a hedge but did not see the single strand of wire which tripped the horse causing it to somersault, unseat its rider, and roll over on him badly breaking his right arm. The break was slow to heal, later requiring the insertion of a silver plate. This was removed in January 1915 and was followed by a long period of recuperation back home at Matfield. The result was that Siegfried was not finally commissioned into the Army, as a 2nd Lieutenant, until 29 May 1915, and did not arrive onto the Western Front until November 1915 – a whole year after the references in Arthur’s diary.

Although descended from the immensely wealthy Jewish Sassoon family, Siegfried’s father Ezra had married out of the faith. His mother, Theresa Thornycroft, was Catholic and Ezra was immediately disinherited. Although the couple separated some years later, Theresa continued to bring up her three sons at Matfield, albeit in modest style. It is therefore highly unlikely that Siegfried would have been in a position to purchase a Rolls Royce.

So, if it wasn’t Siegfried Sassoon then who was it? I decided to reconstruct his family tree to find a suitable contender.

Little is known of Siegfried’s elder brother Michael, although he does not appear to have had any war service. His younger brother Hamo was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, but does not appear to have served on the Western Front, and died from wounds in Gallipoli on 1 November 1915. So it wasn’t them. However . . . .

. . . . enter Sir Philip Albert Gustave David Sassoon, MP., 3rd Baronet of Kensington Gore.

Philip, just two years younger, was a second cousin to Siegfried. They both shared the same great-grandfather, but not the same grand-mother. David Sassoon (1792-1864) was a member of a rich Jewish trading family, and was the treasurer of Baghdad, when it was part of Iraq, between 1817 and 1829. When the Turkish regime ushered the Jewish community out of Iraq he emigrated to Bombay (now Mumbai) via Persia, and with his sons built a trading and banking empire between Bombay, Hong Kong and Shanghai. They competed in the established triangular trade of Indian yarn and opium to China, Chinese goods to England, and Lancashire cotton goods to the Far East. David Sassoon used his fortune towards considerable philanthropy in many communities, a tradition that was continued through the family.

Philip was descended from David’s first marriage and Siegfried from the second.

Philip’s father, Sir Edward Albert Sassoon, was elected Liberal Unionist Party Member of Parliament for Hythe in March 1899 and had succeeded to the baronetcy of Kensington Gore in 1896. In 1887 he had married Aline de Rothschild, a member of the Paris banking family.

On the death of his father in 1912, Philip was also elected MP for Hythe, and with his considerable inherited fortune set about purchasing the Port Lympne Estate near Hythe, employing the architect Herbert Baker to design an extravagantly opulent new mansion. In 1923 Philip Tilden largely rebuilt another mansion for Sir Philip at Trent Park, Cockfosters, in a more reserved English style. Indeed, Christopher Hussey himself wrote an article in Country Life (17 January 1931 issue, pp. 66-7) most appreciative of the contrast in style.

Sir Philip built a reputation as one of the greatest hosts in Britain, sumptuously entertaining members of British high society with “a dream of another world – the white-coated footmen serving endless courses of rich but delicious food, the Duke of York coming in from golf… Winston Churchill arguing over the teacups with George Bernard Shaw, Lord Balfour dozing in an armchair, Rex Whistler absorbed in his painting… while Philip himself flitted from group to group, an alert, watchful, influential but unobtrusive stage director – all set against a background of mingled luxury, simplicity and informality, brilliantly contrived…” One frequent guest was Lawrence of Arabia.

It was also said he had a fleet of Rolls Royce cars . . . .

Sir Philip became an enthusiastic airman. At Port Lympne, Philip Tilden added a bachelor wing to accommodate young airmen from the local Romney Marsh flying field. He later became Secretary of State for Air, and was Honorary Commanding Officer of 601 (County of London) Squadron – known as ‘The Millionaire’s Squadron’, having six millionaire members. He died on 3 June 1939, aged 50, of complications from influenza.

However, it is his career during the Great War that interests us here.

Sir Philip was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the East Kent Yeomanry, but was soon to serve as private secretary to Field Marshal Haig throughout the war.

Following on from Arthur’s ‘Sassoon’ diary entries early in November 1914, a few weeks later on 1st December he describes being invited to the Headquarters of General Henry Rawlinson, Chateau Demont, Merville, for a visit by King George V at which President Poincarré of France unexpectedly turned up together with General Joffre. His Majesty was accompanied by Haig, and it is known that Sir Philip was also present, his social contacts and skills having proved useful. We cannot be certain that Arthur Hussey actually met Sir Philip Sassoon but it seems most likely that they would at least have brushed shoulders.

The famous meeting was some two years later the subject of a painting by the British artist Herbert Arnould Olivier. The painting “Merville, 1 December 1914, the Meeting of King George V and President Poincaré of France at the British Head Quarters at Merville, France on 1 December 1914”, now in the Government Art Collection.

Arthur mentions later being requested to provide a photo of him by the artist, and it is not too fanciful to suppose that there is a subaltern in the background that is Sir Philip Sassoon.

(c) Jasper Olivier; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

John Davies

House Volunteer

Posted in House, castle & collections | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tria Juncto in Uno


In the Attic, in a black metal container, the volunteers at Scotney Castle discovered what can only be described as ‘an exhibition in a box’. The box contained the First World War diaries of Brigadier General Arthur Hussey, who was third son of Edward Hussey III. Along with his diaries dating from 1914-1919, the box also contained letters, photos and medals, which have all been put on display in the exhibition ‘Arthur’s War’.

On Sunday 21th February 1915, Arthur Hussey wrote in his war diaries that he had “heard about my C.B.”, that he would receive the honour of becoming a Companion of The Order of the Bath. Later in the year, on Monday 12th July 1915 he went to Buckingham Palace and was invested with the C.B. by His Majesty”.

order of the bath

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath was established by George I on the 18th May 1725 as a military order. This was a revived version of an older custom dating back to medieval times when part of the ceremony of knighthood included a ritual bath, with the earliest official document of the bathing and creation of a knight dating back to 1128. The revived order consisted of the Sovereign, a Great Master and 36 Knights Companions. In 1815 the Order was then enlarged to include three classes of knights: the Knights Grand Cross, Knights Commander and Companions. Further changes included the addition of a civil section of Knights Commander and Companions in 1847 as well women being admitted to the Order in 1971.

The Order of Bath is mainly awarded to officers in the Armed Services, with numbers being increased in times of war or for recognition of services in military events. Brigadier General Arthur Hussey was awarded the position of Companion, which is for ranked officers who have been mentioned in despatches for distinction in a command position in a combat situation.

The military badge consists of a gold Maltese Cross, enamelled in white. Each of the eight points is decorated with a small gold ball, with a figure of a lion in between each arm of the cross. In the centre of the cross are three crowns which refers to the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland which is again emphasised on the obverse with the representation of a rose, a thistle and a shamrock issuing from a sceptre. The crowns and the symbols of these three countries are also highlighted in the motto written around the red circular ring: Tria Juncta in Uno-‘Three joined in One’.

As well as having Arthur’s Order of the Bath on display in the exhibition, we also have his miniature medals. Arthur Hussey was a seasoned soldier entering the First World War at the age of 51, his miniatures therefore show his previous military awards from various countries as well as those received for his efforts in the First World War.

From left to right we have: The Order of Bath; Order of St Michael and St George; South Africa Campaign Medal 1902; 1914 Star; British War Medal 1914-1920; Allied Victory Medal 1914-1919; Coronation Medal King George V 1911; Order of Prince Danilo I (Montenegro); and the Order of St Maurice and St Lazerus (Italy).

minatures medal

The exhibition Arthur’s War which shows a very personal viewpoint of one man’s experience of the First World War is running until the 22nd March 2015, and with more letters having only recently been discovered Brigadier General Arthur Hussey is sure to make reappearance at Scotney Castle. The exhibition like the motto on the medal Tria Juncto in Uno ‘Three joined in One’ has three perspectives to offer: the everyday factual diary of events from Arthur’s tour of duty; the personal letters written to his sister Gertrude and finally what is revealed about Arthur Hussey as a person- a distinguished soldier and loving brother.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment