Page Six

Miss Harriett Shute, the second eldest daughter, married Hood Hanway Christian, a Royal Naval Officer in 1808, when she was nineteen years of age. Although there is no record of the wedding reception having taken place at Fernhill, I certainly hope that it did, for I can well imagine the splendid scene on such an occasion, with the guests thronging the house and gardens in costumes rivalling the flowers themselves in their colourful display. Many cordial toasts must have been drunk to the happy pair, and from a romantic point of view it could have been the Island's 'Wedding of the Year', for the bridegroom was, no doubt, an extremely gallant officer and his bride an exceedingly charming young lady!

Soon after Thomas Deane Shute came of age in 1813, he moved to Burton House, Christchurch, in the County of Southampton, and sold Fernhill to John Hambrough, Esq. in 1814. He became Hants. J.P. and D.L. High Sheriff in 1821, and married a Miss Charlotte Cameron, by whom he had eleven children. His seat was Bramshaw Hill in the New Forest, and his eldest son, Charles Cameron Shute, Esq. succeeded him there.

Mrs. Shute moved away from the Island, and Jane Helena, Isabella, Matilda, Emily and Anne Elizabeth went with her. It is pleasing to note that three of the daughters returned later; Jane Helena to marry the Revd. Justly Hill of Shanklin, and Anne Elizabeth to marry Dennis Hollingsworth, Esq. of Kite Hill. Matilda, who remained unmarried, lived in Sidney Cottage at Wootton, and there is a very touching memorial to her in St. Edmund's Church, Wootton, which reads:-
"In memory to Matilda, daughter of the late Samuel Shute, Esq. of Fernhill, and Ann his wife. She died at Paris, 2nd. of January, 1858 beloved, esteemed and lamented. Her remains are deposited by the side of her mother and her sister Emily in a vault at Trinity Church, Tunbridge Wells. This tablet is erected by those to whom she was most justly dear and who will ever cherish her memory with fondest affection."

I like to think that one of the reasons for Jane Helena, Matilda and Anne Elizabeth coming back to the Island was because of their very happy memories of Fernhill, for in those days it must have been one of the most beautiful homes one could wish for.

John Hambrough Esq., and his family

In 1814, John Hambrough, Esq. of Pipewell Hall, Northamptonshire, purchased Fernhill from Thomas Deane Shute, and re—sold it in 1819 to Samuel Sanders, Esq. Although he is mentioned as living there by the 19th century historians in their references to Fernhill at that time, I can find no record of his life in this mansion, with the exception of some letters in the Shute family's box of documents, stating his intention to buy the house and furniture; complete an unfinished room and build a wall around the garden.

Unfinished Room

I think this must be the one the historians refer to as the "chancel" when likening Fernhill to a church. One of them describes it as being "annexed to the other end, and of being an inferior height and breadth to the rest of the building". This "annexe" is not shown on the copy engraving dated 1806 on the front page of this booklet, although it is visible on the copy engraving used to illustrate Fernhill soon after the Sanders family bought it from John Hambrough. In an advertisement of sale dated 1862, the measurements of this room were given as 36" X 14"6".

Wall around garden

The crumbling remains of this wall are still in evidence down the lane from Fernhill where some greenhouses and a bungalow have now been built. It is beautifully constructed of red brick and really does "go around the garden", for it is circular in shape. I have been told that fruit bushes and trees were trained along this wall bearing nectarines, peaches and plums, - a most mouthwatering prospect!

According to Burke's "Landed Gentry", 1858, John Hambrough was born in 1793. After he had sold Fernhill he married Sophia Townsend, daughter of Gore Townsend, Esq. of Honington Hall, Co. Warwick. They had three sons, Albert John, born at Muddeford; Oscar William and Windsor Edmund born at Farringford Hill. It is therefore safe to assume that Muddeford and Farringford Hill were John Hambrough's subsequent places of residence after leaving Fernhill.

In about 1820, he acquired from the Hill family much of the land in Ventnor and Bonchurch, which he sold off in lots for building purposes. He was, however, a great benefactor to the town of Ventnor, and was the founder of St. Catherine's Church, the parsonage and school; although he was best remembered on the Island for having built Steephill Castle, a beautiful castellated mansion whose gothic tower was almost as great a landmark as that of Fernhill.

Like Fernhill, Steephill Castle had the most extensive grounds, which have been described as containing fig trees of gigantic size, an orangery, exotic plants blooming vigorously in the open air, lawns, bowers, fountains and luxurious foliage, in fact, in the words of a subsequent occupant, Mr. J. Morgan Richards, - ". Almost Fairyland"!

Unhappily, John Hambrough lost his sight before the Castle was finished in 1835, and "never saw the final form of beauty which he had created".

He left Ventnor in 1851, and his eldest son, Albert John Hambrough, who was held in nearly as great esteem as his father, occupied Steephill Castle until his sudden death in June, 1861 John Hambrough died in London on the 4th February, 1863, and an obituary in the "Isle of Wight Observer" of that time, states that "he found Ventnor a wilderness and left it a cultivated garden". Also that his hospitality was of "a genial English kind", and "this true specimen of the old English gentleman has left his footprints in the sands of time". He was buried in St. Catherine's Church, Ventnor, a fitting resting place for its generous founder.

As John Hambrough's eldest son, Albert John, had died, he was succeeded by his grandson, Dudley Albert Hambrough, who was in 1890 involved in what has been described as the most complex and puzzling murder trial of the 19th century. The case was brought against his son's tutor and concerned the shooting of his son either by accident or by deliberate murder.* As Windsor-Dudley Cecil Hambrough's untimely death, together with the publicity it aroused, must have dealt a cruel blow to the members of this proud family, I hope I may be forgiven for mentioning the affair.

I hope to include an account of this trial in a more detailed history of Fernhill which I intend compiling.

Samuel Sanders, Esq. and family

Samuel Sanders bought Fernhill from John Hambrough, Esq. in 1819, and although he and his family lived there until 1862, a span of 44 years, very little is recorded about them.

This gentleman was born in Lambeth, Surrey, and married a Miss Elizabeth Wright. He probably lived in London for a considerable number of years for, according to the census of 1841 and of 1851, the birthplace of his eldest daughters, Eliza, Henrietta, Adelaide and Julia, was St. Margaret's, Westminster. After coming to Fernhill, Sophia, Marianne, Francis Samuel and Arthur were born, although sadly Francis died within a year of his birth.

So once again, Fernhill was the home of a large family, with children's laughter echoing across the fields and plantations. What memories this house was beginning to hold!

On the next page is a copy of a beautiful engraving by T. Barber, drawn whilst Fernhill was in the possession of the Sanders family. This depicts the mansion with farmworkers gathering in the hay, and three little girls, with perhaps their governess, dancing in a ring. Two figures which I like to think are Yrs. Sanders and Arthur, the son and heir, stroll under the trees in the distance.
Webmasters Note: This picture is shown in the Picture Gallery.

Henrietta Sanders married Alleyne Cox Yard, Esq. of Bucklands, Isle of Wight, and her sister Sophia, married Cuthbert A. Baines.

In the census of 1851 Samuel Sanders described himself as a landed proprietor and county magistrate. With him at Fernhill were his wife, and his unmarried daughters, Eliza, Adelaide, Julia and Marianne, whose ages ranged from 30 to 42. A friend remarked rather unkindly I thought, that this was reminiscent of the Barrette of Wimpole Street, but I prefer to think that instead of Samuel Sanders being a stern and forbidding father, these ladies were reluctant to marry anyone who could not offer them a home as beautiful as Fernhill, - a very difficult task indeed'.

Mrs. Sanders died on the 14th June, 1858, and her husband on the 10th March, 1859, in his 81st year. They are buried in St. Edmund's churchyard at Wootton, and although their memorial stone is still standing it is barely decipherable. Their grave is adjacent to the remains of a huge old tree trunk, and I wonder whether this is the one described by a 19th century historian as being the largest elm on the Island; he did mention it was in Wootton churchyard.

In 1862, Arthur Sanders sold Fernhill to Joseph James Galt, Esq. I can find no record of where the family lived after this, but whilst looking through the pages of the Isle of Wight Observer written in the early 1860's, I came across an obituary concerning Julia Sanders, daughter of the late Samuel Sanders, Esq. of Fernhill, who had died at an address in Hyde Park, London. Perhaps, therefore, the Sanders family returned to London.

Joseph James Galt, Esq. and his family

Joseph James Galt acquired Fernhill from Arthur Sanders, Esq. in July, 1862. He and his family occupied it for 20 years, but as with the Sanders family, very little information is available.

There is, however, an obituary concerning J.J. Galt in the Isle of Wight Observer dated 22nd. March, 1881, which sheds some light on him and his family. It is as follows :-
"On Monday last, the remains of one well known in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, were borne to their last resting place in the parish church of Arreton. We refer to Mr. Joseph James Galt of Fernhill Park, Wootton, who has succumbed after a long illness.