This is Julia Seymour Bathurst, who founded Valley End School and St. Saviour’s church.
Portrait of the Honorable Mrs. Seymour Bathurst; by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
Did you expect her to look so glamorous?
Sir Thomas Lawrence, one of the foremost portrait painters of the day, painted this in 1828, probably to celebrate her betrothal.
Julia had been born Julia Hankey in 1798. The Hankeys were bankers and merchants, who owned plantations and slaves in the West Indies. Her father, John Peter Hankey, was an Alderman in the City of London. He died in 1807.
Julia would have been the eldest child, aged 9. After their father’s death she and her three brothers lived with their mother, their two unmarried aunts, and their uncle, the Lord Chief Baron Alexander of the Exchequer, in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
Julia married into the aristocratic Bathurst family. Unlike the Hankeys, they were statesmen and politicians.
Her husband Thomas Seymour Bathurst, the third son of the third Earl Bathurst, had a military career, and had fought at Waterloo. After the war he continued with his family’s traditions, and became an MP.
Seymour Thomas Bathurst; by Isaac Ware Slater, after Joseph Slater. 1826.
They married in 1829. They had four children, of whom two survived, Allen Alexander and Mary Selina. Thomas himself died in 1834, aged 41.
The Children of Col. The Hon.Seymour Bathurst; by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.
Julia was now the wealthy widowed sister in law of Earl Bathurst, and a very grand lady. She attended many of the presentations to Queen Victoria that were held in Her Majesty’s Drawing Room and other exclusive events.
Drawing Room at St James’s: The Presentation. (Queen Victoria); by John Henry Robinson, published by Peter Jackson, after Alfred Edward Chalon. mid 19th century.
In this welter of high society functions it comes as a surprise to find Julia not only a keen onlooker at the Annual Root Show in Chobham, but carrying off the third prize for her swedes in 1859.
We don’t know when she’d taken residence in Surrey, but she moved to Hyams Lodge, (later the site of the Convent, and then B.O.C.) Once her family had settled they became involved in events in Chobham. They were very committed to local charity.
In 1859, Julia and her daughter Mary provided a school and schoolmistress for the poor children of Valley End.
The Bathursts were deeply involved. Julia seems to have given the money. Her son, Allen Alexander, was on the committee for the school from the time it opened. His unmarried sister Mary spent a great deal of her time at the school. She frequently visited, and would give lessons.
They continued to support the poor in their district. There was a scattering of small cottages on the common beyond Valley End, and the nearby large houses, such as Chobham Place, employed a large number of staff. It was a weary walk to the parish church of St. Lawrence.
So in 1867, Julia built a church, St. Saviour’s, and a parsonage, next to Valley End school.
Life was not always easy for Julia; in January 1871 an infant child of her son Allen and his wife Meriel was buried at St. Saviour’s. In the following year Meriel herself was buried next to her baby. She was 33, and left four children.
Allen and Meriel Bathurst and their children.
In 1878 his uncle the fifth Earl died. He left no children, and so Allen became the sixth Earl Bathurst. But his mother did not live to see this.
Julia died on the 22nd February 1877. She is buried in an unobtrusive grave to the east of the church and school that she built. For many years the children of Valley End School would decorate her grave with flowers on her birthday, to commemorate the woman who had done so much for Valley End.
Portrait of the Honorable Mrs. Seymour Bathurst; by Sir Thomas Lawrence – from the Dallas Museum of Art.
Portrait of Thomas Seymour Bathurst – from the National Portrait Gallery.
Portrait of Queen Victoria – from the National Portrait Gallery.
The Children of the Hon. Col. Seymour Bathurst; by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer. Wikigallery.
Allen and Meriel Bathurst and their children – from Wikimedia Commons.