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Busbridge Hall, Godalming, 1844
Busbridge Hall, the seat of F. B. S. Wilder, Esqr.
by whom this Plate was presented.

By T. Allom. Eng[raved] for Brayley's History of Surrey by T. A. Pryor
Dorking : Published by & for R. B. Ede.


There is a significant amount of information in Brayley and Britton's book, where this steel engraving was published:
"... about one mile from Godalming, is Busbridge, the property and sweetly-situated seat of Francis Boyle Shannon Wilder, esq. - This estate, anciently called Bushbridge, gave name to a family, one of whom, James de Bushbridge, towards the close of the reign of Henry the Eighth, sold it to John Eliot, of Godalming; whose son, Laurence Eliot, appears to have settled here. That gentleman accompanied Sir Francis Drake in his memorable circumnavigation of the globe, whence he returned to England in November, 1580. He died on November 7th, 1582, seised of this property, which devolved on Laurence, his eldest son ; whose decease occurred in September, 1619"[1]. ...

" ... Mrs. Bever, in 1775, sold Busbridge to Sir Robert Barker, knt., a military officer, who had served in the East Indies, and was commandant of the artillery at the capture of Manilla, in October, 1762. He was created a baronet in March, 1781, but continued to reside here until his decease in September, 1789. His property became the subject of a suit in Chancery ; and in December, 1791, this estate was sold under a decree of that court, to Nathaniel Webb, esq. ; who re-sold it to Henry Hare Townsend, esq., (a son of the celebrated Alderman Townsend), by whom, in 1823, it was transferred, by sale, to Robert Monro, esq. ; and again, by him, in 1837, to its present owner"[1].

"Busbridge-Hall is seated in a finely-wooded dell at the head of a broad expanse of water, apparently terminated by a long rustic bridge of wood, under which its surplus waters drain off into the lower ponds. Originally built by Sir William Eliot, who was a Justice of the Peace for Surrey in the time of the Commonwealth, this mansion was enlarged by Sir Robert Barker; and great improvements, both in the house and grounds, have been made by the present proprietor. The house is a handsome building, of uniform elevation, and stuccoed in imitation of stone"[1].

" ... The pleasure grounds and park include a great variety of beautiful scenery, diversified by surrounding hills, sheets of water, noble trees, and flourishing plantations. The beech, fir, and chestnut trees, are remarkably fine. A neat entrance-lodge to the grounds, in the Swiss style, has been recently built at the hamlet of Crownpits"[1].

In 1815 Busbridge Hall was offered for sale at the Auction Mart in London:- "the truly elegant and Modem Mansion of BUSBRIDGE HALL MANOR, gardens, pleasure-grounds, together with the valuable property of Hambledon, and the manor of Courts Leet and Court Baron, Heriots, Quit-rents, and other immunities, divided into nine very desirable and improvable Farms, lett to most respectable tenants, exclusive of the Farms, and Coppices, on hand, containing altogether, 1662 statute acres. The Mansion-house is of a modern structure, built with stone; the principal rooms on the ground floor, are well proportioned eating, drawing and boudoir, billiard, and summer eating rooms, most complete and well-arranged offices. On the first floor, a noble proportioned library and music room, five large, airy bed-chambers, and three dressing-rooms, a handsome bed-chamber in the attics, and three bachelors' rooms, numerous servants apartments at the back of the house, a spacious paved yard in which are enclosed the carriage horses, stables, kennel, agricultural buildings, and all other domestic out-offices; a detached capital kitchen garden, abundantly cropped, with extensive walls clothed with the choicest fruit trees; a delightful conservatory, tea room, aviary, temples, rustic dairy, bathing-house, and fishing room, grottos, hermit's cell, and wilderness. The beauty of the pleasure-grounds are almost unparalleledly varied and extensive, both for rides and walks, adorned by the most stately timber, shrubs and exotics; a magnificent piece of water, bridges and waterfalls[2]. ..."

A rather amusing fishy tale was also recounted by Brayley and Britton. "In August, 1837, a Pike was shot in one of the ponds at Busbridge, which had been partly choked by its own voracious attempt to swallow a carp of seven lbs. in weight, and which was in part digested. Its length when taken out of the water, was four feet and a half, and its girth two feet one inch; with the carp, it weighed thirty-seven and a half lbs. When stuffed, it shrunk in length, but still measures three feet nine inches to the fork of the tail, in the glass case in which it is kept at Busbridge hall"[1]. Such things were popular in Victorian Britain.


Although it does not say so, these arms must be those
of the Wilder family.


Francis Boyle Shannon Wilder was born in Sarum, Berkshire and christened there on 15 Dec 1785; he was the son of Joan and Henry Wilder. In 1806 he petitioned the directors of the United East India Company to become a Writer on the Bengal Establishment in 1806; such things were long drawn out affairs but he was appointed for Madras in Feb-Apr 1807. He married Augusta Cornwall of Durham, who was born in 1813, at St. George's Hanover Square on 29 Aug 1834. He died in London, aged 69, on 9 February 1849. Because of his service in India, his Will was proved there by his widow in 1856. Augusta was by then then living at Busbridge Lodge, Ryde, on the Isle of Wight[3].

Bennett Gosling had moved into Busbridge Hall by 1850 - see next page for more info.


Steel engraving of Busbridge Hall published by Virtue & Co Ltd. in "A Topographical History of Surrey" by Edward Wedlake Brayley & John Britton (1844).
Engraving in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Quotations from "A Topographical History of Surrey", Edward Wedlake Brayley & John Britton (1844). The Geological Section by Gideon Mantell, L.L. D. F.R.S., etc. The Illustrative Department under the superintendence of Thomas Allom, M. I. B. A. Published Dorking by Robert Best Ede and London by David Bogue, Fleet Street.

[2] "Sussex Advertiser", 1 May 1815. Notice of Sale. "To be SOLD by Auction, by Mr. WELLER" ... this was presumably when Henry Hare Townsend bought the property.

[3] British India Office documents, including Wills and Administrations. These are available on FindMyPast.




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