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Charlotte Powell's story (Part 3) Park House, London and estate management from Quex

In my last two blogs I have mentioned the important role of Charlotte, John Powell Powell`s wife, who was often left with corresponding to Charles Deare, their London solicitor, about their various estate issues.

Park House was normally the Powell family`s London residence, a mansion with pleasure grounds in Fulham, and we have extensive documents regarding the rooms and dimensions as well as the outdoor space detailed in the lease arrangements, for in 1829 it was to be let.

Charlotte wrote to her solicitor, Charles Deare, on the 18th October,1829, thanking him for his gift of `Tea`, and for insuring the house, which was to be let “for the immediate Residence of Noblemen.” Meanwhile at Quex  Charlotte was busy with her tenant farmers, who were occupied with economic problems of their own, resulting in the `Swing Riots in 1830, and the machine –breaking of the Luddites, who were adamant that machines were causing unemployment.

The seriousness of this situation was such that she wrote to Charles on November 30th, 1830 and December 1st. She noted “The Farmers have given notice to the Chapter at Canterbury Cathedral that they cannot pay all their Tythes this Christmas...” This she sees as the consequence of the riots, saying “We shall be obliged to make heavy sacrifices I fear.”

Some of these sacrifices included the later sale of London land to a Mr. Dancer, of some ` Garden Ground`, at £6.6s per acre. She described it as “to me most welcome”. She also sanctions “a cart entrance into Muddy Lane and also a Doorway for his people, “as a safeguard for us”. Dancer`s land bordered Park House, so this was a practical solution as well as economic.

Charlotte noted that she would have preferred to be in London, in town, but was much occupied at Quex. She says that “next week we kill a bullock and on Christmas Eve give all our workmen and labourers in proportion to their families, also to old widows...”She also invited “ Richmond and his brother Officers to Dine here on Christmas Day ...”. In moonlight they could see any illegal fires.

Whilst her husband, John Powell Powell was in Southampton, in 1832 Charlotte was required to deal with some difficult tenants. At Haine Farm she noted that there was barely enough “to pay a Year`s Rent”. As an astute businesswoman she makes a quick decision, “I have without consulting Powell decidedly refused an offer of `Reduced Rent”. Her tenant`s skills are dismissed as `poor man. He is neither active or fit for a farmer, never prospering even in a litter of pigs`. She tells us she has 20 applicants to replace him.

Charlotte was confident of her husband`s support, especially in managing affairs on their estates both at Quex and in London, and throughout this time they were well served by the close relationship with their London solicitor, Charles Deare, with whom they corresponded with matters we would not share with his counterparts today.

Eileen Mount

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