Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Uppark House and 3 women Emma Hamilton, Mary Ann and Mrs Wells.

Posted in Uncategorized, Uppark House by sheelanagigcomedienne on August 19, 2012

We visited Uppark House and Garden. It has mostly been the home of the Fetherstonhaugh whose name is pronounced as written!

Uppark House and Garden – Visitor information – National Trust

The three interesting female connections with Uppark are Emma Hamilton, Mary Ann who married Sir Harry when he was 70 and she 21 and HG Wells’s mother was housekeeper here.

Sir Harry bought Emma Hart to Uppark when she was 15. He took/bought her from a high class London brothel.  She was a beautiful looking woman, bright and ready to learn which is how she became a very successful hostess – another pygmalion story. She went on to become Lady Hamilton and later mistress to Nelson with Hamiltons approval!

Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh, the Master of Uppark, Married the Dairy Maid

Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh, who took possession of Hassenbrook Hall at the age of 20, was no stranger to scandal. In his youth he had taken a young girl named Emma Lyon as his mistress and discarded her when she became pregnant. Emma is better known today as Lady Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson.During this year she lived under the “protection” of Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh at his mansion, Uppark in Sussex. She lived amongst a dissolute set, reputedly dancing naked on the table for them, before becoming pregnant again, this time by Sir Harry. In December of that year she was unceremoniously dumped by him. He didn’t marry till he was 70. He did create a scandal quite late in life. One day in 1825, while walking past the dairy on his estate, Uppark, the 70-year-old master of the house heard Mary Ann Bullock, an eighteen-year-old diary maid, singing. Details of the courtship are scarce, but what is known is that Sir Harry married Mary Ann and provided her with a governess to be educated in the manner of a lady. He then sent his bride, now twenty-one years of age, to Paris to complete her education. Lady Fethersonhaugh lived a quiet life in the country with her husband and her younger sister, Frances, who had moved in with them. She never had a fancy portrait painted of her nor entered polite society. Sir Harry died in 1846 without issue, which meant that his low-born wife inherited his estates. When she died, her sister Frances took over the management of Hassenbrook Hall and Uppark. The sisters had arranged that after Frances’s death the estates would pass on to the second son of a neighbor, and then to another friend and neighbor, the fourth Earl of Clanwilliam, who had agreed to assume the name of Fetherstonhaugh.

Read more at Suite101: Regency Scandals: Two Noblemen Who Married Outside of Their Class |

During some of the time in which the two sisters lived at Uppark, the Housekeeper was Mrs Wells, mother of H. G. Wells the famous author. H. G. Wells spent some time at Uppark and is said to have gained inspiration for his book ‘The Time Machine’ from the house which had become a time capsule under the two elderly sisters. He also wrote, “The place had a great effect on me; it retained a vitality that altogether overshadowed the insignificant ebbing trickle of upstairs life, the two elderly ladies in the parlour following their shrunken routines …

He didn’t think much of teatime there.I hated tea time … They sat about in black and shiny and flouncey clothing … eating great quantities of cake …I remember these women as immense. Tea lasted for nearly three quarters of an hour…and day after day the talk was exactly the same”  An Experiment in Autobiography / H. G. Wells

Sarah Neal who was a lady’s had married George Wells gardener at Uppark who later became an unsuccessful cricket coach and shopkeeper. She was low church and her husband a freethinker. She had been apprenticed as a dressmaker and in hairdressing. She later in 1880, aged 58, became housekeeper at Uppark after many years elsewhere. HG ungallantly said of his mother that she was ‘ the worst housekeeper as was ever thought of’ He admitted , however, that she definitely looked the part. They finally sacked her.

Uppark also has a doll’s house which was brought by Lady Sarah Fetherstonhaugh as part of her dowry. Both she and her husband Sir Matthew had filled the house with Grand Tour acquisitions.

The tunnel at Uppark from the house to the kitchens. Stained glass window in the servery.


2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Claire Somerville said, on May 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    I visited Uppark yesterday and wanted to know more about the people who lived there. This is so interesting, thank you so much.

    • sheelanagigcomedienne said, on May 11, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      It is always satisfying when somebody is interested in a topic that I wanted to write about, especially if it is about women who often get left out history narratives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: