LORD FARNBOROUGH


  

There have been two eminent people who have taken the title Lord Farnborough upon being elevated to the Peerage.  The second (later) one did not have a local connection but took his title from Farnborough in Hampshire, see the panel to the right.

However the first Baron Farnborough, Charles Long, did have a strong local connection, although he was not born locally and did not actually live in Farnborough Village.  He had a distinguished political career, and was raised to the peerage in 1826. A full account of his life may be found on Wikipedia: Charles_Long,_1st_Baron_Farnborough

In 1793 Long married Amelia Hume, eldest daughter of the prominent art collector Sir Abraham Hume.  A watercolourist and garden designer, she completed her formal classical education with a visit to Italy, prior to her marriage. They purchased Bromley Hill, between the towns of Bromley and Beckenham, in 1801 and it was she who designed the celebrated Italianate grounds, which subsequently became the main source for her sketches.

He became Baron Farnborough in 1826, and died in 1838 about one year after Amelia. The estate continued intact until 1881, when the bulk of the land belonging to the house was sold for new housing.  The house itself survives, much modified, as the Bromley Court Hotel. The hotel website references the period during which the house was owned by Charles Long, see.Bromley Court Hotel

 
The Bromley Court Hotel, formerly Bromley Hill, the residence of Charles Long  

As he died without issue the title became extinct upon his death and was re-confered later in the century.  His title was therefore later clarified to be First Baron Farnborough; First Creation.


Lord and Lady Farnborough -
One of Bromley’s most colourful couples

Charles and Amelia Long deserve their place in the local history of Bromley. Amelia (1762-1837) ranks high in her own right, gaining an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography as an artist and landscape gardener. Charles Long (1761-1838) was a politician, a Tory, with a special allegiance to William Pitt the Younger; he held office for most of his career, but is remembered chiefly for his interest in the arts.

Childless, their home at Bromley Hill was perhaps their greatest creation, for they trans­formed a suburban villa, set in rough woodland, with their fine art collection and their skill as landscape gardeners. The woodland walks and water gardens, the artfully revealed vistas of distant London made Bromley Hill a famous beauty-spot.

With Amelia’s help Charles gained high place in the art world; advising the royal family on the decoration of palaces; becoming a trustee both of the British Museum and the National Gallery, and making the acquaintance of practising artists. One such was George Cumberland, son of a scrivener, and author of books on picturesque land­scapes, and best known for his friendship with William Blake. In 1811 Cumberland wrote his descriptive account of Bromley Hill, as he had earlier done for Thomas Johnes, in his “Attempt to describe Hafod in Cardiganshire” . The account of Bromley Hill may have been written to gain favour for his sons, for Long was then Postmaster General; certainly Cumberland, the friend of radicals like Horne Tooke, did not share all Long’s political views, which seem to have been those of a strict Tory. Nor did another artistic friend, Richard Payne Knight, of Downton in Hereford­shire, a Whig, and cousin of Thomas Johnes who, with his friend Sir Uvedale Price, dominated artistic life in Wales at the beginning of the 19th century. Knight’s friendship may explain the landscaping at Bromley Hill.

The Longs, who married in 1793, were only moderately wealthy, and the new home at Bromley Hill was chosen for its modest size and near distance to Pitt’s home, Holwood in Keston. Other neighbours were the Scotts, local dignitaries who had come to own Sundridge Park. Sir Claude Scott had just pulled down the old mansion and built and landscaped his new home on the advice of Wyatt, Nash and Humphrey Repton. As Repton in particular was a foe of Payne Knight’s, the Longs may have decided to do their own landscaping, Amelia gaining a reputation thereby almost as great as the distinguished Repton’s.And indeed, their reputation came to centre increasingly on Bromley. In 1800 it was still the tiny hamlet, dominated by the Bishops of Rochester, that the Pitt family had known for the previous fifty years.

Both Prime Ministers lived in the region, ideally placed for transport: only ten miles from London and on the main road to Tonbridge and Hastings. The population was small, only 2,700 in 1800, mostly engaged in agriculture and trade. The climate and the schools were excellent, and the local surgeon, Dr. James Scott, enjoyed a European reputation. There was a good Chalybeate spring, and the Bishops had sought to make Bromley a retirement home for the widows of Anglican clergy. There was a growing local gentry, especially the Wells shipbuilding family and the Norman family (property and banking).

Charles was created Baron Farnborough in 1826 and effectively retired from political life, possibly having fallen out with George Canning. He had spoken rarely in Parliament, and with the rise after 1823 of a new anti-slavery movement the Tories were certainly better off with­out the known pro-slavery views of the Long family expressed forcibly by Charles’ nephew, Charles Edward Long.  New leaders and new generations were rising in Bromley too. Thus the young Grotes and Normans and Camerons were now openly radical and Benthamite, supporting a new “godless” University of London, or, in the case of the Camerons, rehabilitating an ancestor executed after the ’45. George Grote Senior had been a Huguenot banker of Threadneedle Street; his sons, born and bred in Bromley, were Benthamite philosophers, though still keeping a love of the classics.

Charles Cameron, Governor of the Bahamas, had retired to Bromley where his son, Charles Hay, was born in 1795. The latter became a judge in India and supporter of Benthamite views on education.

Above all, the new power in Bromley by the 1820s was the Norman family. Small local gentry, perhaps of Quaker origin, they had begun to acquire large holdings on Brom­ley Common with the coming of enclosures. They con­tinued the high cultural traditions of the past, but theirs was more muscular Christianity, being ardent cricketers and active in social welfare locally. George Ward Norman (1793-1882) followed local tradition as a banker, possibly the most influential to have lived at Bromley, being a Director of the Bank of England from 1821 to 1872. A friend of young George Grote, he had liberal views, though he seems not to have championed the abolition of Negro slavery. But as a free trader, an opponent of excessive taxation and an advocate of decimal coinage, his influence was real. How far change, especially in Benthamite views, impinged on the Longs of Bromley Hill is not clear.
 
Charles died in 1838 almost exactly a year to the day of his wife’s death. To the end they were a devoted couple, and in 1830 he had written: “Never to thwart a woman’s will/Succeeds so well at Bromley Hill” , and it is fitting to end on this tranquil domestic note. They were buried fittingly at Amelia’s home in Hertfordshire, some of their treasures going to the National Gallery, others, including rare Jamaican items, to join the Egerton Manuscripts bequest in the British Museum library.

Despite building developments, their Bromley Hill still stood in 1860 and one visitor, Samuel Loyd Jones, Lord Overstone, a banker friend of G.W. Norman, remarked that “the place is indeed a marvellous exhibition of what may be done by invention and taste in making a great deal out of little means” .

Dr. Clare Taylor, 1987

Reproduced by kind permission of the Bromley Borough Local History Society


An Historical Account

This account was first published in 1883/4, republished 100 years later in 1984.

Bromley Hill, the name given to a mansion formerly belonging to the late Lord Farnborough and latterly the seat of Colonel Long, is situated at a short distance from the town, on the London road. The park, about 100 acres in extent is finely wooded, and the ornamental ground surrounding the house, which is party secluded by trees, are tastefully arranged. A broad terrace extends along the front of the mansion, and is connected by a long walk through the shrubbery with the gardens in the valley. In the grounds are springs and rivulets, bridged by rustic stone-work and stepping-stones, artistic summer-houses and pagodas, and velvety lawns adorned with the rarest of shrubs, and with miniature lakes. Bromley Hill has lately been sold, and the grounds are about to be cut up, and utilised for building purposes.

Lord Farnborough – better known, perhaps, by his former name of Sir Charles Long – was well known in the world of art, and one of the most accomplished and popular noblemen of his time. A native of Carshalton he was born in 1761, and he was for many years in Parliament, as member successively for Rye, Midhurst, Wendover, and Haslemere. Under Mr Pitt he held office as one of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and he was later on appointed Secretary of State for Ireland, and subsequently nominated Paymaster General, a post which he held for some years. He was raised to the peerage in 1826, and he was for many years chairman of the committee for the inspection of national monuments, and also a trustee of the British and Hunterian Museums and of the National Gallery.

Lord Farnborough’s gallery of pictures was one of the most celebrated in the country. Along with Sir Robert Peel, he was one of the founders of the National Gallery, to which institution he bequeathed fifteen of his paintings, comprising specimens of the Dutch, Flemish and Italian schools. “Lord Farnborough,” writes his biographer in the Gentleman’s Magazine,
was a person of considerable taste and accomplishment, particularly in painting. Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, in some debate, called him the ‘Vitruvius of the present age.’ He printed a pamphlet; we believe for private circulation, on the projected improvements and alterations then proposed to be carried into effect in the metropolis. The title is ‘Remarks on the Improvements in London, 1826.’ He was also the author of a sketch of the character of Pitt, which he wrote for Gifford’s Life of that great statesman.  In the drawing-room at Bromley Hill is one of the last marble busts that Canova ever executed, and a beautiful statue of Flora, by Westmacott, is in the entrance-hall. He was held in much esteem by George III, and with his successor he was in habits of more familiar intercourse, and was consulted by him on all subjects connected with the improvement of the royal palaces and their internal decorations, and the purchase of pictures, &c.”

His beautiful domain at Bromley Hill, the creation of himself and his accomplished lady, was purchased by him towards the end of the last century, at which time it possessed nothing to distinguish it from the ordinary class of suburban villas, beyond the advantage of being in the close vicinity to the favourite retreat of Mr Pitt, Holwood Hill, in the parish of Keston. For nearly forty years Lord Farnborough found a delightful recreation in adorning and heightening its natural beauties. The little lodge on the Beckenham road is from a joint design of himself and Lady Farnborough. Lord Farnborough died in 1838, when his title became extinct. He lies buried at Wormley, Herts, by the side of his wife, who pre-deceased him about a twelvemonth. His property was divided among his nephews, the Bromley Hill estate falling to the lot of Colonel Long, of the Guards, who resided here till his death, in 1881. A portrait of Lord Farnborough, engraved by Picart from a drawing by H. Edridge, was published in 1810 in “Cadell’s Contemporary Portraits.” 

This is part of Chapter X111 of 'Village London' Vol 2, published by The Alderman Press March 1984.  First published 1883-4 by Casssell & Co Ltd., under the title 'Greater London'. 

PARISH HISTORY


The Second Lord Farnborough

Thomas Erskine May was born in Highgate, Middlesex, on 8 February 1815. He was christened on 21 September 1815 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster.

He was educated at Bedford School, and went on to have a distinguished career in parliamentary service.  In 1873, he was elected a bencher of the Middle Temple and awarded an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law by the University of Oxford in 1874. In 1880, he was made a Reader of the Middle Temple and appointed to the Privy Council in 1884.

On 10 May 1886, shortly after his retirement as Clerk of the House of Commons, May was created "Baron Farnborough, of Farnborough, in the county of Southampton". His full title was First Baron Farnborough; Second Creation

He died just six days later and left no heirs, and so the barony became extinct once more.  It is the second-shortest-lived peerage in British history.

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