Robert Marsham-Townshend and later lords of the manor of Chislehurst

On the death of Earl Sydney in 1890, who died without children, Robert Marsham, his nephew, the son of the Earl’s elder sister, Mary Elizabeth, inherited the lordship of the manor of Chislehurst.  Under the terms of the Earl’s will, to do so, Robert had to change his name to Robert Marsham-Townshend. He was not, however, able to inherit the titles of Viscount and Earl Sydney, which became extinct.

Robert (pictured right), was an adventurous man, a keen plant collector, a mountaineer, a diplomat, Fellow of the Geological Society, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Justice of the Peace for Bromley, Deputy Lieutenant of Kent and a typical country squire and gentleman. Robert had married in 1877 and had two sons, Hugh Sydney and Ferdinand.  Ferdinand became an enthusiastic motor mechanic, and Robert had Western Motor Works in Perry Street built for him in 1909, designed by the Chislehurst architect, E J May.  Sadly, Ferdinand was killed in 1915 in the First World War.

Robert died in December 1914, and was buried in St Nicholas’ churchyard.  His grave lies to your left as you come through the lych-gate.

Hugh succeeded his father as lord of the manor.   He was a soldier and served in the Boer War in South Africa.  He married twice and had one son by each marriage.  Hugh’s first son, by his first wife, Cecilia Bunbury, was John Marsham-Townshend, born in 1905. Cecilia died in 1912, and Hugh then married her elder sister, Laura. The second son, Thomas Marsham-Townshend, born in 1915, became a Captain in the Scots Guards but was killed in 1944 in Italy. Thomas had married Averil Loyd, and they had two daughters, June and Susan.  Memorials to Hugh and his wives can be seen on the east wall of the Scadbury Chapel.

The whole of the huge Frognal and Scadbury estate was put up for sale in 1915, but very little was bought at that time.  Frognal was purchased by the Government for use as a hospital. After the First World War Hugh and his family moved to live in a house in Scadbury.

Hugh died in 1967 and John Marsham-Townshend, his first son, succeeded him, but never married, and was the last resident lord of the manor in Chislehurst.  John’s death marked the end of something like 745 years of occupation of Scadbury.  June and Susan, daughters of John’s aunt by marriage mentioned above, became lords of the manor as there were no other surviving closer members of the Marsham-Townshend family to inherit the property.

Sources: Webb’s History; The Times Archive.