Who were the Lucas-Shadwells?
Where did the name come from and what happened to them?
The Lucas-Shadwells were once the dominant family of Fairlight, Pett, parts of Winchelsea and other lands as far as Rye Harbour. They appear to have arrived in Fairlight in the early 19th century and stayed until the early 20th century. The name has now completely gone, being only remembered in one street name in Rye Harbour, known as ‘Lucas-Shadwell Way’.
There were four male holders of the name William Lucas-Shadwell. The first was William Lucas-Shadwell (born William Shadwell), the second was William Drew Lucas-Shadwell (born William Drew Stent), the third was William Peter Lucas-Shadwell and finally William Noel Lucas-Shadwell.
In 1917, the last of the male heirs to their estates, William Noel Lucas-Shadwell, known as Noel, put most of his lands up for sale. That sale, which included Waites Farm and Warren Farm signalled the start of what is now known as Fairlight Cove. The first new owners were Salehurst Fruit Farms but they quickly went into liquidation. Then ownership passed to the Harmsworth family, the founders of The Daily Mail. The Harmsworths were badly affected by the First World War and the surviving son decided he did not want to keep his Fairlight lands. His land was sold to property developers and so the first new houses started to appear in about 1922.
Fairlight Hall, originally known as The Hall, Fairlight, was built in the early 1850s by the second William Lucas-Shadwell. This became their family seat until Noel started to sell off the properties in 1917. The Hall was sold in 1920 to E Festus Kelly who himself had acquired his wealth from the well-known Kelly’s Directories. By this time Noel had been based in France for some time, but, despite selling off most of the properties, Noel’s sister, Beatrice, continued to live at Fairlight Cottage, located in Pett at the top of Chick Hill, until her death in 1948. Noel had stayed in this house, with his sister, on many occasions until his death in 1941.
With the death of Beatrice in 1948, the association between the name Lucas-Shadwell and Fairlight and Pett came to an end. There are many direct descendants living in France and in Canada, but none bears the name Lucas-Shadwell.
William Shadwell – later William Lucas-Shadwell
William was baptised William Shadwell on the 1st January 1766 in Ringmer, Sussex. We know little of his early years, but at some time he moved to Hastings and qualified as an attorney. His name appears in early documentation as a partner in the firm of solicitors, Shadwell, Bishop and Thorpe of High Street, Hastings. Perhaps of more interest is the name of Hastings’ first bank, Hilden, Shadwell, Tilder, Harvey and Gill, of 90 High Street, Hastings. The bank was founded in 1791 and today there is a blue plaque on the wall, inscribed “In 1791 the first bank was established here – the Hastings Old Bank”.
However, although he undoubtedly inherited from his family and acquired some wealth from these latter adventures, the main source of his wealth appears to have been from bricks! In 1804, England was very nervous about the activities of a certain Monsieur Napolean Bonaparte, just across the Channel in France. Fears were growing of a possible invasion and so we decided to build a strong defence network. The chosen scheme was a series of Martello towers supplemented by the Royal Military Canal.
Estimates vary but it seems that each Martello Tower contained somewhere in the region of 400,000 to 500,000 bricks. With a string of towers all along the south coast, that required the supply of a lot of bricks. William Shadwell, as he was still known at the time, happened to be the agent for Sir William Ashburnham (of Broomham, Guestling – now Buckswood School) who owned the local brickfields and William Shadwell managed the whole operation. Today very few of the towers remain, as most were built at the edge of the Channel and subsequently suffered from the inevitable ravages of the sea.
So this appears to be how he made the bulk of his money. It seems that William, whilst living in All Saints Street, Hastings at this time, decided to invest his wealth in land. How, when and why he acquired so much land is unclear, but he started purchasing farms in Fairlight. Stonelynk Farm and Waites Farm, at the heart of Fairlight Cove, were early purchases.
In 1809, his aunt, Anne Lucas died and left her assets and Camois Court in Barcombe, Sussex to William. William’s mother, Mary Lucas had married William Shadwell in Barcombe in 1754. Mary and Anne were two of six children and it was Anne who was the last child to die and had inherited the family estate. Anne, a spinster, left her estate to our William but the codicil to her will contained one condition – that he added the name ‘Lucas’ to his existing surname, to create the name Lucas-Shadwell. This he did in 1811, by Royal Licence. Hence the name was born.
William Lucas-Shadwell, as he was henceforth known, continued to acquire land and, at the time of his death, he owned most of the farms, houses and land from Martineau Lane all the way east to Rye Harbour. These lands were to remain in the Lucas-Shadwell family up until 1917.
The 1841 census, the only census in which he features, shows William and his wife Elizabeth Shadwell (not Lucas-Shadwell!) living in All Saints Rectory, Old Town, Hastings
William had married Elizabeth Ayling in Tillington, Sussex in 1788 but they did not have any children of their own. The matter of succession was therefore a problem. Elizabeth predeceased William, in 1842. However, it seems that William Stent and his son William Drew Stent had been friends and frequent visitors and companions to the Lucas-Shadwells. William Drew Stent’s mother was born Sarah Drew, but his grandmother was born Mary Ayling. Mary Ayling was Elizabeth’s sister and this explains the family connection.
William Lucas-Shadwell, in his six page will, decided to leave his Estate to his wife’s great-nephew, William Drew Stent, on condition that he change his legal name to Lucas-Shadwell.
William Lucas-Shadwell died in Fairlight, on 18th December, 1844.
William Drew Stent – later William Drew Lucas-Shadwell
William Drew Lucas-Shadwell was the second of the Lucas-Shadwell line of succession and arguably the most influential male of the family.
William was baptised William Drew Stent on the 17th January 1817 in Tillington, a small village near Petworth in the Chichester region. On inheriting the estate of his great-aunt’s husband and in accordance with the terms of the will, the 27 year old William Drew Stent changed his name to William Drew Lucas-Shadwell. The family moved to All Saints Rectory and also later acquired The Down Lodge, in Fairlight Road, where William’s parents were to remain. William’s father died in early 1851 and, six months later, our William married Florentia Wynch, daughter of Henry Wynch, the vicar of Pett and part of an influential family. They then planned and built The Hall, Fairlight, just off Martineau Lane. This grand building, still within the Parish boundary of Fairlight, was to become the family seat and remains an important local landmark. There was another Fairlight Hall in existence when it was built, located in Ore and now known as Barrington House. So it was well into the twentieth century when the name was changed.
Now established at The Hall, William and Florentia became important local figures and William continued to acquire land in and around Fairlight, as his predecessor had done. William and Florentia were deeply religious and were involved in the building and renovation of many churches in the area, including Fairlight. When the old Fairlight church was finally demolished in 1845 and the present church constructed, William was the second largest contributor to the re-building fund. He donated £500 and supplied all the stonework from his own local quarries. The largest contributor was Sarah Milward, later Lady Waldegrave, who gave £1,000 towards the final stated cost of £3,486.
William’s youngest brother was Henry Stent and he subsequently became vicar of Fairlight in 1858. Henry was one of Fairlight’s best known and most loved vicars, serving from 1858 until his death in 1903.
Florentia was herself a strong and influential character, who would outlive her husband by 46 years. She became an early staunch and active supporter of the Temperance movement. Such was her influence, particularly when she persuaded William to sign up in about 1865, that the inns in the whole region, Fairlight, Pett and their lands out to Rye Harbour, became temperance (i.e. no alcohol was for sale on the premises). Indeed, the Royal Oak at Pett was known as the Temperance Inn for many many years from the late 19th well into the 20th century. Rumour has it that Florentia was always against alcohol because of the death of her older brother, George Wynch. George was apparently kicked by an unattended horse outside the Two Sawyers in Pett, whilst the groom was drinking inside, and died from his injuries. The couple frequently talked on the subject of temperance and religion and as the squires of the parish, were able to almost dictate local policy. Additionally, according to the published sermon at William’s funeral, he was strongly opposed to ‘Romanism’, which proved to be ironic as his only son, William Peter Lucas-Shadwell, and his family subsequently converted to Catholicism, in 1902.
In time, Florentia herself became tired of The Hall and had another property built in Peter James Lane. The property was named Woodcote (now Hoads House) and she lived there with her unmarried daughter, also Florentia, until her death in 1921.
William and Florentia enjoyed travelling and went on grand tours of Europe, spending considerable time away from The Hall. Unfortunately, it was on one such tour that William died. They had visited Venice in November 1874, where it is believed he caught a fever, but they moved on to Florence. There after a long period of illness he succumbed, on the 12th January 1875. The funeral service was held at Fairlight St. Andrew’s and he and his family are buried there in a large grave, immediately to the east of the church.
William’s influence on the Parish was strong and, although Florentia outlived him by a considerable time, he left a male heir, William Peter Lucas-Shadwell.
William Peter Lucas-Shadwell – also known as William Lucas-Shadwell
William Peter Lucas-Shadwell, the third of the Lucas-Shadwell line of succession, was actually the first born with the legal surname of Lucas-Shadwell.
William was baptised on the 14th August 1852 in Guestling, the eldest of three children. The younger children were Florentia and Mary.
At this time, they were the dominant family of Fairlight and Pett and oversaw their extensive land and properties from the newly constructed Hall at Fairlight. His life appears to have been dominated by politics, both local and national. A summary of his life is best explained in the following contemporary report from the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer of the 5th June 1915 (He died on the 31st May 1915).
Mr Lucas-Shadwell dead.
Former member for Hastings and squire of Fairlight.
Mr William Lucas-Shadwell J.P., D.L., died at his residence at Pett on Monday, in his 63rd year, and the greatest sympathy will be felt with the widow and son and daughters in their irreparable loss.
A son of the late William Drew Lucas-Shadwell J.P., (who died about 40 years ago) and Mrs. Lucas-Shadwell, who still survives, and resides at Woodcote, Fairlight. The late Mr. Lucas-Shadwell, although not entirely sharing his father’s views on some matters, followed his example through a long series of years in regard to taking an active interest in the welfare of the people. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and on the death of his father succeeded to the position of squire of Fairlight with the ownership of The Hall (one of the finest residences in the neighbourhood), and a very large acreage of agricultural land extending from Fairlight to Pett, and on to Rye Harbour. When only a very young man he was created a Justice for the County of Sussex, and at the time of his death was the senior magistrate of the Hastings Petty Sessional Division. He was also a Deputy Lieutenant for Sussex. He married Beatrice (daughter of the late Mr. J. Rutherford, and sister of the Marchioness de Sain) who, as a devoted wife, shared her husband’s opinions, political and otherwise, and was always actively supporting him in his public life. A strong supporter of the Conservative cause Mr. Lucas-Shadwell on social questions affecting the welfare of the working classes was sometimes ahead of the bulk of his party in advocating reforms.
He began to take an active part in Hastings politics in the election of 1880. In 1892 he stood as Candidate for East Finsbury against the sitting Member, Mr. J. Rowlands (now M.P. for the Dartford Division). Before that contest both he and Mrs. Lucas-Shadwell worked hard in nursing the constituency, and when the election came the fight was a particularly strenuous one, and characterised by a great amount of rowdyism on the Radical side. The result was a defeat for Mr. Lucas-Shadwell, although he increased the Conservative vote by 181. It might here be mentioned that at the next election Mr. Lucas-Shadwell’s defeat was avenged by Mr. H. C. Richards (a Hastings Conservative) ousting Mr. Rowlands. In 1894 it became known that Mr. Wilson Noble was desirous of giving up a parliamentary life, and this afforded an opening for Mr. Lucas-Shadwell. After addressing numerous meetings in the town, he was unanimously adopted as Prospective Candidate for Hastings on the last day of January 1895 on the proposition of Mr. E. Bradnam, J. P.; Colonel Brookfield M. P. being amongst those who spoke in support. The election came on the 15th of July in the same year. Mr. Cecil Ince (now a Unionist) was the Liberal Candidate, and Mr. Lucas-Shadwell was returned by a majority of 342.
He sat as Member for Hastings till the General Election in 1900. At this period, an unfortunate page in local Conservative history occurred. Mr. Lucas-Shadwell, by joining Lord Hugh Cecil and a small number of other High Church Members of the House of Commons on a certain vote, gave offence to a large number of his supporters in Hastings. The result was that he was not invited to seek re-election and at the eleventh hour the late Sir Edward Boyle, K. C., was adopted candidate. Mr. Freeman Thomas had been before the constituency as prospective Liberal Candidate for several months and as the result of the polling he captured the seat with a margin of a little over 200 votes. After this very little was seen in Hastings for a long period of Mr. Lucas-Shadwell, who with his wife went to reside in Rome.
Later on the news came that Mr. and Mrs. Lucas-Shadwell had embraced the Roman Catholic religion. Afterwards Mr. Lucas-Shadwell had the honour of being created private Chamberlain to Pope Pius X. It may be mentioned, to Mr. Lucas-Shadwell’s honour, that, in the context with Mr. Ince, although he knew the latter to be a Roman Catholic, he never mentioned the fact and would not allow those of his supporters who had the information to use it to prejudice his opponent’s position. Mr. and Mrs. Lucas-Shadwell were ever ready to place the grounds of The Hall at the disposal of their political friends and several highly successful demonstrations were held there. The Hospital and other institutions also benefited by garden parties and fetes held at that beautiful domain. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lucas-Shadwell were amongst the earliest and hardest workers for the Primrose League and, as Dame President of the Hastings Habitation, Mrs. Lucas-Shadwell delivered many charming speeches. Like his late father (who bequeathed a legacy of £250 to the institution) Mr. Lucas-Shadwell was a strong supporter of the Hospital: He was formerly a Trustee and, at the time of his death, was one of five vice presidents. He was of an extremely amiable disposition and a good landlord to his tenants. Although not a brilliant speaker, he was thoroughly versed in politics and very persevering. During his five years in parliament, he was by no means a silent member. We believe one of his first speeches was on the question of working class dwellings and he was very regular in attendance and frequently intervened in debates. Mr. Lucas-Shadwell’s last public appearance in Hastings was on the occasion of the recent War Lecture at the Town Hall arranged by Earl Brassey.
A few years ago, The Hall being let, Mr. Lucas-Shadwell built himself a residence on his estate at Pett and here he passed away after several weeks’ illness. His eldest son William, who succeeds to the estate, is holding an official appointment.
As the above article indicates, the family moved out of The Hall at the beginning of the 20th century and, for many years, The Hall was let to the wealthy. One notable occupant was a Mr. Kirkley, who became very well known for organising local hunts, all starting at The Hall. Photographs of his many gamekeepers and numerous helpers can now be seen on the current Fairlight Hall website.
Woodcote, in Peter James Lane, remained the home of his mother Florentia and his sisters. The house is still there, but is now called Hoads House.
On his return from Rome, having converted to Roman Catholicism, William opened a small chapel, firstly inside Fairlight Cottage but later in his garden, on the edge of the road at Chick Hill (now a separate residence). Additionally, the Lucas-Shadwells raised a large wooden cross in their garden to celebrate their new religion. After the First World War, a stone memorial to some of the victims was placed at the foot of this cross. Following the de-consecration of this land, the cross and the stone were re-sited in the small Catholic burial ground next to St. Andrew’s churchyard. William and Beatrice are buried there and two of their children are also interred nearby (the tall memorial is for the parents and the two crosses for the children) William and Beatrice left four children, Beatrice, Violet, William Noel and Vera. Noel, as he was known, subsequently inherited the full Lucas-Shadwell estate. Violet married a Commander Francis Belt and, using her married name Violet Belt, wrote the first known history of Fairlight in 1921.
William Noel Lucas-Shadwell – known as Noel Lucas-Shadwell
William Noel Lucas-Shadwell was the fourth and final of the Lucas-Shadwell line of succession. He was born in Fairlight on the 11th December 1882 and baptised at St. Andrew’s Church on the 28th December.
The 1891 census shows the family to not be at their home at The Hall; but they were staying in Bournemouth. The family was again away in 1901, but we cannot locate their whereabouts.
We know that Noel attended Winchester College, but the next we know of him was in 1904, when he was in Paris, attending the salon of Lucie Bricard-Bazin. He was clearly happy with the French way of life away from Fairlight and for the rest of his life, with some notable interludes, he was to remain in France. Indeed he fell in love with one of the daughters of his teacher and, on 27th July 1905, married Therese Bricard-Bazin.
It is understood that his parents did not approve of their only son marrying a foreigner, but Noel and Therese were welcomed at The Hall. Life changed somewhat with his family in Fairlight. Firstly the family had converted to Roman Catholicism. Then they began to tire of The Hall. A house was built to the east of The Hall, near the top of Chick Hill in Pett, with commanding views of the their lands to the east, west and south. The house was built by the local firm of Colegate and was called Fairlight Cottage. The house still stands, but is now renamed The Down House. When this was complete, Noel’s father started to let out The Hall.
Noel was working for the Foreign Office, having no pretensions to follow his father into British politics. He was appointed Vice-Consul, stationed at Caen. His first daughter, Yolande was born in Fougerolles in Normandy, in September 1906 but, shortly afterwards, Noel was sent to Port Said, Egypt as acting Consul. Then he was transferred to Galatz, Romania where the couple’s second daughter, Denise was born. Again the Foreign Office gave him another posting, this time to Messina, Sicily at the end of 1908, but he was redirected to Dubrovnik. This proved incredibly lucky for the family, as Messina was then devastated by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, which killed up to 200,000 people. In 1909, the family were finally back at Fairlight Cottage where their third daughter, Monica, was born. The family were concerned at having a third daughter, as they want a son to carry on the family title.
In 1913, Noel was posted to Emden, Germany, whilst Therese returned to Paris to give birth to their fourth daughter, Gisele. At the outset of war, Lucie took her four granddaughters to Switzerland, while Noel and Therese returned to England. In 1915, Noel became a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, part of the Russian Legion – British Armoured Car Division. He spent his war campaign mostly in Russia, received the Order of St. George and the Distinguished Service Cross and was wounded twice. When he was first wounded, Therese travelled across Germany, during the hostilities, taking eight days to reach him in Russia. It is understood that she travelled with Violet Belt, Noel’s sister, whose husband, Commander Francis Belt, was a liaison officer with the Russian Army. Violet herself was a nurse at the Scottish Women’s Hospital, London Unit and served in Russia and Romania.
During this time, on 31st May 1915, Noel’s father died. Noel, being the only son, inherited the full estates of his father. However, as we have seen above, Noel had spent most of his adult years away from England, notably in France, and decided to sell most of the estate. Hence, on 17th November 1917, Noel auctioned off most of the estate in 76 separate lots and that was the moment when Fairlight Cove was born. He kept ownership of The Hall and some adjoining lands, for a short while, but this was itself sold off in 1920 to E Festus Kelly of the ‘Kelly’s Directory’ family
A fifth and final daughter, Mireille, was born in Rome in August 1918. Noel and Therese had produced five daughters and no son to carry on the Lucas-Shadwell name. It is not recorded whether it was disappointment with this situation or as a result of his wounds, but after the family returned to Paris, Noel walked out and left his wife and family.
Both remarried. Noel married Madeleine, a saleswoman in lingerie and, much later, Therese married her widowed brother-in-law, Francis Belt. Although Noel saw his daughters on many occasions, they remained with their mother. There are many records of them returning to Fairlight, as Noel retained Fairlight Cottage.
In about 1925, Noel purchased the Chateau de Bity in Correze. He remained there with his second wife, Madeleine and his step-daughter, Jacqueline Rivet. After settling here, Noel became interested in archaeology and was involved in many important digs in France.
Finally, as the Second World War approached, he returned to Fairlight Cottage, where he died on 2nd November 1941. He is buried in the Catholic cemetery at Fairlight, near his parents and his sister Beatrice. Beatrice herself did not marry and lived on at Fairlight Cottage on her own until her death, on 23rd September 1948.
It is interesting to note that after the Lucas-Shadwells left Chateau de Bity, the property was acquired by a certain, Jacques Chirac, one time President of France. The chateau still remains in that family.
The name Lucas-Shadwell died out with Noel and his sister Beatrice, but some of his daughters married and produced families and they are today very much alive and well, living, mostly in France, but some also in Canada.
A footnote and some anecdotes
We have been in contact with some of the French family and they have told us some interesting achievements by the extended family.
What is the connection between the Lucas-Shadwells and the winner of the first Monte Carlo Rally, in 1911? The winning car was a Turcat-Mery 25hp driven by Henri Rougier. The Turcat-Mery Automobile Cie was founded in 1899 by two cousins, Leon Turcat and Simon Mery and produced many different cars and biplanes up until 1928. Leon’s son, Max married Yolande Lucas-Shadwell, the oldest daughter of William Noel Lucas-Shadwell. Yolande, known as Yo-Yo, had married into a very interesting family.
The 25hp Turcat-Mery was a successful car and will be remembered for its historic victory. Not so memorable was their six-wheel car. It had four rows of seats but, unlike all later six-wheelers, only the front wheels steered. The car did not last long! The success or otherwise of their fire-engine is not known.
Another member of Yolande’s new Turcat family was Andre Turcat, her nephew. Andre was a pilot and earned great respect in the Second World War and in the Indochina War and graduated to become a test pilot for Nord Aviation. His reputation grew and he was given the honour of being chief test pilot for the French, Sud Aviation Concorde. He took the first ever Concorde fight on 2nd March 1969, five weeks before Britain’s own Brian Trubshawe took off from Filton – these landmark events were recorded in a set of commemorative stamps issued in Grenada.
Yolande herself had three children, two boys and a girl. The youngest was Jean-Noel Turcat, so-named in recognition of his grandfather William Noel Lucas-Shadwell. Jean-Noel rose to the rank of Admiral in the French Navy.
A memorial plaque to the last of Lucas-Shadwells is dsplayed in a cemetery in Revest, France. So we can see that the family name was remembered, by Gisele up until 2004.