Talk about the weather was not idle, its severity having lasted over the Christmas period into the New Year. Major storms from the southwest had brought high winds and flooding, causing serious damage to property all across the region.
Despite all of that, daily life in the village continued. It had to.
Livestock needed to be fed and tended. Over half of the population of England depended on agriculture for a living. In the village of Aldershot the proportion was about two-thirds. Farmers, agricultural workers and their families had to be up before the winter’s daybreak.
Settlement was scattered all across the lands in the parish that lay south of the open heathland, farmsteads and cottages located on North Lane, at West End and from Manor Farm down to Dog Kennel and along Boxalls Lane by the border of the Blackwater.
The Blackwater, a river in name, was generally little more than a stream. In recent months it had been in full spate, its course at Hampshire’s boundary edge threatening to cut the village off from its neighbouring Surrey parishes.
With no single centre to the village, shown below, any one of several locations could serve as a start to the story of this place.
The Church of St Michael the Archangel, stood high on the hill, was surely one candidate. As the geographic centre it was the central focus of regular social and religious communion. Other buildings in the immediate vicinity included not only the curate’s parsonage and the parish school, but also three houses whose occupants ranked amongst of the most important in the village. Close by was what had come to be referred to as the Manor House; Aldershot Lodge and Elm Place were both located along Church Lane East. The owner of Aldershot Place, the largest estate in the parish, lived half a mile further on.
Extracts from maps held in Aldershot Public Library, ‘Map referred in the annex of the Award for Inclosure of Aldershot 1855’. The name of a beer house is blanked out; otherwise the scene had hardly changed from 1853.
The area around Drury Lane might be a second candidate as this was the nearest the village had to a centre of industry and commerce. In addition to the obvious social attraction of the Bee Hive Inn, activities there included the main village shop, a bakery, a laundry and one of the two remaining potteries.
At the other end of what was known as Aldershot Street, stood the Red Lion Inn, not much more than ten minutes away. This, a third focal point for the village, was both an alternative social venue and a centre for auctions, business transactions and public meetings.
Let us, however, start this story at yet another candidate to be the centre of this community, the triangular-shaped village green. Set at the foot of the steep incline of Church Hill, this served as a junction connected the three others competing for our attention.
Located part way along the Street, regarded as common ground, the Green served as an everyday meeting place, at least in good weather. The village’s other pottery and one of its several shoemakers were on the northern corner of the green. At its apex, stood the village smithy, as suitable place as any at which to begin.
A New Year
Saturday was much like any other day all across the parish, even on a cold New Year’s Day. The smithy had to be open for business, the importance of horses and the blacksmith’s role in the manufacture and mend of tools adding to the significance of its locality by Aldershot Green.
There had been at least four blacksmiths since agreement for the house and smithy be taken from ‘the waste’ had been granted sixty years or so before. Henry Hone was now its blacksmith assisted by young George Ellis, a labourer’s son who lived opposite, on the other side of Church Hill. Henry, himself aged only 30, was supported in the business by his father James who kept the books.
At a break in the weather, children across the parish would be called upon to help with much needed repairs. Over four in ten in the village were aged under 15. Some boys would be sent out of doors to run errands. Some girls would be set to do household chores or look after the youngest. Doubtless, many of those remaining would just be told to get from under feet and to go out and play in whatever sunshine of the New Year, several agreeing to meet on the village green.
It takes little prompt of imagination to envisage the figure of a burly man standing at the doorway of the smithy, enjoying the benefit of the heat radiating from the furnace inside. This evokes the everyday nostalgia associated with the village blacksmith, a mighty man with strong muscles and large and sinewy hands.
Rather than the blacksmith, hard at work and noisily busy inside, let this burly man instead be the blacksmith’s father, stood watching over his grandchildren play on Aldershot Green. The eldest of those boys is now aged eight, the youngest, named James after himself, just turned five.
James Hone’s own sons had been able to play in the much warmer climes of the Greek island Corfu where he was stationed as a soldier. His son Henry had been very much the youngest of his three children, his world a heady mix full of make believe amongst the marching soldiers in colourful uniform. It was so different now for both of them in this quiet rural life in a village, away from all that military hustle and bustle.
James Hone was recorded in the 1851 Census as a Chelsea Pensioner, a widower and aged 62. He had enlisted almost forty years ago, when single and aged 24. That was in December 1813, when the 51st Regiment of Foot. had returned to England to raise a second battalion.
Several months after enlisting with the 51st, in August 1814, James had married in Bermondsey, London, by licence. His bride, Fanny Prince, was from Badshot, the small hamlet on the border of the two parishes of Farnham and Aldershot. Their first born was baptised three months later, in October, at the church at Aldershot, with residence stated as Badshot.
The 51st was dispatched to the Continent following Napoleon’s escape from Elba in February 1815. The regiment was present in June at Waterloo, the entry in his service record clearly indicating James’ status as a veteran of that decisive battle.
Along with others who were at the triumph which was accorded to the Duke of Wellington, James was awarded the Waterloo Medal. It was the first British service medal issued to those present in a conflict. Waterloo veterans enjoyed a favoured status in later years. That was especially so in the patronage extended to the officer class as the Iron Duke became a dominant force in British politics and all things military.
The death of Wellington in September 1852 had brought that famous victory to mind, still remembered in the village as all across the country from the national day of mourning declared for the Duke’s funeral that November. It might not be too fanciful to imagine the attention given to James Hone, his Waterloo Medal proudly on display.
James had stayed on with the 51st after the peace, promoted to corporal in August 1815. His wife was ‘on the strength’ of the regiment, their second child William baptised in Plymouth in July 1818 when the 51st was stationed there. James was later promoted to sergeant in April 1819, his third son Henry born in 1822 when the family were billeted in Corfu.
What might not have been widely known about this Waterloo veteran, was that having served as sergeant for seven years James Hone had then been reduced to the rank of private in January 1826. The reason is unclear. Perhaps this was a family secret, not even shared with his daughter-in-law.
In 1832, James’ son William had enlisted with his father’s regiment at the age of 14, joining the regimental band of the 51st. He later served in Australia and the East Indies. William was also promoted to sergeant, in February 1852, being assigned on a permanent basis to the West Kent Militia.
The youngest son Henry had not enlisted. Instead, he had returned to England with his parents after his father was discharged from the 51st with the award of a disability pension for his 22 years of service. However, Henry had learnt enough growing up amongst the military to be capable of starting at the smithy in Badshot, just across the county boundary.
Caroline was the blacksmith’s wife. She came from Farnham, her father a shoemaker. Many in the village would recall that ten years before she had been Miss Caroline Williams, the village schoolmistress, lodging with a family close by the pottery on the northern side of Aldershot Green.
The schoolhouse was up the hill opposite the parish church. Caroline’s journey to visit her parents on a Friday after school would have taken her from the schoolhouse along a long path across the fields of Grange Farm. The path led down to Boxalls Lane by the foot of Place Hill, also known as the lower road to Farnham. Then she would cross the Blackwater by the Pea Bridge to Badshot. Her route to East Street in Farnham passed by the smithy at which young Henry then worked.
Caroline was older than Henry. There must have been something that prompted the schoolmistress to be attracted to the blacksmith, about three years her junior. Obviously a strong young man, Henry would have had blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion, were his brother William’s army service record any guide. Perhaps there was also fascination with the way in which Henry told stories about far off islands in the Mediterranean, as though opening up the prospect of a new world to Caroline, beyond the confines of the market town of Farnham and its surrounding parishes.
In 1841, when Caroline was still Miss Williams, she had also often passed by this smithy in Aldershot at the foot of Church Hill. William Higlett had then been the village blacksmith, the smithy known as Paine’s Shop, even though James Paine had been dead for over five years before. Paine’s widow had remarried and then moved to Ash, selling the house and smithy to Mr James Elstone up at Aldershot Lodge. The purchase by Elstone in 1845 would have seemed an obvious one as the properties had belonged to the estate before the blacksmith James Paine had acquired them in 1822.
We cannot know whether Caroline had ever imagined that she would later move back to the village to be the blacksmith’s wife. Nor that part of the plan was that William Higlett and his family would move in the other direction in 1845 to take over the smithy at Badshot.
Now she was Mrs Henry Hone, almost ten years wed come September and a family of five children. The youngest, baby Albert, had been baptised last June up at St Michael’s Church.
Few would have known more about who-was-who across the whole of the parish than Caroline, despite not being ‘Aldershot, born and bred’. Not only was she its former schoolmistress, her husband Henry was one of the two men who had acted as the local enumerators for the Census taken in March 1851.
The choice of Henry Hone as a census enumerator, also serving as a constable in some years, said something about his social standing as blacksmith. It reflected well upon the quality of education he had received in a garrison school when his father served with the Army. Such schooling would have been much better than most children had in England, and certainly better than most of the men in the village.
The choice of the older man, William Wheeler, as the other enumerator also says something about the extent of his literacy and the numeracy associated with the demands of his trade. According to William Wheeler’s own hand, the Census recorded him as a cordwainer, a shoe maker like Caroline’s father. Both William and his wife had also used a full signature in the marriage registration book in 1832. William Wheeler had been both a neighbour and the father-in-law to the woman in whose household Caroline had lodged in 1841.
Caroline Hone would have had access to the household forms which her husband collected and, with the organisational skills of a teacher. We can only guess of the extent to which she and her father-in-law had played a significant part in collating the work of both census enumerators. The notion of strict confidentiality of the Census was not then a legal requirement.
Sunday, 2nd January 1853
Prayers said the next day by the Reverend Dr Henry Carey on the first Sunday Matins of the year would traditionally have included those for peace and stable government. This year, the assembled congregation would surely have looked to their curate also to lead prayers for better weather. That had been atrocious during the previous six months, the newspapers reporting it as the wettest since 1767, the year when records at the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford had first begun.
In consequence, the harvest of 1852 had been poor. The economy and well-being of the village was very dependent upon what could be grown in the gardens of the cottages as well as upon the produce sold by the farmers. The families of agricultural workers would need to turn to the store each had made of provisions and fuel for the fire, their main source of heat and light during the long nights of winter.
The curate was to perform two christenings on that Sunday Matins, of George Brown and Jesse Stonard. The new arrivals would be the fifth child for the family of Henry and Agnes Stonard and the seventh for that of Daniel and Jemima Brown. Both fathers were recorded in the baptismal register as labourers, although the 1851 Census had listed Henry Stonard as a tilemaker. He was from a well-established family of workers in the brickmaking business, living with his wife Agnes at the southern edge of the parish along Boxalls Lane in the household of her parents, James and Eleanor Nichols. The Browns’ household was located centrally, along the Street.
Baptisms, burials and weddings were matters of collective significance in the village, social events played out over the seasonal rhythm of the agricultural and ecclesiastical year. Mostly occurring in the larger families in the village, focus on such occasions, also served to counter any undue attention by the curate Dr Henry Carey upon the lives of the major landowners, whose society would have exerted a pull of attraction.
Reverend Dr Henry Carey
Henry Carey came from Guernsey, the son of gentry. He was an Oxford graduate with a doctorate. Reverend Carey had arrived into the parish as perpetual curate in 1838, the year of the Coronation of Queen Victoria. Likely, he and his wife Emily were the most well-educated in the village.
They lived at the Parsonage, opposite St Michael’s Church, the 1851 Census recording that their household also included a live-in pupil from Guernsey called Alfred de Mesurier and three servants. Their household in 1841 had included two locally-born servants and four live-in pupils, one of whom was Carey Brock, Emily’s younger brother. He would later enter the ministry and be appointed to a position in Guernsey.
Perhaps not known widely amongst his parishioners, Henry and Emily were first cousins. They had married in 1833 shortly after Henry had been ordained by Bishop Sumner at Farnham Castle. Henry had recently published a biography of his father-in- law, the Reverend Thomas Brock, whom Bishop Sumner had appointed Commissary General of Guernsey.
John Carey, their shared grandfather, had been an elected Jurat of the Royal Court of Guernsey although dismissed with all other Jurats in a dispute with the Bailiff in the 1770s.
=> More on Henry and Emily Carey
Tuesday, 4th January 1853
Opinions about the status and intentions of Louis Napoleon III as the self-declared Emperor of France had featured throughout the New Year editions of the national and regional press. Particular attention had been paid to the delay in recognition by the Northern Powers of Continental Europe, particularly that by the Russian Czar. Letters from the Ambassadors of Austria and the German States had only just been presented at the French Court, the Patriot expressing the view that the phrase ‘Monsieur mon Free et bon Cousin”, generally used between sovereigns, might not be employed.
Queen Victoria’s correspondence with her Uncle Leopold, King of Belgium, including joking reference to the newly crowned Emperor, serves as an early signal of the tensions in the Holy Land that would eventually lead to conflict in the Crimea:
Windsor Castle, 4th January 1853
Mrs Mary Barnett
The focus that day in Aldershot was the funeral of Mary Barnett. Her death was not unexpected, having reached the age of eighty-five. Living to such an age was hardly the norm but neither was she the only exception.
Despite the January weather, the pews of the parish church would surely have been full; Mrs. Barnett had been the hub of an extensive web of kinship. There were several other large family networks across this small village; the count of the individuals having the surnames of Robinson, Newell, Attfield, Bedford and Hughes particularly high, from as many as 20 up to 27 in number. Even so, the Barnett family was remarkable, with as many as forty-five individuals, one in every twenty, on Census Night in 1851. The Barnetts accounted for eleven of the 160 households in the village, perhaps double that if counting the marriage of daughters to be wives in families having different surnames.
Most of the Barnett family lived at West End but there were others working for the farms along North Lane. Like the majority of families in Aldershot in 1851, most of the men worked out in the fields for others as agricultural labourers and most women worked at home as wives and mothers in large family households.
Mary Barnett had not been a wealthy woman but she had also not been without means. She had been widowed in 1840 by the death of the farmer Henry Barnett. Her inheritance of property had followed the custom of the Crondall Hundred, of which Aldershot was part, passing to the surviving spouse unless explicitly stated otherwise. Moreover, Mary had been born into the Avenell family which itself had extensive holdings in the area. Her nephew James Avenell was a ‘hop planter of 156 acres’ owning Hale Farm and having property in Aldershot up at Deadbrooks, at the top of North Lane as well as a cottage that fronted on to the Street. After her husband died, Mary Barnett had first lived with her son Charles; then, by 1851, she had moved in with her eldest son Stephen who, on her death, now became the copyholder of several cottages.
One or other of Caroline, Henry or James Hone would likely have been amongst those huddled to one side of the muddy path amongst other villagers who had come to be seen to pay their respects. Members of the deceased’s extended family were slowly ushered in by the main door.
Some who attended the service within St Michael’s Church might have wondered why the funeral was being taken by Reverend Frederick Richard Stevens, the curate from the parish of Seal, and not by the Reverend Henry Carey.
The curate for almost fifteen years, Henry Carey was soon to be moving on to become rector in another country parish. Had only a few heard about that before Christmas, the rumours in the village would doubtless have started in earnest. His absence from the parish would be noticed, not only at the funeral services for two of his parishioners but also later for Matins on Epiphany Sunday. The latter service was taken instead by young Reverend James Dennett, newly ordained and seeking his first position as curate.
Mr James Elstone
Mr James Elstone would almost certainly have been present at the funeral service for Mrs Barnett. His wife, in the black of mourning hidden beneath the wrap of winter clothing, was Mrs Barnett’s granddaughter, Stephen Barnett’s eldest.
Mr Elstone had significance in the village. Although not born in the parish, he had arrived into the village in his mid-twenties when his father, also called James, bought Aldershot Lodge in 1822. James Elstone Junior, as he was sometimes still known, commanded respect in several ways, not just that he was master of Aldershot Lodge, reputed to have stood since before the Reformation.
Like his father before him, James was very much an enterprising farmer, a specialist in hops and in cattle. The 1851 Census records him as a farmer of 290 acres, most of which were in neighbouring Surrey parishes where he operated in he role of a tenant farmer. The land he owned in Aldershot included the arable fields that ran down alongside Church Hill and the great meadow which stretched down from Aldershot Lodge towards the Red Lion. He employed 30 men, also owning additional hop fields, the village smithy and some brickfields.
James Elstone had managed farms in his own right in and around Ash during the 1830s and 1840s, on record in newspapers for winning prizes at the Farnham Cattle Show. He had taken the opportunity during one after-Show dinner in 1845 to complain of government neglect of the interests of farmers, citing the injury done to good farming land by the railroads. This was doubtless about the loss to the railways by compulsory purchase of the land which Elstone worked in Ash at Foreman’s Farm.
Elstone’s opposition to the railways might not have been typical of landowners who had stood to benefit from the compensation that was paid to them. It seems that, although he owned some land himself, James Elstone Junior had the mentality of a tenant farmer rather than a land proprietor, keen to extract produce and value resulting from his husbandry. In reply, George Nicholson of Waverley House, whilst acknowledging the loss, had argued for progress and exalted the benefits to the farmer of the railway.
=> More on the Elstone family
Mr Richard Allden
The social standing of Mr Allden suggests that he would also have been present amongst the mourners at the funeral service for Mrs Barnett.
There was also that matter of the family link which James Elstone had to her. Richard and James had developed a strong friendship, even to the point of sharing a newspaper subscription.
If any two men were to be thought of as representing the village elite in 1853, then Richard and James would be amongst the nominees, especially Richard as the Alldens were a well-established family of yeoman farmers in Aldershot, with christenings at St Michael’s dating from at least 1730 when his grandfather Joseph Allden was baptised.
The senior branch of the Allden family was now across the County boundary in Surrey, an eldest son having inherited the extensive estates from his uncle, George May. Notwithstanding, Richard had himself inherited holdings passed down the junior branch. This amounted to 170 acres, much of which stretched south towards Boxalls Lane where he also owned brickworks. Richard Allden’s local holdings were second in size only to the 210 acres of the Aldershot Park estate in the possession of Charles Barron Esq, a land proprietor from London.
Both Richard and James were active on the Vestry which exercised local governance for the parish. Now in their early fifties, each had served as Overseer more than once in past years, as had their fathers before them; they were now the two representatives for the parish on the Board of Guardians of the Farnham Poor Union. However, Richard Allden may have had the greater significance in the parish as he was also the only resident member of the consortium who held the right to the collect the tithes and appoint the curate.
=> More on the Allden family
Monday, 10th January 1853
The church calendar recognises the Twelfth Day of Christmas as the beginning of Epiphany and special dedication on the first Sunday following. In the rural calendar, the day after was named Plough Monday to mark the start of agricultural activity when traditionally the husbandmen of the parish resumed their work with the plough. In days past that was an occasion for playful festivity all around the parish, including the practice of wassailing, when carols were sung as the villagers went from one grand house to another seeking reward. There is none to say that such revelling did not take place in Aldershot on Plough Monday, although the newspapers of the day, including that of the Hampshire Advertiser in January 1853, noted such celebrations for the date were now something of the past.
Despite the weather, it seems likely that Plough Monday would have featured some mention of the success of Stephen Porter. He had won £3 as the “best ploughman, with two horses … servant to Mr. Richard Allden” at the year-end meeting of the North East Hants Agricultural Association held in Alton. The prize for best ploughman with four horses had been won by a man working for Mr Samuel Eggar, the absentee owner of Manor Farm and the Aldershot Halimote.
Wednesday, 12th January 1853
The Reverend Henry Carey continued to be away from the parish on the Wednesday following when the second funeral in January was held. The service was taken instead by the Reverend Stevens. As an outsider, he would know even less about the deceased than he had earlier in the month for the funeral of Mrs Barnett.
The occasion would have been altogether much more sombre, even the weather that day seemingly turned for the worse. The deceased was Frederick Fludder who had died a week previously on Wednesday 5th January. Frederick was an agricultural labourer, aged only 16. His stepfather had reported his death on the following Saturday stating that the death was from a three-week bout of bronchitis.
The family lived at the top of North Lane, on the margin of the village beyond Deadbrooks. That a cottage, garden and yard had once belonged to his grandfather, George Fludder. He had been one of the many smallholders in the parish, owning and farming about two acres of land; he was also working as a butcher at the time of Frederick’s birth. Frederick’s grandparents had both been baptised in Ash, at St Peter’s Church, but George and Sarah Robinson had married in Aldershot. During their long marriage since 1787, they had raised ten children and at least two grandchildren in their household, including Frederick.
Frederick had been baptised in May 1836. The parish register at St Michael’s noted him as baseborn, the illegitimate child of Mary Fludder. The youngest of those ten children, she was the daughter who had stayed behind after the others had all left.
Five years after Frederick’s birth, his mother Mary Fludder had married in October 1841 to an agricultural labourer from Ash Common. James Wolf had then moved in to the household of his new wife’s elderly parents. George and Sarah were then in their eighties. George died less than four years later, in August 1845, aged 86. Frederick then came more directly under the authority of his stepfather who by then had two children of his own with Mary. Frederick’s grandmother passed away five years later in November 1850, his stepfather, then with four children of his own, in almost uncontested command.
Frederick’s mother had a large number of older brothers and sisters, providing hime with an extensive family network across the village. He had many uncles, aunts and cousins, varying widely in age. Two cousins about the same age as Frederick were two sons of his Uncle John. George (aged 19) and William (16). Now a widower, Uncle John was an agricultural labourer with a complex household, not the only one in the village. In addition to John’s two sons there was his older brother William and their niece Jane Fludder, aged 25, together with her small child called Lucy. Cousin Jane was the daughter of Mary’s older sister Eleanor.
Frederick’s Aunt Esther was the eldest of his mother’s sisters. She lived in North Lane having married the sawyer George Hughes in 1833. That link provided an even larger kinship network for the Fludder family as George Hughes was one of thirteen children. Although many of those had left the village there were twenty of that name in village in 1851. George’s brother Thomas Hughes, another Sawyer, also lived in North Lane; he was father to thirteen of Frederick’s cousins.
Saturday, 15th January 1853
Reverend Dr Henry Carey returned to his parish in time for a second and happier event for the Barnett family. The village was to have another Mary Barnett through the marriage of Mary Seymour to Richard Barnett, both of this parish. Mary was listed as a minor, perhaps only 15 years old. There was no subsequent baptism in the parish or within the locality around this time; any miscarriage before birth would not have been publicly recorded.
Mary was able to sign her own name in the marriage register; Richard could not and had to make his mark. The two witnesses of the name Barnett also signified by making their mark. The curate may have noted that Mary was the daughter of a labourer, but he probably did not know her circumstances. In 1841 her father John Seymour had been a blacksmith in the village of Froyle, aged 35, with a wife and young family, including Mary, then aged 3. Ten years later, by 1851, Mary’s father John was in the Alton Workhouse, recorded as a pauper blacksmith. Mary had become a domestic servant listed as aged 13 as born in Froyle, at Ash Green to the wealthy widow Rebecca Younge; Mrs Younge had died in November 1852.
In 1851 Richard had been a servant in the household of the Ann Harding, the widow of Thomas the farmer of Shearing Farm. Richard was an agricultural labourer like his father, another Richard Barnett.
After their marriage, the young couple rented a cottage near the Bee Hive Inn owned by Mr Hall.
A New Government
Newspapers, both regional and national, gave prominent coverage during January to the policy intentions of the ‘coalition’ Government of Whigs and ‘Peelite’ Tories led by Earl Aberdeen.
The Peelites supported the Free Trade policies of Sir Robert Peel who had split the Tory Party with the abolition of the protectionist Corn Laws in 1846. On those grounds alone they would not find favour amongst the farmers in the village, James Elstone having voiced opinion against the abolitionists in meetings at the Farnham Cattle Show the year before.
Sir James Graham credited members of the Coalition with having abolished slavery throughout Britain’s dominions, emancipated Catholics, passed the Reform Act, repealed the Corn Laws and established Free Trade. With rising concern over the state of Britain’s defences the Coalition were also intent upon military reform. Ironically, the death in September of the Duke of Wellington, the hero of Waterloo, had made that easier, although there would be resistance amongst some of the military establishment. The Iron Duke and his policies had dominated thinking and proved an obstacle to change; he had continued to sit in the House of Lords, retaining his position as Commander-in-Chief and membership of the Cabinet until his death at age 83.
Speeches made in the Lords and the Commons in January set the tone for the new Government. They contained the seeds of internal contradiction which would later erupt. Earl Aberdeen affirmed his commitment to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of foreign nations “with the great object [of] the maintenance and extension of free trade and the commercial and financial system established by the late Sir Robert Peel”. In the House of Commons, Viscount Palmerston spoke from the despatch box to explain Government intentions.
Palmerston had dominated diplomacy in Europe for decades as Britain’s Foreign Secretary, associated with the policy of gun-boat diplomacy. He had been obliged to resign from that post when in the previous Administration for upsetting the Queen and her Consort. Popular in the country and in the House of Commons, Palmerston was regarded as essential in order to ensure a working majority for the Coalition. A compromise was reached and he had agreed to join the new Cabinet as Home Secretary. This position gave him both formal oversight over reform of the militia and a platform from which to voice opinion about other matters associated with the defence of the realm.
Almost all the incoming Cabinet were of aristocratic birth; the exceptions included Viscount Henry Hardinge. A seasoned commander in the Peninsular War, Henry Hardinge had been rewarded for his tenure as Governor-General of Bengal with a generous pension and a place in the Lords. Viscount Hardinge was regarded as an able and reforming administrator. Having succeeded Wellington as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, he had agreed to stay on in the Cabinet as part of the new Government. As with others in the Cabinet he favoured reform of the regular army and the militia, also enjoying the confidence of Prince Albert.
Viscount Hardinge would have significant impact upon the future of the village, even if very few in the village knew much about him in January. Doubtless, former soldiers like James Hone, as a veteran of Waterloo, would have known him by reputation. Captain George Newcome who now occupied the Manor House was likely another. Several more might have recognised the name, given his role in organising the funeral of the Duke and the extensive coverage it had received in the country’s newspapers.