Alexander Family of Edwinstowe Hall
(and their connection with Mrs. C. F. Alexander!)
Edwinstowe Hall 1790
Edwinstowe Hall with the forest and cricket pitch in the background. The huts in the top right hand corner were for displaced people from WW11.
The beautiful stained glass window depicting three Archangels by Powell in St. Mary’s Church Lady Chapel commemorates Captain James Fane Alexander JP, late 17th Lancers who died in Nassau,Bahamas on December 31st 1891 where he had travelled in hope of restoring his health. He was only 45 years old. His young widow, Mrs Aurea Otway Alexander, travelled home with his coffin on the White Star Line Adriatic from New York.
The funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church on 2nd February 1892:
“The interment of the remains of Captain Alexander took place in Edwinstowe Churchyard on Tuesday. The body was brought home on Saturday, and on Monday morning the coffin was carried into the Church, where it remained all night covered with beautiful wreaths, of which there was a large number. The breast-plate bore the following inscription:-“James Fane Alexander Born 1st January 1846. Died 31st December 1891”. The burial service was taken by the Rev. H.T. Hayman, Vicar assisted by the Rev. R. Fitz-Herbert, Rector of Warsop. The church was filled with relatives and friends, and whilst these were assembling the organist played “Abide with me”… The choir and congregation sang the hymns”Just as I am” and “Peace, perfect peace.” [Mourners included Earl Manvers, Lord Newark, Mr Cecil Foljambe, Mr J.T. Bullivant, Mr G.Pinder, house servants, Committee of Edwinstowe Conservative Association and several Officers of the 17th Lancers.] A muffled peal was rung during the afternoon. The grave which was a brick vault, was beautifully lined to the surface with moss, Christmas roses, &c. The Mansfield and North Notts Advertiser
The grave of Captain James Alexander is situated in St. Mary’s graveyard marked with a large stone cross near the hedge, beside the path near the base of the Tower.
(On 31st August 1939 the ashes of Aurea Otway Lombe were brought from Northamptonshire to be deposited in this grave with her first husband.)
Aurea Otway Mayne was born in 1860 in Auringabad, India. Her father, Major Henry Otway Mayne, has a memorial in Westminster Abbey and was a hero of the Afghan War in the 1870’s. In September 1884, she married James Fane Alexander in Westminster. In October 1885 their son Paul Robert was born at Edwinstowe Hall, followed by Charles and William James. (Two sons achieved high rank in the army and Charles Otway Alexander had risen to Rear-Admiral before the second world war.)
Situated close to Sherwood Forest next to the old Vicarage, the extensive grounds of Edwinstowe Hall played a major part in village life. Church fetes and generously-catered Sunday School treats were hosted there, often followed by a pyrotechnic display by Mr. Pinder (whose fireworks factory occupied a large area of farmland on the outskirts of the village on the Lidgett, aka Rufford Road.)
After her husband’s death in 1891, Aurea Alexander continued to take an active interest in the welfare of the local inhabitants. There’s a letter of 23rd January 1895 (MaB94/2 Manvers papers Manuscripts Dept, University of Nottingham) to Mr. Wordsworth Earl Manvers’ Agent, urging him to investigate the possibility of starting a Co-operative Store for the benefit of the village. She had obtained pamphlets and suggested asking a speaker to come from the Central Board in Manchester. She foresaw difficulties in obtaining start-up capital, but eventually Earl Manvers gave the scheme his full support.
Reference: Manuscripts and Special Collections, the University of Nottingham (Ma B 94/2).
Edwinstowe Hall hosted the annual Edwinstowe, Ollerton and District Horticultural Show which was judged by Head Gardeners from neighbouring Ducal houses. In 1894, in addition to flowers and produce there were foals and athletic sports. We get a glimpse of their way of life in 1895. Via a newspaper advertisement Mrs. Fane Alexander ‘recommended’ a plain gardener with 5 children for a new position praising his skill growing peaches and grapes, but also understanding pigs and stock.
A party from Edwinstowe Hall are listed among the guests when the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Welbeck Abbey in 1896. Mrs. Alexander wore white satin with triple frilled sleeves of deep crimson, a tiara of diamonds and carried a magnificent bouquet of scarlet blossoms. In 1897, she married Major Ralph Henry Fenwick Lombe who had served with her father. The Lombes rode to hounds and successfully entered their horses in local equestrian events. He became a Justice of the Peace and until he moved in 1911, to live at Grafton Manor, Northamptonshire oversaw the local Fire Brigade.
Rufford Abbey Royal Group King Edward VII
Alexander Family on the Rufford Hunt n d
In May 1899, Mrs. Lombe was driving her ponytrap along the Main Street when William Challoner, approached from the opposite direction ‘furious driving, thrashing his horse’. Mrs. Lombe couldn’t get past, as she turned her pony the defendant ran into her trap, the shafts struck the pony behind the collar and dragged her along. Fortunately, Aurea does not seem to have been too seriously hurt. The case came to court in mid-June.
In the Census of 1901 for Edwinstowe Hall, Major Lombe was not listed, but Mrs. Julia Charlotte Alexander aged 74 years, Aurea’s widowed mother-in-law, had joined the family. She died in 1903, leaving a fortune of more than £58,000 to Aurea! Although she is buried in Kent, there is a memorial tablet to Julia Charlotte Alexander in the Lady Chapel beside the window commemorating her son.
Postscript –In the 1990’s, our Vicar suggested that the Alexander family in Kent might be connected to Mrs. C. F. Alexander, the writer of famous hymns such as All Things Bright and Beautiful and There is a Green Hill. We established that her husband William, Bishop of Derry, was a cousin of James Fane Alexander of Edwinstowe House.