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Charles Mason 1838 – 1867

In any event, a new Steward is recorded at The Vine in 1838, Charles Adnam Mason – though quite when, between the years 1830 and 1838, he assumed this role from John Smith Edwards is not clear. As we have seen, Charles Mason was the son of Elizabeth Smith and great nephew of John Edwards III and his brother Moses Edwards, from whom Charles received a legacy in his 1835 Will. Charles was born in London in 1807 and it is most interesting that once again the Stewardship of the Foley Estate was handed down inside the same extended family.

We come to know of Charles Mason’s presence at The Vine in 1838 since that was the year of the Tithe Apportionment for Tarrington and a detailed list of all land owners and occupiers (generally two quite different categories in Tarrington) and a map of their holdings is available. 

1838 Tithe Map

The Tithe Apportionment shows Charles Adam (sic – the correct middle name appears to have been Adnam – see below) Mason as the occupier of The Vine (described in the Apportionment as the “Vine House Offices” and number 342)  and of all the land bounded on the North by what is now the A 438, on the South by what is now School Lane and on the East and West by the two lanes connecting these two roads (numbers 340, 341, 343 and 344). The only exceptions are a line of plots running to the West of the lane up from where The Tarrington Arms now stands (numbers 333 to 339) Tithe Map and a plot, on the site of the present Community Hall, described in the Apportionment as “School Cottage and Garden” (345). The field to the East of the house (number 341) bears the name “Vine Orchard”, that to the West (344) “Wells Close” and the long field running next to the present A 438 (340) “Vine Nap”. The plot where now are Vine Cottage and Heritage Cottage (number 343) is called “Nursery”. Clearly all this land comprised the core of the Vine Farm. The owner of all this land is specified as Edward Foley, the son of the Hon. Edward whom we have met above, and who was to marry the redoubtable Lady Emily.

However, this central bloc of land was not the only land owned by Edward Foley in Tarrington and entrusted to Charles Mason’s occupation and management. There was also a substantial parcel of land the other side of the present A 438, to the North and North-West of The Vine (numbers 284, 285, 287, 289 and 291 to 298 ) and the field to the immediate South of The Vine, known as Bare Croft (number 391). Clearly all this land at that stage formed part of the farm-unit centred on The Vine. Interestingly, Charles Mason was also a modest land-owner in his own right as the Tithe Map shows him as the proprietor of a parcel of land a little way beyond Alder’s End (88 ), occupied by one John Spencer.

If the 1838 Tithe Apportionment is invaluable for illustrating the land occupied by Charles Mason at this time, from 1841 onwards we have for the first time available that great source of information for the genealogist and house-historian – the National Census. The 1841 Census tells us that, living at The Vine on the Census day, were:-

Charles Mason             35 years of age             Farmer

Anne Mason                 30 years of age             [Clearly Charles’s wife]

Anne Mason                 4 months old

Martha Williams           35 years of age             Female Servant

Laurenca Wright           20 years of age             ditto

Elizabeth Preece           15 years of age             ditto

Joseph Griffiths 18 years of age             Male Servant

William Powell  ditto                                         ditto

Little Anne Mason’s baptism had been recorded in the Parish Register for 9 February 1841 and, under the column delightfully headed “Quality, Trade or Profession” for the father, had been recorded simply “Gentleman”.

A few years later, in March 1844, occurred the famous Dormington Landslip, when due to the percolation of water into the Aymestry limestone layers, a mass of the hillside between Perton and Dormington slid down into the valley. This was the occasion that The Vine acquired one of its most distinctive features, as one of the casualties of the slip seems to have been an ancient chapel or building of some sort and Charles Mason moved the doorway and heavy iron-braced wooden door of this to adorn the wall of The Vine abutting the old King’s Highway, where they still are. On the other hand, Andrew Foley’s father Henry always maintained that the doorway came from a building known as Chapel Knoll, in Putley Parish – though agreed that it was most likely moved there in the 1840s. The truth will probably never be known.

Charles Mason added his mark to at least one other structure at The Vine, however. Just under the eaves on the NW corner of the house, one of the brick lintels is inscribed “CAM” in fine characters. Charles Mason must, therefore, have carried out some repair, rebuilding or refacing to that part of the house at least. (As the brick is in a fairly inaccessible position, other sides of the house have not been checked for similar inscriptions!)

Charles and Anne’s family took the normal, fairly expansive course of the Victorian middle classes. On 30 October 1844, a son, Richard Smith Mason, was baptized (the middle name Smith of course commemorates Charles’s mother’s maiden name). So, on 16 June 1846, was a second son, James Edward, and on 14 July 1847, a third, the splendidly named Clayton Turner Mason. Finally, on 31 January 1850, a second daughter, Amelia Sarah, was baptized.

In fact, the Mason family was bigger still, for the 1851 Census discloses the existence of two further sons (John and Charles) whose baptisms are not for some reason recorded in the Parish Register (though the Census has them born in Tarrington). It seems however that, by this date, Charles’s wife Anne and the little daughter of the same name were both dead (unless, more happily, they were visiting away from home on the Census day). The full 1851 record is as follows:-

Charles Mason                Born London                Aged 44            Land Agent

John S.E. Mason             Born Tarrington            Aged 9              Scholar at Home

Charles J. Mason             ditto                             Aged 7              ditto

Richard S. Mason            ditto                             Aged 6              ditto

James E. Mason              ditto                             Aged 4

Clayton.T.Mason             ditto                             Aged 3

Amelia S. Mason             ditto                             Aged 1

Susanna Tinbury              Born London                Aged 30            Governess

Harriett Griffiths               Born Hay                     Aged 29            Cook

Ann Bough                      Born Welland               Aged 22            Housemaid

Susanna Scull                  Born Kington                Aged 26           Nurse

James J. Baggott             Born Bodenham           Aged 27            Groome

In Victorian families, children were typically under the care of a Nurse till 7 and a Governess thereafter. Miss Scull therefore presumably had care of Richard, James, Clayton and Amelia and Miss Tinbury of John and Charles – until they should be old enough for School.

As Steward to the Foley Estate, one of Charles Mason’s duties (as it would be of his successor Henry Parker – see below) was to further his employer’s acquisition of rights over Tarrington Common.  Thus in 1841 we see Charles Mason chairing a Meeting of the Guardians of the Poor of Ledbury Union in which material from 6 Parish houses (presumably for the poor) on the Common was sold to the Foley Estate.  In Sept 1848 Charles Mason originated a distraint on the furniture of one Widow Spencer of Durlow Common for unpaid rent.  Hard times…

A letter from Charles Mason of 28 April 1846 comments on the changes consequent to the enclosure of common land, taking place across the country at this time, in so far as these affected The Vine Farm:-

“The greater part of the farm is very wet and of a thin washing quality of land it being new inclosures [sic] from the common land about 50 years since. It has however been very much improved by draining etc….the Buildings are capable of accommodating far more stock than the land will support on account of the small quantity of tillage which has been increased within the last 20 years by breaking up some meadow ground….”

Both the Trade Directories of Lascelles in 1851 and Cassey in 1858 duly show Charles Mason at The Vine as Steward to Lady Emily Foley. Lady Emily’s husband, Edward Thomas Foley, had clearly died by 1851.

It seems that some time between 1851 and 1855, Charles Mason had built or rented or purchased or otherwise acquired a fairly large house in Great Malvern – Park Field in Victoria Road.  This property does not appear in the 1851 Census but appears in an 1855 trade directory with occupier C.A. Mason Steward.  In the 1861 Census the occupier is again given as Charles Adnam Mason, Land Agent, widower, with his daughter Amelia and the two elder sons John and Charles, now 19 and 17 respectively.  Also a cook, a housemaid, a groom and a gardener.  Quite why Charles Mason moved to Malvern at this time, with just his two elder sons and daughter and for what periods he stayed there is not clear.  The younger sons Richard, James and Clayton, were presumably now at school.

As one would expect, the returns of the 1861 Census for The Vine show no trace of Charles Mason or his family or of any of the servants listed on the 1851 return. Instead the inhabitants are given as Charles King (aged 60), agricultural labourer, born Mordiford, his wife Susan (aged 49), born Dilwin [sic] and son George (aged 7).  As Charles Mason in due course returned to The Vine (as we will see below) the King Family perhaps worked on the farm attached to the Vine and were installed temporarily into the house to act as caretakers.

As we have seen however, the 1861 Census confirms that Charles Mason was still Steward and the Post Office Directory of Herefordshire for 1863 lists him as Steward for Lady Foley and living back at The Vine 

We incidentally know that by 1861 (if not earlier) the function of Bailiff to the Foley Estate had been made separate from that of Steward since there is an entry in the Parish Register for this year that William Wallace, of The Lays, Tarrington, was buried on 28 September 1861, aged 51. A note at the end of the volume tells a sad little story of the circumstances of William’s death:-

“Bailiff to Lady Emily Foley, was killed on the Railway at the Stoke Edith Station in consequence of imprudently getting out of the Railway Carriage, before the Train had come to a stand-still….”

A few days earlier, another tragedy in the village had occurred, this time much closer to The Vine. The Parish Register records the burial on 17 September of Sarah Adams, aged 67, of Tarrington Common. A note at the end of the volume adds:-

“Seized suddenly while employed in Mr Mason’s Hop-Yard and died at home, after 48 hours, not having regained consciousness. Apoplexy.”

Charles Mason died on 21 February 1867, aged 61 at Park Field – so it is clear that he divided his time in some way between the two houses.   In his probate he is described as “late of Tarrington.. and of Parkfield”.  His funeral on 28 February was apparently a fairly grand affair.  The funeral cortege marched from the  Foley Hotel down to Park Field and from there to the Great Malvern station where everyone entrained for Tarrington.  He was then laid to rest in the Churchyard.

In 1872 the present East window of the Church was installed in his memory and a memorial plaque records:-

“To the glory of God and in loving memory / Charles Adnam Mason and Anne his wife. The east window of this church / is erected by their affectionate children AD 1872”.

It seems that, upon Charles Mason’s death, his eldest son John took over the Stewardship of the Foley Estate from his father (much as we have seen with the Edwards family). We only know this because an 1868 Trade Directory gives “John Stuart Mason Esq. of The Vine” as the “agent for the Lady Emily Foley (of Stoke Edith park), and for the Hon. Percy Wyndham, M.P. (of Cowarne court)”. However, as we will see, John Mason soon forsook the Foley agency (or vice versa), though whether he continued that for Percy Wyndham does not appear.

Charles Mason’s mother, Elizabeth Mason (nee Smith), died only a little over a month after her son – on 31 March, 1867, aged 85 – and was buried in the Edwards’s family tomb (see Plate 7). Where she was living during her son’s life at The Vine and Park Field we do not know – she certainly does not appear on any Census as living at either place. With her passed away the last recorded link with The Vine of what we can justifiably call a dynasty of Stewards – John Edwards II and III, John Smith Edwards, Charles Adnam Mason and John Stuart Mason – extending unbrokenly from the 1740s to 1867.

Tomb of Elizabeth Mason, Tarrington Churchyard

Clayton T Mason, Charles Mason’s sixth and youngest son, had a distinguished career as a civil engineer, first in the United States and later in Australia.  In the latter country he became a JP and Collector of Customs.  He died in Freemantle, Western Australia in 1911.  He was a keen sportsman, especially in shooting.  His nephew, one J R Mason, played cricket for Kent and was one of 5 brothers who are described as “devoted to the game”.  Which of the sons of C A Mason was father to this talented brood is not clear – perhaps John or James if J R Mason took his father’s name. 

Next Page: Henry Parker 1868-1900

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