The Admiral

Admiral Lukin

Admiral Lukin and his brothers outside Felbrigg parsonage © NTPL

Admiral Lukin and his brothers outside Felbrigg parsonage

William Windham III had thought of leaving Felbrigg to one of his close circle of friends, but in the end settled it upon William, the eldest son of his half-brother George Lukin. George Lukin had been rector of Felbrigg and was now Dean of Wells. His son William was a distinguished sailor whose life before the mast began in 1781 at the age of 13. He became a Vice Admiral before leaving the navy in 1814. William Windham III's widow Cecilia had a life interest in Felbrigg, which meant that he could not enter into his inheritance until her death in 1824.

Wm Howe Windham

  • Born in 1802, he went on the Grand Tour between 1824-25
  • Became a model improving landlord under the inspiration of Coke of Holkham, investing heavily in the farms
  • Rose to county prominence as a Whig member for Nofolk in 1832 but lost his seat in 1837
  • Remodelled the great hall with gargantuan neo-Jacobean details and marble busts of past and present Whig heroes. Stained glass windows introduced
  • in 1835 he married Lady Sophia Hervey, daughter of the 1st Marquis of Bristol
  • The male members of Lady Sophia's family had a reputation for eccentricity in looks and behaviour which stretched back to the early 18th century
  • Sophia herself was highly strung and her husband's habit of shouting whistling and singing to himself whilst alone in the drawing room was remarked upon by the servants
  • Their son William Frederick was born in 1840 and unsurprisingly was something of an oddity

'Mad Windham'

Portrait of the young Mad Windham

Portrait of the young Mad Windham

William Frederick acquired the name of 'Mad Windham' in the merciless climate of Victorian Eton. He was certainly distinctly odd and was further handicapped by his upbringing. His passion for uniform was encouraged in his early years when his parents gave him a suit of blue and red livery, which the Felbrigg servants had worn since Ashe's day, and allowed him to wait at table.  As he grew up he became interested in trains and, having acquired a guard's uniform, could be found on the platforms of local stations causing chaos with unauthorised whistle blasts.

On coming of age in 1861 he married Agnes Willoughby, a glamorous kept woman whose protector was a timber contractor known as mahogany Roberts. The marriage was short-lived and by 1863 Windham's debts were completely out of control and the estate passed into the hands of his bankers.

William Frederick became an increasingly erratic and dangerous driver of the express coach between Cromer and Norwich and died in 1866.

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