The Onslows at Clandon Park - Part 2
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The Onslow family have lived at Clandon Park since 1641, their changing fortunes reflecting on the house and the estate that surrounded them for almost 400 years.
A parting of the ways
Thomas, 2nd Earl, was a fun loving eccentric. Like his father he was close to the King, his second wife was a favourite lady in waiting of Queen Charlotte. Thomas and his son Arthur, the 3rd Earl, shared a love of poetry but almost nothing else.
This mutual dislike eventually exploded in an argument over dinner and Arthur left Clandon for good. When Arthur inherited Clandon in 1827 he simply ordered it to be shut up. He sold the Great Speakers collection of portraits and his library and allowed the estate to fall into disrepair. Having lost his wife and son his only remaining child was his daughter, Lady Augusta and so the estate passed to his nephew.
The Clandon revival
In 1870 William Hillier Onslow, aged just 17 found himself the 4th Earl and owner of Clandon Park. He sold land to pay for repairs, redecoration and improvements but had to negotiate with ‘hated Aunt Augusta’ for family heirlooms which he eventually bought back at auction.
Having revived Clandon he became more active in national affairs. He became Lord in Waiting to Queen Victoria but is best remembered for his role as Governor of New Zealand where he spent four years.
When war came to Clandon
Having spent time in the diplomatic service the 5th Earl, Richard, continued the improvements to the house but in 1914 war broke out. The house was offered as a hospital for injured troops, similarly when World War Two arrived the Onslows moved out and the house was used by the Public Records Office.
During post war austerity it was almost impossible to keep a large country house afloat. Clandons’ saviour was Gwendolen, Hillier’s daughter. Having married into the Guiness family and become Countess of Iveagh she was able to purchase the house from the 6th Earl and to give it to us.
Gwendolen wrote, ‘It is with the deepest satisfaction that I can now feel that my old home is safe for the future.’