Women and Power 2018
Marking 100 years since women were first granted the right to vote in 1918, Women & Power is a nationwide exploration of the impact these social changes had on women of the time, and the legacy that was born from it.
A la Ronde’s history is deeply rooted in female experiences. The founding owners, Jane and Mary Parminter, were fiercely independent ladies who challenged perceptions of women over a century before they could have been allowed to vote. They were the first women to climb Mont Buet in the Alps. As Nonconformists they built their own church, naming it Point-in-View, a schoolroom to educate local girls and alms houses for unmarried women.
Jane and Mary’s legacy has lasted for centuries, and their story is woven deeply into A la Ronde. Many women followed in their footsteps and continued to care for this special place. Here are just a few whose stories will be told this year:
Born in Portugal, where her father was a wealthy wine merchant, the family returned to England in 1750s when Jane was five years old. The Parminters were a close family, and when Mary’s parents died Jane’s family welcomed her in to their home. 17 years older than Mary, Jane became a guardian for her cousin.
Mary inherited a considerable wealth at an early age. She lived at A la Ronde until her death in 1849, and it was Mary’s detailed will that specified a unique legacy to protect the estate. She named her successors as solely female relatives, and the condition of their inheritance was that they remained unmarried and lived at A la Ronde.
They decided to take a Grand Tour of Europe in 1784. They built A la Ronde on their return, filling it with their collection of souvenirs. Taking parlour pastimes of the day, they used these craft techniques to decorate the fabric of the building, living together here for many years.
The Parminters are the founding spirit of A la Ronde. While these fascinating, pioneering women are the centerpiece of A la Ronde’s history, a number of women who lived and worked here over the centuries have influenced the house and grounds we know today. Some of their stories are highlighted throughout 2018.
At age 22, Anna was a housemaid at A la Ronde during Jane Hurlock’s ownership. It was here that she met James, the gardener she married two years later. From their life at A la Ronde they went on to have six children, enjoying 40 years of marriage before James died in 1894. Anna’s story will be told for the first time this year.
Julia was married to Oswald Reichel, the only male owner A la Ronde ever had. She inherited the property on his death, but she felt no love for it, and risked its future at the hands of developers. Julia refused to live in the house and honour previous wills, instead building Three Acres and putting the estate up for sale.
Margaret was one of Oswald Reichel’s nieces, and an excellent artist. When Julia put A la Ronde up for sale, it was Margaret who rescued it from developers with her sister, Stella. To save the property they sold off some parts of the estate, rented to tenants, and opened the house to the public for the first time in 1935.
A frequent visitor to A la Ronde in her youth, Stella was impressed by the Parminter stories her uncle Oswald would tell. She became an accomplished musician in piano, violin and singing, travelling the world with her art. She returned to A la Ronde in 1933 to help her sister restore the Parminter furnishings and lovingly care for the estate.
In her twenties Mrs Tyrell was a tenant at A la Ronde during the Tudors’ ownership. She and her husband lived in a flat made up of what is known as the Study, Music room, Entrance hall and Butler’s pantry. Her stories of the estate and recollections of Margaret and Stella are being shared for the first time.
Ursula Tudor- Perkins
Ursula kept the house open for public tours, and would host Georgian parties in the Drawing room. She was the first owner to open the tearoom and gift shop before the National Trust took guardianship in 1991.