The Boscawens at Hatchlands Park

A portrait of Admiral Boscawen

Edward and Frances Boscawen built the house at Hatchlands Park. They fell in love with the estate and made it their family home. Despite only spending a period of about 20 years at Hatchlands, the Boscawens are probably most responsible for the way we see the house today.

Frances Evelyn Glanville was born on July 23, 1719. Much of Fanny’s childhood was spent away from home with relatives. It was during a stay with her friend Mary, that she first met Mary’s brother Edward, a young captain in the Navy.
Fanny looked forward to seeing this ‘unusually attractive and distinguished looking sailor’, a very different kind of man to those she knew. She referred to this period in a letter to Edward as the time ‘when you and I loved each other and told it only by our eyes’. Fanny was not a classic beauty but her wit, intelligence and an independent spirit unusual for the time, combined to make her irresistible to Edward.
Having met in 1738 Edward was then away at sea for almost five years. They were married late in 1742, before he set sail again. In total, Edward was away for almost 10 years of their marriage.

A respected husband and wife

Edward went on to become an Admiral in the Royal Navy having begun his career at the ripe old age of 12, setting sale for the Caribbean aboard the HMS Superb. He finished his career a genuine war hero having taken a full part in one of the most turbulent periods of British naval history.
A portrait of Frances Boscawen
A portrait of Frances Boscawen
A portrait of Frances Boscawen

Frances, known to her friends as Fanny, was a strong, intelligent and independent woman. She was a member of the Blue Stockings Society, a group credited with preserving and advancing feminism by advocating education for women.

Life in letters

Fanny wrote to Edward almost daily, keeping him up to date with her search for the perfect home. Her heart was set on Hatchlands, but it was not for sale. She wrote of other locations, ‘by the way, I hear is to be sold, but not knowing whether you would like it or the country about it, I have made no enquiries, my heart still fixed at Hatchlands’. Eventually Hatchlands did come on to the market, they bought it and commissioned the house you see today.
A letter from Fanny Boscawen to Hannah More
A letter from Fanny Boscawen to Hannah More
A letter from Fanny Boscawen to Hannah More

Fanny’s letters detailed the progress of their new house. She described the deal she’d managed to get on bricks, ‘a shilling cheaper than I expected to get them’ and progress on the building, ‘your son has galloped to Hatchlands this morning. Says it is very high, the last scaffolding up and looks just ready for the roof’. She was particularly proud of plans for her garden walk, ‘I will just deign to tell you that I have purple lilacs, yellow laburnums, white Gelder roses, fine red cinnamon roses’.

A sad end

The Admiral was not able to enjoy the fruits of his and Fanny’s labour for long. While at sea, off the east coast of France near Quiberon Bay, he suffered an attack of typhoid fever. He was brought ashore and transported to Hatchlands where Fanny nursed him constantly. 
Her friend Elizabeth Montagu wrote ‘The noble Admiral does not fight so well with a fever as he does with the French; he will not lie in bed, where he would sooner subdue it.’
Edward died in January of 1761, just 2 years after Hatchlands was completed, with his wife at his bedside.