Sunday, 5 October 2014

(143) Angerstein of Weeting Hall and Woodlands House, Greenwich

The Angerstein dynasty owed its wealth and status entirely to the activities of John Julius Angerstein (c.1732-1832), who was born in St. Petersburg about 1732.  He seems to have been the illegitimate son of a British merchant and a German doctor's wife, although family tradition asserted that his mother was Empress Anna of Russia. He came to England in the late 1740s and initially entered his father's business, but by 1756 he was working as a marine insurance broker, and he was later one of those principally responsible for establishing the Lloyds of London shipping insurance market on a modern basis. His insurance business made him seriously rich, and he applied the proceeds to the purchase of landed estates, the acquisition of an art collection which after his death was purchased for the nation and formed the nucleus of the National Gallery collection, and philanthropic works.  His main estate purchases were the small Woodlands estate at Greenwich (Kent), where he built a villa as a summer residence, and the Weeting and Brandon estates on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. However he also acquired land in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, much of which was sold after his death. 

His son, John Angerstein (1773-1858), seems to have had no interest in business but was a traditional landed gentleman, sitting as an MP in the 1790s and again in the 1830s, and serving as High Sheriff of Norfolk. During his lifetime the family seem to have remained reasonably prosperous, but over the next two generations the expectation of riches and a life of ease seem to have led many of the sons in particular into financial difficulties and bankruptcy. John's heir was the unmarried Lt-Gen. John Julius Angerstein (1800-66), who remained solvent but spent heavily on his passion for horses. His next brother, Frederick Angerstein (1809-86) had a disastrous career and was twice bankrupted; he was disinherited in favour of the youngest brother, William Angerstein (1811-97), who was most in his father's mould as a traditional gentleman. His skill with money does not seem to have been much greater than his brothers, however, and the combination of the Agricultural Depression of the 1880s and the need to pay off the debts of several of his sons finally exhausted John Julius' legacy. By the time he died in 1897 the Weeting estate was mortgaged to the Norwich Union Insurance Company, and the library and some of the family pictures had been sold; the Insurance Company took possession of the estates and sold Brandon in 1898 and Weeting in 1901. William's heir was his grandson, Julius Henry William Angerstein (1872-1944), who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1888 after his parents' divorce. He came back to England only for long enough to settle his grandfather's estate, and then returned to New Zealand; he had only one son, who died unmarried in 1948.  The only one of William Angerstein's descendants who maintained the family's gentry status into the 20th century was his son, John Richard Julius Angerstein (1845-1925), who, perhaps with his wife's money, bought Holbrook House, Charlton Horethorne (Somerset) in 1903 after Weeting Hall was sold, and remodelled it, reputedly to the designs of Sir Reginald Blomfield. His widow continued to live at Holbrook until 1945 when that too was sold.

Weeting Hall, Norfolk

Weeting Hall c.1934: entrance front. Image: Matthew Beckett.

In the 1740s the landscape around Weeting was a sandy wasteland, dotted with warrener's lodges. In 1756 Charles Henry Coote (1725-1802), 7th and last Earl of Mountrath, bought a house and land here and quickly built up the estate so that by 1770, he held over 5,000 acres. It seems likely that Lord Mountrath felt the original house was no longer adequate for such a large estate, and letters from 1780 record the sending down of craftsmen from London to the finish work on rebuilding or remodelling the house; no architect for the works is known. The sale particulars of 1804 describe the house as 'a noble, modern built, freehold mansion' of local white bricks, and it seems likely that what was built at this time was the seven-bay block of two storeys over a high basement which formed the core of the later house.  

When J.J. Angerstein bought the estate in 1805-08, there were proposals for the demolition of the house, but this did not happen, and it was let instead until John Angerstein inherited in 1823 and took up residence. Little is known about any improvements made to the house during the century it was owned by the Angersteins, but after they sold it c.1901 it was refaced in red brick with stone dressings, and given large additional service accommodation as part of a large-scale renovation for Thomas Skarratt Hall. 

Weeting Hall: garden front, showing the large service wing added c.1900. Image: Matthew Beckett.

In 1926 the house was sold to the Ministry of Labour for use as a residential work camp to train and condition unemployed men for a new life in agriculture in the Commonwealth, usually in Canada or Australia. By 1929, high unemployment in the destination countries meant that demand for the trainees collapsed and the centre was redesignated as an Instructional Centre, though the work remained largely the same. During World War II Weeting Hall became a hospital for wounded Indian and Gurkha soldiers and was also a holding camp for the 1st Bn. The Rifle Brigade in the lead up to the Normandy landings. Following the war, the house and grounds were used to accomodate people displaced by the war until the early 1950s; the house was demolished in 1954 when no further use could be found for it.  The site of the hall and the immediate parkland were built over with a large housing estate, during the construction of which some unusually large sewer tunnels were found under the site of the house and orangery.

Descent: sold 1756 to Charles Henry Coote (1725-1802), 7th Earl of Mountrath; to first cousin once removed, Orlando Bridgeman (1762-1825), 1st Earl of Bradford; sold 1805-08 to John Julius Angerstein (c.1732-1823); to son, John Angerstein (1773-1858); to son, Lt-Gen. John Julius Angerstein (1800-66); to brother, William Angerstein (1811-97); to son, Julius William Angerstein (fl. 1901) who sold 1901 to Thomas Skarratt Hall (d. 1903); to widow, who sold 1917 to Sir James Calder; sold 1926 to HM Government.

Woodlands House, Greenwich, Kent

Woodlands House in 1795, from an old engraving.

Woodlands House from a watercolour by George Heriot, c.1790.
A neo-classical villa, originally built c.1774-76 by the local architect George Gibson for John Julius Angerstein (c.1732-1823) on a 41-acre plot. As first built it was a five-bay two-storey house of brick faced with Liardet's stucco, in which a decorative cornice was moulded, and with a mansard roof.  The porticoed entrance front faced east and was windowless apart from a thermal window, but had two niches containing statues of Apollo and a dancing faun, with bas-reliefs in roundels above them.  It was described in Lysons' Environs of London thus:
Woodlands, the seat of John Julius Angerstein, Esq... occupies a situation uncommonly beautiful. The surrounding scenery is very picturesque; and the distant view of the river, and the Essex shore, is broken with good effect by the plantations near the house. The grounds were laid out, and the house built about the year 1772, by the present proprietor, who has a small but valuable collection of pictures... The greenhouse is to be remarked for its collection of heaths.
About 1800, when he had become much wealthier and was spending more time at the estate, Angerstein added a west wing which destroyed the original symmetry but made the house more viable as a full-time residence. In 1818, when he had become infirm and needed ground-floor rooms, he added an east wing and filled in the portico to make the house warmer. The north front became the entrance front and was faced in Portland stone and given an elegant Ionic porch.  Two shallow bow windows were added to the south front, and a new conservatory was built to accommodate plants from China and South Africa.

The estate was sold in 1876 for development, and Mycenae Road was constructed right in front of the house, necessitating the demolition of the east wing.  The whole house was nearly lost, but William Bristow of the development company decided to live in it himself, and it was probably he who refaced the south and east fronts in Portland stone. By 1906 most of the grounds had been developed and it was no longer a desirable private residence; during the First World War it became a hostel for Belgian refugees. It became a convent in 1923 and the west wing was largely replaced by new convent buildings; for an image of the house in 1966 see here.  In 1967 the house was bought by the local council for use as a local history library and art gallery and restored, but the library moved in 2003 and the art gallery subsequently closed.  After falling into a derelict condition, the house was leased to the Greenwich Steiner School and restored.

Woodlands House in 2012. Image: Paul Wilkinson. Licenced under this Creative Commons licence.

Descent: built for John Julius Angerstein (c.1732-1823); to son, John Angerstein (1773-1858); to son, Lt-Gen. John Julius Angerstein (1800-66); to brother, William Angerstein (1811-97), who sold 1876 to Westcombe Estate Co.; sold 1895 to Sir Alfred Fernandez Yarrow (1842-1932), 1st bt.... sold 1923 to Little Sisters of the Assumption; sold 1967 to London Borough of Greenwich.

Angerstein family of Weeting Hall

John Julius Angerstein
by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Angerstein, John Julius (c.1732-1823) of Woodlands House.  Born in Russia in obscure circumstances, he appears to have been the illegitimate offspring of Andrew Poulett Thompson, a British merchant, and Eva Pritzen Angerstein, the wife of a German surgeon, Johan Heinrich Angerstein, although family tradition asserted more glamorously that his mother was the Empress Anna of Russia (1693-1740). He moved to London in 1749 when he is said to have been aged fifteen, and he was employed initially in his father's counting-house. By 1756 he was working in the marine insurance business and by 1770, when he became a naturalised British subject, he was well established as a broker, with an office in Cornhill, London; he continued in the industry until he retired in 1810 or 1811. In 1771 he was one of the subscribers to a New Lloyd's Coffee House, and in 1773 led the negotiations with the Gresham Trustees for the lease of rooms in the Royal Exchange to Lloyds; he was on the committee of Lloyds, 1786-96 and chaired at least one meeting in 1795. Angerstein built a substantial personal fortune from his business activities, which he employed in supporting philanthropic causes and building an important art collection, with the advice of Sir Thomas Lawrence and others. At Lloyd's his initiative led to the establishment of the Lifeboat Fund to provide grants for construction of lifeboats.  He also supported the Veterinary College. After his death, the proposed sale of his art collection stimulated the foundation of the National Gallery, and 38 works from his collection, including major works by Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian, Claude Lorrain, Poussin, Velazquez and Hogarth's Marriage a la mode sequence, were acquired from his estate for £57,000 as one of the foundation collections. His town house at 100 Pall Mall was leased from his executors and opened to the public as the National Gallery in 1824. The family pictures, including works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Thomas Lawrence remained with the family until 1896. He married 1st, 31 May 1771 at St Peter-le-Poer, London, Anna (c.1733-83), daughter of Henry Muliman and widow of Charles Crockett, and 2nd, about October 1785, Eliza (c.1748-1800), daughter of Rev. Joseph Payne of Buckland Newton and widow of Thomas Lucas of Lee (Kent), and had issue:
(1.1) Juliana Angerstein (1772-1846), baptised 18 June 1772; married, 1804 at St James, Westminster, Gen. Nicholas Sabloukoff (d. 1849) of the Russia Service, who became bankrupt in 1820; died 13 December 1846; will proved in the PCC, 18 March 1847;
(1.2) John Angerstein (1773-1856) (q.v.).
He lived at 100 Pall Mall, London, and built Woodlands House, Greenwich as a country retreat, c.1774-76. In 1805-08 he purchased the Weeting Hall estate in Norfolk for his descendants, though he himself never lived there and let it to Sir Richard Sutton.
He died at Woodlands, 22 January 1823 and was buried at St. Alphege, Greenwich. His first wife died 19 June 1783, and his second 8 March 1800. They are all commemorated by a monument at St. Alphege. His will was proved in the PCC, February 1823.

Angerstein, John (1773-1858) of Weeting Hall. Only son of John Julius Angerstein (c.1732-1823) and his first wife, Anna, daughter of Henry Muliman and widow of Charles Crockett, born 28 October 1773. MP for Camelford, 1796-1802 and Greenwich, 1835-37; High Sheriff of Norfolk, 1831. He married, 2 October 1799, Amelia (1777-1848), daughter of William Lock of Norbury Park (Surrey), and had issue:
(1) Lt-Gen. John Julius William Angerstein (1800-66); educated at Eton and Sandhurst; served in Grenadier Guards (Captain, 1825; Lt-Gen. 1862); JP and DL for Norfolk; an enthusiastic horseman, he purchased Napoleon's horse 'Marengo' and maintained studs at Newmarket and Weeting; he died unmarried, 23 April and was buried at Weeting, 1 May 1866; will proved 23 February 1867 (estate under £18,000);
(2) Caroline Amelia Angerstein (1802-79), baptised 31 July 1802; married, 20 August 1841, Rev. Charles Manners Richard Norman (1800-73), vicar of Northwold (Norfolk); died without issue, 27 February 1879; will proved 4 April 1879 (estate under £30,000);
(3) Elizabeth Julia Angerstein (1804-70); married, 12 July 1828, Capt. Richard Freeman Rowley (1806-54), son of Adm. Sir Charles Rowley, 1st bt. and had issue seven sons and two daughters; died 18 February and was buried at Weeting, 24 February 1870;
(4) Henry Frederick Angerstein (1805-21); educated at Eton, but drowned there, 26 March 1821;
(5) George Anderstein (b. & d. 1808); buried 15 April 1808, aged 3 months;
(6) Frederick Angerstein (1809-86); ensign in 44th Foot, 1831-33; later a partner (possibly a sleeping partner) in a London business making atmospheric clocks; bankrupted 1860 and 1869; married 1st, 21 February 1833 at St James, Westminster, Charlotte Sophia (d. 1863), daughter of Andrew Thomas Blayney, 11th Baron Blayney of Castle Blayney and had issue, and 2nd, 15 April 1878 at St Pancras (Middx), Dorothea (d. 1896), daughter of Thomas Williams, barrister-at-law; died 30 October 1886;
(7) William Angerstein (1811-97) (q.v.).
He inherited Woodlands House and Weeting Hall from his father in 1823. At his death they passed first to his eldest son, and on his death in 1866 to his youngest son.
He died 8 April 1858; his will was proved 2 July and 30 December 1858 (estate under £300,000). His wife died 1 April 1848.

Angerstein, William (1811-97) of Weeting Hall. Youngest son but eventual heir of John Angerstein (1773-1858) and his wife Amelia, daughter of William Lock, born 1811. MP for Greenwich, 1859-65; JP and DL for Kent, JP for Norfolk; High Sheriff of Norfolk, 1872; Master of Norfolk Staghounds, 1872-76. He married, 1842, Mary Ann (1824-87), daughter of William Nettleship of Cheltenham (Glos) and had issue:
(1) William John Nettleship Angerstein (1843-92) (q.v.); 
(2) John Richard Julius Angerstein (1845-1925) of Holbrook House (Somerset), born 29 November and baptised 19 December 1845; JP for Norfolk and Suffolk; bought Holbrook House, 1903 and remodelled it to the designs of Sir Reginald Blomfield; married, 27 October 1892, Georgiana Burton (1863-1945) and had issue three daughters; died 5 March 1925; will proved 30 April 1925 (estate £97,837);
(3) Amelia Mary Ann Angerstein (1847-66), born 15 March and baptised 5 July 1847; died unmarried, 1866;
(4) Julius Charles Frederick Angerstein (1848-92), born 2 November 1848 and baptised 7 August 1849; lieutenant in Grenadier Guards, 1869-71; bankrupted, 1871; emigrated to New Zealand, where he married, 27 March 1880 at Dunedin Cathedral (div. 1889), Eleanor Mary Hackworth (1862-1912) and had issue three children of whom only one daughter survived; died 1892;
(5) Julia Augusta Angerstein (1852-1936); married, 10 September 1886 at St. Alphege, Greenwich, Canon John Francis Kendall (1862-1931), son of John Kendall, farmer, and had issue six children; died 8 November 1936; will proved 27 January 1937 (estate £297);
(6) Frederica Caroline Angerstein (1855-1926) of Brandon Hall (Suffolk); married, 1880, Robert Francis Burton (1840-1903) and had issue one son; died 7/11 November 1926; will proved 15 December 1926 (estate £27,939).
In 1862 he was leasing Quenby Hall (Leics). He inherited Woodlands House and Weeting Hall from his elder brother in 1866, but gave up the lease of Woodlands House in 1870. He eventually ran out of money, mortgaged the Weeting estates to the hilt and sold pictures and the library (in 1896).
He died 31st May 1897; no will has been traced for him.  His wife died in 1887.

Angerstein, William John Nettleship (1843-92). Eldest son and heir apparent of his father, William Angerstein (1811-97) and his wife Mary Anne Nettleship, born 18 September 1843 and baptised 14 August 1844. He lived beyond his means and appears to have been chronically inept at managing money; he was repeatedly bankrupted or sequestrated in 1874, 1882 and 1886; was tried at Leicester Assizes for defrauding a horse dealer, 1880 although the charge was withdrawn; and his reversionary life interest in the Weeting estate was first mortgaged and later sold to his father. He married, 22 February 1868, Augusta Frances Anne (1845-1922), daughter of Sir Henry Ainslie Hoare, 5th bt., but his wife divorced him in 1887 on grounds of adultery and cruelty (she married 2nd, 1894, Col. J. St. Aubyn Hastie (d. 1901)); they had issue:
(1) Mary Augusta Penelope Angerstein (1869-1947); married, 22 October 1897 at Malabon, Bombay (India), Col. Herbert Capel Cure DSO (1859-1909), son of Robert Capel Cure of Blake Hall; died at Srinagar, Kashmir (India), 6 June 1947; will proved 30 January 1948 (estate £4,703 in England);
(2) Leila Caroline Angerstein (1870-1949); married 1st, 1897, Charles Fleetwood Hesketh (c.1869-1919) and had issue; and 2nd, 17 December 1924 at Richmond (Surrey), Alfred Charles Craw (1875-1930), commercial traveller; died 1949;
(3) Zoe Julia Angerstein (1871-1940); married, 2 June 1896, Col. Edmond Merceron Burton (1860-1948) and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 29 December 1940; will proved 26 June 1941 (estate £589);
(4) Julius Henry William Angerstein (1872-1944) (q.v.);
He died in the lifetime of his father, 23 February 1892. 

Angerstein, Julius Henry William (1872-1944). Only son of William John Nettleship Angerstein and his wife Augusta Frances Ann, daughter of Sir Henry Hoare, born 2 December 1872. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1888, shortly after his parents' divorce. He married Caroline Elizabeth Guthery (b. 1875) and had issue:
(1) John Eric Royal Angerstein (1901-48); died unmarried in New Zealand.
He inherited the Weeting Hall estate from his father in 1897 but immediately obliged by the mortgagors to put it up for sale; it was finally sold in 1901.
He died 5 August 1944.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1898, vol. 1, p. 23 (contains errors); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry on John Julius Angerstein; B. Cherry & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 2: South, 1983, p. 249; D. Clarke, The country houses of Norfolk: pt 2: the lost houses, 2008, pp. 98-101; C. Knight, London's Country Houses, 2009, pp. 348-49.

Location of archives

Angerstein family of Woodlands House and Weeting Hall: deeds, estate and legal papers, 1591-1945 [London Metropolitan Archives, F/ANG]
Angerstein, John Julius (c.1732-1823): correspondence with Sir Thomas Lawrence [Royal Academy of Arts, LAW]

Coat of arms

Azure, on a mount in base vert, a cubical stone in perspective, argent, in the dexter canton a sun in splendour.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 5th October 2014 and was updated 10th January 2016.

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