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Lizzie Selina Eden

Elisabeth (Lizzie) Selina Eden lived at Eythorne House from the early 1860s probably up until the death of her mother in 1875. During that time she published three books namely “A Lady’s Glimpse of the War in Bohemia” in 1867, “My Holiday in Austria” in 1869 and “Fairy Fancies” in 1870. The last is a translation by Lizzie of a German Book (she was also able to converse in Italian) and is illustrated by her half sister (the Marchioness of Hastings). The first two volumes are very well observed accounts of the life of people in Europe at the time are as such important works and deserving of recognition as is her strength of character in often difficult situations.

This is from the start of “My Holiday in Austria”: –
“My holiday began on the hottest day of the very hot June of the year 1868. We (that is, myself and a German friend) arrived in London on the evening of the 27th, to find the atmosphere almost suffocating, and to feel thankful we were only in it for one night. Our adventures began, on leaving Cannon Street Station, by finding that the drivers of both of our cabs were rather the worse for the trying weather, having endeavoured to mitigate the heat by imbibing freely. However, the more sober of the two pioneered the way to Hermitage Wharf, of which the other declared he had no knowledge whatever. We had no sooner arrived there than from a neighbouring alley appeared a dozen street ruffians of the most ragged and unwashed aspect, who all clamoured vociferously for the honour of conveying our luggage to the boat which was to take us on board the Batavier.”

In order to clarify how Lizzie ended up living at Eythorne House its necessary to describe some of her family relationships. Elisabeth (Lizzie) Selina Eden was born on the 8th of April, 1826 at Bekesbourne, in Kent. She was the daughter of Ann Maria Kelham (1792-1875) and her second husband Rev. Hon. William Eden (1792-1859). They had nine other children.
Anna Maria Kelham’s first husband was Henry Yelveton 19th Baron Grey de Ruthyn. They were married on the 21st of June 1809. Anna Maria was not from an “upper class” family. Lord Byron (“mad, bad and dangerous to know”) who had been a close friend of Henry Yelveton until they fell out because of sexual advances by Henry to the young Lord Byron, according to some, wrote to his mother “So lord G*** is married to a rustic, well done”. Anna and Henry had a daughter Barbara, born 20th May 1810. Henry unfortunately died on October 29th 1810 at his seat of Brandon House near Coventry aged 30. At his death Barbara (at 7 months of age) became the 20th Baroness Grey de Ruthyn. She later became Barbara Rowden Hastings, Marchioness of Hastings, upon marriage in 1831 to Captain Hastings Reginald Henry RN (1808–1878), who in 1849 took the name of Yelverton by royal license. It was she who illustrated the book “Fairy Fancies” that Lizzie Selina Eden translated. During this first marriage, Barbara (first picture) was known as “the jolly fast Marchioness” on account of her fondness for foreign travel and gambling”. She was also a collector of fossils and a knowledgeable palaeontologist and her collection is now in the British Museum.
Lizzie’s sister, Charlotte Maria Eden (see picture below) married Dudley North, Lord North, son of Francis North, 6th Earl of Guilford on the 17th October 1850 in Bishopsbourne. They had three sons (Dudley Francis North 7th Earl of Guilford, Morton William North and Cecil North) and one daughter (Lady Flora Mildred North). Unfortunately Dudley North died suddenly on the 28th January 1860, whilst staying at his mother in law’s (Lady Grey de Ruthyn, (Anna Maria Eden)) residence in Wateringbury (possibly Wateringbury Place or one of the substantial houses built in the grounds by Mathias Lucas, Lord Mayor of London when he acquired Wateringbury Place in 1827). His death resulted after he caught a heavy cold whilst out shooting, with Major Cook on the lands of his brother in law, Mr Lancaster Lucas (Roydon Hall).
Charlotte Maria then Married Major Alexander George Dickson in July 1861 and it was reported that they “will take up their residence at Waldershare”. Alexander George Dickson (1834 – 4th July 1889) joined the 13th Light Dragoons in 1853 and reached the rank of Major. In 1863 he became Captain in the Royal East Kent Regiment of Mounted Rifles Yeomanry Cavalry. He stood for parliament at Dover in 1865 and retained the seat until his death in 1889.
On 10th October 1862, Major Dickson purchased Eythorne House, grounds and associated buildings (stables, coach house etc.) using a £3,000 loan (at 5%pa interest) from his sister Jean Georgina Prinzinger Von Ari (nee Dickson). Jean’s husband, Adolf Ritter Von Ari, was Lieut. Colonel of the 14th Infantry Regiment (Grossherzog von Hesse) in the Austrian army. For his services and bravery he was decorated with the iron crown, the military service cross and crown, the order of Louis of Hesse, and the Grand Duke Charles Frederick of Baden’s military service order.
Clearly Eythorne House was not in good condition as it was noted that “an outlay had to be made to render the house habitable”. The house was previously owned by John Minet Laurie (originally John Minet Fector – he changed his name to Laurie in 1848 following the death of his unmarried uncle Sir Robert Laurie, 6th Baronet). There is some uncertainty when Eythorne House was first put up for sale by Fector/Laurie. One source states that the Fector properties of Updown House, Pier House and Eythorne house (but not Kearsney and the St James’ Street Mansion) were effectively closed down as estates and probably family residences following the death of John Minet Laurie’s aunt Mary (Mary Elizabeth Fector, daughter of Peter and Mary Fector (nee Minet born 1757, died December 4th 1814 and buried at Eythorne) who had managed these estates on behalf of his father (John Minet Fector ,1754 -1821). Another source states that all the properties were up for sale in 1844 and the house and grounds of Kearsney Abbey are known to have been sold around 1845. Either way, Eythorne House had probably sat empty for a number of years before Major Dickson bought it. Even after Major Dickson paid to make Eythorne House itself habitable, other estate building such as the coach house, stables, the old Baptist Chapel and cottage etc. across the road to Coldred, remained in a state of disrepair and out of use.
From its purchase, it would seem that Major Dickson’s mother in law, Lady Grey de Ruthyn (Anna Maria Eden) and Lizzie Eden were occupants of Eythorne House and possibly some of the other Eden children too, such as the youngest daughter Flora Eden (who married in 1866). Its not clear if Major Dickson used it with his wife as a principle residence though. Major Dickson sold Eythorne House to the Earl of Guilford in 1873 but the “Hon Anna Maria Dowager Lady Grey de Ruthyn” was still living there at her death in November 1875 at the age of 84.

All three of Lizzies books can be bought or read and downloaded for free and make for an informative read.
Lizzie’s first book was “A Lady’s Glimpse of the Late War in Bohemia“ published 1867. The Austro-Prussian War of 1866, was fought between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation. Prussia had also allied with the Kingdom of Italy, linking this conflict to the Third Independence War of Italian Unification. The Austro-Prussian War was part of the wider rivalry between Austria and Prussia, and resulted in a Prussian victory and dominance over the German states. Lizzie’s book describes the impact of the war on the population and life generally and offers a useful adjunct to the drier military histories. A reviewer of the time noted that “incidents in the war are graphically described, the book is one of the most interesting that we have yet read”. Here is a passage about happier times: –
There was a much more amusing fair in August 1864, which took place in a large field near Tetschen, called the “Bird’s Meadow.” There were a great many booths, full of toys, cakes, and sweets. Some were devoted to pistol-shooting; and one contained a collection of wax figures, representing a scene out of the New Testament, in which the figures were made to move their arms and hands, and roll their eyes, while the exhibitors recited verses. Another booth contained a collection of snakes and stuffed animals; and in one cage was a little boy, clothed with a skin, and with chains on, who was described as an orangoutang. He seemed much to enjoy showing off his antics to an admiring crowd of children, who, no doubt, thought him a wonderful specimen of the strange creatures brought from distant lands. The worthy proprietor also exhibited a piece of the real Noah’s Ark, some of the bread that was brought to Elijah by the ravens, and other marvels, which took much amongst the credulous. A bull of unusual magnitude proved highly attractive to the rural community. Feats of horse-manship were preformed in a spacious tent, with some rather nice horses. We went down in the evening to see the performance. Amongst the equestrians was a very small child of about ten, who danced and rode, and was much applauded, but seemed nervous and delicate. After it was over, I went to a booth near, and bought some sweets and cakes for her…. The lot of children in such a position, there is too much reason to fear, is far from desirable”.
In this passage Lizzie compares the different mentalities on troops from the combatant nations: We had one or two night alarms to test the activity of the men. After the bugle had sounded, in three minutes they were up, their toilette completed, everything they possessed at Bodenbach packed up, and on their backs, and they had sallied forth. Very quick work. …. Undoubtedly one great weakness of the Austrian army is its want of brotherhood. I noticed that none of the Bohemian or German soldiers ever joined the band of laughing Jägers, who, fair weather or foul, used to muster on the piles of timber. The want of a common language could not account for this, for the little village children always gathered thickly round the Italians, sometimes teaching them German words, and sometimes begging two or three pinches of gunpowder, or a few percussion caps. At the twelve o’clock muster, when the women from the large sydrolith factory of Herr Schiller came out for their dinner hour, many a group of Italians was interspersed with the pink-aproned Bohemian women, in their many-coloured headkerchiefs, who were trying to talk Italian, and be amused with the lavish compliments of their swarthy admirers. But, however entertaining might be the joke, or whatever was the point of interest, the Bohemian soldier always coldly passed by his Italian comrade, and the Italians never tried to fraternize with their German brothers-in-arms. I may here venture to confirm the opinion expressed by a much abler pen than mine, that in the Austrian army, as it was this summer, “the great bond of brotherhood, the stimulus of patriotism, was wanting.”
She comments on an incident at Chatham: – Once, some years ago, at Chatham, at a grand sham fight, a mine accidentally exploded; and though no one was killed, or seriously hurt, I have a vivid recollection of seeing soldiers, with dust, stones, and rubbish, all flying up into the air together. The Sappers I remember worked energetically for an hour, digging for any bodies which might have been buried; and H. R. H. the Duke of Cambridge manifested intense anxiety, as first a cap, and then a musket, was dug up, every one expecting heads and limbs to follow.
Lastly a passage from when the war was in progress: – There was no talk now of pleasant walks or excursions. Our time was principally taken up in making lint from old linen supplied by Countess Juza. Lint is made quite differently in Austria from what it is in England. When we explained our method to Dr. Biederman, he courteously answered that it seemed very excellent, yet they naturally preferred having it prepared their own way – viz., cut into small squares and long strips – pulling every thread separate – the smaller lengths for gunshot wounds, and the long fibres for sword cuts. Except for this employment I don’t think we were any more busy than the poor raftsmen, for all day we were constantly turning our eyes to the windows or listening for the sound of firing.

From “My Holiday in Austria” (1869): – Concerning a visit to some Salt Works at Ebensee. We had a very kind friend at Ebensee in Herr von Prinzinger, the government manager of the salt-works there …The men are paid partly in money and partly by rations – bread, lard, butter, and grain – which the Emperor retails cheaply to them. They are well paid for Austria. Every child in their families is taken into Herr von Prinzinger. account, and for every fresh arrival they have extra pay. They also retire on a pension after a long service. Including wood-cutters, boatmen, wood-pipe makers, and actual workers, about six hundred men are employed in the salt-works at Ebensee. It is hard labour, but very healthy, the men rarely having any illness.
Concerning the inhabitants of Salzburg: – The women are singularly plain in Salzburg. Even their own countryman, in his guide-book, says he must be ungallant enough to mention that they ” are small, and possess little beauty !” Nor have the men anything to boast of, for in their own way they are no better-looking than the women; and people ascribe their inferior looks very much to the way in which they spend their lives. Remaining in close rooms, heated by stoves, the whole or greater part of the day, and breathing only the stifling fumes of tobacco smoke, or what Herr Noë calls “mephistischen Dünsten (roughly translates as Devil’s Stew)” can be favourable neither to the production of beauty nor to the development of muscular strength.

“Fairy Fancies” (1870) is illustrated by Barbara Rawdon-Hastings, Marchioness of Hastings, Lizzies half-sister (see picture below for title page illustration). Translated from the German and “Most Affectionately Dedicated to My Brother Arthur’s Children”. Her brother was Rev. Arthur Eden who was inducted as Vicar of St. Mary’s, Ticehurst in July 1851 and served there for 57 years.
Lizzie died 20th August 1899 aged 73 and is buried in the Churchyard at Glemham in Suffolk, Glemham Hall being the residence of Major Dickson in the latter part of the 1800’s.

Vince Croud

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