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The Rushden Echo & Argus, 4th April 1930, transcribed by Gill Hollis.
Memories of Rushden Hall

And Suggestions for The Public Opening
(By Mr. J. Enos Smith)

Hall gates and Old Coach & Horses
Gates to the Hall grounds, the gate keeper's cottage and the old Coach & Horses

Further notes on Rushden Hall are offered by Mr. J. Enos Smith, now happily recovering from illness, who is one of the many to whom the Council’s decision to purchase the estate for the town has given intense pleasure.

“It was a great delight to me,” writes Mr. Smith, “to see that the Rushden Council has decided to purchase the old Hall, and if they are not thanked now for their splendid action, they will be as time rolls on.

“Where in this district can you find a more beautiful place? It has been my lot as a teacher of music, and in playing for balls and parties, to visit most of the best houses in the district – to mention a few, Colworth House, Hinwick House, Hinwick Hall, Wollaston Hall, Knuston Hall, rectories, etc – but I have never seen a more homely home, with a more picturesque setting.

The Old Squire

“May I recall one memory? It was an occasion when I wished to see the old Squire, the late Mr. Frederick Urban Sartoris. I was shown into the front hall. The squire was standing near the large log fire in his hunting suit, with scarlet coat, the fine old carved mantelshelf at the back of him; he, with his whip in his hand, just returned from hunting; the old spinet close by (which, of course, attracted my attention and was afterwards played to me by Mrs. Craven, then Miss Sartoris), the beautiful window seats and the views of the park. Mr. Sartoris was a fine specimen of an English gentleman.

“I think the Hall – or at any rate the older portion of it, including the smoking room shown in your latest view – would do well for a museum. Indeed, it has been a private museum, if not a public one, ever since I knew it, containing, as it has done, the spinet already mentioned, Mary Queen of Scots’ chair, the old Pemberton table, a quantity of firearms, the old fire-grate from Higham Castle, and the stained-glass panel in the south window of the drawing room, from Kirby Hall – another fine house, but dilapidated.

Children and The Opening

“I am thinking about the opening of the park. There must be one day set apart, if only to thank the Council; and what day could be better than the Children’s Treat Day? Let them all join in the procession, headed by the Town Council, and keep up the old custom – hitherto maintained by the Church of England children – of marching through the winding path and round by the east front terrace, with all the bands at the south front.”

Quoting from an old book which describes the Hall as “one of the most handsome of old English mansion houses,” Mr. Smith proceeds to recall the scene when Eliza Fletcher, who was born there and afterwards became the Duchess of Gordon’s protégé, revisited her old home:-

“She visited Rushden Hall at least once in later years, and was warmly welcomed by some of the villagers, some of whom thought her like her father, while others, accustomed to her as a baby, said they would have recognised her by her hair. She told with much emotion how she had made her way to the old house and wandered about the grounds and terrace and along the burnbank, but how the rush of feeling which came over her there, a lonely stranger, so overwhelmed her that she vowed never to return.”

“And Eliza Fletcher is not the only one who has been sad at heart after leaving that beautiful home. It doesn’t matter, rich or poor, whatever kind of home, a castle or a cottage, home is “Home, sweet home.”

“That house, too, must be healthy. Mrs. F. U. Sartoris reached the great age of 96, and a Fletcher was about the same age.

“We are living in a rushing age, but it is good to think of the past sometimes. We don’t like to forget old kind friends; why forget beautiful Old England, and especially the Pemberton Hall or mansion, as I like to call it? Again, I thank the Rushden Council.”

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