An Interview with Mrs Marguerite COLE
Notes of an interview made by Nicholas Butler in the mid-1980s
These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Mrs Marguerite Cole in the mid-1980s as part of his research for his book The Story of Wivenhoe. These notes have been re-typed by Ann Jones from his original notes.
About Mrs Marguerite COLE of Fen Farm, Elmstead
My father’s family came from Norfolk. My mother was a widow. Her sister has been the wife of the C. C. at Colchester with whom she had stayed, General Sir Charles Burnet. Before, my father had rented various shoots and houses in Norfolk. So looking in the back page of The Times there was Wivenhoe Park for sale and my mother said “Oh Charlie! I know that place. I’ve been there. Let’s buy it!” So they came over. My father liked it and my mother liked it. It satisfied his requirements. That was how it came about. Charles Edmund Gooch.
What Mrs Cole told Nick Butler:
My great-grandfather was a banker and he was the junior partner of George Peabody the philanthropist. My grand-father was his junior partner.
Wivenhoe Park was bought in about 1902. C E Gooch had two brothers. He was the eldest. The second brother lived in London, was Chairman of the LCC Education Committee and was knighted when made Chairman of the LCC. Uncle Henry. Not a very attractive man. Uncle George was the younger one. George Peabody Gooch, an historian, O.M. C.H Wrote a history of the WW1. Decorated for pioneering work. European historian, Married a German. This led him to go into modern European history from 1780 onwards.
Charles Gooch was his son. I was his daughter. Charles Edmund Gooch was born in 1870, died in 1940 something. He “lived upright” as they say, ie, never had to earn money. He ran the estate. About 2,000 acres. My father farmed the Home Farm, the others – about 10 or 11 of them, were let out. Home Farm was across the road. Over the Clacton Road.
I have met the younger Claude de Crespigny. Rather an 18th Century figure.
The Barlow twin children were older than me. The old boy was a terrific character. Rather a naughty old thing. Rather a downtrodden wife. Youngest son killed in the war. Elder one alive until fairly recently. Used to roam about on motorbikes with my brother.
“In theft they trusted, in Peckham they busted” – a graffiti on the wall of Wivenhoe Hall,
My historian uncle was a member for a Bath Ward. Two brothers on different sides of the House. Could always pair. Fairly soon after they left Cambridge. They were at Trinity.
He had a tutor, I had a governess. He never went to a preparatory or public school. My mother had a young nephew, the son of the sister who was bitten by a mongoose in India, who strained his heart rowing at Eton and remained as an invalid. My mother made my father promise he wouldn’t send Charlie to Eton. This promise was repeated on her death bed. She died at 50. He went to Jesus College Cambridge.
He had a great many rows with my father who was very autocratic. When he was at Cambridge he used to play in the Footlights Orchestra. He was banned for some time from the home. So he ran his own jazz band. It was called The Cambridge Nightwatchmen. Went out to India with it. He married and there was rapprochement. Father in failing health. They came back home to Wivenhoe. My father retired to a home he built for himself in Petersfield. Charles farmed the Home Farm. Magistrate. Member of the Essex County Council. On the Church Assembly. Used to read the lessons in Wivenhoe Church and at Greenstead. We used to walk there. Used to have the car to go to Elmstead Church. He used to walk to the station at The Hythe to go to London or Chelmsford. Paul, our old butler, used to drive the car.
Charles married first one Spicer sister then the other.
Perhaps he could have been forced to sell to the University of Essex. Most of the rest of the land was now in hand. Only a few farms left.
He had two sons by his first wife: Robin Edward and Charles George.
Servants at Wivenhoe Park before the First World War: butler, footman, cook, kitchen-maid, scullery-maid, head housemaid, second house-maid, between maid (general dogsbody), nurse, under nurse, ladys-maid (for mother), a boy who cleaned the boiler and helped in the garden, coachman, under coachman, one or two grooms. During the War fewer staff.
In WW1 there was an Army camp there for the greater part of it. We moved to Tye during the Second World War. We = family.
A certain amount of entertaining before WW1. Mother very social. Father a bit of a hermit. A dance on my brother’s 21st. Otherwise not. Dinner parties. People stayed, mostly Aunts during the summer. Shooting parties. Tennis courts. People didn’t stay during the winter. House cold, very difficult to heat. Oil lamps in the rooms and candles to light you to bed.
C E Gooch: Eton and Balliol. The other men of the family also went to Eton. The historian uncle only stayed for one term. Too rough. C E Gooch was one of Jowett’s last pupils.