Edna Howarth (1848-1914)
Written by Jean Warburton
Occupation: Builder of Langdale Chase
Life and family
Edna Howarth was born Edna Stopford in Ashton under Lyne in the second quarter of 1847. She had an elder brother, John Charles Lindsay (known as Charles) (1844-1892) and a younger sister, Sarah (1854-1917). Her father was Alfred Stopford (1823-1887), a brewer, who was the son of Joshua Stopford (d. 1848) a hatter and his wife, Hannah (1799-1880). On 23 October 1843, Alfred Stopford married Sarah Stowe (1820-1875) the daughter of John Stowe, a weaver and his wife Hannah. Edna’s mother, Sarah Stopford, died on 28 October 1875 and on 20 May 1876, in St Paul’s Covent Garden, Alfred Stopford married, as his second wife, Sarah Stowe (1826-1895), a licensed victualler, widow of James Stowe (1826-1868) a hotel keeper and daughter of James Fletcher, a labourer and his wife, Betty.
On 10 June 1869, in Manchester Cathedral, Edna Howarth married Thomas Howard Scott (1847-1875) a wire rope manufacturer, son of John Scott (1809-1865) a rope manufacturer and his wife, Jane (1813-1873). Thomas Howard Scott’s firm was Scott Brothers Wire Rope Works in Nutsford Vale, Gorton, Manchester. Edna and Thomas had one child, Lily Howard Scott (1870-1917). Lily married George Arthur Lorriman (1859-1924), a cotton manufacturer, in 1891 and they had a daughter Lily Edna Lorriman (1892-1964). In 1907, George divorced Lily citing as co-respondent Charles Clair. A year later, Lily married Vicomte Charles Emile Clair, a private in the army of France, and died in Nice in 1917. Thomas Howard Scott died on 14 October 1875 at Eldon House, Longsight, Manchester. Edna’ sister, Sarah, married Thomas’ brother and partner Frederick William Scott (1843-1903) in 1876 and her brother, Charles, who had carried on the brewery business, died at Tremissary Lodge, Onchan, Isle of Man in 1892.
Following the death of her first husband, Edna Howarth left Manchester and went to live at Warbreck, Blackpool. On 25 April 1882, at the Parish Church, South Shore, Blackpool, Edna married George Howarth (1849-1889) a fustian finisher, son of Robert Howarth (1806-1879), a fustian finisher, and his wife, Maria (1813-1882). Edna and George then lived at Heath House, Stretford near Manchester and did not have any children. George died on 26 June 1889 in Carlsbad, Austria whilst they were touring the continent. Edna Howard died on 23 February 1914 at Langdale Chase after being an invalid for about three years.
Edna Howarth’s childhood home was a modest one, her parents keeping just one live-in servant at their house in Moston, Manchester. She moved up the social scale with her marriage to Thomas Howard Scott, living at Eldon House, Longsight, Manchester and keeping two live-in servants. Thomas Howard Scott left £8,000 when he died in 1875. Her second husband, George Howarth, had inherited a fustian finishing business from his father and employed 120 men. Edna moved up the social scale again living at Heath House, Stretford, Manchester. George Howarth left £47,145 when he died in 1889. Edna Howarth had, thus, inherited in the region of £55,000 by the age of 42. Her husbands, however, were not the only source of her wealth.
Her father’s business as a brewer had grown. In 1863, he moved to the Imperial Brewery at Gorton, Manchester. By 1871, Alfred Stopford was describing himself as ‘Brewer, Spirit Merchant and Farmer’ and employed 44 men. The Stopford Brewery Co not only owned the Imperial Brewery but also had at least two public houses. When he died in 1887, he was living at Park House, Victoria Park, Rusholme, Manchester, a select residential area which was far superior to his earlier cottage in Moston. He left a valuable collection of paintings and vintage wines which was sold by auction in the first three months of 1888. The valuation of his estate for probate purposes was £111,803. A dispute over the terms of the will under which her brother, Charles, took a part at least of the Imperial Brewery was not settled until December 1888 when the Brewery was converted into a limited company and all three siblings obtained shares in the company. Under the terms of the will, the residue of Alfred Stopford’s estate, after a small annuity to his widow, was held in trust for his two daughters, Edna and Sarah, in equal shares. The sisters were given the income for life with power to appoint capital to their children. Thus, taking into account the settlement with Charles, Edna Howarth, probably received the income from a capital fund of about £40,000 and could give a part or whole of the capital to her daughter, Lily. The physical manifestation of Edna Howarth’s inherited wealth was Langdale Chase. She left £34,011 when she died in 1914.
The building of Langdale Chase
In 1889, George Howarth purchased 11 acres of land near Low Wood, Windermere known as Bowns Wood intending to build a small house as a summer residence. He commissioned Joseph Pattinson (1860-1945) of Windermere to draw up plans but he died before construction began. Edna Howarth, by now a widow and in receipt of the inheritance from her father, commissioned plans for a far grander house from architects Joseph Lancaster Ball (1852-1933) and John Thomas Lee (1845-1933) of Manchester who then worked with Joseph Pattinson. The plans were amended to accommodate Edna’s increasing requirements for decorative features and space throughout the building of Langdale Chase. The house is described in The Buildings of England, Cumbria, as ‘A rich Jacobean confection, like a cream cake on the lake shore, naughty but nice’.
The foundation stone was laid by Lily Howarth on 8 April 1890 and she placed the finial stone on the turret of the tower in September 1891. The house was finally completed in 1895 although Edna Howarth had moved into residence in 1894 and the Lodge is dated 1892. The builders were Grisenthwaite of Penrith who used blue Brathay cut stone with sandstone dressings and carvings. It took ten men to dress the stone for three stonemasons. The house contains much stained glass, carved stone and wood, the oak staircase and carving round the hall being the work of Arthur Jackson South of Sale. Langdale Chase was the first house in the district to have electricity installed and cost £32,000 to build. A two storey boathouse, designed by Joseph Pattinson, was added in 1896.
The gardens were laid out by Thomas Mawson (1861-1933; DNB) in 1891 with the aim of providing status rather than floral display. He used the rocky bluff on which the house was situated to create a garden terrace and a cascade of steps. Paths led through shrub roses and a water garden. New gravel paths round the lake allowed Edna Howarth and her guests to enjoy views of the Langdale Pikes and watch the yachts on the water.
Edna Howarth left Langdale Chase on trust for her granddaughter Lily Edna Lorriman but she did not live there, the house being sold in 1914. Langdale Chase became an hotel in 1930 and is still a hotel today.
Life at Langdale Chase
In her obituary in the Lakes Herald for 27 February 1914, it was said that Edna Howarth led a simple and unostentatious life at Langdale Chase. Whilst perhaps not living as high profile a life as some of her neighbours around Lake Windermere, she lived a good Victorian and Edwardian upper class life. She had eight indoor and eight outdoor servants, the outdoor servants consisting of three gardeners, the boiler man, the lad and three coachmen. There were regular dinner parties to which the local parson and doctor were always invited as well as a summer tennis tournament. The highlight of her social year was the Chrysanthemum tea when Edna Howarth invited the local nobility to come and view the flowers in the garden and caterers from Manchester were brought in. Every Christmas there was a servants’ ball.
Edna Howarth never followed her neighbours in acquiring a motor car. She was very fond of horses and her handsome equipage never failed to attract admiring onlookers. In 1896, she had a steam launch, Lily, built by George Brockbank of Windermere. The launch cost four times as much as a similar boat being designed for luxury with velvet upholstery and walnut panelling. The boat, now called Branksome, is in the collection of the Windermere Jetty Museum.
The garden at Langdale Chase was important, supplying the house with vegetables whilst tomatoes, peaches and grapes flourished in dedicated greenhouses. The house was also supplied with flowers including violets, Edna’s particular favourite. Edna Howarth’s love of the garden never diminished and even after she had had a stroke, she still went round the garden every evening with the head gardener holding one of his arms.
Edna Howarth was held in high esteem in Windermere for her courtesy and consideration in all matters and as a liberal subscriber to all deserving objects. Whilst she took a practical and sympathetic interest in what went on in Windermere, she did not enter into the public life of the district. This combined with her retiring and modest disposition meant that although her name was widely known in the locality her actual personality was not.
Her generosity extended to her servants to whom she was a kindly mistress with some of her staff serving for over twenty years. Every Christmas, she gave all the male servants a goose and a plum pudding and all her female servants a dress length. She remembered all her servants in her will, in particular her companion, Bertha Jones to whom she left £750 and her pair of five diamond hoop earrings.
Whilst of modest disposition, Enda Howarth did have decisive characteristics. She was intensely fond of gardening and loved old china having acquired a rare and valuable collection. Her one quirk was that she did not allow any children to be at Langdale Chase, the only exception being the daughter of her head gardener.
- England and Wales Census 1851-1881
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- England Select Births and Christenings 1538-1975
- Manchester Church of England Births and Baptisms 1813-1915
- Lancashire Church of England Births and Baptisms 1813-1911
- Manchester Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1930
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- Manchester Times 4 September 1891
- Lakes Herald 27 February 1914
- Westmorland Gazette 28 February 1914
- Kendal Archive Centre Langdale Chase Folder WDB 133/2/191
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- Transcript CU Ambleside Oral History Group, 7 October 1989 Mrs E G Simpson