Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 22 No. 1 February 2007

The Blencowe - Sitwell Connection

A Blencowe family group last visited Weston Hall, a few miles from Marston St Lawrence, ten years ago in 1996. Francis and Susanna Sitwell conducted a tour of their beautiful home and we were shown many treasures linked to the Blencowe Family. Sadly Francis died in 2004, but Susanna has kindly agreed to guide interested persons through Weston Hall on Sunday afternoon, July 8th following our visit to Marston.

Weston Hall as it is today

Francis Sitwell was from a very talented literary family. His grandparents were Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell, and their children were the brilliant but eccentric trio of poets and writers, Osbert, Edith and Sacheverell. Francis was the younger son of Sacheverell, known as Sachie, and Georgia, a tempestuous and beautiful Canadian. He inherited Weston Hall and restored it into the gem of an English Country House that it is today.

Weston's connection with the Blencowe family goes back to 1714. Sir John Blencowe, the Judge, first leased the original farmhouse in that year for his recently widowed, youngest and favorite daughter, Susanna, at a cost of £14 a year. How appropriate that the present day owner of Weston is also a Susanna! Susanna Blencowe married Richard Jennens of Princethorpe, Warwickshire in 1708, but he died in 1710, leaving Susanna to face a widowhood of 47 years. As Weston is within a few hours riding distance of Marston St Lawrence, it was a convenient arrangement and Sir John, as a devoted father, was, no doubt, able to keep a close eye on Susanna and her young family of Mary and Richard. In 1721, Sir John went a step further and bought Weston for £999 for his much-loved Susanna as a Valentine present. It was later enlarged and renamed Weston Hall.

Susanna was remarkably skilled at needlework, her needlework bed and the six contemporary chairs, which she designed and covered, can all be seen at Weston Hall today, along with an oil painting of Susanna from the school of Sir Godfrey Kneller. Next to this portrait, is one of her son, Richard, known to have been given to her by her elder brother, John's father-in-law, William Holbech of Farnborough, Warwick.

Weston Hall has the unusual distinction of having had seven female owners and only one male in over 200 years between 1714 and 1923, never having been bought or sold since 1721. Francis took a great interest in the history of the house and in his retirement, lectured on the Sitwell family and did much to encourage the literary and artistic talents of young people. He is much missed by many people.

Peter Blencowe


Blencowe Families' Association   Vol. 22 No. 1 February 2007
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updated: 15 April 2007