Rushout’s Wanstead 1824-1832

Anne Rushout | Rushout’s Wanstead | Rushout on Tour

Anne Rushout was a friend of Catherine Tylney-Long, the heiress of Wanstead House.

Here are some images of Wanstead, painted by Lady Anne Rushout


Wanstead Grove c.1829 from the long ornamental lake


wanstead grove temple view

Looking down towards the Temple – which now stands in a garden in Grove Road


Wanstead Grove Panorama

Panorama of rear of Wanstead Grove and the Temple


Wanstead Grove Gazebo

Gazebo in grounds of Wanstead Grove c.1829


Wanstead Grove 1825

Front elevation of Wanstead Grove


Wanstead Grove West - rear1825

Delightful rural setting to rear of Wanstead Grove


rear of Grove Cottage

Rear of Grove Cottage – once stood at of junction Nutter Lane/Leicester Road


Grove cottage 1825

Grove Cottage…. beautiful


From portico of Wanstead Grove 1825

View from the portico of Wanstead Grove – towards George Lane


from flower garden wanstead grove

c.1829 Flower Garden on Grove Estate


Mr Monk Cottage Wanstead May 1829

Mr Monk’s Cottage, Wanstead – I wonder where this was?


Nightingale Place 1829

Nightingale Place (1829) – Curve of Nightingale Lane towards the pub already evident


Lodge at Wanstead Grove 1828

The Lodge at Wanstead Grove – front part of which may still survive in resident’s back garden


From dining room at Wanstead Grove

Not a bad view from Lady Anne’s dining room at Wanstead Grove


flower garden wanstead grove

Another view of the flower garden Wanstead Grove


Cottage near Snaresbrook

‘Cottage near Snaresbrook’ c 1829


All images courtesy of Yale University – Accessed on line November 8th 2014

If you are interested in tales of Wanstead you might like to read about Wicked William’s Hunt – part 4 of a brief history of the Epping Hunt



Lady Anne Rushout – Wanstead’s Forgotten Artist

Anne Rushout | Rushout’s Wanstead | Rushout on Tour


Lady Anne Rushout (1768-1849)

Modern day Wanstead likes to give a nod and a wink to former local citizens who have played a role in shaping its history. We know all about statesmen Winston Churchill and Sir William Penn, of Sheridan the playwright and of course ‘Wicked’ William Wellesley. But curiously, Wanstead seems distinctly reluctant to celebrate its feminine connections – For example Wikipedia’s ‘notable residents’ of Wanstead list rather embarrassingly contains just one woman, soap-star Jesse Wallace, listed on the basis that she once lived the area!

The most undeservingly neglected lady in Wanstead’s history must be Lady Anne Rushout, who lived at Wanstead Grove from 1817-49.

Plimer 3 graces - Anne on Right 1809

Anne (left), with Harriet (centre) & Elizabeth (right)

Anne was the eldest daughter of John Rushout, Baron Northwick of Northwick Park (1738-1800) and spent a happy childhood with sisters Harriet (c.1770) and Elizabeth (1774). She was well educated: a keen artist, botanist, diarist and poet, celebrated for her grace and beauty. Yet she was not a conventional young woman, & refused to comply with the male-dominated society in which she lived.

ladies of llangollen

The Ladies of Llangollen – a bluestocking shrine

From a very early age Anne was interested in bluestocking literature, making several trips to Wales to visit the famous Ladies of Llangollen, and keeping a commonplace book filled with feminist prose. It is not known if Anne was lesbian, as her family attributed her strong aversion to marriage to the unfortunate death of her fiancé days before their wedding. I have searched the archives without success to corroborate this claim. But it seems likely that Anne came from a very liberal-minded and supportive family, who propagated this story to protect her reputation.

Wanstead Grove 1825

Wanstead Grove – designed and built by Anne Rushout

In 1817 Anne’s uncle George Bowles died, and she inherited Wanstead Grove. Originally purchased in 1759 by Humphry Bowles, it came with approximately 60 acres named the Grove Estate. It was rare for assets to pass to a female relative at this time, and more unusual still that Anne decided to demolished the house, sell off its ‘out-dated’ works of art, and construct a new magnificent mansion in its place.

Wanstead Grove was built between 1818 and 1824. As its completion coincided with the demolition of Wanstead House, it is likely that various fixtures and fittings sold to satisfy Wicked William’s creditors were snapped up by Anne to augment her new home. In fact Anne bought the very first item offered at the Wanstead House auction in 1822, attending most days afterwards – to pick and choose art and furnishings according to her taste.

In effect therefore, when Wanstead lost a behemoth of a mansion, it gained a successor at Wanstead Grove – which became the single most dominant property in the area. More importantly, Wanstead Grove and its beautifully laid out grounds were completely Anne’s creation – thus demonstrating that women were perfectly capable of operating in the hitherto exclusively male sphere of architecture and design.

Anne spent a great deal of her life at Wanstead Grove and was very much part of local society. Far from being reclusive she was always very charitable, leaving significant bequest to the poor of Wanstead after her death in 1849.

Wanstead Grove is long gone now, having been demolished in 1889 to make way for the Counties Estate. Some remnants of the formal gardens remain, such as the Temple (which once stood at the edge of a picturesque lake) and can be seen annually on Open House Day

But the real legacy Anne Rushout has left Wanstead can be seen in three volumes of drawings she made between 1824-1832, which can be found in the British Art collection at Yale University. She records a splendidly rural and naturally beautiful Wanstead at the end of the Regency era. All of these images are freely searchable over the internet, but I have decided to collate them together in two sections covering Wanstead, and further afield.

Disappointingly, Yale University describes Lady Anne as an ‘amateur artist’. This can only be because she was a woman, for it seems to me that her output and quality of work merits far more than label of a ‘hobby’. I hope that Yale and the people of Wanstead will reassess Lady Anne Rushout as an important proto-feminist, writer, and artist – worthy of full recognition and respect.

Further Information

Frustratingly for historians, Anne Rushout’s diaries covering 1791-1827 have been missing since the 1950s. As a frequent visitor to Wanstead House during Wicked William’s era of extravagance, she could have provided some valuable insight into what went on behind closed doors.

However, Anne’s journals 1828-1849 are in the possession of Senate House Library in London & her ‘commonplace book’ for the period 1776-1832, which is an extensive scrapbook of ephemera and jottings about fashionable life, can also be found at Yale University.

An excellent on-line history of Wanstead Grove complete with images of the Temple can be found here.

The Counties Resident Association has produced a great history of the Grove Estate

Kelly McDonald has written about Anne Rushout’s connection with Bersted Lodge

Anne Rushout on UK Tour – Some Regency Era Sketches

Anne Rushout | Rushout’s Wanstead | Rushout on Tour

Here are some images of various UK locations, painted by Lady Anne Rushout (1768-1849) of Wanstead Grove.

Anne Rushout was a friend of Catherine Tylney-Long, the heiress of Wanstead House. Click here to pre-order Geraldine Roberts’ book Angel and The Cad, which is based on our research, to be published by Pan MacMillan in June 2015

ely cathedral 1824

Ely Cathedral- 1829


The Mersey towards Toxteth Park on right 1829

The River Mersey looking towards ‘Toxteth Park- on the right c.1832


Southend 1832

Southend-on-Sea 1832 – still looks familiar


Hornsey Clock

Nice little self-portrait of Anne Rushout outside Hornsey Church


Menai Bridge 1830

The Menai Bridge (1830)


Ludlow Castle 1830

Ludlow Castle (1830)


Looking towards claybury 1826 self portrait

Essex, looking towards Claybury from Woodford – Lady Anne in foreground


Holkham2 - August 1824

Holkham House, June 1824


hatfield 1832

Hatfield House – 1832


Gwrych Castle 1830

Gwrych Castle 1830


finborough hall july 30 1824

Finborough Hall, 1824


Eastmor Castle 1829

Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire (1824)


Dover castle 1831

Dover Castle (1831)


Bridge and Caslt at Conwy

Bridge & Castle, Conwy (1830)


chichester 1828

Chichester, 1828


brighton pavilion 1828

An oblique view of Brighton Pavilion, 1828


Birkenhead Abbey 1830

Birkenhead Abbey ruins, 1830


bearsted lodge 1831

Bersted Lodge, near Bognor  (1831)


Alton Towers 1830

Alton Towers sans rollercoasters (1831)


All images courtesy of Yale University – Accessed on line November 8th 2014

Death of a Regency Prize-Fighter


During my recent research into Royal Ascot I stumbled across an 1830 newspaper report relating to the death of pugilist Tom Shelton, a sportsman considered ‘one of the brightest stars’ of the Regency era.

shelton 2

Weighing in at 12 stone 7lbs – Tom Shelton

Tom Shelton’s boxing career is described in great depth in Pearce Egan’s Boxiana – Volume 2 (1824) and again in Volume 3 (1829) where his decline in stature (as age set in) is well recorded.

Born in Wrotham in Kent on May 1st 1787, Tom Shelton began life as a canal worker in and around the Thames estuary. It was hard labour for small pay, so by the age of 16 Shelton entered the ring for the first time at St Giles’ Fields for a prize of just five shillings. He was initially considered to be a ‘miller’ in style, meaning that he was not afraid to trade blow for blow with his opponent – but showed little regard for his own safety. But very soon ‘The Navigator’ (as he was named) became widely renowned as a ‘scientific boxer – a truly great man in the ring- a good in-fighter, but a left-handed hitter’. Boxiana describes a number of gruelling contests in which Shelton fought bravely to the finish. It is both awe-inspiring and sickening to read about the punishment he endured over a great many bouts between 1812 and 1825. For example on more than one occasion Shelton fought on with multiple broken ribs.

tom shelton 1

However the most harrowing tale of all relates to an incident occuring outside the ring, which all-but foreshadowed Shelton’s untimely end. In the summer of 1812, at the age of 25 Shelton found himself in Hampstead on a drinking binge with a friend. As the day wore on the men began to gamble, the stakes for which became increasingly serious as they became more inebriated. Boxiana relates that when Shelton actually lost the clothes off his back

The last desperate stake was HIS LIFE. The destructive effects of gaming were never seen in a more horrid point of view, than in this transaction between Shelton and his associate… It is scarcely possible to admit of the reality of the circumstance… to witness one man staking his life with perfect indifference as to the event, and viewing the other equally as callous, not only in winning the life of a fellow creature, but claiming the performance of the contract, with all the barbarity of a Shylock.


There but for the grace of unlucky good samaritan Mr Croker

When Shelton lost this final throw of the dice, his dreadful friend ordered him to hang himself from the nearest tree. Considering this to be the right thing to ‘fulfil the character of an honourable gambler’ he immediately proceeded to do so. Fortunately, a passer-by named Croker intervened to take Shelton down, thereby saving his life. Croker was rewarded with two black eyes and a broken nose for his troubles. Consequently, on 14th September 1812 Shelton was tried and found guilty of assault. Just before sentence was passed his wife Mary suddenly stood up to address the bench, stating that from this prosecution ‘she was ruined in her little shop and business, and her four young children deprived of subsistence’. She added that, ‘excepting some such irregular fits and frolics, Shelton was a good husband, and laborious and attentive to his duties’. Remarkably, the judge was greatly impressed by this act of matrimonial loyalty and Shelton was discharged.

gamester reformed

‘Honour’ in gambling – what a frightening concept

It is really quite appalling to consider how close Shelton came to killing himself as a result of heavy drinking and gambling. However, it was not that Shelton had suicidal tendencies – rather that he was following a convention going back to medieval times whereby a wager was considered enforceable as a legal contract. In short Shelton went too far because he was drunk, but could never relinquish his respect for the boundaries of ‘honourable gambling’, even if his life depended on it.
sparring at the fives court

The Fives Court – where Shelton often gave boxing exhibitions

During his boxing career, Shelton often took part in organised displays, involving sparring contests with various other well-known pugilists, and he regularly acted as a second in other bouts. As his career reached its conclusion, there are several newspaper reports describing benefit nights held in his honour. So it would seem that Shelton was a widely liked and respected sportsman.

Shelton became a pub landlord around 1820, and as his career drew to a close used his pubs for boxing events, and later dog-fighting contests. But his association with sport and the wagering involved in the outcome meant that gambling remained very much part of Shelton’s persona. By 1829 Boxiana recorded him as a man in decline, hardly surprising as Shelton was into his 40s and no longer in the top bracket of prize-fighters. He was very much yesterday’s man, and perhaps the loss of celebrity led to more serious and prolonged involvement in gambling.


 When his career ended, Shelton went back to the tables

On Monday 22nd June 1830 Tom Shelton returned to The Ship in Montague Street, Bishopsgate, having been absent from duty for over a week. After dinner with his family and smoking his pipe, Tom confided in his wife that he had lost £800 gambling at Ascot Races. This was a colossal sum of money, perhaps 10 times what Shelton could earn annually. He said he had already tried and failed to secure an advance from employers Trueman & Hanbury. In consequence of this, Shelton was now compelled to surrender himself to Whitecross Debtors Prison on Wednesday morning, with his destitute family in tow.

whitecross debtors prison

Life was grim for families inside Whitecross Debtor’s Prison

Not for the first time, Mary Shelton tried to rally her husband at his time of need. Despite his recent neglect of both family and business responsibilities, she argued that they were both young and able to work, & that by ‘giving up gambling and using honest and persevering industry, he might get through all his difficulties.’ Apparently soothed, Shelton asked his wife to get him a gin and water before retiring to bed. But when she was gone he produced a bottle of prussic acid from his coat pocket, swallowed the contents, and was dead before she returned.

This story of a family ruined by gambling addiction resonates very strongly today. For, at the end of the Regency period questions were raised about the dangers of unrestricted gambling and the effect it was having upon society. Then, like now, the spectre of poverty and alcohol dependency quite often played a role in the process of ruination for gambling addicts.

As early as 1828 the Morning Post decried the proliferation of gambling transactions throughout Windsor during Royal Ascot, stating that

It is high time that some serious notice be taken of these base proceedings for it is most shameful and scandalous, that in a small town like Windsor, so near our chief seats of learning, and moreover the residence of the British Monarch, these vitiating receptacles should with impunity be allowed to remain

 gambling table
A common ruse was the thimble table – turning gambling into pure deceit

Though Shelton’s death and inquest were widely reported it was only a matter of days before it became old news. The following week’s headlines moved on to Mr Stevenson, a ‘sporting gentleman’ who threw himself from a window ‘under the excitement of feeling arising from his having lost £7000 on the Derby – He was not expected to survive.’ In fact it was not until the Gaming Act of 1845 that bets were finally deprived of ‘legally binding’ status, relieving men like Tom Shelton from the shackles of so-called ‘honourable’ behaviour when settling debts.

I have tried to find out what became of Shelton’s family. Considering the stigma associated with death by suicide, the inquest was a very sympathetic one. Emphasis was placed on Shelton’s previous suicidal tendency, and a string of witnesses testified to the unbalanced state of his mind, meaning that a verdict of death by insanity was quickly arrived at, to give his grieving widow some crumb of comfort. The only remaining clue I could find relates to the activities of a London prize-fighter active in the 1840s named Tom Shelton – perhaps this was one of his sons following his footsteps into the ring.


Are we more civilised today? Gambling is policed by…. the gambling industry

In the most deprived areas of modern Britain betting shops proliferate, gorging themselves not on the rich but the poorest element of our society. Not just live sports but daytime TV is riven with readily accessible options for having a flutter, – there seems to be no escape. In the late Regency era gambling was equally pervasive; at card tables, sporting events, or practically anywhere likely to attract crowds. You would be faced with all manner of games of chance, many of which were rigged to ensure that losses would ensue. Then, just like today, gambling was tacitly accepted – and nothing done to counter its effects. Whilst we can forgive our ancestors for their inability to control the effects of gambling, I don’t know how we can explain modern day arrangements – whereby gambling seems to be regulated by the gambling industry itself. This smacks of putting children in charge of the sweet shop, and as long as it continues the misery and waste resultant of reckless gambling will continue unabated.

For more information on the growth and development of Boxing in the Regency period, I would heartily recommend David Snowdon’s Eganesque Blog and his accompanying Pierce Egan twitter account

For a cautionary tale of modern day gambling, see this very moving BBC report on jailed accountant David Bradford, and the effect it has had upon his thoroughly decent family.

For all else related to problem gambling, the following websites may offer help

 This blog is copyright Greg Roberts, and I hope you will inform me if intending to reproduce any part of it for your own use.
I would welcome any comments, suggestions or advice you may wish to provide and thank you for visiting my blog

If you are interested in Regency sport, you might like my history of ‘Royal Ascot’ or to find out about Wicked William and the Epping Hunt