The Denshire Family Of Ashtead House
When I was writing a book on the history of Ashtead 20 years ago I was lucky enough to be loaned a Victorian photo album by the then owner of Ashtead House in Surrey. The album was from the Denshire Family who lived there in the 1800s and with the album were details about the family.
This photo of Ashtead House, which stands in Farm Lane was taken c.1865. Nathanial Smith who had made his fortune in India moved to Ashtead House around 1790 with his wife Hester. He had the house substantially rebuilt around 1800. Their three surviving daughters, who lived in the house with them, remained unmarried. This was believed to be due to opposition from their mother, despite their being suitable suitors. George, their second son married a beautiful young woman called Sarah Hardman who again was not accepted by Hester. The marriage ended in disaster, Sarah leaving George with five young children, who were brought up by his mother and sisters at Ashtead House. The couple's eldest son, also called Nathaniel, married and had two children. Elizabeth, their daughter married Charles Denshire in 1841, sadly to be widowed 12 years later. In 1859 Elizabeth married the widower The Revd William Denshire, her late husband's cousin and with the marriage came eight step children six girls and two boys. The family are pictured below outside Ashtead House in 1861.
The Denshire Family From Left To Right : Elizabeth, Hester (Age 9), Isabella (Age 13), Mrs Smith (Elizabeth's mother), Emma (Age 15), Selina (Age 11), Miss King (the governess), Mary (Age 8).
Isabella was the first of the Denshire daughters to marry. She married Henry Bailey on the 8th Nov 1870. On the day of the wedding Miss Denshire arranged for St Giles School in Ashtead to be closed and the infant children to throw rose petals at the ceremony.
On the 24th July 1872, Selina Denshire married Charles Wilde pictured below under what was reputed to be the largest tulip tree in England which stands in the grounds of Ashtead House. Her brother William Denshire, aged 18, is standing on the left. The remaining Denshire daughters, except Emma, had all married by 1889. Emma Denshire, the eldest daughter was considered to be the most beautiful of the sisters, but it was said she was jilted and after that remained unmarried, inheriting Ashtead House on her step-mothers death and living there until 1939 when she died in her 92nd year. Emma is buried in St Giles churchyard Ashtead.
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