The Friends of Hylands House

Registered Charity No 1059969

The Hanbury Years - (1920s)
' The 1920s were a busy time for Christine Hanbury.  In 1922 her husband bought Hylands for £17,500 '
Hylands in the 1920s
The 1920s were a busy time for Christine Hanbury. In 1922 her husband bought Hylands for £17,500. John Hanbury had visited the House at least once many years previously. A photograph was taken in 1886 when Arthur Pryor was the Chairman of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton, a position that John was later to hold until his death in 1923. [Upon his death, his widow, Christine, was appointed to the board, the first female appointment to a position of power in the firm’s history.]
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[John Hanbury is 3rd from the left on the back row, and his father, Charles Addington Hanbury, is seated in the centre]
It is possible that John purchased the estate as an investment for his wife and son, as he was already very ill. Christine moved in, but her husband was never to join her – he died in London on 20th April 1923, making his wife his sole executrix and leaving her everything. Soon after John’s death, in June 1923, the Essex Chronicle printed the following -
‘A rumour that Hylands is being sold is quite untrue. Mrs J M Hanbury, now in residence there, told The Essex Chronicle last evening that she hopes to live there for many years to come.’
Christine obviously meant to spend the rest of her life here as in 1924 a memorial garden was consecrated in the Pleasure Grounds where the ashes of her husband, John Mackenzie Hanbury, were placed in a vault beneath a statue of Old Father Time, brought from Italy. Also in the garden were two Italian stone seats and marking the border with the parkland a beautiful ornate, Art Deco fence.
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Christine’s 13 year old son, Jock, was at Eton at the time of his father’s death so for much of the 1920s she would have been living at Hylands on her own. [After Jock left Eton, his mother took him on a cruise before he went to Oxford.]
She was interested in education and in December 1923 was present when Sir Francis Newbolt, who was President of the Art Workers Guild, presented the prizes and certificates to successful students at the Chelmsford School of Art and Science.
The following February Mrs Hanbury gave a ‘most interesting talk on Home Nursing’ to the Chelmsford Women’s Institute – the talk was ‘much appreciated’. In March she was back in a school – this time at the speech day at Chelmsford High School for Girls, where ‘another year of gratifying progress’ was recorded.
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[John Hanbury is 3rd from the left on the back row, and his father, Charles Addington Hanbury, is seated in the centre]
She was also very involved with the Girl Guides, being the Divisional President, and as such declared open the Guides Bazaar held in the Corn Exchange in May 1924.
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A week later there was a meeting held at Hylands, by kind invitation of Mrs Hanbury, for members and supporters of the Chelmsford Division of the Essex Branch of the Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem. The meeting was in support of the British Empire Cancer Campaign – the Mayor of Chelmsford, Alderman Fred Spalding, J.P. presided over the meeting and Mrs Hanbury was there in support of the Campaign.
That June the County Fete of the Federation of Essex Women’s Institutes was held at Hylands and the attractions were the Poplar Training School Band, a handicraft exhibition and dancing displays. It cost 6d to go in and there was dancing in the evening.
In December Mrs Hanbury was again in a school presenting prizes at Speech Day. This time the school was Woodford County High School.
On 22nd May 1925, she presented her sister, Janet, [Mrs W. C. Cripps] at their Majesties’ second court at Buckingham Palace.
In July a Scout marathon was held over two days at Hylands, organised by the Essex Boy Scouts’ Association. The competition was the first of its kind in the county – 100 teams of scouts took part – they had to cycle 50 miles and instructions were given in sealed envelopes with directions and activities to do on the way. They camped overnight and then they finished at Hylands where Mrs Hanbury provided refreshments. In the evening they lined up in front of Hylands for a short service. ‘Hearty cheers were given for Mrs Hanbury, who before the teams left, handed round a plentiful supply of toffee.’
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In November 1925 Mrs Hanbury held an 'At Home' in connection with the Essex branch of the Society for the Oversea Settlement of British Women and a ‘large gathering of guests appreciated the excellent arrangements made by Mrs Hanbury for their comfort’.
Then in December, whilst speaking to the Essex Women’s Institute Mrs Hanbury said that inexperienced drivers are the careful ones, while the trouble is caused by those who rush about and have no regard for the safety of other people on the road.
In January 1926 a party for the wives children of ‘A’ Company of the 5th Essex Regiment took place at the drill hall which was ‘very prettily decorated and a large Christmas tree was kindly provided by Mrs Hanbury of Hylands. This was adorned with coloured lights, streamers and laden with numerous parcels.’
In June ‘fine weather, a charming venue, and a display of marked efficiency on the part of those competing, combined to make the annual rally and competitions of the Essex Branch of the British Red Cross Society at Hylands an outstanding success. Mrs Hanbury R.R.C. threw open the beautiful grounds of her residence to the delight of the large number attending.’ A description of the award she had been given is below.
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On 13th November 1926, Mrs Hanbury and her son sailed for Egypt on the S.S. Orama and were not expected to return until the end of January the following year.
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The Minister of Health, the Rt. Hon. Neville Chamberlain visited Hylands in July 1927 on the occasion of a gala fete of the Chelmsford Division Conservative and Unionist Association where he was the principal speaker at the open-air meeting.
‘Mrs Hanbury, always a thoroughly considerate hostess, also threw open the beautiful gardens for general inspection’.
[The pictures left show [clockwise] The Right Hon Neville Chamberlain, Mrs Neville Chamberlain, Colonel Howard-Bury, and Mrs Hanbury.]
On 23rd May 1928 the 66th Show of the Essex Agricultural Society was held at Hylands. ‘Never before had such a variety of interesting attractions been provided for visitors.’ unfortunately it rained and ‘interfered with the attendance’. ‘There could have been no better setting for the Show than Hylands Park. Extending over 200 acres, charmingly wooded and undulating, the Park is one of the Essex beauty spots.’
In December 1928, Mrs Hanbury, R.R.C., chairman of the Executive Committee of the Essex Branch, Red Cross Society, invited a large number of friends to Hylands to witness the draw for the fifty excellent prizes, given by local tradesmen and others in the district. Mrs Hanbury had organised a competition on behalf of the funds of the British Empire cancer campaign and the Mabel Greville Convalescent home, Walton on the Naze [of whose committee she is a member]. Hundreds of people helped to sell tickets and some ‘found their way to places as far distant as Ottawa.’
In February 1929 Mrs Hanbury, her father, niece and ladies’ maid sailed on the Rajputana from London to Algiers returning from Bombay to London in March, travelling 1st Class on the Razmak.
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In May Mrs Hanbury was photographed at a brewery board meeting, one of many meetings she regularly attended.
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On 23rd November 1929, on his 21st birthday, John Charles Mackenzie Hanbury came of age. The Chelmsford Chronicle reported on 20th December 1929 –
‘A brilliant assembly met at Hylands, near Chelmsford, on Friday evening when Mrs J Mackenzie Hanbury gave a ball to celebrate the coming of age of her only son, Mr John C Mackenzie Hanbury. The guests numbered about three hundred. During the afternoon, the indoor and outdoor staffs of Hylands presented a handsome Georgian silver wine cooler to Mr Hanbury. The indoor and outdoor staffs of Mrs Hanbury’s Scottish estate, Loch Rosque, Ross-shire, presented a beautiful seal skin and silver sporran.’
So, the 1920s came to an end on the Hylands Estate.