One of the difficulties I found in writing a book about the river Thames was making those really hard decisions about what should go in! So much history…..so much intrigue and scandal.
Naturally I was tempted to include far too much about my beloved Harleyford Estate at riverside Marlow, where my husband and I had a holiday home for many years. Below is a photo of our lodge under a light dusting of snow.
No intrigue or scandal took place here of course (although we did have some interesting tenants!). Harleyford Manor, on the other hand, is a far more imposing residence.
The following is a little story that did not make the cut.
From Harleyford to the township of Marlow, a path leads across what has long been known as the Sheep Paddock. During our first years in the lodge, sheep still grazed here, but now a community of moles and the occasional grass snake have it to themselves.
While delving into the history of Harleyford at Marlow library I was intrigued to find that the flock once figured in a huge row. Marlow habitually supplied two Members of Parliament. In the 1841 election there were three candidates; Sir William Clayton of Harleyford Manor, who was a Whig; Thomas Peers Williams, who was a Tory and Renn Hampden, also a Tory. Now Sir William came in second, but only defeated the third placed Hampden by a single vote. Hampden subsequently protested, claiming that the deciding vote was gained illegally as Sir William’s farming agent had bribed debt ridden local butcher Jason Povey with some of Harleyford’s plump, Southdown sheep.
A House of Commons select committee agreed that Povey’s vote was ‘bad’ and struck it from the roll, creating a dead heat. However, it became obvious that another voter, William Plumridge, had also received ‘parochial relief’ from Clayton (perhaps another sheep?) and his counsel was unable to offer any defense whatsoever. With a second Whig vote declared bad, Renn Hampden took the lead and despite evidence that Thomas Williams had also bought votes by allowing his tenants to live rent free, poor old William Clayton lost his seat. A damned bad business in my opinion. I’m sure Sir William’s generous heart was deliberately misinterpreted as bribery! Of course I could be a little biased.
FOR SOME MORE MATERIAL I MIGHT HAVE TO INCLUDE IN BOOK II, CLICK HERE
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