Florence Campbell was born in Woolloomooloo, Sydney on September 5th 1845, the eldest daughter  of Ann and Robert  Campbell.  Her father made his fortune as a merchant, and in trading in gold after the big strike at Ophir. He also  owned vast tracts of land in Victoria and New South Wales.  In early 1852 the family set sail for  England aboard the Blackwall.  Subsequently,  Campbell purchased the extensive estate of Buscot Park,  located on the upper Thames near Lechlade and Faringdon .  The house itself was built in the 1780’s by the estate’s original owner, Edward Loveden.

Impressive Buscot Park

Impressive Buscot Park (Wikipedia)

Robert Campbell  introduced innovative farming methods, and treated his staff exceptionally well.  But that is a story I have told elsewhere; this  piece is about  the beautiful Florence.


Florence Ricardo, nee Campbell; probably taken in her late twenties.

Florence Ricardo, nee Campbell; probably taken in her late twenties.

On September 21 1864, nineteen year old Florence  married a  wealthy  and dashing young officer in the Grenadier Guards, Alexander Louis Ricardo. It was a momentous day for Buscot. The wedding  was written up in the Faringdon Advertiser and reprinted just before Christmas in the Sydney Morning Herald  (It took several months for ships to travel from England to New South Wales).   Goodness me, how her  colonial friends in Sydney must have envied their old playmate!

Proceedings began mid morning,  with eight carriages transporting the bridal party to the local church of St Marys.  The bride was wearing a white silk dress overlaid with white tulle and decorated with the finest Belgian lace.  On her striking auburn hair was a wreath of orange blossom. There were  nine bridesmaids, including the bride’s younger sisters.  Triumphal arches had been erected around the village, each bearing an  appropriate motto;  Gloria in excelsia!  Long life and happiness!  May they be happy!

St Mary's, Buscot

St Mary’s, Buscot

The service was conducted jointly by the local vicar and the Bishop of Oxford.   As the newly wed couple  left St Mary’s the village schoolchildren strewed flowers before them  and sang a song called  Bridal Wishes;

Sweet be her dream, the fair, the young,

Grace, beauty, breathe upon her!

Music, haunt thou about her tongue,

Life, fill her path with honour!


A sumptuous wedding breakfast was held at Buscot Park. There were fine gifts from relatives and friends, but also from the staff. The farm workers who had been treated so well by Robert Campbell presented the couple with a book  described as an ‘illustrated reference bible’. Campbell himself settled a massive twenty thousand pounds on his daughter.   The Grenadier Band played as Florence and Alexander left for Faringdon  station in a carriage drawn by four greys (with postillions). A special train had been arranged, to take them to London and hence to Hockham Hall in Norfolk.  This was the home of the groom’s mother, Lady Catherine Ricardo, widowed daughter of the Earl of Fife.  Until they established a home of their own the newlyweds intended dividing their time between Norfolk and Lady Catherine’s London home in Lowndes Square.

The second verse of the bridal song sung by the village children was as follows;

Sweet be her dreams,the fair, the young!

Grace, beauty, breathe upon her!

Music, haunt thou about her tongue!

So may she smile till life be closed,

And angel hands have crowned her!

If ever a couple seemed destined for marital bliss it was  Alexander and Florence  Ricardo. But life can deliver  some strange and tragic twists.

On July 24 1878 Florence’s name appeared again in the Sydney Morning Herald,  under the heading;


Mrs Bravo, wife of a barrister who recently died under mysterious circumstances at Balham, England, is said to have been a Miss Campbell, the daughter of Mr. Robert  Campbell (tertius), formerly of Sydney. This lady married a gentleman named Ricardo, from whom she separated some months before he died….

This time her old friends and relatives in Australia would react with shock, and read ensuing reports on the  Charles  Bravo  case with  intense interest. For an account of the inquest, CLICK HERE. Those who know  of  Great Malvern’s  famous Dr Gully  will  know  the story, which  is  also told in my book,  The Water Doctor’s Daughters.

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  1. Yet another place i now want to visit! Damn you woman lol 😉


  2. Pauline, that is beautiful writing and I am so touched that you did it for me. Thank you so very much. x

    • Pauline

      A small tribute dear Fiz. I am so appreciative of your ongoing support for both my books!

  3. I feel like I need a wreath of orange blossoms in my auburn hair now. Lovely piece, Pauline!

    • Pauline

      Thank you fairy bride Anna. Well, you WILL soon be wearing orange blossom so to speak, and looking even more beautiful than Florence. And..not to give too much away….you will live far happier ever after with your handsome Prince than poor Florrie. x

  4. Another fascinating story Pauline you make it sound very beautiful. Thanks.

    • Thanks Anne, have been fascinated by Florence Campbell (and what eventually become of her) for quite a while.

  5. The Campbell family did not leave Australia in 1859. They actually left Sydney on the Blackwall on 7 March 1852 accompanied by a Governess for the eight children and three servants arriving in London on 16 June after a 105-day passage. Campbell did not make his fortune from gold. He was already weathy. He added to it from buying and exporting gold after the April 1851 strike at the Ophir.

    • Pauline

      Thanks so much for that information. I will update the article.

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