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Welcome to Lachlan Cranswick's Personal Homepage in Melbourne, Australia

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(Part of the homepage on The 1860 publication: "Essays and Reviews" by (Church of England theologians) Frederick Temple, Rowland Williams, Baden Powell, Henry Bristow Wilson, C. W. Goodwin, Mark Pattison and Benjamin Jowett)
1860 Essays and Reviews Homepage is at

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New Book

The Powells in Essex and their London Ancestors

To most people the name Baden Powell is associated with the founder of the Boy Scouts, and with Gilwell Park at Chingford, which is now the Headquarters and international camping site of the Scout movement, although Robert Baden Powell never lived at Gilwell. It was only his generation and line of the family that decided, in1902, to use Baden as part of their surname. Other members of the family had used it as a christian name, and retained Powell as the surname.

The name Baden Powell came from two families: the Badens of Old Sarum in Wiltshire and the Powells who lived at Hawstead in Suffolk. David Powell (1695-1784) was born at Hawstead and came to London in 1712 where he became a successful merchant in the City. He was apprenticed to a Mr Baden, whose cousin Susannah Thistlethwaite he married. One of their children was christened Baden (1731-1802), and it was this member of the Powell family who came to live at Bench House in Loughton in 1772. He built up a considerable estate of over 120 acres at the southern end of the village, and also purchased another 30 acres in Theydon Bois.

In about 1760 David Powell moved to Byland House in Clapton, which became his 'country' house, although he still had his 'town' house and office in the City. His sons David (1725-1810) and James (1737-1824) also became merchants in the City and also had houses in Homerton, Clapton and the City.

Another son, Thomas (1735-1820), lived at a house called The Chestnuts, in Tottenham High Road, where now is the Police Station. Although he was a partner in the family business, his main interest was in writing plays and poetry, and some of his work is in the National Library of Wales. However, it is his son, David Thomas Powell (1771-1848), who is best remembered for his contribution to the arts. He spent almost all his lifetime visiting villages in over 40 counties of England and Wales, where he made watercolour sketches of the churches and manor halls, and wrote notes on their history. Many of his manuscripts are in the British Library, including a collection for Essex.

He records how he used to travel on horseback from Tottenham, across the River Lea, to Walthamstow, Chingford and Loughton, where he passed his uncle's (Baden Powell) house, and on to the remains of Latton Priory, near Harlow. On other occasions he visited Little Dunmow, Coggeshall, Earls Colne, St Osyth, Colchester and many other Essex villages. He died in 1848, a wealthy man, mainly from inheritance. He left most of his fortune to the London Hospital where it was used in 1854 to build a new Medical School. David Thomas Powell was buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas Church, Loughton.

When Baden Powell died in 1802 he left his estate at Loughton to his nephew David (1764-1832), a grandson of the first David Powell. This David and his large family moved to Loughton from Walthamstow and became well known in the local community. David had six children by his first wife, Mary, who died in 1809, and a further seven by his second wife, Grizell. However on the 15th May 1832 David was walking in the grounds of his estate at Bench House when he was caught in a thunderstorm. He took shelter under an old elm tree but this was struck by lightning and David was killed instantly. The Times newspaper reported the event a few days later, describing in some gory detail the corpse, including how his boots were literally shivered into small fragments.

In 1838 one of David's daughters, Agnes Powell (1820-1902), married her cousin Nathanael Powell (1813-1906). Nathanael was the son of James Powell (1774-1840), who ran a wine merchants business from his house in Carey Street in London, but who in 1834 purchased the Whitefriars glassworks, which had been founded in the City of London in 1680. By the second half of the 19th century Whitefriars, under the ownership of the Powells, had become a leading manufacturer of stained glass and mosaics for churches, as well as its tableware business. St Paul's Cathedral, Waltham Abbey and many churches in Essex and throughout England contain examples of their work.

Nathanael Powell was a partner in the firm but he spent most of his time working in the community. He moved to Luctons House, at Buckhurst Hill, in 1855, which became the centre for his activities. He was a governor of Chigwell School for 50 years, a churchwarden at St John's, Buckhurst Hill, for 36 years, a Deputy Lieutenant for Essex, and a Visitor to the County Asylum and Chelmsford Prison. For many years he served on the Committee of Kings College Hospital, and was one of the first aldermen when Essex County Council was formed in 1889.

The Powells had for many generations been involved in the founding and management of hospitals. David Powell was one of the founder members in 1750 of St Luke's Hospital for 'poor lunatics', and his descendants played a key role in its management for the next 200 hundred years. The hospital was originally based in the converted old foundry in Windmill Street in the City, but in 1786 moved to Old Street, where it remained until 1916. The hospital continues today as part of the NHS at St Luke's-Woodside, in Muswell Hill.

Further afield in Essex, Harry Powell (1771-1831), became Rector of All Saints Church, at East Horndon. He remained there from 1795 until his death in 1831. Some fascinating correspondence between him and his brother James has survived, and is held in the Archives Department of the London Borough of Waltham Forest at the Vestry House Museum in Walthamstow.

The book, by Richard Morris, is in hard back and well illustrated with colour and black and white photographs, including David Thomas Powell's watercolours and some delightful portrait sketches of members of the Powell family. The Book is published by the Loughton & District Historical Society and can be obtained from:

The Bookshop

150 High Road


Essex IG10 4EB


Telephone: 44 (0) 20 8508 9855

Fax: 44 (0) 20 8502 4567

Price UK £9.50 plus £2.70 P&P Total £12.20

Australia £9.50 plus £7.00 P&P Total £16.50

USA £9.50plus £6.40 P&P Total£15.90

Other countries on request

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