The Lydekker Family, 1650-1983

From Dutch origins to residence in Harpenden from 1857

Cover of original manuscript by Cornelia Clutterbuck

Material used in talks to Harpenden and District Local History Society in November 1983, and/or to St. Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society in February 1984, with minor editing.

A summary of the last three generations of the Lydekker family by Eric Brandreth includes the few known portraits.


I am starting by referring to the more recent members of the Family for two reasons.

First to show where I fit in.  I am the daughter of Beatrice and Ernest Clutterbuck, who were married in 1915. My father, who was a great-grandson of Robert Clutterbuck, the County Historian, died in 1925.

Secondly to acknowledge my indebtedness to my Mother’s Cousin, John, on whose carefully researched material I have drawn extensively.

I am also indebted to my Dutch neighbour for help with the pronunciation of some of the earlier names, and to another, Banking, neighbour for providing some helpful figures.

Seventeenth Century origins: from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam

Page 2 of the manuscript

I now go back over three hundred years to the time when William and Mary were sharing the Throne of England.

In about 1650 Ryck Leydekker emigrated from Amsterdam in the service of the Dutch West India Company. In 1654 he was granted fifty acres of land at Mespat on Long Island by the Governor. In 1661 he was one of the first settlers of Bushwick, Long Island, of which he became a Magistrate and Captain of the Militia. He had married Claere Voorniere (pronounced FOR NEE R) and was succeeded by his eldest son, Gerrit, who was born in 1650 and who removed, after his father’s death in 1666, to Newark in New Jersey.

In 1664 New England Colonists captured New Amsterdam, the principal Dutch settlement in America, and renamed it New York, and two years later Gerrit, who had married Neeitjie Van de Kuyl (NAILCH VAN DE COWL) had his lands confirmed by the then Governor. Their eldest surviving son, Ryck, who was born in 1691 and who married Maritjie (MARIECH) Benson, obtained an estate at Hackensack in New Jersey.

The eldest son of Ryck the second and Maritjie was another Gerrit, who was born in 1729 and who graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in 1755 at the recently established College of New Jersey, now Princeton University. He then studied Theology and Hebrew with a view to entering the Ministry.  But, because of his delicate health he was unable to travel to Holland for Ordination.

Gerrit officiated as a Lay Minister for seven years until, in 1765, upon the receipt of a special dispensation from the Dutch Reformed Church in Amsterdam, he was Ordained by the local Ministers. In 1770 he married Elizabeth Coley, the daughter (or sister) of William Coley, silversmith and ‘Jeweller to H.M. King George III’, who had emigrated from London four years earlier.

When the American War of Independence broke out in 1775, caused by the claim of England to tax her Colonies without granting them representation in Parliament, Gerrit boldly declared for the King. Soon after the Declaration of Independence he was proscribed as a traitor, his property was sacked and he was forced to seek refuge in New York, where he remained for seven years, during which time he ministered to both Dutch and Anglican Congregations.

From New York to London in the 1780s

In 1783 Great Britain formally recognised the independence of the United States and the unfortunate loyalists were obliged to seek refuge in Canada or England. Gerrit, probably influenced by his English wife, decided to brave the long sea voyage and leave the country where his family had lived for a hundred and thirty years and to travel to England, where he, with his wife and three little boys took a house in the then residential suburb of Penton Place, Pentonville. He also Anglicized his Christian name to Gerard and changed the spelling of his surname to Lydekker, perhaps to show his break from those of his family who joined the Patriots and remained in America, and continued to use the old spelling (Lydecker, but without the first e).

Much later, in 1905, when my grandfather’s fame as a Naturalist reached America, the two branches of the Family re-established contact with each other and I now correspond with some of those of my generation.

Gerard and the other Loyalists put in a claim to the Loyalist Commission in London for compensation for the property they had lost. His claim amounted to £2,523 6s 8d, equal to approximately £50,000 in 1983, and, in due course, he received a grant of approximately half his claim together with a small annuity. Gerard lived for ten years after coming to England and, after his death, was buried in the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, in which he had been a regular worshipper.

John Lydekker of Lloyds – 1778-1832

Before continuing in the direct line of descent I am going to say something about Gerard third son John, about whom Lloyds produced an issue of their Gazette in 192? on account of there being a large marble memorial in his memory in Lloyds Room at the Royal Exchange.

John appeared to have chosen commerce for his career and became associated with the wholesale haberdashery trade, of which whalebone at that period was an important branch, and in 1804 he began business on his own account. He is described in contemporary London directories as a ‘cane and whalebone merchant’. Whalebone was then in great demand not only for the elaborately shaped ladies clothes but also for the frames of umbrellas.

In the course of this business John must have come into frequent contact with the agents of the owners of whaling ships, and the very profitable nature of their business attracted him to join the shipping side of the business and in 1815 he gave up the wholesale business and is described as ‘merchant’, ‘oil merchant’ (that is whale oil) or ‘ship owner’ and by 1829 he was recorded in the Register of Shipping as owning five ships, trading between London and either the South Seas or Greenland. He must on some occasions have gone to sea himself as my mother clearly remembered his sea chest.

John died suddenly of cholera and wrote his unwitnessed Will on the day of his death. In his Will he left legacies of some £25,000 and the residue, which amounted to £58,640, equal to approximately £1½ million in 1983, to the Seamens Hospital Society at Greenwich, to which Society he had previously given a handsome donation in recognition of the way in which some of his sailors were treated when sick in the Hospital Ship, Dreadnought, moored in the Thames.

The Seamen’s Hospital Society at Greenwich

Although John’s family were advised to contest the validity of the Will they refused to do so in view of the worthy object to which it was devoted.

The Seamen’s Hospital Society had been founded by subscriptions in 1818 and a permanent floating hospital was established for the use of sick and disabled mariners of all nationalities. The first hospital ship was the fifty gun Grampus, but in 1830 the Government exchanged it for a larger, hundred and four gun, ship, Dreadnought. After twenty years this was replaced by an even larger ship, which was re-named Dreadnought.

By 1870 it was decided to establish the hospital on land and a ninety nine year lease was obtained from the Government for the Infirmary of the Greenwich Hospital. A window in memory of John, in the Hospital Chapel, was destroyed in the last war. The lease must have been extended as the Dreadnought Hospital is still there and a member of the family still serves on the Hospital Committee. Owing to the present National Health Service cuts it is planned that the Dreadnought Hospital will move into a wing of St. Thomas’ Hospital. (ed: was this plan carried out?)

The inscription on the Lloyds Memorial reads as follows:-

‘Erected by the Governors of the Seamens Hospital Society of the Port of London in memory of John Lydekker Esq., South Sea ship owner. Gratefully to record his munificent bequest to the Institution. He died on the 23rd July 1832 and was buried in the North Vault of the Church of St. Dionis, Backchurch, Fenchurch Street.’ 

When this church was demolished in 1878 the coffins from the vaults were re-interred in a mass grave in the city of London Cemetery at Ilford. In reply to my recent enquiry as to the present whereabouts of the Memorial to John I have been informed that it is now in store while Lloyds have a new building constructed.(ed: is the memorial in the Lloyds building?)

The start of the Hertfordshire connection

I now go back to John’s eldest brother, Richard (1772-1844), the first Lydekker known to have lived in this area.

Richard graduated as a Doctor of Medicine at Aberdeen University in 1794. For some years he was an official in the Island of Martinique in the West Indies, (which was captured from the French in 1793 and remained in English occupation for several years).

On his return to England he married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Robert Wolfe of Roxwell, in Essex. The marriage took place by Licence at St. Peter’s, St. Albans, on 10th September, 1808, when Richard was described in the Register as of the Parish of St. Pancras, Middlesex, and Elizabeth as of this Parish, though no address is given. After their marriage Richard and Elizabeth lived for a time in Rochester, then at Henley-on-Thames, where they were in 1832, when Richard’s brother, John, died, and then, perhaps, for a time at Bishops Stortford, before returning to St. Albans, sometime before 1840, when they lived at St. Peters, ‘a large house almost opposite the church’, which I believe was still in the possession of the family in 1903, but I am unable to ascertain its exact site.

Richard died in St. Albans and was buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard and his wife, son and daughter were later buried in the same vault, which is a little to the North East of the new building.  I can say nothing about Richard’s brother William, except that he died unmarried.

Gerard Wolfe Lydekker – 1811-1881 : the Harpenden connection

Gerard was born in 1811 and baptized at Rochester. He was Prizeman of Eton College and Bells Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was First Class in the Classical Tripos of 1833 and where he graduated as a Master of Arts in 1836. He was called to the Bar of the Inner Temple in 1841, and joining the Home Circuit, practised as a special pleader at the Hertford and St. Albans Sessions. For a time he was Classical Examiner at the Inner Temple. He was Justice of the Peace for the Counties of Hertford and Bedford and sometime Deputy Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for West Hertfordshire.

He was a Director of the Clerical, Medical and General Life Assurance Society from 1856 to 1881 and in his ‘Recollections of a Director’ a fellow Director, the Reverend Prebendary G.E. Kempe wrote :-

Gerard W. Lydekker Esq. was a Cambridge M.A. who had beat me in the Classical Tripos: we exchanged Latin verses across the table when some purely medical difficulty was being discussed and neither of us understood anything about it.’

He was a Governor of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and he was also a founder member of St. Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society when it was formed in 1845. When I visited the St. Albans Abbey Gateway, on one of its Open Days, I was told that the old stone fireplace in one of the rooms had been given by him.

He married in 1848, his bride being Martha Margaret Peake, the youngest daughter of Thomas Peake, Serjeant-at-Law, and they lived at 45 Tavistock Square in London, where his three eldest sons were born.

In 1857 he bought Harpenden Lodge, about which I will say something later. The Lydekkers came to the Lodge when great changes were taking place in Harpenden and Gerard soon became involved in village affairs. When Harpenden became an independent Parish in 1859, he was one of those who at first objected to the demolition of the dilapidated Norman part of the Parish Church. However he became reconciled to this and after its rebuilding during 1861-62 he gave two chalices and patens. (The chalices were not of a shape suitable for use with the increasing numbers of communicants and, about 1970, they and the patens were disposed of to smaller communities.)

He was also actively involved with the founding of the National (now St. Nicholas) School. And when the Midland Railway line was being constructed he was instrumental in seeing that the footbridge, connecting the footpath from the village to Batford, should be erected.

In addition to his professional and voluntary work Gerard also educated his four sons at home.

Gerard was buried at St. Albans and in the Hertfordshire Standard of 19 February, 1881, his funeral was described as follows :

‘The funeral of the deceased gentleman took place on Wednesday, at St. Peter’s Church, St. Albans, the body being placed in the family vault, where the remains of his father and mother are deposited. The obsequies were attended by a large number of sorrowing relatives and friends. The funeral cortege was composed of a hearse and two coaches, and was met a short distance from the graveyard by a large contingent of tradesmen and neighbours of the deceased who had journeyed to St. Albans for the purpose, and who headed the procession for some distance, walking two-by-two. This party numbered about forty. At the entrance to the churchyard the body was met by Mr. John Evans, D.C.L., and Mr. T.P. Marten, brother magistrates of the deceased, and by the vicar (Rev. H.N. Dudding), and curate (Rev. A.H. Wimberley) and the pathway leading to the church doors was lined on each side by the sorrowing neighbours of the deceased. The mourners were the four sons of the deceased, and his sister, Miss Lydekker, of St. Albans. In the church were other friends including Ven. Archdeacon Grant, Rev. W.J. Lawrance (Rector of St. Albans Cathedral); Robert Pryor Esq. J.P. (chairman of Quarter Sessions); Canon Vaughan (of Harpenden); the Mayor of St. Albans (Alderman Wiles) H.J. Toulmin Esq. J.P.; E.K. Dyer Esq. J.P.; I.N. Edwards Esq. (Liberty Treasurer etc.); J. Upton Robins Esq., etc. On the bearers leaving the church with the corpse, Mr. Schröder, organist, played the “Dead March” very effectively. Arrived at the grave, the coffin, which was of polished oak, with brass fittings, was shorn of the wreaths, five in number, which had been placed upon it by the mourners, and was lowered into the earth, and the funeral service completed.

The party from Harpenden included among others, the following: Messrs. Eyles, Healey, Humphrey, Salisbury, Anscombe, Lockhart, Irons, Gardner, Elmes, Rothwell, Vincent, Sears, Busby, Brackley, Jewers, Willis etc.’

There is a brass in his memory in St. Nicholas Parish Church, where there are also brasses in memory of two of his sons and two of his grandsons.

Miss Cornelia Lydekker of St Albans – 1809-1903

Gerard’s sister, Cornelia, was baptised and lived for the greater part of her life in St. Albans, first at St. Peters and later at Hall Place.

This old and interesting house was pulled down after her death, when the present house was built and the estate was developed. Hall Place Gardens and Townsend Avenue now cover the site. King Henry VI and his Queen had stayed in the house before the first Battle of St. Albans and Cornelia liked to show the room where the King had slept.

My mother and her sisters often visited their great aunt and on at least one occasion they stayed there, and they were interested in all she told them of her early memories including of how, as a small child, she had seen the soldiers returning from the Battle of Waterloo, presumably when she and her family were living in Rochester.

Cornelia used to spend Christmas at Harpenden, when she stayed with her nephew, Arthur, as her sister-in-law did not welcome her at the Lodge.

The late Dr. Elsie Toms remembered Cornelia and, among the local eccentrics she mentioned in ‘The Story of St. Albans’, she described her as ‘The old lady …. who went about the city looking like a tramp in clothes which no self-respecting rag-and-bone man would consider making an offer for, yet who in the evening changed into full evening dress, put on her jewels and dined, waited on by her butler and parlour maid.’

She was also an intrepid old lady as she took my mother and aunts round the Clerestory of the Abbey. And up into the tower of St. Peter’s Church during its restoration, when she leaped across a hole in the floor, which my mother said was responsible for her fear of heights for the rest of her life.

I have always understood that the family at one time also owned Romeland and both Batford Mill and Pickford Mill, but I have no proof of any of these traditions.

Richard Lydekker – 1849-1915

My Grandfather, Richard, like his father, went to Trinity College, Cambridge, as did his brothers, John and Edgar. He was placed second in the First Class Natural Science Tripos when he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts, in 1871. From 1874 to 1882 he took part in the Geological Survey of India and while doing that he developed an interest in Zoology.

Soon after his return to England Richard was engaged to catalogue all the Fossil Vertebrates in the Natural History Museum and completed this task, in seven volumes, by 1891. These catalogues are still in regular use. In 1893 and again in 1894 he visited the Argentine Republic and spent some months studying the collection of fossil vertebrates in La Plata Museum. His work there was published in two volumes.

Richard had become a Fellow of the Zoological Society in 1880 and of the Geological Society in 1883 and later he served on the Councils of both Societies, but his greatest honour came in 1894 when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Advancement of Science, the highest British honour to be awarded to Scientists.

In 1896 he was appointed to reorganise the Mammal Galleries at the Natural History Museum and it was he who introduced the displaying of animals in their natural surroundings.

Richard wrote a great many books and edited many more, some for specialists and others for general readers. He also regularly contributed articles to a number of periodicals including ‘Nature’, ‘The Field’ and ‘Country Life’ and also many articles to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

He was also a Justice of the Peace and a regular worshipper at the Parish Church, where he frequently read the Lessons.

For a number of years Richard conducted a Geological Course in the Chesil Beach area of Dorset for the Royal Engineer Cadets from Woolwich Academy.

Richard’s wife, Lucy, whom he married in 1882, was the elder daughter of Canon O.W. Davys, the first Rector of Wheathampstead without Harpenden, and one of the first Canons to be appointed after the Abbey became a Cathedral in 1877. He was also an active member of the St. Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society, and he submitted one of the three designs for the rebuilding of the West Front of the Abbey, during its restoration.

Lucy became ill after the birth of their youngest child and spent the rest of her life in a Nursing Home.

Their grave is in Harpenden Churchyard.

Obituaries and notices of Richard’s death appeared in some hundred and sixty papers and periodicals in all parts of the world.

Richard Lydekker’s sons Gerard (1887-1917) and Cyril (1889-1915)

I will now go on to my two uncles, as after them I have personally known almost all of those whom I will mention.

Gerard and Cyril both started their education in the little school of Miss Alice Spackman, later Mrs. Greathead, at Bowers House. Gerard then went to Miss Sibley’s School in Wordsworth Road, which later moved into what was to become Hardenwick, before they both went to Boarding Preparatory Schools and then on to Haileybury.

Gerard then went to the School of Mines in London before spending two years mining in British Columbia with one of his Davys uncles, followed by a further two years mining in Cornwall. When War broke out he rejoined the Territorials, which both he and Cyril had joined on leaving school.

After school Cyril had worked in Barclays Bank at Radlett.

The brothers were both Commissioned in the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment. Cyril was killed in action at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, and Gerard died in Alexandria of illness while on Active Service.

John Lydekker – 1850-1935

I now go back to John. After leaving Cambridge he became a Barrister-at-law of the Inner Temple, though I don’t know that he ever practised. He and his wife, Mary, lived in Earls Court, where he was actively connected with his Parish Church. They had no children and are buried at Harpenden.

Arthur Lydekker – 1853-1935

Before his marriage Arthur worked as Personal Agent to Field Marshal Lord Straithnairn of Newsells Park, Royston, and also served in the Militia, from which he retired with the rank of Captain.

Arthur spent the rest of his life in Harpenden, where he served the community with great devotion as well as working for a time in Marten, Part and Company’s Bank, later Barclays. He was Chairman of the Parish Council from 1894 until he became the first Chairman of the Urban District Council in 1898, which position he held for six years and which carried with it the office of a Justice of the Peace. He was subsequently appointed as a Magistrate in his own right.

Arthur served on the St. Albans Board of Guardians, the St. Albans Rural Council and a number of Committees, including the Lighting Committee, which was responsible for introducing Harpenden’s street lamps, and on Sir John Lawes Harpenden Common Preservation Committee, and he was a Trustee of the Local Charities. He was Churchwarden for forty years from 1887 and a Diocesan Lay Reader from 1902.

His wife, Mabel, was the only daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Edward Durnford, who lived at Rothamsted Lodge, the Dower House of Rothamsted, which they occupied by virtue of their relationship to the Lawes family, through their common Penrice ancestors.

Through their long married life Captain and Mrs. Lydekker lived at the Cottage, now known as 69, High Street.

Arthur and Mabel Lydekker’s sons

Their eldest son, Lionel (1886-1972), went on from Haileybury to Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Ely Theological College. He was ordained Deacon in 1909 and Priest a year later, when he gave the brass processional cross to the Parish Church, the introduction of which caused at least one member of the congregation to protest strongly at such a High Church innovation. Lionel spent the whole of his Ministry in Oxford Diocese and was appointed as an honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral. He and his wife, Margaret, had one daughter, Julia.

Neville (1888-1956) was also a Clergyman, having gone from Cambridge to Wells Theological College. He spent most of his Ministry in Sussex. He and his wife, Gwendolen, had one son, Richard, now a retired Brigadier who served in the Royal Artillery and who was awarded the C.B.E. in 1977 for his work in Army Logistics. He married his first cousin, Julia, and they have one daughter, Elizabeth.

Guy (1889- xx) entered H.M.S. Brittania in 1905, the last year in which the old Training Ship was used, and had long service in the Royal Navy. In 1918 he was awarded the D.S.O. and the O.B.E. in 1926 for Naval Administration during the General Strike. He retired with the rank of Captain in 1935 but was recalled in 1939, when he served as Senior Officer Levant Area until 1945.

After his retirement Guy continued to live a full life, as in addition to his business administration work, he served for some time on Kensington Borough Council and was actively involved with a number of voluntary organisations, his greatest interest being as a Governor of the Seamen’s Hospital Society and membership of the Hospital Management Committee, of both of which bodies he was for some time the Chairman.

Guy and his wife, Gladwys, had one son, Anthony, who was killed on Active Service in 1942, shortly after he had been awarded the D.S.C., but who left one son, Anthony, who succeeded his grandfather on the Dreadnought Hospital Committee and who has a son and a daughter.

Guy and Gladwys also had two daughters, one of whom survives and has a family of three. She now lives with her father.

John (1891-1948) was one of Mr. Grant’s first pupils at St. George’s School, where his name is amongst those inscribed on the wall of the Old Library. After graduating at Cambridge he was a District Commissioner in Kenya from 1914 to 1932. On his return to England John was Archivist for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel from 1934 to 1941.

After his father’s death in 1935 John came back to Harpenden and became closely involved with the Life of the Parish Church. He was a Lay Reader from 1937. In 1940 he joined the Local Defence Volunteers, later the Home Guard, in which he served as Adjutant’s Clerk.

John was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Historical Society and wrote a number of articles for the local papers on the history of Harpenden and, in 1944, he joined the Historical Department of the Air Ministry, where he was engaged on the history of the Royal Air Force in the War.

For a time John’s wife, Clare, the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Griffith-Jones of Harpenden, ran his parents’ old home as the Toll Gate Hotel, having previously re-named it as the White House. John and Clare had one son, Ryck, who was killed in action in 1943, and one daughter, Jane, who is married and lives in Australia and who has a son and a daughter.

Edgar (1863-1949), who was the first Lydekker to be born in Harpenden, became a Solicitor after graduating at Cambridge. He and his wife, Flora, had one daughter, who is now a widow with one daughter.

Helen, Beatrice and Hilda Lydekker

My Aunt Helen (1882-1956) and my mother Beatrice (1884-1970), like their brothers, both started their education at Bowers House after which they and my Aunt Hilda (1886-1987) had a governess at home. They also attended dancing and other classes. From an early age they were all encouraged to serve in the community in different ways, including teaching in the, then very large, Sunday School.

Helen was the most serious of the three sisters. Some of the ways in which she served up to the time of her death were as a member of the Parochial Church Council, from its inception in 1921, a Manager of St. Nicholas School from 1916 and School Correspondent for many years. A reading desk for use at Assembly was given to the School in her memory. And for over forty years she was Secretary of the Parish Sick and Needy Fund, which was an arduous job in the pre Welfare State days.

During the 1914 – 1918 War Helen was a member of the Harpenden War Relief Committee and later she was an active member of the Nursing Centre Committee. She organised the Queen Alexandria Rose Day Collection in Harpenden for some years from its inception. Throughout her life, like the rest of the family, Helen was a keen Conservative and she was for some years President of the local Women’s Conservative and Unionist Association.

In their younger days my mother Beatrice and my Aunt Hilda were keen tennis and hockey players, at both of which Hilda was an outstanding player. My mother was one of Harpenden’s first women car drivers and she drove regularly from the early 1920s until a few years before her death. She also undertook various voluntary jobs, including serving as a V.A.D. nurse before her marriage and being responsible for the All Saints Women’s Hour for some twenty years until about 1960.

Hilda’s community work included for many years looking after the children from what was known as ‘St. Albans Union Scattered Homes for Children’ in Luton Road every Saturday afternoon.

Between the Wars when my Aunts had gradually to cut down on their domestic servants and gardeners, Hilda began to devote more and more of her time to the care of her house and garden, which she continued to do until 1979, when a fall necessitated her leaving the house. Until that time she was a regular worshipper at the Parish Church, as her sisters had been throughout their lives. Hilda is among the few survivors of those who have known all the Rectors of Harpenden.


I have a copy of the plan of the house, outbuildings and grounds as it was when my great grandfather bought the property on 30 January 1857.

The plan shows that the estate then ended on a line from the top of the wall in Sun Lane. The land above this line and to the North West of the estate is shown as belonging to Charles William Pack Esq., but I have seen a Deed showing that, after her husband’s death, my great grandmother bought the extra land from the Mardall family.

All the land on the other side of Sun Lane then belonged to Sir John Bennet Lawes. The buildings shown on this part of the plan and others up(down) to 65 High Street were later bought by the Lydekkers.

The estate in 1857 included six cottages, in addition to the gardener’s cottage at the bottom of Sun Lane, and I have always understood that these cottages were still there when Edgar was born in 1863 and that soon after his birth he was held up at a window for the cottagers to see. Except for the demolition of these cottages and the erection of the Veranda, and the lavatory at the end of it, on the front of the house, the property remained much as it was until after my great grandmother’s death in 1897.

After his mother’s death in 1897, my grandfather, over a period of years, made many changes. Half of the Conservatory was replaced by a Study. The Scullery was extended and the lavatory, which had been over the back porch was replaced by a new one and a bathroom over this extension.

The original wainscoting in the reception rooms was replaced by what was then considered fashionable, and in the same rooms small and ugly grates replaced the open hearths below the marble mantelpieces. Gas lighting and heating was installed in the large central hall and gas lights throughout the kitchen quarters and the rooms above them.

As no carriage was kept after my great-grandmother’s death, the coach house with the living quarters for the coachman and his family above it, was demolished, as was the granary next to it, and part of the stable block was converted into a coach house for the pony and donkey carts. The cow shed was converted into a carpenter’s shop and the pig sties in the far corner of the grounds were demolished.

When gravel was being dug along the valley from near the Luton Road railway arch, and from the edge of the Common and beside Grove Road, my grandfather sold the gravel from the whole of the lower paddock. He also made many changes in the garden, including building the Fernery with large plum(?) pudding stones he collected from the River Lea.

Little was done to the house after my Aunt Hilda inherited the property, following her brother Gerard’s death in 1917, except for periodic interior re-decoration and regular outside painting and the connection to Main Drainage. Sadly the heavy blackout placed over the coloured glass dome of the hall in 1939 was never removed. And many of the gas fittings were removed when Harpenden was converted to Natural Gas.

After my Aunt left the house in 1979 she gave Power of Attorney to two people who dealt with her business and they subsequently sold the house, stable yard and part of the garden.

I am glad to know that the name of the house, where I was born in 1916, and which has been known as Harpenden Lodge since it was built long before the Lydekkers came to Harpenden, is to remain unchanged. Also that the family name is to be commemorated in the houses into which the yard buildings are being converted, and I hope that those who live in them will remember that Lydekker is pronounced Le-dekker.

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