Richard Lee Bevan came to live at the Hall in 1855. He and his family lived there for about 45 years.
The Hall was let out by the owners (who at this time, were the Ishams, related to the Ishams of Lamport Hall who held part of the manor together with the Wood family of Brixworth who occupied the Manor.)
In 1850 Brixworth Hall was advertised to let in the Northampton Mercury as “being a capital mansion…with pleasure grounds with extensive stables” and late in 1854 as having stabling for 18 horses; it was probably this latter description that persuaded Richard to come to Brixworth as he loved riding.
He was born into a banking family in Essex in 1811 – the firm of Barclay, Bevan and Co. of London and worked there in his younger years. In 1840 he married in Enderby, Leicestershire. By the end of the decade he had settled in Sheep Street, Northampton with his young family, quite close to St. Sepulchre’s Church, moving to Brixworth Hall in 1855.His name is registered in the Poll Books* of 1857 as being in Brixworth.
As soon as they moved to Brixworth, he and his wife began to take a part in village life. They hosted annual parties for the village children during August. The children would come to the hall grounds with their teachers between three and four in the afternoon and would play the games that had been prepared for them, then there would be tea and plum cake. After tea there would be the sports; such as races, sack-races and ‘scrambling for sugar plums.’ The older folk of the village were also entertained and given tea. In one year, 1859, there was a race between 4 of the older villagers; four ladies aged 82,76, 70 and 56 raced for a pound of tea! The two aged 76 and 56 came in together and so shared the prize. Presents were given to the most deserving of the children and more plum cake was distributed. At the end of the afternoon, the children sang ‘God Save the Queen’ and gave three cheers for Mr and Mrs Bevan.
The next afternoon the children from the Workhouse were treated similarly. The Bevans also gave soup at Christmas time to over 50 Brixworth families and distributed coal to widows, the sick and those with large families.
The family therefore became an integral part of Brixworth life but Richard was also well-known and respected in other areas:
In 1849 when the family was living in Sheep Street, he was appointed a magistrate in Northampton. In this position he attended Northampton’s Quarter Sessions and joined the several committees involved with this. As a JP he attended the regular meetings of the Brixworth Board of Guardians (which managed the workhouse) until 1886. He was elected to act as Justice to the County’s Lunatic Asylums in 1858. He remained a magistrate for over 50 years.
In November 1860 he donated £25 to and became a member of the Restoration and Enlargement Committee at St. Sepulchre’s.
In 1883 Richard presented a silver plate to All Saints, Brixworth -it was used in the Holy Communion service for holding the bread.
Obviously with such a large house the Bevans needed help with running it. The census details tell us exactly how many people lived at the Hall: -
In 1861 there were besides Richard and 5 children (his wife was obviously away from home), a butler, footboy, cook, governess, nurse, lady’s maid, 2 housemaids, a kitchen maid and a groom’s boy (who lived on site but not in the house.)
The only ones who were born in the village were the 2 youngest sons.
By 1891 after his wife had died, Richard lived with his 2 daughters, a footman, page, cook, two housemaids, a kitchen maid, a scullery maid, lady’s maid and a groom (who did come from Brixworth.) Since the grounds of the hall were so extensive, we can assume that the gardeners were locals and from the evidence of Mildred Bevan at a court case in 1901 (see below) there were 5.
The Bevans had a large family of nine children, 4 girls and 5 boys. The children were called: Favell Isabella, Laura Agnete, Lambton Loraine, Alick Scudamore, Eustace Bolton Loraine, Mildred Frances Cooper, Ulrica Marian, David Augustus and Richard Aubrey Christopher.
Richard’s wife Isabella died at the Hall in 1885 and was buried at St. Sepulchre’s in the family vault that Richard had built several years before. He gave a window in the north chapel and dedicated it to his wife’s memory in 1887.
Richard himself died aged 88 on February 12th 1900 at Brixworth Hall. His funeral took place at St Sepulchre’s in a snowstorm a few days later and was conducted by Brixworth’s vicar, the Rev. A.K. Pavey with the vicar of St. Sepulchre’s reading the lesson.
In Brixworth the curate, the Rev. A. St. G. Cummins, conducted a Memorial Service for the villagers on the same day, this was well attended.
Richard Lee Bevan was well known in the hunting fraternity as was his wife. In a book published in 1888 he was referred to as “the squire of Brixworth” and later when speaking about Mr. Bevan’s expertise on a horse is written “Many a summer and winter, however must pass away ere it will be forgotten that among the hunting notables of a former day there were few more conspicuous names than that of “Richard Lee,” otherwise “Dick Bevan.”**
In Richard Bevan’s will he left the tenancy of Brixworth Hall to his two unmarried daughters, Mildred and Ulrica. In August of 1900 the villagers were invited to an afternoon at the Hall. About 160 residents attended the first visit and were conducted around the gardens by the head gardener. Small tables laden with fruit and refreshments were dotted around the grounds. There was tennis, cricket and croquet to play and also rowing on the lake. This invitation was repeated on the following afternoon for about 200 people. The response to the invitations demonstrated the regard which the villagers held for the family. The article in the Northampton Mercury stated that Miss Bevan was leaving the village and the family “have always played an active part in promoting everything for the welfare of the village, they will be greatly missed…” ***
In 1901 the owner of the Hall, William Vere Wayte Wood brought a claim against the two Miss Bevans for a breach of covenant in failing to carry out over £400 worth of certain maintenance. Before the case began the two sisters paid £69 9s into the court feeling that that amount would cover any repairs. There was much discussion concerning the decoration of the house and the state of the pond and the garden; the decision of the case was that the £69 would cover the cost of the outside repairs because the sisters were not liable for the redecoration. ****
Researched by Pauline Kirton 2021
*Poll books listed the names of voters in order to prevent fraud until the secret ballot was introduced in 1872.
1857 details from Ancestry
** H.O. Nethercote, ‘The Pytchley; Past and Present’
*** Northampton Mercury 24 August 1900
**** Northampton Mercury 26 July 1901
Census details from BHS archives.