Mrs Anne Mead (nee Alston)


When Richard Mead married his second wife, Anne Alston, he widened his connections with some of the most important aristocratic families of the period.

His wife, Anne, was the daughter of Sir Rowland Alston of Odell and Temperance Crew of Stean Park in Northamptonshire. She was baptised on 28th December 1689 in Odell and was one of eleven children (click here to see the direct ancestors of Anne ). No doubt Richard Mead met her when attending her parents, either socially or professionally. Anne and Richard were married on 14th August 1724 in Odell.

Sir Rowland’s family had owned Odell Castle and Manor for many years. His father, Thomas Alston, was created a baronet in 1642 and was the brother of Edward, a knight; William, the Keeper of the Briefs of Kings and John of Pavenham. Sir Rowland’s mother, Elizabeth St. John, was the daughter of Rowland St. John of Bletsoe Castle.

Temperance Crew, Anne’s mother, was the daughter of Thomas Crew and Mary Townshend, who came from Norfolk. Temperance had a sister, Anne, who married James Joliffe of Staffordshire. (click here to see the family tree showing these connections)

After Sir Rowland Alston died in1698, Temperance Crew married Sir John Wolstenholme of Forty Hall, Enfield. He had thirteen children from a previous marriage and, in order to accommodate her huge family of twenty four children ( eleven of hers and his thirteen),Temperance built Odell Castle on the site of the keep of the ancient castle. As Lady Wolstenholme, Temperance gave plate and a crimson altar cloth to Harrold Church.

Thomas Crew, Temperance’s father, married a second time after the death of his first wife, and had a daughter, Jemima, who married the Duke of Kent in 1697 and they lived at Wrest Park.

With the help of the family tree and this information it is possible to see clearly the relationship between Anne Joliffe and Anne Mead. In 1714 William Farrar “alienated a messuage and land “ in Harrold to Mrs. Anne Joliffe and when she died in 1732 her estates passed to her niece, Anne Mead. Included in the estate was Harrold Hall, which was visited often by Richard Mead and his wife when they were not in London. After Richard’s death in 1753, Anne continued to live at the Hall until her death in1763. She was buried within St Peter's Church in1763 (entered in the parish records as a “relict” of Dr. Mead ).

There are two known portraits of her, one by Allan Ramsay and the other by Sir Godfrey Kneller. The present whereabouts of these portraits is unknown (if anyone does know where these may be in either public galleries or in private collections we should be delighted to hear from you).

Harrold Hall

Harrold Hall was built 1608-1610 by Francis Farrar for £160 for his daughter, Anne Farrar. According to the accounts in the Wingfield Trust Collection, it was built on the grange yard of the priory to the south East of St. Peter's Church. The principal front faced the river.

It was originally an E shaped house (typically Elizabethean) built of rubbble stone with an ashlar dressing. In June 1608 work began on digging stone from a pit in Harrold.This was probably rubble stone, the better quality stone being brought from quarries in Olney and Warrington (some 70 loads). Special stone came from Weldon in Northamptonshire, from the quarries of the Master Mason, Thomas Grumbold. This was used for the porch, some windows and for toppstones. Three storeys high, the house had mullioned and transomed windows, moulded string courses dividing the storeys. The entrance porch was the full height of the house and would have been the most ornamented part of the building.

Anne Farrar married Thomas Boteler in 1602 when she was 15 years old. She and her husband lived at Harrold Hall for only a short time for Thomas was knighted and they moved to the family seat in Biddenham. In 1651 Helen, granddaughter of Sir Thomas Boteler, married her second cousin, Thomas Farrar, and the property, exclusive of the rectory, formed part of the marriage settlement. In 1680, when there was another intermarriage between the Botelers and Farrars, William Farrar (son of Thomas) married Mary Boteler and the rectory and other lands in Harrold formed part of her dowry.In 1714 said William “ alienated a messuage and land in Harrold” to Mrs. Anne Jolliffe, half sister of Jemima, wife of the Duke of Kent, who at that time owned the Manor of Harrold. The son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent bore the title of Earl of Harrold.

When Anne Jolliffe died in 1732 she left Harrold Hall to her niece, Ann Mead, who died in 1763. After Anne's death the house was occupied by various people, including MPs, Masters of the Oakley Hunt and others. In 1816 the porch and recessed centre were obliterated by the addition of a large two storey extension between the two wings of the E shape, built by Thomas Alston. Before this, many of the original windows had been replaced by sash windows.

The Latter Days of Harrold Hall

It was leased to other individuals until in 1930 it was left derelict. The Jacobean staircase and the interior were stripped and the gates were removed to the Mansion House at the end of the village. They bear the Alston Coat of Arms. The Staircase is now in the Bedford Higgins Museum.

In 1938 the house and surrounding land was conveyed to local resident Edgar Clayson.

During the Second World War the Hall was used as army billets and became a prisoner of war camp for Italians, in the main. It was Camp Number 611.

In 1950 the house was sold by Edgar Clayson and was let to various tenants.

We recently received an e-mail from Bill Benton-Evans whose wife (nee Crossland) was one of the last inhabitants of Harrold Hall. She lived there, as a teenager, with her parents in the 1950s right up until 1959 when it was demolished. We were delighted to receive the two photographs below which show the Hall in relation to St Peter's Church (circa 1955) and a picture of an impressive Elizabethan fireplace taken at around that time. Bill also sent copies of pictures of the Jacobean staircase and The Drawing Room

Today, all one can see of the original house (which was demolished in 1959) and garden is the aconites which bloom in profusion at the end of Hall Close. They were on features either side of the drive to the house.

Ownership and Tenancy of Harrold Hall: A Timeline

Date Ownership Tenancy
1537 Dissolution of the Priory John Cheney (a 21 year lease)
1558 Site and Land of former priory acquired by Ralph Farrar (a London grocer)  
1560 Death of Ralph Farrar site inherited by Francis Farrar  
1608-1610 Harrold Hall constructed by Francis Farrar( for his daughter Anne who was married to Thomas Boteler)  
1616 On the death of Francis Farrar the house was inherited by Thomas Boteler.  
1625   Hall leased to Margaret Mordaunt (daughter of Lord Henry Mordaunt of Turvey)
1653   Hall leased to Sir Oliver Boteler of Sharnbrook (18 year lease) on behalf of his daughter Ursula who had married George Orlebar of Hinwick.
Around 1671   Leased to Richard Orlebar, son of George and Ursula Orlebar
1690   Death of Richard Orlebar
1702 Mary Boteler ( daughter of William Boteler) inherited the property. Her husband sold it to Anne Joliffe  
1732 Anne Joliffe who had lived at the Hall for 30 years died, leaving the property to her niece, Anne Alston (who later married Dr Richard Mead).  
1762 Death of Anne Alston who died intestate - the properety descended to her nephew Sir Thomas Alston of Odell  
1777   Leased to Mrs Henrietta Lee, wealthy London heiress.
1797   Tenancy taken over by Lieutenant Colonel Garstin (who had married Henrietta Lee).
1816   Leased to Colonel J H Lethbridge
1844   Leased to Major Richard Magenis
1864   Death of Richard Magenis.His widow Mrs Magenis takes over the lease.
1865   Leased to Edward Marsh Harvey
1869   Following his death his widow, Mrs Harvey, takes over the lease
1885-1898 Rowland Crewe Alston inherits the Hall and is resident.  
1907 Rowland Crewe Alston sells the Hall to Arthur Cecil Beck MP,  
1912 Alston family repurchase the Hall (Alexander Alison Alston of Turvey Abbey)  
1914 Rowland Alison Alston takes up residence  
1924   Leased to Captain Esme Arkwright
1938 Hall and land conveyed to Edgar Clayson  
1943   The Pioneer Corps take over the Hall for billeting.
1944-6   Hall becomes a POW camp (Camp 611) mainly for Italion POWs.
1950 Edgar Clayson sold the Hall House then unoccupied
1950s   Series of tenants - see article above of a teenager at Harrold Hall in the 1950s
1959-1961 House demolished and the houses of Hall Close were built on the site.  








Views of Harrold Hall

Harrold Hall and Church - looking upstream

The Hall and Church - circa 1955

The Elizabethan Fireplace (Photo taken c. 1955)


The Drawing Room

Jacobean Staircase

The web-site of the village of Harrold