The Story of the Lucas Shadwell Family by Paul Draper (previously published in Fairlight News in 2016)
Part 3 – William Drew Stent – later William Drew Lucas-Shadwell:
In part 1, I introduced you to the four generations of Lucas-Shadwells and showed how they were all related to each other. In part 2 we looked at the first William Lucas-Shadwell.
In this part we will discuss William Drew Lucas-Shadwell, the second of the Lucas-Shadwell line of succession and arguably the most influential male of the family. (see picture)
William was baptised William Drew Stent on the 17th January 1817 in Tillington, Sussex, a small village near Petworth in the Chichester region. William and his father, another William, frequently visited William Lucas-Shadwell (the first) and his wife Elizabeth, who lived in All Saints Rectory, Old Town, Hastings. William and Elizabeth had no children of their own. Elizabeth, who herself had also been born in Tillington, was related to the Stents and obviously the families remained close. William Drew stayed with William and Elizabeth and became almost an adopted son.
When William Lucas-Shadwell died in 1844, his wife Elizabeth had pre-deceased him in 1842, he had no living descendants and, as detailed in part 2, he left a very large legacy to pass down.
In his will, he left the bulk of his fortune to the 27 year old William Drew Stent on condition that he change his legal name to Lucas-Shadwell. This he did and henceforth he was to be known as William Drew Lucas-Shadwell.
The family moved to All Saints Rectory and also later acquired The Down Lodge, in Fairlight Road, where William’s parents were to remain.
William’s father died in early 1851 and six months later our William married Florentia Wynch, daughter of Henry Wynch, the vicar of Pett and part of an influential family.
They then planned and built The Hall, Fairlight, just off Martineau Lane. This grand building, still within the Parish boundary of Fairlight, was to become the family seat and remains an important local landmark. (n.b. Although now known as Fairlight Hall, there was another Fairlight Hall in existence when it was built, located in Ore, now known as Barrington House. So it was well into the twentieth century when the name was changed).
Now established at The Hall, William and Florentia became important local figures and William continued to acquire land in and around Fairlight, as his predecessor had done.
William and Florentia were deeply religious and were involved in the building and renovation of many churches in the area, including Fairlight. When the old Fairlight church was finally demolished in 1845 and the present church constructed, William was the second largest contributor to the fund. He donated £500 and supplied all the stonework from his own local quarries. (The largest contributor was Sarah Milward, later Lady Waldegrave, who gave £1,000 towards the final stated cost of £3,486).
William’s youngest brother was Henry Stent and he subsequently became vicar of Fairlight in 1858. Henry was one of Fairlight’s best known and most loved vicars, serving from 1858 until his death in 1903.
Florentia was herself a strong and influential character who would outlive her husband by 46 years. She became an early staunch and active supporter of the Temperance movement. Such was her influence, particularly when she persuaded William to sign up in about 1865, that the inns in the whole region, Fairlight, Pett and their lands out to Rye Harbour, became temperance, i.e., no alcohol was for sale on the premises. Indeed, the royal Oak at Pett was known as the Temperance Inn for many many years from the late 19th well into the 20th century. Rumour has it that Florentia was always against alcohol because of the death of her older brother, George Wynch. George was apparently accidentally kicked by an unattended horse outside the Two Sawyers whilst the groom was drinking inside and died from his injuries. The couple frequently talked on the subject of temperance and religion and as the squires of the parish, were able to almost dictate local policy. Additionally, according to the published sermon at William’s funeral, he was strongly opposed to ‘Romanism’ which proved to be ironic as his only son, William Peter Lucas-Shadwell, and his family (see part 4), subsequently converted to Catholicism in 1902.
In time, Florentia herself became tired of The Hall and had another property built in Peter James Lane. The property was named Woodcote (now Hoads House) and she lived there with her unmarried daughter, also Florentia, until her death in 1921.
William and Florentia enjoyed travelling and went on grand tours of Europe, spending considerable time away from The Hall. Unfortunately, it was on one such tour that William died. They had visited Venice in November 1874, where it is believed he caught a fever but they moved on to Florence. There after a long period of illness he succumbed on the 12th January 1875. The funeral service was held at Fairlight St. Andrew’s and he and his family are buried there in a large grave, immediately to the east of the church.
William’s influence on the Parish was strong and although Florentia outlived him by a considerable time, he left a male heir, William Peter Lucas-Shadwell. His legacy and work was far more extensive than I can write here, but if any readers wish to learn more, please contact me.
To be continued……. Next, Part 4, the third William Lucas-Shadwell:-
William Peter Lucas-Shadwell.
By Paul Draper.