Frances Seymour was the wife' of Richard Seymour, Rector of Kinwarton and Great Alne from 1834 to 1877. Frances Smith (known as Fanny) was born in 1804 at Marylebone and first met Richard in 1832 while she was living at Mapledurham House, near Reading. Richard's diary (a copy of which is preserved at Warwick County Record Office) records his courtship, proposal and marriage and the appointment to his first living at Kinwarton. He first visited the area on 26 May 1834 and wrote in his diary 'Saw my three parishes - country beautiful -richest I have ever seen - at night write my first letters to my dearest Fanny'. Fanny made her first visit to Kinwarton in July 1834 and they were married on 30 October,1834
|They made their home in the rectory
alongside Kinwarton Church, which was built in 1788.
The letter below was written by Fanny to her sister, Maria, who worked in London. Apart from the usual family gossip, there are some fascinating insights into hf in the parish. The letter mentions a fete held in the surrounding towns on 24 May. This was to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of Princess Victoria. Great Alne held its celebration on Saturday, 27 May 1837 but Richard's diary merely records 'Feast at Alne' In fact, just three weeks after the date of this letter King William IV died and his niece became Queen Victoria on 20 June 1837.
Richard and Fanny raised a large family at the Rectory. The 1851 census records three daughters and five sons aged between eleven months and fourteen years, with a curate, a governess and seven other servants in the household. Fanny died on 27 April,1871. Richard retired from the parish in 1877 and died in 1880 being buried with his wife in Kinwarton churchyard.
May 29, 1837
My dearest Maria,
While you, I presume are deep in the mysteries of plumes, lappets and trains (unless his Majesty is disappointing you). I am sharpening my pen to address you from this remote region, where could you drop down, drest in all the splendours my imagination invests you with, you would indeed create surprise and admiration. While you appear to yourself perhaps almost a mere mute at the Drawing Room could you but be suddenly transported to Gt. Alne you would furnish conversation there for a month. Saturday coming would have been the time for your appearance in that loyal village, when to console themselves for having had no fete on Wednesday like many of the surrounding towns, they collected money for a rural tea drinking at which we assisted as spectators and it was very nice to see them all dressed in their best, seated on each side of a long table which was covered with cakes, bread and butter and tea things the whole tastefully interspersed with nosegays. It was out of doors under trees, first all the ladies or as Aunt would say all the females sat down, when they had quite finished they got up and were succeeded by all the children and when their appetites were satisfied all the men sat down, during the whole repast a solitary fat fiddler played various enlivening tunes, and those who were sat eating danced very perseveringly divers rustic figures, they all seemed excessively happy and I should doubt if the Princess Victoria enjoyed herself more thoroughly, there were of little and big nearly 200 and now having told you of our gaieties, I must my dear Maria, thank you for your last letter and beg you to express my gratitude to Mamma for her delightfully interesting long one and my gratitude must further extend to Eliza and Charlotte for the contents of a frank I received, yesterday which has occasioned me a shock of surprise. I have not yet overcome the projected tour of Paris of the whole family. I suppose that it does not seem clear that Eliza includes herself and Dennis among the number, pray let me know as soon as possible every particular on the subject as to when it is to be for how long etc etc for all they tell me is Charlotte says' " I course you have heard", Eliza says you may possible not have hear' and then followed the fact one tells me of Emma and Edwards going then that of Charlotte and Arthur's and I shall look for a third letter to tell me of Eliza and Denius', you must I should think very much enjoy the idea of their excursion, which will, I hope be as agreeable in reality as in prospect. I am most anxious to hear something more about it I hope it will not prevent Mamma's coming here some time in the course of this year tho' I suppose I must not hope to see you very soon. I had had a hope I might have done so in July perhaps but that I conclude is the time you will be away. Richard intends going in that month for a short time to Blendworth to see Michael before his departure and I had thought perhaps of Mamma having been at MDH then and the house not full she would have taken me in for a few days, however I must hope to see you here instead after your foreign excursion. I was much interested with Eliza's account of her dinner parties pray tell her I like the least little particulars she can tell me of them or anything else. I was very much obliged to Mamma for telling me of poor Mansbridge, I have not heard from her since she went but I told her to write to me when she was settled in any way poor thing I pity her very much I continue to be quite satisfied with Mrs Page she takes very much to the baby and the baby to here, I wish dear Maria you could see your niece. She grows quite a great girl and enjoys nothing so much as singing and dancing and begins to take pleasure in everything she sees, she can now pretty well guide her hand to take hold of what she wishes and gives sweet responsive smiles when you talk to her, for personal appearance I think she would be called rather pretty she had a little round fat face, Richard still thinks her very like Mamma, her eyes are becoming quite brown instead of grey as I expected she is a very great amusement to Richard as much as I expected. He I hope is better tho' I do not think' him very strong. I am longing to see Spencer and Frances and their boy, whose improvement I am very amazed to witness we expect them Thursday or Friday. You and Mamma must feel their absence a good deal, I wish before very long Spencer might meet with a place to but for I think it is so desirable to him to have a permanent interest and occupation for it certainly is a loss to you and Mamma to have them no longer as inmates. Do you expect that Arkley festivities to be very gay. I suppose the house will be very full is it a ball they are to give and what is to be done? I conclude you and Mamma will be there. Pray give my love to the Dickens'. I despair of ever seeing Eliza again. It is nearly two years since I have done so.
I have had several donkey rides lately to explore the extremities of this parish which are quite romantic but solitary beyond conception they are not however sketchable or I have lost the energy to create that art, age conquers all .equitably. I hope Cardine is greatly well and their account of Aunt C good what will become of all the Accston daughters when their parents go to Paris. Richard wants to have the leaving here
I think I must close this record but much to your regrets I should think, consider it laden with much love to all and especially my dear Maria to yourself from your ever affectionate
Winter 1992 Index
© Alan Godfrey 1992