Tuesday, 30 March 2021

A bullying landowner? (part two)

Mr. Weld-Blundell is turning out to be a nuanced character. And not just a complete and utter bastard.

Just a few months after losing his bitter footpath dispute with the inhabitants of Formby, he invited them all to a big party to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII.

Thursday in last week was high festival at Ince-Blundell, when Mr. Charles Joseph Weld-Blundell threw open his grounds to the whole of his tenants, comprising the townships of Ince-Blundell, Formby, Birkdale, and Maghull. About three o'clock the gates were thrown open and the guests passed in to the music of the National Anthem, rendered by the Ellesmere Port Prize Brass Band. A blue and gold streamer stretched over the gateway bore the words, "Mrs. Weld-Blundell gives you all a hearty welcome." This was received in person as the guests passed into the grounds, where the hostess had for all a smile and a pleasant word of greeting. She was accompanied by Miss Alice Weld-Blundell and Masters Richard and Louis Weld-Blundell, her children. Mr. Weld-Blundell was away at the festivities at Birkdale, but was expected later in the afternoon. As each person passed alongside the hostess he was presented with a souvenir of the occasion, consisting of a gilt medal bearing on one side the profiles of the King and Queen, and on the other the Royal Coat of Arms. This was suspended from a blue ribbon, on which were written in gilt letters the initials "E. R." Refreshments were provided in marquees erected in an adjoining park. In the smaller one tea was served, and in the larger a supper was laid to be partaken of at a late hour, when Mr. Weld-Blundell was present, and at which the health of the King and Queen and the hero of the day was enthusiastically drunk. As twilght came on the grounds were beautifully illuminated with fairy lights and lanterns, and at midnight the proceedings terminated by a display of fireworks."
Tablet - Saturday 05 July 1902, page 37.

It would be interesting to know if there was any lingering bad feeling on the part of the tenants. Did they all show up? I probably would have, myself. Who in their right mids turns down a free feast?

The cynical might assume that Mr. Weld-Blundell was trying to win back the people of Formby. But, as the festivities were for a far larger group, that seems unlikely.

The other location, Birkdale which is now a suburb of Southport, it seems to have been a more formal affair. But what's this about the District Council? Didn't they just take him to court?

"AT BIRKDALE, On the same afternoon, at Birkdale, Mr. Weld-Blundell, in presence of the District Council, planted a fine scarlet chestnut in commemoration of the Coronation year of the King. The ceremony was prefaced by a short speech from Councillor Stephen, who congratulated him on his recovery from illness, welcomed him in their midst, and thanked him for his generosity towards their festivities. 

In reply Mr. Charles Weld-Blundell thanked Mr. Stephen for his kind words, and congratulated the people on their striking procession and the beauty of their trees. Every cloud had a lining, and even the finest days had their clouds. He could not help referring to the unfortunate event which had come to mar the proceedings at the last moment. He should be almost afraid to speak of the matter and to thus mar the happiness of their assembly, were it not (or the fact that be had received a telegram that morning from Buckingham Palace saying that the King was doing as well as could possibly be expected. (Hear, bear.) They could ill afford to lose so good a King. (Hear, bear.) He did not know of any King who had done more for his subjects, or a man who bad been more a slave to duty than our King ; and be didn't know that he bad ever reed of any King who, as he, during the whole reign of his late revered lamented mother, bad given himself up entirely to hard work. He bad ever been asked in vain to help any hospit a or benefit any institution, for he had given up all his time — time when he possibly could spare it from his multifarious employments to succour the unfortunate, to help the distressed, and to rear institutions, and to help them on, for the least favoured of his subjects. (Applause.) There was an old French King who was "Bien-aimé" (well-beloved). He thought that King Edward VII, might well be called Edward the Well-doer, Edward the Beneficent, because there had been no man who had ever done more for his people than King Edward VII. Therefore, they must all pray to God that He should preserve him, and that in His mercy He would seee fit to lengthen his days. Mr. Weld Blundell then read a telegram which had been sent by the King's private secretary, as follows: I am commanded to thank you and Mrs. Weid-Blundell very sincerely for your kind inquiries. The King is progressing as favourably as can be expected." (Applaue) So he thought there was no cause for any suspicion or fear. He was a strong man and had always been able to do as much as any five about him; and it seemed to him there was not the least cause for anxiety. God grant that he might recover and reign for many a year. (Applause.) 

Cheers were given for the King and Queen, for Mr. and Mrs. Weld-Blundell and their family, and Mr. Weld-Blundell shortly afterwards left for Ince Blundell Hall. 

Mr. Weld-Blundell, who is chairman of the Urban District Council for the year, has promised to give the town a site for a Free Library and a contribution of £1,000 towards the cost of the building."
Tablet - Saturday 05 July 1902, page 37.

Ah, I see. It wasn't the West Lancashire Rural District Council who were attended, but the Urban District Council. Of which Mr. Weld-Blundell was chairman. Weird that one Council was dragging him through the courts when he was chairman of a neighbouring council. Where he was quite happy to play the philanthropist by planting trees and donating land for a library.

The first time I read "unfortunate event", I assumed it meant the court case. I now realise that it was the illness of the king. A few days before the planned coronation date of 26th June, he needed an operation and the event was delayed until 9th August.

I'm pretty sure no-one, since his death, has ever called Edward VII Edward the Well-doer or Edward the Beneficent. He's mostly remembered for being a debauched glutton, who ate, drank and smoked himself to an early grave.

1 comment:

Pete said...

“He's mostly remembered for being a debauched glutton, who ate, drank and smoked himself to an early grave.“

You make that sound like a bad thing.