ELHAS Meeting Report - April 2011

For our April meeting we were delighted to welcome James Lomax, Curator of Fine Arts at Temple Newsam House, to deliver an illustrated talk about Lady Emily Charlotte Meynell Ingram. James has recently retired from his post at Temple Newsam after a 29 year career there. He is still however involved with the house and is currently putting together an exhibition about John Smeaton, the famous Leeds engineer. During his long career, James has written many articles and books and this is something he hopes to continue to do during his retirement. James began his talk by explaining that during her lifetime Lady Meynell Ingram was a prolific letter writer and diarist, as well as being an accomplished sketcher and water colourist, and as a result of all this information a great deal is known about her.

She was born in 1840 to Sir Charles Wood and Lady Mary Wood, formerly Grey, the second eldest of six children. She spent an idyllic childhood at Hickleton, near Doncaster, and was particularly close to her eldest brother Charles. As a child she was often summoned to Buckingham Palace to play with Princesses Victoria, Helena and Louise. She met her future husband, Hugo Francis Meynell Ingram whist staying as a house guest at Chiswick, the home of Lady Harcourt. He was the eldest son of Hugo Charles Meynell Ingram and was eighteen years older than Emily. The politics of the two families were different, the Woods being Whigs and the Meynells Tory.

Hugo and Emily married in 1863 and so began her association with Temple Newsam, although at that time the family only used the house as a Hunting Lodge. The couple were extremely happy, but owing to a riding accident Emily was unable to have children. On the death of his father, Hugo Francis inherited the properties at Hoar Cross and Temple Newsam. Emily spent most of her married life at Hoar Cross in Staffordshire where the couple demolished the old Hall and rebuilt it in a style more reminiscent of Temple Newsam. She was devastated by Hugo's untimely death as a result of a hunting accident in 1871, and as a memorial to him, she commissioned the building of a church near to Hoar Cross Hall. Following the death of her husband Emily inherited the extensive estates with considerable wealth, and began to spend more time at Temple Newsam House.

One of Emily's favourite recreations was yachting. Until the mid 1880s she had been content to charter yachts but about that time bought her own yacht called the 'Ariadne'. She would leave Temple Newsam or Hoar Cross after the New Year and take the train to the South of France where she and her party would cruise the Mediterranean until about Easter.

In December 1904 Emily died at Temple Newsam House and her funeral and interment took place at Hoar Cross.

During the talk, James showed many interesting photographs of the family and a selection of sketches done by Emily and her brother Charles, which provided a delightful background for an interesting and informative talk. As always James' enthusiasm for his subject shone through which was welcomed by an appreciative audience. He will be sadly missed at Temple Newsam and we wish him a long and happy retirement.

The next meeting on Monday 27th June will be a talk by Canon Ann Hemsworth about Florence Nightingale.