Sunday, October 12, 2014

To Fitzroy and Eugenia with love - two Berkshire pigs and some meal

Today it is de rigueur for the about-to-be-married couple to circulate a gift list, but few would publish the results in the local paper.  Yet this was common practice among the great and the good of the 19th century and when the Goddard heir married he did just that.

Captain Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard, second eldest son of Ambrose Lethbridge Goddard married Mrs Eugenia Sutton, widow of Alexander George Sutton, at the Parish Church, Chippenham on June 1, 1895.  The wedding, described as being of ‘a very quiet character,’ was performed by Captain Goddard’s brother, the Rev. C.F. Goddard assisted by the Rev Canon Rich, Vicar of Chippenham and the Rev Canon Mayne, Rector of Christian Malford. Following the wedding breakfast at The Angel Hotel, Chippenham the couple left for a honeymoon in Lynton, Devon.

While the wedding might have been a low key event, the presents were in a different league altogether and were described in the Advertiser as ‘numerous and valuable.’

Heading the list were those exchanged between the couple.  The groom gave the bride a sapphire and diamond horse shoe brooch, a sapphire and diamond ring, a sapphire and diamond bangle, silver brushes and a fur coat.  The new Mrs Goddard presented her husband with a gold and enamel pin, gold initial links, silver dressing case boxes, a ring, a silver cigar lighter and a silver hunting flask.

The groom’s parents were equally generous.  Ambrose and Charlotte gave them a brougham, a light, four wheeled horse drawn carriage.

The Townspeople of Swindon clubbed together to buy a silver tea and coffee service and tray and the tenants of the Swindon estate gave a silver salver while the Lawn servants presented the couple with a silver vegetable dish and a silver thermometer.

Intriguingly, included in the list of presents is a silver cigarette box given by the Hon. Mrs Keppel.  Could this be Alice, later mistress of Edward Vll and great-grandmother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall?

Among the titled gift givers were Lord and Lady Swansea who added to the silver stash with an ink bottle and a sugar basin while Lady Peel, daughter in law of Sir Robert Peel Prime Minister and founder of the Metropolitan Police Force, gave a Chippendale table.

The more unusual gifts included some fantail pigeons from Miss N. Pegler while Mr Newman presented the newlyweds with two Berkshire pigs and some meal.

The couple never had any children of their own although Major Goddard acted as stepfather to Eugenia’s two children by her first marriage, Naomi who died aged 16 in 1910 and Thomas Alexander who lived at Westlecott Manor.

Major Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard died at his home The Lawn on Friday August 12, 1927 ending more than 350 years of Goddard family history in Swindon. 

Major Goddard’s widow continued to live at The Lawn for a further four years before leaving for America.  She returned to England and died at her home, The Cottage, Buckland on June 8, 1947. Her funeral took place at Christ Church, Swindon two days later.

Having stood empty for several years The Lawn was requisitioned by the war office to accommodate American troops during the Second World War.  It was bought by Swindon Corporation in 1946 and eventually demolished in 1952 when it was declared unsafe.

The Lawn
 Major Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard in old age

Remains of the sunken garden at the Lawn

The gazebo and ice house at the Lawn

Remains of the Lawn

Goddard family vault in the remains of Holy Rood Church.

Memorial window to Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard in Christ Church, Swindon

Old images of Major Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard, the Goddard family and the Lawn are published courtesy of Swindon Local Studies Collection. Visit the website on

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