Delving into the history of St Andrew’s House

As we’ve been working to uncover the physical past in our restoration of St Andrew’s House, here at the Trust we have also become more interested in the social past associated in what will soon be our new extended home.

One former inhabitant among the long list of Deans of Rochester – this was The Old Deanery after all – is Reverend Ernald Lane, who held the title from 1904 to 1913. He was born in 1836 in Staffordshire. His education was at Balliol College, Oxford, and in 1858 he represented the university in the annual boat race – which was won by Cambridge.

In 1879, at the age of 43, he married Evelyn Adelaide Philips, 22, also of Staffordshire. They had three children.

A look at the 1911 census tells us there were 15 people living in the 21-room house. Two of these were Rev and Mrs Evelyn Lane, along with their 24-year-old daughter, Marjorie Agnes Jane Lane, who married some time later.

They were accompanied by four guests: John William Philips, 83, a retired textile businessman, former High Sheriff of Staffordshire, and Evelyn’s father; his wife Ethel Montagu Philips, nee Adye, 45; Percy Arthur Ernald Barnard, 22, a ‘gentleman of private means’ who had attended Castlemount College School in Dover and was to later serve as a chauffeur in the British Army in World War One; and a single lady, Winifred Howard, 24, who was accompanied by her lady’s maid, Isabel Calvert.

The remaining residents at the time of the census were the seven household servants: butler Rowland Harrison, 26, born in Staffordshire; footman John Davison, 17, from Derbyshire; two housemaids Elizabeth Alcock, 18, from Staffordshire, and Edith Powley, 29, from Essex; and kitchen maid Sarah Moore, 18, from Staffordshire. It’s worth noting none of the servants were local and several had come from Staffordshire, the Dean’s home county. From their ages they had presumably been appointed after Rev Lane’s move to Rochester, so they may have come from families who the Lanes new well, either from youth or from the Dean’s time as prebendary of Litchfield Cathedral or Archdeacon of Stoke.

In 2012, a painting of Ernald Lane was sold on ebay for £385. You can learn a little more about the buyers in this delightfully irreverent blog.

One additional detail. Ernald Lane was a descendent of Lady Jane Lane, who in 1651 (after the Battle of Worcester) helped King Charles II escape Bristol by disguising him as her servant.

You can read our earlier post about the renovation work on St Andrew’s House here.