Lady Florence and Clonegam church


After I posted this photograph in my blog  Abbeys and Churches, Mike Steeden, a fellow blogger, brilliant poet and a beautiful soul who is always advocating for the gals, looked up Lady Florence in Google and found a sad story of her short life. I also link this post to my favorite author Shehanne Moore’s blog because her heroines are not afraid to travel between the worlds in the name of love. Please visit and follow these amazing blogs.

Sometimes we find information where we least expect it.  I found mine in the Henry Poole & CO website in their very impressive customer list. This website is as classy as their exquisite bespoke tailoring. I checked out some genealogy websites, took a few pictures and here is another blog post about Lady Florence, Lord Waterford and Clonegam church. Clonegam church is a part of Curraghmore demesne. It has always been a family burial place for the De La Poer Beresford family, and Curraghmore has been their ancestral home since 1167.

Florence Grosvenor Rowley was born in Truro, Cornwall, in 1856 to Major George Rowley of the Bombay Cavalry and Emily Isabella Honner. She married Captain John Cranch Vivian in 1861 and had three daughters with him.

(The images are linked to the source)

by Camille Silvy, albumen print, 1860

Florence Grosvenor Rowley (by Camille Silvy, albumen print, 1860)


John Cranch Vivian

John Cranch Vivian


John Henry Beresford

John Henry Beresford 

John Henry Beresford was born in 1844 to John de la Poer Beresford and Christiana Leslie. In his youth, he was said to be ‘one of the handsomest officers that ever wore the uniform of the Household Brigade’. Lord John was also a fearless horseman. Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, a famous author of fourteen comic operas he wrote in collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan, refers to Lord John as ‘reckless and rollicky’ in Colonel Calverley’s song from Patience.

I don’t know how they met, but I am sure it was all over the papers at that time. In 1869 John Henry Beresford, 5th Marquess of Waterford, absconded to Paris with Florence Vivian, the wife of Captain John Vivian. Outraged husband pursued the couple to the Hotel Westminster, but his wife refused to return with him and attempted suicide by swallowing chloroform. Captain sued for divorce.

The Marquess and Florence married in 1872. They lived at 7 Upper Brook Street in London and at the Curraghmore house. In April 1873 Florence gave birth to a stillborn child, and died three days later at 27 Chesham Place, that was home of Marquess of Waterford at that time.

The 5th Marquess remarried in 1874 and had four children. His wife Lady Blanche Somerset, daughter of the 8th Duke of Beaufort later suffered from severe illness that left her paralyzed. She had a special carriage to carry her around the Curraghmore estate.

In 1883 the 5th Marquess of Waterford had suffered a spinal injury after being thrown from his horse on the way home from a dining party. He spent the rest of his life in the wheelchair, ‘silent and depressed’. On October 23, 1895 he was found dead in the library of Curraghmore house with a bullet in his head. He died by his own hand at the age of 51, 121 year ago tomorrow. His wife died two years later. Lord Waterford was succeeded in Marquessate by his only son Henry.

On Henry Poole & CO website, National Library of Australia website and also here  you can read about an impostor who wrote to Lord Waterford shortly before his death and claimed to be his legitimate son with Lady Florence, named George Tooth. He tormented the family for years and took the case to court in 1917 but didn’t succeed. There were witnesses who testified that the baby was dead and buried before his mother died, and the impostor is not ‘the missing Tooth’.

This is a look at the Clonegam church if you are coming from Portlaw.


The back gate of the church yard. In the distance, you see the lake and arboretum, but Curraghmore house itself is hidden in the trees.


This cross was erected in memory of Henry De La Poer 6th Marquis of Waterford and his family members.


Peaceful view from the church yard. I took this picture two years ago.


To take this picture I am standing on the other side of the wall. It is quite dark, and I have a feeling that I am pushing my luck again 🙂


Sunset comes early around here because of the mountains on the west.


The back gate is opened and I sneak to the graveyard. Looks like I am not the only one ‘trespassing’.


I walk around the church taking pictures of the gravestones and sheep. Suddenly I hear a soft knocking sound, and it is quite unnerving. The sound continues. I start slowly backing out, my heart is pounding and I forget to breathe. I am already close to the back gate when the sheep start leaving the graveyard too, swiftly and soundlessly.


I run through the gate and make a big circle to keep a distance from the church wall. Yet, I have to get to my car that is parked right next to this lovely house adorned with pale ghostly looking fuchsias…


Mentally exhausted, I drive up the hill, and down the narrow road to Portlaw, praying that no tractor comes in the other direction.


Thank you for reading about Marquesses of Waterford and running from ghosts with me 🙂 In my next post I will write about the most haunted place I know, because it is Halloween!

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!


    1. Oh Sarah, I have no idea from whom I run. Actually, the ghosts wouldn’t bother me, but a stranger would scare me because there were no cars parked, and it is not a walking trail or anything. xxxxxxxxxx

      1. I can understand that completely! When I´m “hunting” for pictures somewhere isolated it´s never the animals (or ghosts when I´m on a graveyard 😉 ) that scare me. I´m so glad you escaped whatever it was that scared you, maybe it was just a curious bunny rabbit or squirrel… 😉 xxxxxxxxxxxx

  1. A story and a half. There are many stories that would make fabulous books for sure. And your pictures bring them to life. Thanks, Irene!

  2. I like how you share not only photographs, but add layers of history and your personal photographic journey to a place and from, Inese.
    The poem by Mike is commented by myself later on another post.i liked the sheep in the graveyard, the ominous sound of knocking of unknown origin. The tragic tale makes you feel there very well exist phantoms of the characters. Oooh! I can feel goosebumps!

    1. Thank you so much, Robin. The knocking was a surprise – I knew there was no one around because I didn’t see any car parked in a close proximity to the church premises. I wouldn’t go there at this time of the day otherwise.

  3. Your photographs are absolutely stunning, Inese; every single one of them! The sheep photos are my favorite — such beauty. I see a kind heart who loves animals and captures them with such joy. ❤

    1. I do love sheep, Rose. They have a hard life, and are not the brightest stars in the animal kingdom. I always try to show them at their best in my pictures 🙂

  4. I wonder what that knocking was that you heard? The sheep seemed anxious to leave, as well. What a talented lady you are with your camera and your pen! You’ve certainly captured the spirit of Halloween beautifully and very cleverly, too. xo


    1. Thank you so much! The sound was something like soft knocking or tapping. First I thought it was a bird, but it was too late for birds to be active. Than I thought it was a human, and got really scared, but no one ever showed up. I want to go there some other day to find Lady Florence’s and the 5th Marquess graves. xxxx

      1. Scary but also thrilling, in a way! I’m glad you left before it got dark.
        Oh, goodie — another adventure with you to find their graves!! I’ll look forward to your post. xoxo

  5. History is fascinating, especially when ghosts are involved and you’re the one telling me about it! So nice to see mentions of Mike and Shehanne too xx

    1. I agree with you, the graveyard does need attention, so does the church exterior. The church is not open for public, one can visit it only by appointment. Curraghmore House itself needs a lot of resources. It is wonderful that Lord Waterford and his family keep the roof on it, but they are not millionaires…

  6. I have just finished…well I think I’ve just finished an ‘almost poem’ regarding the sad demise of Florence and child. May I use your photograph that heads this post to also head my piece? It goes without saying I will credit you, not just for allowing use of said photo but being the inspiration for my words also (do you have a logo in that regard?). This one was a really hard challenge…I kept getting lost in timelines and locations…just need Shirl to proof read, then, if she gives it the thumbs up, think of a good day to post!

    1. Of course, any of them. Sorry for the late reply – I haven’t been online this evening, got a very bad cold, pure misery. Woke up at 2 am after ‘just five minutes’ under a throw, fully dressed. Now cannot sleep, of course. When I go to Curraghmore, I will print out your poem and leave it in the visitor book with a link to your blog, if you don’t mind.

      1. The curse of a cold…vile things thus far escapees from latter day medication. Trust you’re feeling better come the new morn. As to your reply, brilliant! My wife, I hope, will this day give my piece a seal of approval and shall post it on Sunday. As mentioned before, this one was a real challenge I enjoyed. In the end I wrote as an observer, charting the plight of the Lord and reflecting upon the events prior to his suicide…fingers crossed that it has done Florence justice!

          1. Still not feeling better…hope that changes soon. I shall post the piece today ‘as is’…I’m terrible when it comes to chopping bits and pieces around, so this day it is!

              1. What an idiot am I? When I said, ‘Still not feeling better’ I should have added the crucial question mark! I meant , how is that wretched cold of you have?

                1. Oh, glad you are well 🙂 I am very bad, and probably everyone hates me because of my cough and other unpleasant activities. There goes my Bank holiday weekend and all the plans.

                2. That curse of a cold is that nothing really helps…that having to wait and wait, feeling ill until the bloody thing runs away…which reminds me, I have a flu jab due at the doctor’s in 20 minutes and I’m still sat here in a dressing gown!

                3. Oh, you better go and get it. I don’t think I have flu – I spent hours in a very cold place, and got sick the following day. I have a flu shot every season and it works.

                4. Cold and the immune system really are not the best of friends! And you are correct (certainly thus far), the flu jab is worth it (I hate needles and have to look the other way…as I’ve just done)

  7. This post is spooky! Each capture set the the scene slowly and as I continued reading, I was taken by surprise by that sound you heard. I wasn’t expecting it! Scary! I’m not sure how I would have reacted. You must be very brave to wander around graveyards when daylight is not on your side. Can’t wait to read your next post! 🙂

    1. Thank you! 🙂 The Church is remotely located and I didn’t expect anyone else being there. I just wanted to find the graves of the people I was going to write about, and take pictures. But when the sun rolled behind the mountain, it became quite dark and I wouldn’t see the gravestones anyway. All was quiet except that knocking sound that came and went. I didn’t like it but I would finish my project – I would check out the biggest gravestones, at least. Yet when the sheep started fleeing the place I knew it was the time for me to run away too 🙂

    1. Thank you! Couldn’t figure out what it was – there are many old constructions to hide behind. I was there long enough for anyone to show up – dead or alive – but no one did, thankfully 🙂

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