Lady Florence and Clonegam church

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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 🙂

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

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

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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.

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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…

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

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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!

111 comments

    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

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      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

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  1. 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!

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    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.

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  2. 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. ❤

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  3. 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

    ~PR

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    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

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    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…

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  4. 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!

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    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.

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      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!

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        1. 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!

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        2. 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)

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  5. 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! 🙂

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    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 🙂

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    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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  6. Oh my goodness. That is an amazing post Inese. I love how you tell the story and then, just as I an having a giggle about the trespassing sheep, you turn it right round to something far scarier when it comes to trespassers. You still got some amazingly beautiful photographs though. Thank you so much for your kind kind words at the start. I am really touched by them. I think they’ve made my day xxxxx

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      1. Oh he truly is. He sent me a link with Florence’s story and I was stunned. I knew I have to write another blog on this family. While doing the research, your Malice came to mind. You know how I love that gal 🙂 xx

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        1. Inese, you are so very sweet. Her grandmother’s story is coming out soon. You will probably see who Malice takes it off of. xxxxxxxxxx Mike is wonderful and so supportive. I love his poetry and his stories always make me laugh. They’re fabulously surreal and thy never miss the mark. This was obviously a lady who bravely went against convention for love and so sad she died.

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        2. I cannot wait to read the gandmother’s story! ❤
          Mike is crazy talented. Absolutely crazy. I suspect him being a reincarnation of some Silver Age acmeist poet. Most of them were executed in the 1920 by the Russian social democrats for the lack of political correctness in their poetry. True story. xx

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        3. You must blog their story sometime Inese. I love when Mike writes poetry of that vintage–you know his spy poems and prose.? Maybe he is a reincarnation? Whatever he is amazing and such a nice unassuming guy too. Mr and I went out at the weekend. He wanted to hear Scotland’s ex makar at the literary festival. I have never heard such dull pedestrian, treading water work. I must say it fair made me fizz when I think about people like Mike. I will be sharing some of the grandmother’s story soon. She’s a present day gal in every way. x

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        4. Yes, Mike is a Poet. I know what you mean about all those festivals. Everyone is trying to get into spotlight etc… and on the other end there are people like Mike. Thankfully.
          I am so happy to hear more about Malice. I am dying to know where did her grandmother travel, and are there any connections. xx

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    1. Thank you so much! I am not sure what made that knocking sound, but I stayed there until the sheep started to leave. Reckless as I am, I didn’t want to be there alone with the unknown 🙂

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        1. It is what I thought too. The sun was well behind the mountain and there were nowhere to hide or run to if it came to that point. The only road is very narrow, and it goes up the steep hill under the canopy of trees. I shouldn’t have been there at all, at that time of the day. I took my last picture of the creepy old house from my car window – didn’t have a nerve to walk to it 🙂 xxxx

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        2. If there had been someone there as in a real someone you’d have known. And If there was and they were hiding then you were well out of that too. Your last photograph of the old house is stunning. xxxxx

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        3. I hope to arrange a Curraghmore tour some day, to complete the story. The House is officially closed for winter, but it is possible to make arrangements by telephone. They might add me to a group of tourists. xxxx

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  7. Amazing post!! I love the history of the people, the place & the pics you took. Really well done & interesting post. Of course, I super love the part where where you & the sheep quietly vacated. I’m sure it was a wise move. However, if you ever feel like going back to answer the knocking, I’ll be right here waiting for the post. 😀 xo

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    1. Resa, thank you! 🙂 The worst part is that after I heard the knocking, I didn’t turn back and get into my car. Instead, I proceeded to the graveyard and started taking pictures. Isn’t it exactly what they do in horror movies? 🙂 When the sheep fled away I finally run away too, still shooting on the go. Will I ever learn my lessons? 🙂

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    1. Thank you Cynthia! I don’t know how it happens 🙂 Usually I am alone in the places, and often at odd times of the day, and it doesn’t bother me. My guess is that a sheep was scratching her back against some pole, and the pole was knocking against anything else. There is no other explanation.

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  8. I was moved along feeling alone when reading that you were peeking into the graveyard. The looking back sheep and the sheep running out pictures are a bit eerie 🙂 I would be startled if I were there and heard unexpected sound too. You have a nice B&W picture of the all trees over the hill.

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    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 I did feel uncomfortable. This church is standing on the other side of the hill, away from the houses, and I never expected anyone to be there. Day or night, it is a lonely place unless a photographer stops by.

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    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 All the valley is incredibly beautiful. Early morning hours are the best, but this time I couldn’t make it there in the morning. And the same as it was with you, I didn’t get any fall foliage pictures, because it doesn’t happen here every year.

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        1. I think we don’t have the temperature low enough. The wind and rain strip them off quick, before they have a chance to change color. I have got a few shots though, and will share them after my Halloween post.

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  9. What an ill-fated family history. Your spooky experience at the church adds to the sense of tragedy. Who knows if there are restless souls lingering…. Thanks for the research and photos, Inese. I’m going to head over to Mike’s. 🙂 Happy weekend to you.

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  10. Thank you for your kind words and, more importantly, adding flesh to the skeleton of a sad tale from days of yore…I feel the need to grab hold of my pen and pen something! As ever, your added bonus pictures and narrative are most sublime.

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    1. Thank you so much, Mike! I wish I had time to dig deeper and find some papers from that time. I would love to know more. Just imagine that era, and how unthinkable was what she had done in the name of love. Tragic.

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        1. Cheers, may take a week or two, but rest assured something will be written…there is hidden romance in this tale that has me captured, indeed I was captured from your previous post. I was in Narac (spelling might be wrong) in south western France a few years back, and there, in the forest near a waterfall of sorts was a statue of a gal with a similar tale that broke my heart.

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        2. I don’t as it happens. I rarely use hotels, preferring to rent a property (freedom plus parking so I can get around the area etc.) yet, in the back of my mind I am sure, when researching for a piece I was writing recently it got an historical mention…I just have to remember it now!

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  11. So many (at first) seemingly different things, yet there were common threads and you tied them all together at the end. If the knocking sound failed to rattle me, the fleeing sheep certainly would have! 😀
    Thanks for the links. I enjoy Mike’s blog and don’t find time to visit him often enough.
    Well done, Inese. Mega Halloween hugs.

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    1. Thank you so much, Teagan! The history of the de la Poer family is fascinating, and often tragic, but this story is special. Next Saturday I will post my Halloween special edition blog, with another ‘tangled’ story, and hope you will love it 🙂 Have a wonderful week ahead! Many hugs! xx

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