The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Find the Lady!

The Shrubb family and their connections with Boldre

Text provided by a descendant of John Shrubb and his daughter Marcia

The Shrubbs first came to Boldre when Charles Shrubb became the Vicar of Boldre in 1817. He was officially instituted there on Jan 6th 1818 and remained until his death 58 years later. His father had acquired the advowson of the parish and the appointment of his son must have been a great improvement for the parish. The preceding vicar, Thomas Vialls, had had the appointment from 1804, succeeding William Gilpin, but had been an absentee vicar by and large. Vialls had a curacy in Twickenham from 1801 to 1812, at which time he inherited a mansion, Radnor House, by the River Thames at Twickenham. Records of Thomas Vialls show him in a poor light. He accused a gardener of the theft of two slices of beef, and took the matter to court where the gardener was found not guilty. He himself was accused of assaulting a sister in law: this case also went to court and he was bound over to keep the peace.

Charles Shrubb’s family were from near Guildford in Surrey and his wife Charlotte Bayliff from Southgate, North London. It seems from the recorded burials in Boldre churchyard that Charles’ family also came to Boldre at this time. His younger sister Mary was buried there in 1818, and their parents are also both buried at Boldre.

Charles’ younger brother, Henry Shrubb, also a clergyman, seems to have assisted at Boldre and was also involved at Pennington. He was from 1832-48 the Rector of Stratford Tony, a village near Salisbury. He returned to live in Surrey for a period. In 1849 he married a wealthy widow with a manor in Surrey. She died in 1869. Henry had no children and his inheritance was effectively passed to his nephews, Charles’ sons, Charles and John Shrubb. He financed a large house for John at Boldre. This house, Boldre Grange, dates from the 1870s, and is now a “listed” building. The architect was Norman Shaw, a noted professional who designed a number of public buildings and country houses in a variety of styles. Charles junior also had a house designed by Norman Shaw. This is near Guildford on land that at that time was owned by the Shrubbs. Unlike Boldre Grange, that building, Merrist Wood House is no longer a home, but has, after various changes including restoration after a fire, been developed into a college campus.

Charles Shrubb had three daughter who survived to adulthood – and all three married clergymen. The fact that census returns describe one of the daughters, Anna, as “imbecile” and “feeble minded” make one wonder exactly what persuaded the Rev. Glascott to marry her. Mary, the middle daughter, married the Rev. Edward Elers who succeeded Charles Shrubb as vicar of Boldre.

Rev.Charles Shrubb was a keen fisherman and rented fishing rights in the Boldre River. In 1836-7 he paid a rent of £11 for a stretch of river from which were taken 13 salmon, 1 trout, 32 mullet, 105 bass, 1 eel and 24 flat fish. Another entry in his diary records taking 127 salmon (thought more likely to be sea trout) from “Mr. Morant’s Stream” above Boldre.

Charles was not neglectful of his duties to the church and parish. It was during his time as vicar that the distant parts of his parish got their own churches – at Sway and East Boldre. Given the fashion and wealth of the Victorian times the Boldre church underwent “restoration” which included a virtual rebuild of the Chancel in the 1850s, the reopening being on December 1st 1855. At that time Charles’ wife gave the church an organ which was constructed from parts of the great organ which had been a centre piece of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park. It was very fashionable at the time to replace the music of the church band with an organ. In the 1860s and 70s the church choir of Boldre had a great reputation in the locality, so the organ probably played its part. It seems to have lasted 70 years before getting a major rebuild. It is understood that it was eventually removed from the church but was recycled to a new home in Romania.

When Charles Shrubb died in 1875 his position as vicar was taken by the Rev. Edward Elers. Edward had previously been curate at Fovant near Salisbury and in 1861 had married Mary Shrubb. Edward Elers was also a blood relative of Charles Shrubb, whose mother was an Elers. He was vicar at Boldre from 1875 until his death in 1912. The Rev. Charles and the Rev. Edward had together a span of 95 years as incumbents at Boldre. The next vicar was not related. Some would say that Edward Elers’ son was batting for the devil, as he had become a brewer.

In 1861, the year that Mary Shrubb had married Edward Elers, Charles’ son John also married. His bride was Sibella Fluder, a local lady, the daughter of Dr. Charles Fluder of Lymington. Dr. Fluder had died the previous year, and his first wife some 5 year before. The new Mrs Shrubb’s favourite older sister, Elizabeth Fluder, also married in 1861. She became the wife of Hay Morant, and they lived at Ringwood Manor.

Correspondence before the marriage of Sibella Fluder and John Shrubb suggests that it was his intention to move to Guildford and gain employment there. His uncle Henry was at that time living at Braboeuf Manor near Guildford, and was possibly in a position to help his nephew. In the event they did not go to Surrey and John stayed at Boldre and raised his family there, becoming one of the local country gentleman. Before the building of Boldre Grange John and his family lived at Rodlease which is midway between Boldre church and Vicars Hill.

In view of the poor state of affairs in the New Forest at this time, an Act of Parliament was passed to reorder the Forest administration. The backbone of new regulations was in the powers to be exercised by the Verderers. In 1877 John Shrubb was one of four who put themselves forward as candidates for election as Verderers. There were three positions and he got the votes to become a verderer. It seems to have been a pretty thankless job – there was initially no money to pay for staff to enforce the forest law. The income needed to be raised from those using the Forest. They were supposed to pay set fees. Many who were infringing the rules of the Forest were not keen to pay up or change their ways.

John Shrubb died in 1884 aged only 44. His widow, Sibella, remained at Boldre Grange, and she outlived him by some 28 years. Sibella Shrubb was no shrinking violet, and she commissioned Mr Shaw to design a memorial to her deceased husband. This was in the form of an East window for Boldre church. The image was one of Christ with two St. Johns, one on either side. The heads of these two saints were depicted as the likenesses of Mr.John Shrubb in his youth and his ‘old’ age. The technique used was new and was reported in the “Builder” magazine for 1884. The panels were made by a process in which the artist designed and coloured the glass himself. I’m told that the church had to remove the window in 1967 as the central figure of Christ was deteriorating and not repairable. Apparently the firing was flawed. The two Johns were recycled , going to another church, but have since been destroyed by fire. Descendants of John Shrubb were embarrassed by the memorial window but Rodney Hubbuck, a commentator on church art described the window as a rare work by H.A. Kennedy and Aldam Heaton, and an artistic window, not a run of the mill trade production.

In his time, John Shrubb was said to be so similar in appearance to HRH Edward, Prince of Wales, as to have been mistaken for him. Apparently he was once used as a stand in for HRH at a Naval Review. It was at about this time that the local family, Cornwallis-West of “Newlands,” were at the height of society being friends with HRH and entertained him and his German cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm. The Cornwallis West children made some well healed connections. Society beauty Daisy became HRH Princess Henry of Pless, a marriage which came with a rope of pearls seven yards long and a hubby with a 600 room palace in Silesia, a principality the size of an English county. Constance became Duchess of Westminster and George married Mrs. Randolph Churchill. Unfortunately all their marriages ended in divorce. Daisy was a guest of the Shrubbs at Marcia Shrubb's wedding in Boldre church in 1899.

John Shrubb’s wife Sibella was probably a pretty dominant lady: managing the Boldre Grange estate probably required it. She made her mark, her furniture was prominently monogrammed with SS. She had two sons and two daughters, the latter remaining with their mother at Boldre Grange until they married in the late 1890s. Her eldest son, John, must have had some political skills. Having married and gone to Devon he was mayor of Torquay in 1893-4. Returning to Lymington at the turn of the century, he became a Hampshire County councillor and was mayor of Lymington in 1903-4 and 1913-1917. In Lymington he lived at Grove House but it would seem that he took over residence at Boldre Grange on the death of his mother in 1912. He died himself in 1918. He had no male heir and neither did his brother Henry. The times were difficult : Boldre Grange was sold. After a century of Shrubbs being visible in Boldre, most of them were in the church yard. The last relative in the area was Sybilla Bayliff who was Marcia Shrubb's older sister and was married to Col. Richard Lane Bayliff (who was a relative of Rev. Charles Shrubb’s wife, Charlotte Bayliffe). She lived at Battramsley after the death of Col Bayliff and was buried in the Boldre churchyard in 1952.

It is hard to know what impression the Shrubbs made on their Boldre contempories as there do not appear to be any relevant letters or other sources of information that have survived. Rev. Charles Shrubb apparently kept a diary but his fishing seems to have been the only matter to have attracted the interest of those who have had access to the diary. There is not much written about the family during their time in Boldre, apart from the quotes from a diary. Family history is that Sway church used to have a plaque commemorating Rev. Charles Shrubb’s part in the provision of the church but this would appear to have been removed. Boldre church has a number of memorials.

Charles Shrubb’s youngest granddaughter, Marcia Shrubb, was raised at Boldre Grange and some momentos of hers are still in the family. These include a report of her wedding, and an album she kept of country house parties held at Boldre Grange and other large houses where she was a house guest. As a young person she went to Dresden to train as a singer. In a different age she might have become an opera singer. She is said to have had tuition from a member of the Wagner family. She must have been reasonably good as she is to be found on the list of performers at various concerts. Her talents may have been also an asset at country house parties as she was a mimic as well as a singer.

Marcia Shrubb married at Boldre on a crisp winter day early in 1899. Reading a description of her wedding is a positively embarrassing experience, the ostentation was on a par with her mother’s memorial to her father. Two triumphal arches had been erected at the Grange, and the village was “prettily decorated with green wreaths.” An “enthusiastic crowd” gathered along the route and around the church. Her mother gave her away. Needless to say HRH Princess Henry of Pless was at the top of the guest list. The list of those who gave presents runs to over 350 people, the booty would have taken a wagon to carr it : (and she was going to go with her new husband to British Columbia.) It is unlikely that Boldre Grange will ever see the like of that again.


Those who were prospering in the Edwardian era must have had great difficulty adjusting to the changes brought about by the Great War. Sadly for Marcia Shrubb her only daughter died in 1917 aged only four, and her husband had been declared bankrupt in 1916. She liked Boldre Grange and would have regretted that the family had to part with it.

Colin Bower
31 October 2009

Links to:
The Shrubb Family of Boldre Index

The Wedding of Marcia Shrubb

Final Report

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