‘Bedtime Stories’ Chapter 4 by Night Porter, Tim
The 7th Earl Ferrers died in 1727 leaving the Ragdale and Ratcliffe Halls and estates to the illegitimate daughter of his late son, Miss Caroline Shirley.
The Earl’s friend, Charles Mundy, of Burton Hall looked after the young girl and was instructed to further her education by sending her abroad for three months of the year when she became 16. At the age of 18 she met and married a young Italian Duke and whilst they visited Ragdale on holiday, sketching and painting the Old Hall next to the church, they lived in Italy. Both Ragdale Halls and Ratcliffe Hall were let out on leases to wealthy gentlemen, either as hunting lodges or permanent homes.
The first known occupant of this Hall was Colonel Hylton Jolliffe in 1831. He had a previous connection with Ragdale because in 1804 he married by special licence, the illegitimate daughter of the 7th Earl Ferrers, Elizabeth Rose Shirley, at the Earls house in Park Lane, London. Unfortunately, she died in 1809 at a young age due to reasons unknown to me.
Hylton Jolliffe was a real character and a very rich man. He retired from the army in 1804 after he inherited Metsham House together with its stone quarries near Epsom in Surrey. He became MP for Petersfield, Hampshire like his father before him. He formed a business – Jolliffe and Banks, with George Banks, building a horse drawn railway into London to haul the stone enabling them to become a major construction company building dockyards and bridges in London and the rest of England. After the death of his wife he sold his estates in Surrey and moved to a house in Pall Mall, London. His reasons for leasing Ragdale Hall in 1831 are not clear but perhaps he wanted to live part of each year where his wife had possibly grown up. He was a very keen huntsman so his main reason could have been to hunt with the Quorn. (He used to have his own pack of hounds at Mertsham and once had a dispute over a fox with one of his neighbours which lead to them fighting a duel – they both missed which settled the matter!) He died in 1843 and was buried next to his family in Mertsham. He was survived by two illegitimate sons conceived after his wife had died.