Very Rev. CT Ovenden
Earlscliffe was purchased in 1922 from Rachel Mary Mahaffy by the Very Rev. Charles Thomas Ovenden, the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin (picture on left courtesy of Patrick Benham). 
C. T. Ovenden was born at Carleton House, in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in September 1846, eldest son of William Chambers Ovenden, M.D. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin and was married on Feb. 7, 1871, in St. Stephen's Church, Dublin to Isabella Mary, elder daughter of John Robinson, of Wilton Place, Dublin. 
Apart from a long and distinguished career in the church, Ovenden was described as "a man of Wonderful versatility. He was a talented musician ; exhibited oil paintings annually in the Dublin Amateur Sketching Club and formerly in the R.H.A." and "was well known as a popular lecturer and writer".  His self-portrait currently hangs in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 
Florence Irene Harriet was the youngest daughter of C. T. Ovenden and had married Lieutenant H. T. Kennedy, of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on Nov 29 1916. Unfortunately the Lieutenant was killed in the first world war on the 6th June 1917.    Florence lived on in Earlscliffe after her parents had died in 1924 until she married Captain Arthur Wynne-Finch on the 3rd June 1926.  She subsequently moved to North Riding, Yorkshire where Arthur Wynne-Finch held the office of Justice of the Peace.  Earlscliffe was then occupied by Florence’s elder sister, Isabella. 
Dr Ella Webb
The Dean's daughter, Isabella (Ella) Gertrude Amy Ovenden, was born in 1877 and was educated at Alexandra School, Dublin, Queen’s College, London, and at Göttingen in Germany. At the age of 18 she surprised her parents by wanting to become a doctor. She graduated in 1904 and was married in 1907 to George R. Webb, a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin (FTCD)  They moved into Hatch Street in Dublin and as well as raising her family and running a private practice, she also held a free-dispensary in Kevin Street. 
Dr. Ella Webb was appointed as an anaesthetist to the Adelaide Hospital in 1918 (the first woman member of the medical staff) and became MD in 1925.  After her younger sister Florence was married, Ella moved in to Earlscliffe with her family in 1927 
Dr. Webb was a close colleague of Dr. Kathleen Lynn   , and Dr Dorothy Stopford Price  and had worked with them at Saint Ultan's Hospital for Infants. St. Ultan's was founded by Kathleen Lynn and Madeleine Ffrench-Mullen at 37 Charlemont Street in Dublin and opened in 1919. (Saint Ultan was a Bishop of Meath who had cared for children orphaned by the Bui Connall or Yellow Plague). 
Webb is also reputed to have appointed the first Medical Social Worker (or Almoner as they were then known) in Ireland. She had made a request in 1919 at a meeting of the Red Cross Society in Dublin for a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) to help in the dispensary for sick children that she had established in the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin the previous year. Miss Winifred Alcock, who had been training as an Almoner in London, responded to the request and started voluntary work with Dr Webb. After three years Miss Alcock put in a request for a full time salaried assistant  resulting in the appointment of Miss Olive Crawford as the first qualified almoner. This was the beginning of social work in the Irish hospital system. 
Dr. Webb studied mortality among children in Dublin under one year old, which was abnormally high in 1915  and did pioneering work in preventative medicine with children.  She became famous for prescribing a teaspoonful of Guinness for infants recovering from gastroenteritis.  She was also the founder of the Children's Sunshine Home in Stillorgan, Dublin which was originally a convalescent home for children suffering from rickets in the early 1920s. 
She was made a Lady of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and was awarded the MBE in 1918 for her medical work during the Easter Rising (see also Earlscliffe Residents 1930 to 1945 - Sir John Lumsden). She was also a member of the Joint Committee of the British Red Cross Society. 
Dr. Webb moved into Earlscliffe in March 1927  with her husband George, her son, David Allerdice and daughter Mary Ovenden Webb.
David was 15 when the family moved into Earlscliffe; an impressionable age for a young man! We wonder if it was the wonderful plant life in and around Earlscliffe that encouraged David to study Botany. He graduated at Trinity College Dublin in 1935 in natural Sciences and later gained a PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge. He later returned to Dublin to become assistant to the Professor of Plant Biology at Trinity College, a post he was later awarded in 1949. 
David became widely respected for his classification of plants when he wrote the book "An Irish Flora"; a standard textbook that was revised many times and still remains an authority on the flora of Ireland.  David lived to 82 years of age and died in September 1994.
Although Dr. Webb got immense pleasure from the gardens at Earlscliffe,  she eventually moved out to Rathgar, Dublin. She sold Earlscliffe to a colleague and close friend of hers, the Vice Chairman of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem, Sir John Lumsden. 
Dr. Webb continued her medical work right up until she died on August 24,1946. She is also buried in St. Fintan's Cemetery in Sutton, Co. Dublin. 
This page was last updated on 07-Mar-2016 .