History of the House / 1922 to 1924 - CT Ovenden

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Earlscliffe Residents 1922 to 1924

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. [1]

Very Rev. Charles Thomas Ovenden

Family History

Ovenden / Webb Family Tree
Ovenden / Webb family tree

Charles Thomas Ovenden was born at Carleton House, in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh on September 11th 1846. He was the eldest of the two sons of Dr. William Chambers Ovenden, M.D. and his wife, Isabella Parkinson. The other son, William Henry, became a doctor and moved to New Zealand. Dr. William and Isabella also had a daughter called Mary.

Very Rev. Charles Thomas Ovenden. Picture courtesy of Patrick Benham

Charles Thomas Ovenden was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, Mannheim, Germany, and at Trinity College, Dublin.

He was ordained in 1870, and was appointed curate of St. Anne's Church, Belfast. He became Rector of Dunluce, Co. Antrim, two years later, and remained there until 1879, when he was appointed Succentor of St, Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, and Warden of the Cathedral Grammar School.

After various posts as Rector of Ballywillan, Co. Antrim, Chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant and Precentor of Clogher, Dean of Clogher, Enniskillen, and Rural Dean, Ovenden succeeded the then Provost of Trinity College as Dean of St. Patrick's in 1911. [9]

Ovenden was married on Feb. 7, 1871, in St. Stephen's Church, Dublin, to Isabella Mary, eldest daughter of John Robinson, of Wilton Place, Dublin. [2]

They had two daughters; Isabella Gertrude Amy and Florence Irene Harriet.

A man of many talents

"Woodland Rapid" by Rev. C. T. Ovenden, 1911

Charles Thomas was a true Renaissance man, boasting an impressive array of talents. Not only was he a respected clergyman, but he also dabbled in the realms of literature, music, and art, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire.

As an author, he penned and meticulously edited numerous religious books, with one of his notable works being the esteemed first edition of the Cathedral Anthem Book of Words. His hymns, such as "I will give thanks" and "For the rain cometh down," must have stirred the hearts of worshippers, and his processional anthem, "The Son of God goes forth to war," became a soul-stirring melody that probably resonated within the hearts of many. [9]

His creativity was not confined to the written word alone; Ovenden was also a prolific artist. The walls of the Royal Hibernian Academy proudly displayed his art, and the Dublin Amateur Sketching Club hosted his annual exhibitions of oil paintings. [2]

His self-portrait currently hangs in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. [3]

Caring for his niece

Charles Thomas had one brother, William Henry, who was married to Edith Gertrude Lamb on the 26th of September 1876 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

On 28th October 1877, in Kaiapoi, Waimakariri District, Canterbury, New Zealand, William and Edith had twin daughters. One was christened Amy Idalia, and the other was christened with the same name as Charles Thomas' daughter; Isabella Gertrude Ovenden.

Sadly Amy died on May 14th 1878. [10]

The couple tried for another child, and on the 23rd Dec 1879, Sidney Lucy Ovenden was born. Sadly, she only lived four weeks and died on the 18th January 1880. [14]

By 1884, William and Edith were having marital problems and their remaining daughter, Isabella, was sent from New Zealand to stay in the care of William's brother, Charles Thomas Ovenden, and his sister, Mary E. Ovenden, in the North of Ireland.

In 1886, William and Edith were divorced with the agreement that Edith would have access to her daughter at all reasonable and proper times, and for two weeks, three times in each year she should have the care and custody of the child. [15] [10]

In November 1890, Edith went to Ireland and requested permission to see her daughter.

Charles Ovenden would not allow this as he felt threatened that Edith might not return the child to him, Also, he was concerned about the effect this whole episode was having on his own two children. In the end, he decided that this wasn't working out too well for the young daughter of his brothers, and sent her back to New Zealand with his sister, Mary Ovenden. Mary returned Isabella to her father, William Ovenden.

Once Isabella was back with William Ovenden, William then refused to allow Edith to see her daughter.

In 1891, Edith took William to court for access to her daughter.

The court case reports makes for sad reading as it is full of accusations on both sides as each tries to make out the other is not fit as a parent.

The result of the court case was that Edith lost her petition to be allowed access to her daughter, and the courts decided that the daughter should be sent back to be under the guardianship of Charles Ovenden and Mary Ovenden.

We are not exactly certain what happened to their daughter, Isabella Gertrude, after the case was completed, but we assume that she went back to Ireland and lived with Charles Ovenden and his two daughters.

However, we do know that on the 2nd Dec 1897, Isabella was back in New Zealand and was married to James Cecil Palmer at St. Michael and All Angels, Christchurch. [13] She went on to live until she was 83 and died on the 5th June 1961 and is buried in New Zealand in Wakapuaka Cemetery. [10]

Move to Earlscliffe

On October 25th 1922, at the age of 78, the Very Rev Charles Thomas Ovenden, now Dean of St. Patrick's, purchased Earlscliffe from Rachel Mahaffy. It was to be his summer residence. [1] He moved in not long after with his wife, Isabella Mary. [2]

Although we believe that only the two of them moved in, we do know that the deeds for Earlscliffe were made jointly between the Very Rev and his youngest daughter, Florence. [1]

Sadly, the Rev. only spent a short time at Earlscliffe, as he died on the 8th July 1924, with his wife dying four weeks later on August 7th. [4] [2]


Florence Irene Harriet Wynne-Finch

Florence Irene Harriet was the youngest daughter of C. T. Ovenden and was born on the 11th July 1886.

During the first world war, Florence was a V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment) for Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. [17]

During the war period, she married Lieutenant Horas Tristram Kennedy, of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on Nov 29 1916. They went on to have a son, Horas Tristram, named after his father, who was born in Eton, Buckinghamshire in England on 29th May 1917.

Sadly, it was unlikely that the father saw his son, as the Lieutenant was killed on active service just over a week later at Ypres in France on the 6th June 1917. [2] [7] [8]

We assume that Florence continued to live in England. Although she had been married in Dublin in 1916, her child was born in England, so it is assumed that is where she lived, even after her parents died in 1924.

In the meantime, we believe that in 1924 (or early 1925) she rented out Earlscliffe to Robert Rooney. Learn more about Robert Rooney's life and time in Earlscliffe here:

Florence married Captain Arthur Wynne-Finch on the 3rd June 1926. [5] She subsequently moved to North Riding, Yorkshire where Arthur Wynne-Finch held the office of Justice of the Peace. [6]

She died on the 11th Dec 1978 at Beech House, Carlton, Cleveland, Middleborough, Yorkshire. [16]

Isabella (Ella) Gertrude Amy Webb

Isabella Gertrude Amy was the eldest daughter of C. T. Ovenden. She was born 16th Oct 1877 and was educated at Alexandra School, Dublin, Queen’s College, London, and at Göttingen in Germany.

She would later live in Earlscliffe and her full story can be found here:

Further information

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List of Earlscliffe Residents

1844 to 1864 - Cornelius Egan
1864 to 1878 - Bunbury McClintock
1878 to 1896 - The Knox family
1896 to 1901 - John Randal Plunkett
1901 to 1922 - John Pentland Mahaffy
1922 to 1924 - CT Ovenden
1924 to 1927 - Robert Rooney
1927 to 1930 - Dr Ella Webb
1930 to 1945 - Sir John Lumsden
1945 to 1949 - William Martin Murphy
1949 to 1950 - Lily Margaret Graham Gough
1950 to 1952 - Stanley-Clarke
1952 to 1961 - Woods
1961 to 1969 - Knowles
1969 to today - Robinson & Foley family 

Disclaimer. Parts of the data found in these history pages are derived from sources currently available on the internet. In researching the previous owners of Earlscliffe, certain assumptions have been made as to the validity and accuracy of this internet data. If you believe that some of this data is inaccurate or should not be published on this website, please contact  .


This page was last updated on 27-Jul-2023 .