The History of Upton House
And the families that lived here
The Llewellin family 1901-1957
Following the Tichborne Estates Act, the Estate at Upton was sold in 1901 to John Alfred Wigan and Thomas John Llewellin for the occupation of William Willis Llewellin for the sum of £18,110.
The Estate now consisted of Upton House and 930 acres of land including Upton Farm and several tenancies. The estate agent’s details referred to “three kitchen gardens… stocked with fruit trees and exceptionally productive” and to hot houses, a vinery, fruit rooms and potting sheds.
William Llewellin arrived with his wife Frances (née Wigan) and their three children from Morants Court, Chevening, in Kent. The family employed a large staff including up to six gardeners. Family photos from this period give an impression of the walled garden which included an ornamental fountain as well as areas for growing fruit and vegetables.
The family were Church of England, and their first change to the house was to convert the private Roman Catholic Chapel into a Dining Room, and install a huge fire surround with inlaid mirror to reflect light into a room without windows, just an overhead cupola. The fireback is Welsh Tudor featuring a Dragon and Unicorn.
The family soon settled into the local scene, and associated themselves with St. Michaels at Hamworthy.
Frances’ sister, Mrs Clara Matthews (née Wigan) came to visit and invited Frances for a ride in her new car. There was an accident near Merley Gates resulting in Frances’ death on the 27th May 1907, leaving William sole parent to William Wigan aged 17, John Jestyn aged 14, and Margaret Mary aged 10.
A year later, William remarried his first wife’s second cousin, a widow with 5 daughters, Mrs Ada Gaskell.
William Wigan enjoyed a distinguished career in the Prison Service and pioneered the first Open Borstal at Loudham Grange, Nottingham.
His brother John Jestyn, had a Parliamentary career from 1929 to 1945 rising to Cabinet level. He became Minister of Food in 1943, overseeing the wartime campaign to “dig for victory”. He was made Baron Llewellin of Upton, and sent to Rhodesia and Nyasaland as first Governor General in 1953. He died in office on 24th January 1957.
Their sister, Margaret Mary served as a JP and Poole Councillor from 1937 to 1954. She became the first female Sheriff of Poole, an office created on the 23rd June 1568, and the first female Mayor and Admiral of Poole in 1951, and again in 1953. On leaving the Council, she assisted her brother, Lord Llewellin, until his death.
William Llewellin gifted the House and 55 acres to the Borough of Poole in 1957 (a copy of the original document is available below), and brother and sister relocated to White Lovington at Bere Regis. William died on 16th November 1961, and Mary on 11th March 1983.
The family remain part of the fabric of the House however; Margaret Mary Lewellin became the first President of The Friends of Upton House (1976-1983), and Lord Llewellin oversees progress from his portrait in the Drawing Room.
Deed of Gift 12th November 1957
Of Upton House and 55 acres of estate grounds. Between William Wigan Llewellin, the Mayor Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough and County of the Town of Poole, and the National Trust for places of historic interest or natural beauty.
The History of Upton House has been compiled and presented by The Friends of Upton Country Park