Taunton Courier 10 Oct 1934 Golden Wedding Celebrations Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING nee Agneta Sophia HARRISON of Walford House

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Taunton Courier. Bristol and Exeter Journal and Western Advertiser. Wednesday 10 Oct 1934

Page 1 Column 1-3





Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING, of Walford House, West Monkton, near Taunton, celebrated their golden wedding on Sunday, and throughout the week-end they were the recipients of hundreds of messages of congratulation from friends in various parts of the country and the British Isles.

Their notable record of public work in the parish, in the town and neighbourhood of Taunton, and for the whole county of Somerset, has evoked the admiration of people in all classes of society, and this was reflected by those who, verbally or in writing, conveyed felicitations and best wishes for their continued happiness and good health.

Probably unique in the history of Somerset county families is the fact that Sir William also attended the golden wedding celebrations of his father and grandfather (1881 and 1907) in the same house. All three were married at the age of 25.

Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING spent the anniversary day with members of their family, including four of the eight bridesmaids who attended the wedding. On Saturday and Monday there were happy celebrations in a large marquee in Walford House grounds, the aged residents of the district and the estate tenants taking part. Many handsome gifts of a public and private nature were received.

Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING were married at Whitburn, Co., Durham, on October 7th, 1884, by the Rev. F. MEADE-KING, Sir William's uncle, who at that time was rector of Stogursey. He was assisted at the service by the Rev. William HARRISON, of Easington, Durham, uncle of Lady MEADE-KING.

There are two sons and one daughter. The elder son, Mr. Richard Evelyn Beauchamp MEADE-KING, lives at Edinburgh, while the other, Mr. William Oliver MEADE-KING, resides near St. Austell, Cornwall. The daughter is the wife of Mr. Harry HICKLEY, of Cheddon Fitzpaine.

Sir William is a member of an old Somerset family, and can trace his ancestors back to 1605. His great-grandfather was Richard MEADE, and his grandfather, who was born in 1806, was Richard KING-MEADE. A Mr. KING, who owned a great deal of property at North Petherton, left it to him on his death, providing he took the name of KING. Sir William's grandfather, therefore, became Richard King MEADE-KING. He married in 1831, and celebrated his golden wedding in 1881. Sir William's father was born in 1833, married in 1857, and had his golden wedding in 1907.


Sir William is the only son of the late Col. W. O. MEADE-KING, of Walford House, Taunton, and was born in Canada in 1858. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times in paddle boats. The late Colonel MEADE-KING was educated at Eton and Oxford, and was a distinguished oar, being president of the O.U.B.C. Sir William followed his father at Eton, and, having completed his education, was articled to the late Mr. J. F. BATEMAN, who at that time was president of the Institute of Civil Engineers. Having completed his articles, Mr. MEADE-KING remained for a time as an assistant, and then left to go into the service of the North-Easern [sic] Railway Co., under the late Mr. T. E. HARRISON, another past president of the Inst. C.E., and while there he was appointed to take charge of a section of the Manchester Ship Canal. On the completion of this work he returned to the service of the North-Eastern Railway, remaining with them until he was appointed engineering inspector to the Local Government Board, a position he occupied for more than 25 years. He was also engaged on the Manchester Waterworks. He succeeded his father at Walford in 1914.


On returning to private life, Sir William was elected a member of the County Council for the North Curry Division, and, with only three years' service to his credit, he was appointed an Alderman of the Council. It was in the political world that he most distinguished himself. He was elected a member of the Executive Committee of the Taunton Divisional Conservative Association during the period that Sir Dennis BOLES represented the constituency, and in 1920 he was elected president, following the resignation of Mr. Arthur CAPEL upon his appointment as High Sheriff of the County. After that he was engaged in five elections, two with Sir Arthur GRIFFITHS BOSCAWEN and three with Lieut-Colonel A. Hamilton GAULT, D.S.O., having won three out of the five and recaptured the seat from the Liberal Party. His services for the Conservative Party were recognised in 1929, when he was created a Knight. He relinquished his office as president of the Conservative Association in November, 1930, when he was elected High Sheriff of Somerset in succession to Mr. Arthur CAPEL, a former president of the Conservative Association. Sir William is still keenly interested in the activities of the Association, and is now a vice-president.


After the defeat of Sir Arthur GRIFFITHS BOSCAWEN, Sir William made a tour of the Division, visiting every polling station and conversing with every class of elector. He embodied the information so obtained in a comprehensive report to the Executive Committee, who saw fit to act upon its recommendations, and Colonel GAULT defeated the sitting Member by 3,549 votes.

Himself born in Canada, Sir William exercised considerable influence in securing Col. GAULT's agreement to contest the Division; in fact, it can be said that he was responsible for securing him as the Conservative candidate when the Association, within a few days of the contest, found itself without a champion, Major DAVIES having gone to the Yeovil Division to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Colonel Aubrey HERBERT. Having persuaded Colonel GAULT to accept nomination, Sir William gave him his whole-hearted support. Since then he has addressed thousands of people in the Division.


When Mr. Stanley BALDWIN spoke on cooperation in farming a few years ago, Sir William decided to go to Denmark and secure first-hand information on the subject. He went to Copenhagen, visited farms, observed the methods employed, and took many photographs, from which he made about 70 lantern slides. On returning to England, Sir William gave a lecture based on his visit in various parts of the constituency, and it was later accepted by the Central Office of the Conservative Party for use throughout the country.

While engaged in his professional duties at Manchester. Sir William held a commission in the 1st Manchester Volunteers for two or three years, and then held a commission in the 1st Somerset Militia (3rd Battalion, P.A.S.L.I.) in the days when they camped on Blagdon Hill and Colonel HENLEY was the commanding officer.

Sir William has been a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers for forty years, and has published several papers, one of which secured the Telford premium and gold medal.

Among the sports in which he has taken part shooting holds a prominent place. He rowed in the Boats at Eton, and has always been interested in fishing and hunting. He has also been a member of several golf clubs.

For two years Sir William has held the office of President of Taunton Chrysanthemum Society. He is a member of the Somerset Archaeological Society.

Sir William has always taken the greatest interest in the affairs of the parish. His is a churchwarden at West Monkton, a School Manager[?], and a member of the Parochial[?] Church Council. He is patron of the living of Lyng.


Lady MEADE-KING was before her marriage Miss Agneta Sophia HARRISON, third daughter of Mr. T. E. HARRISON, who at that time was the chief engineer of the North Eastern Railway Company. She has been of great assistance to Sir William in his public work, and is herself associated with several organisation. She is Chairman of the Taunton Women's Conservative Association, a Committee member of the West Monkton Nursing Association, and is prominently connected with the local Women's Institute.



On Saturday morning, at the offices of the Taunton Division Conservative Association Sir William MEADE-KING was presented by Sir Dennis BOLES, Bart., with a silver-gilt salver – a gift to him and Lady MEADE-KING from friends in the Association. The salver, a beautiful piece of workmanship, bore a central inscription, surmounted by the MEADE-KING family crest. The text read: “From a few friends in the Taunton Division Conservative Association to Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING. A memento of their golden wedding, 1834-1934.”

The presentation was made at the close of the monthly meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee of the Association. Lady MEADE-KING, who has been suffering from a cold, was unfortunately unable to be present.


Mr. G. U. FARRANT, the chairman, said a golden wedding was a very rare occasion in most families, and when it did occur it should naturally be a source of congratulation. “In these modern days (continued Mr. FARRANT) it has become fashionable – I think it is the right word – for two parties to seek the aid of the Church to declare them man and wife, and before they have really had time to understand one another to seek the aid of their legal advisers to hasten to dissolve that partnership. To-morrow we shall be thinking of two great friends of this organisation, who, for better or for worse, have stood the test of full partnership for 50 years. I think it is only right that we should, as a Party, give them some token of our deep appreciation of their services to the Association, acceptable to them both, and as a reminder to future generation of their family of a wonderful record. We regret the smallness of this gathering for such an occasion, and especially the absence of Lady MEADE-KING. We sincerely hope that Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING will enjoy good health and live to celebrate their diamond wedding. I now ask his oldest friend in the room to hand him our small token, which we trust will be to him and Lady MEADE-KING a constant reminder of our regard and esteem.” (Applause.)

Sir Dennis BOLES, in handing the salver to Sir William, said it was a small tribute of their affection for him and Lady MEADE-KING. He knew it was in accordance with their wish that no general appeal should be made to raise a fund from the Association to mark the event, and the value of the presentation in no way represented their affection for them. When it became known that something was going to be done, there were many who wanted to subscribe, but they were told that it was not a general presentation, but one confined to a few who had been most intimately connected with the Association, and who had worked for many years to further its interest.


Sir William, responding amid warm applause, said that both he and Lady MEADE-KING would greatly value that beautiful memento of their golden wedding. They would value it particularly for the spirit in which it was given, and as a tangible expression of the enjoyment, which he hoped was mutual, of their long and happy association with those responsible for the gift. He would convey to Lady MEADE-KING the good wishes so kindly expressed there that day.

Before the presentation a message was read from Colonel Hamilton GAULT, M.P., expressing regret at his inability to be present. “I am the more sorry not to be with you this morning (he wrote), as I understand that the presentation to Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING on their golden wedding is to be made; and I should like to say, that though the flesh may be weak, the spirit is still strong, and that on this, as on all occasions, I am with you heart and soul, despite the absence of my corporeal parts.”


Saturday was a memorable day for the old-age pensioners of the parish. They were entertained by Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING to tea, and also to a first-class entertainment. Unfortunately the heavy downpour of rain kept a number away, but a company of between forty and fifty attended, and showed unrestrained glee at the clever items provided. Mr. Lawrence KEY, of Taunton, gave a magical act, and he was also associated with Mr. Will HARRIES[?] (Taunton), in highly-amusing duets and duologues. The accompaniments were supplied by Mr. THORNE (Wiveliscombe), who also gave pianoforte solos, which were greatly enjoyed.


There was a happy family party at Walford House on Sunday, when Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING were joined not only by their sons, daughter-in-law, daughter, son-in-law, and three of their nine grand-children, but also by four of the eight bridesmaids – seven of them are still living – who attended the wedding 50 years ago. They were Mrs. G. HARTER, Mrs. H. BROWNLOW, and Miss M. HARRISON (two sisters of Lady MEADE-KING), and Miss MEADE-KING (Sir William's sister).

Lieut.-Colonel A. Hamilton GAULT, D.S.O., M.P., acting on medical advice, sincerely regretted being unable to accept an invitation to the “At Home,” on Monday, but with Mrs. GAULT he gave Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING a delightful surprise by visiting Walford House on Sunday afternoon. He tendered them his hearty congratulations, and expressed his best wishes for their continued happiness and good health for many years to come. Mrs. GAULT similarly conveyed her felicitations.

There were many other visitors, and also a continuous flow of congratulatory messages from friends in various parts of the British Isle throughout the week-end.



The climax of the happy week-end celebrations was reached on Monday afternoon, when Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING were “At Home” to more than 200 friends from various parts of the country. The gathering, being of so large and representative a character, clearly indicated the esteem in which Sir William and his wife are both held. Their notable record of public work, both in parochial and county spheres, has evoked the admiration of all those who have been associated with them, and has won for them a large number of new friends.

Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING welcomed all the guests personally in Walford House, and after they had inspected the many beautiful presents received, they proceeded to the large marquee in front of the house for afternoon tea. The proceedings were delightfully informal and selections of music were rendered by the hand of the 5th Batt. of the Somerset Light Infantry.


Conspicuous among the golden wedding gifts were the following: A picnic case, with fittings, and two gold pens, in cases, from Sir William and Lady MEADE-KING's two sons and daughters-in-law, daughter and son-in-law, and grand-children; a gold china coffee set in case from 52 old friends and relations, with their names illuminated on vellum; a gilt salver from the Taunton Division Conservative Association; silver jugs, tumblers, and salver, from the West Monkton Women's Conservative Association; embroidered towels, &c., from the Creech Barrow Sewing Party; Waterford jug, with gold chain and inscription, from the Walford House indoor and outdoor staff; silver rosebowl from the Walford estate tenants; a bouquet of everlasting flowers sent from Canada by Mrs. M. PAUL, a former cook at Walford House; a basket of golden-colouered [sic] chrysanthemums, from the scholars of Monkton School; and a coffee set[?] from Mr. and Mrs. E. J. WILLS and Miss WILLS. Mr. WILLS, who is now living in retirement, served the MEADE-KING family for more than 30 years as coachman and chauffeur.


Those who accepted invitations to be present on Monday were:-

Miss ALLEN, Captain and Mrs. ANSTRUTHER, Mrs. Murray ANDERDON, Mr. and Mrs. ANDERDON, Mrs. ADAMS.

Mrs. and Miss BUTLER, Sir Dennis and Lady BOLES, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton BAKER, Mrs. BRAIN, the Rev. H. and Mrs. BROWNLOW, Miss BEADON, Mrs. BROADMEAD, Mr. and Mrs. BUCKNALL, Mr. B. BYLES, Commander and Mrs. BENSON, Miss BADCOCK, Miss Laura BADCOCK, Mrs. BADCOCK, Mr. and Mrs. BENSON (Sheafhaynes), Miss BEADON (Weymouth), Mrs. BARRETT.

The Earl and Countess of Carnwath, Mrs. CALVERT, Mrs. CORBETT, Mr. and Mrs. COPLESTON, Mr. and Mrs. Lovell COPLESTON, Mrs. M. CLARKE, Mrs. CAMPBELL, Mr., Mrs., and Miss COOKSON, the Rev H. and Mrs. COCKAYNE, Mrs. Napier CLAVERING, Mrs. Cameron DUNBAR, Mrs. CAPEL.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry DANIEL, Major and Mrs. DUCKWORTH.

Mr. and Mrs. EASTWOOD, Mr. W. ESDAILE, General Sir Gerald and Lady ELLISON, Mrs. ELTON, Dr. and Mrs. ELLIS, the Rev. and Mrs. EREAUT.

Mr. and Mrs. F. C. FRANCIS, Mrs. FOSTER, Mr. and Mrs. G. U. FARRANT, Mrs. Leslie FOX, Mr. and Mrs. E. FRANCIS, Lady FOSTER, General and Mrs. FRITH.

General and Mrs. GILLESPIE, Mrs. Hamilton GAULT, Colonel and Mrs. GOLDSMITH, Mr. and Mrs. GEORGE, Captain and Mrs. GLENCROSS, the Rev. C. and Mrs. GRAHAM, the Misses GREENHAM, Mr. and Mrs. GRAY, Major and Mrs. GARTON, Mrs. Henry GIBBS.

Mrs. Chas. HANCOCK, Major and Mrs. HARGREAVES, Mrs. G. HARTER, the Misses HICKLEY, Mr. and Mrs. Frank HANCOCK, Comdr. and Mrs. HELYAR, the Rev. C. HUTCHINSON, Miss Mildred HARRISON, Mr. and Mrs. HICKLEY, Mrs. HICKLEY (West Monkton).

The Rev. Dr. and Mrs. INGLES, Captain INNES.

Colonel and Mrs. St. LEGER JERVIS, Dr. and Mrs. JOSCELYNE, the Rev. K. and Mrs. JACKSON.

The Misses KING, Major and Mrs. KENNEDY, Mr. and Mrs. KNIGHT.

Colonel and Mrs. LIDDELL, Mr. A. F. LUTTRELL, Mrs. LAING, Mr. and Mrs. LIDDON, Mr., Mrs., and Miss LUCKOCK.

Miss McNETIE[?], Colonel and Mrs. MORRIS, Mr. and Mrs. MATHEW, Mrs. MATTHEWS, Mr. R. F. B. MEADE-KING, Mr. and Mrs. C. MEADE-KING, Miss MEADE-KING, Mr. and Mrs. MATHIAS, Mr. and Mrs. E. MEADE-KING, Dr. R. L. MEADE-KING, Mr., Mrs., and Miss W. O. MEADE-KING, Miss BAILEY, Miss F. MEADE-KING, Mr. and Mrs. Forbes MACKINTOSH, Miss L. MEADE-KING, Colonel Hartley MAUD, Miss MANDERSON

Miss NEWTON, Mr. and Mrs. Vivian NEALE, Mr. Arthur NEWTON, Mr. and Mrs. NUTTALL, Mr. and Mrs. NICHOLSON.

The Rev. and Mrs. OGDEN, Mr. and Mrs. OWEN.

Mrs. Fitzhardinge PORTMAN, Miss PAUL, Col, PEMBERTON, The Hon. Mrs. PORTMAN, the Misses PLATT, Major and Mrs. PATON.

Mrs. and Miss RUST, Mrs. and Miss RADCLIFFE.

Mr. and Mrs. SANFORD, Mrs. SADLER, Miss M. SOMERVILLE, Mrs. and Miss DUNCOMBE SHAFTO, Mrs. SHUCKBURGH, Mrs. SEALEY, Major and Mrs.STOBART, the Right Rev. Bishop DE SALIS, Mr. and Mrs. Wyndham SLADE, Mr. and Mrs. SIDEY.

Mrs. TATTON[?], Colonel and Mrs. THURSTON, Mr. and Mrs. TURNER, Mrs. and Miss THACKNESSES, Colonel and Mrs. TUPMAN.

Mr. and Mrs. VERNON (Corfe), Miss VANSITTART.

The Misses WOODFORDE, Mr. and Mrs. WILSON, Captain and Mrs. Ronald WIGRAM, Mr. Staunton WING, Mrs. WARRY, Colonel and Mrs. WARDLAW, Colonel and Mrs. WALMSLEY, Mr. and Mrs. Macro WILSON, Mrs. WADDY, Mrs. WORRALL.

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<NOTES: William Oliver Evelyn MEADE-KING son of William Oliver MEADE-KING and Mary Musgrave BEADON, married Sophia Agneta HARRISON>