A death in the Great War enables generations to enjoy delights of Baysgarth House and Park
One hundred years ago tomorrow (September 30, 2017) the lives of one of Barton’s most eminent families, like so many others whether rich or poor around the country, was changed forever.
George Robert Marmaduke Stanbury Taylor, the heir to barrister Robert Wright Taylor of both Baysgarth House and London, was killed in action at Wieltje, near Passchendaele on that day. He was buried in the Mendinghem British Cemetery near Proven, north-west of Ypres.
Known as Stanbury he had enjoyed a golden childhood. Born at his father’s London address, Courtfield Road, Kensington, four years after his only sibling Clare Ermyntrude Magdalen Wright the family maintained close links to Baysgarth House and Barton where his father had been born in 1859 in Barton’s Market Place.
Robert Wright Taylor had bought Baysgarth House in 1889 around the time of his marriage to Clara Louisa Hodgson, the daughter of Bradford industrialist George Hodgson, whose company made power looms for the textile industry and at one time employed thousands of workers.
Despite Robert and his family being born in Lincolnshire the family maintained close links to their Yorkshire roots in Haworth where the Taylor family were close friends of the Bronte family. In 1912 Stanbury’s father purchased Ponden Hall, said to be the inspiration for either Thrushcross Grange in Wuthering Heights or Wildfell Hall in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and revealed in a visit the same year to Stanbury Board School, where he presented eight book prizes every year, that when his son came of age those estates would be handed over to him.
Stanbury’s own schooling was so very different to the children living on his father’s Yorkshire estate and in Barton itself.
He was educated at Mr Stone’s House, Eton and followed in his father’s footsteps studying at Trinity College, Cambridge as well as being admitted to the Livery of Clothworkers’ Company in July 1917.
Two years previously, in February 1915, he had been gazetted 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Field Artillery and served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from March, 1917.
Stanbury wrote home frequently and Baysgarth was often mentioned, as was life in the trenches In the early hours of September 30 a gas shell hit his dugout in the battle for high ground near Passchendaele, and although his respirator was damaged he managed to help rescue others. He returned to the dugout after the battle but later succumbed to the effects of the gas and died at 7pm the same day.
He was just 22 years.
Life continued for the Taylor family but it was forever changed. Stanbury’s sister Ermyn married her second cousin, Thomas Ramsden in 1920 but eight years later in December 1928 his mother died at their London home followed on March 19, 1929, by her husband Robert who, taking the death of his wife badly, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
The only surviving member of the family, Ermyn, lived with her family in Norfolk and a little over a year after her
father’s death gifted the house and adjoining parkland to Barton Urban District Council as a lasting memorial to both her parents and her brother. An official handing-over ceremony took place in July 1930.
Although the family had cut its physical ties with its Lincolnshire property one of Robert’s grand-daughters, June, continued to visit and noted that on her visits to Baysgarth she had been impressed by how well the museum and house were kept and how she had been made “most welcome” on these visits.
This year she expressed pleasure about the works that North Lincolnshire Council is now undertaking to enhance the park and hoped that it would soon enjoy Green Flag status.
Next time you walk through the main entrance to Baysgarth Park, enjoy the Museum or the grounds just take a moment to remember that it is ours to enjoy only because of the suffering of one family in the Great War.