Charles Bellairs and the Red House
Charles William Bellairs was born in 1861, the seventh son of Rev Canon Henry Walford Bellairs and Mary Hannah Albina. His father was an HM Inspector of Schools and a clergyman in Oxford. By 1881 Charles was a clerk in the Stock Exchange and lodging in Egham.
In 1887 Charles Bellairs married Alexandra Elizabeth Ritchie and they came to live at a house in The Avenue while the Red House was being built for them. Charles was listed at the Red House in the 1891 census but his family were not there for the census night, only Charles and four servants; his occupation was given as ‘stockbroker’.
Charles and Alexandra had two children; Tom, born in 1892, and Madge in 1894. All seemed set for a successful family life in a splendid new house, but Charles died suddenly from of a heart attack in November 1898, aged 37.
The probate record for Charles William Bellairs gives his death as taking place on November 21st 1898 at his London house in Chelsea, presumably. His executors were Claude Francis Arthur Egerton esq. and the Hon. Victor Ralph Pelham, Member of the Stock Exchange. In his will he left the huge sum of £15,391 2s 8d.
His memorial in the northern part of St Mary’s church yard is this beautiful sculptured figure of an angel.
After Charles’s death Alexandra married Claude Francis Arthur Egerton, who it is likely she already knew. At the 1901 census she was in Leicester with Madge, but Tom was probably at school. He became Lt Commander Tom Claude McKenzie Bellairs and died in 1945.
In 1899 Charles’ two executors leased the Red House and its land to Edward Fraser R Holroyd of Clifton, Bristol, father to the well-known biographer Michael Holroyd whose family had many local connections. (Centre Bucks Studies Aylesbury; assignment of lease 1899, DX 1077/7)
Red House Cottage
The Cottage was probably built as a subsidiary to Red House, and the year 1847 which is written under the gable roof cannot be its building date. Maps and censuses show that there was no development along Slough Road before the 1880s. In 1891 the census recorded three houses adjacent to the Red House on its south, two as unoccupied and the one in between them ‘in building’. The cottage is very likely to have been new built and waiting for a tenant in 1891, the date being exactly right for the local building style. As to the date ‘1847’, it might commemorate a significant family date, or perhaps the earliest date found on a land sale deed, but it is not the date of this building.
‘Maud’ and the Red House
Maud Berkeley was a girlhood friend of Alexandra; she lived on the Isle of Wight but sometimes visited ‘Charlie and Tykie’ in Datchet, at first at the Avenue and then in the Red House. She wrote a very lively illustrated diary in which the Bellairs occasionally figure, published as ‘Maud’ in 1985. Maud was at the Avenue house while the Bellairs were packing to move to the Red House in February 1890, when she titled her drawings (below) ‘The wreck of one’s happy home’, and ‘Choosing a pattern for the Red House – our usual occupation’.
In June 1890 Maud went to stay at the Red House for the first time and wrote, ‘Adore Tykie’s new house. It is quite lovely, red Elizabethan brick and mullioned windows. Reminds me somewhat of Hampton Court. Tykie distinctly flattered when I mentioned this. Helped Tykie sort out the tea room this afternoon. She has made gargantuan umbrellas to give it a Japanese effect, and we had the greatest of fun trying to decide just where they should go.’
On this visit also: ‘The Duke has come to stay for Ascot Races‘, though she did not say which Duke this was. After the day at the races, ‘We had a most relaxing end to the day. Charlie resplendent in a new quilted satin smoking jacket, and Roulette the feature of the evening. I sat next to the Duke and staked exactly as he did. The consequence was that I won twenty-four shillings. I am thinking of buying a new hat, with plumes, to celebrate.’