Stephen Alers

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Stephen Alers

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1809 - 1878



Fourth surviving son of William Alers Hankey and Mary nee Martin, Stephen was born on 21 May 1809 and baptised on 3 Sep at the Independent chapel at Bull Lane, Stepney.

Educated at Mill Hill School 1820-25. Stephen is believed to have kept a ‘toe-hold’ in Fenchurch Street, but spent much of his time in the country and travelling abroad.

On 14 Feb 1840 the partnership between Francis Freeling Tuke and Stephen Alers Hankey, Wine Merchants, trading at Oporto and also at No. 25, Crutched Friars in the City of London, under the firm of Tuke and Hankey, was dissolved by mutual consent; Stephen Alers Hankey retiring therefrom (London Gazette).

In 1851 Stephen was a merchant (a partner in the firm Champion, Hankey & Co), and lived at Meaden Croft, Lewisham. He was much more at ease in the country, and built himself a fine, large house named Beaulieu at Baldslow, near Hastings; the house remained in his family until 1956, having for the previous 30 years been let to the governors of a prep school named Hydneye House (at which three of his descendants received an education).




Stephen was married in 1833 to Lillias Agnes Mackenzie (born 1810 in Scotland, died 1874), by whom he had two surviving children, Helen Agnes (1835-1913) and Walter (1839-1921).

Matilda Hartsinck wrote on 19 Dec 1833 that ‘the poor Alers Hankeys had an unusually melancholy trip this year to Brighton, besides the circumstances that took Alers away so much, was added the increased illness of his son Stephen’s wife with rheumatic fever. The poor woman at last went home on a mattress rolled up in blankets.



Stephen Alers Hankey                                     Mrs Stephen Alers Hankey



Stephen could be described as a patron of the arts, and his paintings included several by Goya, some Vandykes and many of the Italian masters, which he probably purchased on his travels abroad. He also collected fine porcelain and china, and personally commissioned Josiah Wedgwood to make pieces for him. His 157 paintings were valued for probate in 1878 by Martin Colnaghi at £11,337 (approx £600,000 in 2005's)



Stephen Alers Hankey


Stephen died on 22 May 1878 at Turin, Italy, leaving an estate under £250,000 (approx £12million in 2005's)


Beaulieu Farm & House

Beaulieu Lodge is the home of the Anscomb Family, Gardener in 1841 and Beaulieu House is being looked after by male and female servant only HO107/ 1105/4 Page 3 & 4

A Landed Proprietor (from Lambeth Surrey) and her sister occupy Beaulieu House in 1851 together with A Ladies Maid, A House Servant and a Cook and a Visitor who is a Bailiffs Daughter. The Lodge is occupied by the same Gardening family and their 4 young children (Anscomb)HO107/ 1635/ 493/ 25

Beaulieu House is shown as unoccupied in 1861 as is the Porters Lodge whilst Beaulieu Farm is occupied by a family of 5 with ‘No Occupation’ shown by their name and there is a Gardeners House occupied by The Lodge Gardener and his young family of 3 children RG9/ 560/ 109/ 25

1871 sees Beaulieu House occupied by a Butler (from Norfolk) and two servants whilst one of the lodges is occupied by a Gardeners and his families and the other by a Coachman and his wife who was a Needlewoman. The Beaulieu School was mentioned with a Miss Margaret Nash (from London) listed as the School Mistress RG10/ 1030/ 136/ 32

In 1881 Beaulieu Farm is occupied by the Farm Bailiff, William Lusted and Family, whilst one of the Lodges has a Gardener & Family and the other lodge is unoccupied. Beaulieu House itself is occupied by a Married couple named Spears who are listed as a 'Lodging House Keeper'


Beaulieu Farm

It would appear from an advert  that Mr Edward Habershon Esq, was operating a fairly successfull Dairy Herd at Beaulieu Farm, but for some reason in 1864 (advert taken from The Hastings and St Leonards Observer October 1864) he decided to sell up.

On the 26th March 1869, Edward Habershon of Beaulieu, Hastings, esq, conveyed to the Rev William Twiss Turner, rector of Ore, with the consent of Ashurst Turner [Gilbert], Bishop of Chichester, the Great Meadow (1r 3p), Ore, as a site for a new parish church

5 years later in 1874, Mr Habershon, then the architect of St Helens Church in Ore and St Andrews Church in Hastings sold the Old Beaulieu House, a late 18th century farmhouse, plus its 88 acres to Mr Stephen Hankey, who in September 1883 laid the foundation stone of the New Beaulieu House, which according to the Observer, the tenders received in November 1882 ranged from £9300 to £9900

Over the following years he not only replaced the House but added various other buildings mostly to accommodate his considerable art collection, until in 1918 the family entered into a form of lease/tenancy agreement with Hydneye School that gave them the right to buy the freehold to the property when school funds permitted for a figure in the region of £20,000 to £30.000 (figure was set in 1918) The school invoked the right many years later before finally selling it to the Local Authority who then built a new school

Prior to this in April 1884, Col Hankey was presented with a 'Handsome Address' from the people of Baldslow as a sign of their appreciation in all that he had done for them - especially the village school which he built and maintained, but which had just been closed by the Education Dept. as a non effecient school with thin walls; the architect stating that they were only 9 inches thick instead of the regulation 14 inches.


Col Hankey told the meeting that he did not propose to rebuild the school for the following reasons: He said he did not feel justified in doing so because he had no gaurantee that the Education dept in 10 years hence would not state that it did not meet current requirements and this would put the onus and expense on his son to bring it up to date; or the Parish council would state that the school was built for the village of Baldsow and they were going to take/claim it. Col Hankey said it gave him great pleasure to continue to maintain the church that he had built. On the 9th June 1900 the Observer carried the story that Col Walter Hankey of Beaulieu, sponsor at his own expense of the Iron Church and the old Beaulieu School had died in Turin aged 69.

House to School

Beaulie House was leased in 1918 by Hydneye House ‘a well known boys preparatory school of that name from Willingdon in Eastbourne. Much investment was made to the house and grounds by the school which now had spacious playing fields, woodlands, swimming pool and a Greek Theatre, and had become one of the leading such schools in the country as well as one of the most attractive buildings in Hastings. Unfortunately it was forced to close in 1969 when the Hastings Observer reported that the Hastings Council was planning to build a new comprehensive school on the site, and in the autumn of 1974 the East Sussex County Council (having bought the school and land from Hydeneye) demolished the school, (despite public opposition, and built the new Maplehurst School , known today as Helenswood Girls School. The Greek Style Theatre is still in situ and is used by the girls today as a place to sit and eat their packed lunches; the swimming pool is also still there but has been filled in following an accident.