Queer Places:
Marden Hill, Tewin, Hertford SG14 2NE, UK
Calcot Park, Bath Rd, Reading RG31 7RN, UK

Godfrey Henry Thornton (August 16, 1856 - 1906) was a former Army officers living in Capri. He is Anthony Burlingham in Vestal Fire (1927) by Compton Mackenzie.

Thornton's army career had been very short indeed. Starting as a second lieutenant (equivalent of ensign) in the Hertford Militia, he had been commissioned in the Life Guards in October 1877, but he resigned eight months later, while still only 21. Supported by a very substantial private income, he embarked on a largely aimless life, drifting about the Orient and the West Indies, climbing in Switzerland and living it up in London. He had musical talent and, after taking piano lessons with Clara Schumann, became an accomplished performer of the works of Chopin, Brahms and Liszt. Having spent most of his fortune on young men or on paying blackmail, he made for Capri, with his Bechstein grand, a wardrobe of the 1880s, photographs and other mementoes, bought a cottage in Anacapri and did little else but practise the piano and spend what was left of his money in the same way as before. He was a very lonely man, not yet 50, and the tall handsome young officer with wavy flaxen hair and fair moustache had degenerated into a monumental, gross figure, with white moustache and globular light blue eyes. He enjoyed the Torricella tea-parties and, when asked, would play for the guests. Villa Torricella was build by Saidee Wolcott Perry and Kate Wolcott Perry.

Godfrey Henry Thornton was born on August 16, 1856, the son of George Smith Thornton (1808-1867) of Marden Hill, Hertfordshire, and Agnes, daughter of the Rev. Henry Pole of Altham Place, co. Berkshire. Agnes (died 1895) married secondly John Henry Blagrave of Calcot Park. The manor of Marden (Muridene, Meryden, Merden) was probably identical with the land at 'Cyrictiwa' or Tewin which was held about 1050 by Tova, widow of Wihtric. Tova at that time made an agreement with Leofstan, Abbot of St. Albans, by which she and her son Godwin were to hold the land for their lives, paying yearly to the abbot at the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, and that after the death of both the monastery of St. Albans was to take possession 'without contradiction.' It remained with St. Albans until 1529, when it came to the Crown by the conviction of Thomas Wolsey Cardinal of York, then Abbot of St. Albans, under the Statute of Praemunire. He was, however, pardoned in 1530 and his possessions restored. The abbey was surrendered in 1539, and in 1540 the manor of Marden was granted to William Cavendish and Margaret his wife. Later it came into the possession of Edward North, whose son Edward succeeded his father in 1606. Edward the younger died in 1653. His son Hugh, who built a house at Marden Hill, left two daughters—Mary, who married Arthur Sparke, and Sarah, who married Marmaduke Rawdon. These sisters, who were holding the manor in 1672, are said to have sold it to Edmund Field, after which it was acquired by Edward Warren, who was holding it in 1700, and whose son Richard succeeded before 1728. The latter died in 1768 and was succeeded by his son Arthur, who is said to have sold Marden in 1785 to Robert Macky, who was holding it with his wife Elizabeth in 1810. He sold it soon after to Richard Flower, from whom it was acquired in 1817 by Claude George Thornton. The latter died in 1866 and his son George Smith Thornton in 1867, when Marden came to Godfrey Henry Thornton, son of the last-named, who was-holding it in 1877. It has since been acquired by the Earls Cowper.

Godfrey Henry Thornton was a member of the London branch of the Wagner Society and of the Theosophical Society, and was Lieut. 1st. Life Guards, according to the 1881 census. In 1879 he is living at Calcot Park with his mother. He won joint third prize at the sporting dogs exhibition at Olympia, Kensington, with his Great Dane bitch by the name of Ortrud, according to The Times of 27 April 1887. He was declared bankrupt in absentia in London in 1906.

My published books:

See my published books