WELLINGTON LODGE, Pelham Fields
(previously St. George’s Field Villa)
On the 10th October 1837 William Buckler Astley obtained a lease for 99 years on three lives, for a plot of ground by the shore and in the following year built St. George’s Field Villa. His wife, whom he had married in 1818 was Elizabeth Assheton-Smith, sister of Thomas Assheton-Smith, one of the most prominent sportsmen of his time.
After W. B. Astley’s death in 1849 his widow carried on living at the house which had had its name changed to Wellington Lodge sometime between 1840 and 1845. Their only surviving child Mary, had married Robert George Duff of Glen-y-Bola, Co. Carnarvon, who had descended from a common ancestor with the Earls of Fife.
Elizabeth Astley died in October 1851 and her son-in-law Robert Duff and his wife took over Wellington Lodge and owned it for the rest of their lives. Robert Duff was a J.P. and D.L. for Co. Carnarvon and had four children, George, Charles, Henry and Louisa.
As was common practice with the upper middle class, the Duffs occasionally rented out their house for the season when away themselves; for instance, in 1863 it was rented to Mr. W. Paynter and Captain Paynter. Mr. Paynter and his wife returned for a short while in 1876.
Mr. and Mrs. Duff took an interest in the town of Ryde and when All Saints parish church was built in 1869, they gave the money for the stained glass in the west window. After the death of his wife in October 1874, Robert Duff was away from Wellington Lodge until his return in 1880. On 30th March 1890 Robert Duff died at Wellington Lodge, aged 72 years. His body was taken for interment to the family mausoleum at Vaynol, near Bangor.
The house was taken over by his second son Charles who had married the Hon Maud F. Vivian, 2nd daughter of the 2nd Baron Vivian. The Hon. Mrs. Duff died 1893 and the following year Mr. Charles Duff married Mary Elizabeth Sheridan. In 1896 they gave up the house and in the next year the Hon. Mrs. Walsh came to live, but by 1900 she had left and Mr. and Mrs. Boys came to live at Wellington Lodge, and were still there in 1903.
Isle of Wight Observer 4 June 1870
TO BE LET, Furnished, by the year or a shorter period, WELLINGTON LODGE, a first-class family residence, situated in Pelham-fields, Spencer-road, with flower garden and lawn extending to the sea, and private landing-place, walled kitchen garden with fruit trees, well-stocked conservatory, greenhouse, &c. The house has recently been decorated and improved at considerable expense, and contains drawing room, dining room, morning room, five principal bed rooms, dressing room, seven secondary and servants’ bed rooms with 11 beds, very complete offices, cellars, &c. The stabling consists of an enclosed carriage yard with coach-house, harness room, six-stall stable, and men’s room over with five beds. For particulars and cards to view, apply to Riddett and Son.
Image source: RSHG Archive Roy Brinton Collection