A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
by Richard Barton and Philippa Hunter
Hidden in the earth, often away from the beaten track, yet marked with stones are the remains of some little known, yet important people in the Second Spring of the Catholic Church in England.
Mary Blount is one of these. She was the second daughter of Francis Canning of Foxcote, Warwickshire and his wife Mary Petre of Fiflers, Essex. She was born on October 27th 1755 at Foxcote and she married Joseph Blount, the second son of Michael Blount of Mapledurham, Oxon, on February 19th 1776 in the chapel at Foxcote. They had five children and at some stage they moved to France but why is not clear. Joseph Blount (who was born on July 15th 1752) died on January 1st 1793 at St. Cyr near Lyons where he is buried in the church at the foot of the altar. The family returned to England and at some stage Mary made her home in Cheltenham. She died there on December 29th 1843, aged eighty-eight years, and was buried at St Benet’s Kemerton, on January 4th 1844. Her nephew, Robert Canning (1773-1843), of Foxcote and Hartpury, was High Sheriff of Gloucester and it was he who built the Catholic Chapel at Hartpury in 1829. His daughter, Frances Gordon-Canning was a major benefactor of St Peter’s Church in Gloucester.
Next to Mary Blount’s grave is that of her second daughter, Elizabeth Riddell (nee Blount), who was born at How Hatch, Essex, on April 30th 1778. She married Ralph Riddell of Felton Park and Swinburne Castle, Northumberland, on July 23rd 1801 at Richmond, Surrey. She died at Leamington Spa on July 6th 1849 and was buried on July 12th 1849 at Kemerton. She was the grandmother of Arthur Grange Riddell (1836-1907) who was Bishop of Northampton from 1880 to 1907. Edward Charles Riddell, who married Charles Porter’s grand-daughter, was a nephew of the Bishop and a Great Grandson of Elizabeth Riddell.
Elizabeth Riddell’s sister, Frances Blount, the third daughter, was born at Britwell House, near Wallingford, Oxon, on June 20th 1780 and she died at Clifton on October 1st 1861. Her mortal remains were laid to rest at Kemerton ‘near the remains of her mother and sister’ on October 8th 1861.
The architect of St Peter’s Church in Gloucester was, of course, Gilbert Robert Blount (1819-1876) who had trained as a civil engineer under Brunel. He was both a grandson of Mary Blount and a nephew of both Elizabeth Riddell and Frances Blount. Gilbert Blount was also a second cousin of Frances Gordon-Canning, the benefactor of St Peter’s. When Gilbert was visiting Clifton to discuss with Bishop Clifford the plans for St Peter’s Church and various other projects in the diocese such as Westbury-on-Trym Convent and Holy Rood School in Swindon, he would often stay with his Aunt Frances.
Gilbert Blount organized the erection of the gravestone of his grandmother, which came from Cookes of Gloucester and cost £8-14-6d. Cooke was also given the contract for his Aunt Elizabeth’s gravestone, which was completed and ready for erection by the end of March 1850. Gilbert Blount also designed the gravestone of his Aunt Frances, which was again made by Cooke of Gloucester, the firm that he used for the building of St Peter’s Gloucester.
In close proximity are the gravestones of the Porters, Hanfords and also the Eystons. Not only is Mary Jane Eyston buried at Kemerton but also her eldest son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Marie Teresa of East Hendred. They are buried together by the big yew tree.
In conclusion both Philippa Hunter and her Godmother, Grace Pain, were Great, Great, Great Grandchildren of Mary Blount (1755-1843) and Edward Charles Riddell was a third cousin of Philippa’s father. Guess what Gilbert Blount, the architect, was Philippa’s Great Grandfather!