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Sambourne House

Meet the Sambournes

Linley Sambourne married Marion Herapath in 1874 and moved into 18 Stafford Terrace shortly afterwards. They were to live there for the rest of their lives with their children Roy and Maud and a changing line-up of household staff.

Marion Sambourne with her children Maud and Roy.

Marion Sambourne

Mary Ann (Marion) Sambourne (1851-1914) was the daughter of Mary Ann Walker and Spencer Herapath, a successful stockbroker. Marion grew up in Kensington, in a house just round the corner from Stafford Terrace, and remained close to her family after her marriage. As was expected of married women in the Victorian era, Marion’s life revolved around her husband and children. She was a skilful seamstress and embroiderer, was an adept at running a household and had a good head for managing money. She recorded her life in her diaries which she kept from the time of her marriage up until her death in 1914. These diaries are preserved in the museum archive and provide a remarkable insight into the life of a middle-class housewife during this period.

Photograph of Marion and Roy at Sambourne House by Linley.

Maud Sambourne

Maud Frances Sambourne (1875-1960) was the first child of Linley and Marion Sambourne. Maud was educated at home by her mother and governesses. She inherited her father's talent for drawing and her first published drawing appeared in Punch May 1892, followed by four drawings in Pall Mall Gazette in April 1894. As a young woman, Maud attended a constant stream of parties, balls, dinners, and sketching and shooting trips across England and Scotland. In 1898 she married Leonard Messel, a young stockbroker and collector. The marriage lifted Maud into wealthier upper-middle class society. The couple had three children, Linley (b.1899), Anne (b.1902) and Oliver (b.1904).

Photograph of Maud at the beach by Linley, c. 1888.

Roy Sambourne

Mawdley (Roy) Herapath Sambourne (1878-1946) was born at his parents' home, 18 Stafford Terrace, and except for brief periods of absence, lived in this house all of his life. He studied at Eton College from 1891 and later went up to University College Oxford but did not apply himself and left in 1900 without a degree. After working on the Stock Exchange in the City, Roy entered into a trading partnership with Ernest Pohl. He was never enthusiastic about his career in the City and compensated by pursuing a full life of pleasure. Roy was a lifelong bachelor, with a passion for the theatre and was friends with several of the leading actresses of the day.

Roy at Sambourne House, c.1887.

Household staff

The Sambournes typically had four female live-in servants at any one time, with the roles changing slightly as the children got older. The key appointment was the cook, who was responsible for the kitchen and would also have done most the household shopping. Marion records in her diaries the difficulties of finding and keeping a good cook, with some leaving after just a few months. When Maud and Roy were young, the family employed a nursemaid, who would have helped Marion look after the children. This role was later replaced by a governess who was in charge of Maud’s education. A parlourmaid was responsible for cleaning the house, waiting at the dining table and answering the door to visitors. She would have been assisted by a housemaid, who would have done the harder cleaning chores, such as washing the floors, setting the fires, and bringing up hot water for the bath. The Sambournes also employed a groom who tended to the horses and drove the carriage.

Anne Messel, later Countess of Rosse

After Roy’s death the house was left to Maud, who already having several houses of her own, encouraged her children to use it when they were in London. Roy had changed remarkably little about the house, preserving the interiors and his parents' papers, including their diaries, and his father’s photographic collection. Maud’s daughter Anne Messel, later Countess of Rosse (1902-1992) continued this tradition, founding the Victorian Society at the house in 1958 which led to its transformation into a museum.

Photograph of Anne Messel, later Countess of Rosse.