The village of Norton has always had close associations with Gopsall. Charles Jennens who built Gopsall Hall in 1750 at a cost of more than £100,000, was a great friend of the “Young Pretender” and also a close associate of Handel who is supposed to have written part of the Messiah in the stone temple in Gopsall Park.
Charles Jennens died childless and left his estate to his niece, and it came by marriage to Penn Asheton Curzon whose son was created the First Lord Howe. The Second Lord Howe was MP for South Leicestershire from 1857 to 1870. Earl Howe built the school, the schoolhouse and the alms houses in Norton in 1839 with the majority of the village belonging to the Gopsall Estate.
Chronology of Owners
Humphrey Jennens (pre 1750)
Charles Jennens (circa 1750 – 1773)
Penn Assheton Curzon, Curzon family and Lord Howe (1773 – unknown)
1919 – 1927 Lord Waring.
1927 – 1932 British Monarchy (Gopsall estate only)
1932 – present British Monarchy (Gopsall estate and Hall)
1942 – 1945 the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) made use of the Hall as an experimental radar base during the Secound World War.
By 1952 most of the buildings were demolished. Gopsall Park Farm was built over most of the original site and is not accessible without invitation.
The present-day remains include parts of the walled garden, the electricity generating building, an underground reservoir, the tree-lined avenue, the gatehouse and the temple ruins associated with Handel.
You can now visit Handel’s Temple,according to Christopher Simmons, who mailed the web site with this information.
No need to arrange a visit with someone to the temple.I believe it is now open all the time. Access is off the Bilstone – Congerstone School road, going up towards Gopsall Hall Farm. There is a small sign on the right to the temple. You have to walk through a field of corn on the cob and then through a wood, about 1/4 mile in total before you get to the temple.
Regards Chris Simmons
Death and Funeral of Countess of Howe
Hinckley Times Coverage
Georgina, Countess Howe. was born on 14th May 1860. She died 9th February 1906. The neighbourhood of Gopsall was overspread with sorrow and sadness, on Saturday last, when the news arrived of the decease of the Countess Howe, whose death took place at Curzon House, Mayfair, W., soon after nine o’clock on Friday night, the 9th inst.
True, the news did not come as a surprise to those who had an intimate knowledge of the state of her ladyship’s health, but it was none the less keenly felt when the sad event had actually taken place. It seemed unspeakably sad that a lady in the prime of life, and so prominent at court and in society, should be snatched away by the rude hand of death, when such a vista of usefulness lay open before her.
Two or three years ago her ladyship was afflicted with a paralytic seizure, and though her many friends hoped that she might be restored to vigorous health again, the fears that she might never permanently recover were uppermost, and these fears have now been realised.
The particulars of her illness, the partial recovery, her journey to Egypt, movements in society, and friendship with royalty, have all , been recorded in the society papers, and it is not our intention to attempt to enlarge upon the noble life of this illustrious lady.
Owing to their many engagements in society, the tenantry on the Gopsall estate have not seen so much of Lord and Lady Howe as they have wished to do, but whenever they have come to Gopsall, which by the way was the favourite home of Lady Howe, they always received a cordial welcome.
When the King and Queen were entertained there some two years ago. Lord and Lady Howe became better known to their tenantry in Leicestershire, and when in September last, at the coming of age festivities of their son, Viscount Curzon, the whole countryside were entertained at Gopsall.
Her ladyship became personally known to a very large number of the residents in the district. Previous to that time she had taken a useful part in local charitable objects, had interested herself in church and school work, and was beloved by all who had met her.
Bringing the body to Gopsall
Last Wednesday, snow covered the ground and little knots of villagers stood in sorrowful groups along the route leading from the station to the Hall, discussing the inexpressibly sad event which had deprived their esteemed landlord of the partner in all his joys and sorrows.
Blinds in every house in Shackerstone were drawn down, and a muffled peal was tolling out the message that death was amongst them.
Several carriages were waiting in the little station yard, when a special train arrived bearing the body, which had been removed from Curzon House in the morning. Three special saloons had been brought down to Nuneaton station by the express leaving Euston at 1 am, and upon reaching Nuneaton these were attached to a special engine, which arrived at Shackerstone at 1.20pm.
As the coffin was taken from the saloon it was covered with a beautiful pall of white corded silk, which had in the centre a golden cross reaching nearly the full length of the coffin.
Upon this was laid one large chaplet of violets and lilies of the valley, which had been placed upon the coffin by Earl Howe. Borne upon the shoulders of eight bearers the coffin was carried through the station and placed upon a hearse in waiting.
The members of the family who accompanied the coffin were Earl Howe – Duke of Marlborough, Lady Sarah Wilson, Major Gordon Wilson, Mr John Eyre, Hon Frederick Curzon and Dr Lindley Scott. Following the hearse were two carriages containing the mourners, while the servants of the household followed in other conveyances.
Slowly the cortege wended its way through the little village and entered the park by the Shackerstone drive, the coffin being taken in at the front entrance and conveyed to the chapel where a brief service was held. Simultaneously with the service at Congerstone, a memorial service was held in London at St Margaret’s, Westminster.
Every mark of sympathy and respect towards Lord Howe in his sorrow was shown in the neighbourhood of Gopsall. The bells of the churches were tolled, blinds were drawn and most of the inhabitants were in mourning.
Lord Howe desires to express his heartfelt thanks for the sympathy shown with him in his great sorrow and he is much touched at the kind thought shown to him in his great affliction. The newly-built vault in which the remains were laid to rest is built to contain several bodies and the whole of the work was undertaken by the estate bricklayers, under the direction of Mr Bumett, the steward.
Muffled peal at Hinckley
On the evening of the funeral a muffled peal was rung, on the bells of the parish church of St Mary, consisting of call changes, whole pull and stand and short touches ofgrandsire triples, as a token of respect to the memory of the late Countess Howe, by the following performers :- W. Humphreys (Treble); S. White, 2; J. Tansey ,3; W. Sharpe, 4; F. Cotton, 5; G. Thompson.6; W. Cooper, 7; T. Buswell and W. Wall, (Tenor).
The Daily Telegraph in a notice of the sad event says:- The earnest and heartfelt sympathy of all his friends will assuredly be expressed to Earl Howe who has suffered an irretrievable loss in the death, after a long and painful illness, of Countess Howe, which took place on February 9th at her residence in Curzon Street, London. A daughter of the late Duchess of Marlborough, Lady Howe. possessed the strength of character, the keen intelligence and the attractive vivacity which has been so long associated with all the members of a truly gifted race, united in no ordinary measure by the strongest ties of family affection.
The fifth of the six daughters of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, Countess Howe has been the second of the sisters to pass away in the prime of life. In August 1904, while she was herself very ill, she leant the news of the death of Lady Tweedmouth and this severe blow proved very prejudicial to her health, which had caused her friends considerable anxiety for some time previous.
Lady Howe enjoyed the intimate friendship of the King and Queen, and entertained their majesties at Curzon House on many occasions. The last time that the King went there dinner was served in a room on the first floor and Lady Howe was wheeled in an invalid chair to the table in order that his majesty might enjoy the society of his hostess.
Sent in by Chris Simmons