"The History of the Tedworth House"
For long centuries Tedworth House has remained a fine Palladian mansion. Connections with the monarchy, both Houses of Parliament, the City of London and, indeed, with the unfolding history of Britain itself, reflect the power and influence of the owners and residents. They included a Chancellor of the Exchequer, the ‘greatest huntsman in England’, the builder of Victoria Station, the finest cricketer of his day and the Commander of British Forces at Gallipoli; murderers, ghost-hunters, Grand National winners and the son of a President of the United State. Such characters, with their quirks, achievements and disasters, bring the story of the House to life.
Edward Studd, a rich planter recently returned from India, took the lease of Tedworth House and Home Farm on 16 June 1871. His son Charlie (C.T. Studd) was to become one of England’s greatest cricketers and Edward himself was to bring about dramatic and unexpected change to life at Tedworth House. A keen huntsman, Edward Studd was a master of hounds in Leicestershire where he lived in Hallaton Hall. He loved cards and the theatre, and had a passion for horseracing, forming his own training establishment at Tedworth House soon after his arrival. He stabled about twenty racehorses and built a racetrack in Tedworth Park, Enabling him to train his horses to a high standard. The pinnacle of his success was the winning of the 1866 Grand National at 40-1 with Salamander, a favorite horse. When Salamander later fell and had to be destroyed, the Studd family came down to dinner dressed in black. Studd’s horse Despatch gave him further success, taking second place in the 1871 Grand National.
Edward Studd’s life underwent a fundamental change when, in 1876, he was persuaded by a friend to attend an evangelist meeting at the Drury Lane Theatre in London. The speakers were the famous American preachers D.L. Moody and D. Sankey, who were touring the country. What Moody had to say, in particular, transformed Edward Studd’s thinking. He left the meeting dazed and exhilarated, resolving to spread the evangelist message himself. Back at Tedworth he shocked relatives and staff by selling his horses and giving up racing. He replaced much of the fine furniture in the house with benches and chairs so that he could hold prayer meetings in the hall on Sunday evenings. Each of his three sons was converted on the same day at Tedworth House by a visiting preacher. Tedworth House became something of an evangelist center with Edward Studd inviting leading speakers to preach the Gospel to all who would attend. Studd’s transformation was summed up neatly by his coachman who, when asked by a guest if his master had ‘become religious or something’, remarked, ‘Well sir, we don’t know much about that, but all I can say is that though there’s the same skin, there’s a new man inside’.
The boys Kynaston (J.E.K.), George (G.B.) and Charlie (C.T.) were all at Eton together and became the first three brothers to captain the Eton XI in successive years. This has only been matched by the Ashton brothers who were captains in turn 1921-3. C.T. Studd was made Captain of the Eton XI in 1879. Whilst at Eton they would return to Tedworth House for holidays, playing cricket there in the summer months on a former paddock, which their father had turned into a first-rate pitch. Edward’s third son, C.T., also fell under the spell of Moody and Sankey, attending many of their meetings and eventually going to China as a missionary, as will later be described. Edward Studd seems to have had a child late in life, in the year of his conversion, as the South Tedworth parish register records the baptism on 26 April 1874 of ‘Reginald Augustus Studd son of Edward and Dora Studd of Tedworth House (Esquire)’
Only two years after his religious conversion Edward’s life came to a dramatic end. He had just lift Tedworth House to travel to one of Moody’s meetings when he stopped his carriage to go back to collect one of his grooms. As he ran back to the house he burst a blood vessel in his leg and shortly afterwards died. For two years he had only been concerned with ‘saving souls’, putting aside his love of horses, racing, the theatre and cards. He had ridden around the country urging people to come to his meetings and many hundreds had done so. At his funeral the clergyman said in his sermon that Edward Studd had done ‘more in two years than most Christians do in twenty’.
C.T. Studd went up from Eton to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained his cricketing Blue. By 1883 he was Captain of the University Cricket Team, following in the footsteps of his older brother G.B. who had held the captaincy the year before. His other brother J.E.K. was Captain the following year – another first for the trio. C.T.’s career was described as ‘one long blaze of cricketing glory’. He had his bats made one inch longer than normal to give extra leverage for his powerful wrist action. In 1882 he was rated the premier batsman in England. He made 118 runs for the Players against Australia, 100 runs for the Gentlemen v. Players at Lords, and 126 not out for the Players v. the Gentlemen of England. His bowling was only bettered by one other player (Peate). In the first match named above he was joined by his two brothers as the first pair of batsman. Through Punch magazine they became known as ‘the set of Studd’!
C.T. Studd joined Dr. W.G. Grace as a member of the losing England XI in the Test Match of 1882 against Australia, following which the Sporting Times printed a mock obituary lamenting the death of English cricket, saying: “The body will be burned and sent to Australia”. The following winter, in Australia, C.T. Studd again played, when England reversed the result. He is still regarded, as one of cricketing’s greats.
He firmly retained his commitment to religion however, even taking members of the England XI to hear D.L. Moody speak. Against his family’s advice he arranged to go to China as a missionary, persuading six of his old university friends to join him on an extraordinary mission. The group, including a Dragoon Guardsman, an officer in the Royal Artillery and a famous university oarsman became known, amidst great national publicity as the ‘Cambridge Seven’. They toured Britain before leaving, spreading the evangelist gospel. At final meetings in Cambridge, Oxford and London, before crowded gatherings, they renounced their careers, wealth and social circles. C.T. Studd himself gave up a large fortune which he was due to inherit at the age of twenty-five. He gave away his inheritance to gospel charities, including 5,000 pounds to Moody and a large donation to General Booth of the Salvation Army. In February 1885 they sailed for Shanghai where C.T. met his future wife, Priscilla Stewart, also a missionary. They married and moved inland to carry on their work, suffering much personal deprivation and at times being badly treated by the Chinese. They started an opium refuge for addicts, dealing with over 800 in seven years. C.T. and Priscilla stayed in China for 10 years, absorbing themselves completely into the local culture. When they returned to England in 1894 their children spoke only Chinese and had to have an English tutor.
His gospel work continued and he spent 18 months on a preaching crusade in the U.S.A. Moving overseas once more, from 1900-6, C.T. ran the Union Church in Ootacumund South India (Ooty), even joining a cricket tour in 1894 and making two double centuries! Back in England he still felt the call for overseas gospel work and in 1910 he sailed for Africa, running a mission in Khartoum, then traveling to Southern Sudan through malarial and sleeping-sickness infected country.
He next planned a crusade into the depths of the Belgian Congo, trekking for nine months though fever-ridden country and finally setting up a mission in the heart of Africa at Niangara in 1913. C.T.’s wife had stayed in England but was incredibly active in gospel work, organizing a headquarters of worldwide missionary projects and traveling to the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and South Africa. She was reportedly a fine, powerful speaker. C.T.’s brother George was also a missionary before becoming Principal of a theological college in California. The other member of the ‘set’, Kynaston was Lord Mayor of London from 1928-9. By the late ‘20’s C.T. was weak, frail and frequently struck down by sickness. In 1928 Priscilla paid him a flying visit in Africa, staying just a fortnight. They were never to meet again. Priscilla died suddenly while on a visit to Spain in 1929.The following year C.T. was made ‘Chevalier of the Royal Order of the Lion’ by the King of the Belgians for services to the Congo. He died there on 16 July 1931, in the heart of Africa, his burial attended by about two thousand people who came to salute the passing of the grand old man.