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7th Duke of Wellington's own "boy farm" in jack-the-ripperland?

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Steve Kane

Jun 12, 2003, 1:29:47 PM6/12/03
Gerald Wellesley - "Flamboyantly Homosexual" according to Keith
Alldritt in his biog of Yeats.

Sociopathic fortunehunter and violent pederast according to the

see this from the web - google original.

 Ted Collinson Founder Member 1928, Life Vice President
(Copyright Reserved)
11th June 1997
The seeds of Eton Manor and it's offspring Eton Manor Rugby Football
Club were sown as long ago as 1880 - Dickensian times - then, and for
the next forty years, we were to remain a Country of 'Haves' and
'Haves nots', rich and poor, aristocrats and lowborn - as it had been
for centuries. The industrial revolution had had it's devastating
effect, the population was ever increasing with unemployment rising.
The only welfare benefit obtainable was 8s 0d per week for the very
old - otherwise it simply left the workhouse. Welfare benefits as we
know them now were not to arrive until 1942.

Hackney Wick in the East End of London was typical of the urban
population throughout Great Britain with many youths and older men
unemployed. To their credit the 'Haves', the wealthy, had also reached
the conclusion that something would have to be done. Keir Hardie,
George Lansbury, and others were looking to Government participation
to represent the poor and workless.

Eton College that 'bastion of the Haves', did more than consider the
overdue social changes - they acted. It was decreed by the College
authorities that all their scholars should contribute a regular amount
to be put in trust and used for the people of Hackney Wick with
emphasis on the young. This was in 1880 and very soon a mission church
had been established in the road then named Gainsborough Road. Many of
the Eton scholars who had gone up to University (usually Oxford)
eventually came to Hackney Wick, lived at the Mission and devoted
their lives to the welfare of the locals. One such individual was
Gerald Valerian Wellesley of the great Wellington family. I remember
him so very well. He had a marvellous personality, speech and attitude
which immediately endeared him to all - but particularly the young.
Although the Mission was Anglican we called him Father. He had this
wonderful understanding of the local cockney although he was never
patronising and he very soon realised that religion was not a
sufficient antidote to the problems of the poor of Hackney Wick.
Although a boys club had been established at the Mission (named Eton
Mission from the outset), Mr Wellesley quickly sought to establish a
boys club independent of the church. A local coal merchant in Daintry
Street was encouraged to vacate his premises with the diplomatic gift
of a 'fiver' and the Eton Manor Boys Club was born. Soon bigger
premises were secured and more important, Mr Wellesley was joined in
his wonderful venture by other Old Etonians who, with their
specialised knowledge, particularly in the all important world of
finance, made it possible for the Eton Manor Club to progress in the
best possible ways, Mr Wellesley first arrived in the Wick in 1907.

First to join Mr Gerald Wellesley was Mr Alfred Ralph Wagg of a noble
Austrian family originally, a director of Helbert Wagg & Company and
Schroeder Wagg & Company - both merchant bankers and brokers in the
City of London. He in turn, introduced the Hon Arthur Villiers, second
son of the 7th Earl of Jersey, a director of Baring Brothers, the
great merchant bankers in the City, the Hudson Bay Company (furs) and
(during a 7 year leave from Barings) Metalgesselschaft, the great
German finance house - (this was just before World War 1). They were
soon joined by a further Old Etonian - Edward Cadogan son of the 5th
Earl Cadogan (who owned most of Chelsea and much of Westminster),
later to be called Sir Edward Cadogan, MP and Deputy Lieutenant for
the County of London. Mr Wagg was delightful unassuming quietly spoken
gentlemen beloved by everybody. He had a house in East Grinstead right
opposite where I now live (at Sackville College). He was a great
philanthropist and most generous to the people of East Grinstead. He
bought several huge properties on Ashdown Forest close by, which for
years have been made free for the use of Guides, Scouts, Federation of
Boys Clubs, Eton Manor and all youth organisations (Isle of Thorns
which is now controlled by Sussex University). Mr Villiers had been a
great athlete (running) at Eton and Oxford and a fine cricketer
(played in the Eton / Harrow match). In the 6th form at Eton he was a
very close friend of Maynard Keynes who was to become the famous Lord
Keynes, Economist. Sir Edward Cadogan, brilliant Clerk to the House of
Commons, was much admired by the Club chaps. He was an academic and
was to play a greater part in the life of Eton Manor when it sought to
encourage those boys motivated by academics rather than sport.

The four original trustees I always had the idea that 'Gugs' Weatherby
of the famous firm of horse racing, known to the boys as 'Liza' was
also an original trustee but when in 1924 a new Trust Deed was raised,
the Trustees appear only as Wellesley, Wagg, Villiers and Cadogan.

Well before World War 1 the Trustees envisaged new and bigger
premises. With the benefit of financial knowledge as Merchant Bankers
they were able to acquire the Old Manor Farm Dairy in Riseholme
Street, Hackney Wick. The magnificent spacious building, designed by
the architect and Old Etonian Goodhart Rendel, was completed in 1913
and opened by General Lord Roberts. The design incorporated a large
central hall equipped with a stage, accommodating several hundred
people and used regularly for general training as a gymnasium, PT,
boxing training and tournaments as well as dances, concerts and stage
shows (the club membership yielded an incredible wealth of talent
other than sport or as well as). There was angled wing on both sides
of the building - that on the right for the use of boys up to the age
of 18 and that on the left for those over 18. At 16 one was an Old Boy
and at 18 one became a Veteran. At ground level in the central
building was a non alcoholic bar run for so many years by that great
lady, so dear to our hearts, Mrs Greaves (who stood no nonsense from
anyone!) and at the back marvellous bathrooms and showers with never
ending hot water (those great understanding men, the Trustees, soon
realised that the natives of Hackney Wick, almost without exception,
lived in houses and flats without a bathroom of any kind!).

The boys in the district were eligible to join at 13yrs 10mths but
were on probation. 'Subs' were an infinitesimal sum. Other Old
Etonians who had just come down from University - usually talented at
various sports, often to international level, or perhaps talented in
other ways (dramatics, music, art, etc.) came to Hackney Wick to join
the Trustees in their great work. At the back of the Club in Riseholme
Street, was a delightful old manor house wherein was installed Arthur
Villiers, his cook (she of the crooked wig), chauffeur and a seemingly
endless supply of Havana cigars and Vin (rouge ou blanc). All these
young Etonians were labelled 'Managers'. They included Geoffery Gilbey
(BBC horse racing announcer, he was Gimrack of the Daily Express and a
brilliant stage and theatre performer and organiser who established
the Eton Manor Concert Party). Sir Edward Howarth - Permanent Minister
of Education, known as 'Titch' he worked tremendously with the new
young members to 'get them started'. Douglas Jardine, City Solicitor
and Cricketer - Surrey and England Captain, he of the Harlequin Cap so
detested by the Aussies because of the 'bodyline' bowling as well as
the large number of centuries he notched up against them. He was a
delightful man who brought so many players to County standard. The Hon
Frank Pakenham, soon to be created Baron Pakenham and eventually
succeeded his brother as the Earl of Longford. A member of the Order
of the Garter and a Privy Councillor. Despite his reputation as a
'friend' of convicted criminals he is a charming man with a very soft
refined voice. He was a founder member of the Eton Manor Rugby
Football Club, played several times in the 20's and 30's and was a
fine athlete. He is a nephew of Arthur Villiers. I meet him now and
then at the House of Lords and it never ceases to amaze me how popular
he is with all, the famous and not so famous, as they pass him in the
Peers Lobby - never missing calling out 'how are you Frank'. I
remember also joining him in training runs across Hackney Marshes. As
a boy I played table tennis against his wife, the Countess of
Longford, when he brought her down to Hackney Wick and the Club one
day in 1924. Then there was that most delightful man and friend the
Hon Evelyn Baring of the Merchant Banking firm - 'doyen' of the Eton
Otters (our swimming section). He was a close friend naturally, of the
Hon Arthur Villiers. Another Manager was Mr A.C.Crossley (his family
made those wonderful Crossley cars and fire engines). His speciality
was tennis, he played at Wimbledon regularly and helped raise the
standard of tennis at Eton Manor. Two of our chaps, under his tuition,
eventually got as far as the second round at Wimbledon themselves -
Bob Stone and Stan Brazin. Then there was the Hartley brothers, Ernest
and Frank - fine cricketers. Mr Charles Liddel came to the Club to
teach us his métier - dramatics - several times we won the dramatics
section of the London Federation of Boys Clubs. I shall never forget
the year when I took part in the win performed at the Old Blackfriars
theatre. I still lovingly refer to the full edition of Shakespeare's
plays which he presented personally to me and all the rest of the
cast. There were so many more who did so much for us but I especially
mention David and Ronald Shaw Kennedy 'super' Club Managers who had
played rugby football to a very high level for Oxford University and
leading London clubs including Rosslyn Park. Both were very quietly
spoken men of great charm. They were greatly attached to the Club for
so long and may be said to have given their lives for the Club. It was
they who introduced us to the game at a time when it was very 'toffee
- nosed' - classy and 'upstage' - twickers and all that. First we
primitive natives of Hackney Wick in the East End, needed to learn the
rules of the game - then how to handle that peculiarly elongated ball
that would persist in bouncing all which ways. Then they taught us the
'spirit' of the game, all the Trustees and Managers brought to us the
best of public school spirit - to be honourable and courteous to the
opposition - to play fierce but honourable - give no quarter and
expect none. Then, of course, with their background they were able
straight away to build us a fixture list with some of the best clubs -
Wasps, Lensbury, London Welsh, Scottish and Irish, they even organised
an annual match with Eton College.

In the early 20's the Trustees acquired about 200 acres of prime land
on Hackney Marshes which became known as the Wilderness. At first it
lived up to it's name, Arthur Villiers to his credit devoted every
spare minute of his life, and much of the Trust's finances to making
the Wilderness into one of the finest sports grounds in the land and
visiting teams were glad to play there. At one time, for example, the
Club were turning out 15 soccer teams, the Rugby section had a superb
pitch in the north east corner. The rest of the Club would wander over
to take a 'decko' at this strange game and 'jumped out of their skins'
at the preliminary chanting antics. As for myself I remember those
unaccustomed bruises and scratches which seemed to remain until the
following Wednesday.

Those halcyon days of the Eton Manor Club went on despite those two
awful World Wars when so many of our members made the supreme
sacrifice. We turned out national and international class performers
at every sport. We excelled at boxing (what else in the East End of
London). Fred Grace and Harry Mallin won A.B.A. and Olympic
Championships. Fred Mallin (my brother in law and a real gentlemen)
like his brother Harry won Five A.B.A Titles, Commonwealth and Olympic
Bronze. We had numerous Club members who played Soccer for First and
Second division teams. J.Lewis played as an amateur for Chelsea and
England. Others played Cricket for their Counties while the Harriers
provided top performers for the A.A.A.

David Shaw Kennedy whose only other interest in life apart from Eton
Manor was horse racing (he owned the Caesarewich winner Nitsichin and
another which he named Eton Manor) to our profound dismay he died
quite young just after World War 2 and, sadly his brother Ronald who
was plagued with some peculiar muscle trouble, died soon after.

In 1965 Mrs Jay of the London County Council saw Arthur Villiers to
make known to him the decision of the Council to build a new road
system out of East London which would involve the demolition of the
Club buildings in Riseholme Street. It must have been a great
disappointment to him to say the least, although he was offered an
alternative site, he decided to close the Club for good. There were of
course many social changes about then which may have influenced his
decision - boys were not using the Club so much and the Club building
and the Wilderness upkeep was hardly justified. He was no doubt
saddened in spirit by the sad loss of David Shaw Kennedy who, no doubt
he looked to succeed him.

Riseholme Street was demolished, the Wilderness turned over to the Lea
Valley Authority, by 1969 all the Trustees and most of the Managers
had died. Some sections, the Rugby in particular fought valiantly to
survive, becoming nomads for a long period of time - great credit to

At the ripe old age of 86 I sit in my lovely home of Sackville
College, East Grinstead, founded in 1609 by Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl
of Dorset - either in my lodgings or the grounds and ponder on those
halcyon days in Hackney Wick - the laughter and kidding of those young
fellows - or I'll be changing for a game of rugger and some ignorant
bloke has farted and we cannot escape - or I'll be in the bar at the
Club trying to catch the eye of dear old Mrs Graves so that I can buy
a glass of her hot sarsaparilla (I have searched high and low since
but never been able to buy it - I wonder why?).

But most of all I like to go back to the early 20's. I 14 and we're at
Cuckoo Weir Camp (which Eton College let us use for our annual camp).
It's sing song time - 8:30pm. Geoffrey Gilbey is at the piano. "In
dear old Hackney Wick" and "Mile End Road". We're shooting chewed wet
paper pellets by means of rubber rings at the performers up front.
Then back to the tents for possible sleep, a younger edition of the
farter performs his disgusting sphincter act (why do they always
choose a confined place like a tent, or lift, or a Rugby Club dressing

What a great Club it was. What memories.

But wait, in 1996 the Rugby Club managed to secure a long lease moving
to new and luxurious surroundings in Wanstead at Nutter Lane, the
ground and buildings would do justice to any sports club with it being
renamed the New Wilderness. Eton Manor Rugby Football Club have risen
from the ashes, they are no longer nomadic but have invested in the
future of Rugby and sport within the local area, ensuring that I will
have more recent memories to warm on those bleak winter nights. Long
may it continue.

Hold the front page, it gets better. The Rugby Club have purchased the
ground securing it for sport. The Youth is rising again wearing the
Dark and Light Blue of Eton Manor ensuring that premises of the
highest order for all those that wish to participate in sport under
the banner of Eton Manor will remain in situ for future generations.


(Up the Manor)

I might have a weeny bit more for a serious researcher. Steve.

Oct 4, 2019, 7:24:21 AM10/4/19

Grant Bage

Jun 18, 2023, 4:10:29 AM6/18/23
I am a serious researcher - and I would be interested to talk to either or both of you. Please do get in touch. Kind regards - Grant Bage
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