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Norton Park and Victoria Woodhull

This impressive house has an interesting history. Built in 1839 by Ann and Penelope Martin, part of the Martin banking dynasty (absorbed by Barclays in 1969), it was inherited by Sir John Biddulph Martin (1841-1897). Harrow and Oxford educated, he joined the family banking business in 1864, and became a leading figure in London banking circles and a well-known philanthropist.

Victoria (1838–1927), and sister Tennessee Claflin (1846–1923), were American journalists and lecturers, noted for their beauty and wildly eccentric behaviour. At 15 Victoria married Dr. Canning Woodhull and toured as a clairvoyant with her sister. Victoria divorced Woodhull in 1864 and in 1866 married Col. James Blood. The sisters, with the financial support of Col. Blood, became proprietors of ‘Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly’, a sensational journal which promoted woman suffrage, free love, and socialism. In 1872 Victoria Woodhull became the first woman candidate for US president, running on the People's Party ticket. After this bid failed, the two sisters moved to England in 1877 to start over. Victoria, having divorced Blood, married Sir John Biddulph Martin in 1883 and took up residence at Norton Park. Tennessee also divorced and married Francis Cook, the English art collector who became a baronet in 1886. Both women became very rich and well-known philanthropists.

Sir John became President of the Royal Horticultural Society and also President of the Royal Statistical Society in 1896. His premature death a year later meant that Victoria inherited the estate, whereupon she devoted herself to the village of Bredons Norton for the rest of her life. She established the village school in an old tithe barn and set up an agricultural college for women. After her death in 1927 she was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey, where a memorial plaque commemorates the woman who ‘devoted herself unsparingly to all that could promote the great cause of Anglo American friendship’.

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by Trevor Rickard

Created: Sun, 8 Nov 2009, Updated: Mon, 9 Nov 2009

6 images use this description:

SO9339 : Norton Park, Bredon's Norton, Worcestershire by Jeff Gogarty
SO9339 : Norton Park - 1 by Trevor Rickard
SO9339 : Norton Park - 2 by Trevor Rickard
SO9338 : Walled garden greenhouse site by Trevor Rickard
SO9339 : Norton Park by Philip Halling
SO9338 : Walled Garden at Norton Park by Trevor Rickard

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