The Uphill Family

We’ve just added a newspaper report about the funeral of Harry Uphill who died in January 1940 aged 46 at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. Harry was born at Encombe in 1893 to gardener James Uphill (1855-1923) and Fanny Uphill neé Brown (1861-1918). The family moved to Wimborne by 1901 and, in 1911, Harry was working there as an assistant outfitter, a profession he continued at Uckfield in Sussex after serving his country in World War 1.

We’ve also added the probate record for Harry’s grandfather James Uphill (1821-1887) who died at Encombe.

2009: Airline tycoon snaps up Encombe estate

An airline tycoon is believed to have snapped up a vast country estate.

The Encombe Estate in the Purbeck countryside was put on the market in September last year for £25 million by American merchant banker Charles McVeigh, who paid £11m for it in 2002 and spent millions restoring it.

Now it is reported that James Gaggero, a 49-year-old former officer in the Irish Guards, has paid £20m to become only the sixth owner of the plush pile in its 1,100-year history.

james gaggero

James Gaggero

The Gaggeros built their fortune operating an airline and ferries to the Moroccan port of Tangier. The airline, Gibraltar Airways, eventually moved to Britain as GB Airways and was bought for £103m by easyJet two years ago. Gaggero’s Bland Group of companies now encompasses travel and hotel firms. Mr Gaggero is the second airline boss linked to the estate, with Sir Richard Branson thought to have toured it earlier this year.

The 2,000-acre estate includes 60 acres of formal gardens, a swimming pool, three lakes and a Grecian-style temple. The house itself has 13 bedrooms, a galleried hall, dining room with a double-height ceiling and Victorian library with marble fireplaces.

Mark McAndrew, head of country homes at Strutt and Parker, the estate agent which had been instructed to sell the property, said: “It is exceptional – one of the biggest estates that have come to the market in the past few years.”

Encombe is considered one of the best pheasant shooting estates in the country. It has carp in ornamental lakes and also offers fly fishing for sea bass off its rocky coast. Another agent who is familiar with the property confirmed that Gaggero was the buyer, adding: “I imagine he is buying it for the shoot.”

Pop star Kylie Minogue is also thought to have been interested in the estate.

There was no one available for comment at the Bland Group’s offices.

Bournemouth Daily Echo, 30 June 2009

2008: 2,000 acres of entrancing history

A highly important 2,000-acre historic agricultural and sporting estate on the Purbeck coast is being offered for sale with a guide price of £25 million.

Encombe House is one of the most distinguished country houses in the South West, the original house being substantially remodelled and extended by John Pitt, the well-known Parliamentarian and amateur architect. In 1804 Encombe was purchased by the eminent lawyer, Lord Eldon, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, who became Lord Chancellor in 1806. Anthony Salvin subsequently made some alterations for the Third Lord Eldon in the early 1870s.

The house has grown in scale over time through several phases of development principally by John Pitt, then MP for Wareham, after he inherited the property in 1735 on the death of his father, George Pitt of Stratfield Saye, later the seat of the Duke of Wellington. The structure of the central block dates from an earlier house that was the ancient seat of the Culliford family. The site previously formed part of a retreat of the Abbess of Shaftesbury for more than 500 years. The interior of Encombe consists of several large rooms including a dining room with an ornate plasterwork ceiling designed by John Pitt in the style of William Kent, large arched French windows and an elaborate fireplace. A door in the dining room leads to the colonnade that links the central part of the house to the east wing. The library, remodelled by Anthony Salvin, overlooks the gardens to the south and west and is regarded as one of his greatest achievements. The hall and the staircase in the centre of the house were remodelled by Anthony Salvin in 1870 and are thought to be part of the earlier Culliford house. Encombe’s former stables were also designed by John Pitt and have a central pavilion surmounted by a clock tower. Part of the stables were converted into a dining hall used for shooting lunch parties.

In his book In Search Of The Perfect House, Marcus Binney comments that the central chimney in the form of a triumphal arch was almost certainly designed by John Pitt. He also notes that, while many 18th century country houses consist of a grand centre flanked by lower wings, Encombe is like five almost identical classical houses joined together.

Both wings at Encombe have self-contained apartments while the east wing is arranged for use as an annexe or additional guest accommodation.

Current owners Mr and Mrs Charles McVeigh acquired Encombe in 2002 and have carried out an extensive award-winning restoration of the house and the formal grounds.

Encombe’s landscape is one of the finest in Britain with Grade II listed parkland surrounding the house which is approached by a long drive winding down from the head of the valley from the village of Kingston. In the grounds and set on the surrounding downs are a number of listed follies including an obelisk erected in 1835 in honour of Lord Stowell, the brother of Lord Eldon, and the grotto formed of large stone blocks laid to form a bridge with a labyrinth and alcove underneath. Other landscape features of special interest include Swyre Head, Houns Tout, Chapman’s Pool and St Aldhelm’s Head.

A well equipped livery stable has recently been created on the site of former farm buildings in the heart of the Golden Bowl, 1,000 acres at the heart of the estate which is totally private having no public right of access. Post and railed paddocks to the north and west of the yard provide grazing and exercise facilities, while there is excellent riding over the estate itself and the network of bridleways in the locality.

In addition to the main house, which includes two self-contained staff flats, there are 10 houses and cottages and a quantity of agricultural land. Apart from the Golden Bowl there are three other secluded coombes, each leading to the coast.

Encombe also has one of the finest high pheasant shoots in southern England and its land includes two-and-a-half miles of coastline designated as a World Heritage Site.

The estate has only changed hands five times in the last 1,100 years and Savills’ Alex Lawson, who is handling the sale, said: “Encombe is without doubt one of the most desirable estates in England and the sale will attract considerable interest from buyers worldwide. It is rare for a traditional family estate with a house and location of this calibre to come to the market. It is also highly unusual to find an estate that has an exceptional principal house in such good repair, together with an estate within a genuine ring fence, offered with over 2,000 acres.”

Mark McAndrew of Strutt and Parker said: “Turning in to the drive at Encombe and catching a first glimpse of the house nestling way below you makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It is an exceptional and entrancing place.”

The Encombe estate as a whole has a guide price of £25 million. More information is available from estate agents Savills on 0207 499 8644 and Strutt & Parker on 0207 629 7282.

Bournemouth Echo, Monday 22 September 2008

2002: Listed estate house bought for £16m

One of the most expensive country estates ever to come on the market in Dorset has been sold.

Encombe House, which lies in a secluded valley in Purbeck, is believed to have been bought by successful American merchant banker Charles McVeigh for £16 million – £1 million more than its asking price.


Charles McVeigh

It is only the fourth time the grade-II listed country house set in 2000 acres of magnificent coastal grounds famed for its shooting opportunities has changed hands.

The estate includes St. Aldhelm’s Head, Chapmans Pool and Swyre Head, three lakes, 60 acres of formal garden, 12 cottages, swimming pool and a Grecian style temple.

The house includes six reception rooms, a galleried hall, library-cum-snooker room and 12 principal bedroom suites.

Prestigious estate agents FPD Savills were called in earlier this year to sell the property for the Scott family who had owned the estate since 1807. [The accompanying photo showed the previous owners Rupert and Sophie Scott.]

A Savills spokesman confirmed the house had been sold but refused to confirm the new owner. She said: “Because of confidentiality agreements we are legally bound not to make any comment on who the new owner is but we can definitely say it has been sold. We can also say there was considerable interest in this property.”

However national newspaper reports have revealed it to be Mr McVeigh who is one of the longest serving and most popular merchant bankers in the City. He began trading before the Big Bang date when the stock exchange was computerised. He is now co-chairman of Schroder Salomon Smith Barney.

Bournemouth Daily Echo, 9 August 2002

1936: Midsummer Night’s Dream

Players of Corfe Castle, Kingston, and other parts of the Isle of Purbeck successfully presented Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Encombe on Thursday evening, by permission of the Hon. Sir Ernest S. Scott, K.C.M.G., M.V.O. The weather was fine for the performance, but the unpromising conditions of the day had deterred many from making the journey from the surrounding towns and villages. Nevertheless there was a good attendance. Mrs. Fenwick-Owen was responsible for the excellent production, and the chorus was under the direction of Mr. Farwell.

Western Gazette, 24 July 1936

1926: Lord Eldon dead – Seizure in street

The Earl of Eldon was walking along Orchard Street, London, W., yesterday morning, when he had a seizure and collapsed on the pavement. A doctor was called, and found that the Earl had died.

Lord Eldon had just left his house in Portman Square, and, it is understood, was on his way to see his doctor.

The deceased Peer, who was the third holder of the title, to which he succeeded as long ago as 1854, was 80 years of age. He is succeeded by his grandson, Viscount Encombe, who was formerly in the Scots Guards, and served in the Great War.

The Scotsman, 11 August 1926

1880: The great jewellery robbery

London, Friday Night.

Up to the present the police have failed to trace the burglars who carried off £20,000 worth of jewellery from Encombe House, the residence of the Earl and Countess of Eldon. The tiara stolen is valued at £1,000, and it is stated that the whole of the jewellery and plate could have been concealed in a hat.

Burnley Express, 21 August 1880

1836: Obituary: William Morton Pitt Esq.

Feb. 28. At Fordington, Dorsetshire, in his 82d year, William Morton Pitt, esq. of Kingston house, in the isle of Purbeck, formerly, during thirty-six years, one of the Knights in Parliament for the county of Dorset.

We have had to notice, in recent years, the failure in the male line of two branches of the family of Pitt: of that represented by Lord Rivers in 1828; and that of the Earls of Chatham in 1835. In the memoir of the late Earl of Chatham (in our number for Nov. last, p. 546) we noticed the extinction of the four several titled branches, of Rivers, Camelford, Chatham, and Londonderry; and we remarked that the sole male survivor of another branch, and, as we believed, of the whole race, was the gentleman whose decease we have now to record. We now understand, however, that he has left, by his second marriage, an inheritor, and we trust perpetuator, of a name highly honoured among Englishmen.

Mr. W. Morton Pitt was the eldest and only surviving son of John Pitt, esq. of Encombe, a Commissioner of Trade and Plantations, Surveyor of Woods and Forests, and M. P. for Wareham and Dorchester, (who was an uncle of half-blood to the first Lord Rivers,) by Marcia, daughter of Marcus Morgan, esq. of Ireland. His name of Morton was derived from a remote ancestor: his great-great-grandmother, the wife of Edward Pitt, esq. of Stratfieldsaye, (married in 1620) having been Rachel, daughter of Sir George Morton, of Milbourne, St. Andrew, co. Dorset, Bart.

Mr. Morton Pitt was a member of Queen’s college, Oxford, and matriculated March 14, 1772: but quitted the university without taking a degree.

He first entered the House of Commons at the General Election of 1780 as a burgess for Poole, in asociation with Joseph Gulston, esq. having defeated Joshua Manger, esq. one of the former members, and John Adams, esq. who petitioned against the return, but without success. In 1784 he was rechosen, together with the late Mr. Michael Angelo Taylor; and in 1790 he was elected one of the County Members, in the room of his cousin the Hon. George Pitt, the late Lord Rivers. On the 17th of April 1791, he vacated his seat, on what account we are unaware, by accepting the Chiltern Hundreds; but was re-elected, as he was again to the seven following Parliaments, and finally retired at the general election of 1826. We believe he generally supported his kinsman Mr. Pitt and his Tory successors. He was one of the members chosen on the part of the House of Commons, Feb. 24,1803, to form the Court of East India Judicature.

In 1779, Mr. Morton Pitt was appointed Lieut-Col. of the Dorsetshire Militia.

The mansion-house at Encombe in the Isle of Purbeck, which Mr. Pitt inherited from his father (and of which there is a folio plate in Hutchins’s Dorsetshire), he sold some years ago to Lord Eldon, who subsequently took from it the title of his Viscounty.

The estate of Kingston had belonged to his uncle William Pitt, esq. who died in 1773, having been derived from his mother Lora, daughter and heiress of Audley Grey, esq.

Essentially a public man, throughout a long and laborious life, Mr. Pitt bad the rare success of obtaining the good will of, and giving satisfaction to, all classes and parties; and whether as an active county magistrate, the duties of which office he fulfilled with zeal, ability and discretion, for upwards of half a century; or in the Senate, where he sat for six years, his time and exertions unremittingly devoted to the public good. Nor was his private life less worthy. Beloved by his family, esteemed by his friends, and honoured by all, he passed through life distinguished by the possession of the purest virtues, and by the exercise of a diffusive philanthropy, and extensive practical benevolence.

To encourage industry, and detach the population from smuggling, Mr. Pitt established a manufactory for cordage and sail-cloth, near his domain in the Isle of Purbeck, and he also erected, at his own expense, a manufactory for hats in the gaol at Dorchester. He was likewise one of the first promoters of Sunday schools; and addressed in 1789 a public letter to the London Society established for their encouragement, containing a plan for the formation of District Committees and County Societies, in furtherance of their objects: this will be found printed in Hutchins’s History of Dorsetshire, vol. i. p. 306—311. He was also at the expense of printing some statistical tables on the state of the poor, which are given in that work.

He published, in 1798, an address to the Landed Interest on the deficiency of Habitations and Fuel for the use of the Poor: and he was the author of several communications to the Bath Agricultural Papers, and Young’s Annals of Agriculture.

Mr. Pitt was twice married. His first wife was Margaret, daughter of John Gambier, esq. Governor of the Bahama Islands, by whom he had an only daughter Sophia, who was married in 1806 to Charles, second and present Earl of Romney, and died in 1812, leaving, issue Charles Viscount Marsham and four daughters.

Mr. Pitt married secondly, in 1815, Grace-Amelia, daughter of Henry Seymer, of Hanford in Dorsetshire, esq.: this lady’s mother was Griselda, or Grace, daughter of James Kerr, of Kerrsfield, N.B. by Lucy sister to the first Rivers; and she was thus Mr. Pitt’s cousin, twice removed. We believe she survives him, having had issue a son and heir, and other children.

The Gentlemen’s Magazine, Volume 5, January to June 1836

1829: Encombe House, Dorsetshire – The seat of the Earl of Eldon

Encombe is seated in a very deep vale, that opens to the British Channel on the south, and is about a mile and a half south-west from Kingston. It seems to take its name from its situation on the extremity of the island of Purbeck, i.e. End-Comb; or, according to Hutchins, from its situation in a Comb or Vale, In-Comb. This estate is one of the best in the island, consisting of arable and pasture, and has, from its fertility, been distinguished by the name of the Golden Bowl. It yields a greater plenty of grass, and more beautiful verdure, than is usually seen in this island.

It is conjectured that this Manor and Hamlet belonged, in ancient times, to Shaston Abbey. In the 32d year of Henry VIII., it was granted to John Lord Zouch, who at the same time had license to alienate it to Sir Thomas Arundel, Knt., and his heirs. After the attainder of Sir Thomas in the 6th year of Edward VI., this Manor and that of Remmescomb were granted to John Bourchier, Lord Fitzwarren, to be held in chief by service of the fortieth part of a fee; and in the same year he had license to alienate Encombe to Robert Culliford and his heirs. In 7th Edward VI., it was granted to Margaret, wife of Sir Thomas Arundel, in confirmation of her dower for life. But this does not seem to have taken place, for it was ever after the property and seat of the Cullifords, a family that came out of Devonshire.

William Culliford, Esq., Commissioner of the Customs in Scotland, died without issue in 1723, and was succeeded in the possession of Encombe by his brother Robert, who died in 1728. In the 7th year of George II., an act was passed for the sale of this Manor and Farm; soon after which it was purchased by Mrs. Lora Pitt, who gave to her second son, John Pitt, Esq.: from him Encombe came into the possession of his son, William Morton Pitt, Esq., who, a few years back, disposed of it to its present noble owner.

The ancient seat of the Cullifords being much decayed, was entirely pulled down about 1734 by Mr. Pitt; who on the same spot erected a most elegant Mansion of Purbeck stone, laid out the grounds with great taste, and made extensive plantations. It has a fine view of the British Channel, and is esteemed one of the most beautiful and romantic situations in this part of the kingdom. The facade of the building, as seen in the annexed Plate, presents a centre with two wings. Each wing consists of two sections; the roof of one having gables with globular ornaments; the other bordered with an embrasured parapet. The wings are joined to the centre by a short corridor, having in front four columns of the Doric order.


John Scott, Earl of Eldon, Viscount Encombe, of Encombe in the county of Dorset, and Baron Eldon, of Eldon in the county of Durham, was born on the 4th of June, 1751, at Newcastle-uponTyne, in which place his father carried on the business of a merchant. Applying himself to the study of the law, his Lordship was admitted a member of the Society of the Middle Temple in 1772, and rose through the different gradations of office to its highest honours. Lord Eldon was called to the bar in 1776; elected Member of Parliament for Weobly in 1783; appointed Solicitor-General and knighted in 1788; Attorney-General in 1793; Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in July, 1799, and at the same time raised to the Peerage by the title of Baron Eldon. His Lordship was, in 1801, appointed Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain: this high office he resigned in February, 1806, but was re-appointed in April, 1807. Upon the demise of the late King, George III., his Lordship delivered up the great seal into the hands of His present Majesty, who was graciously pleased to entrust it again to his Lordship’s custody; and on the 6th July, 1821, as a further mark of royal approbation, His Majesty was pleased to advance him to the dignity of Viscount Encombe, in the county of Dorset, and Earl of Eldon. On the 1st of May, 1827, Lord Eldon once more resigned his office of Lord High Chancellor, after having held that distinguished post nearly twenty-five years, a far longer period than any of his predecessors.

As long as sterling ability, strict integrity, and impartial decision, are considered as the distinguishing characteristics of a sound Lawyer and conscientious Judge, so long will the name of Eldon conspicuously shine forth. As a principal member of the administration of public affairs, during one of the most eventful and glorious periods of English history, his Lordship has a peculiar claim upon the gratitude of his country, which all good men, and sincere friends to our present constitution in church and state, will readily acknowledge.

Encombe is a favourite residence of its noble possessor; and here at intervals, removed from the busy scene of official life, his Lordship was accustomed to relax his mind and to recruit his health.

Lord Eldon married Elizabeth, daughter of Aubone Surtees, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Esq., by whom he has issue. His grandson, John, commonly called Viscount Encombe, is his Lordship’s successor.

Motto:—Sit line labe decus.

Jones’ Views of the Seats, Mansions, Castles, etc. of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland, 1829