Clarence Cecil Gordon Stentiford
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In this article, Kevin Stentiford and his father, Brian Stentiford, join forces to tell a modern emigration tale - the story of yet another branch of the Stentiford family who made a permanent move to New Zealand and found there a happy and contented new life.


Clarence Cecil Gordon Stentiford was born at Mill Lane, Chudleigh, Devon,  in the March Quarter of 1905. He was destined to be the only child of George Stentiford and his wife, Florence Emma, formerly Middlewick. In 1917, when he was 12 years old,  he took his first job as Time Keeper at the local quarry. His grandfather,  Florence's father, was foreman in the same quarry*.

George Stentiford, Clarence's father, was away during the First World War so Clarence, who had been born in 1905, never saw his father from the time he was 9 years old until the war was over. When George came back after the war, he took up a position as a gardener, something of which he had had years of experience before the war and young Clarence joined him to take up the long family tradition beside his father.

After gaining knowledge and experience, Clarence struck out on his own, moving on to become head gardener at some very prominent estates in the south of England.


Leeds Castle was one of the first posts held by Clarence and in his day it was in private ownership. The public were first admitted to Leeds Castle in 1976 but the garden in which Clarence had worked became totally neglected during the war years and by then had virtually disappeared. A new garden was created from scratch in 1980, named the Culpeper Garden after the original occupants of the castle.

Leeds Castle, near Canterbury in Kent

Leeds Castle, near Canterbury in Kent


Avon Tyrrell near Christchurch in Hampshire

Avon Tyrrell near Christchurch in Hampshire


Courtesy of the Environment Agency

The time at Leeds Castle was followed by a spell at Avon Tyrell near Christchurch. Situated in the heart of the New Forest, it is now widely used as an Activity Centre by numerous organisations.


Clarence met Hilda May Davis who was in service close to Avon Tyrell and they married in 1930. Their only child, named Brian George, was born in 1933 while they were both working for Sir Brian Egerton at Winkton House, near Christchurch in Hampshire. Winkton House is now converted into apartments but much of the garden remains to be enjoyed communally by the residents. The family lived there for about 6 years before taking up a position at nearby High Cliffe Castle in 1937.

That house remained in private ownership until 1950 but became disused in 1966 after a series of disastrous fires completely gutted the building. In 1977, Christchurch Council acquired the site and, with the aid of the National Lottery, has succeeded in fully restoring the exterior. The two entrance lodges (one of which was probably home to Clarence and his family, now form a restaurant which serves the newly restored drawing room and library which can be hired as a wedding venue.

Clarence worked in the original garden which had been designed by Capability Brown. It was beautifully landscaped to provide a view across Christchurch Bay to the Isle of Wight and the Needles. Work has now begun to restore these gardens to their original state - just as Clarence left them.


High Cliffe Castle, Christchurch

Photo taken when the entire building was just a shell 

Courtesy Christchurch Borough Council


*A limestone belt extends from Plymouth all the way to Chudleigh and the  stone it produced was used in the past for many buildings in Plymouth, Torquay and Newton Abbot. Chudleigh Quarry, or Palace Quarry as it was also known, is now disused.


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Last modiied: 25/02/2007