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
Clarence Cecil Gordon Stentiford was born at Mill Lane, Chudleigh,
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
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
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
taken when the entire building was just a shell
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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