EDWARD CLOUGH NEWCOME.
(Article two in the Clough Family Loop)
In September, 1954, an article appeared in the Shooting Times, entitled "Squire of Feltwell Hall," giving an account of Edward Clough Newcome who died in 1871 in his 62nd year. For over 200 years the Clough Family lived at Feltwell Hall, the last male member being Cyrill Clough who died in 1805 leaving a widow and three daughters - Pleasance, Rebecca and Catherine. At her fathers death Pleasance became virtually Squire of Feltwell and died unmarried in 1851. Rebecca also died unmarried, but Catherine married William Newcome, of Hockwold, son of the Arch-bishop of Armagh; and their son Edward Clough Newcome inherited the Feltwell property on the death of his aunt, Pleasance Clough. Clough Newcome's knowledge of wild life, especially in East Anglia, is said to have been remarkable, though, unfortunately, nothing has been left by him in writing; he is, however, quoted repeatedly in Stevenson's Birds of Norfolk, which was published in 1866; and one of the largest collections of birds ever made in Norfolk were those at Feltwell Hall, which he himself had shot and stuffed; the place was crammed with birds and a visit to Feltwell Hall in those days was like a visit to a museum. He is described in the Shooting Times as one of those men who never have an idle moment, which seems a quaint description to give of a man whose entire life was devoted to sport. Up early in the morning to give his dogs a run, or to shoot something, he would return and make a large breakfast; he would then be out all day shooting, hawking, or some other sport, and in the evening sit down to a substantial dinner. Dinner would last about an hour, and it was the only hour in the day that any guest at the Hall, save a fellow sportsman, could have a word with him. After dinner it was his regular custom to change into an old jacket and retire to his workroom beyond the kitchen, known to this day as the Stuffing Room; and work at some bird that he was stuffing and see to his guns, his fishing rods and tackle. Before turning in for the night he would repair to the kitchen and fry himself some steak and onions and wash it all down with cups of hot tea. He is remembered in the Sporting World chiefly for his knowledge of Falconry, being almost the last person in England to practice, to any extent, the Sport of Hawking. Heron-hawking was his great delight, next to which he enjoyed flying hawks at larks and used a terrier to nose out and flush larks for his hawks to kill. Hawking as a sport is a thing of the past, which is just as well, for it is difficult to see any sport in killing that most beautiful of songsters, the sky-lark. As a young man Clough Newcome could handle his fists well and was by no means averse to watching a fight on the Chequers Green, which was then of common occurrence, and would sometimes himself make arrangements for a fight there. We must not forget that he lived his young life, until 20 years of age, in the time of George IV who patronised prize-fighting; and young men of position naturally thought it to be the correct thing. Conan Doyle's book Rodney Stone, which is founded on fact, gives a full and interesting account of the men of fashion and pleasure of those, days, Corinthians as they were called, and of how readily they fought. "Old Clough" as he was known to all and everybody, was seldom seen without a pipe in his mouth; he was an inveterate smoker and, when short of tobacco, would beg some off the first person that came along, and repay it most liberally next day. From the various descriptions given, he became latterly rather uncouth and went about dressed much like an untidy tramp, with trousers out at the knee. The late Miss Anna Spencer used to tell a tale of Clough Newcome walking one day along the river bank near the Pumping Station; a lighter was being unloaded, and, as help was required, the lighter-man asked Clough Newcome to lend a hand, which he did; and then gave him sixpence, which he took; yet the man was totally unaware that this untidy looking person, to whom he had given sixpence, was Squire of Feltwell, Lord of several manors and owner of many acres. One of our best-known nursery rhymes could have been written especially for "Old Clough"
This is the man all tattered and torn,
Thai married the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn.
He married the daughter of Dean Wood of Middleton, Norfolk; a most eccentric person, whose daughter might well have been all forlorn. His sister Catherine Maria Newcome married Canon Sparke, rector of Feltwell 1831-79; and their daughter Maria Hester Sparke became Mrs. H. M Upcher of East Hall, Feltwell, the mother of Sir Henry Upcher of Sheringham Hall, Norfolk.
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