Apologies for not giving you my anti-slavery article this week. It is still a work in progress.

In the meantime, I thought I would tell you more about the Weller family who founded the brewery (BFP January 10, 2020) and built The Plantation.

George Weller was the youngest of the three brothers who inherited Weller’s Brewery in 1859.

This followed the death of their father, William, the youngest in his family, and the grandson of the founder of the brewery. Whilst his older brothers were seeking their fortune in the Caribbean, William joined the navy as a midshipman and saw service in the Napoleonic Wars.

He was the Bare Fist Champion of the Channel Fleet and stories of his physical prowess were legendary in Amersham.

Although he became quite portly later in life this didn’t stop him sparring weekly with the brewery blacksmith.

William married a wealthy brewer’s daughter from Hemel Hempstead. They lived in Rumsey’s, a house to the north of the brewery buildings and the Weller family house on Church Street.

Wellers Entire, the brewery’s most celebrated beer and a type of porter, must have been potent stuff as William and Lydia had 11 children, including eight sons, although one, Henry died when he was 13.

This was a large family to educate and the boys were sent to school in Brighton.

This also left the family with the problem of what to do with the younger sons.

The brewery, whilst successful, could not support all of them. So Charles emigrated to Montreal in Canada to seek his fortune.

The twins, John and James became a doctor and a clergyman, and Frederick, the youngest, another clergyman.

Every time a Weller marriage or funeral was reported in the local press the rector was always a relative!

In 1871 George left his family home to marry 22-year-old Blanche Heath Masterman, who was quite a catch.

Her father, a successful brewer in Wanstead, had recently died, leaving a substantial inheritance.

Blanche was married from her brother’s home at Walworth Castle, County Durham. She had been living there in some style with footmen and a butler so presumably her expectations were set quite high at the start of her marriage.

How the couple met is not known. As George’s parents were both from brewing families, there was presumably a network of brewers and the families socialised together.

The newlyweds moved to their new home at Amersham Common, when it was still a very rural part of our area.

This was an aspirational move. The house was situated between Shardeloes and Latimer House, and George Weller wanted to create his own country estate, which is indeed what he did.

The Weller land, including Woodside Farm, now extended to 350 acres and when part of it was sold very profitably to the Metropolitan Railway, George was able to further extend and upgrade The Plantation.

The couple soon become local gentry. They held summer fetes in the garden and hosted the Amersham Common School sports day.

George was on the school board and gave out the prizes at Speech Day. He became involved in local politics and was elected to the District Council, and the County Council. He was also a Justice of the Peace.

Blanche had her charitable causes, she also had three children: Gladys, Gerard and Carlen.

Both boys were educated at Wellington School and then Cambridge University.

I have not found any information on Gladys’ schooling, but it is unlikely that she was as well educated as her brothers, as George was quite conventional in his attitudes to women. Both Blanche and George attended anti-suffrage meetings in Amersham in 1914!

Gerard was destined to join his father in the brewery, and live at Rumsey’s, and Carlen became a civil engineer and moved away.

He inherited the adventurous Weller gene and worked as a railway surveyor in Borneo, Africa and Brazil. Apparently, he was an excellent figure skater and skied into his eighties.

All three married well and their weddings were covered by the society pages. Gerard married an affluent merchant’s daughter from Hull, Ernestine Hulbert.

Carlen and Gladys chose partners closer to home. Gwendoline, Carlen’s wife was the daughter of Ernest Forwood, a wealthy landowner who lived at Bendrose Grange on Amersham Common.

Gladys’ husband Edmund Sandford Fawcett lived at Coleshill House and was a civil engineer and senior civil servant. They were serious croquet players. Both were champions at Hurlingham and the All England Club at Wimbledon when it was more famous for croquet than tennis!

It was Gladys who finally sold the family house in 1945. After her parents’ deaths she moved into The Plantation with her husband and lived there for another 16 years.

She was widowed just before the war and found it increasingly difficult to find staff to manage the estate. When the war was over Gladys sold everything and moved away.

George’s death in 1929 wasn’t the end of his influence on the town, however.

In 1930 The Weller Estate was planned by the Metropolitan Railway company to build new houses on the remaining Woodside Farm land. The housing development was not fully completed but the remaining land was used by the council for our community buildings and King George’s playing fields.

Most of the town’s recreational space, including Barn Meadow and Amersham Cricket Club on Amersham Common, was originally Weller land.

The Weller family founded many of the town’s sports clubs, and as a keen sportsman himself George would have been particularly proud of this.

More information about the Wellers and the Brewery can be found at amershammuseum.org.

Acknowledgement: the two portraits are shown courtesy of the Weller family, and the photograph and auction brochure image are from The Amersham Museum Collection.