A search of the Virtual Museum will find many references to Cundell. It was an extensive family in the local area, with many marriages into other well-known local families.
- Title page of the Cundell Family History Book, 1962.
The Cundell Family History Book:
In addition, Chris Hook, who is a descendant of the Cundell family (via his mother Patricia Nichols, daughter of Greta Letitias Nichols, nee Richens, of Park Farm, Hungerford), kindly lent the Virtual Museum (in Jan 2018) a splendid Cundell Family History Book, written in 1965 by his grandmother Greta Nichols. This large hard-cover book, 33.5 x 21.5 x 3.5cm, includes information on the Cundell and associated families in Yorkshire, London, Berkshire and Wiltshire (and elsewhere!), from as long ago as the 13th century.
It is an astonishing treasure trove of information! Indeed, there can be very few family history books that are so extensively researched and compiled.
For example, Henry Cundell (Condell) was an actor, and part owner of the Globe Theatre in London in the late 1590s and early 1600s. He was one of ten principal comedians who performed in Ben Johnson's "Every man in his humour" in 1598 and "Everyman out of his humour" in 1599. Henry Cundell and William Shakespeare were both members of "The Lord Chamberlain's Men" formed in 1603, and Cundell became a partner in the profits of the Globe Theatre, in Globe Alley, Southwark, as well as Blackfriar's Theatre. In his Will, William Shakespeare left Henry Cundell (and others) money "to buy them rings".
[Clive Cheetham contacted the Virtual Museum in Sep 2018 to add that one of the Cundell family was "George Howard Cundell b. 1881. He was a Naval officer throughout WW1 and married Elsie E Short on 7 Jul 1915. I know of only one child (so far) Pamela Cundell the character actress best known for her performances as Mrs Fox in “Dad’s Army”. She died in 2015 but there is a good page about her on Wikipedia also the last of her three husbands was Bill Fraser another famous comedy character actor."]
Many Cundells were baptised in St Margaret's Church, Westminster between 1540 and 1630.
In the 1700s the London branch of the Cundells were recorded as "Druggists".
In the late 1700s the Cundells were in Newbury, and then Hungerford.
The Cundell family is closely linked to Slades, Willis, Hissey, Curnick, Astley, Richens, Adnams, Trumper and Hussey families.
George Bathe Cundell (1772-1781) was a butcher in Hungerford. He married Sarah Jackson in 1799. Their elder son Henry Arthur Cundell (b. 1800) became a farmer at Rectory Farm, Hungerford. His wife Letitias Slade's sister Sarah married John Richens and they farmed at North Standen.
John and Sarah Richens had many children. Catherine Richens married Henry d'Oyley Wolvey Astley, solicitor in Hungerford at Bridge House, 131-132 High Street, and Susan Richens married John Adnams, Corn and Seed merchant, of 28 High Street.
George Bathe Cundell and Sarah's twelfth (sic!) child was their son Francis (1818-1905) who became a farmer at Eastcourt, Shalbourne in 1854 (following his uncle Joseph Cundell). This was a 175 acre farm at Bagshot, owned then by the Marquess of Ailesbury.
The fire at Eastcourt Farm:
On Fri 6 Dec 1867 a fire destroyed Eastcourt Farm, and the press report makes very interesting reading.
"On Friday night a fire broke out upon the farm of Mr Francis Cundell, of Bagshot in this Parish. the flames were first discovered issuing from a shed in the farmyard, shortly before midnight, and the wind being rough, they soon spread to the surrounding buildings, all of which with contents were consumed, consisting of nag and cart horse stables, gig house, fowl house containinng upwards of 100 head of poultry, a barn containing the produce of four acres of peas, a few sacks of wheat, two horses, one a valuable hunter, a quantity of loose straw and some working tools and implements. The fire was happily confined to the farm buildings and did not extend beyond those enumerated.
Mr Cundell's valuable team of cart horses was fortunatelyout of the stable at the time, or their destruction must have been almost a certainty. The idea of this Gentleman is that the horsesare better if turned loose in the yard, winter as well as summer, and laying aside the beneficial or economic considertaion of this principle, of which no man is better able to judge than Mr Cundell, to this preservation of his team may safely be atributed.
It may be information to add that the hunter destriyed is not the well known "Chicory" of whose repute the habituees of the hunting field are so well aquainted. The damage must be something considerable; what it has been estimated at has not yet come to our knowledge. For the stock, Mr Cundell is insured with the Norwich Union; but the buildings which with the farm is part of the Estate of the Marquess of Ailesbury, have no insurance effected upon them.
The police were upon the spot pretty promptly, and used their best efforts, as also did others who were there, in the supression of the flames and the protection of proerty. From enquiries instituted by these officials into the origina of the fire, it has been ascertained that two of Mr Cundell's servants came to Hungerford on Friday evening, where the had something to drink. One of the two name Stockwell, the fogger, was smoking his pipe when he returned home, and the idea is that before going into the stable and entering the loft where they slept, he knocked the tobacco from his pipe and by this means the straw became ignited.
Stockwell, it is alleged, denied having smoked on his return or even at all that night, ut the boy Taylor, who was with him, on being closely interrogated, admitted that his companion had smoked homeward from Hungerford. Only a few minutes elapsed from the time of their returning home and the breaking out of the fire, and the farm servants who slept in the same loft, had as much as they could do to clear out before being overtaken by the fumes.
It is further alleged by those who heard them used that after the fire broke out, Stockwell made some unguarded remarks, but an excuse is made for these on the ground of the state he was in. In addition to the foregoing, we have learned that a messenger was sent for the Hungerford (so called) Fire Engine, but somebody who met it on its way took upon himself to inform the person in charge that his services were not required, whereupon it was taken back to Hungerford.
The wind which continued high, changed it position, imperilling the corn stacks in the yard. Accordingly a messenger was dispatched for the Great Bedwyn fire engine, which was brought in a waggon, as like its compere at Hungerford, this is not mounted on wheels of sufficient dimensions to allow of its being moved with anything like dispatch from place to place. Fortunately the fire did not reach the rickyard, where there were several large ricks of wheat and other corn. The charred remains of the two horses presented a sickening sight. Numbers of people visited the site on the following Sundayand no doubt many more would have done so, but for the heavy fall ofsnow in the afternoon. It is a curious fact that within the last two years there have been six fires on no less that six farms, within a mile of this place.
Sarah Jane Cundell's Diary, 1868:
Francis Cundell married Sarah Stevens in 1847, and they had two children, William (b. 1848) and Sarah Jane (b. 1849). Photographs in the family posession show her to be a very attractive girl, and in 1868 she wrote a daily diary which forms part of the Family History Book,
She was undoubtedly a young lady of great character and accomplishment. The diary gives an excellent picture of their life and the day-to-day activites of a typical yeoman farmer. The diary entries record church visits nearly every Sunday, visits to extended family members in Hungerford and around on a very regular basis, often for tea, and visits to them by others, both family and friends. Sometimes cards were played. It includes comments on the weather, and details letter-writing (sometimes six a day) and letters received. The diary records births, and marriages and deaths, as well as frequent mentions of illness. Great excitement is revealed by the preparation for and attendance at a special Ball at the Hungerford Town Hall on Friday 31 Oct 1868.
"Friday 31 January: Octo brought Blanche over, she did my hair for the Ball. We started for Hungerford about 6 o'clock - dressed at Leonard's and reached the Town Hall about half past eight o'clock. Leonard and William took us. We danced nearly every dance with first one and then the other.
Saturday 1 February: Did not get home from the Ball until 5 o'clock, then went to bed dreadfully tired. Made our appearance, Kate, Rebecca and self about 12 o'clock etc to breakfast."
Trips to the market in Hungerford are recorded, as well as accounts of travel on the railway (on one occasion to Reading "to have my tooth stopped" following severe toothache). Most visits to Hungerford were on foot - a distance of over 3 miles (5 km). Sessions cooking and baking are recorded
On 9 May Sarah Jane was taken by her Papa to Hungerford train station, embarking on a holiday with family in Reading. On Tuesday 12 May she records that "Kate, Tavie and I went to the opening of St Lawrence Church. Had three hours of it, then home to dinner."
On 13 May she "went over Huntley and Palmers Biscuit factory. After tea, John, Kate and I left for Wallingford. Left here about 12 o'clock.". Then (on 14 May) to Brightwell for a family wedding, which "passed off famously. Bride and Bridegroom left at 3 o'clock for the Island. 32 sat down for breakfast held in a marquee on the lawn. After tea we had croquet and then danced after supper. Returned to Wallingford about 11 o'clock. The ride home was delightful."
The next day she "had a very nice row in the evening as far as Moulsford." She had a further ten days of enjoyment, walking, visiting, playing games with various family and friends. On Tues 26 May "In the morning ... we were busy in the kitchen. After dinner (at mid-day) did some work for Aunt. After tea went down Castle Street to receive the Wedding photos. Stayed about an hour, then home to supper. .... We're grieved to think of it being the last night."
After her return home, her life resumed the local routine. On 29 June she "Had a letter of unimportance from Kate. Answered it".
On Friday 10 July "Papa drove Edmund and me into Hungerford and we went up on the downs (Hungerford Common) to the races. Had some good fun. I won three pairs of gloves."
On Monday 17 August "Papa and William took Charlie into the station and stayed for the (Summer Wool) Fair. Papa sold his lambs to Welch for 12/- and 8/-. A very wet day."
On the very next day, Tuesday 18 August "Dear Mama was taken with a severe attack of Paralysis and was quite unconcious." There were many visitors to the house over the next few days, including "Mr Barker" the doctor, but her condition deteriorated. By Thursday "dear Mama got worse gradually, but was peacefully quiet. We watched dear Mama thinking every breath would be the last. She lingered on until half past 12 o'clock in the morning (on Friday 21 August) and died very peacefully."
There were even more visitors over the next few days, and then, on Thursday 27 August "A sad day for us all. Our poor dear Mama's remains were taken to Hungerford. Uncles Henry, Charles, Joseph, George, Papa, William, Harry and Leonard, followed them to the grave. They were home by 2 o'clock."
Through October Sarah herself was unwell. On Sunday 18th October "I was very poorly all day." On Tuesday she "stayed in bed, was very weak and bad.". These entries continued day after day until Sunday 1 November when she wrote "I was so much worse. Had Pleurisy. Harry came in the morning and again in the afternoon, to put a plaster on". On Monday she was "very bad all day. My breath was so short. Harry went to the public breakfast at Hungerford Park and came to see me in the afternoon". Thankfully, by Wednesday 4 November she "felt so much better, they had to blow me up for laughing". Many visitors brought grapes, some from Tottenham House. However, she was not yet recovered. She was still in bed except for an occasional hour "sitting up", and her pain continued. On Friday 20 November "Ellen had to put on some Bran bags".
Her recovery was evidently not helped by the presence of a mouse! On Saturday 21 November she "Was dreadfully frightened about a mouse", and on Monday 23 November, when Papa had been all day at Marlborough Fair, "We were awfully frightened in the night by a mouse".
However, Thursday 26 November was her 19th birthday, and "Harry came in the afternoon and helped me downstairs for the first time, for six weeks today, I was taken ill". She seems to have gradually regained her strength over the next few weeks, but this was clearly a major illness.
On Monday 7 December "The hounds met at Stype". Papa had driven "Ellen in to the station" (at Hungerford) on Tuesday 8 November, in order for her to go "by the 2 o'clock train to Wallingford." However, on Thursday 10 November Sarah received "a letter from Ellen saying she made a mistake and found herself at Wantage instead of Wallingford!".
Interestingly, there are no entries for 24th to 26th December. One feels this first Christmas after Mama's death in August would have been a rather difficult one for all the family.
Clearly Sarah's spirits soon recovered as the new year came in, however. Following the penultimate entry on Friday 1st January 1869, there is one further and final entry in the diary - for 10 January. "Kate and I had such a spree. Went to Reading to spend the day. Uncle and Aunt were very pleased to see us. Came back to Hungerford by the half past four train from Reading. Walked home. Had a tremendous laugh in the street about a calamity I met with". We shall never know what the calamity was!