Lord Arthur Cecil (1851 – 1913)

Lord Arthur was descended from William Cecil (1520-1598) Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s closest advisor from her accession in 1558 to his death forty years later. Burghley it was who prepared England to resist the Spanish Armada in 1588 and secured the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, the year previously – an ironic circumstance given the love of all things Scottish demonstrated from his descendants, the Cecils of Passford House.

Local knowledge attests that Lord Arthur served for a time as a private secretary to Queen Victoria. In addition to the house here he owned a property called Orchardmains at Tonbridge in Kent. He was Justice of the Peace for Hampshire and between 1902 and 1906 served as a Captain in the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment.

Cecil was active in local and national affairs. ‘His open handed generosity and uniform kindness to his countrymen, especially to the commoners of the New Forest’, manifested through his chairmanship of the New Forest Conservative and Unionist Association and of the Lymington Cottage Hospital.

Lord Arthur Cecil was very involved with the New Forest Commoners and all things horses. He set up the Commoners Defence Association in 1909 and was instrumental in improving the New Forest Pony breed. He bred New Forest ponies here at Passford House. Through his work as a Verderer of the New Forest he helped adapt mountain and moorland ponies for military use. Lord Arthur Cecil with his brother Lionel owned one of the best known studs of Clydesdale horses of its time, he also played a prominent part in the evolution of the modern polo pony.

Lord Arthur married first in 1874, aged about twenty-three, Elizabeth Annie the eldest daughter of John Wilson of Woodhorn Manor, Northumberland. Lady Cecil died in 1901 after twenty seven years of marriage. Within a year, Lord Arthur had married again.  The second Lady Cecil was Frederica, the eldest daughter of Barron Otto von Klenck of Gmunden, Austria, and a maid of honour to Queen Marie of Hanover.

Lord Arthur Cecil’s wife Lady Cecil kept a lot of Scottish dogs here at Passford. You will find some of her previous pets in the animal cemetery located in our gardens. She also had Ostrich’s roaming the grounds.

Next time will be the description of life at Passford House by Dorothy who was born in a little cottage in the grounds in 1904……………

For all moustache lovers, eat your heart out.


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