An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St. Helens, Lancashire

Part 4 (of 86 parts) - Michael Hughes of Sherdley Hall Quotes

An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St.Helens
Part 4 (of 86 parts) - Michael Hughes Quotes
An Illustrated History of
Old Sutton in St.Helens
Michael Hughes Quotes
Researched and Written by Stephen Wainwright ©MMXVI
INTRODUCTION: The following are quotes from correspondence between Michael Hughes (or his wife Edith) and their Sherdley Estate Agent Dr. Henry Bates. The Hughes's often wintered abroad and also spent much of their time at their Thornham Hall estate near Eye in Suffolk. The couple regularly sent letters to Dr. Bates in which they responded to his questions on estate business, described their lives and shared strong opinions on politics and events. The letters written to Dr. Bates at Sutton Hall cover the period from 1911 to 1918.
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, January 11th 1911
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated January 11th 1911

I have not the least objection to your going round by yourself with your dog, & killing off the superfluous drakes & being extremely careful not to wound the ducks in doing so. I do it myself driving the birds in front of me & then picking off a drake whenever I can get him completely separated from the others. You are also at liberty to shoot the cock pheasants, if you can, but I do not wish a party to turn out in Sherdley Park either this year or any other, without my being there myself. These rough Lancastrians play the very Devil with young trees, shrubs & plants generally & having got the place fairly tidy I wish to keep it so.

FROM EDITH HUGHES, Cadogan Hotel, London, May 29th 1911
(Commenting on The Festival of Empire at the Crystal Palace in London to celebrate the coronation of King George V)
FROM EDITH HUGHES at the Cadogan Hotel in London dated May 29th 1911
(Describing the Festival of Empire at the Crystal Palace in London to celebrate the coronation of King George V)

I simply detest town at this moment, the dust the stuffiness & the poisonous Americans are too much for me…We went yesterday to the Crystal Palace. It’s the greatest fraud, for only “Canada” is even open! There were 40,000 children there. I shall never forget it !!!

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, June 12th 1911
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated June 12th 1911

I am so disgusted with the present legislation and everything connected with property in this country, that my only idea is to invest my money as far from England as possible.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, June 23rd 1911
(Regarding the George V Coronation festivities)
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated June 23rd 1911
(Regarding the George V Coronation festivities)

Mrs Hughes goes off on Friday to see the Naval Review, but I remain quietly here till all this absurd rush and burtle is over.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Sherdley Hall, August 19th 1911
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Sherdley Hall dated August 19th 1911

I have been thinking matters over & have come to the conclusion that there is no reason why we should not sell our cattle to the butcher at the best price we can obtain, but with regard to the milk I do not wish to make money out of the poor. No matter therefore what price milk is fetching please let the Sherdley milk be sold at the usual price.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Hotel Bellevue, Cannes, March 11th 1912
(Concerning a coal strike. Nb. Arthur Ellerington was the St.Helens Chief Constable):
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at the Hotel Bellevue in Cannes dated March 11th 1912
(Concerning a coal strike. Nb. Arthur Ellerington was the St.Helens Chief Constable):

I think Mr. Asquith will pass an Act of Parliament conferring on the miners all that they ask. This is much to be deplored because every trade will then demand a minimum wage & unrest & dissatisfaction will be the result. Should there be rioting & disturbance you might tell Mr. Ellerington that he is welcome to quarter a sergeant & 8 or ten men at Sherdley Hall – they can mess in the servants’ hall & sleep in the men-servants’ rooms both on the ground & first floors. If coal runs short people are sure to begin stealing the wood heaped up in the paddock. I do not want any trouble about this, so please, in the event of the coal strike lasting some time, send round my farm carts & the garden-cart with firewood for the deserving poor as recommended by the nurse.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Cannes, April 13th 1912
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Cannes dated April 13th 1912

I am now told that there will be a combined strike of all railway-men & transport workers in August instead of May but before then we shall probably see civil war in Ireland. What a state of affairs for a country which is supposed to be inhabited by calm, long-headed, money-making men & women. The season here is now nearly over, so on Friday next the 19th, we are going to the Hotel Métropole Monte Carlo.

FROM EDITH HUGHES, December 19th 1913
(Commenting on Prince Albert, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, a grandson of Queen Victoria)
FROM EDITH HUGHES dated December 19th 1913
(Commenting on Prince Albert, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, a grandson of Queen Victoria)

Lord! What a temper that beastly little Albert is in!! He’s had a row with his relations & we think, the King, & I’m paying for it!!

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, ROYAL HOTEL Monte Carlo, May 8th 1914
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at the Royal Hotel Monte Carlo dated May 8th 1914

As this is now the important time of the year, will you please have the ponds and pits carefully sprinkled round with paraffin or petrol. I must own that my life at Sherdley in the autumn is rendered miserable by the mosquitoes and it appears to me that no one takes the slightest interest in their destruction, while pots and pans are left about in the most careless manner which get filled with rain water and thus form breeding establishments ready-made for them. Please exert yourself to remove this very disagreeable peculiarity of Sherdley at the present time which of itself would prevent my ever living there.

FROM EDITH HUGHES, Thornham Hall, April 9th 1916
FROM EDITH HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated April 9th 1916

We’ve had a most unpleasant 10 days of Zepps and guns and God knows what. It can do Defence of the Realm no harm, to tell you that one went right over the back of the house. I’m really not frightened of them but am so tired that I promptly had a heart-attack, which was useful just at that moment, and I am much ashamed of myself.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, August 4th 1917
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated August 4th 1917

WALL IN SHERDLEY ROAD. I think you are quite right to have this built up, as if you don’t these cursed hobbledehoys will push down more, but I must say that it makes me more angry than anything else that has happened for a long time. When all England is working at its utmost stretch, that these swine should deliberately destroy property in a manner that can give no satisfaction to anyone, & that takes men away from really useful work to repair, is exasperating beyond description.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, November 28th 1917
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated November 28th 1917

Dole. I detest waste, but I would not minimise the enjoyment of the old Sutton folk on Xmas eve for the world. Please supply them with exactly the same as last year. Owing to the enormous bill for coal at Sherdley Hall (about which I have protested every year) the nurse will not be replaced when she marries. This I much regret, but I have no alternative under present conditions.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, December 9th 1917
(Dr. Bates had enquired from Hughes whether Mrs. Holland - who had not been allowed to clean Sherdley Hall while her husband had measles - should be paid)
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated December 9th 1917
(Dr. Bates had enquired whether Mrs. Holland - who had not been allowed to clean Sherdley Hall while her husband had measles - should be paid)

I cannot see how any question can arise about this woman; she assists the caretaker in cleaning Sherdley Hall, & comes in by the week. Owing to infection during two weeks, she was unable to do this work. Therefore she receives neither wages nor insurance money from me during those weeks. I really think you need hardly ask me such ridiculous questions as this. I do not pay a charwoman here, or at Sherdley, who is unable for any reason to come to her work.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, December 24th 1917
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated December 24th 1917

I am afraid that the absurd raising of wages will cause a great deal of trouble throughout the country, & will to a great extent, paralyse building & enterprise in improvements generally. In my own case it appears to be an absolute quencher, for I have no son to succeed me, & I am hardly likely to spend enormous sums on my property which will pass to cousins, when the rates & wages are at a ridiculous standard. Beyond Rimmer’s house I have no intention of building anything, & I should think the sooner that the Grange & Sherdley Hall are pulled down the better for the property. There is certainly no inducement for a householder or landlord within your Corporation area to act otherwise.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, December 25th 1917
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated December 25th 1917

THE PRESENT SITUATION. I devoutly hope that the war will be over before another Christmas comes round, but the general outlook has never been worse for us than it is at this moment. “Victory” is out of the question, & I have always said so, particularly as our statesmen were in the pay of the Germans at the beginning of the war, & our Foreign Office was about as intelligent as an infants’ school. Coupled to this you had a prime minister who would not move hand or foot, until compelled to do so by popular clamour, & a nation so sure of itself, & over confident, that it refused to grasp the nature of the task in front of it. The ravages of war will be repaired by America in men, money, & materials, & we shall hold our own, but more we cannot do. The number of men sent over from America will be restricted by the amount of provisions that their ships can bring over wherewith to feed them. An honourable compromise is the best that we can attain, & before many years are over, Germany will launch a new attack, always provided (& this I think quite probable) that the end of the world does not come before she is quite ready.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, January 9th 1918
(Criticising former prime minister H. H. Asquith who had stood down 13 months earlier)
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated January 9th 1918
(Criticising former prime minister H. H. Asquith who had stood down 13 months earlier)

THE WAR. I have once or twice said to you that the government under Asquith were in the pay of the Kaiser & that they did not want to win the war. You have regarded me with sceptical toleration & have not believed a word of it. If you will read the enclosed leading article from last Monday’s Morning Post, you will see that they state publicly, what I have stated privately, & no one contradicts them!! The letter from the Duke of Somerset (who is a very old friend of mine & with whom I have had many a hard fight at golf) shows Asquith also in the light of a traitor to his country, who cares not a jot for England Scotland or Ireland so long as he gets votes for his party.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, January 9th 1918
(Criticising St.Helens Council, then led by Bates as Mayor, for raising employee wages to £2 a week)
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated January 9th 1918
(Criticising St.Helens Council, then led by Bates as Mayor, for raising employee wages to £2 a week)

If the man who washes out the public urinal in St Helens, who probably has only one eye & one leg, is worth £104.. 13..0 per annum, what is the able bodied man who can plough, reap, manage horses & carry on all the duties of a farm when in the prime of life, worth?? He will soon estimate his own value starting from the other man’s pay as a minimum, & ask for about £250 a year; it appears to me to be the finish!

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, February 3rd 1918
(And still very upset about the council)
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated February 3rd 1918
(And still upset about the council)

It is perfectly ridiculous that a few men in a position of brief authority, should be allowed to squander other peoples’ money, for the sake of popularity.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Jockey Club Rooms, Newmarket, April 10th 1918
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Jockey Club Rooms, Newmarket dated April 10th 1918

…the St Helens council by their extraordinary proceedings during the last few months have depreciated my land & buildings within the Borough to the amount of many thousands of pounds & that the sooner I can sell it, by bits at a time, the better for me…a man cannot write in a very pleasant strain when he sees his country, his county, and his property being ruined and brought to destruction by the imbecility of those in temporary authority and I cannot point to anything which has happened to me lately, which should cause me to write in a particularly bright or cheerful manner.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, April 14th 1918
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated April 14th 1918

This war gets on my nerves, & I daresay I sometimes write & act in an irritable manner. I appear to have been the only man in Great Britain, who foresaw what the German blow would be like when it fell; everybody else was talking of “victory” & other balderdash, & men were taken away freely from the fighting line in France, for a variety of reasons, & we were told by these idiots of ministers, that all was well, & that we could withstand all the onsets that might be made on us. Then the blow fell. In five days we gave up all the land we had gained in 2.5 years. Within a fortnight we had gone back 45 miles & the Germans had taken about 100,000 prisoners & about 1200 guns with millions of pounds worth of effects. God only knows what will be the end, but if ever a nation deserved to be crumpled up for its inane folly & self-satisfied ignorance, it is Great Britain in 1914-18. It has appeared to me for some time that the whole nation has been smitten with insanity, & only a miracle by the Almighty can save us.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, April 19th 1918
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated April 19th 1918

AGRICULTURAL WAGES BOARD. I thank you for sending me the names of those who compose the one for Lancashire. It is a new idea to me that I am to be ordered to pay my employees at the dictation of others. We are rapidly drifting to a state of socialism which is never a success, as it saps individual enterprise & aims at levelling all to one standard & one condition.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, April 30th 1918
(Berating his estate manager for the poor state of his racehorses)
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated April 30th 1918
(Berating his estate manager for the poor state of his racehorses)

Once more I can only ask you, as I have repeatedly asked you before, to feed these animals with the very best food that you can procure & with plenty of it…From the day you & Nicolson took over the stud farm, it has been a total & complete failure, & has cost me many thousands of pounds….You have undoubtedly been a successful man in many ways, but a more absolute failure than the Sherdley stud farm, since you took it over, it would be impossible to imagine.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, May 17th 1918
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated May 17th 1918

All men have their trials in this world & most certainly the walls round Sherdley Hall are amongst the most trying that fall to my lot.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, July 29th 1918
(Regarding permission for a gala to be held in Sherdley Park)
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated July 29th 1918
(Regarding permission for a gala to be held in Sherdley Park)

I have never previously heard of the Sutton Munition Workers Recreation Club. I certainly wish to be asked before any new association makes use of my park. Your remarks in your letter probably apply to the school treats which have for years been held by Messrs Courtney & Colegrove. I have never yet heard of a man allowing his park to be used, & his grass spoiled by unknown clubs.

FROM MICHAEL HUGHES, Thornham Hall, July 29th 1918
(About the difficulty in getting someone to see to the land girls who had just begun working and living at Sherdley Home Farm. Nb. Mrs. Holland was the gardener’s wife)
FROM MICHAEL HUGHES at Thornham Hall, Eye, Suffolk dated July 29th 1918
(About the difficulty in getting someone to see to the land girls who had just begun working and living at Sherdley Home Farm. Nb. Mrs. Holland was the gardener’s wife)

LAND GIRLS. I am sorry to hear that Mrs Edwards is not satisfactory. In my opinion you never will get anyone locally that will be satisfactory. The Lancashire women are the worst cooks, & make the most absolutely impossible servants, of any that I have come across in any part of the world; If you could get a nice motherly Scotchwoman who would look after the girls as if they were her own daughters, you would find things go quite smoothly. I think Mrs Holland might be asked to look in on the girls occasionally at 10 P M to see that they were all in bed & I think that she also might supply them with hot water when they want it. After all, the work is being done for the Empire & to make up for the men who are away. Therefore everyone should lend a hand.

Next:  Part 5)  The Sherdley Estate    |    Research Sources & Bibliography
Next:  Part 5)  The Sherdley Estate
Stephen Wainwright
This website has been written and researched and many images photographed by myself, Stephen Wainwright, the Sutton Beauty & Heritage site owner. Individuals from all over the world have also kindly contributed their own photographs. If you wish to reuse any image, please contact me first as permission may be needed from the copyright owner. High resolution versions of many pictures can also be supplied at no charge. Please also contact me if you can provide any further information or photographs concerning Sutton, St.Helens. You might also consider contributing your recollections of Sutton for the series of Memories pages. Sutton Beauty & Heritage strives for factual accuracy at all times. Do also get in touch if you believe that there are any errors. I respond quickly to emails and if you haven't had a response within twelve hours, check your junk mail folder or resend your message. Thank you! SRW
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