Friederica Frances Swinburne (1842-1916)

The Fund was founded in the Will of Mrs Friederica Frances Swinburne (1842-1916), a worshipper at the leading London Anglo-Catholic church, All Saints, Margaret Street.

Mrs Swinburne was born Friederica Frances Entwisle on 24 September 1842, the fourth of six children, and only daughter, of William Entwisle and his wife Hannah (née Loyd).

The family home was Rusholme House, a substantial property to the south of Manchester, set in its own grounds, which now form Whitworth Park. William Entwisle, a barrister, was MP for South Lancashire from 1844 to 1847. In 1848 he joined his wife’s family bank, which was renamed Loyd, Entwisle & Co. By 1861 he was also a Deputy Lieutenant and magistrate.

On 8 April 1863, Friederica Frances married Charles Alfred Swinburne. She was not yet 21, he thirteen years older. Her father, who died four months later, gave her a marriage portion of £10,000.

C. A. Swinburne was a Glasgow-born solicitor. In 1863 he was living at Boydon, south-west of Manchester, but by 1869 the couple were living in London, near Swiss Cottage. By 1875 they had moved to Upper Hamilton Terrace, in St John’s Wood.

The Swinburnes’ marriage was childless, and in the 1880s they separated. Mrs Swinburne had a marriage settlement, and the Married Women’s Property Act 1882 may also have made it easier for her to contemplate separation. By the 1891 census Mrs Swinburne, now 48, was living at 46 Devonshire Street, just off Portland Place, as ‘co-tenant’ of the head of the household, Lady Holker, the widow of Sir John Holker, a Lord Justice of Appeal, who gave her age as 38. How Mrs Swinburne met Lady Holker is unknown. Like the Swinburnes, she came from Manchester, and when Sir John died in 1882 Mr Swinburne acted as her solicitor. In 1894 Lady Holker re-married, but her friendship with Mrs Swinburne continued. On the night of the 1901 census she was staying at Mrs Swinburne’s home, 57 Whitehall Court, as a visitor.

Mr Swinburne died in 1904, leaving his estranged wife unmentioned in his will. It may perhaps not be completely coincidental that it was during the Revd George Holden’s brief incumbency at All Saints, Margaret Street, which began in 1905, that Mrs Swinburne became more closely associated with the church’s life, her somewhat embarrassing status as a separated wife having been replaced by that of a widow. In 1907 Mrs Swinburne’s mother also died, leaving her, as her only surviving child, £14,280 in government bonds paying interest at 3.25%, from her marriage settlement. Electoral registers indicate that by now Mrs Swinburne had moved to Floor D of 48 Sloane Square. The 1911 census found Mrs Swinburne (now aged 68) living in Flat D at 48 Sloane Square (with a cook, parlour maid, housemaid and lady’s maid). Her friend and fellow-worshipper at All Saints, Miss Eleanor Marcon (49), was staying as a visitor. At some point after 1912 Mrs Swinburne made her final move, to 5 Portland Place – doubtless in order to be closer to All Saints.

It was on 6 August 1910, almost six years before her death, that Mrs Swinburne signed what proved to be her last Will. Her largest specific bequest to an individual, and the only one to a man, was £1,000 (a sum worth over £120,000 in 2020) to the Vicar of All Saints, Fr Henry Mackay. Of the charitable bequests, three reflected her specifically Anglo-Catholic loyalties: £500 each to the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and the Universities Mission to Central Africa, and £1,000 to the English Church Union. All of these were far exceeded (collectively, not just individually) by the bequest of £25,000 to establish the Cleaver Ordination Candidates Fund. But even this bequest was exceeded by that of the residue of Mrs Swinburne’s estate, which in the event amounted to over £50,000, to her executrix, Lady Holker. If she did not outlive Mrs Swinburne by three months, the residue would go the Cleaver Fund. It is tantalizing to think that if Lady Holker had died two-and-a-half years earlier than she did, the Fund would have been three times larger.

Mrs Swinburne’s Will included no bequest to All Saints, Margaret Street, doubtless because she was giving very generously to the church during her lifetime. In 1907, for example, her donations totalled £40, more than those of any other individual and over one-fifth of the total given. In 1909 she gave £500 towards Sir Ninian Comper’s replacement (as a memorial to George Holden) of the paintings on the east wall – again the largest single donation and almost one fifth of the total cost. But it is for two particularly generous benefactions to the church that Mrs Swinburne deserves to be remembered with thanksgiving.

The first was the Lady Altar designed by Comper and installed during 1911. The reredos is of carved stone, with alabaster statues. The total bill (including Comper’s design fee) was £1,419. The hangings (prepared in 1910) cost £52 and the carpet £20, bringing the total to just under £1,500. Though the most noticeable of Mrs Swinburne’s benefactions to All Saints, the Lady Altar was neither the last nor the most costly. In 1914 Mrs Swinburne purchased for £2,900 the lease of 6 Margaret Street, next door to the Vicarage, which still had over 63 years to run, and assigned it to Fr Mackay and two members of the Church Council, giving the Vicar of All Saints the power to appoint further trustees. As with the gift of the Lady Altar, the donor wished to remain anonymous. The freehold was given the following year by Lord Howard de Walden. Bishop Charles Gore lived in the house from his retirement in 1919 and today the assistant curate lives there.

Mrs Swinburne died on 14 April 1916. She was buried in the churchyard of St Cuthbert’s, Lytham, next to the grave of Lady Holker’s first husband (in which Lady Holker’s ashes were interred less than three years later). Over Mrs Swinburne’s grave Lady Holker placed a monument, its inscription concluding with the words ‘This monument was erected by her dearest friend Lady Holker.’

The formal documents of Mrs Swinburne’s life offer very little insight into her life and character. This is supplied by Fr Mackay’s obituary notice for her in the All Saints Parish Paper.

In Memoriam.
FRIEDERICA FRANCES SWINBURNE.

ON the Friday in Passion Week one of our dearest friends passed from sight, after an illness of some two months’ duration. Mrs Swinburne had been associated with All Saints for many years, but it was during Mr Holden’s Vicariate that the association became the intimate and affectionate one which it has remained ever since. Mrs Swinburne had the deepest and warmest regard for Mr Holden, and she looked forward with dread to the arrival of his successor. But very soon she began to give me proof of a friendship deep and sincere, and to-day I mourn the passing from sight of one of the greatest friends I have ever had.

I have never known anybody who exhibited true religion better, who shewed more clearly that true religion consists in faith, prayer, self-sacrifice, obedience and perseverance. Her daily effort of prayer filled one with awe and with anxiety for her health. In her Sloane Square days she used to come over here on most mornings for the seven o’clock Mass, travelling with the workmen from Sloane Square station; but her day had not begun with Mass, there had been the long preparation and intercession before she left the house. Indeed this elderly lady, while feeling the infirmities of increasing ill-health, and living a busy life in the world, had a rule of prayer which probably equalled that of a religious who says the night office in the demands it made on bodily endurance.

Possessed of considerable means, she lived with the greatest simplicity, and her alms were enormous and sent in all directions. And she gave herself with her alms. She cared, and cared just in the right way, for all the people she helped.

She helped numbers of young men to prepare for ordination, and in almost every case she made a personal link with them, which they felt to be a happiness and an honour. It is I think an open secret that it was Mrs Swinburne who gave us the Lady Altar, and I am more thankful than I can say that she lived to see it become the Throne of Our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament.

She had an intense love for All Saints’ and everything connected with it, and she was never so happy as when she was within its walls. Like all growing saints, she retained her youthful spirit and her love of adventure to the end. She loved to spar gaily with a friendly antagonist, and she had the pleasantest gift of fun and banter with those she was fond of. She was very fond of us all, and she admitted us to a family circle friendship of the most delightful kind.

Her love of music was very great; she had been an accomplished pianist, and she found the greatest pleasure in the Queen’s Hall. She hated Palestrina, and at the beginning of her illness she said with a twinkle that it had one advantage, it saved her from the duty of enduring Palestrina. But barring Palestrina, the beautiful music at All Saints’ was a constant delight to her. She kept herself informed on all topics of interest, and was an uncommonly shrewd critic. She had a power of estimating personalities which was really remarkable. She could be severe at times, but she was incapable of being ill-natured.

Like all the best Christians, Mrs Swinburne could enjoy a good novel and a good play. Her last glimpse of beautiful scenery I shared with her. I stayed with her at St David’s in gorgeous September weather, and with the help of carriages she managed to see a good deal of that magnificent red sandstone coast with its islets rising out of blue and silver seas.

We sorrow only because here we shall behold her face no more. For the rest, the thought of her transitus is sheer gladness. She has simply been liberated into the life for which her whole soul yearned, and for which her whole life here was a preparation. May she live among the saints! H.F.B.M.

Writing in the February 1913 issue of the Parish Paper, Mackay had given a glimpse of the post-Christmas relaxation that he and Mrs Swinburne had shared with the boys of the All Saints choir:
‘On one memorable evening Mrs Swinburne took all the choristers and a party of their friends to Drury Lane – and we saw the prettiest pantomime I have seen since… Happy days! Happy days!’