The Foundation of The Cavendish Hall
On 4th December 1913 the agenda for the Parish Council meeting included the
intriguing item: "to consider an important matter to be introduced by the Chairman" and in
the subsequent minutes we read under "The Chairman's Business" - "The Chairman
(Col C.R.W. Hervey) stated that Mrs. Tyrell Cavendish had offered to present the Parish with
a Village Hall to be erected in memory other late husband who lost his life on April 15th 1912
by the foundering of the Steamship "Titanic" on a voyage to New York. It was proposed by
Revd. Orpen , seconded by Mr. Cattle and carried - That the Chairman be asked to convey to
Mrs. Cavendish how greatly they appreciated her kind offer. It was proposed by Mr. Cattle,
seconded by Mr. Bush and carried - That Mrs. Cavendish be asked to place the Village Hall
under the management of four Trustees: The Chairman of the Parish Council, The Vicar of
Thurston, Raymond Greene Esq. (Solicitor) and H.L.Hammond Esq."
Thus we hear of the new village hall for the first time and then practically nothing more
with no word of its construction, completion or opening until the Parish Council meets there
on 23rd March 1915. The Charity known as THE VILLAGE HALL, in the Parish of
THURSTON, in the County of SUFFOLK, was, however, founded by indenture dated 12th
May 1914.2 This date probably gives us one reason why there is so little information: the
shadow of the approaching war was already obscuring other matters from people's minds.
There is just one entry in the local paper of 13th June 1914 concerning 'recent entertainments
in Thurston on June 2nd and 3rd when £17. 6s. was raised and divided between the Nurse
Fund, The School Fund, The Cricket Club and furniture for the new village hall.3
The conveyance of the piece of glebe land, measuring fifty by seventy feet, on which the
hall was to be built had to be notified to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries under the
Glebe Lands Act of 1888 and the map that was provided shows the site clearly.
Messrs. Greene and Greene (solicitors) sent the conveyance to Col. Hervey on 15th May 1914,
and the purchasers were supposed to provide a proper and sufficient fence between the land
sold and the remainder of the Glebe land.4
Mrs. Cavendish was born on November 3rd 1886 and christened Julia Florence Siegel. She
was the only child of Henry Siegel of New York. Her mother died when she was very young.
Henry Siegel (1860 - 1930) was one of the wealthiest men in America said to have been
worth $10 million in 1900. He opened the Siegel-Cooper Store on Lower 6th Avenue in 1896.
The opening was well publicised and no fewer than 150,000 people wanted to get in! Not
surprisingly, this produced a great deal of disorder and serious problems for the New York
Police. It was the largest department store at the time employing 6,000 people and canning its
own fruit on the top floor. Siegel's Soda Fountain became a well-known meeting place for
New Yorkers. Gordon Selfridge leamt the business there before coming to London and
opening his store in Oxford Street. The facade of the Siegel-Cooper store still stands and
Selfridge's bears some resemblance to it.
Julia was brought up on a beautiful estate north of New York, at Orienta Point,
Mamroneck in a house called "Driftwood". She was educated by nuns at a convent school in
Belgium and attended a finishing School in Dresden. Julia met Tyrell Cavendish, eleven years
her senior, at a Ball in London when she was "doing the season" there on her way back to the
United States. They became engaged just five days later, and were married on Boxing Day
1906. At about that time Julia was presented at Court, being introduced by her mother-in-
law, and the photograph shows her in the dress she wore for the occasion.5
Tyrell William Cavendish was the second son of Charles Tyrell Cavendish of
Crakemarsh Hall, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire and Elizabeth Anne Dickinson of Shotley House
and Ebchester Hall Co. Durham. His father, Charles, was himself the second son of the 2nd
Baron Waterpark, County Cork. Tyrell's great great grandfather. Sir Henry Cavendish, had
accompanied William, Duke of Devonshire, to Ireland when he became Lord Lieutenant in
1737, and married Anne Pyne, daughter and co-heir of Henry Pyne of Waterpark.6
Tyrell was bom on 12th October 1875 and was thirty-one when he married Julia. She
was twenty. The couple rented Battlies House on the Rougham Estate and Henry Siegel
Cavendish was bom there on 29th August 1908. Later they moved to Little Onn Hall in
Staffordshire and Henry's brother, Geoffrey Manners Cavendish, now 89, was bom two years
By 1912 Tyrell had bought Thurston House and it was being renovated. He had political
ambitions and wanted to stand as an M.P. for a seat such as Bury St.Edmunds. One of the
objects of his voyage to America was to discuss sponsorship with his father-in-law and they
intended to take the boys with them to show to their grandfather. Fortunately, as it turned out,
Geoffrey was ill and the two boys' berths were cancelled.
Tyrell had uncomfortable premonitions about this voyage and made his Will the day
before they sailed leaving Thurston House to his wife should he die. Even late in the voyage
when Julia gently chided him about his forebodings, he replied: "We aren't there yet"7
They had not moved into Thurston House and Mrs. Cavendish never stayed there after
the tragedy. It was sold shortly afterwards. The probate valuation was about £5,000.
By the time that the "Tyrell Cavendish Hall" was completed in 1914, Julia had already
brought her husband's ashes back to England (they are interred at the Golders Green
Crematorium) and sailed to America again, taking the boys Henry and Geoffrey to see their
Grandfather; all before the outbreak of the Great War in August.
Despite many offers of marriage and the knowledge that her late husband would have
wished her to remarry, Julia chose to devote herself to bringing up her sons on her own in
England and putting their names down for Eton and Stowe.8 When her mother-in-law died in
1932 Julia went to live at Crakemarsh Hall, Staffordshire. She died in 1963 aged 77.
Apart from what has been written above, relatively little is known about Tyrell's life.
His elder son, Henry, being only three and a half at the time of disaster, could scarcely
remember his father; and Julia could not bear to talk about him. As she wrote in a letter to
Henry in 1961 - "I have always wanted to speak to you and Geof about your father, but 1
found it difficult to do so ........ your father had a keen sense of humour and was very
amusing and a good speaker - deeply interested in politics - a good shot and fisherman, and
loved his home and children."9 In the absence of more information, all that can be added by
way of description is that he was an ambitious gentleman of independent means who might
well have been very successful had he survived the Titanic Disaster.
1 Parish Council Minutes (1894 - 1928) SRO (Bury) EG 518/24.
2 Charity Commission Scheme 28th June 1940 - preamble. SRO (Bury).
3 Bury Free Press - 13th June 1914.
4 Approval of Sale - Board of Agriculture and Fisheries 6th Feb. 1914 SRO FL640/3/29a.
5 Private communication from William Cavendish (grandson) - May 1999.
6 Burke's Peerage, Baronetcy and Knightage 1906.
7 Quotation from family correspondence with permission.
8 Conversation with Mr. William Cavendish - May 1999.
9 Quotation from family correspondence with permission.
For permission to use a copy of the photograph of Mrs. Julia Cavendish and for the
details of her life I am deeply indebted to her grandson, William Cavendish, who has so
kindly tried to answer my questions and has sent quotations from his grandmother's letter to
his father. His letters and several telephone conversations have supplied the bulk of this
material and I am also grateful to him for checking the text.