Hatleys around the world / 1

By Ishbel Beatty

Cambridge is twinned with Heidelberg, Royston with Grossalmerode. If Hatley St George were thinking of a twin, might it consider a small town in the Republic of Ireland?

Map of Ireland – centered on Carrick on Shannon, County Leitrim.

Carrick on Shannon is in County Leitrim.

If it did, it would have very good reason for choosing Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim. This little town, with a population of under 2,000 is hardly mentioned in the guide-books except as a centre for cruising up the Shannon River. But in its main street lies St George’s Terrace, and there is our clue to the link with Cambridgeshire Hatley.

The St. George family left this county in the English Commonwealth period (1649-1660), and some of its members established themselves in Carrickdrumruske, the name the town had since its incorporation in 1613. Carrick was a Protestant town up to 1698 with a castle of considerable military strength for the time on the verge of the Shannon. Little of this remains now.

Six or seven members of the St. George family represented the County of Leitrim in its Boroughs in the Irish Parliament for periods between 1639 and 1763, a total of 91 years of service. They included a Knight and a Baronet; Sir George St. George travelled to Sweden in 1639 as emissary for Charles I to confer on the King of Sweden the Order of the Garter.

Two later St. Georges became High Sheriffs of the county. The titles disappeared, but the St. Georges retained their landholdings in Carrick and in the 1830s erected a house called Hatley Manor, which exists to the present day. Charles Manners St. George died in 1864 and was buried in a mausoleum in the garden. He seems to have had a Swedish wife, Ingrid Christina. Did family links with Sweden continue from the time of his ancestor Sir George in 1639? Or was this only a chance connection with the country? He had been in the army and then obtained diplomatic posts at The Hague, Frankfurt, Brussels and Turin, as well as Sweden.

I have read some of the Leitrim Journal’s news items, published during Charles St. George’s ownership of Hatley Manor in the 1850s and 60s. He probably did not live there continuously, as his return from two years abroad in 1851 was reported and hailed with candles in the windows and dancing in the streets. He was in Florence when he died in 1864,”to which climate his delicacy of health obliged him to reside at”, and his remains were brought back to his house for interment, the burial service being conducted by his half-brother, the then Archbishop of Dublin.

During this period, Charles St. George repaired the town’s public clock and established a school offering ‘a sound English mercantile Education’, including book-keeping.  He offered a library to the inhabitants, which was not much used. He provided blankets for the poor in winter, gave Christmas treats and entertained the neighbourhood lavishly in the style of the time.

Hatley Manor later passed out of the St. George hands and was occupied in the last 30 years by Mr Shane Flynn, one-time County Registrar.

Postscript Not long before this article appeared in the Gazette, Mr Flynn died and the 15-roomed house was put up for sale.  Is the new owner interested in the Cambridgeshire connection of previous centuries?  Should you see this, please contact Kim Wilde, our Parish Clerk.

First published in the Gamlingay Gazette in June 1996 – with minor changes for this website 4 March 2019.