The Pleasure Grounds Sub-Committee
After the Mayor read out Frederick Farwell’s letter offering Henrietta Park to the City, the Council took his advice and delegated its prosecution to the Pleasure Ground Committee. On the 23rd March 1896 they reported back to a hostile reception, their proposals being thought over ambitious and too expensive. The Council meeting concluded with the Pleasure Grounds Committee being ‘instructed to bring up a less expensive scheme for laying out the park’.
On the 31March 1896 they met again and decided to form a sub-committee to re-examine the design. It was to comprise of four members: the Chairman, Colonel Thomas Arnoll-Davis, Frederick Farwell, Captain Forester’s agent, Joseph Morris, a botanist and Thomas Vincent, a retired plumber.
The Dukes of Cleveland managed Bathwick’s affairs through a succession of solicitors, the incumbent in 1882 being the thirty eight year old Frederick George Farwell. Born in 1844 at Bushbury, Staffordshire he was the son of Frederick Cooper Farwell, a Tettenhall solicitor of substantial means. F. G. Farwell followed his father and brother into the legal profession and first practiced in Wolverhampton where he began acting for the 4th Duke of Cleveland.
Farwell was married in 1869 at Brentford to Louisa Adams, the daughter of a civil servant. They were to have five sons and three daughters: Frederick (a future solicitor), George (engineer), Charles (barrister), Evelyn (land agent), Robert (insurance broker), Edith, Lila and Louisa, the latter dying in infancy in 1872.
When William Thompson retired from the Bathwick Estate Office in 1880 Farwell was appointed his replacement and moved to 11 Laura Place, Bath. The Chronicle noted that ‘it may be said that he was a hereditary land agent, for his father and grandfather before him were Agents for the Duke of Cleveland’. In October 1883 Farwell’s name became more widely known when he agreed to be nominated as an independent candidate for Bathwick ward. There were two vacant posts and three candidates. The Chronicle didn’t hide its contempt for one of them: “it is not possible to despise too much so poor a rival as Mr. Seymour”. Seymour’s crime had been to describe himself as a “Gentleman” on the nomination papers whereas in reality he was merely a “painter and glazier”. He suffered a further humiliation when he accumulated just 61 votes out of nearly 1000 cast.
Farwell was elected with nearly 50% of the vote and volunteered to serve on a number of committees. He became a lay preacher at the Laura Episcopal Chapel and took his pastoral care duties seriously:
MR. FARWELL’S DINNER TO THE POOR IN BATHWICK
“Following up his custom of recent years Mr Farwell once again on Christmas Day entertained the poor of Bathwick to a roast beef and plum pudding dinner at St. Mary’s Church House, Grove St. The number of dinners provided reached the goodly number of 244, which, of course, included those who received their meals at home and a large number of children. As an instance of the general distress prevailing at the present time, this total may be cited, for on this occasion every invitation sent out was accepted.”
As the land agent Farwell was given a free hand. During his tenure of the Wrington Estate he had ‘built two new farm houses, restored seven more, renovated fifty or sixty cottages and drained three hundred acres of land all for an outlay of £25,000”. In addition, he was turning the unproductive Villa Fields into a lucrative new housing estate. Thus, when Francis Forester inherited the Bathwick Estate in 1891 Farwell was asked to continue in his post. Whilst acting as agent for the Duke of Cleveland Farwell represented a number of landed estates, under Forester he progressively relinquished them until by 1895 he was concerned solely with Bathwick. The Somerset Guardian commented that Forester was totally reliant on Farwell and ‘we may safely assume that he prompted the gift of Henrietta Park to the City’.
He was appointed a City Magistrate in 1900 and was elevated to that of an Alderman in November 1901.
He died at his home on Sunday 3rd June 1906, aged 62. He had been in indifferent health for a number of years with rheumatism affecting his joints, muscles and eyesight, the latter compelling him to wear dark glasses. On the previous Friday he gave a speech to the Bath and West Cider Institute in Swindon. ‘He returned to Bath that evening not feeling well, and it was thought that he had contracted a chill at the event, where the wind was exceedingly cold. He kept to his be on Saturday and in the evening was seized with severe pain. His medical advisor prescribed a sedative for his patient but during the night Mr. Farwell grew worse and he passed away at about eleven o’clock on Sunday morning. The rheumatism had attacked the heart, and brought about his sudden death’.
The funeral service took place on the following Thursday afternoon at St Mary’s Church, Bathwick. Upwards of 200 people attended, a number coming from Wolverhampton where he still had a practice. The burial was held in Bathwick Cemetery.
At the subsequent Council meeting the Mayor moved a vote of condolence for Farwell’s family. In his address he said that ‘ever since he had been on the Council they had found in Alderman Farwell one of the most conscientious workers the City had ever had, not only in relation to the Council work, but in everything that was for the good in Bath. He had endeared himself into the hearts of all. They remembered his good offices in connection with the Recreation Grounds and in procuring the gift of Henrietta Park to the City by Captain Forester”. The resolution was carried in silence and the entire Council stood in respect.
Farwell left an invalided widow, five sons and two daughters. Evelyn Farwell had been for a number of years assisting his father in managing the Bathwick Estate and he was appointed the new Agent the following week. Farwell’s will was published in July; he left £41,209 net, equivalent to over £5m today. He also bequeathed one of his large paintings, Pevensey Bay by Benjamin Barker, to the City’s Art Gallery.
Farwell’s wife, Louisa, died at 9 Queens Parade, Bath on the 29th April 1920 aged 76. She was buried adjacent to her husband at the eastern extremity of section B2 in Bathwick Cemetery.