Chequers, link with YPS
Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country retreat in Buckinghamshire, once belonged to a member of YPS!
The country house to which Theresa May summoned her inner cabinet on Thursday 22 February to discuss Britain’s future relationship with the EU was once the property of Sir Robert Frankland Russell, 7th Baronet Frankland of Thirkleby Park, near Thirsk. Sir Robert, who succeeded his father Sir Thomas, the 6th Baronet and an eminent botanist, in 1831, was a member of YPS from 1838 until his death in 1849. He had inherited Chequers Court, as it was then called, a house of Elizabethan origin, from a branch of the Russell family, whose illustrious name he then added to his own. He had five daughters but no sons, so on his death he was succeeded to the baronetcy by a cousin.
Whilst his eldest surviving daughter, Emily Anne, took the Frankland family seat, Thirkleby Hall – her husband Sir William Gallwey, Bart, was an MP and became Deputy Lieutenant for the North Riding – his youngest daughter, Rosalind Alicia, who married Lt-Col Francis L’Estrange Astley, lived at Chequers Court. As it happens, at the time of the 1881 census, Emily was staying there with her sister. After Rosalind’s death the Astleys sold Chequers to one Arthur Lee and his American heiress wife Ruth, who in 1917 gave it to the nation to be used as a country home by the serving Prime Minister of the day. Thus its future and its fame were secured.
Sadly, however, the likely heir to Thirkleby Hall was killed in the first world war and the fine mansion by James Wyatt, dating from 1790, unsold at auction, was demolished in 1927. The entrance archway and gatehouse to Thirkleby Park survived and can still be seen on the A19 approaching Thirsk. A caravan park now operates within the grounds.