His letters show that he enjoyed living at Eden farm. He writes in August 1794 “I visit the small works going forward on my farm and in the neighbourhood. I pursue a disjointed sort of reading in the library.
I ride, walk and swing with my daughters and I play at skittles, pick fruit and take wasp nests with my sons. I act as coachman when Lady Auckland goes out in the phaeton. Our four girls are growing into tall young women and are pleasant companions to us. ”
On June 26 1799, William and Eleanor Eden gave a ball to celebrate the marriage of their eldest daughter Eleanor with the widower Lord Hobart on 1st June. Previously Eleanor had been the love of William Pitt’s life but he was in debt at the time and nearly 20 years older. Marriage was deemed unsuitable. Less than a year later, Charlotte married Lord Godolphin. Three of the girls married in 1806, Caroline to Arthur Vansittart , Catherine to Nicholas Vansittart and Mary Louisa to Andrew Wedderburn Colvile (he became Colvile by Royal Licence 22. 6. 1814). Mary Dulcibella waited until 1819 to marry Charles Drummond and the remaining two girls, Emily and Frances, set up house with their unmarried brother George.
1810 was a sad year for the Edens when their eldest son, William Frederick Elliot, drowned in the Thames and Catherine Vansittart died in August.
Only one of the boys had children to carry on the name of the Eden but Charlotte, Caroline, Mary Dulcibella and Mary Louisa each had a large number of children, especially Louisa Colville, who had seventeen. Morton had died at the age of 27 in 1821 but Robert John became Bishop of Bath and Wells and had at least seven children with Mary Hurt. He succeeded as the third Lord Auckland on the death of his brother George. William, first Lord Auckland died in 1814 followed by his wife in 1818. The family left Eden farm and never returned.
George arranged to lease the farm to a widow, Mrs Wildman, for seven years at £600 per year but the death of Peter Burrell in 1820 led to the auction of most of his land. Eden farm was Lot 21 and covered over 300 acres. If we think of the farm in terms of the road layout of today, the mansion was in Crease Park with access by a woodland ride along the ridge where Village Way runs today. One of its lodges was somewhere near the top of Kelsey Way with meadows stretching away on either side. Fields belonging to the farm went down to the Chinese roundabout and a short way along South Eden Park Rd although not including the Harvington playing fields. The farm occupied all today’s housing estate down to Croydon Road where there was a second lodge at Elmers End. Fields extended on the south side of Upper Elmers End Road to Monks Orchard.
In the 1920 Monks Orchard sale, the farm called Eden Park farm was situated at the end of Stanhope Grove with a frontage of 700 feet on Upper Elmers End Rd. This was the farmhouse, garden and homestead listed in the 1820 Burrell sale of Eden farm as number 102 on the sale map. The mansion was not called Eden Park until about 1838 when it was shown thus in the 1838 tithe map although the 1820 sales map shows the farm’s parkland as Eden Park.
The education of the fourteen children was the responsibility of Mrs Eden who left a detailed diary of their upbringing. In it she says that eleven of the children had smallpox during their wanderings also whooping cough, measles and scarlet fever. Mrs Eden became known as Haughty Nell and her nursery was described as the Brattery, the Light Infantry and a little Parisians. Of the children, we know most about George and Emily. George became the Second Lord Auckland on the death of his father in 1814. By 1840, the name AUCKLAND was used for the New Zealand City because George had been friend and mentor of the Governor.
Emily’s correspondence with her sister Eleanor started when she was 17 and later included her friends, Theresa Villiers and especially Pamela Fitzgerald Campbell, leaving a priceless record of the social life of the time. Her great niece Violet Dickinson, granddaughter of Emily’s brother Robert, edited her letters. Emily was keen Whig politician, clever, amusing, critical and a loyal friend to her brothers and sisters.
Letters were written from Eden farm until she left in 1818 to set up house with George and Fanny in Grosvenor Street. Later she wrote from Park Lodge, Greenwich, their home outside London and then from the Admiralty when George was promoted. She wrote from Langley Farm when visiting her sister Louisa Colville and from Eastcombe, Greenwich, the home of her eldest sister Eleanor, who was known as Lady Bucks.
George and his two sisters had to give up their own homes at Grosvenor St and Greenwich when he was promoted to the Admiralty but they rented a small villa at Ham Common to give the sisters some privacy. Then, upon return from India in 1842, they resettled at Eden Lodge in Kensington Gore. Emily also had a cottage at Broadstairs where she spent most of her time after George’s death.
Visits further field were made to her youngest brother Bob at Eyam and Hertingfordbury, to Lord and Lady Bath at Longleat and to The Grange in Hampshire belonging to Alexander Baring, also Bowood, Stackpole, Woburn and Chatsworth. Her sister Sarah with her husband Lord Godolphin lived at Bigods, Essex. Emily’s astute observation of social class is shown in her two novels, “The semi-detached couple” and “The semi-detached house “where she shows herself to be a second Jane Austen.