The Carmelite & ch Lion

The Carmelite  Miss Mary BF Hales   -  Owner of champion  Lion - see below at left as well -

Her uncle,  Sir Edward Hales [1757 – 29]  sixth Hales’ baronet  , had married Lucy Darell in 1789, one of the daughters of Henry Darell , Esq of Calehill, near Ashford ; among the other titles possessed by the family were  Earl of Tenterden , Viscount Tunstall and Baron of Elmley .

Their residence was Hales Place which was built partly with stone from St Augustine’ Abbey , containing 135 rooms and  535 feet long . It was named after the original owner , Sir Edward Hales , a friend of king James II [ 1633 – 1701 ] . Hales Place was huge and was described as being more fitting for a monarch than a country gentleman . To give some idea of the size of the place , when it was eventually broken up , there were a total of three million bricks sold [ as a comparison , the 235 foot Bell Harry Tower of Canterbury Cathedral contains a mere half a million bricks ] . The residence was built on the area which is now known as ‘The Terrace’ and had a remarkable view on the City and the Cathedral . The Chapel at the house , which was a superb structure , regularly held Catholic services for over a 100 people out of a total of 300 Catholics in the County at that time .  The house was constructed between 1766 and 1768 but never completely finished by Sir Edward . In fact , the cost of construction of such a large building caused him financial difficulty and gradually other parts of the family estates in Kent were sold off to meet the bills .

There was an indenture , dated 25th November 1788 , to provide for the marriage between the sixth baronet & Lucy Darell and under its terms the elder Sir Edward Hales had sold a considerable proportion of the family property . To discharge his increasing debts , Sir Edward Hales  was ordered to raise a sum not exceeding £72,000 . Edward Hales was to enjoy an income of £1,000 per annum during the lifetime of his father , his intended wife £500 per annum in case she survived him . £6,666 was set aside for the portion of Sir Edward's two younger daughters .

Sixteen years later, because of the enormous sums that had been spent by his father on Hales Place , the last baronet had to sell the St. Augustine’ property . This was done by Act of Parliament and under the direction of the High Court of Chancery ; divided into 32 lots the property was sold during in 1805 . The Kentish Gazette for 17th March 1829, reported the death of Sir Edward Hales , the sixth and last Baronet ~ On Sunday evening the 15th inst. Sir Edward Hales , bart , at Hales Place, St. Stephen's ’. This was the last of the male line of Hales and the estate passed to Edward de Morlaincourt , the son of the late baronet' youngest sister , Mary , and he then assumed the name of Hales .

In the centre ~ Sir Edard Hales of Woodchurch in the County of Kent ceated Baronet 29th June 1611 , the original picture in the collection of James Wadmore , Esq ; at right ~ Sir Edward Hales 6th Baronet , from the original at Sir Edward Hales near Canterbury , published by Edward Jeffery , Pall Mall 1823 . Sir Edward Hales [1569-1654] , 1st Baronet , served in several parliaments, and took part with those that raised the rebellion against King Charles I . He married Deborah heiress of the Harlackendens of Woodchurch .  There is little doubt that this was the man who built the present Hales Place ; his later years were troubled by the behaviour of his grandson , who took up arms at Maidstone against the Government in 1648 , and was compelled to flee the country.  Edward de Morlaincourt had married Edmee Nicolee Felicie Pulcherie de Sercey, the daughter of Admiral the Marquis de Sercey . Edward Hales [ de Morlaincourt ] died on 12th February 1837 at his residence at Passy , near Paris . The Dowager Lady Frances Hales died in 1832 and was buried in the chapel at Hales Place .

The only child of Edward Hales de Morlaincourt and his wife Edmee NF Pulcherie de Sercey who lived to adult age was Mary Barbara Felicity Hales , born at Boulogne on 4th December 1835 . Her mother, Madame Hales, though she resided at Hales Place , felt England to be a place of exile ; the daughter , on the other hand , as she grew up developed a strong affection for this country and an antagonism towards her French relatives . Also, against her mother's wishes, on 6th January 1858, she entered a Carmelite convent at Paris and took simple vows there on 9th May 1859 under the name of Sister Mary Clare .

When the time came for Mary Barbara Felicity Hales to make over her property to the unloved French relatives , encouraged by the lawyer's clerk who came to arrange the signing of the deed , who happened to be an Englishman , she refused . The vital documents were left unsigned .  She was inspired by the numerous conversions occurring , and began to dream of establishing a Carmelite establishment in England . Hearing that the English Carmelites , then at Valognes in the diocese of Coutances were seeking an opportunity to return to their country , either early in 1862 or before then she obtained a transfer .

In March of 1862, having obtained leave from the Bishop of Coutances , she went to England , accompanied by Mother Mary Baptist Pendrell , the prioress and one lay sister , and began building a convent in the extreme north-east section of the Hales Place estate , but it never rose beyond two or three feet of walls , and the chapel was never begun . The difficulties grew greater and greater and debts were incurred . Sister Mary refusing to listen to any of the suggestions of the prioress , eventually dissociated herself from the project .

Thus the attempt to establish a Carmelite foundation in Canterbury ended in disappointment , though Miss Hales' connection with the community lasted until 1868 . Some time after her arrival in England the anomaly of Mary Barbara Felicity Hales' [ Sister Mary Clare ] position as a professed nun in possession of landed wealth was brought to the ears of Bishop Grant [ the one who ordained Henry Van Doorne ]  , as a result of which she received a summons to Rome . She travelled there , not knowing the reason , under the care of Dom. Swithbert Palmer of Ramsgate , a Benedictine monk . The result of the interview with Pius IX was Sister Mary's forced dispensation from the vows of obedience and poverty, but not [at her own request ] from that of chastity . Other high favours were heaped upon her to soften the blow : she was allowed to have permanent reservation of the Blessed Sacrament and a resident chaplain . The small reliquary of silver and crystal , which is used at St Thomas' , Canterbury , when the relic of that saint is venerated , formerly belonged to Miss Hales . At first Miss Hales [ whose fortune was estimated at 300,000 lire ] was assisted in her financial affairs by two trustworthy persons , one of whom was Dr. Harting , the legal adviser of Cardinal Wiseman .

A letter from Bishop Grant is preserved in the archives , advising Miss Hales now to settle down and look after her servants and estate . They divulge nothing of what may be called the abnormal features of the case , beyond the statement that she desired a dispensation from the vows of poverty and obedience owing to scruples arising from the administration of her estate , and also that she was somewhat unstable in quitting one Carmel for another.

Miss Hales returned from Italy accompanied by two or three Benedictine nuns of the Strict Observance , as she still intended to found a convent at Hales Place . They occupied one wing of the mansion but left in 1870 , first to Tenby in Wales and then to Fort Augustus in Scotland .

The census of 1871 indicated that she was comfortably settled back at Hales Place , Hackington [ Canterbury ] describing herself as ‘a landowner of 4434 acres and a farmer of 900 acres employing 14 men and one boy.’  There is in the Southwark archives a note concerning an apostolic visitation held at Hales Place on 15th November 1876 , which was presumably connected with the erecting of the house , which was the novitiate of the monastery established by the monks of Ramsgate on 30th November 1867 at Tenterden . The land on which the novitiate was built was the gift of Miss Hales , who also donated £1,000 at the visitation above mentioned . Neither this foundation nor Tenterden , which had been opened in a house formerly belonging to Lady Chatterton proved permanent .

Generosity to religious causes was probably the cause of Miss Hales' financial undoing as , for example , to the Carmel at Paris and her abortive building undertakings . Her tastes were extravagant and she spent considerable sums on antique furniture and objects of virtu. She was also financially incompetent and probably cheated by some who had business dealings with her . There is a vague tradition concerning an unscrupulous lawyer who one day informed her that she had no more money.

At left ~ Scawfell , b 1874 bred by J Hartley [ch Green’ Monarch x ch Briton’ sis Lupa] , whose great-grandam Hilda was ch Hales’ Lion  litter sis ; at right ~ Alike Miss Aglionby , sister Mary Clary also owned a number of Saint Bernards bred by the famous breeder , Reverend John Cumming-Macdona of West Kirby nearby Birkenhead , namely Hilda [29] out of Hedwig ex Gessler , Hermit [30] out of Hospice ex champion Tell , Thunder [31]  imported from the Hospice and  Hope [32] out of Juno ex Victor . 

Webb’ book about Dogs mentions the following anecdote of Thunder [31] , related by his owner , Miss Hales ~ ‘ He is so exceedingly good-natured , and has so much of the real Mount St. Bernard disposition , that he has been frequently seen saving little chickens , which had fallen into his pan of water [which was very deep] and instead of taking them in his mouth to lift them out , as one would naturally expect , he puts his nose under them out and lifts them out most quietly . ~ He always allows the chickens to help themselves to his food before he takes it himself  , but when he thinks it is time he also should have some , instead of frightening the chickens away , he quietly takes the can by its handle and walks inside his kennel with it .’

A colourful picture is drawn by Miss Lane in her article , based on materials compiled by the late Major Francis Skeet , FSA , over a period of years , of Miss Hales' last year in her ancestral home at Hackington ; ‘ The exiled ex-Carmelite had only her maids , in black dresses and veils , to watch with her in the faithful vigils in the beautiful chapel where the sanctuary lamp burned day and night . A visit she paid about 1882 to the Franciscan convent at Taunton was  accompanied by two Benedictines from Ramsgate , one of whom was Dom John Luck , her confessor; the other seemed to be in charge of her numerous papers .

Her amusements were her dogs which she dearly loved and kept in large numbers , and that exquisite church embroidery which may still be seen in some of the vestments at Taunton  which her growing poverty obliged her to sell . Her release from a life of very peculiar struggles and gallantry came on 18th April 1885 . She died at Sarre Court nr Ramsgate , only 39 years old and in almost abject poverty‘.

Besides her champion Lion  born 1866 & bred by E. Nichols , Miss Hales also owned other highly bred Mastiffs ~ Fabius born 1869 & bred by M.B. Wynn out of Brenda ex Governor’ Faust , Priam born 1871 & bred by Edward Sloane of Manchester out of Sybil ex ch Turk’ brother Knight Templar , Bellona born 1868 & bred by Father J. Rowe [ Rev. Henry Van Doorne’ old friend ] out of ch. King’ sis Nell ex Governor’Prince .

Lukey’ Governor great-grandsired Edgar Hanbury’ champion Queen [drawn by RH Moore] , the dam of Baron Banbury’ famous champion Wolsey , born in 1873 , the year Miss Mary Hales stopped exhibiting her Mastiffs at the shows held under the Kennel Club rules  and Hanbury’ ch Queen [Lindoe’ Druid x Phyllis] & ch Wolsey’ sire ch Rajah [Griffin x Phyllis] got the challenge prizes at the most important show of the North, Birmingham , under the judging of Malcolm Bush Wynn who also judged at Birmingham the next year , once again ch Queen & ch Taurus [ch King ex Phyllis]  . All three were bred by Edgar Hanbury from his brood Phyllis , being out of Phoebe [Governor x Hanbury ch Duchess] sired by Wolf KCSB 2353 [bred by Loftus Leigh Pemberton of Torry Hill , and successively owned by Malcolm Bush Wynn and Charles Bamford of Impington Hall , Cambridge] .

Below - A tale from Chatterbox , a Victorian children story paper founded by Reverend John Erskine Clarke , and perhaps appropriate within the context of this article about the life of a tormented Carmelite .