The Funeral of Mary Theresa, 13th Lady Petre in 1895

The funeral of the Right Hon. Mary Theresa Lady Petre, widow of William Bernard, 12th Baron Petre, and mother of William Joseph, the 13th Baron Petre, and of Bernard Henry Philip, the 14th and present Baron, whose death we recorded last week, took place on Saturday last in the Mortuary Chapel at Thorndon Park.

Lady Petre was 72 years of age, and was the eldest daughter of the Hon. Charles Thomas Clifford, of Irnharn Hall, Lincolnshire, son of Charles, the 6th Lord Clifford. She was married on September 26, 1843, and lost her husband in the July of 1884. She had been suffering for some time past from repeated attacks of bronchitis. She leaves three sons—the present Lord Petre, the Hon. Philip Benedict Joseph Petre, and the Hon. Joseph Lucius Henry Petre ; and eight daughters—the Countess of Granard ; the Hon. Mrs. Isabella Mary Bretherton, of Fareham ; the Hon. Margaret Mary Petre, a nun ; the Hon. Catherine Mary Lucy Petre, the Hon. Theresa Mary Louisa Petre, a nun ; the Hon. Mary Winifrede Petre, a Sister of Charity ; the Hon. Eleanor Mary Southwell Trafford, of Wroxham Hall; and the Hon. Monica Mary Butler Bowdon, of Lancaster. Nearly all of these were able to be present during Lady Petre’s last illness. Her ladyship, who was conscious to the last, received all the rites of Holy Church.

Although it is some years since the neighbourhood of Thorndon was deprived of the Petre family, by reason of the disastrous fire which broke up their home there, the memory of Lady Petre, as well as that of her noble lord and children, lives fresh and is cherished by both rich and poor. The various charities which were instituted during the residence of her ladyship and her late husband have been maintained by the late (13th) Baron and the present Lord Petre. Nor was her ladyship’s charity confined to the country. In London she instituted, among other things, a creche, or day nursery, for poor little children, in imitation of the same institution in Paris. She took a lively interest in all Catholic philanthropic work and her loss will be severely felt.

From the time of her decease until the coffin was removed from Belmont, Bournemouth, the residence of her ladyship, the body was laid in state in the drawing-room, and masses for the dead were said by the Rev. Father Cooney, of Bournemouth. The remains were removed from Belmont at -5.30 on Friday evening, and were conveyed in a hearse by the 6.40 p.m. train from East Bournemouth to Waterloo station. At Waterloo the hearse was taken from the train, and the remainder of the journey to Thorndon was accomplished by road. The coffin was accompanied from Bournemouth by the Hon. Philip and the Hon. Joseph Petre. Thorndon Hall was reached soon after two o’clock on Saturday morning, and the coffin was placed in the mortuary chapel, a short service being held. Mortuary candles were lighted round the coffin, and during the remainder of the night it was watched by members of the congregation and the nuns at Thorndon.

The remains of her ladyship were enclosed in an elm shell lined with white satin, a second elm case, a lead coffin, and an outer coffin of mahogany, covered with crimson velvet. On the lid was a full length brass cross with steps, the base bearing the following inscription : “Mary Teresa, Lady Petre, widow of William Bernard, 12th Lord Petre, Baron of Writhe, born 1st Septr., 1823, died 31st Decr., 7895. R.I.P.”    A small brass plate at the head bore a similar inscription. The brass medieval handles had a coronet over each. At each corner were brass clasps. The coffin was covered by a black pall, with a white cross, white fleur-de-lys on black border, and the family escutcheon at the head. The Norwich express, leaving London at to o’clock, was stopped at Brentwood on Saturday morning for the convenience of the mourners. Most of the mourners arrived by this train, and were driven over to Thorndon Hall. The funeral service took place in the Mortuary Chapel, which had been enlarged by the erection of a marquee at the entrance. This work was carried out by Messrs. H. and T. C. Godfrey, of Chelmsford. The marquee and the passage leading to it were hung ,with black and white drapery. There was a large attendance of the tenantry and those employed on the estate at the service, which was of a most solemn character. The musical portion was arranged by the Rev. C. J. Moncrieff Smyth, of Warley, and was rendered by the following members of the London Priest Choir : The Revv. G. B. Cox, H. Cafferata, E. Pennington, C. Turner, G. Curtis, J. Butler, E. Smith, and J. Heditch. Requiem Mass was sung by the Right Rev. Mgr. Crook, chaplain at Thorndon Hall. The Rev. Edmund Meyer, of lngatestone Hall, was deacon, and the Rev. Dean T. F. Norris, of Brentwood, was sub-deacon. The master of ceremonies was the Rev. W. H. Cologan, of Lilystone Hall, Stock. After the Requiem, Mass Cardinal Vaughan, who was assisted by the Vicar General .(Canon Barry), gave the Absolution. The coffin was then deposited in its last resting-place between those, of her ladyship’s husband and son.

The family mourners were as follows : Lord Petre, the Hon. Philip Benedict Joseph and Mrs. Petre, the Hoh. Joseph Lucius Henry Petre, the Countess of Granard, Mr. and the Hon. Mrs. Stapleton Bretherton, Mr. E. and the Hon. Mrs. Trafford, Colonel and the Hon. Mrs. Butler Bowden, the Hon. Catherine Mary Lucy Petre, Winifred Lady Howard’ of Glossop, Miss Blanche Petre, the Rev. Augustus Petre, the Rev. John Petre, the Hon. Frederick Petre, Mr. Sebastian H. Petre, the Count de Torre Diaz, and Mr. Philip W. Colley. Among the congregation in the chapel were Colonel Maguire, Colonel Wood, J.P. Captain Digby Neave, J.P., Colonel Disney, Mr. R. J. VValmesley, the Rev. C. Earle (rector of Ingatestone), the Rev. H. J. Tilley (Romford), Mr. J. F. Lescher, J.P., Messrs. F. J. Coverdale (agent), F. Coverdale, C. Gray, and J. Gallagher, from the Thorndon Estate office, Ingatestone ; Mr. E. J. Fooks, solicitor to Lord Peter ; Mr. Philip Witham, solicitor to Lady Petre ; and Mr. W. Walker, steward. There were also present a large number of the tenants of the estate, besides cottagers and workpeople. , Telegrams and letters regretting inability to be present at the funeral were received froth his Grace the Duke of Norfolk, K.G., the Earl of Denbigh, Lord Clifford, Lord Herries, Mr. Edward Petre, the Hon. Mrs. Charles Petre, the Hon. Albert Petre, and the Rev. H. D. Heatley, rector of Ingrave. In accordance with that old Catholic custom at funerals of members of the family, 72 loaves of bread and 72 shillings were afterwards distributed to poor widows of the neighbourhood. We are indebted for much of our report to the columns of The Essex Herald..

The above text was found on p.27, 11th January 1896 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

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