Joseph Paget

1826 -1896

Joseph was born at Loughborough in 1826, the only surviving son of Charles Paget. He was 2nd eldest of 6 children, Mary the eldest, Lucy and Ann. A younger brother & sister, Charles and Caroline, died in infancy. His mother, Eliza, died in 1834 when Joseph was just 7 years old. He lived at Ruddington Grange until Stuffynwood Hall was built for him in 1857; Joseph was recorded to have held a ’raising the roof’ party there on April 25th of that year. The following year, on the 2nd June 1858, at Saint Alkmund church in Derby, the Dean of Derby conducted the marriage service of his daughter, Helen Elizabeth Abney, aged 20 of Measham Hall, to Joseph Paget, aged 32.

After the death of his father in 1873, Joseph inherited his share in the William Hollins Company in Pleasley Vale, becoming the senior partner, however, the very low incidence of recorded company events that name him, suggests that his involvement was minimal. Joseph was otherwise engaged with the 200 acre Stuffynwood Estate and like his father, was involved in public office as JP and in 1892 was High Sheriff of Derbyshire. Joseph also inherited his father’s estate at Ruddington Grange, which he sold after 1882 to Sir Thomas Birkin, the famous Nottingham lace manufacturer.

In 1862 the Pagets had their only child and sole heir, born at Stuffynwood and named Elsie Maud Abney Paget. The Paget's had close ties with Lichfield Cathedral as Joseph's father in law was the Dean of Derby and later Canon. It was this connection that brought about the marriage of Elsie at just 18 to Hubert Courtney Hodson, 32, proctor, solicitor and Registrar of the Diocese of Lichfield. The marriage in the Paget's private chapel, called St Chad in the grounds of Stuffynwood, was not without controversy though. Rather than repeat the story here, visit my chapter 'St Chads' to read what happened. Briefly though, Joseph Paget felt compelled to move the chapel out of Derbyshire and the Diocese of Lichfield and rebuild on the bank of the river Meden, the county boundary. The chapel was still in the grounds of the Stuffynwood Estate but it was now in Nottinghamshire, the domain of the Diocese of Lincoln.

Elsie and Hubert Hodson had one child, a daughter, born at Stuffynwood Hall in 1881 and christened at St Chads, Elsie Vernon Paget Hodson. Joseph Paget's LW&T reveals that he owned another mansion house and farmland called the Abnalls near Lichfield, which was passed through marriage settlement to his daughter and son-in-law, Hubert Courtney Hodson, the Registrar of the Lichfield Diocese. The 1911 census records the property was occupied by Hubert Hodson, wife Elsie Maud and daughter Elsie Vernon then aged 29 and single. An online source reveals that the medieval property was occupied by Mr Hodson from around the late 1880's and was noted for his kennels of purebred bloodhounds. A thankyou letter sent to Hodson from a visiting vicar in 1894 also reveals that Elsie was farming pigs. "Will you renew my heartiest thanks to Mrs Hodson for her gracious kindness and tell her that her pigs (so exceptionally beautiful)  were the subject of a really brilliant descriptive eulogium from me – yesterday and the day before". Memorials in Lichfield Cathedral reveal that Hubert Hodson died in 1924 and Elsie Maud Abney Hodson died in 1943, remaining at the Abnalls until her death. The property was split up in 1948.

Joseph Paget died at Stuffynwood Hall of cardiac failure during a stress related illness on 21st October 1896, the same year that Shirebrook Colliery was sunk on the edge of the estate. Hubert Hodson was present at his death. Joseph's wife, Helen Elizabeth Paget decided to lease Stuffynwood Hall and move to a more sedate life in Brighton away from the industrial noise that was now in earshot from the newly sunk Shirebrook Colliery. According to the 1911 census she occupied a grand Edwardian terrace property on the sea front with her companion of some considerable years, Georgina Williamson, plus six servants. Helen Paget died in Brighton in 1913. Arthur Markham took the lease in 1898, however, mining subsidence damage began to affect the property. Subsequently, Markham fought through the courts to be released from the contract without financial penalty. Curiously, despite most of the Hall coming under serious subsidence damage, necessitating the total demolition of the main tower, I cannot find any record of there being any compensation from the Shirebrook Colliery Company. Although Joseph Paget was a major landowner in Shirebrook, the colliery site was on land he had sold nearly 20 years earlier to the Midland Railway Company for purposes of building the railway. He had obtained a substantial holding of the company stock through the deal. In 1895, Professor Lupton formed the Shirebrook Colliery Company whose principal shareholders and mineral rights owners were Midland Railway shareholders, however, Joseph Paget was an exception. The siting of the colliery within earshot of his beloved hall evidently brought great stress to him, hence his illness and demise just months after the noisy mechanised operation began. The rapid influx of migrant workers to Shirebrook brought about a housing shortage that resulted in hastily erected huts being used. The 1901 census records huts on the Stuffynwood Estate ocupied by colliery workers' families. Unfortunately, the colliery management did not build houses fast enough, relying heavily on the huts without clean water and sanitation. Consequently, Shirebrook suffered a typhoid epidemic that resulted in the deaths of 150 children in just four years.

In 1873, Joseph inherited the bulk of his father's collection of Italian infuenced art that included paintings, sculptures and furniture. Using Leonard Jack's tour of Stuffynwood Hall in 1881 and Joseph Paget's Last Will & Testament to identify the individual pieces, I have searched the web and found images of 3 of the most famous items. The majority of the collection was left in trust to his wife, Helen, for her lifetime enjoyment, thereafter his daughter, Elsie Maud Abney Hodson and thereafter absolute for her first son or first child.

Marble statue 'Diana Hunting' now displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
by Giovanni Maria Benzoni (1809-73)
Italian (Rome)
Exhibited at the International Exhibition of 1862.
Museum no. 1268-1886

Leonard jacks in 1881 describes it: 'the sculptor executed as a commission for the late Emperor of Russia, at the time of the Crimean War. The statue was not, however, destined to adorn the Imperial Palace. His Majesty was probably too much occupied with the disastrous event in which his country was involved, to indulge in art cravings, and the statue remained in Rome until it was seen by the late Mr. Charles Paget, who purchased it and sent it to England. It now graces the library of an English country gentleman, and is safe from dynamite and the machinations ‘of Nihilism. But the effect of this beautiful figure would hardly have been lost among the splendours of the home of Russian Royalty. It is of more than life size; the superb goddess holds in her shapely fingers an arrow which she has just taken from the quiver; the head is slightly towards the exquisite shoulders, showing a clear cut and perfect profile, when the statue is moved in the certain position ; the drapery is backward-fluttering, and one delicate foot is lifted, suggesting progression and swift movement. It is beautiful as an ornament, perfect as a work of art, and not easily to be forgotten by one who has had an opportunity of studying it for any length of time'

Photograph source:,_by_Giovanni_Maria_Benzoni.jpg

A high-resolution image can be found here:

Marble statue 'Cupid disguised as a shepherd boy' by John Gibson 1790-1866

Place of Creation: Rome, Italy
Overall size : 132.1 x 35.6 cm (52 x 14 in.)

This is one of eight repetitions that Gibson made of Cupid Disguised as a Shepherd Boy, a sculpture he exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1837.

The statue pictured left is owned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

Picture courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Leonard Jacks writes: 'a chaste piece of fine white marble sited in the recess of a large window in the drawing room'. The second recess was filled with an equal sized statue called the 'Pastorilia' by Wolff.






























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