Robert B. Fenwick

Robert Bloomfield Fenwick

Robert Bloomfield Fenwick was an Irish Protestant, born in 1835 at Wonard Rectory, County Wexford. His father was the Rector of Killineck.  He was educated at S. Columba’s College in Ireland and subsequently at Sherborne.  By 1867 he had moved to Wandle Bank House where he lived for twenty-eight years with his wife Alice and daughters, Dora and Harriet. Alice was the daughter of Harry Pollard Ashby, himself an earnest churchman, benefactor of All Saints’ and member of the Local Board. 

An early map showing the location of Wandle Bank House

As a family they lived comfortably. The household maintained a cook, servant and housemaid in 1891, and no doubt they nurtured good connections both locally and in town. Originally attached to the Bank of England, he resigned in 1874 to take up the management of the Pelton Colliery in County Durham. He was a ship owner and later a Director of the East London Water Works Company and of the Mitcham and Wimbledon Gas Company.   During the years 1889-1895, Fenwick was an Alderman of the Surrey County Council, a Justice of the Peace and founder of the Hubert Road Institute which, despite a chequered and somewhat metamorphic past, still stands opposite the east end of All Saints’, tastefully converted into flats, but alas no longer serving the purpose for which it was originally intended. Robert Fenwick was well liked in Wimbledon and, in common with many gentlemen of the time, supported a myriad of worthwhile causes. For many years Holy Trinity was the sphere of his work – indeed the church was not complete when he became precentor and choirmaster. However, when a separate district was formed for All Saints’, he spared no effort to accomplish what had been a great wish of his life – a permanent church in the Haydons Lane district. In due course he became the first warden of All Saints’ and remained so until his departure from the area in 1895. In his will he left a personal estate worth £69,355.

There is a memorial fountain to Robert Fenwick and Harry Pollard Ashby in Wandle Park which commemorates their pioneering and benevolent work. It is the work of Fritz Roselieb, a gold medallist of the RoyalAcademy, and designer of the Wilfrid Lawson memorial at Cockermouth. It is fashioned in Italian marble, with granite steps and a Portland Stone base. On the top once stood the graceful, classic figure of a water-carrier (alas long gone) but, on the east and west sides, prominent medallions with presentments of Mr. Ashby and Mr. Fenwick respectively, still survive. The unveiling ceremony was performed on June 14th 1911 by Mrs. Charles Maffett, the daughter of Mr. Fenwick and grand-daughter of Mr. Ashby, and the water turned on by Mr. Cuthbert Maffett – Mr. Fenwick’s grandson.

The Rood Screen is dedicated to the memory of Robert Fenwick and the window on the right side of the Sanctuary to Alice Isabel, his wife

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