Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly, Cornwall
Berkhamsted has strong connections with the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago that lies 25 miles (40 km) off the tip of Cornwall. The link is through a prominent and influential local family, the Smith-Dorriens.
In 1842, Augustus Smith (1804-1872) of Ashlyns Hall, Berkhamsted acquired the lease of the Isles of Scilly from the Duchy of Cornwall and styled himself “Lord Proprietor of the Isles of Scilly”. His autocratic management and reform of the islands was often unpopular (he is more fondly remembered in Berkhamsted as the heroic leader in the “Battle of Berkhamsted Common” of 1866).
This began a long family association with the Isles of Scilly. Augustus chose the Island of Tresco to build a new family home, Tresco Abbey, close to the ruins of an ancient monastery, Tresco Priory. He began to lay out ornamental gardens around the home, a project that was continued by his son and grandson who brought in exoctic plant species from around the world. Today, the sub-tropical Tresco Abbey Gardens is a popular visitor attraction in the Isles of Scilly.
Augustus died in 1872 and was buried in the churchyard of St Bunyan’s in Cornwall. His brother, Robert Algernon Smith (who later adopted the name Smith-Dorrien) is buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery.
Augustus was succeeded as Lord Proprietor by Robert Algernon’s eldest son, Thomas Algernon Smith-Dorrien-Smith, who held the position from 1872 until his death in 1918. Thomas’s three younger brothers, Henry, Arthur and Horace remained at the Berkhamsted family home, Harefoot, and are each buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery. The title of Lord Proprietor was then passed to Thomas Algernon’s son, Arthur Algernon Dorrien-Smith. Arthur was the last to hold the position of Lord Proprietor, as the lease on the islands reverted to the Duchy of Cornwall in 1920.
The descendants of Robert Algernon Smith-Dorrien have maintained a presence in the Scilly Isles ever since. After World War I the family sold Haresfooot and left Berkhamsted in favour of the islands. Nevertheless, the Smith-Dorrien name still resonates in Berkhamsted’s history, and memorials to the their forebears can be found in Rectory Lane Cemetery and St Peter’s Parish Church.
Discover the memorials in Rectory Lane Cemetery with historical links to Isles of Scilly
6 burials are found — click on a burial below to find out more: