Sudbury Estate Clerk of Works – Mr. Agar

When researching former celebrations in Sudbury, one of our volunteers came across this article about the ‘Coming of Age’ celebrations for George William Henry Vernon in September 1875.  It’s a very long, article that goes into great length about the celebrations both in Poynton and Sudbury, with many congratulations and toasts.

In the article, the Clerk Clerk of Works is listed as Mr Agar, who was responsible for the renovation of Sudbury Hall in the early 1870’s.  He made a couple of presentations during the Sudbury celebrations but it never mentions his Christian name.

“We believe that Mr Agar, the clerk of the work being done in the restoration of the hall, has been the chief designer in the decorations (for the Coming of Age) … The hall itself was garnished with flags, beyond which little could be done, from the extensive nature of the alterations in progress.”

So who is Mr.Agar?

After some excellent research and further digging, it was found that his full name is Matthew Agar, born in Fylingdales, Yorkshire 1841. In July 1868 he married Sarah Newton in Whitby and by July 1869 they have had a son, William Newton Agar. However, Sarah died just 3 weeks after the birth of William.

By April 1871 Matthew was lodging in Sudbury at the Robinson’s home on Main Road. His occupation is Building Surveyor and Clerk of Works. In 1873, he marries a Sudbury girl called Rachel Hannah Parrick, daughter of John Parrick, the Parish Clerk. On the All Saints marriage record it states that he is a Clerk of Works for Sudbury Estate. In August 1873 Rachel gave birth to John Parrick Agar.

Matthew’s son William was living with his grandparents in Fylingdales in 1871 but was registered at Sudbury School on 9 Dec 1875. He left at the age of 9 in 1878. This is the last record of the Agar family in Sudbury

But it appears that the Agar family then moved to Hazel Grove at Poynton in Cheshire, another town owned mainly by the Vernon family. It is most likely that Matthew carried on with a couple more building projects for Lord Vernon in Poynton. Matthew’s third and final son, George, was born in Hazel Grove in May 1880.

What did Mr. Agar do next?

By 1881 Matthew was working for Lord Egerton as Clerk of Works for the Tatton Estate for 30 years, during which time he remodelled some of the homesteads on the estate and under his supervision extensive alterations to Tatton Hall were made,  including wiring throughout for the provision of electric lighting.  He also renovated St Mary’s Church at Rostherne, Cheshire in 1888. By 1911 he had retired and was living in Knutsford, aged 70.

He died in Knutsford in 1919. Rachel died in Knutsford in 1935.

A lot of this has come from census, school and church records, but it also leaves a lot of unanswered questions. When Matthew Agar was 20 years old, he was an apprentice cartwright living at Fylingdales near Whitby.  When he was 29 years old, he was the Clerk of Works at Sudbury. In a 9-year period how did he go from being a cartwright to persuading Lord Vernon that he was the right man for the job to completely transform his whole estate? How did he find out there was a vacant position at Sudbury in Derbyshire, 160 miles away? Did he really have the qualifications, or did he just have a vivid imagination and was good at managing other people to achieve the results he wanted? What did he achieve at Tatton Park? Could Matthew Agar have been just a good manager, or did he have real building skills?

Gathered by Local History Research Volunteer – Colin Grave

Image Gallery

Image of Mr Agar
Image of Matthew Agar, Clerk of Works for Sudbury Estate from 1870 onwards
Image of Mr Agar
Matthew Agar, Clerk of Works for Sudbury Estate from 1870 onwards
Family portrait taken 1875
The Agars, Parricks and Ridgways.
This photo was possibly taken at Sudbury around 1875, Left to right William Newton Agar, 1869-1945. Born at Thorpe, near Whitby just 3 weeks before his mother Sarah (Newton) passed away. Attended Lady Vernon’s Boys School at Sudbury from 1875 to 1878. This was probably when the Agars moved to Tatton Park. Matthew Agar, 1841-1919. Born at Fylingdales Whitby, he worked for his uncle Matthew Collinson as a cartwright and moved to Sudbury in 1870 to become Lord Vernon’s clerk of works. John Parrick Agar on his father’s knee. 1873-1898. He dates this photo at 1875. He became a chemist but died at the age of 25 in Epping, Essex. William Ridgway, 1839-1927. Married to May Ann Parrick he was a school master at Staveley, Derbyshire John Nobes Parrick 1809-1888 was originally a sailor on Lord Vernon’s yacht on the Mediterranean and later became the Parish Clerk for Sudbury Sarah Parrick (nee Jackson) 1840-1899 from Sudbury, her husband was George Parrick, son of John. Perhaps George took this photograph.mRachel Agar (nee Parrick) 1850-1935 from Sudbury, daughter of John, second wife of Matthew Agar Mary Anne Ridgway (nee Parrick) 1838-1896, from Sudbury, daughter of John, wife of William Ridgway. William John Parrick Ridgway 1866-1923, born in Staveley, Derbyshire to William and Mary Ridgway. Eventually became the Headmaster of Edgbaston Preparatory School