Norton Court and Marling School, Stroud


In March/April 1863 a Thomas Marling of 10 Pittville Parade, Cheltenham, bought Norton Court from the Estate of the deceased previous owner, Elizabeth Frances Webb. 

Members of the Marling family, descendants of William Marling of Stroud, were prominent clothiers in King's Stanley and Stonehouse throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and as a result of their business success the family achieved considerable local importance. William Marling was the founder of the business which was continued largely by his son Samuel Stephens Marling (1810-83), Samuel's children and grandchildren.  Samuel Marling was M.P. for West Gloucestershire, 1868-74, for Stroud, 1875-80 and he was made a baronet in 1882.  His eldest son, William Henry Marling was sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1888 and unsuccessfully contested West Gloucestershire in the 1885 election.  His son, the 3rd baronet, Sir Percival Scrope Marling, had a distinguished military career in Egypt, the Sudan and South Africa.  [See his autobiography, Rifleman and Hussar (1931)].  Sir Percival's nephew, Sir John Marling, succeeded to the baronetcy.

The Thomas Marling that had acquired Norton Court in 1863 was born in November 1803, one of the six children of William Marling and Sarah nee Hillman and brother of Samuel Stephens Marling.  It was Samuel who was responsible for the founding of Marling School in 1887 through the grant of £10000 towards the building of the school in 1882, shortly before his death.  The roots of Marling School go much further back than 1887, however, for it inherited, amongst others, the endowments of the Red Coat School which was founded in Stroud in 1642 by Thomas Webb.  Could he have been one of the Webb family of Norton Court providing a second link between the two ?  The left hand side of the Marling School shield contains the Marling family crest while the right hand side relates to the marriage of Samuel Stephens Marling to Margaret Williams Cartwright of Devizes.

Thomas J P Marling married Maria Louisa Overbury in April 1839 at St Mary’s, Cheltenham.

Maria died in 1858 and Thomas remarried Catherine Anne Playne at Minchinhampton in 1862.  The Playne family were equally big in the textiles industries of the Stroud family being associated with Dunkirk and Longfords Mills amongst others.  Having moved into Norton Court, The Times newspaper of 9th November 1863 announced; “Births.  On the 5th inst at Norton Court near Gloucester the wife of Thomas Marling Esq of a son and heir”.  This was their son William Playne Marling.  The sale of Norton Court in July 1864 talks about the severe domestic bereavement of Thomas Marling being one of the causes of the sale but I cannot find who had died.

Thomas J P Marling himself died in November 1879.  Son William Playne Marling became a Captain in the 4th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment and died single in September 1895.

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