By the community, for the community

The de Lisle Bush family

In 1914, an ominous date for much of Europe, Mr and Mrs George de Lisle Bush, moved in. Like their predecessors, the family had created its wealth through trade and commerce. They had a long background in warehousing in Bristol and in 1874, Alfred George de Lisle Bush was recorded as a warehouseman living in Eastington. The family were prominent Merchant Venturers.

The main hub of their business was a warehouse known aptly as the Bush Warehouse in Bristol Docks. This had been bought in 1846 from Acraman, Bush, Castle & Co. George de Lisle Bush and his brother James Arthur Bush, took over the Bristol warehousing business in 1905. James Arthur Bush was a close friend of the legendary cricketer W G Grace, and attended the latter’s funeral in 1915. George appears to have retired at some point, with James continuing to run the business up to his death around 1926, after which, it passed to his son Reginald Arthur Bush. The company finally ceased trading during the 1960s, with the building later becoming the Arnolfini Centre for Contemporary Arts.

But returning to the fateful year of 1914 and the outbreak of the First World War, a war that was to rob the de Lisle Bush family of two of their sons.

The first was Captain John Stewart de Lisle Bush. Aged only 21, he was George’s youngest son. He was a member of the Somerset Light Infantry and fought in the battles of Marne, Aisne and Ypres, where in 1914, he was severely wounded. Recovering from his injuries, in 1916, he transferred to the fledgling Royal Flying Corp as an observer and pilot. In August 1917, he was killed when the Sopwith biplane he was flying was shot down. He was buried in the Honnechy British Cemetery in France.

The second loss was to come in January 1917, when Hugh Godfrey de Lisle Bush, John’s older brother, died in Torquay of wounds received when fighting at Loos in October 1915. Educated at Eton, Hugh had been commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in 1909 in the 3rd battalion of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars and had gone to France in 1914. In January 1915, he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in action at Givenchy. He was buried in Eastington churchyard.

In August 1920, Brigadier General J E Bush CB unveiled the new Eastington War Memorial Cross. The Rt Reverend Bishop Foddam led the accompanying prayers. Fittingly, the ceremony closed with The Last Post.

In the years between the two world wars, the family continued to support the village.

In 1927, George de Lisle Bush and his wife laid the foundation stones for a new village hall, a cause they had supported financially. This was followed by the grand opening on 26 March 1928 by the Countess Ducie.  George was the Chairman of the village hall organising committee, supported by his wife and son, Claude d’Arcy Stratton de Lisle Bush.

Their  benevolence and generosity extended to the village school, a cause that they remained interested in for many years. As Les Pugh recalled in his book (Les Pugh’s Memories, 2008) each year, they provided gifts for prize giving and a donation on May Day. At Christmas, the school received a large Christmas tree, grown on the Leaze estate. It apparently came with miniature candles in clip-on holders that were lit in the early afternoon on Christmas Eve when the school broke up for two weeks holiday. There was also a present for every pupil. The de Lisle Bushes presented a book to pupils who were top of the class in reading, writing and arithmetic. Even now, after so many years, the de Lisle Bushes are remembered with a degree of fondness from those who attended the school in the 1930s.

From 1936 until 1941, Claude de Lisle Bush was recorded as the house’s occupier - his father and mother had presumable retired elsewhere. Throughout the1930s, Claude was well known in the district for the pack of Basset Hounds that he kept at The Leaze. These were used for hare coursing and looked after by his Master of Hounds, Jack Scarrat. At times, he was assisted by local men Tom Smith and Wilf Hancock. ‘Eastington Park Basset Hounds’ also sponsored an annual dog show (presumably limited to Basset Hounds) that included a special show for puppies. Entries came from far and wide.

Educated at Clifton College and commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1912, Claude had seen action in the First World War. He was wounded at Ypres in 1914 but survived his injuries. Following the war, he was attached to the Kings African Rifles and served for some time in Mombasa, Kenya. Sadly, Claude’s time at The Leaze was to be cut short as he was once again sent to war. In January 1941, he was killed while fighting with the Gloucestershire Regiment. He was buried in Eastington churchyard.

Some years later, in September1955, his widow, Dorothy (now Mrs D J Dunn) presented the church with a new lych gate, in memory of her late husband. The gate had been built entirely by local craftsmen using local materials.

Happily, one of the de Lisle bush family had returned safely from the Second World War. Lt Commander Christopher Godfrey de Lisle Bush had served in the Royal Navy. Educated at the RNC Dartmouth, during this period, he commanded the destroyers HMS Leamington, Newmarket, Hambleton and Farndale. He at least,  escaped unscathed.

From 1941, the occupiers of The Leaze were recorded as being Alfred and Florence de Lisle Bush. However, its days as a private residence were numbered and shortly after the end of the Second World War, around 1946, the house was acquired by Gloucestershire County Council for use as an old people’s care home. It continued with this function until recently(2009), although latterly, in the private sector.   In this guise, the house could accommodate 55 residents in 29 single and 22 shared rooms. So, history has now come full circle, with Eastington Park finding a new lease of life and becoming once again, one of the ‘principal residences’ in the parish.

Stephen Mills

Published in ECN 119  Jan/Feb  2010

The major event to take place in the village was the Eastington and Frocester Show, held annually from the 1920s onwards. All the great and the good of local society were involved in some way with the show’s organisation, presided over by the-now Major Claude de Lisle Bush. Vice presidents at different times also included both his parents. In 1946, the president was Claude’s wife. The family regularly presented silver cups for several horse and horticultural categories. Claude even presented a number of prizes (for children) for the largest number of queen wasps collected! These were to be packed in boxes with glass shade and delivered to the Flower Show Tent on the day of the show. Overall, the show was a major event in the village’s calendar and was regularly covered in some detail in the local press. It extended beyond horses and flowers and included a range of entertainments, music and athletic events. In 1939, perhaps an omen of what was to shortly unfold across Europe, as part of the show, the RAF landed and displayed a Hawker Hurricane fighter.

The History of Eastington Park ( ‘The Leaze’)

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Eastington Park -  Introduction The Hicks family Thomas Marling The Stanton Family The De Lisle Bush Family