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Sunbury Military College By Nick Pollard

Sunbury House was a large build- ing standing in spacious grounds between Ford- bridge and Halli- ford Roads. It was leased in 1855 by the Bishop family, who had owned it since 1789, to Cap- tain Auguste Frederic Lendy, a French officer, who, with the assistance of the exiled French Royal


(living nearby in Twickenham) founded a military academy. If the concept of a private military academy sounds strange today, this was a period when military commissions were still bought and sold, and training of officers in the army itself was quite rudimentary, so these establish- ments existed to teach students the necessary skills before taking up their posts. Lendy himself was clearly an expert on the art of military fortification, publishing a book on the subject in 1857. The Comte de Paris (heir to the French throne) and the Duc de Chartres both graduat- ed from the college, as did their sons, Louis Philippe and Henri. Queen Victoria had given sanctuary to the Orleans family after the revo- lution of 1848, and often visited Sunbury House when there were there. Another nota- ble student was Capt. Evelyn Wood (later Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood VC) who trained there before entering Staff College in 1861.

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An old print from the Illustrated London News showing cadets practicing building fortifications in the grounds of the academy

The Practical Mili- tary College flour- ished for many years. Capt Lendy was recorded in the 1861 census as hav- ing 3 professors and 16 students, with 14 servants. In 1871 there were 11 pu- pils, and in 1881 (when Lendy was listed as a retired Major), 14. The two sons of Capt. Lendy unfor- tunately

died whilst on military

service in Africa, and are commemorated on the Lendy memorial, which now takes pride of place in the centre of the Walled Garden in Sunbury village. It was originally sited by the river next to St. Mary’s church, but was de- molished by a bomb in 1940. By 1890 Major General Grant Blunt was in charge of the college, with 10 students, aged 16-20 (the focus had obviously changed with the ending of the purchase of commissions in 1871), but by 1902 the building had become flats. On New Years Eve 1915 the house was largely destroyed by fire, with only the two outer wings surviving. One of these was later demolished, the remaining wing is now called Sunbury House.

The next meeting of the Sunbury and Shepperton Local History Society is on Tues. 19th November at Halliford School, Russell Rd, Shepperton. The subject will be Thomas Wakley, a controversial medical reformer who combined the post of Coro- ner for Middlesex with founding ‘The Lancet’. All welcome, £2 non-members

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