23 April 2009

Vashti de Montfort Wellborne memorial stained glass window

The west window in St Andrews church, Old Headington, Oxford, has been recently restored following the installation of a new organ (the old organ previously obscured the window). The window dates from 1932 and is by Archibald Nicholson. The story of Vashti de Montfort Wellborne is told here, where it says

Vashti acted with Sir Ben Greet’s Shakespearean company and founded the Barton Academy of Dramatic Art. She was also instrumental in the opening of the Electric Theatre, Oxford’s first cinema, in Walton Street in November 1910.

Detail of the main panes below as well as an overview of the entire window.

Simon de Montfort Vashti, Queen of Persia

West window detail

St Andrews west window



  1. Hallo,

    As one of Vashti’s extended family, may I add a few comments?

    There is a long standing family tradition that the Wellbornes are descended from the youngest son of Simon de Montford, who took his wife’s family name [Wellesbourne]after the Battle of Evesham.

    Certainly the first examples I’ve seen was in the obituaries published in the London newspapers of the day, when Vasti’s great great grandfather died in 1772. Most of those I’ve seen credit Richard Wellborne as having been decended in a “direct male line from Simon de Montford”. All of which would be nice if a grain of corroborating evidence could have been found. I have in my possession a piece of paper, which lists the de Montford family from the middle of the 10th century to about 1450. Then there is a gap of about 300 years, [as I remember] before alighting on the Richard Wellborne already mentioned. From the paper, which to my inexperienced eyes, looks to be from the turn of the 18th. Century, and from the handwriting, all I’ve got are family member who did not write it. Quite what the motive of the person who originally composed the family trees I don’t know.

    On the other hand, should you be privy to information which confirms the family legend, I’d be very glad to hear from you :o)

    From there the saga temporally lapsed until it re-emergences in the middle of the 19th Century. Vashti’s father, Henry Kesterton Wellborne included it in her name Likewise his uncle Charles, a London solicitir, also gave the name to one of his younger children, though quite why I’ve not been able to find out. The Wellborne family had by then split into two factions, one based around Doncaster, and the other in the London Area. Only parents in the London area used the “de Montford” name on successive generations. T

    When name is spelled WELLBORNE its fairly certain that they belong to our family, albeit distantly. Strangely quite a lot of folk have difficulty in spelling the surname correctly, usually adding a “U” between the “o” and “r”. Which can make for problems when researching it. For example my great great grandfather lived the last 60 odd years of his life in Frenchgate in Doncaster,and by coincidence a family called Wellbourne lived some 60 yards down the street.

    Hoping you can find some of this e-mail of use,

    best wishes


    Comment by Harry Wellborne — 18 May 2009 @ 2:11 pm

  2. Thanks for your comments, which got hidden in the blog’s spam filter system for a couple of weeks. I’m glad to correct the spelling to Wellborne. I don’t have any more special knowledge on the family, but there is some more detail on the site linked to in the post above.

    Comment by Howard — 3 June 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  3. I’ve been researching Henry Kesterton Wellborne as I acquired an old battered leather strong box dedicated to him (his name enscribed on the case) & stumbled across your blog. I will be selling it on Ebay (starting at 99p) in case you may be interested.

    Comment by J Hahessy — 13 August 2009 @ 11:28 pm

    • Please help me get in touch with Gillian Hahnessy, thanks H.

      Comment by Harry Wellborne — 9 December 2009 @ 3:55 pm

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