This charming leather bound Common Prayer book was given to Constance McNicol in May 1872, when she was just 8 years old. Despite its age and now rather shabby appearance you can tell by its soft, velvety worn cover and the fragile pages inside that it has been well used. Constance has placed flowers in between some of the pages, a few still remain hidden inside today and you can see brown outlines where others have left their mark behind.
Constance was born in February 1864 in Calcutta, India. Her 20 year old mother Wilhelmina was from London, and her father Nicol was a Shipbuilder who originated from Greenock in Scotland.
The family sailed to England in the mid 1860’s, and Constance became a big sister to brother Ernest who was born in London in 1866. The family lived in a town house just a short walk from Hyde Park.
Nicol died in May 1872 and perhaps Constance received the book to mark the passing of her father. She certainly placed a flower across the page with the prayer for the ‘Burial of the Dead’ which has stained the paper.
Wilhelmina McNicol married again in 1878, this time to the recently divorced David Sandeman.
Constance herself was married in July 1890 to John Budd, the son of a Copper Merchant. The couple resided with the Budd family at Kingston House in Leatherhead, Surrey for several years until news that a large property, in a tiny rural hamlet in East Sussex, was coming up for auction. The previous owner had paid £13000 for the house ten years earlier but had just gone bankrupt and the Budds were able to purchase Tidebrook Manor for the princely (but bargain) price of £7600 in December 1897.
The couple settled in to their new life in the countryside. They employed many local people, and several of these stayed working for the Budds for the rest of their working lives. This included Thomas and Eleanor Knight who received £200 from Constance’s Will for their long service of over 40 years.
Constance took a great interest in the local church and gave it many gifts during her lifetime. She enjoyed being part of village life, joining several societies and clubs. She was Vice-President of Tidebrooks Womens Institute for a time in the 1920’s.
John also was an active member of the community, he often played the church organ for services and attended local gatherings with his wife.
John Budd died in 1948, and Constance followed in 1950. They share a grave in the peaceful churchyard a few minutes walk from their home.
Shortly before her death, Constance paid for a huge stain glass window to be placed in the church. It reads…The thanksgiving of John Evelyn Budd and Constance Anne his wife in grateful remembrance of 50 years at Tidebrook Manor. 1898-1948.