When researching former celebrations in Sudbury, one of our volunteers came across this article about the ‘Coming of Age’ celebrations for George William Henry Vernon in September 1875.  It’s a very long, article that goes into great length about the celebrations both in Poynton and Sudbury, with many congratulations and toasts.

In the article, the Clerk Clerk of Works is listed as Mr Agar, who was responsible for the renovation of Sudbury Hall in the early 1870’s.  He made a couple of presentations during the Sudbury celebrations but it never mentions his Christian name.

“We believe that Mr Agar, the clerk of the work being done in the restoration of the hall, has been the chief designer in the decorations (for the Coming of Age) … The hall itself was garnished with flags, beyond which little could be done, from the extensive nature of the alterations in progress.”

After some excellent research and further digging, it was found that his full name is Matthew Agar, born in Fylingdales, Yorkshire 1841. In July 1868 he married Sarah Newton in Whitby and by July 1869 they have had a son, William Newton Agar. However, Sarah died just 3 weeks after the birth of William.

By April 1871 Matthew was lodging in Sudbury at the Robinson’s home on Main Road. His occupation is Building Surveyor and Clerk of Works. In 1873, he marries a Sudbury girl called Rachel Hannah Parrick, daughter of John Parrick, the Parish Clerk. On the All Saints marriage record it states that he is a Clerk of Works for Sudbury Estate. In August 1873 Rachel gave birth to John Parrick Agar.

Matthew’s son William was living with his grandparents in Fylingdales in 1871 but was registered at Sudbury School on 9 Dec 1875. He left at the age of 9 in 1878. This is the last record of the Agar family in Sudbury

By 1881 Matthew was working for Lord Egerton as Clerk of Works for the Tatton Estate for 30 years, and he also renovated St Mary’s Church at Rostherne, Cheshire in 1888. By 1911 he had retired and was living in Knutsford, aged 70.

He died in Knutsford in 1919. Rachel died in Knutsford in 1935.

A lot of this has come from census, school and church records, but it also leave a lot of unanswered questions. When Matthew Agar was 20 years old he was an apprentice cartwright living at Fylingdales near Whitby.  When he was 29 years old he was the Clerk of Works at Sudbury. In a 9 year period how did he go from being a cartwright to persuading Lord Vernon that he was the right man for the job to completely transform his whole estate? How did he find out there was a vacant position at Sudbury in Derbyshire, 160 miles away? Did he really have the qualifications or did he just have a vivid imagination and was good at managing other people to achieve the results he wanted? What did he achieve at Tatton Park? Could Matthew Agar have been just a good manager, or did he have real building skills?

Gathered by Local History Research Volunteer – Colin Grave