Noel Kinnell 1869 - 1927 

Noel Kinnell was Emsworths biggest benefactor, and served a lifetime on the towns council which provided the municipal buildings still active today, the fire station and museum. Owner of the town brewery, in South Street, he was founding president in 1921 of the Slipper Sailing Club, now the ESSC occupying the former Town Mill. He bequeathed funds to build the sea wall Promenade.


Little is known about him, and his only memorial is the plaque in the Promenade wall opposite the ESSC. It reads: This tablet records the gratitude of the inhabitants of Emsworth to Noel E W Kinnell, Esq, JP, CC, of Seafield. Emsworth for his public spirited generosity in defraying the whole of the

expense ofthe erection ofthis seawall & promenade after the purchase of the Mill Pond in 1925 by the Warblington  Urban  District Council of which he was for 25 years a member & for 6 years chairman.


In the 1890s he served on the new Warblington UDC (established 1895 and named after the parish covering Emsworth). In 1900 the UDC built the North Street municipal offices, with the Post Office following in 1905. The Kinnell and Hartley brewery owned several public houses, including the Coal Exchange and Town Brewery. Kinnell lived in Seafield, the mansion on the west side of the Millpond with land stretching down to the Seafields shore.


Seafield House at the top of Warblington Road was originally a farmhouse. The property was rebuilt in the early 19th century in Mughal” style, with bow walls and windows, wooden lattice and green copper oofed veranda, and conservatory. The owner was Indian army officer Colonel James A’hmuty. Its coach house, formerly linked to the big house by a gravel drive, is now the Envisage dental surgery.The former house frontage and its walled garden is marked by the  high  brick  garden  wall stretching to Lane End (the wall and gate, like the House and Lodge, listed Grade II).


An ESSC history records that, In 1924 he paid for the sea wall, which up till then was a gravel path with rocks on each side, to be constructed in concrete with a tarmac footpath, much as it is today. He also deposited 800 in a local bank to be used in maintenance of the sea wall.  He died at Seafield in 1927, his death certificate recording cause of death as “broncho-pneumonia, gastritis {and} chronic alcoholism. A word of mouth anecdote is that the hardest part of his butlers job was getting him up the cellar stairs after a hard evenings tastings. The house was occupied by the Townsend family before the  last war.    Requisitioned by the Navy during the war, it was occupied

by Wrens. The Townsends sold the house and surrounding land in the 1970s to a local developer who built a dozen houses around what became Kinnell Close. Threatened with demolition, despite being “listed, Seafield was bought by (the late) Charles and Betty Smyth in 197, the latter dying last October aged 101. The former garden was until post-war  years  the  venue  for  the  annual  fete, today the Emsworth Horticultural Show.


Bob Smyth 2019



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