History / History of the House / 1950 to 1969 - Stanley-Clarke to Knowles

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See also: Timeline of events relating to the Stanley-Clarke years | Timeline of events relating to the Woods years | Timeline of events relating to the Knowles years

Earlscliffe Residents 1950 to 1969

Olive Gladys Mary Stanley-Clarke

"Kit" Stanley-Clarke
"Kit" Stanley-Clarke
Olive Stanley Clarke taken in the 1980s
Olive Stanley-Clarke in her garden at Shiel at around 90 years old

Earlscliffe was purchased on the 1st May 1950 by Olive Gladys Mary Stanley-Clarke (née Carroll-Leahy), wife of Brigadier Arthur Christopher Lancelot ("Kit") Stanley-Clarke.

Olive was born in 1896 and was the third daughter of Mr Thomas Joseph Carroll-Leahy and Anne Mary Carroll-Leahy of Woodfort, Mallow, Co. Cork, and grand-daughter of John Harold Barry of Ballyvonare House (also known as Ballinavonear House), Buttevant, Co. Cork. [1] [21]

Kit was born on 30th June 1886 in Brighton, Sussex and went to Winchester College and later Oxford.

He served in the 2nd Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in the 1st World War where he was wounded while in the trenches near Chapigny, on 1st of March, 1915. [14]

He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in December 1916. When he left the 10th Battalion in September 1918 he was awarded the DSO and Bar, the French Legion d'Honneur and the French Croix de Guerre.

Whilst he was stationed in the Curragh in Ireland, Kit became engaged to Olive Carroll-Leahy in February 1931  [1] [14] and they married at St. Peter’s in Eaton Square, London, on June 23rd that year. [2] [14] [20]

Kit later served in the 2nd World War where he commanded the 154th (Argyll and Sutherland) Infantry Brigade until their escape from Dunkirk.

He finally retired from the British Army on 3rd June 1944 after almost 35 years of service. He was awarded the CBE and the Polish Order of the Polonia Restituta, 3rd Class.

When Olive and Kit moved to Earlscliffe in 1950, Kit became heavily involved in hospital work, becoming chairman of Mercers Hospital. [3]  Both Kit and Olive were also enthusiastic gardeners.

"In An Irish Garden" by Sybil Connolly and Helen Dillon

In the book "In An Irish Garden" by Sybil Connolly and Helen Dillon [4], Olive Gladys Stanley-Clarke described Earlscliffe as a "large ugly house" with a neglected garden overrun with Aubrieta and "a hideous mauve Gladiolus".

However, although the Stanley-Clarke's originally had two maids and a gardener, a scarcity of money led them to eventually sell Earlscliffe.

Even though she had a dislike for the Earlscliffe house, Olive still loved the Baily area. So they cut a one and half acre corner of the Earlscliffe land off to build themselves a cottage which they named Shiel.

She used stones from Earlscliffe to build steps down from the cottage to the lawns of Shiel and planted flowering cherries (dug up from Earlscliffe before they had sold the place).  [4]

Kit died at Shiel on Jan 8th 1983, aged 96. At the time of his death he was thought to have been the oldest living English first-class cricketer. [22]

Olive continued to lived in Shiel until she died on January 26 1996 at the age of 100. [5] She is buried with her father and many of the Carroll-Leahy family at Kilpadder, Drommahane, Cork [21] 

Margaret (Peggy) Rosita Woods

Peggy Woods taken outside Earlsciffe in 1961
Peggy Woods in 1961 outside Earlscliffe

After the Stanley-Clarkes moved into Shiel, Earlscliffe was purchased by Margaret (Peggy) Rosita Woods (née Roper), who was married to Dr. Robert Rowan Woods.

Peggy was born in Oct 1911 and came from a family of lawyers. Her grandfather, father and both her brothers were all solicitors.

She had no formal professional qualifications but was talented and interested in the visual arts.  [19]

The Woods moved into Earlscliffe on 31st January 1952. [10] During the time they lived there, Peggy made some radical changes to Earlscliffe House. She lowered the very high Victorian ceilings, moved an original ornate fireplace out of the main living room and replaced it with a more modern 1950s style, and exchanged the three main bay windows that looked over the sea with large plain square windows.[11]

Dr Robert Rowan Woods
Dr Robert Rowan Woods

Her husband, Robert (Bobby) Rowan Woods was born in 1902 in Dublin. His father was Sir Robert Henry Woods, a Trinity graduate and former president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland who was head of the ear, nose and throat department of Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, Lower Grand Canal Street, Dublin 2. Dr. Robert Henry Woods was also a Unionist MP for Dublin from 1918 to 1921 and had been knighted for his contribution to medicine. [6] [7] [8]

Robert Rowan Woods entered Trinity in 1921 to study medicine and had a brilliant academic career, passing his medical examinations in 1926.[9]  He later became a student at Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital and went on to study in Vienna. On his return to Ireland he succeeded his father as head of the ear, nose and throat department in Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, a post he kept for 25 years.

In 1946 Dr Robert Rowan Woods. who had studied in New York, brought back to Ireland a controversial new technique for curing a particular form of deafness. The technique, known as fenestration was successfully used to cure hundreds of so called 'incurable' patients and Dr Woods became a leading expert in this area.  [7] 

Whilst Dr Woods was at Earlscliffe he used to have a surgery in one of the main rooms and treated many patients there.

Peggy subsequently sold Earlscliffe to Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Knowles in May 1961. Sadly, she only lived for another two years and died on September 16, 1963.

Dr. Woods remarried around 1965, but sadly he died on August 20th, 1971. [18]

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Knowles

Andrew Knowles was born in Brailsford in Derbyshire in England on the 17th Feb, 1897. [20] He served in both World Wars and had lost an eye on the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940. He also gained some notoriety as an amateur jockey, riding in the Grand National and getting second place in the Foxhunters' Chase.

Andrew bought Earlscliffe from Olga Knowles on 31st May, 1961 and moved in soon after.

Before moving to Earlscliffe he had lived at Reen-na-Furraha, Sneem, Co.Kerry with his wife, Olga. [15] He was a keen gardener and had brought many plants from Sneem to his new home at Earlscliffe.  [12]

Olga Mabel Knowles, born 12th June 1916, was the second wife of Andrew Knowles. [20] We are not sure when they married, but sadly she became a widow on the 3rd March 1967.

Olga continued to live at Earlscliffe with her mother, Mabel Frances Irene Ryan, who later died on March 27 1968  [13]  and was buried in Kilbarrack, Co. Dublin.

After her Mother's death, Olga put Earlscliffe up for sale in May 1969.  [17]

Olga lived until she was 85 and died in July 2001 in Gloucester in the UK. [20]

Scrollable timeline covering related events

The following links display scrollable timelines related to these residents, showing births, marriages, deaths and major events in their lives and in their home and working environments.

• Timeline of events relating to the Stanley-Clarke years •
• Timeline of events relating to the Woods years •
• Timeline of events relating to the Knowles years • 

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List of Earlscliffe Residents

1844 to 1896 - Bunbury McClintock et al
1896 to 1901 - John Randal Plunkett
1901 to 1922 - John Pentland Mahaffy
1922 to 1930 - CT Ovenden to Dr Webb
1930 to 1945 - Sir John Lumsden
1945 to 1949 - William Martin Murphy
1949 to 1950 - Lily Margaret Graham Gough
1950 to 1969 - Stanley-Clarke to Knowles
1969 to today - David & Muriel Robinson & Foley family
Timeline of Residents in History 

Disclaimer. Parts of the data found in these history pages has been derived from sources currently available on the internet. In researching the previous owners of Earlscliffe, certain assumptions have been made as to the validity of this internet data. If you believe that some of this data is inaccurate, please contact  .


  • [1] Irish Times, February 5, 1931, pg 6
  • [2] Irish Times, June 24, 1931, pg 4
  • [3] Irish Times obituary for A. C. Stanley Clarke, April 12, 1983, pg 9.
  • [4] In An Irish Garden, Sybil Connolly and Helen Dillon, Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Sep 1986), ISBN: 0297789295
  • [5] Irish Times, January 29, 1996, pg 21
  • [6] Taken from the booklet "1711-2011 School of Medicine Trinity College Dublin" found here: http://www.medicine.tcd.ie/tercentenary/assets/pdf/Trinity%20Medicine.pdf
  • [7] Irish Times obituary for Dr. Robert Rowan Woods, August 24, 1971, pg 9.
  • [8] "British Society for the History of ENT - Abstracts from meeting 28th September 2001, City Hospital, Birmingham UK", The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, May 2002, Vol. 116, pp. 404–407
  • [9] Irish Times, Examination results, March 25, 1926, pg 9
  • [10] Title deeds and other legal documents that are currently in the possession of Karen Foley
  • [11] From conversations with Jane Broxham, who lived in Earlscliffe in the 1940s with her parents, William and Norah Martin Murphy. Jane visited Earlscliffe with her husband Patrick on Wednesday 29th April 2009. The Martin Murphy's were good family friends with the Woods.
  • [12] Irish Times obituary for Lt.-Col A. Knowles, March 7, 1967, pg 6.
  • [13] Irish Times, March 29, 1968, pg 24
  • [14] Soldier of the Month, Brigadier Arthur Christopher Lancelot Stanley-Clarke C.B.E. D.S.O as described on the The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) website.
  • [15] The house in Sneem is also sometimes spelled Reen-na-Furragha or Reenafura. It is next to Parknasilla, an old country house that is now a luxury Kerry hotel.
  • [16] Mabel Frances Irene Ryan was buried in Kilbarrack. http://buried.fingal.ie/wp-assets-bif/uploads/register-scans/Kilbarrack_3_048.jpg
  • [17] Notice in the Irish Times dated May 14 1969 states that Earlscliffe was to be auctioned on that day.
  • [18] As noted in https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/156840539/robert-rowan-woods seen 09-Sep-2020
  • [19] From correspondence with Mark Hely Hutchinson on Sept 9th 2020. Mark was married to Margaret Woods, daughter of Peggy & Bobby Woods who owned Earlscliffe in the 1950s..
  • [20] Details found on Ancestry.co.uk.
  • [21] https://historicgraves.com/kilpadder-church/co-kldr-0002/grave seen 13-09-2020
  • [22] Wisden Obituaries in 1983 https://www.espncricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/228585.html seen 13-09-2020

This page was last updated on 06-Dec-2020 .