The story of George Webb Medley, a.k.a. Mr Sugar Face, (1828-1898) and his wife Maria (‘Molly’) Selous (1839-1919).
A principled, enterprising Victorian, George had the vision, ambition, wealth-creating skills, good sense and good luck, to earn a fortune, investing heavily in their home region near Okehampton in Devon. In following his story, we visit pre-abolition Jamaica, where George spent his childhood; England’s south coast and the Rhine, where he holidayed, keeping entertaining diaries; Simpson’s ‘Grand Cigar Divan’, where he played chess with the best players in the world; the Stock Exchange, during the railway mania, where he made his fortune; the Cobden Society for which he was a respected author on Free Trade.
We meet Molly, her famous artistic forebears and a future Royal Academician sponsored by her. We join the couple home-building and entertaining in Chislehurst, Kent; thence to Devon, with the arrival of the railway – no coincidence - bringing local prosperity and creating a fine Victorian garden at Winsford Tower, now ‘Winsford Walled Garden’ and ‘Anglers’ Paradise’. In George’s memory Molly commissioned the renowned architect Charles Voysey to design Winsford Cottage Hospital, now in restoration by The Landmark Trust, and endowed a George Webb Medley scholarship at Oxford University, benefitting Harold Wilson and many famous economists.
Published by Legini Press, ISBN 978 0 9553311 2 1