William Hudson Heaven was a Gloucestershire businessman whose wealth came from the plantations in Jamaica he inherited from his godfather, which were worked by enslaved black people. In 1834 he received £11,711 in government compensation for the emancipation of his slaves. Heaven had always wanted to own an island, and so he bought Lundy for £9,870 as a summer retreat. Even before the deeds were transferred in 1836, he had begun work on the family residence-to-be, The Villa (now known as Millcombe Villa). He had the road up from the beach constructed, began renovation of the farm buildings and built cottages in the castle courtyard for the labourers.
Unfortunately by 1840 Heaven’s finances had taken a downward turn. His attempt to sell the Island had no takers and so Lundy became the family’s permanent home.
In 1863 the newly-formed Lundy Granite Company agreed to lease the Island for an annual rent of £500 plus royalties for the granite quarried.
The family kept possession of their southeast corner and the quarrying company, which employed over 200 men, embarked on an extensive building programme.
However it wasn’t to last. In 1868 the company went into liquidation.
William died in 1883 leaving the heavily-mortgaged estate to his son the Reverend Hudson Grossett Heaven. Hudson struggled manfully with the Island for 33 years until his death in 1916. Hudson’s legacy is the church, St Helen’s, which he had constructed in 1897 following a family bequeathment.
The heir, Walter Charles Hudson Heaven, had borrowed heavily against his valueless inheritance. His creditors soon foreclosed and Lundy was sold in 1917 ending over 80 years of Heaven ownership.
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