PARKINGTON, Thomas Robert Pearl

1866 - 1942

Thomas Parkington

Thomas Robert Pearl Parkington was born at Ipswich on 22 November 1866, one of the nine children of Thomas Blake Pearl Parkington (1833-12 January 1919), a builder, and his wife Frances Sophia née Bradlaugh (1840-1909). Ipswich born Sir John Gordon Sprigg (1830-1913), Prime Minister of Cape Colony, asked young Thomas to come to South Africa and he spent several years in Swaziland and Transvaal advising on gold mining and milling installations and constructed the first plant in South Africa for treating mill ‘tailings’ with cyanide of potassium. On 1 January 1895 he succeeded to his father's substantial Ipswich builder's business and married at St Peter's Church, Leicester on 2 April 1896, Florence Ellen Barratt, Florence Ellen Parkington and in 1911, a 44-year-old building contractor, living at Leicester House, 1 Bolton Lane, Ipswich with his 40-year-old wife Florence but by 1921 had moved to 7 Northgate Street, Ipswich. An honorary member of the Ipswich Art Club 1929-1941 but does not seem to have exhibited, also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts but his major claim to fame would be his ownership of the Flatford Mill and Willy Lott's House estate which was famously painted by John Constable. In 1926 Thomas purchased a near derelict Flatford Mill and a dilapidated Willy Lott’s House, carried out basic repairs and opened the Flatford Mill as an arts and leisure centre. In the early 1930s he stripped out all the mill machinery and had the iron water wheel removed. In his will, he left both properties to the National Trust but died nominally insolvent when the National Trust had to purchase Flatford Mill from the Receiver, and to help the National Trust out Eric Arnold Roberts Ennion, who was to become the first warden of the Field Studies Council to whom the National Trust later leased Flatford Mill and Will Lott’s House, purchased Haybarn Cottage for £600 from the National Trust to offset the cost of them buying the rest of the estate from Parkington’s widow, however, when Mr Parkingtons' financial affairs were finally resolved, there were a surplus to reimburse the National Trust. The Mill has been leased to the Field Studies Council for courses since 1946. In 1939 Thomas Robert Pearl Parkington was a building contractor living at Pykenham House, 7 Northgate Street, Ipswich with his wife Florence and where he died on 22 June 1942, leaving an estate of £27,000, they had no children.