Skisdon at St. Kew in Cornwall
The Ancestral Home of Mary Elizabeth Braddon and the Braddon Family
Jennifer Carnell

One of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's regrets was that she had not been born at Skisdon, the home of her grandmother Sarah Braddon, at St. Kew in Cornwall. Had she been born two days earlier she would have been, but her mother Fanny gave birth in London on 4 October 1835 after an uncomfortable stage coach journey of two days. Her father Henry had been born at Skisdon, as had his brothers and sisters. The house had once belonged to Major William Clode and then to his sister Sarah Braddon and her husband Henry Braddon.

Braddon went on her first visit to Skisdon as a young child and where her grandmother was still living at nearly ninety years of age. Skisdon was an exciting place for a child, and Braddon admired the gardens, dairy and brewery. Her uncle, John Braddon, was a solicitor in the area, and a keen angler and also at Skisdon Braddon met and admired her cousins Annie and Maria, the daughters of William Braddon.

Many years later Braddon became the owner of Skisdon, but she never lived there and eventually sold it to a cousin. She was always proud of her Cornish ancestry and many of her novels use Cornish settings and surnames.

An early picture of Skisdon, showing a woman and two children on the lawn.

Bibliography and Recommended Reading:
Jennifer Carnell, The Literary Lives of Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Sensation Press, 2000). (The text above is adapted from a section in the biography.)
Robert Lee Wolff, Sensational Victorian: The Life and Fiction of Mary Elizabeth Braddon (New York: Garland, 1979).

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