Hunt Stapyton Dudly Lydston Newman, became the D.C.C.A.'s third President in
the time he was the Conservative M.P. for Exeter, and it was quite usual for
many of the city's societies to invite a local dignitary to head their
organisation in order to give it added kudos. After all, the Association's
first President in 1901 had been the then M.P., Sir Edgar Vincent, whose
connection only ceased when he lost his seat in the 1905 election. The
self-interest was mutual, as it suited the sitting member to be so involved
in city life as it brought him into contact with the electorate, limited
though it was at that time.
the Association's second President, Edward J. Winter-Wood, died unexpectedly
in 1920, Sir Robert Newman was approached and readily agreed. There is no
record of any chess activity on his part, but he must have been interested
in the game as he remained in post for at least 15 years. Henry Lewis
Bowles, who had lived and played chess in Exeter in the early 1870s recalled
the names of several players he had met, and one of them was a Newman. This
could not have been Robert, of course, but could have been his father,
indicating an interest within the family.
been born in London in 1871, the son of Sir Lydston Newman, but the family
home was the Mamhead estate, situated between Dawlish and the Haldon Hills,
overlooking the Exe estuary. It was one of the finest country seats in the
county, the estate having been purchased in 1823 by Robert W. Newman, who
had made his fortune as a Dartmouth merchant, and who himself became MP for
Exeter. He had a new house built on the Mamhead estate, designed by Anthony
Savin, which still stands today.
Robert succeeded to his father's Baronetcy in 1892, and was elected to
Parliament in 1918, in which capacity he served the city until 1929.
Although a Conservative, he moved increasingly to the left on the political
spectrum in the wake of the General Strike and the Depression that followed,
until in 1929 he stood as an independent against the official Conservative
candidate. Such was his popularity in the city that he was re-elected and
stayed in the Commons until 1931, when he was "kicked upstairs" to
the house of Lords, taking the title Lord Mamhead.
was a small, thin man, quiet and reserved, but also described by a friend as
a man of strong character, independent views, sincere convictions and a
delightful modesty. He was a devout Anglo-Catholic, and one of his
housemaids recalled that each and every morning, after eating a boiled egg
for breakfast and smoking his only cigarette of the day, he would walk to
the local church to take Communion.
first winners were:-
Mamhead died in 1945 at the age of 74.
In 1954 the estate was auctioned off, and Mamhead House became a
Christian centre. In 1963 all the house's furniture and fittings were sold
off, and it became a boys' school. It is now owned by the Rockeagle property
company, and several small businesses have their headquarters there.
the moment, it is not clear whether the donation of the cup marked the end
of Mamhead's presidency - a sort of parting gift -
or whether he stayed in office until the time of his death. If the
latter, he would have been Devon's President for a quarter of a century, and
even if there is no evidence of his playing strength or activity, his
longevity in office at a time of consolidation for the Association makes him
eligible for inclusion in this list of Pioneers.
C: Men of the
Who In Devonshire Wilson & Philips 1934
K & Williams J: Memories of
Mamhead & Ashcombe 1999
I. S: Devon Trophy