Frank Green

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For the English footballer, see Frank Green (footballer). For the Canadian doctor and politician, see Frank William Green. For the American Olympics shooter, see Franklin Green.
Frank Green
Born 1861
Died 1954
Education Eton College
Alma mater University of Oxford
Occupation Businessman
Parent(s) Sir Edward Green, 1st Baronet
Mary Lycett

Frank Green (1861–1954) was a British industrialist.

Early life[edit]

Frank Green was born in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in 1861. He was the second son of Sir Edward Green, 1st Baronet, a Yorkshire industrialist and Mary Lycett. His elder brother Edward Lycett Green was born in 1860 and would become 2nd Baronet after his father died. The father, Sir Edward was created a baronet for services to politics and was at one time MP for Wakefield. Frank Green's grandfather Edward Green had invented, and patented in 1845, a fuel economiser which was very successful during the 19th and 20th centuries and which made the family fortune. Green was educated at Eton College and then the University of Oxford but he did not graduate. Frank displayed a volatile temper from early on, once for example, striking a tutor with a cricket bat. Whilst his brother's role was to raise the family's social position, Frank assisted his father in the management of the company that had factories in various countries.

Career[edit]

Frank travelled widely on company business and described his journeys in travelogues forwarded to the Wakefield press. He took over the management of the company following his father's death in 1923 and was a formidable employer. His obsession with tidiness and good order would lead him to inspect factory and offices for signs of mess and muddle: a typical response would be for him to empty drawers onto the floor or sweep items off desks with his cane.

The family moved to York in 1888 and lived at Nunthorpe Hall, overlooking York racecourse - they had developed a passion for horse racing and hunting. They purchased land next door to Sandringham and created a hunting lodge (Ken Hill) and a shoot. As hoped, the then Prince of Wales (Bertie) became their first visitor, establishing the Greens' connections to the Prince and his "Marlborough set". Frank purchased three-fifths of a York property adjacent to York Minster in 1897-8 and commissioned architect Temple Lushington Moore to oversee extensive alterations and restoration. Frank called the result "Treasurer's House" and it was a show case for his collection of objets d'art and antique furniture. Frank was an antiquarian and he tried to create 'period rooms' wherein the furniture and artefacts reflected a style or age, for example, a drawing room of the Georgian style; a medieval Great Hall. Frank became an honorary lieutenant colonel of the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons in 1906. He and the Green family were philanthropists in Wakefield, Norfolk (Ken Hill) and York, donating to many causes and public works, including York Minster. Frank was a member of a number of historical and intellectual societies. He would spend his free time travelling around Europe in his Rolls-Royce cars (he had several) for leisure and for purchasing items for his collection.

Frank Green bought a number of properties in York and in other parts of the country - his aim being to restore and renovate. One such property was St William's College in York and Temple Moore restored this also. Frank then sold St William's to the church for the price he paid for it.

Edward Lycett Green used his middle name as a double-barrelled surname, Lycett-Green, in later years. He was Master of the York and Ainsty Hunt and later a successful horse breeder and racehorse owner. Edward and his wife Ethel (née Wilson) achieved notoriety when involved in the 'Royal Baccarat Scandal' publicising their social connections to the Prince of Wales. Despite vilification in the press following the court case, the Greens continued to enjoy Bertie's patronage and no doubt gratitude, as Ethel Lycett-Green's father contributed around £200,000 to the Prince of Wales when he was in debt. Public endorsement of the Greens came when the Prince of Wales, Princess Alexandra and their daughter Princess Victoria actually stayed as Frank Green's guest at Treasurer's House for three days in 1900, around a year before the Prince became King Edward VII.

Collections[edit]

Green was a significant collector although he bought to furnish his houses, rather than for investment. He did not, for example, collect contemporary works. He was also happy to lend or donate items to museums, for example, around 400 items to Wakefield Museum and around 50 items to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He embraced what he called "folk art" including textiles, embroidery, craft work, rather than paintings and his art collection in Treasurer's House is not of huge overall merit. Nevertheless, his collection contains a number of significant pieces and items of interest.

In 1928 Green purchased land in Somerset near Exmoor and decided to move south for his health. He gave Treasurer's House, other York properties and his collection to the National Trust in 1930, thus providing the Trust with its first fully furnished property.

Personal life[edit]

Green never married but he was not reclusive. He loved to entertain and enjoyed especially the company of actors and musicians including Ellen Terry. In York he frequently organised events and society balls, for example the York Bachelors' Ball, and guests would be entertained lavishly. At Treasurer's his footmen would be dressed as bewigged page boys to serve guests from gold plate. He was himself a fastidious dresser, changing his clothes at least three times a day. His trademark outfit was a bowler hat and a hand-tied bow tie but he also favoured frilled shirts and capes. When visiting abroad he purchased examples of national costume.

Frank Green's often ill temper remained with him as he grew older and his strict orders regarding cleanliness and hygiene had to be obeyed to the letter. Staff had to meet exacting standards governed by his personal inspections of the kitchens and other rooms. He was known to visit the kitchens at night, just to check that cutlery was stored correctly. Pieces of coal had to be wrapped individually before putting in the fireplace. His laundry was sent by train to London. Once, when a fly was seen in the kitchen, Frank ordered all food in the house to be immediately destroyed. He is, however, most famous for the metal studs placed in the floor of Treasurer's House to indicate, precisely, where a table or chair leg had to be. He would later threaten to haunt Treasurer's House if any of his collection were moved.

Although he did not have children, he did support and mentor a number of young people, for example Gladys and Joyce Ranicar. Gladys would later marry Frank's great-nephew Simon (later Sir Simon) Lycett-Green.

Green's move to Somerset and the Ashwick estate saw him become active in the local Hunts and other society activities. His last home was Greenways in the village of Dulverton. Frank was instrumental in saving the herd of Exmoor ponies during WW2 and descendents of Simon and Gladys Lycett-Green continue to coordinate their care. To provide for entertainment of the staff, a miniature theatre was constructed in the grounds.

Frank died in 1954 and is buried in the family churchyard at Sandal Magna near Wakefield.

Treasurer's House, York remains in the stewardship of the National Trust.

References[edit]

  • History Research Group (HRG), Treasurer's House, York.