Henrietta Melvina Oliver: was born about 1843 and was the third wife of the Raja of Kapurthala (Prince Randhar Singh Bahadur), born 1831. His large and powerful dynasty, founded in the 18th century, was near Lahore (now Pakistan, but then in India).
Henrietta was the eldest daughter of Robert Theodore Hodges who was tutor to the Raja when he was the Prince. She was British by birth. When she married the Raja in 1859, she became a Rani (Ranee) of Kupparthalla. The marriage was a Christian one.
Amongst other children they had a daughter in 1860, Melvina Kaur Sahiba (Princess Melvina Rungheer Singh Ahluwalia). They had another daughter in 1864, Helen Marion Kaur Sahiba (Princess Helen Rundheer Singh Ahluwalia)
Henrietta and the Raja were divorced in 1869. She returned to England with these two daughters who were educated in London. Henrietta then married, in 1871, John Hamer Oliver, MRCS Staff Assistant Surgeon R.A., at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury. John Hamer Oliver died in 1873.
Princess Melvina Kaur married Major Arthur Stronge Gilbert of Kurma Lodge, Kelvedon Hatch in 1883. They were married in Paris.
Some years later Henrietta came, with her other daughter Princess Helen Marion, to live at Kurma Lodge in Kelvedon Hatch.
Princess Helen Marion died of tuberculosis in 1887, aged 23, and is buried here in All Saints’ churchyard as there was no church burial ground in Kelvedon Hatch at that time.
Her mother, Henrietta Melvina Oliver, died in 1893, aged 49. He address is given in the burial register as Kurma Lodge, Kelvedon Hatch. In the margin is written Late (Ranee) of Kupparthalla.
At some point after 1893, the Gilberts moved to Gloucestershire where Arthur died in 1913 (aged 73) and Melvina died in 1919 (aged 60)
Other interesting features to look out for:
- In the outside wall of the church, at the east end, are some good examples of ammonites, coiled marine fossils amongst the flint stones.
- There is also a ‘smiley face’ which seems to be an example of the Victorian builders’ sense of humour!
- At the west end of the church are two sculpted figureheads: Reverend Francis Stewart and his patron, the Bishop of St Albans, Bishop Thomas Claughton, who encouraged the rector throughout the huge restoration project which was completed in 1887.
- It is also worth reading some of the verses that accompany the inscriptions. Here is one that is very sobering, to be found on the headstone of Mrs Sarah Ann Crabbe who died aged 23 in 1847: