Alexander Marshall Lodge (aka Alec) was the third son (of six sons and six daughters) of Sir Oliver Lodge, British Physicist and noted inventor, and the first Principal of the new University of Birmingham at Edgbaston.
As did two other brothers, Lionel and Noel, Alec and his older brother Brodie eventually went into business using some of their father’s inventions. They created the ‘Lodge Plug Company’, based at Rugby, manufacturing spark plugs for cars and planes.
Alec settled in Lillington where he built Brampton, a substantial house and garden on the large plot at the junction of Lillington Road and Church Lane, Lillington, an almost identical copy of the family home at Edgbaston.
Alec never married. He lived alone with a housekeeper and other servants, at Brampton and at The Island, Newquay, but was not a recluse. He was a member of Newquay Lawn Tennis Club, Vice-President of Lillington Men’s Club, a member of Beauchamp Gardens Lawn Tennis Club and Beaufort Badminton Club, – and built the Badminton Hall on Lillington Road not long before his death of pneumonia in 1938.
For many years, Brampton stood alone in extensive grounds adjoining the field below St Mary Magdalene’s churchyard, and extending from Midland Oak Park to Elm Bank Close. Alec was known to be keen on preserving open spaces at Lillington, and accordingly planted trees, – poplars and hawthorns were favourites, and was only persuaded to sell a portion of his land when the church needed to extend the graveyard. As part of the sale, he stipulated that the last plot nearest his house and closest to Church Lane was to be kept for him. It is said that he wished to ensure that Church Lane could thus never be widened to accommodate the products of the car industry that he and his brother had done so much to foster! There are numerous apocryphal stories about Alec Lodge and his slightly eccentric attention to detail. When Leamington History Group member Peter Chater was a young apprentice, he was one of the workmen employed to paint the outside of Brampton, including gates and perimeter fences. When the work was complete, Peter was sent to report at the house. He was instructed to wait, whereupon, out came Alec Lodge, with a mirror fixed to a long stick, which he used to inspect the undersides of the railings round his property, to check that the work had been properly carried out. Not very surprising then, that Alec Lodge left a considerable sum when he died: just over £300,000, – well over £13 million in today’s money. He left generous bequests to his servants, and the residue of his estate to his brothers and sisters and their families.
Sir Oliver and Mrs Lodge had become well-known Spiritualists after the death of their son Raymond in WW1, and Alec’s headstone reflects this. It shows a fine carving of a phoenix rising from the flames, a symbol of the belief held by all the Lodge family that they would remain in communication even after death.
This article appeared in a shorter form in the recent “Churchyard Walk” booklet tracing the stories behind some of the interesting headstones in Lillington Parish Churchyard.