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Cloudlands, St Agnes Lane, Torquay, Devon TQ2 6QD
Tel: 01803 606550  Email: info@cloudlands.co.uk

Cloudlands - South Devon Centre of the Order of the Temple...

The building of Cloudlands was completed in the early 1880s. The property is first mentioned in the 'Torquay Directory' in 1882. The adjoining half of the building (The Cresta) has a date in stone 1881-1886 over the main entrance.

In July 1882 "Cloudlands" was recorded as being uninhabited, but on 1 November 1882 the 'Torquay Directory' recorded entry read - "Principals of the Order of the Temple - Staff in attendance", and in 1883 the entry read - "Principals, South Devon Centre - Order of the Temple". The recorded occupants were the Countess Marie Borel, from Honfleur, France, and her son Prince Baptiste St John Borel.

(The British Census of 1881 records Marie Borel dwelling at St Michael's, Heene, Sussex as Head, occ. Countess, Widow, age 51, birthplace Honfleur, France. Living with Baptiste St John Borel, son, occ. Prince, age 23, born in Cilgeran, Pembroke, Wales, and with Alice Knight, sister and personal assistant.)

In April 1885 there is mention in the 'Torquay Directory' of Marie Borel and Mr Borel Northlew's departure to Northlew Manor. Northlew is in North Devon, but we are unsure what the connection is with the son's name and the manor. Later in 1885 on the 26th of August they had returned to Cloudlands.

In the diaries of Georgina Cowper-Temple, the second wife of William Francis Cowper-Temple (Lord Mount Temple) who lived at Babbacombe Cliff, there are references to Marie Borel, Countess Borel, and her adopted son, Prince Baptiste St John Borel, also known as 'Mr Northlew'. According to the material in the Cowper-Temple papers in the Broadlands Records at the University of Southampton, Borel believed this boy to be some sort of mystical child - she seems to have been a spiritualist. The Cloudlands address also appears in Georgina's diaries. An associate of Georgina who knew Mme Borel considered her to be mad - she thought she was the 'woman clothed with the sun' who was to bear the child to rule the world with a rod of iron.

We understand that the 'Temple' could possibly be something to do with some esoteric/mystical form of Christianity, and the one referred to in a letter from the Mount Temples' friend the American Hannah Whitall Smith (a famous Quaker), in the 1880s.

The last record we have found for the Countess and Mr A Borel Northlew was in 1890. In 1891 Cloudlands was 'uninhabited' according to the 1891 census of Cockington (Civil & Eccleciastical Parish). At which time the Countess and her son are listed as living at No.1 Prospect Terrace St Mary Church, Torquay.

On the BBC website there is a page regarding local legends which refers to the 19th century Order of the Temple -


In 1892 a Miss Jane Bannerman, from Roden Hall in Shropshire, took up residence at Cloudlands with her sister and three of her servants.

As featured on Torbay Connected. Torbay Council is developing an interesting new project, entitled ‘Torbay Connected,’ which aims to communicate the rich cultural, social and historical information about significant places across the Bay.

cloudlands history