Sir Arthur Hobhouse
Arthur Hobhouse, circa 1922
Arthur Lawrence Hobhouse

15 February 1886
Died20 January 1965 (1965-01-21) (aged 78)
EducationEton College
Alma materSt Andrews University
Trinity College, Cambridge
Occupation(s)solicitor, politician
Known forMP, Chairman, National Parks Committee
SpouseKonradin Huth Jackson
Children5, including Henry Hobhouse and Hermione Hobhouse
Parent(s)Henry Hobhouse
Margaret Heyworth Potter
RelativesStephen Henry Hobhouse (brother)

Sir Arthur Lawrence Hobhouse (15 February 1886 – 20 January 1965) was a long-serving English local government Liberal politician, who is best remembered as the architect of the system of national parks of England and Wales.

Early life

Hobhouse was the son of prominent Liberal politician and MP Henry Hobhouse and the brother of peace activist, prison reformer, and religious writer Stephen Henry Hobhouse.

Arthur Hobhouse was educated at Eton College, St Andrews University and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in Natural Sciences. At Cambridge, he was a Cambridge Apostle and a member of the Cambridge University Liberal Club, becoming Secretary in 1906[1] and was also the lover of John Maynard Keynes and Duncan Grant.[2][3]


Hobhouse practised as a solicitor until the outbreak of World War I, when he joined the British Expeditionary Force. After the War he joined the Claims Commission, dealing with claims against Allied forces in the Abbeville area, and rose to the rank of Staff Captain. Returning to civilian life, Hobhouse took to farming on a family estate Hadspen house and garden in Somerset.

Political career

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Arthur Hobhouse" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2024) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

He stood as Liberal candidate for Wells at the 1922 General Election when he finished a strong second. He was elected Member of Parliament for Wells at the 1923 General Election but lost the seat in 1924. He failed to regain Wells in 1929.[4]

Electoral record

General election 1922: Wells
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Robert Bruford 10,210 47.7
Liberal Arthur Lawrence Hobhouse 7,156 33.4
Labour Leonard Smith 4,048 18.9
Majority 3,054 14.2
Turnout 77.8
Unionist hold Swing
General election 1923: Wells
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Arthur Lawrence Hobhouse 10,818 48.2 +14.8
Unionist Robert Bruford 9,909 44.2 -3.5
Labour Charles Henry Whitlow 1,713 7.6 -11.3
Majority 909 4.0 18.3
Turnout 79.1 +1.3
Liberal gain from Unionist Swing +9.1
General election 1924: Wells
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Rt Hon. Robert Arthur Sanders 12,642 52.6 +8.4
Liberal Arthur Lawrence Hobhouse 8,668 36.1 -12.1
Labour Wilfred Thomas Young 2,726 11.3 +3.7
Majority 16.5 20.5
Turnout 82.2 +3.1
Unionist gain from Liberal Swing +10.2
General election 1929: Wells
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Anthony John Muirhead 13,026 43.6 -9.0
Liberal Arthur Lawrence Hobhouse 12,382 41.4 +5.3
Labour Mrs R D Q Davies 4,472 15.0 +3.7
Majority 644 2.2 -14.3
Turnout 82.5 +0.3
Unionist hold Swing -7.2

Local government

He was elected to Somerset County Council in 1925, became an alderman in 1934, and was chairman of the council from 1940 to 1947.

In 1945 he was appointed by Lewis Silkin, the Minister of Town and Country Planning, to chair the National Parks Committee. The resulting Hobhouse Report was the basis for the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Of the twelve parks it proposed, ten were implemented in the 1950s, while the remaining two, the New Forest and the South Downs, were proposed in 1999 and finally designated in 2005 and 2009, respectively.

Hobhouse was knighted in 1942. Sir Arthur also served as Chairman of the Rural Housing Committee 1942–1947, was pro-chancellor of Bristol University and was both Chairman and President of the County Councils Association (now part of the Local Government Association). For many years he was President of the Open Spaces Society, till his resignation in 1955.

Personal life

In his youth, Hobhouse's affairs were exclusively homosexual. He had long-standing affairs with the Bloomsbury Group members Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, and John Maynard Keynes. Hobhouse was considered extremely desirable in Edwardian gay circles and was the subject of much infighting amongst the men of Bloomsbury.[5]

Hobhouse married Konradin Huth Jackson, daughter of Frederick and Annabel Huth Jackson; they had five children:

Hobhouse's eldest daughter married first Michael Francis Eden later Lord Henley, and secondly Michael King, son of Cecil Harmsworth King. Hobhouse's eldest son, Henry, wrote Seeds of Change: Five Plants That Transformed Mankind. Henry was married three times, and had a daughter, Janet, who died in 1991.[6][7] A younger son, Paul, married Penelope Chichester-Clark.[8]


  1. ^ "Secretaries | Keynes Society". 11 October 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  2. ^ "From Clapham to Bloomsbury: a genealogy of morals, by Gertrude Himmelfarb". Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  3. ^ Holroyd, Michael (1995). Lytton Strachey. Vintage. pp. 108–110.
  4. ^ 'HOBHOUSE, Sir Arthur Lawrence', Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2016; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, April 2014 accessed 18 May 2016
  5. ^ Strachey, Lytton (1994). Michael Holroyd, ed. Lytton Strachey by Himself: A Self-portrait. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-09-945941-5, pp. 101-110, 181-183
  6. ^ "Janet Hobhouse, 42, A Novelist and editor". The New York Times. 4 February 1991. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  7. ^ Vidal, John (10 April 2016). "Henry Hobhouse obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Henry Hobhouse, author – obituary". The Telegraph. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2016.

See also

Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byRobert Bruford Member of Parliament for Wells 19231924 Succeeded byRobert Arthur Sanders