In this section, when we write about “Berry Lane” we refer only to the section of road from Fox Corner to The Bagshot Road. The road further east towards Bridley is covered under the “Bridley” section. In some earlier times Berry Lane was referred to as “Bridley Manor Road”. It is not clear when it became known as Berry Lane.
A stroll down this section of Berry Lane is always a pleasant experience: a leafy street, usually zero traffic, attractive houses, well-kept gardens, the occasional dog or cat, the sight of happy chickens, and a friendly nod from one of the residents if you’re lucky. A casual observer would notice that Malthouse Cottages, Rose Cottage and Laburnham Cottage are clearly older than the others, but otherwise the houses look relatively homogenous. Even a second, or third, look would show little else.
This homogeneity disguises a complex history, which has been tricky to unpick. But thanks to some deeds held by Iain Wakeford at https://wokinghistory.org/, and several contributions from local residents (gently teased out by Ron Wallace), we can describe the history of the area in some detail.
In fact until 1900, both sides of Berry Lane were indeed homogenous – they were under common ownership (owned by the Lord of Bridley Manor). But shortly afterwards the actions of a certain criminal solicitor caused the breakup of some of the Bridley estate, and the land alongside Berry Lane was acquired by no fewer than 5 different purchasers. As a result, development over the next 70 years was fragmented, although certain restrictive covenants ensured some consistency by requiring a minimum distance between any building and the road, and restricting the number of dwellings on any plot. Curiously, we have the dodgy solicitor to thank for these covenants.
Until 1950 only 6 houses stood on Berry Lane, but a building frenzy in the years 1953 to 1971 added a further 8 houses, and that is the position today. We have shown the current Surrey CC map (with grateful thanks to Surrey CC) of Berry Lane below. In reality Berry Lane follows a SW-NE direction, but we have rotated it so that it’s easier to follow. It’s also worth pointing out that two of the house names have been shortened: “lbrow” is Hillbrow and “Re” is Red Brae.
One other big impact on Berry Lane should be mentioned: The closure to traffic of the exit to the Bagshot Road in the 1980’s. And so we ended up with our quiet leafy street. Below is the fuller version of all this.....
The years to 1900
The earliest information we have on “Berry Lane” is from the 1841 Tithe Map, on which Berry Lane is marked as a track from Fox Corner to Mayford. The land on either side of the track was waste, probably open heathland, owned by Bridley Manor.
We have copied below part of a plan of Bridley Manor from 1857. The land either side of Berry Lane is now cultivated, but there is not much else in the immediate vicinity: Ostend, Rickford Malthouse and its barns, but not much else apart from fields. The sharp-eyed may also have spotted that there is a pond where Crosswinds is today.
Nothing much changed until the 1870’s (or 1880’s), when Malthouse Cottages were built on land still owned by Bridley Manor, for the use of some of the employees of the manor.
The Bridley Manor estate was put up for sale in July 1888, on the death of Major William Ewing, the owner. Major Ewing was a retired major, who died in the Hotel Continental, Paris on 22 April 1888 with a personal estate of £246,000 (worth around £20 million today). He came from a distinguished family, as described in the section dealing with Bridley Manor.
A detailed plan was drawn to support the 1888 sale, of which the southern section is shown below. The Bridley Estate was divided into 6 lots in the sale. Lot 1 (coloured pink) was by far the largest lot, and only the south western corner of it is shown below.
There are some interesting features in this section of the plan:
Thanks to the acquisitive nature of Major Ewing, the Bridley estate included small amounts of property situated in Worplesdon and Pirbright parishes, as well of course as Woking.
The large pink building on the map, marked as “The Malthouse” was the centre of Malthouse Farm, a part of the Bridley estate which comprised 129 acres and included Ostend. Field 1242 and other fields stretched all the way north as far as (but not including) the present-day Worplesdon golf course. Malthouse Farm included all of what is now Lawford’s Hill Road (and Lawford’s Hill Close) and The Fairway. Field 1246a comprised 13 acres of fruit trees – that’s a lot of fruit trees!
Malthouse Farm also included the triangle of land shaded pink, numbered 462a and 462b in Pirbright stretching from the Fox Corner roundabout (as it now is) up to Hoad’s Fields (which is shown as belonging to “Halsey Esq”, who was the Lord of Pirbright Manor). Today this land is filled with housing, including (most of) Malthouse Lane, the east side of Heath Mill Lane and part of Berry Lane. But back in 1888, all this land appears to have been under cultivation as part of the farm.
Thus, in 1888, Bridley Manor owned all of the land immediately surrounding the current Fox Corner roundabout, and 3 of the 4 quadrants surrounding Fox Corner itself. It’s a rare example of a Woking resident investing in Pirbright property.
Lot 1 was purchased in 1888 by one Richard Charles Garton, who therefore became the next Lord of Bridley Manor. Malthouse Farm remained within the overall Bridley estate, and Berry Lane continued to form part of Malthouse Farm.
Richard Garton was born in Bedminster, Bristol in 1857, and his full story is told in the Bridley Manor section. In brief, he was the son of William Garton, who had built up a very successful brewing business which also refined sugar, mainly for the brewing industry. Richard was the eldest of William’s children to survive into adulthood.
In 1888, Richard was working in his father’s business, running the sugar-refining operations. He must have been a persuasive fellow as he managed to convince his father to give (or lend) him a tidy sum to buy his share of the Bridley Estate, and to round that off, he also bought Worplesdon Place. [When William died in 1905, he left a fortune of £540,000 (worth £70 million today), so I think it is safe to say that he could have afforded all this comfortably.]
Richard stood for Parliament (unsuccessfully) in 1900 and was knighted in 1908. After a series of takeovers, the family business was acquired by the well-known brewers, Watney, Combe, Reid & Co Ltd in 1933. Sir Richard was appointed deputy chairman of Watney, Combe, Reid & Co Ltd, but died the following year, aged 76. He left a fortune of £2.6 million (worth nearly £200 million today).
1900 – 1904: The crooked solicitor
c1900 Richard Garton sold the Bridley Manor estate to Thomas Montague Richards, who lived in Norwood and who thus became the next Lord of Bridley Manor.
Mr Richards was an interesting fellow. A solicitor, born in Lincolnshire in 1857 and son of a reverend, he worked at Clements Inn, The Strand and became a freemason. He rose to become Mayor of Lambeth in 1903-4, but this was the peak of his career, as things soon went downhill, fast. In 1907 he was found guilty of stealing his clients’ money and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in Maidstone Jail. Thomas was fortunate that his father, the Rev Thomas Richards, had died in 1901, a few years before it came to light, otherwise he might have had to face some strong words of parental disapproval.
A summary of the gory detail is spelt out in the press cutting below. The piece of land described is Bridley estate, but what exactly happened? It seems that he had “borrowed” his clients’ money in order to buy part or all of the Bridley estate, with the intention of selling it quickly to a Mr (or Ms) X (for a profit of course), returning his clients’ money and keeping the profit. £37,000 then would be around £5 million today, so a profit of 5 or 10% would have been worth having. In fact the planned profit (as reported by one newspaper) was around 100%, so this was quite some deal he had planned.
Unfortunately solicitors are not allowed to use clients’ money for these sorts of purposes, hence the need for speed in the whole transaction – the idea being to return the clients’ money to them before they noticed it was missing. Nice try, Mr Richards, but obviously a Mr (or Ms) X had backed out of the deal at an inconvenient time, leaving Mr Richards with a lot of Bridley land, but also a lot of large deficits in client accounts.
Mr Richards tried to wriggle out of this mess. Newspaper ads for auctions of the estate were placed by him in 1902, again in 1903, and yet again in 1904 in order to generate funds. We are fortunate in having access to the sales document supporting the first auction (in 1902), and it gives us a large amount of detailed information about the estate, as well as a detailed plan. Part of this plan is shown below, and some of the most interesting facts in the document are listed below the plan.
Rather irritatingly the plan was drawn such that due north was rotated anticlockwise about 40 degrees. But here are the highlights insofar as they impacted the Fox Corner end of the estate.
A lot of work had gone into producing the sales document. It was 20 pages long, containing plenty of detail (which is very good news for historians) as well as a wonderfully detailed plan. Mr Richards’s name is proudly printed on the front cover. Obviously he had high hopes of success in this venture.
There are several opportunities for building residences suggested throughout the document, and it is clear that developers were the primary targets that Mr Richards was hoping to attract. This neatly tells us what Mr Richards’s scheme was all about: To use his clients’ money to buy property and sell it quickly to developers for a handsome profit. He was not the first person to think of such a scheme, and unfortunately for him, it didn’t quite work out the way he wanted.
At least 2 of the lots were suggested as being suitable for “Institutions”. We don’t know what institutions Mr Richards was thinking about, but we are sure that most of the current residents will be mighty pleased that no such institutions were ever built.
Most of the other building opportunities were either for “superior residences” or for residential estates. One was flagged as being suitable for “a good class house”. Mr Richards is aiming at a particular slice of the market, and as we shall see later, he took steps to implement this by inserting certain covenants into the contracts of sale for some of the properties that he later sold. But we will leave it to others to assess the extent to which the houses that were eventually built are indeed “superior” or of “a good class”....
Lot 12, which comprises the land in Pirbright on either side of Malthouse Lane as far as Avila was described as comprising “pasture land and gorse”, and included a right of way (now Malthouse Lane).
The plan shows that Ostend had a substantial (13 acre) fruit orchard with “thriving fruit trees in full bearing” attached to it. The Ostend house however was euphemistically described as “old-fashioned”.
Our section of Berry Lane had no fewer than 5 different plots (Nos 10-14) fronting onto it. The sections further down this page describe what happened to each of these 5 plots.
Lot 18 (at the top left hand corner of the plan) was described as follows: “The property (comprising grass, wood and heath) lies compactly together in a ring fence, and by reason of its elevated position and the ornamental character of the woods is eminently adapted for the erection of a superior country residence”. Fortunately this suggestion was ignored, and 6 years later it became part of Worplesdon Golf Course.
Half-way up the left-hand edge of the plan can be seen a small (3-room) cottage called “Dawson’s Well”. This stood very near to where the 11th green of Worplesdon Golf Course now lies, but absolutely no trace of it remains.
For interest, we’ve shown a copy of one page of the sales document below. It deals with Lots 13 to 15, which cover the area in Woking on the north side of Berry Lane (ie from Malthouse Cottages to where Amber’s Leap is today)
But the 1902 auction and the following auctions did not prove successful, and so Mr Richards resorted to selling some of the estate piecemeal, as we discuss below.
It all went pear-shaped for him early in 1906, when the first defrauded client blew the whistle. His reaction was to disappear. He was found in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) a few months later, as the press cutting below explains. By 1907 he was in Maidstone Jail.
This was not the first or the last example of illegal dealings by a solicitor – in fact the list of inmates in Maidstone Jail in 1911 contained more solicitors than one might have expected. In 1908 he was declared bankrupt to the tune of £21,000 (nearly £3 million today).
Mr Richards’s efforts to sell some of the Bridley estate piecemeal from 1904 onwards included the land on both sides of Berry Lane. The northern and southern sides of Berry Lane were sold separately. And the western ends (comprising about 20% of its length, lying in Pirbright) were sold separately from the eastern ends (ie the remaining 80%, which lies in Woking). Thus the 4 quadrants of Berry Lane became owned separately, and their development followed different paths over differing timeframes. We will therefore treat each quadrant separately from here on in.
We don’t know whether Mr Richards showed contrition, but in the 1911 census, having served 4 years of his 7 year sentence, he was not in Maidstone Jail. Instead he was recorded as living with his wife and their 2 surviving children (a third had died previously) in a nice 8-room house in Brixton, living off “Private means”. The maidservant completed the form, which implies that the family was absent at the time, but it perhaps means that his clients had received their money back in full from the proceeds of Bridley estate, and he had behaved himself in prison.
He also seems to have found a lot of money from somewhere - enough to live in a big house, despite having been declared bankrupt 3 years earlier. How could this be? Perhaps his wife, Maria had private wealth, or perhaps he had inherited some money (his father died in 1901 and his mother in 1906) and put it in his wife’s name. Whatever, it sounds as though the Richards family were living quite comfortably.
And what happened to Thomas Montague Richards? Not surprisingly he and his wife Maria moved well away from London, to a small village called Tintinhull, just off the A303 near Yeovil, where he was probably unknown. He died there in 1922, aged 64. Maria died in Bathavon in 1941, aged 82. Their 2 children both moved even further away – to Staffordshire.
We will now move forward in time, starting in 1900, dealing with each quadrant separately. We will start at the western end (the Pirbright end), north side first. We will then move across the boundary into Woking, again dealing with the north side first. So the sequence is:
North-west quadrant (Pirbright)
South-west quadrant (Pirbright)
North-east quadrant (Woking)
South-east quadrant (Woking)
Before we do that, here is a table of the houses in Berry Lane with in date order.
1900 onwards (No 1 of 4): The North-western quadrant of Berry Lane (Pirbright)
The north side of this short section of Berry Lane was the southernmost part of a larger plot stretching up Malthouse Lane, which was purchased from Thomas Montague Richards in 1905 by Dr Risien Russell. This gentleman had almost as colourful life as Mr Richards, and this is described in the section on Malthouse Lane. In 1908 Dr Russell sold the land to John Frost Sherman, the miller and owner of Heath Mill.
In 1920, soon after John Frost Sherman’s death, one of his sons, Arthur sold the land (as part of a larger plot stretching up only the eastern side of Malthouse Lane) to James Ball, a builder. James had earlier bought a small piece of the land from John Frost Sherman in 1915 and built a house on it (Ivory Cottage). As a builder living in Malthouse Lane, James could see the potential of this larger plot of Malthouse Lane land: Over the next 10 years he built Elcombe, Markham and probably Ulva Cottage (now Derry Cottage) in Malthouse Lane. James’s story is told in the Malthouse Lane section.
Reverting to Berry Lane, there is only one house on this short stretch of Berry Lane: Crimscote, and James Ball built it c1929.
The name of the house is unusual and perhaps could derive from Crimscote, a small village in Warwickshire. Another possibility is that the original name of the house was not Crimscote, but Grimscote (which is how the house was recorded on the electoral register until the 1960’s). Grimscote is the name of another small village, this time in Northamptonshire, but would be a mournful-sounding choice of a house name. A third possibility is that the house was a shortened form of “Crimson Cottage” in reference to the colour of the brickwork.
None of these is thought to be the source, however. Instead it is much more likely that the name derives from Crimscott Street in Bermondsey, which is where the first occupant (Sarah Ann Wells) spent her early married life. The reason for the spelling difference (Crimscote/Crimscott) is unknown.
Who was Sarah Ann Wells? She was born Sarah Ann Murfitt in Stretham, Cambridgeshire in 1867, daughter of, Joseph and Sarah Ann Murfitt. Joseph was a stoker at the local steam-driven drainage engine. The purpose of a drainage engine was to pump water from the fens into the River Ouse (which in places was 6 metres above the surrounding fenland). There were over 100 such engines across the fens, and the Stretham engine is the last survivor. A photo of the Stretham Drainage Engine House (built 1831) is shown below, as well as early photos of Joseph and Sarah Ann.
In 1894 Sarah married Samuel Walter Wells, who was born in Bermondsey c 1871, the son of a builder, and in 1897 they had their only child, a daughter named Winifred. In 1901 the family were living at 7, Crimscott St, Bermondsey and Samuel was a Builder’s Assistant (which presumably meant he made the tea and did all the unpleasant jobs which the master builder didn’t want to do). In 1911 Samuel had progressed from Builder’s assistant to Builder, still working as an employee.
In May 1925 Samuel purchased a plot of land a few yards to the east of where Crimscote is today from Henry Chalcraft. This plot is where Hillbrow stands today, and its story is told below under Hillbrow. Henry Chalcraft’s history is told in the introductory section to the North-eastern quadrant below.
Buying a plot of land in out-of-the way Woking/Pirbright sounds a surprising thing for a London builder to do, but Samuel did it. Perhaps he was ill, since he died in a London nursing home only a year later in August 1926, leaving £6,600 (worth £430,000 today – not bad for a builder’s assistant). It seems that he was still living at Crimscott St in Bermondsey at the time.
Within a year of Samuel’s death, Hillbrow had been built (presumably commissioned by Sarah) and their daughter, Winifred, was living there with her husband, Herbert Dawes. We continue their story under Hillbrow (below).
After the death of her husband, and in order to be close to her daughter, Sarah moved into nearly-next-door Crimscote c1929, presumably having purchased it. The house was in a different borough from Hillbrow, but Sarah was still only a few yards away from Winifred and her new family. Sarah Ann stayed at Crimscote until she died there in 1940.
Mr & Mrs G Weedon were the next to live in Crimscote and they lived there for at least 2 years. Mrs Weedon had the distinction of being the Hon Sec of both the West Surrey Farmers’ Association and the Guildford & Worplesdon Poultry Club. After this, a John Clifton lived at Crimscote until c1949, but we don’t know if he was a poultry person or not.
We can be more certain about the next occupants (presumably purchasers) of Crimscote, James and Rachel Collier. Rachel (nee Knight) was the daughter of William and Rachel Knight, who had lived at nearby No 4 Pirbright Cottages since 1913. It was Rachel who wrote down her memories of Fox Corner in 1984, which we have quoted elsewhere on this site.
Rachel had been working for the forces during the war, and a few months after the end of WW2, James (who was born c1910) and Rachel (born 1920) married. They lived with Rachel’s parents for a year, and then travelled overseas according to James’s postings (he was still in the army).
The Colliers purchased Crimscote c1949 and had 2 children. James died in 1977, and Rachel remained (we think) at Crimscote until she died in the late 1980’s.
A pair of brothers named Voice bought Crimscote in 1988, but had to sell it on swiftly in July 1989 as they were refused permission to demolish the house with the intention of building flats similar to the Old Post Office development on the opposite corner. Phew – that was a lucky escape for Fox Corner.
The current owners bought the house in 1989.
1900 onwards (No 2 of 4): The South-western quadrant of Berry Lane (Pirbright)
Staying in Pirbright, we will now switch to the south-western quadrant of Berry Lane. By 1904 Mr Richards had managed to sell this land, probably at one of his advertised auctions, on a plot-by-plot basis. The Rose Cottage plot (as well as the rest of the land abutting the Bagshot Road, stretching towards where the roundabout now is) had been bought by Arthur Terry, scion of the Terry family of Rickford. Arthur Terry soon sold it on to William Buckle. William Buckle kept the Rose Cottage plot for himself to develop, but sold off the plot where Barn Brae now stands to a Dr Widegren. William Buckle sold the land stretching south towards the roundabout to a variety of people, detailed in the section dealing with the N&E sides of the Guildford-Pirbright Road.
The Laburnham Cottage plot had been bought by Mark Avenell, who built Laburnham Cottage and proceeded to live in it with his family (see below).
Rose and Laburnham Cottages still stand today, retaining much of their original character. But who were William Buckle, Mark Avenell and Dr Widegren?
William Buckle was born in Finchley c1872. His father, William Buckle, had been a publican of The Rose & Crown in Chapel St, Guildford (no longer there). His son, William’s, middle name was Brewer, which seems highly appropriate, given that he in turn became a pub landlord. William junior married Ellen Davis in 1894, and the couple and their daughter soon moved to The New Inn (now The White Lyon) Worplesdon, where William was installed as the landlord. William later (c1903) bought The New Inn, and died there in 1935.
Mark Avenell was born in Pirbright in 1873, son of James and Louisa (nee Stonard) Avenell, who lived at Fillmoor (Fellmoor), near The Royal Oak at Stanford. James was an agricultural labourer, who later became a carman (ie a delivery or haulage worker). All 5 of his sons (including Mark, obviously) followed him into the trade of being a carman. In 1895 Mark had married Minnie Hiscock. Minnie had been born in Hampshire c1874, the daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann Hiscock. Thomas Hiscock was a gardener, and when Minnie was a young girl, the Hiscock family had lived at Barossa Lodge on the edge of Barossa Common. This is the origin of the name of the house Barossa (just around the corner on the Guildford-Pirbright Road), into which one of Mark and Minnie’s children, Rhoda, later moved.
Mark, Minnie and their 4 children lived in their new house, Laburnham Cottage, as soon as it was built in c1905, and so we will pick up their story under that house (see below).
Dr Matthias Widegren (sometimes spelt Widegreen) was a Swedish doctor, born in 1863, who specialised in back massage. He must have been a successful one, as his address in 1911 was 27 Knightsbridge (where he lived with his wife, 2 daughters, 2 other relatives and 5 servants). So he was not short of cash, one assumes. He only owned the plot of land at Fox Corner for a short time before selling it (but we don’t know to whom). The land remained as a vacant plot until it was developed in the 1960’s.
We will now look in more detail at the 2 houses in this quadrant: Rose Cottage and Laburnham Cottage.
William Buckle had bought the plot at Fox Corner (for just £22!) and built Rose Cottage as an investment (since he was living at The New Inn at Worplesdon, where he was the landlord). Rose Cottage is a popular name for a country cottage, and conjures up images of Miss Marple in some rural village in the summertime. Perhaps this was what William was trying to evoke. Alternatively, and less romantically, he may have named the house after The Rose & Crown in Guildford, where his father had been the publican 30 years previously.
When William purchased the Rose Cottage plot, it came with a stipulation not to build more than 2 houses (or a pair of semi-detached houses). Fortunately he chose to build just one house. We have shown an extract from the building plans for Rose Cottage below. It is striking how similar the plans of Rose and Laburnham Cottages (below) are. This is not surprising, given that they were built by the same builder in the same year. The builder was Esdor (“Ned”) Faggetter, a cousin of John Faggetter, who had built Pirbright Cottages some 10 years earlier.
The earliest occupant that we know of (in 1905) was a Thomas Chastell, a gardener from Berkshire, who, with his wife Sarah and their 10 children, moved around the Home Counties in search of work. The Chastells only stayed a couple of years before moving to Cheshunt.
George Alphonso Gay and his wife Fanny moved in from 1907 onwards. George had been born in Box, Wiltshire in 1867, and had been the coachman for the Thompson family, who had lived at Bridley Manor, since at least 1901. The Thompsons had recently purchased (and were living at) The Old Malthouse, a few hundred yards away, and had retained George as their coachman. Fanny (nee Gladdis, born on the Isle of Wight in 1884) was 17 years younger than George. They had 8 children.
In 1918, the 3 Thompson sisters, Evelyn, Gertrude and Winifred, purchased Rose Cottage from William Buckle in 1918, thus allowing the Gays to stay there, but alas George died in 1924. The Thompson sisters sold the Cottage to Alan Harris, who lived at Woodruffe on the Bagshot Road. Fanny was allowed to continue to live there, but moved out of Rose Cottage into No 1, Perry Hill Cottages in Worplesdon c1928 and stayed there until her death in 1962.
c1928 William and Florence Gilbert moved into Rose Cottage. Born in Ascot in 1901, William had obviously been very keen to do his bit in WW1, as he had joined the Royal Marine Artillery as a Private on 6 August 1918, the day of his 17th birthday. In 1919, he transferred to the RAF. In 1923 he and Florence (nee Perkins in 1898) were married and they soon had 3 daughters. William left the RAF in 1931 and became a gardener (like so many of the people who lived at Fox Corner). He was enlisted into the RAF reserve in 1939, but we don’t know if he saw active service. The Gilberts moved to 1, Ford’s Farm Cottages, Rowe Lane in 1938, and remained there until at least the 1960’s. A photo of them at a British Legion dinner in the 1950’s is shown below. William died in 1965 and Florence in 1979.
In 1938 Albert and Alice Noldart moved into Rose Cottage, and it may well be that they bought the Cottage, rather than occupied it as tenants. They had previously been living at nearby Lawford’s Cottages, and we have told their story (not forgetting to mention their 11 children) there. Albert died in 1954, and Alice in 1955.
The Noldarts were followed in 1955 by Horace and Ada Norman, who had moved the half-mile from Dunstans in Rickford, where they had been living for 17 years. Their stay was a brief one, as Ada died in 1957 and Horace in 1962, both aged in their 70’s. They were survived by their 2 sons.
From the 1960’s Stan and Joyce Palmer lived at Rose Cottage. Stan was the Head Gardener at Brookwood Hospital. By 2005, Mr & Mrs Hinton had bought the house, and by 2009 it had been sold to Chris & Sophie Budgen. Chris designs and fits kitchens, and his handiwork adorns many of the kitchens that have been installed recently in the Fox Corner area. The Budgens sold Rose Cottage in the mid-2010’s. An estate agent’s photo of Rose Cottage is shown below (with thanks).
The name of this cottage is spelt variously as Laburnham or Laburnum in the historical records. Perhaps we should not be surprised as both spellings are shown on the house even today!
We noted above that Rose Cottage had been built by Mark Avenell in 1904. Below is an extract from the plans for Laburnham Cottage submitted that year. It is striking how similar the plans of Laburnham and Rose Cottages (above) are. This is not surprising, given that they were built by the same builder in the same year. The builder was Esdor (Ned) Faggetter, who was a cousin of John Faggetter, who had built Pirbright Cottages some 10 years earlier.
By 1911 Mark and Minnie Avenell were settled in Laburnham Cottage with 3 of their 5 children (2 of whom had died). Mark’s occupation was now a carman (coal), which presumably meant that he worked as a delivery driver for a coal company. A photo of Mark is shown above.
Their daughter Rhoda moved into Barossa, which is just around the corner from Laburnham Cottage, in 1929 with her husband, George Chandler. Tragically Rhoda died in 1933, aged just 33, just a few months after giving birth to their son, Michael.
At the same time (c1934), Minnie’s elder sister, Agnes Hiscock, moved in with them and stayed until at least 1947. One of their daughters, Kathleen, also lived at Laburnham Cottage with them. Minnie, however, died in 1938, and Mark died in 1948.
Kathleen continued to live at Laburnham Cottage, probably until 1969. She had been born before the house was built, and so had lived in the house continuously for 65 years. She never married and died in 1975.
Tom and Dorothy Thackray followed the Avenells in Laburnham Cottage, moving there c1969 having previously lived in Dorking.
Tom Thackray was born near Doncaster in 1921. As a sergeant in No 10 Squadron, he served as a Halifax Bomber flight engineer. In 1944 he was commissioned and was awarded the DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal), which is only awarded for "exceptional valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy". After WW2 he worked for Vickers at Weybridge involved with the final production processes for the Viscount and Vanguard aircraft. He eventually retired after working for BEA (one of the forerunners of BA) at Heathrow in the aircraft maintenance department.
A much fuller tribute to Tom, with more photos, can be seen here: https://www.10sqnass.co.uk/images/Adminpictures/OBIT_PICS/Thackray_Tribute_NL50.pdf
Dorothy (nee Burbidge) was born at a village called Cadoxton, now part of Barry, Glamorgan, in 1919. She and Tom were married there in 1943. Dorothy joined the WAAF during WW2, and they had one son.
2 photos of Tom in his flying days and a picture of Tom and Dorothy in their later years are shown below.
Dorothy died in 2017 and Tom in 2019 (both aged 97), after nearly 50 years of living in Laburnham Cottage. Until that point, just 2 families had lived in Laburnham Cottage over a period of 110-plus years. Perhaps not surprisingly after such long occupancies, significant renovation work was undertaken by new owners in 2019-20. They soon moved to Sutton Green (in 2020), at which point the current owners moved in.
1900 onwards (No 3 of 4): The North-eastern quadrant of Berry Lane (Woking)
In 1905 Thomas Montague Richards managed to relieve part of the pressure coming from his clients by selling 26 acres on the north side of Berry Lane to a Thomas Groves for £2,000 (worth £250,000 today – a real bargain). The area concerned is shown in pink on the map below and in the 1902 auction details was described as “occupying an elevated position, commanding extensive views over Bullswater and Rickford Commons”.
The area stretches from the Pirbright boundary in the west across to the Bagshot Road in the east, and from Berry Lane in the south to where Storr’s Lane is today in the north (it would be easy at first sight to think that the position of the northern boundary is on Lawford’s Hill Road rather than Storr’s Lane, but his is not the case, trust us). The only dwellings in this space at the time were Malthouse Cottages (at the southern tip) and another cottage at the northern tip, where Mascot House stands today.
Within 6 months, Thomas Groves had sold the property on at a small (5%) profit to Albert Fletcher, a stockbroker from Caterham.
Albert was born in 1839 and is pictured below. He was the son of a solicitor, George Fletcher, who had been clerk to the Southwark County Court. Curiously, George had been born in 1809 on a ship sailing to India. George’s father, Joseph, was a distinguished soldier, who seemed to spend most of his life fighting in India, including under the future Duke of Wellington. He died in 1810 in India, aged only 44. The death notice of Jospeh's wife Charlotte in 1853 (below, alas rather difficult to read) gives some detail of his military career.
Albert’s family was wealthy, and he had forged his own successful career as a stockbroker. He was 67 when he bought this piece of land, so it was clearly as an investment. He and his wife Mary had 9 children, most of whom pursued a career either as a solicitor or a stockbroker (or in some cases, both). Mary died in 1918, and Albert one year later.
In fact Albert only kept the property for 3 years, selling it to William Behrens for a 10% profit. At the same time, William Behrens bought 10 acres of land immediately to the north of the 26 acres (ie between Storr’s Lane and the Bridley Pond drainage ditch). This latter piece of land was home to a small farm and some cottages. So all told, he had a 36 acre chunk of farmland. He is the person who first made the decision to subdivide his farmland area into plots and start rolling the development bandwagon. He didn’t actually commission much development himself, leaving it to the next purchaser, Henry Chalcraft, but we will tell this story in the Lawford’s Hill section.
William Behrens was born in Manchester in 1871, the son of naturalised German parents, Henry and Adele Behrens. Henry described himself as a merchant. William grew up in South Manchester in comfortable surroundings – the Behrens family had 3 servants, including a German cook. Pictures of Adele and William (aged about 30) are shown below.
In 1906 William married Lilian (nee Cawston, who was born in Bromley in 1881), one of 11 children of a wealthy stock exchange agent. c1909 William and Lilian adopted a son, Hugh.
In the 1911 census, instead of giving his occupation as “solicitor”, William modestly wrote on the form “Solicitor, practising as senior partner of Jenkins, Baker, Reynolds & Co, 38 Old Jewry, London EC.” I’m sure the census official was mightily impressed by this. William could have added that his firm’s offices were just around the corner from the famous accounting firm, Price, Waterhouse & Co, but even he drew the line at this.
In 1911, the Behrens family were living at Bagshot Green Farm, which was probably very rural at the time, but now is rather closer to Junction 3 of the M3 than many potential owners would like. They soon moved to Kensington, and stayed there until c1930. In 1920 William sailed (1st Class of course) to Buenos Aires. It may well have been a business trip, but Lilian accompanied him.
William died at a plush hotel in St Leonards in 1933, aged 62. His mother Adele outlived him by 6 months. Lilian sometimes used the name Boys-Behrens (Boys being her mother’s maiden name), possibly in a an attempt during WW2 to reduce the appearance of any German links. She lived until 1969, also dying at St Leonards aged 88.
Returning to the land adjoining Berry Lane, William Behrens divided this area into 2 plots, as described in the table below, and soon (c1911) built a large house (The Corner House) on one of the plots (North No 2 in the table below).
William held onto the other plot (North No 1) and in 1923 sold it to Henry Chalcraft. At the same time he sold the rest of his 36 acres to Mr Chalcraft, who was the man who really got the bulldozers working a few years later in the Lawford’s Hill area.
Henry Terrell Chalcraft was born in Alton in 1866. His middle name was the name of his maternal grandmother (who had died back in 1840, aged only 37). His father, Henry, had farmed 1,000 acres near Alton (as had his father, Thomas, before him). Henry (the father) must have thought the beer market would flourish, as he specialised in hop-growing at the end of the 19th century. Henry (the father) died in 1905, leaving £26,000 (worth £3.3 million today).
Henry the younger didn’t fancy a farming career, and became an architect / surveyor. In 1897 he married Margaret (nee Hunt) and they lived in a semi-detached house near Claygate Station, which would have been (fairly) convenient for travelling to his office in Bishopsgate, London. In 1911, having inherited some of the family money, he was living at Chester Lodge, Austen Road, Guildford with his wife, 4 children and 3 servants.
We know that in 1914 he owned some land (in Woking) on the Bagshot Road, but we don’t know which property this was, or whether he held it in his own name or on behalf of someone else. The family moved house a few times in the next few years, living in Austen Road and The Ridgway at various times, but these were all in the same area of Guildford. Perhaps they were new builds that he had designed and financed. In his later years he had an office at 183, Guildford High Street. Henry died in 1940 at Launceston. His obituary in the local newspaper is reprinted below.
Once Henry Chalcraft had acquired the North No 1 plot in 1923, he wasted little time in building on it, and within 3 years had built Hillbrow. Being an architect, we can assume that he designed the house himself.
We will now look at each of these houses in more detail. (The Corner House and Blossom House are covered in the Bagshot Road section.)
The 2 semi-detached Malthouse Cottages do not appear on the 1857 Bridley plan or the 1873 OS map, but are shown on the 1888 Bridley plan abutting the Woking-Pirbright boundary on the Woking side. We can therefore date them to between 1873 and 1888, and they can claim to be the first dwellings on the stub western end of Berry Lane.
They formed part of the Bridley estate, specifically Malthouse Farm until at least 1908, when they were sold to an outside investor, William Behrens, as part of the breakup of the Bridley estate at that time (see above).
In 1931 they were owned by Col George Dyer, who lived at the Corner House on the Bagshot Road, but we do not know who owned the cottages after 1931 until the 1980’s, when it is believed that they were owned by members of the Rathbone family (who owned Rathbones Bank). This is supported by the fact that some members of the Rathbone family lived locally on the Bagshot Road and the Rathbone story is told there.
Unfortunately the records before 1900 are unspecific as to peoples’ addresses. Virtually everyone on the Bridley estate gave their address simply as “Bridley”, so we can’t be sure exactly who occupied which houses. But in 1902, we have evidence as to who lived in which cottage, and so we will now deal with each cottage separately.
No 1, Malthouse Cottages
The first reference to Malthouse Cottages is in the 1901 census, where they are occupied by an agricultural labourer, Arthur Holdforth, and his family. This Arthur Holdforth was living on the Bridley estate in 1881 and 1891, but judging by the sequence of the census, probably not at Malthouse Cottages. But he does appear on the 1893 – 1896 electoral register as living in Rickford, which is a possible indicator that he was living in Malthouse Cottages by then.
The plan prepared for Mr Richards’s auction of the Bridley estate in 1902 states that Arthur was living at No 1. Arthur could trace his family’s roots back to c1773, when his great-grandfather, James Holdforth, was born in Woking. For the next 100-odd years, many of the Holdforths lived as agricultural labourers in the Westfield area of Woking, which at the time was well-farmed. They also had their fair share of large numbers of children – there were several Holdforths in the wider area.
The Arthur Holdforth who lived in No 1, Malthouse Cottages had been born in 1843 in a house on Blackhorse Road just north of the Heath House Road crossroads. At the time the farm owning the house had the romantic name of Old Trough, later changed to Oldtrow.
At the age of 22, he married Ellen Hartfree. Ellen was the daughter of William Hartfree, who tended the plantation now forming part of Worplesdon Golf Course. Arthur’s father, also named Arthur, had married twice and fathered 14 children. One of his half-sisters was Emma Holdforth, who in 1877 married John Stevens who, like Arthur, was working at Bridley as an agricultural labourer for Frank Harnett, the farmer. From 1918 Emma and John were living at No 2, Malthouse Lane. All rather complicated, but it demonstrates how closely families often inter-related in small communities, in the days before travel became more available to everyone.
In 1881, by the time he was 28, Arthur and Ellen had moved to somewhere on the Bridley estate, having produced 4 children. Arthur was working as an agricultural labourer, like his forebears. As we have noted above, they moved to No 1, Malthouse Cottages c1893, but Ellen died the following year, aged 52.
Arthur remained at No 1, Malthouse Cottages until 1905, when he moved to 2, Heath Road, Kemishford, living with his daughter Ellen and her husband Edward Pullen. Even though Arthur was 65, he still described himself as a labourer. Arthur stayed there until he died in 1926, aged 83. Another of Arthur and Ellen’s sons, William, joined the 14th King’s Hussars Regiment in 1898, but was killed in South Africa during the Boer War in 1902.
William Balchin moved into one of the Malthouse Cottages in 1905. We think this was probably No 1, based on the 1911 census sequence. There was a surprisingly large number of Balchins who lived in the Guildford area in the 1800’s, and many of them were given the same Christian names, in particular, William. So it is difficult to be precise about any particular Balchin history, but it looks as though our William Balchin’s ancestry may have stretched back to the mid-1600’s, to a Henry Balchin who was born in Clandon. The Balchins then proceeded to move to Shalford, then Wonersh, and then Worplesdon.
Like so many other families in the area, they lived off the land, typically as farm labourers, and our William was no exception. He was probably born in Worplesdon c1854, and in 1883 married Harriett Freakes (born Guildford, c1863). Between 1888 and 1903, the family lived at Stonebridge Cottages in Rickford. William was a hay binder and thatcher.
William and Harriett then moved to No 1, Malthouse Cottages. His occupation at this time was a contractor (whatever that meant), and in 1912 he placed an ad in a local newspaper for a young man to drive a horse and cart. The job included “live-in” accommodation, which presumably meant use of one of the rooms in No 1.
William and Harriett had 6 children. Their eldest, Harriett, married Charles Lopez in 1911, and they lived for a while in Millstream Cottage. Harriett (William’s wife) died in 1914. William stayed at No 1 until 1919. He died in 1926, living in Heath Mill Lane (probably either Ravensclough or Durlston.
In 1921 Robert and Mercy Golden moved into No 1, having previously been living at Ryde’s Hill. They only stayed a couple of years before moving to Godstone.
The next tenants of No 1, in 1923, were John and Winifred Andrews. John was a gardener, who had probably started working for the Booths, who were the occupants of Waldens (now Avila) in Malthouse Lane. In 1926 the Andrews family were offered the rental of Netley Cottage (now Annin’s Cottage) in Malthouse Lane and they moved there (it would have been closer to where John was working). Their story is told on the Malthouse Lane page.
In 1926, Edward and Nellie Criddle moved into No 1. Edward was the son of Edward and Elizabeth Criddle who had lived at No 1, Kelvin Cottages, Rickford. Born in 1897, Edward and Nellie (nee Robinson, at Shottermill, Haslemere in 1899) were married in 1923 and lost little time in setting up house together half a mile from Edward’s parents – a reasonable distance, not too far, but not too close either. Edward and Nellie stayed at No 1 until WW2, when they moved to Mount Pleasant Bungalow at Whitmoor in Worplesdon. They then moved away to the Bideford area of Devon. Nellie died there in 1978 and Edward in 1983.
In 1945 Harriett Snowden moved out of No 5, Pirbright Cottages, where she had been living with her parents, into No 1, Malthouse Cottages with her 2 sons. Although her name was Harriett, she let it be known that she wanted to be known as Miss Snowden, so we will call her that. One resident who knew Miss Snowden in her days at Pirbright Cottages described her as “rather strange”. In later years, she cut a diminutive figure invariably dressed in black, often toddling up Berry Lane to see her friends the Bardens at The Bays (refer below).
Despite being “Miss Snowden”, she had two sons, Pete and John. Pete lived with his mother and made a living breaking up old cars. He once used these skills to help the son of a neighbour to remake one Triumph Herald from two wrecks. Miss Snowden died in 1981. Pete Snowden continued to live in the cottage and we think that he purchased it, probably at the same time that No 2 was purchased (1989, see below). Pete died in 1998, aged 56, and his brother John sold the cottage to the current owners. John died in Eastbourne in 2009, aged 70.
No 2, Malthouse Cottages
The person who lived in No 2 in 1911, William Horton, was born in Pagham (a small village near the beach close to Bognor Regis) in 1842. Like his father he became an agricultural labourer, and in 1871 he was working on a farm at nearby Nyetimber. In 1873 he had moved northwards into Surrey and was living at Bramley when he married Margaret Bookham (born near Witley in 1848). By 1881 they were living at Wood Street, Worplesdon. However Margaret died in 1888 aged only 40, leaving William with 6 children to look after, 4 of whom were less than 10 years old.
In 1891, William had become a shepherd at Merrist Wood Farm, and in 1901 he described himself merely as an agricultural labourer at Frog Grove Farm, where Thomas Slaughter, who had been the farmer at Bakersgate) was the farmer. He remained there until c1910, when he and his children moved into No 2, Malthouse Cottages.
The Hortons stayed at No 2 for 8 years before moving briefly to the Testing Station. In 1921 William was living just around the corner from Malthouse Cottages at Westbrook with his daughter Annie. He stayed at Westbrook with 3 of his children until his death in 1928. It seems that, despite the tragedy of losing their mother in 1888, the children remained closely attached to their father throughout the rest of his life.
c1920 Frederick and Emma Jeffrey moved from Aldershot into No 2. They lived there for 16 years before moving a hundred yards to No 17, Pirbright Cottages in 1936. Their story is told there.
In 1936 Robert and Marjorie Whibley moved in. Robert Whibley had been born at Star Hill, Woking (at the end of Hook Heath Road) in 1901. His parents were Herbert Ellis and Mary Whibley, who in 1907 moved in with James Stevens and his family at No 12, Pirbright Cottages for a couple of years before settling down at nearby Ostend Cottage in 1910.
Robert had worked at Martinsyde Ltd as an aircraft fitter from 1919 to 1920. Martinsyde was formed in 1908 by Messrs Martin and Handasyde. The company manufactured motorcycles, monoplanes and biplanes, and was Britain's third largest aircraft manufacturer during WW1. Its factory was at Maybury (not to be confused with Mayford), just to the east of Woking. Unfortunately the factory was destroyed by fire in 1922, and the company went into liquidation. Below are pictures of a Martinsyde Semiquaver from 1920 and a Model C motorcycle from 1922 (courtesy DJ Rawlings). The site of the factory is now a small estate whose main street is named – surprise, surprise - Martinsyde.
In 1921 Robert left Martinsyde and joined the RAF as an aircraft fitter and worked there until 1930 (although in 1938 he enlisted in the RAF reserve). Robert’s wife Marjorie was born Marjorie Baldock in Thanet in 1907, and it was there that she and Robert married in 1930. They produced 6 children over the next 10 years.
Latterly Robert worked in some capacity for the Rathbones who lived at Wyngate in Lawford’s Hill Road, and Marjorie may have worked as a cook for the Gabriels at Threeways. A photo of Robert is shown below.
Robert died in 1975 and Marjorie stayed in No 2 until c1989, but she died the following year in 1990. The current owners were delighted when one of Robert and Marjorie’s daughters who lived in Australia made the effort to visit the house whilst on a trip to England in 1992.
As explained earlier, up to 1989 the cottage had been owned by absentee landlords, most recently, members of the Rathbone family. However in 1989 the cottage was sold to the current owners.
Heathfields and Orchard End
In 1962, Margaret Goulson had moved into Hillbrow (see below), following the untimely death of her husband, Brigadier Sir Frank Goulson.
We don’t know whether Margaret bought the house because she liked it, or because she sensed development opportunities, but she quickly, in 1963, sold 70% of the Hillbrow plot sold to the well-known Woking building firm of Deakins, along with permission to build 2 houses c35 feet from Berry Lane. Initially Deakins had applied to build a close of 4-6 houses, but this was turned down (probably by Mrs Goulson). Mrs Goulson set certain conditions, which included disallowing any trees to be cut down, but also that the houses had to be specifically Wates Dormy houses.
For those of us who don’t know what a “Wates Dormy” house is: Wates was (and still is) a family-owned building company formed in 1897 and now based in Leatherhead. Wates had been building in America where there were more opportunities than in post-war UK, and the design of their Dormy bungalows was American. Notably, they had bedrooms in the roof, and provided large living spaces, four bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Deakins (or W Deakin & Co as it was called) was founded by Walter Deakin in 1946. The company developed much of Woking over the next 30 years, but Walter had a less well-known talent – as a musician. He was an accomplished pianist and organist in his youth and went on to study singing and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music in London. He founded the Epworth Choir, which raises money for charity, and was its conductor for 23 years. He set up the Walter Deakin bursaries for young musicians. He died in 2008, aged 96.
Heathfields and Orchard End were duly built in 1964 by Deakins. A Deakins advert is shown below, with a new Wates Dormy house proudly in the central position. The plots of Hillbrow, Heathfields and Orchard End ended up as being of similar sizes to each other.
The current owners have lived at Heathfields since the house was built. A small part of the plot was sold to the owners of Derry Cottage in 1983. Interestingly, the owners have found a Victorian dump of old bottles and crockery on the plot. We can’t be certain of the identity of the historical litterbugs, but from a study of the early maps, much the most likely source would be one or other of the Malthouse Cottages (Tut tut).
Pat & Mick Veale moved from Merrow into Orchard End c1964. The original house name was Old Orchard, but that changed within a year for some reason. Mick was a media consultant (possibly working for ICI), and an excellent photographer. They had three sons. Mick died of cancer and Pat later remarried, moving to a house on Holly Lane.
The Veales were replaced by the Barneys c1993 and then by the present occupants from 2005. An estate agent’s photo of the house is shown below (with thanks). Looking at the house today after a major extension in 2006, it is difficult to imagine it as a Wates Dormy house (although the characteristic triangular outline can still be seen).
We described above how in 1923 Henry Chalcraft acquired the land on which Hillbrow now stands, and how in May 1925 he had sold it to Samuel Wells. Samuel died in 1926, but within a year of his death, Hillbrow had been built (presumably commissioned by his wife, Sarah) and their daughter, Winifred, was living there with her husband, Herbert Dawes. Originally the house was called Hillbrow Cottage.
It’s an appropriate name for the house, which stands on top of a distinct rise. At the time, the plot itself was a big one (covering where Orchard End and Heathfields are today), and restrictions had probably been placed by Thomas Montague Richards back in 1905 on the number of houses that could be built on the plot.
In any case the first owners of the Hillbrow plot were Herbert & Winifred Dawes in 1926. Herbert was the son of George Dawes (born in 1867 in Wotton, near Dorking, but becoming, in 1901, a footman at Woburn Abbey, and later, in 1911, a game farmer near Alton) and Mary (nee Moss near York in 1860).
Herbert was born in Fleet in 1896, and had a sister named Marjorie Dawes (any fans of the TV programme Shooting Stars will approve of this). In 1926 Herbert married Winifred Wells (born in London in 1897). Winifred happened to be the daughter of Samuel and Sarah Ann Wells, who had bought the Hillbrow plot. Following Samuel’s death in 1926, we assume that title passed to Winifred and Herbert, who proceeded to live in the house for 36 years.
They had one son, Walter, who was born in 1927 and later moved to Leicestershire.
In 1939 Herbert Dawes was an engineering manager. The Dawes family remained in Hillbrow until 1962, when Herbert died, aged 66. Winifred moved to Sussex and died in Midhurst in 1988, aged 91.
After Winifred left Woking, Margaret Goulson purchased Hillbrow.
Margaret Coulson was born Margaret Smith, the daughter of Ruby and Albert Smith (who originally worked as a finisher for a boatmaker, and later became a Trinity House pilot – ie someone who guided ships into ports). Margaret was born in 1915 in Whitstable and on the 1939 register recorded herself as a Dancing Instructor. This was later annotated to Ambulance Driver.
In 1940 Margaret married Frank Job Goulson in Amersham, who was later to become Brigadier Sir Frank Goulson. Frank had been born in Lincolnshire in 1913, and his family then moved to Skegness. His father was superintendent of the Skegness swimming pool. Frank attended Nottingham University (starting when he was only 15), where he excelled at water polo. Initially a schoolmaster in Surrey, he decided to change career and joined the army (Royal Lincolnshire Regiment) in 1936. He was presented to the King (George VI) in 1937 as a 2nd Lieutenant and was awarded the DSO for distinguished service in Burma in WW2.
He was Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion of his regiment and rose to the rank of Brigadier. He (together with Margaret and their daughter, Penelope) had a spell of at least a year in Germany and then was sent to Malaya, following the “Malayan Emergency” in the mid-1950’s. By 1957 the Goulson family had moved their UK base from Felixstowe to Woking.
Frank was knighted in 1957 and awarded an OBE. He died in a car accident in Nigeria, 100 miles from Lagos, in 1962 at the end of a 3-year tour, aged only 48.
After Frank’s untimely death, Margaret bought Hillbrow and immediately set about developing the plot by selling 70% of it to a building firm, W Deakins, with permission to build 2 Wates Dormy houses c35 feet from Berry Lane. She set certain conditions regarding the boundary with Hillbrow. We say a little more about the 2 new houses under Heathfields (above).
Margaret remained at Hillbrow until at least 1981. She died in 2010, aged 95, at West Knoyle, just off the A303 near Warminster.
The next occupants were Roy and Gwyne Day, who were living there from 1985 (and possibly a few years earlier) to c2004. Roy was a retired BEA pilot. (For youngsters: BEA was one of the predecessor airlines of BA). Between c2004 and 2008, the owners were Lorenzo and Wendy Di Felice.
The current owners purchased Hillbrow in 2008. An estate agent’s photo of the house is shown below (with thanks).
The current owners moved into Tullywhisker House during 1969, which is when we think the house was built. The plot had previously belonged to The Corner House on the Bagshot Road, but had been sold off for development in the late 1960’s. Tullywhisker is the name of a small village near Strabane, close to the border with Northern Ireland. However the house name was chosen because of an association with Kenya (with which the owners had personal connections).
Amber’s Leap is the most recent house to be built in Berry Lane. It was built c1971 on land which was described as Plot 4 of The Corner House. The origin of the house name (which first appeared in 1973) presumably derives from a liquidambar tree on which the house name sign hangs.
The first occupants were a Mr & Mrs RO Jessep, who had previously lived at Mayford. Amusingly (or maybe not), the street name is originally listed in their telephone directory as “Bury Lane”, but this was soon changed. The Jesseps stayed at Amber’s Leap until c1975.
In 1975 Captain Keith Parker and his wife, Brenda moved into Amber’s Leap from St John’s. We don’t know much about the Parkers other than that Brenda was born Brenda Wilson in 1935 near Stoke, the daughter of a grocer, and that she and Keith were married in Bournemouth in 1959.
The Parkers stayed at Amber’s Leap until 1979 when a curious “sub-sale” contract took place, whereby a couple named Cooley purchased the house from Keith and Brenda Parker (for £78,500). But at the same time, the Cooleys sold the property to William Raleigh Croxford (as sub-purchaser).
What was happening here? We don’t know for sure, but these sorts of sub-sale arrangements occur when there is a change in the circumstances of one of the parties (eg the Cooleys may have been unable to complete their purchase for personal or financial reasons, and had to find another buyer). Given the circumstances of 1979 (when inflation was running at around 13% and gazumping sometimes occurred) our guess is that financial considerations may have played a part in this particular arrangement.
Anyway, in 1979, William Croxford (who was known locally as “Canada Bill”) and his wife Edith moved into Amber’s Leap. Bill had been born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1914, the son of Harry and Maud (nee Lowe) Croxford. Harry was a fireman on a locomotive in 1921, and the family were living very close to a large rail yard in Sarnia less than a mile from the St Clair River (which is the Canada – US border) and 2 miles from Lake Huron.
The Croxfords had emigrated from England in 1911. Prior to that, Harry had served 8 years in the Royal Field Artillery and was a bricklayer’s labourer. But in England they had been Harry and Maud Croxton (not Croxford). Why they changed their name when they arrived in Canada is a mystery. Perhaps they were escaping from something bad in England, but we will probably never know what. Harry’s father’s name was Walter Raleigh Croxton, presumably named after the Elizabethan explorer for some reason, which explains Canada Bill’s middle name (Raleigh).
In 1944 Canada Bill married Edith Cressall, and the couple settled in Fetcham a couple of doors from Edith’s parents. In 1947 Bill, Edith and their eldest child sailed from Southampton to Halifax, allowing Bill to see his old Canadian buddies. Bill’s occupation was an engineer. In 1952 William, Edith and their 2 children again sailed to Canada, this time from Liverpool to Quebec. By then Bill was a director of some company, identity unknown.
Bill and Edith continued to live in Fetcham until 1979, when they moved into Amber’s Leap. Bill was apparently very tall, smoked a lot, and was known to visit The Fox pub more than occasionally. He was unwell for much of his time at Amber’s Leap, and spent some time in hospital. During one such spell, when Edith was visiting him in hospital, we’re sorry to report that their house was burgled – it’s hard to believe that someone could do such a callous thing.
Bill died, still living at Amber’s Leap, in 1988, leaving £370,000. Edith moved out of Amber’s Leap prior to 1985 and died (at Cirencester) in 2003, aged 90.
The house remained empty until 1991, when the current owners purchased the house.
1900 onwards (No 4 of 4): The South-eastern quadrant of Berry Lane (Woking)
By 1904, Thomas Montague Richards would have been feeling the pinch, but would have been pleased when he managed to sell Malthouse Farm to Rosamund Thompson. Previously Rosamund had been living at Bridley Manor. We have included more detail about Rosamund and her family in the section dealing with The Old Malthouse.
Most of the farm (14 acres) lay on the east side of the Bagshot Road, but about 5 acres was on the west side of the road, and included:
The entire frontage onto Berry Lane (which was in Woking)
The entire frontage onto the Bagshot Road south to where the roundabout now is (including the Corn Stores and the Farm buildings), going back as far as the Woking – Pirbright boundary
A small triangle of land near the roundabout, lying in Pirbright.
This land is shown on the plan below (although only part of the land to the east of the Bagshot Road is shown).
Rosamund died in 1910, aged 68, leaving 5 children. The youngest child (and only son) George Malcolm Thompson (known as Malcolm) inherited Malthouse Farm (now known as The Old Malthouse), and he decided to set the development ball rolling.
Before we go further, here is a little bit of background to the property market in the UK at that time to help us understand Malcolm’s thinking: The UK economy had picked up quite sharply since the depression of 1893, and this drove something of a housebuilding boom. In Surrey, landowners had jumped on the housebuilding bandwagon that was rolling across the country, and some of this activity had happened close to hand, eg Cornerways, Pirbright Cottages, and Avila and Mount Lodge in Malthouse Lane. Whenever a landowner wanted to start the process of developing a large piece of land, the first stage would usually be to divide the land into a series of suitable plots, ready for sale and then development.
The landowner might also draft various constraints on the plots usually in order to maintain a certain ambience in the area, eg minimum size of house, limit on the number of dwellings on a plot, minimum distance from the roadway, a ban on certain businesses being conducted, and even the building styles. Some of these ideas may seem rather quaint to our modern eyes, but often these conditions have succeeded in giving and keeping a certain “feel” to the area, and Berry Lane is a good example of this.
Malcolm Thompson saw the opportunity and divided the land on the west side of the Bagshot Road into 3 plots as follows:
But, having divided the land into 3 plots, Malcolm Thompson didn’t sell or develop any of the land while he was at The Old Malthouse. In 1913 he married Lucy Myrtle Thompson (no relation, they just happened to have the same surname). A few weeks prior to the wedding, he granted the property to 4 trustees. Why? Their role was almost certainly to look after the interests of his intended wife, eg to prevent her husband from selling the property and running off with the money. The wedding itself was a grand affair in Knightsbridge, widely reported in the newspapers, with a very expansive list of wedding presents.
The 1915 OS map (pictured below) gives an idea of how Berry Lane looked at the time. Malthouse Cottages and The Corner House are the only buildings east of the Pirbright/Woking boundary (which is shown as a dotted line). The Malthouse, together with The Corn Stores and some other buildings across the road can be seen, and it looks as though the fruit trees are still there to the east of the Bagshot Road.
In 1920 Malcolm and Lucy Thompson sold the farm (now called The Old Malthouse) to another family, Thomas and Phyllis Craig. The Craigs waited 10 years before developing one of the plots (South No 1) in 1930. It may well be that restrictions were placed by the Craigs on the number of houses that could be built on each plot (or the Thompsons may have done so earlier).
That was the end of the Craig’s building ambitions, and the following year (1931) they sold The Old Malthouse to 2 gentlemen called Cyril Swaffen Weekes and Edward Sidney Bates. They were estate agents, each living in a large house in Guildford, and they seemed to have no interest in developing the land. Instead they rented The Old Malthouse out to tenants.
This situation continued for 15 years until in 1946, Weekes and Mrs Bates (Edward had died) sold the remaining 2 plots (South Nos 2 & 3) to the Bailey family (that is, the 3 Bailey brothers: Reg, Charlie and Dick) at Heath Mill. South No 3 at that time comprised the Malthouse Corn Stores, as well as stables for the horses and carts that worked at The Old Malthouse, and it was probably this that attracted them. The Bailey family had rented out the milling activities at Heath Mill to third parties (with hindsight, a wise move), and had decided instead to turn the Corn Stores into a retail outlet.
There was quite a flurry of building activity on South Nos 2 & 3 plots in the 1950’s through to the 1970’s, to arrive at the Berry Lane we know today.
We will now look at each of these houses in more detail, starting from the eastern end. (Threeways and Openview are covered in the Bagshot Road section.)
As mentioned above, the Bailey family acquired plot South No 2 in 1946 from Cyril Weekes and Mrs Bates. The Bailey brothers subdivided the plot into 2 sub-plots, but sold both (ie The Bays/Greystones sub-plot in 1949, and the Oaklands sub-plot in 1950) to Herbert Caleb Barden. Whether the Baileys obtained a better price by subdividing it we shall never know, but for several years, Herbert treated both sub-plots as a single plot.
Herbert Barden was born in Sydenham in 1895. He was the son of Gershon Caleb Barden (born near Hastings in 1866), a market gardener in Mitcham, and his wife, Minnie (born near Stratford-upon-Avon in 1871).
He served as a private in the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays) in France from 1915. The regiment was so named in the 1700’s apparently because the soldiers rode only bay horses. The regiment now forms part of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, which these days uses High Mobility Vehicles, rather than bay horses.
He married Elizabeth Johnson (about whom we know nothing) in 1918 and between 1922 and 1930 they had 4 children, only 2 of whom survived their first year.
Herbert initially obtained permission to keep a caravan on the land and to erect heated greenhouses, and that is what he did. The purpose of the greenhouses was to supply vegetables for his shop in Mitcham. He had a dozen or so greenhouses, and each bore the name of a WW1 army regiment (yes, really). And he named the various parts of his plot (which was about 1 acre in size) after WW1 battles. We can imagine him leaving his house in the morning, calling over his shoulder “If anyone wants me, I’ll be in the Somme until lunchtime.” Traces of this earlier existence still remain - the current owners regularly dig up broken glass from the greenhouses, bits of green plastic gardening bags, and coke from the greenhouses' boiler house.
But Herbert’s thoughts soon turned to building a house for his and his wife’s retirement. Initially plans were drawn up for a house to be built in the centre of the plot, but Herbert soon realised (or maybe someone tipped him off) that it would be a shrewd move to build his house on one side of the plot, leaving space for another house to be built later.
And that is exactly what he did. In 1953 The Bays was built (towards one side of the plot) by Charles and Fred Farminer, who went on to build The Loders on Heath Mill Lane and Field Place, next to The Fox. Coincidentally and many years later, one of the current owners of The Bays taught the son of one of the Farminer brothers at Guildford College.
Like The Loders and Field Place, The Bays was originally a 2-bedroom bungalow. The father of the man who built and lived in Sheen (see below) from 1953 was the bricklayer for the Farminers, and so helped to build 2 of the houses in Berry Lane in 1953. Herbert named the house after his WW1 regiment, The 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays).
In 1961, Herbert decided to sell off most of (but not quite all of) one of his 2 sub-plots (today comprising Oaklands). The land was sold to FJ Alexander, a builder who lived in Rowe Lane, and who we think was c1970 responsible for building Millstream House, on the Guildford – Pirbright Road.
The next year (1962), Herbert decided to put that plan of having a second house built on part of his plot into practice, and sold off around half of the main sub-plot to a George Hart. In 1963 Greystones was built on it (see below).
Herbert’s plans to sell off his land parcels of his land were not quite finished: In 1971 a small part of The Bays back garden was sold to the owners of Greystones (see below).
In 1973 Herbert Barden died, and Elizabeth inherited the house. The transfer deed was witnessed by Miss Snowden of Malthouse Cottages (see above). Their eldest child, Herbert Percy Barden, and his wife Dorothy moved in with Elizabeth, and some extensions were made to the house at the time to accommodate this arrangement. Herbert Percy was a ringmaster in Billy Smart’s Circus. Now this is certainly an unusual profession, but apparently Herbert Percy made sure that everyone he met became quickly aware of it.
In 1983 Elizabeth died, and ownership passed to Herbert Percy, but in 1985 Herbert Percy and Dorothy decided to retire to Rotherham and The Bays was bought by its current owners. Some further extensions (7 in fact) have been made to the house and it now looks very different from its early days as a 2-bedroom bungalow.
As described above, the plot for Greystones was sold by Herbert Barden (of The Bays) to a George Albert Hart in 1962 (according to a memorandum inserted on an earlier deed). In fact this person was probably George Alfred Hart, a plumber turned builder who ran a building business in Fairlands, but earlier had lived at West Heath, Pirbright, but no matter.
Greystones was built the following year (1963) and we assume that George Hart was the builder. We believe that the first occupant was George’s daughter, but by 1967 Michael & Celia Gostelow had bought the house. A few years later (in 1971) they took the opportunity to buy part of The Bays back garden.
The Gostelows sold the house in 1979 to Mr and Mrs Bill Taylor. We understand that Bill was a vet at Pirbright Institute, and that the couple had several children. The current owners bought the house in 1987 from the Taylors, and lived there until they divorced in the early 1990’s. The lady who owns the house was a tax inspector, but now runs the family farm in Scotland (which sounds a rather pleasant way to spend one’s time).
There have been 2 sets of extensions, the plans for one of which c1984 were drawn up by the owner (and builder) of Sheen. The house has been let out since 1997. Recent tenants have included:
1997-2000: An Australian couple (names unknown) who worked at MAFF (as DEFRA was called then) in Guildford.
2000-03: Another Australian couple, Neil and Louise Morgan. Neil lectured at Surrey University.
2003-18: Peter Jordan, who until recently owned 75% (and was a director) of our local sporting heroes, Woking Football Club. 2 pictures of Peter celebrating success are shown below, with grateful thanks to Guardian.com and Woking News and Mail. In the left-hand picture, Peter is on the left.