The north side of Ash Road
This section of the site deals with the north side of the Ash Road, starting at the junction with the Guildford-Pirbright road, and stretching westwards as far as Bakersgate. Below is a table showing the dates of the houses along this stretch.
The first 600 yards of the road runs alongside part of Bullswater Common, and a delightful sight it is too. But it is not well known that this part of the common was used by the army prior to, and in the early years of, WW1. There are some little-known historical aspects (which are still visible) in this area. They are covered more fully on the Bullswater Common page.
We meet no houses until the cul-de-sac called Bullswater Common Road.
Bullswater Common Road
The first building to appear in what is now Bullswater Common Road was a pair of semi-detached houses at the far end of the lane (on the site of today’s Nos 1 & 2), which were built in 1947. They were known as Culvers and Heathfield respectively, names which were still used up to 1970, but are no longer in use. These houses were built by the Research Institute on its own land to house some of their staff.
The first occupants were William and Alys Henderson (No 1, 1947-51) and John and Muriel Brooksby (No 2, 1947-59). William Henderson was a veterinary surgeon, and, prior to moving into No 1, he and his wife had been living nearby at Bakersgate Cottage (see section below). Dr John Brooksby was also a veterinary surgeon (born in Glasgow c1915). In 1963 he became the director of the Institute (although by then he and Muriel were living in Runfold).
The other houses on the road were built a little later (in the mid-1950’s) by the Research Institute to provide housing for more of their senior staff. Counter-intuitively, the first house one comes to is No 18, and the final house is No 1. Given the expansion of the Institute since WW2, this could have been a sensible, cost-effective plan (ie to save the cost of rents paid for senior staff to live in large houses in the area). Around the same time, a large Administration Building was built nearby to act as an office for such staff (see Bakersgate Gardens section below).
The OS map of 1961 shows 9 buildings along the “road”. These 9 buildings align to today’s houses pretty well, except that today’s Nos 13 and 14 were not on the map, and today’s Nos 2 to 6 seem to have been restructured significantly since being built. The “road” was more likely to have been an unnamed track, rather than a road at the time. Occupants of the houses gave their addresses simply as “No x, Bullswater Common”.
By 1975 the OS map shows that the road had been built (and given its current name), and that all 9 of the original buildings were semi-detached, making 18 dwellings. Today, only Nos 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 15-16 and 17-18 are semi-detached. The remaining 8 houses are detached.
The vast majority of the early stays in Bullswater Common Road were short-term, perhaps because many of the staff were on temporary postings. In 1970, 4 of the 18 dwellings housed people titled “Doctor”. We will not list every occupant of each house. Instead, we will pick out two of the more interesting (at least, to us) ones.
Between 1969 and 1976, Tony and Jan Garland and their family lived at No 11. Those who have already read the section dealing with the Pirbright Institute will be familiar with his name, as he wrote an excellent history of the Institute for Pirbright Historians in 2012. We are very grateful to Tony for allowing us to include these notes in the section dealing with the Institute.
Between 1955 and 1964, Hubert and Mary Skinner lived at No 7. Tony Garland’s history (see bullet above) pays tribute to the work done by Hubert in documenting the history of the Institute. We can do no better than to quote Tony: “Hubert worked at the Institute between 1937 and 1946 and again between 1946 and 1979, the intervening years having been spent on active service with the RAF’s Bomber Command during World War II. He had a very practical and productive career in veterinary science and made major contributions to the control of foot-and-mouth disease. After his retirement he wrote comprehensively on the history of the Institute and recorded its scientific achievements during the first 65 years of its existence (as published in the journal Veterinary History). During his career Hubert lived on Bullswater Common Road opposite the Institute and after his retirement he moved to Rowe Lane where he lived until his death in 2010. He was also a prominent member of the Pirbright community, a staunch supporter of the village church and an active leader of the scouting movement.
In late 2003 the Pirbright Institute sold off all of the houses to private ownership. The houses were snapped up fairly rapidly and a few have been given rural-sounding names in addition to their house numbers. 6 of the 18 houses remain under the same ownership as in 2003.
The first turning on the left in Bullswater Common Road leads to a large building called Bakersgate Gardens. From the outside the building is rather grand, and is set in attractive grounds. It can lay claim to be the largest domestic building in Pirbright. A recent photo of Bakersgate Gardens is shown below.
The building today comprises 11 flats (some of which are 1-bedroom and some 2-bedroom), but what is its history?
The land it stands on was originally part of the 100-acre Bakersgate Farm (which is documented at some length in its own section below). In 1911 most of Bakersgate Farm (including the land where Bakersgate Gardens and Bakersgate Courtyard are today) was purchased by the Board of Agriculture in order to support the Cattle Testing Station that was to be built on the fields belonging to Pullens Farm.
The land remained agricultural from 1911 until WW2. Sometime after the war, the Research Institute (as it then was) decided to erect an “Administration Building”, and that is the building we know today as Bakersgate Gardens. The building can be seen in the background of the picture below, taken during the foot-and-mouth outbreaks in the early months of 1952.
We can see the building clearly marked on the 1961 OS map, but not on the 1938 OS map. From a distance it appears to be older than this, but a closer inspection of the brickwork shows it to be quite modern. Its purpose was to act as the “Head Office” for the Institute.
This usage ceased in the 1980’s and the building lay empty for a while. A photo from 1987 below shows the building at this time
The plot containing the Administration Building was later sold to a development company (Crownhall Estates Ltd), and approval for conversion to 11 flats was given in 2003.
Bakersgate Courtyard can be accessed by a left turn off the road leading to Bakersgate Gardens. A recent photo of part of the Courtyard is shown below.
The history of Bakersgate Courtyard is very similar to that of Bakersgate Gardens (above). The land was originally part of Bakersgate Farm, purchased by the Board of Agriculture in 1911, and remained in use by the Research Institute, mainly as a series of outbuildings.
The land was purchased by the same development company (Crownhall Estates) and approval was given in 2003 for conversion to 5 dwellings and small offices. However, to a casual eye, the plot is taken up with small business units, with no dwellings visible. Current businesses on the site include Photography, Design, Roofing and Construction.
Bakersgate Courtyard includes a large barn (adjoining the road) which is Grade II listed. The listing particulars are given below, together with an old photo of the barn. Note the quality of roads in days gone by. We have also shown a recent photo of the barn from the same position. Another photo shows the inside of the barn.
Barn, now store. C17 with C18 extension to rear, restored in C20. Timber framed, exposed on ground floor left with brick infill, on cement and rendered brick plinth. Weatherboard cladding above and on both floors to right end. Plain tiled roofs stepping down to right, half hipped over rear extension. Rectangular, with one small casement facing the street. Entrance to right hand return front. Small wing at right angles to rear.
Bakersgate is one of the oldest properties in the Fox Corner area, dating from the 1400’s. It is one of only 3 farms in Pirbright named on the 1763 Rocques map (the others being Heathers – ie Bullswater – and Cowshot). A copy of that section of the map is shown below.
The farm covered 100 acres in 1807 (53 acres arable, 18 acres meadow, 18 acres pasture and no less than 7 acres of hedges – that’s a lot of hedges). 2 of the fields have unusual names: Ambletons and Barclays. Where did these names originate? We have no idea, but any suggestions welcome.
By 1841 the farm was 85 acres, coloured green on the map below, and was the single largest farm in Pirbright at the time. In 1912 however, 95% of the farm was sold off to the Board of Agriculture in preparation for their construction of a Cattle Testing Station across the road. The full story of this Station (now The Pirbright Institute) is set out in a separate section above. Bakersgate today remains on its own much smaller (c3-acre) site.
There are 2 other properties on the site, which have their own separate section below: The Garden House (a bungalow) and Bakersgate Bungalow (another bungalow). There are also various outbuildings.
This section deals only with Bakersgate itself. We will start by looking at the Bakersgate house and then consider the owners and occupants.
Bakersgate – The house
For this section we have leaned heavily (very heavily actually) on the excellent research carried out by Joan Harding and other members of the Domestic Buildings Research Group (Surrey) in 1984, with thanks.
From the outside, Bakersgate is a fine L-shaped brick house with an attractive south frontage. It is this section of the house that is of great historic interest. However inside there is a much earlier structure thought to date from the 1400’s. This early house was a 2-bay timber-framed hall, open at the apex (ie with a gap in the roof instead of a chimney) as evidenced by heavily-sooted roof timbers, which the researchers uncovered.
Not surprisingly Bakersgate has undertaken many subsequent developments and extensions – many of which have masked or destroyed earlier features - but the researchers found several pieces of evidence of the original hall, which would have excited them considerably. They described this evidence in great technical detail (at least to our layperson eyes it seemed very technical). Fortunately they summarised their thoughts on the main stages of developments in plain English comments beside the 4 diagrams below.
The most significant of these developments were those in the 17th century and early 20th century.
We have shown below 6 photos of Bakersgate, taken in 1902, 1905, 1909, c2000, 2018 and 2021. The c2000 photo shows two of the Pirbright Historians who were visiting at the time. Each of the photos shows the oldest (ie south-facing) section of the house.
We’ve also shown below a photo of the kitchen at Bakersgate from 1910. We would bet quite a large sum that it doesn’t bear much resemblance to today’s Bakersgate kitchen.
The house is a Grade II Listed Building. We have copied the particulars (written in 1967) below. The writer at the time did not know about the later discoveries (in 1984), and so their opinion as to the date is certainly wrong.
C17 with C20 extensions to left end. Brown brick with some stone to ground floor centre right on rendered plinth, plain tiled roofs. 2 storeys with attics in gabled bays; leaded attic casement windows. Plat band over ground floors and also over first floor of gabled bays. Large triple diagonal stacks on rectangular plinth to left of centre, double stack to right end on crow-stepped plinth, under diagonal brick dentil top, and large square multiple stack to centre rear of house. Old front symmetrical, end gable bays with one 3-light casement window on each floor and evidence of previous, blocked windows under brick keystone heads. One 4-light casement window to centre and smaller window to right. Half glazed door to centre between flanking windows. One bay extension to left end in similar style. Right hand return front: new main entrance with six panel door, top two panels glazed, under cambered head and heavy projecting hood on brackets. C20 extensions to right. Interior: ceiling beams exposed, deep brick fireplaces.
The barn on the Ash Road on the immediate east side of the drive leading to Bakersgate is also Grade II listed, but this forms part of Bakersgate Courtyard, which has its own separate section above.
Bakersgate – The owners and occupants
Much of the material below on Bakersgate derives from the painstaking research carried out by Val Patrick, great-great granddaughter of one of the tenant farmers of Bakersgate in the 19th century. We are very much indebted to her for this work.
But let’s start at the beginning. It seems highly probable that the house dates back to the 1400’s, and that the early occupants were named Baker – hence the name, Bakersgate. Bakersgate was a large plot, and it was owned freehold (rather than copyhold, which means owned by the Lord of Pirbright Manor, as so many other Pirbright farms were). It therefore seems to us that from the earliest days, it was likely to have belonged to the core part of the Baker family (ie it was handed down from father Baker to eldest son through the generations, as was the custom). It seems possible that originally the Bakersgate farmland was carved out of the heath by one of the early Bakers, who lived at the hall house in the 1400’s, but this is seriously straying into pure guess work.
Local occurrences of the surname Baker (or derivations thereof) go back a long way, notably John Baker of Worplesdon (1317), Nicholas ate Beck (1332), John Baker (1558), and Phyllis Baker, a widow of Pirbright (1559). It would be convenient (and likely) to think that these people were connected with Bakersgate, but there is no evidence for this, and again it would be guesswork.
The name Bakersgate was not recorded in either the 1548 or 1574 surveys of Pirbright. But a farm called “Preylonde” appears in the 1548 survey (recorded as “Preylande” in 1574). We think this may have been the name for Bakersgate at the time, as the 1807 survey records one of the Bakersgate fields as being called “Prey Meadow”. The owner of Preylande in 1574 was one Richard Bynding.
But a little later, things start to connect better. We can state with reasonable confidence that, from the late 1500’s onwards, Bakersgate was owned by the Baker family, specifically a gentleman called John Baker (1568-1626). We assume that this John Baker was a descendant of the original Baker family (maybe 7 or 8 generations down the tree), but there is no evidence to support this.
During the next 200 years (until 1798), Bakersgate was owned by 5 different John Bakers, each being the eldest son (or in 1 case, grandson) of the previous John Baker. We have set out the detail of what we know about these gentlemen and their families in a separate section on the Baker family. In case you are hesitating whether or not to look at some pretty heavy genealogical detail in that section, here are the “highlights”:
In his will of 1626, John Baker divided his lands into 2 parts: A Pirbright part (principally Bakersgate), and a Worplesdon part (various farms in the Littlefield area). He bequeathed the 2 parts to different children and from that point on, the Baker family spilt into 2 branches – one in Pirbright and the other in Worplesdon. There was an intermarriage – in 1694, when a (Pirbright) John Baker married a (Worplesdon) Mary Baker. They were 3rd cousins. However, the 2 branches remained separate.•
By the late 1700’s, the Pirbright Bakers were a wealthy family. The 1771 will of one of the John Bakers included several bequests of land and money. That will is notable also for John writing that he wanted nothing to do with the husband of one of his daughters. Oh dear.
The Pirbright Baker dynasty died out quite rapidly, with the death of yet another John Baker in 1798, followed by the death of his unmarried daughter Elizabeth in 1864.
One rather surprising aspect is the scarcity of people living today who have posted any information about the early Baker family. We do know of one descendant who lives in the US. He can trace his roots to Lawrence Baker, born in 1611, one of the sons of John Baker (1568-1626). Lawrence emigrated to the US in the early 1600’s, which means that he was one of the first settlers to do so.
It is difficult to piece together these snippets into a coherent picture, but there clearly was a family of Bakers who were yeomen (farmers) in Pirbright from the 1500’s. The will of John Baker in 1586 seems to have divided the estate into 2 parts: the largest was in Pirbright (Bakersgate), while the other was in Worplesdon. From then on, the 2 parts of the family pretty much went their own separate ways.
Let us deal briefly with the Worplesdon part of the family. Andersel Hall and Watford were mentioned in 1626. Where were these? In 1841, Watford Meadow was a 3 acre plot, part of a large (155 acre) farm at Littlefield (although today it is entirely taken up by a quiet cul-de-sac on the west side of the Fairlands Estate). We have no clue about Andersel Hall. The will of Richard Baker in 1722 confirms where the Worplesdon Bakers lived - specifying copyhold land of 8 acres at Littlefield, (today just south of the A323, west of today’s Fairlands Estate).
From the early 1600’s, the Worplesdon Baker family had became Quakers, and were duly buried at the local Quaker burying place, named appropriately “Burying Place”, close to where Rokers is today, and only half-a-mile from where the Worplesdon Bakers were living. We have provided a bit more detail about the Worplesdon Bakers in the Baker family section.
But now back to the main business – the Pirbright Bakers. It is not until 1718 that we first come across a document definitively tying a Baker to Bakersgate: A gentleman called John Baker surrendered a property to (a different) John Baker of Baker’s Gate. This is a piece of concrete evidence to link the Bakers with Bakersgate, but as we have already stated, other strong evidence, albeit less concrete, suggests that the link was actually formed hundreds of years earlier.
After another subtle reminder that – for those that are interested - a fuller Baker history is here, we will fast forward to the end of the Baker dynasty in 1798, when the then owner of Bakersgate, John Baker, died without leaving any male heir. His wife Elizabeth (to whom he left his properties) was presumably not interested in farming, and was quite happy to say goodbye to rural Pirbright. Accordingly she put Bakersgate up for sale, and moved (with her daughter Elizabeth) to another Baker property – Stoughton Place (later demolished to make way for Stoughton Barracks). Thus ended the Baker dynasty at Bakersgate, which had lasted perhaps 300-400 years.
The purchaser of Bakersgate was Samuel Greenfield, born in Woking in 1746 and we will call him from now on Samuel Greenfield III.
Samuel III’s story starts with Samuel Greenfield I, born c1690, who was a carpenter of Shackleford (which was the western end of today’s Old Woking). He married Elizabeth (nee Goodyer) at Send in 1714 and they had 4 children, the 3rd of whom was Samuel Greenfield II (born 1720). Samuel I died at Woking in 1762 (described in the official records as “Samuel Greenfield the eldest”, to distinguish him from his son and grandson, both called Samuel), Elizabeth having died in 1752.
Samuel Greenfield II (1720-1795) was, like his father, a carpenter in Woking, probably at the same location in Shackleford where his father had lived. We know little about him, but there is one fact of interest: In December 1745, Samuel II married a lady named Anne Lawford in Worplesdon and 6 months later Samuel III was born. As we will see below, Anne gives her name to the area of Worplesdon later known as Lawfords, which even today includes a road named Lawford’s Hill Road. This area is the subject of another major section on this site (Lawford's Hill). Anne herself was probably unaware of this honour – it was likely bestowed several years after her death (in 1774). They had no other children.
In 1776 Samuel II remarried, to Sarah Howard, who was 12 years his junior. Sarah was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Howard of Pirbright (but we do not know where in Pirbright they lived). The marriage took place in Southwark in 1776, which raises a question – Why Southwark? Interestingly Samuel’s son, Samuel III had married a 17 year-old girl in Southwark 5 years previously (see below). Were the marriage rules a bit laxer in Southwark at the time? Or maybe both Samuels wanted to avoid the glare of publicity and gossip in Pirbright. Another question is why Sarah described herself as a widow from Southwark, when she was single and from Pirbright. Answers on a postcard please.
Samuel II’s will from 1795 contains a few interesting matters:
He left his messuage and appurtenances (ie house and contents) in Woking to his (2nd) wife, Sarah during the course of her life (Sarah later died in 1808 in Woking, leaving most of her personal estate – ie her possessions excluding any real estate - to her brothers and sisters, and £10 to Samuel’s grandson, George Greenfield).
After Sarah’s death, the above property was to pass to Samuel’s grandson, George (which was why it was excluded in Sarah’s 1808 will above).
He specifically excluded from his own estates all monies which would have come to his wife Sarah had she remained unmarried from the estates of John Howard, Thomas Howard and Jeremiah Howard (her father and 2 of her brothers). These should remain her property.
He bequeathed any residue from the estate to his grandson George, who he named as his executor. George was the eldest son of Samuel III, so it is interesting that Samuel II elected by-pass his only son Samuel III and pass his estate direct to his grandson. These days, it would be called tax planning, but in the 1790’s the motive would surely have been more prosaic.
Samuel III (1746-1836), born in Woking (probably the tailor’s shop in Shackleford), was the only child of Samuel II and Ann. He married Mary Sanders in 1771 in Southwark. Mary Sanders was only 17 when she married, and produced 5 children (George b 1773, Mary b 1774, Elizabeth b 1775, Samuel IV b 1779 and Richard b 1791). All 5 children survived into adulthood and were long-lived. All 5 married and had children, except George, who never married.
Despite not having been left any property in his father’s will of 1795, Samuel III was still a wealthy fellow. By 1800 at the age of 54, he had managed to purchase Bakersgate and various other properties, possibly having been given a large dollop of money by his father some years before.
Samuel III died in Send in 1836, aged 89. His will (in which he described himself as Samuel Greenfield the eldest of Send) includes the following points of interest to us:
He ratified the marriage settlement on his wife, Mary (we are not sure what this settlement entailed).
He left freehold land and houses in Bridley to his son George.
He also left his half-share of some land in Woking (recently purchased from Mrs Attfield) to his son George.
He left his freehold and copyhold land and buildings (including farming utensils, growing crops, hay, straw etc) in Pirbright to his son Samuel IV. This was Bakersgate.
He left his freehold and copyhold farmland, and dwellings in Send (including growing crops, live and dead stock, grain, dung, manure etc) to his son Richard.
He left to his daughter, Elizabeth Newey, copyhold dwellings and gardens in Woking, which were being let to John Bedford and John Wilcox.
Various bequests (sizeable) and annuities, including to his daughter, Mary Stevens.
Any residue to Samuel IV, who was also named executor.
You may be wondering where these various properties were. Fortunately the Tithe Map of 1841, published only 5 years after Samuel III’s death, tells us exactly what we want to know:
The property in Bridley (point 2 above) was almost certainly Lawfords (which was named after Samuel II’s first wife – refer above). George must have sold it to Samuel IV, as by 1841 it was owned by Samuel IV. It covered 12 acres of arable land and pasture, and 32 acres of waste. Lawfords has its own section elsewhere on this site.
The property in Woking (point 3 above) owned by George was called Gongers and covered 19 acres, where The Guru Indian Restaurant, Granville Road and the Loop Road recreation ground (just behind Woking FC) are today. George himself was living in Town Street, Shackleford (now Old Woking High St), probably in the same house that his grandfather (Samuel II) had bequeathed to him in 1795. George died and directed that all his property should be sold and the proceeds given to his brother-in-law, Thomas Stevens (husband of George’s sister Mary), after some bequests to Thomas and Mary’s children. He left nothing to his other siblings or their children.
As we mentioned, the property in point 4 above was Bakersgate, occupied by Samuel IV.
Richard and his family were living at the property in “Send Heath” (point 5 above), which was at that time somewhere off what is now Potters Lane. In addition he owned 2 acres on the south side of what is now Old Woking High St, not far from the garage on the opposite side of the road. Richard died in 1858.
Finally, the property in point 6 owned by Elizabeth Newey was about 1/3 of an acre on the south side of what is now Old Woking High St, just west of the mini roundabout turning to Send. Elizabeth was then living on her own near Bullswater. She died at Pirbright in 1854.
Samuel Greenfield IV had been born in Send in 1779, and had probably been farming Bakersgate ever since his father had purchased it in 1800. In 1830 – quite late in his life - he married Elizabeth Waterer, probably born in Woking in 1794. The marriage took place in Windsor, thereby continuing the Greenfield tradition of marrying somewhere several miles from where the couple lived.
Samuel and Elizabeth had 3 children: Henry was born in 1832, Elizabeth in 1833 and William in 1838 (but he died later the same year).
As an aside, the 1808 Woking parish register records the birth of a Charlotte Jelley to Elizabeth Jelley and Samuel Greenfield. Against Samuel’s name, the church officer wrote “Reputed Father”, which might be considered libellous today. The gentleman concerned was probably from a different Greenfield family to our Greenfields, but who knows?
In 1836, Samuel IV became the owner of Bakersgate on his father’s death. Almost immediately, a William Moth (alias Smith) was convicted of stealing 3 bags of wheat from Samuel. His sentence was transportation for 7 years (which seems a bit harsh to us nowadays).
In 1846 Elizabeth (Samuel’s wife) died aged 52, and at that point Samuel must have decided that, at the age of 67, enough was enough, and he rented the farm out to a John Corbett. Samuel moved out of Bakersgate and from 1846 was renting a large 5-bedroom residence with 3 acres at Perry Hill, Worplesdon from a Henry Daborn.
Then in 1854 Samuel IV died (living in Guildford, but buried in Pirbright – below is a photo of the gravestone of Samuel and Elizabeth, now partly illegible).
Samuel’s will is long and difficult to read, but the main provisions of interest to us are as follows:
A large sum of £1,600 (worth £160,000 today) was set aside as a capital sum to provide income for his daughter, Elizabeth (born 1833). If Elizabeth were to marry, her husband would have no rights over this income.
2 properties were to be sold, but in the meantime, any rents to be paid to his daughter Elizabeth, again with no interference from any future husband. The properties listed were:
- Grove Farm (Farrant’s Farm) in Pirbright (which Samuel had purchased from John and William Palmer and was still farmed by William Palmer)
- Hogleys (6 acres copyhold, which Samuel had purchased off the executors of James Honer and farmed by George Grover). Hogleys has its own section elsewhere on this site - The Farms.
One may wonder why his son Henry didn’t get a mention – he received no allowances or bequests in the will. The reason is (probably) simple – the electoral registers show that Samuel IV had already transferred Bakersgate to Henry c1851. Presumably Samuel IV thought that giving his 19 year-old son 100 acres was enough and that any other assets deserved to go to his other surviving child, Elizabeth.
So the sitting tenant, John Corbett was removed c1851 and Henry Greenfield was installed in Bakersgate. Thus the death of Samuel IV 3 years later would not have impacted the farm operations unduly.
5 months after the death of his father in 1854, Henry married at Alverstoke, Hampshire (following in the family tradition of away marriages). His wife was Mary Ann Stevens Waterer. Mary Ann was born in 1832, daughter of Michael and Sarah Waterer of Knaphill. Michael was a gardener – a very appropriate profession for someone with his surname - but there are 2 questions we could ask:
The first and most obvious question is: How was Mary Ann Stevens Waterer related to Elizabeth Waterer (born 1794), who married Henry’s father? With such an uncommon name, one would think they must have been related, but we cannot trace any relationship (having looked back to the early 1700’s).
The second question is: How did Mary Ann’s middle name of Stevens originate? This is more difficult - it is certainly an unusual Christian name, and moreover it did not appear on her birth record. One possibility is illegitimacy – the name being a reminder of the true father. Another theory is that she was brought up by a family called Stevens, and adopted this name as her own. The sister of Henry’s grandfather, Mary Stevens (born 1774) and her husband Thomas Stevens are possible candidates as are their children, but this is guesswork.
In 1856 Henry’s sister Elizabeth married Alfred Blunden of Richmond. Alfred and Elizabeth lived at Esher, but kept ownership of Grove Farm and Hogleys until at least 1891.
In 1857 Henry represented the “Pirbright Invincibles” against the “Knaphill Heroes” in a cricket match on Pirbright Green. The match was drawn, Henry managing to score only 6 runs in his 2 innings. But he did preside over a dinner for 60 people afterwards, so he can’t have been too disappointed. Another cricket match was reported that year: The Pirbright Invincibles were again involved, but this time playing against “Baker’s Gate Farm”. This time, Henry chose to represent his farm against his regular team. We have shown the report below, but not attempted to work out who everyone was. It must have been a treacherous pitch, as the scores are pretty poor. It is quite difficult to ascertain who won the match. In case you are interested (and we doubt that anyone is), it was the Invincibles.
Meanwhile Henry soldiered on at Bakersgate. His bulls won prizes at local agricultural shows and from 1858 to 1862 he was elected to represent Pirbright at the Board of Guardians at Guildford. The role of the Board was to administer the Poor Law in the area, which included responsibility for workhouses. He also enjoyed riding, as evidenced by the splendid picture of him below (with thanks to his grandson who supplied the picture).
In the meantime, Mary Ann gave birth to 5 daughters: Ellen (b 1855), Annie (b 1859), Sarah (b 1863), Jane (b 1865) and Flora Hagar (a biblical name, b 1869).
But in 1865 Henry decided that he had enough of farming. He decided to retire from farming (at the age of 33 – which surely wasn’t middle-aged, even in the 19th century) and offered the farm to let, selling all his farming assets (see ad below). Thomas Slaughter became the new lessee, and we will talk about him in a few paragraphs’ time.
At the same time, Henry and his family purchased Abbadon Place, which at the time was rather an isolated house on the Pirbright-Ash “road”. The house later became known as Heatherwood.
However, in 1876, disaster struck. Henry (described as a nurseryman) entered into a “Liquidation by arrangement”, which was a process by which creditors could recoup their debts without putting the debtor into formal bankruptcy. In short, Henry couldn’t pay his bills. How had he got into this position? We don’t know is the simple answer. He had significant assets in the form of Bakersgate, and he had moved into a smaller house (Abbadon Place), so what could have gone wrong?
2 possible situations come to mind:
Firstly, Henry’s main source of income would have been rents from Thomas Slaughter, who was farming Bakersgate. 1875 was a very wet summer and the winter was the coldest of the century, so perhaps Thomas had fallen behind with his rental payments, hence depriving Henry of funds. However the fact that Thomas continued to rent Bakersgate for a further 15 years suggests that this was not the cause of Henry’s problems.
Secondly, perhaps Henry had overstretched himself in some way. He had purchased Abbadon Place 10 years earlier and started a nursery business there, but there may have been other drains on his cash. For example he may have invested in risky stock market investments, which had underperformed. The railways boom and bust had happened 20 years previously, but there would have been other risky stocks to attract high-risk investors (there always are). For example, in 1866 Overend & Gurney, a very large financial firm in London, collapsed. Certainly there was a worldwide economic depression from 1873 to 1877, caused mainly by factors in the emerging US economy. Britain was not as badly hit as the US or Germany, but there was severe unemployment, and stock market prices were lacklustre.
Perhaps Henry’s problems were caused by a combination of the above or other more lurid reasons (an array of potential vices spring to mind, as well as horse-riding). We will probably never know. But in any case things turned out happily for Henry as the cutting below shows.
Henry was clearly a popular fellow, as the mutual back-slapping attests. We should mention some of the other attenders:
James Christmas was the baker at Rickford House (today the Christmas Bakery, named after James and his descendants, who still run the bakery). The story of James and the bakery are told on the Christmas family page on our sister website.
J Sherman was John Frost Sherman, who owned Heath Mill.
John Searle was a coal merchant who lived on Pirbright Green.
George Holt was one of the executors of Henry’s father’s will back in 1854, and Henry’s father referred to him in his will as a friend. He was a 66 year-old upholsterer whose shop had been on North Street, Guildford, and he sounds like a good sort.
The photo below was taken c1880 in front of The Royal Oak, which was (and still is) the nearest pub to Bakersgate. This may show Henry (standing in front of horse) and some Bakersgate workers enjoying lunch. The 2 scythes are particularly impressive.
Henry died in 1895, and Mary Ann in 1906. Their gravestone in Pirbright Churchyard is shown below. His headstone reads "In loving memory of Henry Greenfield who died January 5th 1895 aged 64 years. A light is from our household gone, A voice we loved is stilled, A place is vacant in our home, which never can be filled”. Under Mary Ann’s name, the inscription is simply “Peace be with you”, which could be interpreted in different ways.... In 1928 their daughter Annie Kitchener in her will set up a charity for the maintenance of these graves.
After his death, Mary Ann moved to Brookwood, and Bakersgate and Abbadon Place were sold. Both were bought by Baron Henry de Worms MP, who later became Lord Pirbright. He had already bought several pieces of land in Pirbright, and continued to do so, later building “model cottages” on some of them. Pirbright Cottages is an example of one set of such cottages, and we have elaborated on Lord Pirbright in the section dealing with Pirbright Cottages. For some reason the Baron renamed Bakersgate as “Pirbright Place Farm”, and this is how it is recorded on maps of that time. After his death, however, the name changed back to Bakersgate.
Back now to 1865, when Thomas Slaughter started renting Bakersgate. We have set out what we know about Thomas and Eliza (nee Hartfree) in the section dealing with Pullens Farm. We have also added a section on the Slaughter family, drafted by a descendant of Thomas in a separate Slaughter Family section. In brief, Thomas had been born 1823 at Russellplace Farm in Wood Street (just off Frog Grove Lane), the son of an earlier William Slaughter (also from Worplesdon) and his wife Jane.
In 1846 Thomas married Eliza Hartfree. Eliza (born 1823) was the daughter of Solomon and Eleanor Hartfree who had 8 children. The Hartfree family crop up a couple of times elsewhere on these pages:
Eliza’s elder brother, William Hartfree (born 1817) tended the plantation now forming part of Worplesdon Golf Course. In early maps it was called Hartfree’s Plantation.
One of William Hartfree’s children, Ellen Hartfree (who was therefore a niece of Eliza) married Arthur Holdforth in 1865. They lived at No 1, Malthouse Cottages.
During the 1850’s Thomas and Eliza lived at The Harrow Inn, Compton, where Thomas was the publican, but he soon changed career to become a farmer. In the 1860’s he reverted to life as a publican and moved to The Nag’s Head, near the present-day Brookwood traffic lights, but c1865 he leased Bakersgate off Henry Greenfield, in order to run Bakersgate farm.
Thomas and Eliza had 11 children, one of whom, William, later ran Pullens Farm. A photo of Thomas and Eliza is shown below.
Thomas appeared in the local newspapers from time to time, not always in an entirely favourable light:
In 1874 a man was charged with cutting 4 poles from some of Thomas’s trees. The man was fined £1, which was paid by the man’s father “remarking as he did so: ‘It’s all done out of spite as Slaughter could not have his own way’”.
In 1881 Thomas was summonsed for shooting game (partridges, to be precise) on Pirbright Common. Although like others, Thomas had rights to graze animals on that land, someone else had the shooting rights on that piece of land (from the War Dept), and this person (one CD Burnett, who lived at Kiln Cottage in Mill Lane) had apparently warned Thomas before not to shoot there. Thomas was fined nearly £2.
In 1887, Thomas was in a dispute with a farmer from Chiddingfold over 200 lambs, which Thomas had agreed to over-winter at Bakersgate for a fee. After only 4 weeks the other farmer thought that Thomas had underfed his lambs and so removed them from Bakersgate. Thomas accordingly sued him for breaking their contract, and the case hinged on the quality of the feed at Bakersgate. The judge found in favour of Thomas.
Below are 2 photos of the Slaughter family at Bakersgate c1871.
c1891, after 26 years at Bakersgate, Thomas and Eliza moved to Frog Grove Farm. Thomas was aged 68, and maybe he thought it was time to hang up his farming boots and retire. Or maybe Eliza was unwell – in fact she died at Frog Grove the following year. Thomas died there in 1901.
Replacing the Slaughters as tenants of Bakersgate in 1891 were James and Sarah Grist and their family. John Sherman, the miller at nearby Heath Mill, would no doubt have been amused that someone with the name of Grist was moving in.
James was born in 1826 near Romsey, Hampshire, a son of William (a farmer of 150 acres) and Mary Grist. He married fairly late in life – at the age of 40 – to Sarah Moody (born 1835 near Stockbridge, Hampshire). They had 4 children – Gertrude (b 1870), Harry (b 1871), Ernest Frank (b 1873), and Dora (b 1875).
When James was younger, he worked on his father’s farm, but in 1871 he was gamekeeper at Compton House, a 1300-acre property which today sits 50 metres from the M3, south of Winchester. In 1881 he was still a gamekeeper, near Stockbridge. In 1891 he was the publican of The Jovial Sailor pub in Ripley (which is still there).
But later that year, James decided to return to his farming roots and moved into Bakersgate. James Grist was only 3 years younger than Thomas Slaughter at the time, so we can assume that he would have been supported by his family, who would have done most (or all) of the heavy lifting at the farm. The 1901 census shows Ernest Frank and Dora living at Bakersgate.
Ernest Frank Grist is of particular interest, as in 1908 he married Alice Christmas (born 1872), the daughter of James and Sarah Christmas. James had bought the Rickford Bakery (now Christmas Bakery) in 1870. He was also the trustee of the fund set up to repay the creditors of Henry Greenfield after his near-bankruptcy in 1876 (see above). Alice also had a younger brother named Ernest Frank (Christmas), which must have been confusing at times. 5 years earlier, Dora Grist (sister of Ernest Frank) had married Charles Christmas (brother of Alice), so the 2 families had become closely connected. All rather complicated for the outsider, though.
In 1895, as we mentioned above, Henry Greenfield died and the future Lord Pirbright purchased Bakersgate. This seemed to make no difference to the Grist tenancy, and James (or should we say Ernest) continued to farm at Bakersgate uninterrupted.
In 1909, following the death of Lord Pirbright, Lady Pirbright sold Bakersgate (and Pullens) at auction (see newspaper cutting in the Pullens section above). The successful bidder was John Cherryman, who paid £2,800 (£260,000 today).
John Cherryman was farming 110 acres at Causeway Bridge Farm in School Lane. Perhaps he had purchased Bakersgate with the idea of bequeathing it to one of his children (he and his wife Maria had 11 children, of whom 9 were still alive).
More likely he had it in mind as an investment. In fact John was something of a local property developer: Although he farmed at Causeway, at various times he owned Whites, Fords, Cowshott, Little Cut, West Hall & Manor Farms in Pirbright. He built Cooks Green Cottages and Elm Bank in School Lane. We haven’t found any evidence that John’s children farmed any of these farms except Causeway. John died in 1925 leaving £21,000 (worth £1 million today). Below is a photo of John from a family wedding.
After the change in ownership in 1909, James Grist (or rather, Ernest) continued to farm at Bakersgate until 1911. At that time, the Board of Agriculture purchased the vast majority of Bakersgate land from John Cherryman in order to support the Cattle Testing Station that was to be built on the fields belonging to Pullens Farm. This was a highly significant event in the area, and we have spelt out what happened in some detail the section on Pullens Farm above.
The upshot was that there was no Bakersgate land left for farming, but by then James and his family had already left – maybe they had caught wind of the Board’s plans. The Grists moved to a farm just south of Bramley. James died in 1914 and Sarah died 2 years later. Ernest Frank died at Bramley in 1948 and Alice at Ewhurst in 1954. They had 1 daughter, Dora (born 1909).
We will continue with the story of the Bakersgate buildings, but before we do so, a few words on what happened to the 100 acres of farmland that had been part of Bakersgate, but had been purchased by the Board of Agriculture. For the first year, the Board leased the land back to John Cherryman, but this was only a 1-year tenancy. After that, as far as we know, the land was kept to supply the Cattle Testing Station with hay, fodder, etc for the animals that were to be tested.
Below are 2 photos taken on the Bakersgate fields. We do not know when these were taken, but our guess (and it is just a guess) would be the early 1930’s. The horses could be the same beasts in each picture. The gentleman is believed to Percy Sage, the foreman of the Testing Station and its successor organisations from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. He is discussed in the White Cottage No 2 section above. He was born in 1889, which is the main basis for our guess of the date (he looks to be in his 40’s to us). We have also included a picture of the text on the reverse of the colour photograph. Unfortunately it poses more questions than it answers (eg, Who is Kittye? Where is the shop – was it Moor’s Stores at Fox Corner?)
After 1911, the house was occupied by a William Muggeridge for a couple of years. The next mention we have of Bakersgate is 1918-20 when George and Hilda Dixon lived there. In 1911 George (born in Derbyshire) had been an inspector for the Board of Agriculture in Yorkshire, and in 1918 may have been posted by the Board to Pirbright as a senior executive at the Testing Station. Hilda was born in Hampshire. After a short stay at Bakersgate they moved to Brookwood, probably still working at the Testing Station.
In 1921 Esmond and Edith Brown were living at Bakersgate. Esmond was a veterinary surgeon working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. He seemed to have several different postings, and may well have been on a secondment as to support George Dixon at the Research Station.
By 1927, Sir John Jarvis had bought Bakersgate. Sir John lived at Hascombe Court, south of Godalming, which was an imposing 172-acre estate. It has its own Wikipedia page, which is worth a read. For example it tells us that recent owners have included Chris Evans and Boris Berezovsky. Hmm... A photo of Sir John and a (recent) photo of Hascombe Court are shown below.
But what is even more interesting is that Sir John was a wealthy industrialist who advised the government during WW1, became a director of several companies, and became MP for Guildford (1935-50). He was created a Baronet in 1922 for his services to government. He too has his own Wikipedia page.
But even more interesting to us than all that is that one of his daughters, Joyce, married Charles Lyle, and they chose to live in Bakersgate for a considerable time. Presumably Sir John had bought Bakersgate as a wedding present for them, as he immediately had some renovation work done to the north-west corner of the building. The Lyle-Joyce wedding took place in London in 1927, and was reported widely. 2 reports are shown below, which seem to focus more on Sir John’s sporting prowess than the happy couple. They omit to mention that Sir John was also a scratch golfer.
[As an aside, Joyce’s younger brother, Adrian Jarvis (known as Jimmy), later became Sir Adrian Jarvis and assumed the title of 2nd Baronet on the death of his father in 1950. He married, but presumably had no male children, as the baronetcy became extinct on his death in 1965. He and his wife lived at Admiral’s Walk in Pirbright from 1936 to his death (which followed his collapse at Waterloo Station). He had been a company director and racehorse owner.]
By 1928, Charles Lyle was installed as the new owner. We should remember that Bakersgate then comprised the (recently renovated) house, some land and outbuildings, but not the 110 acres of fields which now belonged to the Testing Station.
Charles was a scion of a rather famous family. The story starts with Abram Lyle, who was born in Greenock in 1820. He joined his father’s cooperage business and then branched out into shipping. The shipping business involved transporting sugar, and in 1865 he broadened the business to include sugar refining. In 1883 he started refining sugar at Plaistow in east London. One of the by-products of the refining process is a treacle-like syrup that used to go to waste. Abram started to collect the syrup and sell it locally and to employees. By 1885 Lyle’s Golden Syrup was being canned and sold in grocery stores. Today over a million tins of the stuff leave the Plaistow refinery every month.
Abram Lyle’s strong religious beliefs are the reason why the famous tin features a quotation from the Bible: "Out of the strong came forth sweetness". Abram died in 1891. A portrait of him is shown below (with thanks to Tate & Lyle).
[A historical point: Britain’s sugar industry in the 19th century was certainly built on a foundation of slavery during the previous 2 centuries. However Abram Lyle was only 12 when slavery was abolished in 1833 and his father at that time ran a cooperage business in Scotland. We are not aware of any evidence that Abram or his later partner, Henry Tate, was connected to slavery.]
Abram’s sons (Abram and his wife Mary had 10 children) carried on the business of Lyle & Sons, and pictures of one of their early vehicles, together with their best known product are shown below. An interesting fact: Those green and gold cans (according to Guinness World Records) are the world’s oldest example of branding.
One of Abram’s sons was Charles Lyle (1851-1929), about whom we know little. But Charles and his wife Mary had one son, Charles Ernest Leonard (1882-1954, known as “Leonard”), who was to become considerably more eminent as an industrialist and an MP.
Leonard joined the family firm in 1903 and soon became a director. He married Edith Levy in 1904 and they had 3 children, including, in 1905, Charles John Leonard Lyle (who arrived in Pirbright in 1928 – we will get back to him soon, so please be patient).
Leonard was then elected as Conservative MP for the Stratford division of West Ham at the 1918 general election, but was defeated at the 1922 election. He was returned to the House of Commons in 1923 for Epping, but stood down at the 1924 election to make way for Winston Churchill.
Leonard was still a director in 1921 when Abram Lyle & Sons merged with Henry Tate & Sons, who were refining sugar a couple of miles from the Lyle Plaistow refinery. The new firm was refining about half of the UK’s sugar. 2 fascinating facts about Tate & Lyle from the 1930’s:
Tate & Lyle was one of the original founder constituents of the FT-30 index in 1935, and remains the only constituent from the original index still listed today.
Built in 1939, the new factory in Plaistow became the largest cane sugar refinery in the world. It was an impressive building, standing at 180ft high, but unfortunately, soon after became a target for the Luftwaffe.
Leonard was knighted in 1923, became chairman of Tate & Lyle in 1928, was made a Baronet (of Westbourne) in 1932, and became President of Tate & Lyle in 1937. He stood for Parliament again in 1940, when he was elected as MP for Bournemouth at an unopposed by-election, and held the seat until he was ennobled in October 1945 in Churchill's resignation honours list, becoming Baron Lyle of Westbourne.
Leonard was also a notable athlete who represented Great Britain at lawn tennis, competing in the Men's Singles at the Wimbledon Championships in 1922, 1923, and 1924. He became chairman of the Lawn Tennis Association in 1932, having been the first chairman of the International Lawn Tennis Club from 1924 to 1927. He was also president of the Professional Golfers' Association from 1952 to 1954, and was elected a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1952. Quite how he managed to fit all those achievements into one life is beyond us. In his earlier life the family lived at Woldingham (near Caterham), but latterly they moved to Poole (where they lived with a butler, 4 servants, a gardener, a cook and 2 nurses). Edith died in 1942, while Leonard died in 1954 at the age of 72, leaving effects (ie excluding property) of £664,000 (worth £14 million today). A portrait of him is shown below.
So now at last we can revert to Charles John Leonard Lyle, who moved into Bakersgate in 1928.
Charles was born in 1905 in London, the only son of Leonard and Edith. He was brought up in Woldingham, and became a director of Tate & Lyle. As we reported above, he married Joyce Jarvis (born 1902) in 1927. For a honeymoon they took a 3 week cruise to Madeira.
In 1930, Charles submitted a planning application for a cottage a few yards to the north of Bakersgate, but this was not approved (for reasons unknown). In 1936 he submitted a different application – this time for a 2-storey extension of the main house, adding a north wing. The ground floor was for a “Servants sitting room”, whilst the first floor would comprise 2 “Maid’s rooms”. It was a different world in those days... The cottage he had unsuccessfully applied for in 1930 appears on the 1936 plan as now built – pretty much the same size and in the same position as originally drawn - and is described as a bungalow. How Charles managed to achieve this is not known... We have shown below (on the left) part of the 1936 plans, showing the new north wing (in black) and the new bungalow (topmost building).
In 1938 Charles submitted yet another planning application, this time for a Gardener’s Cottage, as shown on the plan below (on the right). The disallowed 1930 bungalow is still there of course, as is the 1936 extension. But the house seems to have grown a little larger than was envisaged on the 1936 plan – or perhaps this is our imagination...
The 1939 census shows Charles and Joyce at Bakersgate, together with a cook, a parlourmaid and a housemaid. There was a chauffeur/gardener (Charles Dean) living at the Bakersgate Cottage. Charles gave his occupation as Civil Servant (Ministry of Food, Sugar Section), which presumably was a temporary pre-war position.
Charles became Lord Lyle, 2nd Baron of Westbourne, on the death of his father in 1954. On the day of his father’s funeral (3 days after his father’s death), thieves broke into Bakersgate while 3 maids were sleeping. Jewellery and a coat, worth £6,000 in total (£125,000 in today’s money), was taken. A most unpleasant thing for someone to do. One slightly less notable event regarding Lord Lyle was recorded that year in the newspapers: He was the judge of an “ankle competition” (won by a Mrs Golby) at the Rawlins Club Christmas Party.
[For the technically minded: When Charles inherited his father’s title of 2nd Baron in 1954, he assumed the title of “Lord” merely as a courtesy title, as he was not a member of the peerage. As his title was a courtesy title only, we are not certain that his wife was technically able to call herself “Lady Lyle”. Whatever the rules, she went ahead and did so.]
As far as we know, Charles and Joyce had no children. Charles died in 1976, leaving £438,000 (worth £2.6 million today). Joyce, aged 75, remarried the following year to the 65 year-old Lt Col Roland Cranstoun Pennefather MBE, a London solicitor. Roland was living in Little Crammond, Chapel Lane, having previously lived at Whites Farm. Joyce and Roland each kept their separate Worplesdon Exchange phone numbers. Joyce died in 1983, leaving £941,000 (worth £2.8 million today). A newspaper report of Joyce’s death is shown below. Note that the title “Lady Lyle” is in inverted commas (refer note in the paragraph above).
Roland, who had won his MBE for wartime service in Burma, continued to live at Bakersgate for a few years. He died, still living at Bakersgate, in 1988, leaving £696,000 (worth £1.7 million today).
A photo of Charles is shown below (with thanks to the National Portrait Gallery), together with his and Joyce’s grave in Pirbright Churchyard.
After Roland Pennefather’s death in 1988, Bakersgate (and the adjacent cottage now called The Garden House) was sold to a family, who still live there. c2019, an application for yet another set of renovation works was approved.
There are 2 other dwellings at Bakersgate: Bakersgate Cottage and The Garden House. These are clearly shown below on the current large-scale OS map - although Bakersgate Cottage is confusingly named "Bakersgate Bungalow" - and we will deal with them in turn. In case you were wondering, Bakersgate itself is the large building just south of The Garden House. The map below is used with thanks to Ordnance Survey.
The Garden House (previously Bakersgate Bungalow, or The Bungalow at Bakersgate)
The Garden House, as it is now known, was built by Charles Lyle c 1932 after having planning permission turned down in 1930. The original 1930 design was a single-storey bungalow, and we assume that this was what was eventually built, as the house was originally known as Bakersgate Bungalow, or The Bungalow at Bakersgate. As far as we know, the house has continued to be owned by the owners of Bakersgate to this day.
The first occupants (from 1932) were Charles & Ethel Dean. Charles was born at Liss in 1906, the 7th of 9 children to George and Mary Dean. George was a journeyman Baker. Ethel was a Guildford lass, having been born in Cline Road (the 6th of 8 children) in 1907. At the time of their marriage (1925) Ethel was living at Wodeland Avenue and Charles, who gave his profession as gardener, lived at The Chase.
By 1939 the couple had 2 children, and Charles was a chauffeur/gardener, working for Charles Lyle at Bakersgate. We have shown 2 photos of the family below – on the left, a photo of Charles and Ethel with their eldest child (c1928), and on the right, Ethel with the same child c6 years later in the orchard at Bakersgate.
In 2012 one of the children wrote the following memoir of her childhood (below).
I was born at Bakers Gate, (which is opposite the "Research Station”), in 1939. I moved away in 1959. My parents continued there until they retired and went to live at 3, The Terrace in the village.
Bakers Gate was my world, until I went to school at Pirbright in 1944. There were no other children to play with, my cousin Margaret came with her grandfather sometimes, they too lived in the village. During the war years I had the freedom to roam the whole property, and even when the owners returned, they were often away, leaving me free to enjoy the front gardens.
We lived in the House for a time during the war, there were two land girls, Doreen and Agnes, as there were vegetables grown to sell locally. I used to go through the hedge to the farm - how I loved the shire horses, and I was sometimes sat on one.
When I was older my friend Heather, who lived at Pullens, on the Research Station, and I used to play amongst the straw bales high up in the barn, until Mr Sage caught us, and sent us off. The guinea pig house, now apartments, I loved looking the windows and seeing the guinea pigs scampering round.
We also used to roam all the commons, had camps, climbed trees. We even used to explore Brookwood Cemetery. The gardens of the house seem to be all lawns now, no rose garden, or huge borders of flowers, top shed gone.
Editor’s notes: Mr Sage was Percy Sage, the Research Station foreman, who we have discussed under that section above. However, we are not sure where the guinea pig house was. It may have been on the north side of the road, where Bakersgate Courtyard stands now.
The Deans stayed at Bakersgate Bungalow until at least 1970, which means that they lived there, working for the Lyles, for around 40 years. As noted above, they retired to The Terrace in Pirbright. In 1987 they moved to near Honiton, Devon to live with their daughter. Ethel died there in 1988, followed by Charles just 6 months later. Both were buried at Pirbright. A photo of their gravestone is shown below.
By 1981, Roland & Elsie Farnsworth were living at the Bungalow, but they had moved out by 1991.
In 1991 the new owners of Bakersgate applied unsuccessfully for permission to demolish the bungalow and build a new bungalow. In the end they settled on major renovations via a series of planning applications, together with a change of name to The Garden House (c1992). Family members of the new owners now live there.
Bakersgate Cottage was built in 1938 by Charles Lyle as a gardener’s cottage. Originally a bungalow, it was built with 2 bedrooms in the roof space.
It was never destined to be used as a gardener’s cottage – the Lyles’ gardener/chauffeur proceeded to live at what is today called The Garden House (refer paragraph above). So who did live in Bakersgate Cottage?
It wasn’t occupied at the time the 1939 register was compiled, and so the earliest record we have is from 1945-46, when William and Alys Henderson lived there. William was a Veterinary Surgeon at the Research Institute, who was living at Rowe Lane before WW2. Alys had been living nearby with her parents at Millstream Cottage, although in 1939 she was working as a cook at Guy’s Hospital in Southwark. They married in 1941 and possibly moved into Bakersgate Cottage at that time. In 1947 they moved to No 1, Bullswater Common (named Culvers – see above), then to Bullswater Lodge and later to Richmond, having produced 3 sons along the way.
The next occupants were Barbara Winthrop Winthrop and her sister Evelyn Vanda Brown. We will start with Barbara, who was born in 1904. In 1939 she described herself as a Private Secretary and happened to be staying at the Pump House Hotel in Llandrindod Wells at the time of the 1939 register. This was a grand Victorian spa hotel, but now no longer exists. She was actually living with her parents at Dimbula on the Bagshot Road (which is just outside the scope of this site). Earlier in the 1930’s she had sailed to South Africa and Nigeria (first class), presumably for holidays (as she gave her occupation as “None”). So, there are some indications of a wealthy family.
Evelyn Winthrop (date and place of birth not known, but we presume she was born in Sri Lanka – see below) married James Brown (of the Colonial Service) in 1933 in the Gold Coast (Africa, not Australia). However when Evelyn moved into Bakersgate Cottage with her sister after WW2 her husband was not with her – we presume that he had died overseas. She did however have a daughter, Shirley Winthrop Brown and a son, Alan Winthrop Brown.
Barbara and Evelyn were the daughters of Charles and Vanda Winthrop, who lived at Dimbula on the Bagshot Road. Charles described himself in 1939 as a “Ceylon Tea Planter, retired”. The couple had returned from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) c 1921 and had been living at Dimbula since 1924. Dimbula is Sinhalese for “Land of Figs”, and is the name of a tea-growing area in central Sri Lanka, so that gives us an idea where Charles and Vanda had made their fortune.
[There is also a delightful town in north-west Victoria, Australia called Dimboola. It was founded in 1862 and is a very convenient stopping place on the road from Melbourne to Adelaide. The District Surveyor of the time had previously spent time in Ceylon, hence the name.]
Charles died in 1947 and Vanda 2 years later, and the 2 sisters decided to live in Bakersgate Cottage. We assume that Dimbula was sold and that they used the proceeds to buy Bakersgate Cottage, although we do not know this for certain.
In 1960, Shirley married David Head (from Canterbury) at Pirbright Church. The reception was held at Bakersgate.
By 1961 the cottage had its own driveway to the main road, thus separating it from Bakersgate. The sisters continued to live in the cottage until Evelyn died in 1992. (Barbara subsequently died in 1996). A photo of Barbara is shown below. It has been extracted from a group photo of embroiderers of the church kneelers at Pirbright Church.
By 1993 the current owners had moved into Bakersgate Cottage.