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Malthouse Lane

Malthouse Lane in snow header.jpg
Malthouse Lane.jpg
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Early history

The earliest maps we have of the Fox Corner area (Senex, 1729 and Rocque, 1768) show a track leading from Rickford Bridge to Pirbright Green approximately following the course of today’s Malthouse Lane and Chapel Lane (allowing for some licence in interpretation).

It is therefore a little surprising that neither the 1807 map or the 1841 Tithe map of Pirbright (excerpts of both shown above) show Malthouse Lane.  However the detailed survey which accompanies the 1807 map describes this border of the map as “The common from Rickford to the Pot Shop at Hogsty Lane with the Lane included”, which suggests that the lane did exist at that time.  It makes sense that some sort of a track existed along the course of Malthouse Lane, since it ran very near to the boundary of Pirbright and Bridley Manors, and would have been a useful link between Chapel Lane (or Hogsty Lane as it was called then) and Rickford. 

1807 Map of Pirbright - Malthouse Lane.jpg
Tithe map -Malthouse Lane section.jpg

There is a reference in the1873 newspaper cutting below to a “Walk around the boundaries of Pirbright”, which suggests that a track existed along the entire parish boundary (which would include the Malthouse Lane – Chapel Lane route) since at least the early 1800’s.  Some readers may think the article should be taken with a pinch of salt, however....

Boundaries cutting.jpg

Looking at the 1807 map above, Malthouse Lane would have run from the crossing of 2 tracks (just to the south-west of the label “To May”) in a north north-westerly direction alongside fields 393 and 391, as far as field 390.  After that the lane becomes a track, and veered to the east slightly to follow the Guildford-Woking boundary (marked by the edge of the dotted area).

At that time the lane would probably have been a narrow track across open countryside, capable of carrying carts.  As was the case until a few years ago (when repairs were made), the lane would have become very muddy in winter, especially on the section leading uphill to where the golf course is today.  Generally when this happened, lanes often became deeper, especially on sandy soils, as can be seen on some of the lanes around Albury and Chilworth.  Our experience in recent years is that, when this happens on gentler inclines on clay soils, people simply find an alternative route, by-passing the muddiest sections.  These alternative routes can gradually become the new track.  This may have been the case in the past with Malthouse Lane – certainly the track leading up to the golf course has changed its course at one point within the last 30 years. 

The upper stretch of the lane passes close to fields on the left side, marked on the 1807 map as “Hoad’s.  We will cover the history of these fields, and answer the burning question of who Mr Hoad was under Mount Lodge.

1870 Map of Malthouse Lane.jpg

The 1870 OS map (above) shows Malthouse Lane as a track across heathland, running along the line of the parish boundary.  There are no houses built along the lane yet, but we can see that the line of the lane differs slightly from the current line at the very top, where it veers to the west briefly before straightening and rejoining the parish boundary at Dawson’s Well (which still exists as a rather boggy depression next to the golf course).  This deviation may have been temporary, to avoid a particularly muddy section, as explained above. 

After Dawson’s Well, there is a track running north west to Hogleys Farm.  This track appears on the later 1915 OS map, but today no longer exists, probably because of the subsequent use of the common by the military during WW2.

In the 1880’s, the southern part of Malthouse Lane on both sides (as far as the current southern boundary of Stangate) was purchased by the Manor of Bridley (William Ewing) – possibly from the War Department.  The land owned by Bridley Manor is coloured pink on the 1888 map below (prepared for the purpose of an auction after the death of Mr Ewing).

Bridley Plan - Fox Corner 1888 plan low res.jpg

Despite being auctioned, the land (which at this time was known as “Heath End”) stayed with the Lord of Bridley Manor until 1905.  It was then sold by Thomas Montague Richards (the then Lord) to Dr (James) Risien Russell.  The reasons why Mr Richards had to sell this land are interesting, and explained in the section dealing with Berry Lane.

Dr Russell had recently purchased (and was living at) Hodds Farm (which he later renamed The Grange) at the foot of Stanley Hill, and presumably bought the land as an investment.  He had an interesting background:  He was born in 1863 in British Guiana (now Guyana) to a Scottish water engineer (and sugar plantation owner) and Hon. Mrs Russell, who was of African descent but about whom little is known.  His father was one of the richest people in the colony, and young James was sent to school in Scotland.  He qualified as a doctor, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1897. 

While he was at Pirbright he became a Professor of Medical Jurisprudence (which is the application of medical science to legal issues, eg at inquests).  During WW1 he served as a captain in the RAMC and was an expert on shell shock and neurasthenia.  He later became a leading neurologist He has his own Wikipedia page.

He married in 1892 and soon became a father.  But the couple divorced in 1913 after it was reported that he had spent the night with an unidentified woman at a hotel, King's Cross. The scandal led to his resignation from University College Hospital and his clubs, and led to a reported decrease in female patients in the following years.

He remarried in 1924 and remained in London, where he became a doctor of high repute.  He campaigned for reform of the lunacy laws, and died in his consulting rooms, between appointments, in 1939.  Below are 2 pictures of Dr Russell, together with a photo of the Blue Plaque erected at 44, Wimpole St, London in 2021.

Risien Russell.jpg
Risien Russell blue plaque.jpg
Risien Russell 2.jpg

Unsurprisingly Dr Russell knew Henry Morton Stanley, who lived just a few yards away at the top of Stanley Hill.  Their children had played together, and Stanley became one of Dr Russell’s patients.

In 1908 Dr Russell sold the Malthouse Lane land to John Frost Sherman, who had been the miller at Heath Mill.  This meant that Mr Sherman now owned all of the land on both sides of what is now Malthouse Lane.  He had already built Walden (now Avila), Mount Lodge and Netley Bungalow (now Annin’s Cottage) further up the lane, but now he had plans to build more houses. 

The developers arrive

The 1915 OS map (pictured below) shows that 2 new houses had been built by John Frost Sherman on the west side of Malthouse Lane by this time:  Heatherlea and Nos 1&2 Malthouse Lane (now Woodford Cottage), adding to the 3 he had already built further up the lane. 

1915 Map of Malthouse Lane.jpg

The opposite side of the lane was undeveloped, and comprised 3 fields, all of which belonged to John Sherman.  The southernmost (and largest field) is where Crimscote, Elcombe, Markham, Derry Cottage and Ivory Cottage now stand, the next field is now occupied by Appletrees and Downswood, and the third field is now Woodpeckers.  Past the fields is a narrowing strip of land, which looks as though it was uncultivated in 1915.  Stangate sits on the widest part of this strip, opposite Avila, but the rest of the strip was presumably considered too narrow to fit a house, and is now part of Mount Lodge.  This narrow strip may have been owned by John Sherman, or may have belonged to the Manor of Pirbright.

The 3 fields were sold off after John Sherman’s death (in 1917), and built on, as detailed below, with a flurry of building activity on the east side of the lane in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Since then, only 3 houses have been built, all of which are to the northerly end of the lane.

The earliest reference I have found to the name “Malthouse Lane” is in 1930.  The  reason of giving it a name at that time may have been because of the recent increase in the number of houses there.  It presumably name-checks Rickford Malthouse, which is not far away, and may refer to the fact that barley and wheat may have been supplied to the malthouse from the fields existing in Malthouse Lane at the time. 

Unfortunately we don’t have any old photographs of Malthouse Lane – I hope the residents won’t mind me commenting that it isn’t particularly photogenic.  Individuals have reported hearing the lane referred to as “Waldens Lane” or “Mile Path” in the 1950’s, but there is no documentary evidence of either of these.

We will cover each of the 14 houses in Malthouse Lane in turn from the roundabout end, first on the west side, then on the east side.  Finally we will cover the land beyond the houses stretching towards Chapel Lane.

Before we look at each house, here is a list of the houses, ordered by approximate date of construction.

House list Malthouse Lane.jpg

Houses on the west side

Heather Lea

Heatherlea (as it was originally known) was built c1907 on land belonging to John Frost Sherman (who owned Heath Mill) and originally fronted onto Heath Mill Lane.  The original plan of the building is shown below.  It was built as a substantial detached house, and was immediately given the name Heatherlea (a name it still carries). 

Heatherlea plan 1906.jpg

The first known occupants were Charles and Catherine Tuck (nee Heather, hence the name of the house, one assumes).  Charles was born in Hornsey in 1884, one of 5 children of Albert Tuck, a photographer, and Hannah.  In the censuses after this date, Hannah describes herself as a widow, but the records suggest that Albert may have remarried using a different name (Eldridge), moved to a different county, and fathered more children....  Albert’s father was Jabez Tuck, a bookseller in Wandsworth Road.  The name Jabez was passed down to Charles (it was his middle name).

Catherine was born in Worplesdon in 1879.  Her mother was Caroline Heather, who was the daughter of James Heather, who ran the bakery at Rickford (before the Christmas dynasty began) and would have been a well-known local figure.  The full history of James Heather and his family can be found on our Rickford History site.  Caroline was unmarried when she gave birth to Catherine in 1879, and continued to live locally until she married a William Lunnon in 1893 (aged 46), and moved to north London.

Catherine Heather and Charles Tuck were married in north London in 1907.  Catherine gave her father’s name as “Henry John Heather – deceased”, even though no such person seems to exist.  Perhaps it was a coded message as to who her real father was.  Interestingly, there was a 32 year-old widowed miller with the Christian names Henry John living at Burpham at the time, but any link to Catherine’s birth would be very speculative....

Catherine gave birth to a son, Gerald Heather Tuck 1908) in London, and 2 daughters, Joan Heather Tuck (1909) and Peggy Heather Tuck (1912) in Pirbright.  Gerald’s middle name is unusual for a boy, but Catherine obviously wished her family name to be remembered for posterity.  The 4 Tucks had moved into the newly-built Heatherlea by 1909 and Peggy soon followed (in 1912). 

Catherine’s mother came to live with Charles and Caroline and their children in the 1920’s, but died soon afterwards, naming her son-in-law, Charles, who was then (as he was in 1911) a stockbroker’s clerk, as her joint executor, together with her husband. 

Charles and Catherine remained at Heatherlea for the rest of their lives.  Charles died in 1944 (in London), and Catherine lived there with son Gerald and daughter-in-law Irene until her death in 1951.

In 1939 Gerald married Irene Hills, daughter of Selina Hills, who was living at West End (that’s West End in Bisley, not the West End of London).  We will meet Selina later (under Woodford Cottage, below).  Curiously there is a Malthouse Lane in West End, not far from where Irene had been living.  It’s stretching a point I know, but could this have been a connection which started one of Gerald and Irene’s early conversations?

During the war Gerald served in the Royal Artillery, and afterwards he remained at Heatherlea, with his wife Irene, until his death in 1971.  He was cremated, and his ashes buried next to his mother in Worplesdon churchyard.  The address in the parish record of his burial is Heath Mill Lane, so we can assume that that was still the main entrance to the property at that time.  Strangely, Gerald’s entry in the phone book remained until 1981 – presumably Irene forgot to change it. 

 Joan married Dudley Nichols, and they settled in Merrow.  Peggy married the wonderfully named Rawdon Claude Pratt (the son of a fruiterer and greengrocer) in 1933 and they ended up in The Hockering, Woking.  After Rawdon’s death in 1961 she remarried a Leonard Johnson and died in Worthing in 1993.

In the early 2000’s, the Clarkson family lived at Heatherlea for some years, before moving to Guildford.  One recent very subtle change:  The house is now called Heather Lea.

 Woodford Cottage

What is now called Woodford Cottage started off life c 1912 as 2 separate semi-detached houses, built by John Frost Sherman, which later became Nos 1 and 2, Malthouse Lane.  (Not to be confused with Nos 1 and 2, Malthouse Cottages in Berry Lane, which are a few years older).  The original 1911 plans are shown below, together with a recent photo.  The front of the house has barely changed (although the front chimney has disappeared).

Woodford Cottage plan 1911.jpg
Woodford Cottage, Malthouse Lane.jpg

Looking from the lane, it is easy to envision today’s house as the two separate cottages which they once were.  No 1 was nearer to the roundabout (on the left in the photo) than No 2. 

After the death of the wife John Frost Sherman, Sarah Sherman, in 1920 the houses were purchased by Sarah Ann Strudwick (for £400, which would be worth around £12,000 today).  Sarah moved into No 1 (below) in 1930, and we have written more about her there.  We are not sure what happened to the ownership of the 2 cottages after Sarah’s death in 1945.

1, Malthouse Lane

We can’t be 100% sure who the earliest occupants of No 1 were, because Malthouse Lane was unnamed at the time, and addresses on official documents were often vague (eg “Fox Corner”, “New Cottage” or “near the mill”), but the evidence strongly points towards Herbert and Kate Lewis occupying the cottage from around 1912.  Herbert was born in 1888 in West Hampstead, the son of a police constable.  He married Kate Dimmock in late 1912, and (very) shortly afterwards (in November) they had their first child (also named Herbert Walter).  Over the next few years the couple had 2 more sons.  Herbert started work as a motor mechanic, but in 1939 was working as a chauffeur in Wokingham.  He was recorded as being a TB patient, and he and Kate were living with their youngest son, and Herbert’s father (who was by now widowed and retired).

The Lewis’s moved out c1921 and Alfred and Frances Tull moved in.  Alfred’s father (John Tull from Nettlebed, near Henley) was a brewer.  In 1851 he was one of the 2  brewers working for the Elliot Brewery (the other was John Elliot) at the centuries-old Stag Brewery opposite Victoria Station (now a shopping centre).  Within 10 years the brewery had become the Elliot, Watney & Company brewery, and so John was now brewing Watneys.  Perhaps we can blame him for the taste, or more likely Watneys actually tasted like beer in those days? 

Alfred followed his father into the brewing profession, working for the same company as his father.  He married Elizabeth (surname unknown) in 1882, and they had 3 children.  They decided to name one of their children Jethro, presumably after the agriculturalist (rather than the 1960’s band).  By 1901 Alfred, Frances and 2 of their 3 children were living in a house called Shalbourne in Twickenham, presumably named after Jethro Tull’s farm at Shalbourne.  All this suggests that our Tulls were related to Jethro, although we cannot be sure of this.

The Twickenham house was conveniently close to the rugby stadium (or it would have been if the stadium had been built – it hadn’t, and the famous pitch was still a market garden).  The brewery at which Alfred worked was opposite Twickenham station on Brewery Lane, and is now a Community Venue. 

When Alfred and his family moved to Malthouse Lane c1921 they named their new house Shalboune, presumably continuing the tribute to Jethro, but Alfred died only 2 years later in 1923, aged 72.  6 years after that, in 1929, Frances and her family moved out of the area.  Elizabeth died in Hampstead in 1939.

c1929 Sarah Ann Strudwick moved into her house, giving her address on the Electoral Register in 1930 as 1, Malthouse Lane, so that was the end of the name Shalbourne.  Sarah was born Sarah Veness near Battle in 1872, and was the daughter of a stoker in a gas works.  Veness is a highly unusual surname in England and probably has French or Italian origins.  In 1891 Sarah married George Strudwick, a soldier, ten years her senior, and the son of an agricultural labourer who lived in Mayford.   George and Sarah had no children.  George had been one of 15 children, and one of his (many) brothers, John Strudwick, lived at St Brelade between 1912 and 1932.  This may or may not have influenced Sarah’s decision to move to nearby Malthouse Lane in 1930.  But in any event, John Strudwick moved to Jacob’s Well in 1932.  Perhaps they weren’t so fond of each other.

By 1902 they were living at Mount Pleasant near Whitmoor Common, and they remained there until George’s death in 1923.  Sarah moved to No 1, Malthouse Lane at some time during the next 7 years.  She remained there until her death in 1945.  Her executor was Frank Herbert James “of no occupation” (so presumably he had plenty of time to sort Sarah’s affairs out).  Frank actually had been born in Poplar in 1872 and had been an iron moulder and a stoker in the navy, being at sea throughout WW1.  He survived the war, and afterwards became a poultryman in Worplesdon, marrying Lydia Wilson there in 1920.  They were both in their 40’s at the time.  They lived at Bonnishott Farm in Worplesdon.  By 1939 he was living in Brighton, where he died in 1947.

Philip and Alice Gee lived in the cottage briefly (1946-47) before moving to Godalming, and the next occupants were the Goddard family from London – Robert and Emily, together with their two daughters Jenny and Ethel.  Sadly Ethel was incapacitated through TB.  Robert was a hospital porter, having been a barman in his younger days.  At first sight, it might seem strange why a London family should choose to live in a quiet Pirbright Lane, but there was good reason:  Robert’s wife, Emily, was born Emily Veness, and was Sarah Strudwick’s younger sister.  The property had been owned by Sarah, and she had probably bequeathed it to her sister and her family.

The Goddards did not stay long.  Jenny was recently married and moved away, Ethel died in 1947, aged only 37, Robert died in 1949, and Emily died in 1953.

Selina Hills moved in in 1951.  Selina (nee Morris) was born in 1869 in Brentford.  For some reason, her family moved to Brookwood (The Lye) when Selina was only 2.  Her father was an agricultural labourer, and perhaps he moved in search of work.  When she was just (only just) 17, she married a George Barton, from Newport.  George was a gentleman’s butler, and the couple soon had 5 children.  However, by 1901, George was a patient in a Middlesex hospital, and died 2 years later at the Farnham Union (workhouse), aged 38.  As an aside, this workhouse had been castigated 30 years earlier by The Lancet, which described it as “a scandal and a curse to a country which calls itself civilised and Christian”.  Coincidentally, the previous workhouse master was apparently the great-great-grandfather of Jeremy Corbyn, according to The Daily Express.


Selina lost no time (less than 3 months) in remarrying, this time to George Hills, a bricklayer who was 10 years her junior.  They lived in Knaphill, then West End, and had 4 children, but George died in 1925, possibly as a result of war service.  One of their children was Irene, who married Gerald Tuck (refer Heatherlea above), and it must surely have been this connection which brought Selina to Malthouse Lane in 1951. 

At some stage in the late 1950’s or 1960’s, Jim and Diana Archibald and their family moved in with Selina.  Jim was born in Scotland in 1921, while Diana (nee Buckingham) was born in Wandsworth in 1923.  The connection between the Archibalds and Selina is quite difficult to track down.  Diana’s mother was Marjorie Buckingham (nee Barton), who was the youngest child (born 1902) of Selina’s first marriage to George Barton.  Hence Diana Archibald was Selina’s grand-daughter.  The Archibalds had been living in Edinburgh since the end of WW2, but decided to move south – whether to find work, to look after Selina, or for some other reason is not known.

As the Archibald children grew up, Selina apparently moved into a caravan, despite being in her 90’s, by which time she was known as Grandma Hills.  She reached the milestone of her 100th birthday in 1969 – surely a first for Malthouse Lane - and died in 1971.

A few years later, the Archibalds spread into the upper storey of No 2 by renting some space off the Tubbs, who occupied it at that time.

By 1992 Nos 1 and 2 had been joined to form one house.  The Oliver family then lived there for c20 years.

2, Malthouse Lane

As with No 1 above, we can’t be absolutely sure who the earliest (pre-1931) occupants of No 2 were.  But we can have a pretty good guess (as follows).

We know for sure that from c1931, Alfred (“Alf”) and Margaret Tubb were living at No 2. And we also know that Alf’s grandparents (John and Emma Stevens) were living at an undefined address at Fox Corner from 1918 until 1929.  Finally, we know that Alf was living with John and Emma in 1911 near Heath Mill, so it seems likely that Alf and his wife, Margaret, took over the lease of No 2 from his grandparents when they died.  At any rate, that is what we will assume here.

So we will start with John and Emma Stevens, who (we assume) moved into No 2 in 1918.  John was a member of one of the Pirbright Stevens dynasties, born in Pirbright in 1850, son of a labourer. He lived much of his early life at East End (the cottages at the southerly end of Chapel Lane), and was a labourer, like his father.  In 1877 he married Emma Holdforth.  Emma was born in 1859, the daughter of Arthur and Ann Holdforth.  Arthur was an agricultural labourer, living and working at Crastock and Bridley. 

[Arthur’s first wife, Martha had died in 1857, and one of their children, Arthur, married Ellen Hartfree in 1865.  Ellen was the daughter of William Hartfree, who gave his name to the plantation of trees formerly on the 11th and 12th fairways of Worplesdon Golf Club (see section at end of this page).  Arthur had 6 children with Martha and a further 8 with Ann]

In 1877 John and Emma were married, and 4 years later, John was working at Bridley as an agricultural labourer, living just 2 doors away from his brother-in-law, Arthur junior and his family.  By 1901, the same brother-in-law (Arthur junior) and family were living in Malthouse Cottages in Berry Lane.

By 1911, John and Emma had moved to Heath Mill Cottage, and John, despite being 62, still described himself as a labourer.  They moved into No 2, Malthouse Lane c1918.  Emma died there in 1924, and John, who moved into No 6, Pirbright Cottages soon afterwards, died in 1929.

John and Emma had produced just one child (against the trend in those days), Agnes, who was born in 1879.  Her baptism was registered in Pirbright, despite her parents living in Woking (Bridley).  Perhaps John felt that he was a Pirbright man through and through.

In 1899 Agnes married James Tubb and in 1901 they were living with Agnes’s parents (John and Emma Stevens), together with their new-born son, Alfred (“Alf”).  However they soon moved into No 6, Pirbright Cottages, and their story is told there. 

By 1925, Alf Tubb was living at No 2 (which was called “Model Cottage, Fox Corner” on the Electoral Register) when he married Margaret, daughter of George Woodyer, a railway shunter from Woking and his wife Maude.  They had one son, Dennis, who was born in 1932.  Dennis moved 4 doors down the lane to Avila Cottage (see below) when he was married in 1955. 

During the 1970’s, the Archibalds (from No 1 next door) spread into the upper storey of No 2 by renting some space off the Tubbs.  Alf and Margaret stayed at No 2 for the rest of their lives, Margaret dying in 1988 and Alf in 1993.  For much of their early years they lived with Margaret’s mother, Maud, who died in 1941, aged 64.

By 1992 Nos 1 and 2 had been joined to form one house.  The Oliver family then lived there for c20 years.

Avila and Mount Lodge - early history

Before we look at these houses individually, we’ll discuss their shared early history.

Avila and Mount Lodge were built in the 1890’s on land which originally belonged to Heath Mill and were the first houses to be built on what is now Malthouse Lane (but what was then the southern part of a track across the heath to Pirbright).

The land on which Avila and Mount Lodge now stand was, until around 1700, unused land (“waste”) forming a small part of the Manor of Pirbright (and hence belonging to the Lord of the Manor). 

At some time around 1700 it was acquired by one Thomas Hoad (or Hoade), and was known as “Heathy Ground”, presumably in reference to its characteristics.  The earliest documentary evidence relating to this land is from 1726 in the will of Thomas Hoade of Woking as follows:

"I give and bequeath unto Sarah my beloved wife all my land lying in Pirbright called Heathy Ground or by any other name or names whatsoever  During her naturall Life and after her decease to my Eldest son Thomas Hoade and to his heires forever".

Thomas Hoad (the original owner, whose will we have quoted from above) was from Chobham, and married Sarah Atfield in St John’s Church, Stoke, Guildford on 24 July 1685.  A toolmaker (more specifically, a sickle maker) by trade, he was buried in St Peter’s Church, Woking on 28 January 1726.  Around the time of his death, or perhaps soon afterwards, the land (understandably) became known as “Hoads”. 

Perhaps Thomas’s descendants did not settle their debts, as, at some time in the succeeding 39 years, it was claimed back by the Lord of the Manor.  The next mention is a lease from 1765 by Solomon Dapele (Dayrolles) of Henley Park (the then Lord of the Manor) to Mary Wapshott of Sunninghill.  The lease was for £10 and rents and covenants of “all of those several pieces and parcels of ground formerly taken off the Waste of the Manor of Pirbright containing about 8 acres more or less, known by the name of Hoads Land and which is partly adjoining to Bullswater.”  It included “all timber and other trees thereon growing.”

By 1787, James Honer (who owned Heath Mill) had somehow acquired Hoads.  He presumably thought that it would be a useful addition to the land already providing grain to the mill.  James died in 1789, and the property passed to his son, James Honer (II). 

The 1807 map of Pirbright (which hangs in Lord Pirbright’s Hall) together with the related survey (which is kept by the Surrey History Society) shows Hoads, comprising 5 fields with no buildings thereon, but matching closely the current outline of the Mount Lodge and Avila properties.  We have shown the relevant portions of the 1807 map, the 1841 Tithe map and the 1915 OS map below for reference.

1807 Map of Hoads.jpg
Tithe Map of Hoads.jpg
1915 Map of Hoads.jpg

At the time of the 1807 map, these 5 fields would have been used for agricultural purposes supporting Heath Mill, the most likely crops being wheat, barley or something similar.  They were occupied by someone called Watts, presumably a tenant farmer. 

James Honer II by his will of 1837 directed his estates in Pirbright to be sold, and this included Hoads.  However, Heath Mill and Hoads were passed down to a further generation of Honers in the form of James Honer (III), who continued to live at Heath Mill.

In 1869, the executors of James Honer III (who had died in 1861) sold the Heath Mill property (including Hoads) to John Frost Sherman, a miller from Shere, who lived and worked at the mill until his retirement.  He built Mount Lodge and Waldens next door to each other at the top of a slight rise overlooking Heath Mill in the early 1890’s.  He may have chosen this spot as the ground is sandy (rather than clay), and therefore may have been less fertile.  Those with sharp eyes may have noticed on the 1915 map a small extension to Hoads at the southerly end.  This resulted from a piece of waste land being granted in the late 1800’s to John Sherman, by the Lord of the Manor of Pirbright.  It had the effect of squaring off the property at the southern end, and more importantly for him, enabled him to build 2 good-sized houses with reasonable-sized gardens.


In 1905, as explained at the start of this section, John Sherman bought the rest of the land on the west side of Malthouse Lane, extending as far south as Fox Corner.  This “squared off” his existing land holdings, and enabled him to build 3 more dwellings next door to Waldens (as we will see below).  He also took the opportunity to extend the land belonging to Waldens, by adding 3 fields to the property.  2 of these fields (to the south east of Waldens) remain the property of Avila today.  The third field (on the other side of Heath Mill Lane) was sold separately in the mid 1990’s.  A lesser known detail is that he managed to eliminate the footpath between Malthouse Lane and Heath Mill Lane which ran just south of Waldens.  The footpath is shown on the earlier OS maps, but not on the 1915 map (or later maps).

Both houses were constructed such that their front entrances faced west, with a view towards Heath Mill, and the backs of the houses facing the Lane.  In 1906, John Sherman commissioned some improvements to Avila, pushing the back of the house nearer to the Lane, to accommodate better kitchen facilities and larger bedrooms upstairs.  Evidence from recent building activity at next-door Mount Lodge has revealed similar improvements there at roughly the same time.  The commonest form of transport at the time was on horseback, and so both houses would have had stables (these still exist in their original form at Mount Lodge). 

John may have intended to use one or the other of these houses as a retirement home.  In fact, as we will see below, he mostly let them out to a variety of people – frequently military types - until his death at Heath Cottage in December 1917, aged 84.  At this point it looks as though the houses were sold.  We have told Mr Sherman's story in the Heath Mill section.

Now we will look at the 2 houses individually.


The early years

Avila, or as it was then called, Walden (or Waldens), was first occupied in 1891 by Lady Coomaraswamy and her family.  Her name suggests an interesting background, and this is indeed the case.

Elizabeth Clay Beeby was born in Greenwich in 1851.  Her father was William Beeby, who was born in Calcutta c1823, and who in 1851 was a cashier for the Great Eastern Railway.  Her mother was Elizabeth Beeby (nee Kentish), an artist.  The Kentishes were a farming family with land near St Albans.  Elizabeth’s mother was Elizabeth Clay, a name which was passed down to Elizabeth who lived at Avila.

In 1851 the Beeby family were living in a Greenwich house with 2 servants, and so would have been reasonably well off.  Presumably their wealth derived from Kentish family wealth which had been passed down.  However by 1871, William had died, and the rest of his family were living in Islington, but Elizabeth’s fortunes were about to change.  In 1875, she married an eminent visitor from Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was then known) 15 years her senior, Muthu Coomaraswamy.

Muthu (who has his own Wikipedia page) was a lawyer by trade, and had been called to the bar in 1856.  In 1862 he was appointed to the Legislative Council of Ceylon at the age of 28 as the unofficial member representing Tamils.

During a tour of England in the 1860’s he was elected an honorary member of the Royal Society of Arts and was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Geological Society of London.  After returning to Ceylon, he was a member of Colombo Municipal Council from 1868 to 1873. 

He returned to the UK in or before 1875 (for what reason we do not know), and there met and married Elizabeth.  The circumstances of their meeting are also not known.

In 1878 Muthu was knighted by Queen Victoria, thereby becoming the first Asian knight, but died in Ceylon the following year of Bright’s disease, aged just 48.  He had a glittering career, and is one of only 3 people connected to Fox Corner to appear on a postage stamp (see picture below, alongside a photo of him).  In case you are wondering, one of the other postage stamp people was much better known than Muthu, and had a connection with Derry Cottage (see below).  The other person lived at Heatherside on the Pirbright Road.

Sir Muthu Coomarasamy.jpg
Stamp of Sir Muthu Coomarasamy.jpg

Muthu and Elizabeth had one child, Ananda Kentish Muthu Coomaraswamy, in 1877. 

In 1891 the family (then comprising Lady Elizabeth Coomaraswamy plus her mother, son and sister Eleanor were living in Reigate “living on their own means”, but on the point of moving into Avila, yet again for reasons unknown.  Once in Pirbright, Lady Elizabeth called herself “Lady C Coomara Swaney”.  Possibly she thought that the locals would find a shorter surname easier to remember. 

They stayed until 1906, at which point Lady Elizabeth’s mother died at the age of 90, and the rest of the family moved to Kew.  In 1910 a case Coomaraswamy v Beeby was heard before the Chancery Court regarding “Beeby’s estate”. This may have related to a dispute between Lady Elizabeth and other members of her family over her mother’s will.  Lady Elizabeth died in Winchester in 1939, aged 88.  Ananda became a specialist in Indian art, having 3 children with 4 wives, and died in Massachusetts in 1947.

After the Coomaraswamys/Beebys moved out, there began a period of tenancies to army officers, who were presumably stationed at Pirbright Camp, but wanted a country residence outside the Camp.  First (in 1906) was Lt Colonel Ralph Anstruther Henderson (pictured below). 

Ralph Henderson.jpg

The Henderson family were pretty distinguished:  His grandfather was a Rear-Admiral, his father was the Dean of Carlisle, an uncle was a Colonel and was knighted, while another uncle was a Rear-Admiral.  Ralph himself had been born in Jersey in 1859, and was commissioned in the Manchester Regiment in 1879.  He served in Malta, Egypt and the East Indies.  In 1890, he married Constance Rowley from Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, who was 13 years his junior.  Ralph was appointed Governor of Aldershot Military Prison (North Camp), and that is, no doubt, why he decided to rent a house at Pirbright.

Ralph and Constance had one son, Ralph Anstruther Crompton Henderson, who joined the army (how could he do otherwise?), and reached the rank of Colonel in the Cameron Highlanders. 

In 1911, Ralph and Constance moved out of Waldens to nearby Sunnyside in Rowe Lane, for reasons unknown.  A little later they moved to a house called The Pines in a small Suffolk village called Frostenden.  Ralph built a new life in Frostenden, becoming a churchwarden (1931-39), as well as church treasurer and school manager. 

They moved to Southwold shortly before Ralph’s death in 1939.  He is buried in the Frostenden churchyard  and on his gravestone ( a large Celtic Cross, shown right) is the epitaph "He did what he could".  Constance died in 1952 in Godalming, where she had been living since her husband’s death.  [We are indebted to a very helpful Frostenden church official for his useful information on Col Henderson’s life after he left Pirbright.]

Henderson gravestone.jpg

The next occupant was Major Henry Stannus Hamilton.  Born in Dublin in 1862, he married Mary Gow (from Glasgow) in 1891, but they had no children.  He served in the Lancashire Fusiliers.  By 1919 Henry and Mary had retired to Sidmouth, where he died in 1931


One wonders if at this stage John Sherman may have been worried at the trend of diminishing social class of his tenants – from the wife of a knight, to a colonel, and then to a mere major....

In 1918, after the death of John Sherman, it appears that Avila was bought by the impressively-named Leonard Cyprian Giffard Booth.  Leonard was born in Sidcup in 1881, one of 11 children of Frances and Florence (nee Giffard) Booth.  Frances (“Frank”) was a stockbroker (as well as being the son of a solicitor), and a fairly wealthy one at that.  After Sidcup, Frank, Florence and their family moved to Epsom, and then lived at Hoe Place in Old Woking.  Florence died there in 1922, and Frank died at Chiddingfold in 1945 (aged 91).

One of Leonard’s sisters, Hester, was awarded an MBE in 1973 for nearly 40 years’ directorship (she was the superintendent) of the Langford Cross Children's Home (now Cherry Trees) in East Clandon.  Hester (“Aunt Hester”) never married and died just 6 months before what would have been her 100th birthday in 1984.  2 of the 11 children fell in WW1, but the other Booth children lived generally long lives – 4 of them lived into their 90’s. 

Leonard’s middle name of Cyprian is a mystery.  It may relate to Cyprus – perhaps he had Cypriot ancestors – but more likely is a reference to St Cyprian, who was Bishop of Carthage until he was martyred in 258AD.  Some of the other meanings of the word Cyprian would be quite inappropriate for a gentleman’s middle name...  Anyway, Leonard was a Major (would John Frost Sherman have approved?) in the 11th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, serving in France between 1915 and 1917.  He followed his father’s career of stockbroker, and married Helen Ricardo, aged 19 and daughter of Arthur Ralph Ricardo, a stockbroker, in 1914. 

Leonard (who was only 10 years younger than his mother-in-law) and Helen had 4 sons while they lived at Waldens, all with the christian name of Giffard:  

  • John Giffard Booth, the eldest, born 1916, married Margaret Guy at Pirbright in 1950.  She was the daughter of Commander Basil Guy V.C. of Stanford Farm.  

  • His younger brother, Halsey Edward Giffard Booth (the Halsey name from his great-grandmother), married Margaret’s sister Elizabeth Arnold Guy at Pirbright in 1944. 

  • The other two sons never married:  The youngest, Francis Henry Giffard Booth, joined the RAF as an 18-year-old pilot in 1942, transferring to the Royal Australian Air Force after the War, but was shot down and killed over Korea in a Meteor in 1953.  He never married, like second son Arthur James Giffard Booth, who also served in WW2.


Photos of Halsey (on his wedding day) and Francis are shown below.

Halsey Edward Booth wedding.jpg
Francis Booth.jpg

Leonard was quick to install a telephone at Waldens, being granted the number Worplesdon 19 (which is logically related to the current number of the property, via various GPO/BT number changes).  During the Booths’ stay, Waldens became Walden, and there were significant alterations in 1922, namely an additional 2-storey wing for a servants’ hall, pantry, bedroom & bathroom.  The plan for this extension is shown below.

Waldens 1922 plan.jpg

But the Booths’ stay was a short one:  By 1931 they had moved out to Yarrow Field, a short cul-de-sac with a few large houses in Mayford.  Helen’s widowed mother and a cousin lived in the same road.  After WW2 they moved out of the area completely.  Leonard died in 1971 and Helen in 1978, at Taunton.

In the late 1920’s an Ethel and Emily Field had lived with the Booths at Waldens, and then lived with them in their next house in Mayford.  They appear to be unrelated to the Booths, and were presumably employed as young (c30 year-old) live-in childminders and/or servants.

The next occupants (c1933 to c1936) were a Coldstream Guards officer, Lt Colonel Charles Marsham, the 6th Earl of Romney and his wife, Marie (nee Keppel), both born in 1892.  They too employed servants.  Charles was descended from a line of Marshams, many of whom were MPs.  Full details can be found on the internet, if the reader is interested.  He inherited his title on the death of his father in 1933 (at which time he moved into Walden), and held the title until his death in 1975.  Because he had no heirs, the title passed to his cousin.  The current holder is the 8th Earl.

Marie’s great-grandfather was the 4th Earl of Albemarle (and a cabinet minister), and her grandfather was Admiral of the Fleet.  Her father was a Rear-Admiral, who, in 1911 was living in a Chelsea house with 9 servants.  Marie’s sister married one Maurice Hely-Hutchinson, who became an MP, despite causing some controversy when he remarked during the Depression that the long-term unemployed should lose the right to vote....

Although the Romneys only stayed a few years (until 1936), I think John Sherman would definitely have approved of their social status...

Frederick and Doris McGinn then lived in Walden for a couple of years.  Doris was Frederick’s second wife (having married in 1934).  It seems they may have had a rather special honeymoon, as there is a record of them sailing from France to Plymouth in 1935, having previously been staying in South Africa.

Walden becomes Avila

In 1939, John Derek Vestey (known as Derek) moved into Avila (with cook, gardener, etc).  Derek was the son of John Vestey and grandson of Sir Edmund Vestey, one of 2 brothers who founded the Vestey meat empire in 1897.  Vestey was a household name to the British population in the 1930’s and so a Vestey moving into Malthouse Lane would have attracted a great deal of attention locally.  We have provided more information on the Vestey family and their businesses here.  It’s an interesting read...

Derek was the grandson of Sir Edmund Vestey, who was created Baronet of Shirley (in Surrey) in 1922.  Sir Edmund had been born plain Edmund Vestey just north of St Helens in 1866.  He married Sarah (nee Barker), and they had one son, John Joseph in 1888.  John Joseph married Dorothy Beaver, and in 1914, they produced a son, John Derek Vestey.  This son was the Derek Vestey who moved into Avila c1939.  Photos of members of the Vestey family are shown below (L to R:  Edmund, Derek, and Phyllis (Derek's wife)).

Vestey - Edmund.jpg
Vestey - Derek.jpg
Vestey - Phyllis.jpg

Derek married Phyllis Brewer, daughter of a timber merchant of Banstead, in 1938, and within a year they had moved to Walden in Malthouse Lane.  Why they moved to this particular house is not known – neither of them seems to have had any previous association with the area.  Perhaps it had been recommended by the Earl of Romney.  One of the first things the Vesteys did was to rename the house Avila, presumably after the Spanish city of that name.  Again, the Vestey’s connection with the city of Avila is not known.

Derek’s father, John Joseph, had died at the early age of 44 in 1932, which was of some consequence for Derek:  When his grandfather, Edmund, the first Baronet of Shirley, died in 1953, his title passed straight to Derek, who therefore became the second Baronet of Shirley, calling himself Sir Derek Vestey.  He was living at Avila at the time, and had John Sherman been alive, he would surely have been in ecstasy. 

Sir Derek played no part in the running of the Vestey businesses.  He did however benefit greatly from the various trusts (which formed the heart of the tax loopholes), which sounds like a tidy arrangement.  Sir Derek and his family had various homes at any one time, and remained at Avila until at least 1964.  Immediately after the war they also built a house (called Avila Cottage) 3 doors away for their gardener, Dennis Tubb and his family (see below), having presumably bought the land from the then owners of Mount Lodge (see below).  The Tubb family still live in the cottage, and speak gratefully of Sir Derek’s generosity.

This title passed to his son, Paul Edmund Vestey (rules did not allow it to pass to Derek’s elder child, Rosamund).  Phyllis died in 2006, aged 93.

We have heard from a lady who may have been at school with Rosamund and remembers riding with her at Miss Borrel’s Riding School in Worplesdon.    An earlier ad for Miss Borrel’s school is shown below.  Rosamund later (in the 1960’s) become  a “society model”, and had married a millionaire businessman, Charles Brown.  Their marriage broke down in the 1980’s, and one of their children, Mark Brown, hit the headlines in 1999 for helping to finance anti-capitalism riots in the City of London. 

Miss Borrel Riding ad 1937.jpg

At some stage, and possibly during the Vestey’s tenure, the land on the other side of the lane opposite Avila was acquired by the owners of Avila, and used as a garden by them.  This land was later sold off to build Stangate, and (later) Woodpeckers (see below).

After the Vesteys left Avila in the mid-1960’s, the Haines family moved in for around 5 years.  After the Haines’s, the house was occupied by RL and Jimmie L Jones.  RL Jones was the director of a Construction Equipment Company, but I don’t know who Jimmie was.  By 1977 Ian and Gill McLellan had bought the house.  They stayed until c1994.

Mount Lodge

John Frost Sherman and his family were the first occupants of Mount Lodge in 1893, moving into the house which he had built on his own land.  He had just turned 60, and so perhaps he wanted a retirement home.  At that time the house was called Mount View, presumably because there was a clear view towards Heath Mill and beyond.  Thanks to the subsequent growth of numerous trees, there isn’t such a view today, and the change of name to Mount Lodge a few years later (c1907) is not surprising.  But for a few years, John would have been able to keep his eye on what was going on at his mill.

In 1898 John Sherman let the property out on a series of fairly short-term lets.  The first tenant was Lieutenant Colonel William Henry Daniel and his family.  William was born in Ireland in 1847, but soon came to England.  In 1878 he married Ellen Dunbar Crabbe in Surbiton and almost exactly a year later the couple had a daughter.  As a soldier (in the East Yorkshire Regiment), he moved around a fair amount, and presumably William had chosen to live at Mount View because he had been posted to Pirbright Barracks.  3 years later he was posted to Blenheim Barracks in Aldershot, where the Daniels stayed until William’s death in 1929 and Ellen’s in 1944.

In 1902 Henry Usborne moved into Mount View, and stayed there for 6 years.  Henry was the third of 5 children of Thomas Usborne, a corn merchant and his wife Agnes.  Thomas was a descendant of a wealthy family of Kent corn merchants:  As an illustration of this, his father, Major Usborne, had left today’s equivalent of over £10 million when he died in 1868.  (Major, by the way, was his Christian name, not his military rank). 

Henry was born in Sevenoaks in 1877.  He lived his early life in large houses in Kent and Berkshire.  He started renting Mount View in 1902 and stayed there until 1909, at which point he purchased Mays Hill, Goose Rye Road in Worplesdon.   In 1911 he was living there with his sister, Florence, and 2 servants.  Both Henry and Florence list their occupations as “Private means”, which was code for “Don’t need to work”. Henry stayed at Mays Hill until WW1, at which point he moved to Marston in Oxfordshire.  There, he met and married Jessie Nutt (in 1921).  They had no children and Henry died in 1933 in Swanage, aged 56.  Jessie died in Oxfordshire in 1946, aged 65.

Henry’s brother Charles was the grandfather of Peter Usborne, the founder (in 1973) of the childrens’ book publisher, Usborne books.

The next occupant (from 1909) was Captain Frederick Whitworth Jones (his surname was just plain Jones).  Frederick (pictured below) was born in 1867 in London.  His father, Henry Whitworth Jones (born 1817), described himself as a gentleman, as did his grandfather, Henry Jones, who lived at Stapleton, Bristol.  They were clearly a wealthy family, but I’m not sure how Henry Jones acquired his wealth, although of course, Bristol was heavily involved in all sorts of trading activities in the 1600’s and 1700’s.

Frederick Whitworth Jones.jpg

Frederick joined the army (Yorkshire Light Infantry) at a young age, and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1889.  In 1907 he married Alice Armytage (born c1870 in Pimlico) at Windsor.  His move to Fox Corner was presumably brought on by a posting to Pirbright Barracks.  We can only imagine Frederick and Colonel Henderson (next door) saddling up their horses and trotting gently, chatting together, across the heath to Chapel Road (since renamed Chapel Lane), across the Green, and then up to the Barracks.  Or perhaps they hated the sight of each other and went to great lengths to avoid the other person.

In 1911 Frederick and Alice were recorded as visiting Hotel St Petersburgh in London.  He gave his occupation as secretary, which suggests he held a clerical job in the army at that time. 

The couple had no children, and moved out of Mount Lodge during WW1.  Frederick died at Seend, near Melksham in Wiltshire in 1935.  A newspaper report of his funeral noted that Mr & Mrs Ronald Skelton from Pirbright attended.  The connection with the Skeltons is a mystery.  When the Jones’s were at Fox Corner, Ronald Skelton lived at Knaphill.  He only moved to Pirbright (living on the Aldershot Road) in 1918, after the Jones’s had left Pirbright.  Perhaps there was a military connection, or perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Ronald’s father was a chaplain.  We may never find out.

During WW1, Morris Hart and his wife, Gladys, moved into Mount Lodge.  Morris was born in Exeter in 1885, the son of a “hardwareman”, who later became a hotel manager in Cheltenham.  Morris married Gladys Tovey in 1914 in London, and they soon moved into Mount Lodge.  The Harts had a bulldog which, according to newspaper reports, was aggressive.  Some other complaints followed, and Morris had to sell the dog.  During the war, he was a private in the Army Service Corps, and then the Rifle Brigade.  They had a servant, Thomas Himmell, who in 1915 was charged with stealing 4 eggs from Heath Mill.  But Morris was also quite a bright chap, as the cutting below (offering private tuition) demonstrates.

MJ Hart Tuition at Mount Lodge 1914.jpg

But on the death of John Sherman, the house was sold in 1917 or 1918 to Donald Macfarlane Livingstone MD MB ChB MSc, and his wife Gladys.  Donald was born on a farm near Baldernock in Stirlingshire in 1878.  He qualified as a doctor after graduating at Glasgow University.

Gladys (nee Brown) was born in Langbank, on the Clyde, downstream from Glasgow in 1883.  Her father, William Brown (born in Newcastle) was a ship-owner, who died when Gladys was aged only 2.  Her mother Isabella (“Isabel” who was 18 years younger than William) remarried a James Barr, who was much closer to Isabella’s age, later the same year, and 3 children soon followed.

Donald and Gladys were married in 1907 but soon decided to move south.  In 1911 they were living in Chesterfield.  Donald gave his occupation as Medical Practitioner, working on his own account, which presumably meant he was a GP.  During WW1 he was a temporary Captain in the RAMC.

We don’t know what drove them further southward, but we do know that after WW1 they were living at Mount Lodge with a son, Francis Donald Macfarlane Livingstone (born 1909).  In 1919, Gladys gave birth to twins (Anthony and Violet). 

Donald’s medical career flourished and he became the Senior Medical Officer for Surrey County Council.  During WW2 he was awarded an OBE for services to civil defence.  I’m not a medical person, but from the look of his experience he was something of an eye specialist.  For those who are interested, his full qualifications from The Medical Directory are given below

Donald Livingstone CV.jpg

Donald had immediately installed a telephone (with the number Worplesdon 48), but in general over the ensuing years the couple didn’t spend a great deal of time or money in trying to improve the house.  There don’t appear to have been any significant house renovations during the Livingstones’ tenure, but they did create a grass tennis court.  The area where the court stood is now occupied by 2 sizeable oak trees, which make any idea of tennis there today laughable.

From 1929, they were accompanied in Mount Lodge by Frederick Stuart Vere (“Stevie”) Barr, a law clerk, who was Gladys’s stepbrother, born 5 years after Gladys.  He had fought in many major WW1 battles and was decorated with the Croix de Guerre, among other awards. The cutting below attests to his heroism.  But thereafter his story becomes rather sad.  His engagement to his sweetheart faltered and he lived a rather retired life at Mount Lodge.  He used the back garden to grow vegetables in well-tended beds bordered by neat hand-clipped low hedges in a smallholding-type of arrangement.  However he chain-smoked 60 cigarettes a day and died of lung cancer in 1967.

Stevie Barr.jpg

Below is a picture of the front of the house (which is on the opposite side from the lane) from the 1950's, complete with Austin Ruby Tourer (belonging to Donald’s son-in-law) parked on the lawn.

Mount Lodge car on lawn c 1957.jpg

After graduating at Cambridge University, their eldest son (Francis Donald Livingstone) followed his father into the medical profession, with an even longer set of qualifications than his father.  He and his family lived at Leicester and Warwick.  Francis died at Rotherham on 31 December 2007, aged 98.  He had married a German lady, Ruth Winkel, in 1938.  Below is a picture of Ruth shelling peas on the steps of Mount Lodge in 1940 with Stevie Barr (refer above).  No doubt the peas had been lovingly grown by Stevie.  We have also shown a picture of Francis in 2006.  Looking at this picture, we would never have guessed that he was in his late 90’s when it was taken! 

Stevie and Ruth Livingstone 1940.jpg
Francis Livingstone 2006.jpg

Anthony Vere (“Tony”) Livingstone was a medical student in 1939.  He lived at "Beam Brook"in Newdigate and retired to a smaller house in the village. He had worked initially in London St Mary's Hospital where he was a friend to another doctor, Elvet Price, from Swansea.  He introduced Elvet to his twin sister, Violet, and you can guess the rest (for those of limited imagination, Elvet and Violet took a liking to each other and subsequently married).  Tony's main years were at Crawley Hospital as a general physician and diabetic consultant.  His wife Colina also worked in medicine, specializing in oncology. Their son William is alive to this day.  Tony died in Dorking in 2004, aged 85 and Colina in 2012, aged 92. 

Elvet and Violet lived in London, and then Chislehurst.  In 1959 they moved to Welling, where Elvet ran a GP practice until 1988.  They had 2 children.  Elvet retired as a GP aged 70.  Their house (which had been Elvet’s GP practice) was sold to become what is now a health centre.  Elvet and Violet retired to Westgate-on-Sea in Thanet, but Elvet died of an aneurism in 1991 aged 73.  Violet died in 2003, aged 84.  Both are buried in Margate Crematorium.

At some stage Gladys Livingstone took the decision to purchase the strip of land on the opposite side of the lane to Mount Lodge (stretching all the way to the ditch running under the lane) in order to prevent any further development.

[As an aside, in 1929, an Annie Livingstone Wilson moved into Ulva Cottage (now Derry Cottage) further down Malthouse Lane.  Annie was the daughter of the explorer David Livingstone, and it is tempting to jump to the conclusion that Donald and Annie were related to each other, but I can find no evidence for this, despite the fact that their families lived only 20 miles away from each other in Scotland in the 1880’s.  Annie’s full story is told under Derry Cottage (see below)]

The ensuing years saw great change at Mount Lodge.  By 1967, the house had become relatively old-fashioned.  Stanley and Jean Ennor (from Pyrford) bought the house and soon made several changes.  These included extending the house towards the lane, knocking through some of the smaller rooms, clearing away some dense shrubberies, creating a new driveway and garden facing the lane, and installing central heating in place of the old fireplaces.  Unfortunately these renovations were not carried out very sympathetically.  From the lane, the house now showed a rather unpleasant contrast in styles between the 1890’s and the 1960’s.

Stevie Barr’s carefully tended allotment was grassed over, and the neatly-trimmed hedges uprooted.

The Ennors only stayed 5 years before moving to Westwood Lane in Normandy, and Mount Lodge was sold to a Mr Jackson.  Immediately after buying the property, he submitted a proposal to Guildford Borough Council to build multiple houses on the site, but fortunately this was rejected.  Mr Jackson immediately sold the property, presumably in order to try to develop some other countryside property.

The next occupants, in 1973, were Hugh and Rosemary Impey and their family, who had been living not far away on the Bagshot Road, and then Lawford’s Hill Road.  Hugh worked in the City, and, like the Ennors before them, they made some significant changes.  These included connecting the house to an existing outbuilding, adding a 2-storey side extension, and installing a swimming pool.  But once again, the people who made the changes (ie the Impeys) moved on fairly quickly – this time after only 4 years.  Apparently financial issues may have caused the Impeys to move back to Lawford’s Hill Road.

David and Pam Vaughan moved into Mount Lodge in 1977 with their family.  David was a partner in a large London firm of accountants.  The Vaughans chose not to make any changes to the house, and in any case, after all the extensions of the previous 10 years, planning permission would have been hard to come by.  A divorce caused the Vaughans to leave the house in 1991, leaving claw marks from their great dane in some of the woodwork as their main permanent change to the house.

The current occupants moved in during 1992.  Recent building works have replaced all of the 1960’s work with something more in keeping with the original style of the house.

Annin’s Cottage

Netley Bungalow (as Annin’s Cottage was originally called) was built in 1898 for John Sherman, shortly after he had built Waldens and Mount View (above).  He must have thought it was a good idea to build a smaller house close to the 2 larger houses, in order to create a small community, just as there was at Heath Mill (or to put it more bluntly, build somewhere for a gardener/labourer to live, who would work on the 2 adjoining properties).  The wording on the architect’s drawings (shown below) provides a clue:  “Proposed Gardener’s Cottage for Mr Sherman”. 

Building plans Netley Bungalow.jpg

The drawings call the lane “Occupation Road”, a name which thankfully is no longer used.  But where did the name “Netley” come from?  It was almost certainly in memory of Mr Sherman's family background – the mill in Shere that his father had worked at was called Netley Mill.

William Larby and his family lived at Netley Bungalow from 1899 to 1902.  The family comprised William, his wife, Annie and their son William, as well as Wiliam’s father and mother-in-law, both widowed.  Previously the Larbys had lived at East End Cottages, at the south end of Chapel Lane (then called Chapel Road).  William, aged 36, described himself on the 1901 census as a “Gardener (not domestic)”, so presumably he only worked at larger places – which presumably included Waldens and Mount View.

In 1902, The Larbys moved to No 2, Pirbright Cottages, and William Farminer and his family moved into Netley Bungalow.  The  Farminers lived at Netley Bungalow from 1903 to 1908, then moved to No 1 Pirbright Cottages, next door to William Larby and his family, which was presumably no coincidence.

Between 1908 and 1927 there are few definite references to Netley Bungalow in the records.  There are some possible names, who unhelpfully provided their address simply as “Fox Corner”, but we will not speculate as to which of these lived at Netley Bungalow.  A newspaper article of 1919 refers to an Ernest Smith of Netley Bungalow, who was fined 5 shillings for allowing 2 horses to stray, but we do not know anything about Mr Smith (except that he wasn’t great at controlling horses).

I do not know for sure what happened to the ownership of Netley Bungalow.  Perhaps it was sold after (or perhaps before) John Sherman’s death in 1917 – possibly to the people who then occupied the bungalow, but these were not wealthy people, and house ownership at that time was restricted to relatively few people.  Instead, my guess is that the bungalow was sold to the owners of Avila, who in 1918 were the Booths.  Some evidence for this emerges from the history below.

John and Winifred Andrews lived at Netley Bungalow between 1926 and 1930.  John was a gardener from Bristol, whilst Winifred (nee Bloor) was born and bred in Pirbright (living at Brook House and then Pirbright Gardens in her youth).  They married in Pirbright in 1920 and bore 3 children.

In 1930 John and Winifred moved to No 2, Yarrowfield Cottages in Mayford, a few doors from the Booth’s new home.  This suggests that John had some sort of link to the Booths.  My guess is that he was gardener to the Booths, who provided him with tied accommodation in both Malthouse Lane and Mayford.

Alfred and Rosa Bellingham moved into “Walden Bungalow” in 1930.  Alfred was a Londoner, born in 1887, and a Private stationed at Farnborough Barracks in 1911.  Rosa (nee Hobart) was born in 1891 in Norwich, and by the time she was 11, was living at a “Certified Industrial School” in Stockport.  This was one of a number of institutions designed for children with a troubled background, often involving appearances before the court.  By 1911 she had returned to Norwich and was a cook at a private house.

Alfred and Rosa married in 1914 in Croydon and had 8 children.  By 1924 Alfred had risen to the rank of corporal in the Coldstream Guards and the Bellingham family was living at the Guards Depot at Caterham Barracks.  After leaving the army, Alfred became a gardener.  The Bellinghams stayed at Netley Bungalow until 1936, at which point they moved to Chertsey.  This suggests that Alfred may have been the gardener for the Earl of Romney while he lived at Avila, but had to move when the Earl sold Avila (in 1936).  Rosa died in 1971, but Alfred lived until 1989, when he died at the impressive age of 102.

John and Kathleen Hopkinson were living at Netley Bungalow in 1939.  As with most of the previous occupants, John was a gardener, but their stay was a brief one.  By 1945 they had moved to Chobham.

After WW2, Netley Bungalow was occupied briefly by Harold and Edna Barson, both from Yorkshire.  Surprisingly, Harold was not a gardener, but was a leather machinist (or at least in 1939 he was).  Perhaps after the war ended, he decided to come south and reinvent himself as a gardener.  By 1946 they had moved to West End.

Frederick and Amy Woodyer soon moved into Netley Bungalow, which by then was called Avila Bungalow (thereby reinforcing the suggestion of a link between the bungalow and Avila).  Frederick (born 1920) had been living with his parents in Lawford’s Cottages, while Amy (nee Hoadley in 1921) had been living at Mayford.  They were married in 1945 and had one child.  There was a reason for their move to Malthouse Lane:  Frederick’s cousin, Margaret Woodyer, had been living just down the lane at No 2, Malthouse Lane (see above) with her husband, Alf Tubb, and her mother Maud Woodyer (until she died in 1941).

The Woodyers remained at Avila Bungalow until 1968.  So from 1948, there were 2 Woodyer-based families living on the same side of Malthouse Lane, and in 1955 that became 3, when Dennis Tubb (Margaret’s son) moved into the newly built Avila Cottage (see below).  Frederick and Amy eventually retired to Ferndown in Dorset, where they died, Frederick in 2001, and Amy 5 years later.  Their son, Alan, died at Ferndown in the same year as his mother.

After the Woodyers moved to Dorset in 1968, Malcolm and Myra Woodward moved into Avila Bungalow until 1972.  Perhaps it was at this point that the house was sold to the occupants, rather than being tied to Avila.  We don’t know much about the Woodwards (actually, we don’t know anything at all about them, so any information would be gratefully received).

In 1972 William and Janet Rusbatch moved into Avila Cottage.  The surname Rusbatch is very rare in the England and Wales – in the 1939 census, there were only 8 Rusbatch families in total, most of whom lived in South Wales.  Our William had been born in Aberdare in 1909 while Janet was born in Tonypandy in 1912.  They moved from Wales to West London at some stage, and were married there in 1935.  In 1939 they were back in Wales, in Pontypool.  William was a clerical officer in the Ministry of Labour.  In 1957 they were back in England, living in Woking, but what brought them from South Wales to Woking is unknown – perhaps it was a posting required by William’s job.

When they moved to Woking (Mt Hermon Road) in 1957, they named their house there Dyffryn.  Similarly, on moving into Avila Bungalow 15 years later, one of their first actions was to rename it Dyffryn, which I understand means “valley” in welsh.  Presumably the word “Dyffryn” had some significance for William and Janet, because there isn’t much of a valley at Fox Corner.  The couple died at Dyffryn, William in 1982, and Janet in 1996.

The next occupants promptly renamed the bungalow Annins Cottage.  There have been several extensions to the house over the years, such that the original structure has almost completely been surrounded by newer work.

Avila Cottage

Not to be confused with Avila Bungalow next door, Avila Cottage, which is the last house on Malthouse Lane before entering the woods, was built c1955.  At this time, the strip of land was either owned by, or acquired by, Derek Vestey and his family, and he took the opportunity to build a house for Dennis Tubb and his family. 

Dennis had been living 3 doors down at No 2, Malthouse Lane, and was the gardener for the Vesteys at Avila, so this was a generous action by the Vesteys.  It meant that there were now 3 Woodyer-based families living on the same side of Malthouse Lane (see above), as Dennis’s mother had been born Margaret Woodyer.


Houses on the east side

Now we need to go back to the entrance of Malthouse Lane and start working up the right-hand side.  The first part of this side belongs to Crimscote, which is officially in Berry Lane, so we deal with it there.


The next property is Elcombe.  Is Elcombe in Malthouse Lane or Berry Lane?  It has access to both roads (completely surrounding Crimscote) and so has a claim to both.  It is in the parish of Pirbright, rather than Woking, but so what?  On this page, we’re treating it as being in Malthouse Lane, and we hope this does not offend anyone.

The first occupants were James and Ada Ball who lived in the house from when it was first built. 

After WW1, the Ball family had been living at Ivory Cottage in Malthouse Lane (see below), before moving into Elcombe in 1929.  James had bought the land for, and then probably built, both houses (Ivory Cottage in 1915, and Elcombe in 1929) and the Ball family lived in them both, one after the other.  We have covered the Balls’ history in a little more detail under Ivory Cottage below.  We noted there that James was from Wroughton, near Swindon.  One of the districts in Wroughton is called Elcombe, which explains his choice of name of the house.

Ada and James lived at Elcombe until their deaths in 1946 and 1949 respectively.  James and Doris Fitch then purchased the house and were the next occupants.

James was born in 1915 in Clapham, the son of a stock clerk in a Battersea publishing house.  He married Doris Langley in Battersea in 1939.  Doris had been born in Wandsworth in 1913, the daughter of a stationery salesman.  In 1939 she was an insurance clerk, living in Clapham.

Both James and Doris died at Elcombe in 1982.  After a short stay by the Betts family, Harry and Hilary Blakey bought the property c1987. 

The Blakeys were well known in the neighbourhood, partly due to Harry’s infectious laughter and Tommy Cooper-style jokes.  He could often be found telling some of these jokes at the bar of The Fox.  Meanwhile, Hilary’s home-made jewellery found many admirers.  Sadly Harry and Hilary separated in the early 2000’s:  Harry moved to Ludlow, while Hilary moved round the corner to The Linney, near the Fox Corner roundabout.  Harry died not long after, and Hilary died a few years later in the mid-2010’s.

The next owners purchased Elcombe in 2003, and 13 years later moved a few hundred yards away to Reynards Lodge on the Ash Road.  A recent picture of Elcombe is shown below.

Elcombe, Malthouse Lane.jpg


Markham was built in 1925, and the identity of the builder is easy to guess:  Given that James Ball had built and been living in Ivory Cottage a few yards down the lane, and in 1930 owned the plot next door where he was building Elcombe, he must be the firm favourite.  The fact that there is a Markham Road in Wroughton, where James grew up, is added proof, as is the location of Markham Road – it is in the district of Elcombe (in Wroughton). 

All this suggests that James wanted to leave a trail of evidence leading to his childhood home.  Just in case we missed the significance of this, James named another of the houses he built Markham (it is at Swallow Corner).  Fortunately these names haven’t changed since the houses were built, so the trail survives intact.  Markham and Elcombe seem to have been built as copies of each other (although it is difficult to tell after so many years) which is further evidence of James Ball’s involvement in both houses.

The first owners were Major James and Emma Squires.  James (born in Barnstaple in 1862) served in the Royal Marine Artillery.  He had previously been based in Portsmouth, but presumably he was transferred to Pirbright Barracks for an artillery-related reason (although he was aged 61 at the time).  Emma (possibly nee Williams) had been born a few miles north of Barnstaple in 1862.  They were married c1886 and had 5 children.

The Squires left Markham c1930 (James presumably retired), and the couple moved back to Barnstaple.

c1930 Ellen and Kate Jeffreys moved into Markham, and promptly extended the existing house by adding to the northerly side (see plan below).

Markham plan 1930.jpg

The Jeffreys sisters were 2 of 8 children, born in 1865 (Ellen) and 1870 (Kate).  Their parents, Charles and Eliza lived in Kew and appear to have been quite wealthy (enough for the sisters never to have had to work).  Charles was a builder, so obviously a successful one.  In 1911, the family were living in Castelnau Road, Kew (the road leading to Hammersmith Bridge), and Charles was living on “private means”.  This all sounds very comfortable, except perhaps that 4 of their 8 children (all ladies in their 40’s) were also living with them, unmarried.

Ellen and Kate must have had a particularly close bond, as they lived together (at St John’s Road, Woking) from 1922, and stayed together for the rest of their lives.  In 1928, 1933 and 1938 the ladies made 3 separate trips on ocean-going liners to Canada (travelling tourist class so they couldn’t have been that well off), which must have been arduous for them at their age.  We don’t know for sure how long these trips were, except for 1933, when the journey was 3 months.  One of their sisters, Ada, made 4 trips to Canada over the same period, but in different years.  What was the attraction of Canada?  Maybe one of their siblings or another close relative had emigrated earlier, but I can’t trace this. 

Kate died at Markham in 1949.  Ellen moved to Westfield Road, Woking in 1954, and died there in 1962.

After the Jeffreys sisters left, Ronald and Phyllis Vander bought the property.  Born in 1918 in Carlisle, he described himself in 1939 as a scientific instrument maker, living in Hillingdon.  In 1940 he married Phyllis Morgan (born in Thetford in 1921) who lived nearby in Ickenham.  They moved to Markham c1956 and stayed there until the early 1980’s.  It seems that their relationship may not have been a happy one, as both had remarried by the early 1980’s.  Phyllis died at Wonersh in 1991.  Ronald died, living at Alford Close (near the A3 in Guildford) in 2003.

In 1983 Cliff and Nicky Bryson purchased the house and lived there with their family.  Cliff was an airline pilot.  Alas that relationship did not last either, and the Brysons left Markham in 1996.

Derry Cottage

Ulva Cottage (as Derry Cottage was originally named) was built c1929, quite possibly by James Ball, who had built Ivory Cottage, Elcombe and Markham, although we don’t know for sure.  The first owner was an Annie Livingstone-Wilson, who lived in the property until 1933, and had an interesting background.

Who exactly was Annie Livingstone-Wilson?  Other than our Annie living in Malthouse Lane 1929-1933, the records don’t show anyone else with the name Livingstone-Wilson (except for a Frank Livingstone-Wilson in Sierra Leone in 1909, who was her son).  So who was this person, who was sufficiently wealthy to own property?  Unlikely as it may seem, she was the daughter of David Livingstone, the African explorer, and she seemed to like to change her surname at random.  Some explanation is required, but first we’ll discuss a little of the lives of David Livingstone and his daughter Anna Mary (Annie).

There is plenty of information on the internet regarding David Livingstone (whose photo is below), so this is a summary only.  He was born in Blantyre, near Glasgow in 1813.  His birthplace is shown prominently on Google Maps, next to the David Livingstone Bridge and Livingstone’s Cafe.  His parents were Neil and Agnes Livingstone, and David was one of seven children who lived in a single room at the top of a tenement building for the workers of a cotton factory on the banks of the Clyde.  At age 10 he was put to work in a cotton mill, working 12-hour days.  He joined an independent Christian congregation which had a strict discipline, and this apparently helped give him the attributes that he displayed later in life.


We have outlined a little more on the course of David's life here.  So let’s move on to Annie’s life.  She was born in 1858 during one of David’s expeditions to the Zambezi (where he was accompanied by his wife, Mary, who died later during the expedition in 1862).

After saying goodbye to her father for the last time in 1866 (since it was to be his last expedition, during the course of which he died), she was about to become effectively an orphan. 

In 1871 she was living with her 2 of her aunts (Janet and Agnes) in Hamilton, near Blantyre (where David had been born).  David had around 9 siblings, and Janet and Agnes were 2 of David’s youngest sisters, born 8-10 years after him.  2 years later, the family would have learnt about David’s death in Africa, when Annie was aged 15.

In 1881, Janet and Agnes were still living in the same house, but Annie had moved to Kendal, “visiting” (as the census politely puts it) a Frank Wilson, a woollen manufacturer from Kendal, who she was about to marry (in Hamilton, Scotland) later the same year.  The couple had 2 children (Ruth and Hubert) during the next few years.

In 1891, Anna was recorded as visiting Alexander Peckover (a 60 year-old widowed banker), his sister and his 3 daughters in Wisbech.  The imposing house where she was staying was Peckover House on the banks of the River Nene (see photo below), which is now a National Trust property.  The 1891 census notes that the Peckovers at the time had no less than 6 servants, which summons up mental images of a Downton Abbey-like household.  Frank meanwhile was living in Kendal, looking after the 2 children.

Peckover House.jpg

In 1901 Frank and Anna were recorded as boarding in London at the time of the census.  Frank’s occupation was recorded as “Deputation Sec of Deep Sea Fishermen”.  Meanwhile their youngest child, Hubert, was boarding at the Grammar School in Kendal, which suggests that the family were probably still based in Kendal.  What is slightly odd is that Frank was representative of a group of deep-sea fishermen, and yet Kendal is several miles inland.

Frank died in 1910, aged only 57 and I cannot find a record of Anna in the 1911 censuses of England or Scotland.  

The next record of Anna is living in Malthouse Lane between 1929 and 1933.  She died in Carnoustie (where her son Hubert was living) in 1939.  Her probate record gives her name as “Livingstone or Wilson”, providing another example of the ambiguity in her choice of surname.  Below is a photo of Annie.

Anna Livingstone.jpg

Annie’s daughter Ruth married an Alexander Macdonald, a missionary.  They lived in Scotland and sailed to Rhodesia in 1920, presumably to do missionary work.  Ruth died in 1965, and her probate record gives her name as “Wilson or Mcdonald”.  Anna’s son Hubert went to Cambridge University and became a doctor.  During WW1 he was awarded the MC, as well as being a temporary major in the RAMC.  After the war, he married Mary Mackie and worked at a mission in Rhodesia, after which he moved to Carnoustie.  He died in 1976.

There are 3 further sources which suggest that our Annie was David Livingstone’s daughter:  Firstly, a long-time resident in Malthouse Lane told me this personally, although she didn’t have any supporting evidence.  Secondly, David Livingstone’s father was born on the Isle of Ulva (which is just west of Mull).  And in 1871, Annie had been living in a cottage named Ulva Cottage, so it’s not surprising that her Pirbright house was called Ulva Cottage.  Thirdly, a newspaper clipping of the time (1932) tells us (see copy below). 

Livingstone-WIlson Surrey Ad 1932.jpg

But the most significant question which remains unanswered is:  Why on earth did Annie choose to buy property in Pirbright?  Could she have maintained a link with a member of the Stanley family?  Did she have a connection with Donald Livingstone in Mount Lodge a few doors away?  Was there a connection with the Selous family?  Given their mutual African link, it is quite possible that she and the widowed Gladys Selous of nearby Heatherside would have met.  Or was there some other reason?  We may never know.  If I had to guess, I would guess that she had some connection with the Stanley family, even though Henry Morton Stanley and his widow Dorothy had died several years previously.

After Annie left Ulva Cottage in 1933 to return to Scotland, Cecil and Marye (an alternate spelling of Mary) Barber bought the house.  Cecil was born in 1908 in Golders Green, the son of a bank clerk.  Marye (nee Hardingham) was born a year previously in Essex, curiously also the child of a bank clerk.  But perhaps it is not so curious - maybe the fathers later worked together in the same bank and struck up a friendship.  Or maybe Cecil and Marye had a common interest in banking.  Whatever the case, they were married in London in 1933 and immediately moved into Ulva Cottage.  By this time, Cecil had qualified as a Chartered Accountant, and his father had been promoted to Bank Manager.  Marye’s father however was still just a “bank official”.

The Barbers soon had 2 children, and in 1938 they extended the house, adding a double-storey extension at the rear (as shown in the plan below).  In 1946 the Barbers moved to Hook Heath, and later to Dorking.

Ulva Cottage plan 1938.jpg

In 1946, William and Marjorie Seymour purchased the house.  William was a geography teacher, and in 1939 he and Marjorie were living near Hereford, at South View, Presteigne, then in Radnorshire.  They had both gained degrees at Reading University and William had then obtained a job teaching Geography at the boys’ Grammar School in Presteigne. 

At the start of WW2 William continued to teach (it was a reserved occupation).  But he was then called up, and joined the Army as a Royal Engineer in the Survey Branch, serving in North Africa and Italy.  After the Maths teacher had also been called up, Marjorie spent the rest of the war teaching Maths at the school.  William had become a Major by the time the family lived at Ulva Cottage.  They had 2 daughters, the elder of whom remembers playing with Susan Tuck from Heatherlea (which was virtually across the Lane) who was the daughter of Gerald and Irene Tuck, ie granddaughter of Charles and Catherine Tuck.   She also has a memory of going to the Vestey’s house (Avila – refer section above) to watch the Royal Wedding on their television (events were not broadcast live in those days but highlights were broadcast later in the day).  [We are very grateful to the Seymour daughters for sharing these memories of their early lives in Ulva Cottage with us]

The Seymour family didn’t stay long at Pirbright, as William was soon posted to Germany.  While they were in Germany they let the house, and later sold it to buy another house closer to William’s next posting in Berkshire.   William remained in the Survey branch of the Royal Engineers until retirement as a Lt. Colonel and he then worked as a civilian at the Ordnance Survey).  

In 1953, Randal and Marjorie Lewis and their family were living in Ulva Cottage, presumably as one of the first tenants.  They stayed a few years, and in 1960 Cecil Hanks and his family bought the house.  By 1967 they too had moved out. 

The house retained the name Ulva Cottage until at least 1988, but it was subsequently changed to Derry Cottage, thereby losing a reminder of the Livingstone connection.  The current occupants made several changes to the house in the early 2000’s.

Ivory Cottage

In 1915, James Ball, a builder, bought the land for Ivory Cottage from John Sherman, who owned all of the land on both sides of Malthouse Lane.  To our knowledge, this was the first and only disposal of land in Malthouse Lane which John made during his lifetime (we think that the rest of the land was sold after he died in 1917).  The architect of Ivory Cottage was a Mr MW Bateman of Guildford, but my guess would be that James built the house himself.  In any event, Ivory Cottage was built in 1915 (as the panel on the front of the house proudly states).  The 2 drawings below are extracts from the original plans.

Ivory Cottage 2 plan 1914.jpg
Ivory Cottage 1 plan 1914.jpg

James purposely built the house at the back of the plot (abutting the Guildford/Woking boundary), and I imagine that was because the land would have been drier there.  At the time there was a drainage channel on the east side of Malthouse Lane, to drain water across the clay subsoil down the incline towards Fox Corner.  This channel is clearly marked on a building plan from 1935, but lasted only until the 1950’s, but has since been filled in, with the result that Malthouse Lane usually becomes fairly damp each winter (and in some summers).  All the other houses subsequently built on that side of Malthouse Lane followed the idea of being built at the back of the plot.

James was a bricklayer who had been born at Wroughton, near Swindon in 1872.  By 1901, he was living in Bagshot with his married sister and her family.  The following year, he and Ada Hunt (born 1876 also near Swindon) moved to St John’s, Woking, and married. 

In the 1911 census, James and Ada were living at “Rickford” with their 2 young daughters.  We cannot be sure exactly where this was, but from the sequence in the 1911 census, it looks as though it may have been Laurel Cottage at Fox Corner, about 100 yards away.  James described himself in the census as a builder, bricklayer and cottage-builder. 

James sold Ivory Cottage in 1929, at which point he moved into his just-completed project a few doors down, Elcombe (see above), which was next door to another house he had built, Markham (see above). 

During the following years James continued his property development career, buying land at Burners Heath, and building 4 good-sized houses (that still stand) there.  One of these houses is also called Markham.  It must be fairly rare for 2 houses within a mile of each other to have the same name.  A clue to James’s reasoning behind this is given under Markham (above).  Ada died in 1946, and James in 1949.

From 1929, the occupants of Ivory Cottage were William and Bessie Packham.  William was born in Lewes in 1855, but his early life is a little complicated to unravel.  Without purchasing his birth certificate it is difficult to be certain who his parents were, as he was living with other families in both 1861 and 1871 (although we do know that his father was called Thomas and was a farm labourer).  It seems that William had married a Bessie Browne (born in Ireland c1854) in Mullingar (which is 50 miles west of Dublin) in 1883.  In 1891 the couple were living in Albury, William being a gardener there.  What William was doing in Ireland in 1883, and why they moved to England to live in Albury is anybody’s guess.  They soon moved to Woking, but Bessie died there in 1898, without having any children.    

William soon married again to a lady also called Bessie.  This Bessie was born Bessie Leeks, and was 16 years William’s junior, having been born in Suffolk in 1871.  They were married in Fulham in 1900.  How William, who was a gardener living in Woking, met Bessie, who was a domestic servant working in Fulham is another mystery in William’s life history.  In 1901 William and Bessie were living at Star Hill (near Hook Heath), along with William’s first wife’s sister, Jemima.  Jemima had probably come to England from Ireland with her sister and her husband in the 1880’s, as she had been living a few doors from them in 1891.  Jemima later followed William and Bessie to Pirbright, and died there in 1922.  An unusual family arrangement, but it presumably worked for them.

After that the picture is much clearer.  By 1911 William and Bessie were living in a cottage at Bullswater Farm with their 4 children.  William was the gardener at Bullswater Lodge.  They remained there until 1929 at which point they moved into Ivory Cottage.

In 1925, 2 of William and Bessie’s children, Frederick and Walter, pleaded guilty to putting a trolley across a railway line, intending to obstruct a train.  This sounds rather alarming, but even so, the sentences seem harsh by today’s standards:  Frederick, who had enlisted in the army the previous year and was aged 19, was sentenced to 6 months in prison, while Walter, who was only 15 at the time, was sentenced to 1 month’s detention and 12 strokes of the birch.

William died in 1945, and Bessie in 1956, but their 3 surviving children, Bessie, Frederick and Walter continued to live in Ivory Cottage.  As far as I know, none of the 3 married.  Frederick died in 1966, aged 60, Walter died in 1967, aged 57, and Bessie died in 1979, aged 75.

With the death of Bessie in 1979, 50 years of Packham occupancy ended at Ivory Cottage.  Cliff and Anita Hedges purchased the property and lived there until c2013.  At that point, only 3 families had lived in Ivory Cottage in its 98-year history.

Ivory Cottage has not been extended much since its creation until recently (at the back).  A recent picture of it is shown below.

Ivory Cottage, Malthouse Lane.jpg


Appletrees (sometimes Apple Trees) was built in 1931 by William Shaddock, who had built Downswood (see below) the previous year, and was living there.  William’s first application was rejected on the basis of the siting of the septic tank, a matter which was quickly overcome by resiting the tank.  Appletrees and Downswood were apparently mirror images of each other, but that is not the case today!  An extract from the original plans for Appletrees are shown below.

Appletrees Plan 1931.jpg

The first occupant was Annie Wellby, a single lady aged 70.  She was born in 1861, the eldest of 7 children of Daniel and Sophia Wellby.  Daniel was senior partner of a diamond merchant in Westminster, having previously been a gold and silver refiner.  Daniel’s father had been a goldsmith in Mayfair, so it will come as no surprise to learn that the family was wealthy.  It seems that this wealth was passed down to the Wellby children.

In 1931, Annie was living at Appletrees with another single lady, Marie Gremond, who had been born in 1863 in Paris.  They had been living with each other since at least 1901 in Dorset, but moved to Pirbright probably to be close to one of Annie’s brothers, Howard Wellby and his wife, Helen, who lived in nearby Blackhorse Road.  Perhaps Howard was ill, as he died 3 years later, aged 67.  Annie and Marie were helped by a domestic servant, Maria Palmer, who was aged 56 when they moved into Appletrees.

On the 1939 census, Annie described herself as of “Independent means”, as did Marie.  During WW2, Gladys Selous moved out of Heatherside into Appletrees with Annie and Marie.  All 3 ladies were of a similar age, and so they probably appreciated the extra company.  Annie died at Appletrees in 1944.  Gladys Selous moved back into Heatherside after WW2, and Marie moved to York Road in Woking, but died the following year, leaving Helen Wellby (who was now living at Hersham) as her executor.

The next occupants of Appletrees were Evelyn Dorothy (known as Dorothy) McNair and her daughter Heather.  Dorothy was the daughter of Edgar Rastricke Hanson LRCP LRCS, who had been born in a (very) small village near Launceston in 1859 but practised as a surgeon in Devon for most of his life, and Katharine, who was born in Suffolk. 

Dorothy was born in 1892 in Chulmleigh, Devon, where her father worked.  In 1915 she married John McNair, who was born in Aylesbury in 1893.  After WW1, the couple spent a few years in India, where their only child, Heather, was born in 1920.  At this time, John was an army officer.  In 1930 they moved to Ash Vale Lodge (in Ash Vale).  In 1934, Dorothy’s father, Edgar, died there, presumably while visiting his daughter and her family.  In 1939, John was a Colonel of the General Staff in the War Office.

However, after WW2, Dorothy and John appear to have separated.  There is no evidence that John lived at Appletrees, and they died in different places (John in 1973 in Uckfield, and Dorothy in 1982 on the Isle of Wight).  So from 1946, it was just Dorothy and her daughter Heather at Appletrees.  And from 1949, they were joined by Heather’s new husband, Neville McHarg.  Despite having Scottish surnames, neither Heather (McNair) nor Neville (McHarg) had any recent Scottish ancestors.  Neville had been born in Southsea in 1913.

Probably wanting to move away from their mother / mother-in-law, Heather and Neville soon moved out of the area.  Dorothy remained at Appletrees until 1963. 

The new purchaser in 1963 only lived in the house for a few years before moving into the newly-built Millstream Cottage.

The next occupants were Len and Jean Cullum from c1976.  They were both Londoners, born in 1926 and 1928 respectively.  Len’s father was a “Motorman”, while Jean’s father (Edward Nie) was a machine mechanic.  Len and Jean were married in 1948 and had 2 children.  They continued living in Wandsworth until they moved to Malthouse Lane c1976 (for reasons unknown).  While they were in Malthouse Lane they were a fairly reclusive couple, but they later opened up Appletrees as a B&B.  Jean died in 2004, and Len decided to move to Burpham.  He died there in 2014.

After the Cullums, Ian and Sarah Childs bought Appletrees in 2004, living there with their young son.  They made several alterations to the property before moving to Dorset in 2020 to open a caravan park.  Given the onset of the Covid pandemic that year, their timing may have been unfortunate.


Downswood was built c1931 on land owned by William Henry Shaddock.  He also owned the land next door (together they formed the middle of John Sherman’s 3 fields), and built Appletrees (see above) there the next year.  The houses were apparently mirror images of each other, but that is no longer the case!  William was born in Plymouth in 1877, and was one of 9 children of Mary and William Cane Shaddock from Liskeard and Plymouth respectively.  William (senior) was a public works contractor in Plymouth, and his son followed him into the same business. 

In 1910 William (junior) married Emily Barham.  Emily had been born in Plymouth in 1884, the daughter of a master mariner, and was living less than a mile from the Shaddocks in Plymouth.  They had one child, Rona, in 1912.

In 1924, after his wife died, William (senior) moved to Connaught Road, Brookwood.  Moving from Plymouth to Brookwood seems a strange thing for someone aged 70 plus to do, but he must have had a reason.  Within a few years, two of his sons had followed him to Surrey – Thomas and his family were living in Knaphill from c1924, and then our William and Emily bought land in Malthouse Lane in 1930 and built Downswood.  William senior died in 1933.

A 1928 newspaper advert from “Shaddock”, who was living at Downswood, Lingfield gives a clue as to how Downswood in Malthouse Lane derived its name – the ad was surely placed by William and Emily.

In 1939 William and Emily were living at Downswood, along with a Margaret Barham (born in 1918), who was presumably a niece or some other relative of Emily.  In 1949 Emily died, and William remained at Downswood for just 3 years before moving to Monument Road in Woking to live with his son Thomas and his family.  Thus it came about that Frederick (“Ben”) and Marguerite Suter moved into Malthouse Lane in 1952, where they would stay for 60 years.

Ben was born in Wandsworth in 1920, the son of Albert and Ethel Suter.  Those who would have thought that Ben was of traditional English military stock would be surprised to learn that his family had a very international background:  His father, Albert, was born in Zurich of Swiss parents, while his mother, Ethel Powlowski, had a Polish grandfather, John Powlowski, who had arrived in England in the 1830’s (when he described himself as Prussian). 

In 1906, Albert was running his own shellac and gum business, AF Suter & Co Ltd, and in 1911 he and Ethel were living in Catford with their 2 young children.  They were to have 3 more children, including Ben in 1920.  Albert and Ethel made several sea voyages, probably for work-related purposes, and retained Swiss nationality.


By 1922 they had moved to Burgh Heath Lodge in Epsom, a large house which is now a Care Home.  By 1939 they were living in Kingswood at a house called “Luegisland”, which is the name of a watchtower in Lucerne – perhaps a place that meant something special to Albert.  Ethel died there in 1944 as a result of Luegisland being bombed by enemy aircraft.  Albert died in 1966. 

The family firm is still operating (based in Witham, Essex), although the Suter family are no longer involved in the company, and they sold their shareholdings in 2000.  A picture of Albert, copied from the family firm’s website with thanks, is shown below.


Ben’s 3 brothers joined the family firm, but Ben decided to join the army instead.  Emerging from Sandhurst as a commissioned officer in 1939 at the age of 19, he was immediately posted to India, where he commanded a platoon in the South Waziristan Scouts.  Not many people have ever heard of Waziristan, let alone know where it is.  To save you looking it up, it is a mountainous region on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, about 100 miles south of the Khyber Pass, inhabited by various local tribes.  From 1947 it has been part of Pakistan, but for the previous 50 years it had been under British control, hence Ben’s presence there.  At that time the region was known as the North West Frontier (of India).  While he was there, Ben learnt to speak the local languages, Pashtu and Urdu.  A picture of the South Waziristan Scouts is shown below, courtesy of the National Army Museum.  Is that Ben on one of those horses? 

South Waziristan Scouts.jpg

Marguerite was born Marguerite Ireland in 1921 in Southsea.  Her father served in the British Army, possibly in South Africa during the Boer Wars, and later in the Indian Army, where he became a colonel.  Marguerite accordingly spent much of her youth in Poona, India, not seeing a great deal of her parents, before returning to Britain. 

Ben had met Marguerite before WW2, and they arranged a special licence in just 3 weeks to be married in Ash in 1946.  At that time Marguerite was a Junior Commander in the ATS, driving staff cars and ambulances. 

After Partition in 1947, Ben became a parachutist.  In 1952, a relative of the Suters had been living in Malthouse Lane and had notified the Suters that Downswood was for sale (although I can’t trace who this relative was).  Accordingly Ben and Marguerite purchased and moved into Downswood.  Marguerite remembered that they immediately replaced the “tiny coal-fired hot-water boiler” with an Agamatic solid-fuel boiler and some central heating.  One such boiler is pictured below - it was clearly state-of-the-art at the time....

Agamatic boiler re Downswood.jpg

She also remembered that most houses at Fox Corner had cesspools or soakaways at the time, as there was no mains drainage until the 1960’s.  The early plans of the houses in Malthouse Lane confirm this – it seems that the council were particularly concerned with the location of the cesspool for each new house built.  Marguerite commented that the cesspools were often overflowing – how nice.

Ben was posted to Germany almost immediately after they moved in, and Downswood was let to tenants until their return in 1958.  Ben finally retired from the Army in 1975, but continued to live a very active life, including serving 17 years on Pirbright Parish Council, including 5 years as Chairman.  He was known locally simply as “The Major”, and was often to be seen striding purposefully along Malthouse Lane with his dogs (who, I’m afraid, could at times be less than perfectly behaved).  Below is a photo of Ben in celebratory mood.

Ben Suter.jpg

Marguerite was head of, and served on various committees of, the local WI, and was involved in several local charities and fundraising activities.  She was a judge at the Pirbright Horticultural Society until well into her 80’s, and also built a reputation as a local historian.  Altogether the Suters became very well-known figures around Pirbright.  Marguerite died in 2009, while Ben died in 2013.

Since the Suters passed away, major alterations have been carried out by the new owners, such that the house now looks much improved from its previous incarnation (which is pictured below).

Downswood prior to renovations, Malthouse Lane.jfif


Woodpeckers is closely connected to next-door Stangate (below).  It was built on the garden (and tennis court) of Stangate in 2004 after a series of unsuccessful planning applications.  The owners of Stangate then moved into Woodpeckers.


Stangate was built c1973 on a large plot, which had originally been partly wasteland and partly the smallest of John Sherman’s fields on that side of Malthouse Lane. 

The house stands on the part which had originally been wasteland, and which had subsequently been used as a garden for Avila (since c1945).  Sherman’s field was used as a garden, and included a tennis court.

That all changed in 2004, when the owners subsequently built next-door Woodpeckers on the site of Sherman’s field and moved in there, leaving Stangate intact, albeit with a smaller garden.


Land beyond the houses

Beyond the houses, Malthouse Lane becomes a track (often a muddy one these days, thanks to inconsiderate 4WD drivers), which is beloved of local walkers.  All this land was acquired by the War Department in the 1870’s, but is now owned by Guildford Borough Council.

In the 1950’s there was (on the left side near the stream) a huge old holly tree which formed a natural dry canopy.  20 years earlier, a WW1 homeless soldier called Bill had lived under the tree, and was supplied with the odd meal and cigarettes from the occupants of Mount Lodge.

This track wends its way up through “the woods” (pictured below), roughly following the Guildford/Woking boundary on the right hand side, marked by a succession of fences.

Woods 1.jpg
Woods 2.jpg

As we proceed up this track, there is a footpath to The Fairway on the right (which is difficult to pick when coming from the other direction).  On the left are some curious parallel trenches.  The discovery a few years ago of an old army motorcycle and spent bullet casings suggests that the War Department (later the MoD) put the land to use at some stage. 

The ground is sandy, the underlying formation being part of the Windlesham beds (deposited 34 to 56  million years ago), which contain a series of sand and clay deposits.  Much of the sand is yellowy-brown, but some is startlingly green, caused by the mineral glauconite, as shown by the photo below. 

Woods 3 Greensand.jpg

Unsurprisingly this type of deposit is called greensand.  The pile shown in the photo was excavated during the 2020 Covid pandemic by a group of youths who thought it would be fun to dig up the area and create cycle paths for their amusement and others’ inconvenience.  Fortunately the authorities soon put them right, and the area is slowly recovering.

A long-standing resident remembers this track through the trees as a grassy slope (probably in the 1950’s).  Here are 2 pictures of the path in a snowy winter.

The Woods in snow.jpg
The Woods in snow 2.jpg

As the path levels out, there is usually a rather stagnant-looking pool on the right-hand side.  This is the current manifestation of what is shown on the old OS maps as Dawson’s Well, presumably the outflow of a spring.  We don’t know who Mr or Mrs Dawson was, but the 1873 map shows 3 small structures in the area (now inside the boundary of Worplesdon Golf Club, just a few yards north west of the 11th green).  Whether these were tiny dwellings or shelters for animals we don’t know.  The structures do not appear on the 1841 Tithe map.

A little further on, the path opens up onto a wonderful heathland area, leading to East End and Chapel Lane (both of which are outside the scope of this site).  Between the two tracks which lead north-west, are the remains of a WW2 searchlight battery, subsequently used as a Scout hut.  If one looks carefully, the underground air-raid shelter can still be seen.

The left-hand side comprises open heathland shelving down towards Bullswater Farm and Hogleys Farm.  We probably have the War Department to thank for the absence of any development on this land.

The right-hand side (over the fence and into Woking) is more interesting, featuring part of Worplesdon Golf Club, then a large open rectangular area, known to locals simply as “The Heath”, and finally the well-known Brookwood Cemetery.  Although these areas are mostly outside the scope of this site, we will briefly discuss a few points of interest of each below.

Worplesdon Golf Club

At the point where the path from Malthouse Lane passes Dawson’s Well, Worplesdon Golf Course suddenly appears on the right hand side, fenced off by the Woking/Guildford boundary fence.  What can be seen is actually the green of the 11th hole.  Near the 11th green is the tee-off area for the 12th hole, which stretches away back to the Bagshot Road (ending close to the tee-off area for the 11th hole).

The course is very highly regarded, and was laid out in 1908, remaining pretty much the same today (according to the club website).  But what was it like before the course was developed?

Prior to 1908, the 11th and 12th holes were probably heathland, with the exception of a plantation of trees named Hartfree’s Plantation, which reached across the whole width of the central sections of both holes, leaving a clear space about 80 yards long at each end (where both of the tees and greens are).  About 60% of the plantation was cut down when the golf course was made in order to make the fairways, but perhaps some of the trees which stand today in between and at the sides of the fairways are remnants of Hartfree’s Plantation. 

So who was Hartfree?  The tithe map of 1841 does not show the plantation – it merely shows the area as being owned by Bridley Manor, so we know that the plantation must have been created after 1841.  The most likely candidate is William Hartfree (or Heartfree), an agricultural carter or labourer born in Ashtead in 1817.  In 1851 he was living at Merrist Wood.  In 1861 he lived at nearby Lawfords, and in 1871 at “Ganders Hill Cottage”, next to The Fox Inn, so just a 5 minute walk away.  We can probably assume that he was responsible for planting and tending the trees, on behalf of Bridley Manor.  By 1891 he was living in Stoughton, so the job of looking after the plantation must have passed to someone else.  He died at the Guildford Union (ie Workhouse) in 1894, never to see how the golf club would destroy most of his trees.

Below is a picture of the 12th fairway from the club website (with thanks).  The pine trees on either side of the fairway were probably planted by William Hartfree.  We have also included a picture of the 14th green one February.

WGC 12th fairway.jpg
WGC in snow.jpg

[One of Willliam’s 11 children, Ellen Hartfree, married Arthur Holdforth in 1864.  Arthur Holdforth was the half-brother of Emma Holdforth, who married John Stevens and later lived in 2, Malthouse Lane (refer above).  Ellen died just 2 weeks after her father in 1894.  Arthur went on to live at Malthouse Cottages, Berry Lane in 1901.]

Further away from Pirbright, just across the Bagshot Road is the hole that the club describes as its “signature hole”, the 10th.  The hole is only 120 yards long, but is across a wide stretch of water known as Bridley Pond and onto a tricky green.  The outflow from Bridley Pond (constructed prior to 1873) runs in a straight south-westerly direction in a narrow ditch between The Fairway and Storr’s Lane, then under Malthouse Lane, across the bottom of Avila Cottage, through the fields of Mount Lodge, and then turns an abrupt left to feed into the Hodge Brook at Fox Corner.  During the 18th century Bridley pond itself nestled quietly in its own copse, the property of Bridley Manor, until some sadist constructed a golf hole across it.  The 1915 OS map shows a boathouse on the western edge of the pond, where the outflow is.  Unsurprisingly, there is no visible trace of the boathouse today.

The Heath

“The Heath”, as it is known to locals, appears on the 1841 Tithe Map entirely as wasteland, which means that it could have been (and probably was) used by local people for activities such as grazing animals,  wood collection and turf cutting.  In 1852 it was purchased by the London Necropolis Company as a relatively small (less than 4%) part of the planned cemetery.  It was never used for this purpose, except for the occasional grave, one of which has recently been restored.  The land was later sold off by the Necropolis Company, presumably to Woking Borough Council. 

The Heath is much cherished by local walkers and runners.  Thanks to excellent work in recent years by the relevant authorities in clearing low-level birch and pine trees, there are now fine views right across the area, which become even finer when the heather is in flower.  Sunsets can be an arresting sight, and I am told the sunrises can be too. 

The pond is an attractive feature, especially when iced over in the winter.  The bomb crater is also a point of interest – it was formed by a German pilot jettisoning some unwanted weight before returning home.  There are some ugly bare patches in the centre of the heath, caused by recent removal of heather to refresh the bunkers on the nearby golf course, which is a shame.

The wildlife is reclusive, but snakes and stonechats have been seen, along with many commoner species.  In most years the area is home to horses or cattle, whose job it is to keep the growth in check.  Below are some pictures of The Heath.

Heath 1.jpg
Heath 3.jpg
Heath 2.jpg
The Heath in snow.jpg

Brookwood Cemetery

The history of Brookwood Cemetery is well-known, and does not need to be repeated here.  We should record, however, that since the recent acquisition by Woking Borough Council, many improvements have been made:  Large areas of scrub have been cleared and helpful signboards have been erected.  It is now a much more pleasant area than before, so congratulations to the Borough Council and the relevant managers and staff.

The south west corner of the Cemetery abuts both The Heath (above) and the Guildford/Woking boundary, and is the closest part of the Cemetery to Fox Corner.  There are 2 items of interest, both of which are explained by helpful signboards in situ.

The most obvious is the Colquhoun Memorial (pictured below).  Recently repaired and cleaned, it now stands proud, gleaming white in its own clearing.  This is in stark contrast to only 10 years ago, when it was dark, gloomy, and hidden amongst quite deep undergrowth.  It was a scary place for children, especially if they tried to peek inside some of the gaps.  Even some adults preferred to keep well away, especially towards nightfall.  Pictures of the Memorial and the accompanying signboard are shown below.

Cemetery Chapel.jpg
Cemetery board 2.jpg

One might imagine from the Memorial that the Colquhouns were a family of some repute, and this is indeed the case.  Patrick’s father, James (1780-1855), may be one of the 5 family members referred to.  Born in Scotland, he was consul-general for Saxony, and also a charge d’affaires.  James’s father, Patrick (1745-1820) almost certainly was another, as he was indeed buried in Bunhill Fields.  Patrick (senior) was descended from an ancient line of Colquhouns from Dumbarton, and served as Lord Provost of Glasgow.  He was also the founder in 1798 of the Thames River Police, one of the precursors of what became our national police force in 1840.

The Colquhouns referred to above (and some of the other family members) each have their own Wikipedia pages, which list their achievements in much more detail.


Nearby is a burial plot for inmates of Brookwood and Botley Park (Chertsey) hospitals.  The signboard (pictured below) tells all.

Cemetery board 1.jpg
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