The south and west sides of the Guildford-Pirbright Road (starting at the roundabout)
Before we look at each house, here is a list of the houses, ordered by approximate date of construction.
Now, taking each property in turn:
Fox Corner Wildlife Association
The first property the walker comes to from the roundabout is the wonderful Fox Corner Wildlife Association. It has its own page on this site here.
Immediately after the Wildlife area is a delightful series of semi-detached houses called Pirbright Cottages. In view of the amount of information we have on these, they also have their own page on this website here.
Iona & Fordwych
This building (comprising 2 semi-detached cottages) first appears in the records in 1962. It was built on the garden belonging to 1, Pirbright Cottages (then owned by Richard and Chloe Ingram).
Hawthorn (as Fordwych was briefly called) was occupied for a short while by Peter and Sheelagh Gillon. Iona too had another name – Quendon (which is the name of a small village in Essex) was initially occupied by Philip and Ivy Packham, and then, in the 1970’s, by Christopher Talbot. In case you’re wondering, Philip Packham does not seem to be related to either of the Packhams mentioned elsewhere on this site. They appear to be quite different families.
Brook House, which is sandwiched between the public footpath at the rear of Pirbright Cottages and the Hoe Brook stands on a narrow strip of land abutting the western edge of the common land purchased by Lord Pirbright for the construction of Pirbright Cottages in the 1890’s. Perhaps Lord Pirbright did not want to purchase this piece of land, as it was not large enough to fit one of his new houses.
The early maps are not specific as to what this strip of land actually was. But the 1915 OS map shows the track of the public footpath in its current position, with the narrow strip of land being wooded (presumably trees were lining the edge of the brook at that point).
The strip of land may well have remained in this condition for the next 45 years, largely ignored, until c1960, when Brook House was built. Curiously, the strip of land (but not the house) was listed by Surrey County Council in 2011 as being owned by the council – presumably because the strip of land had technically been common land. Why the Council wished to retain this land is beyond me.
Brook House was originally called Semiramis (an unusual name – it is also the name of a mythological Assyrian queen, and a play by Voltaire). It was occupied initially (but briefly) by Geoffrey and Kathleen Caroline and their family (1960-61), and then Ian and Caroline Hodge until c1972.
At some point after 1972, the house was renamed Vardre (possibly named after an area of Swansea), and then renamed Brook House c2004.
Brookside sits just to the rear of the old Selous Museum, which formed part of the Heatherside estate. We have covered the early years of the museum under Norfolk House & The Squirrels (previously called Heatherside) below, but repeat it here for convenience.
The museum was situated just to the east of Heatherside. Next to the museum (on the eastern side) was a building known as Heatherside Bungalow, in which George Steedman lived (alone). He had arrived in 1897 as the farm bailiff, but soon became the museum caretaker, and stayed there until 1929 (by which time he was 85).
After George left, Richard and Gertude (“Greta”) Renton moved into the Bungalow. They were both born c 1889, and Richard was a gardener by trade, presumably part or full-time working for Mrs Selous. He was good enough to be a judge of the Knaphill Working Men’s Club Allotments Contest in 1942. Greta died in 1953, and Richard in 1963, still living at Heatherside Bungalow. Richard’s executor was his neighbour, Fred Farminer, of 1, Pirbright Cottages. We discuss Fred Farminer under Field Place. As far as I know, Richard and Greta had no children.
Brookside itself was built c1953, soon after the death of Mrs Selous, and was occupied by John and Doris Winstanley and their family until c1961. John was a surveyor. c1961 David and Cecilia Murdoch moved in until c1974.
How do all these facts fit together? I don’t know for sure, but one hypothesis is as follows:
In her will (1951) Mrs Selous possibly rewarded the Rentons for 25 years of loyal service by allowing them to remain in Heatherside Bungalow for as long as they lived (as it turned out, until 1963).
In 1953, the person who inherited the Heatherside estate (Harold Selous?) had the museum demolished, and a new house (Brookside) built just behind where it had stood. The new house was about half the size of the current Brookside.The new house was let to (or purchased by) the Winstanleys.
After the death of Richard Renton in 1963, Heatherside Bungalow was acquired by the owner of Brookside (the Murdochs?) and largely (or totally) demolished.
At the same time, Brookside was extended eastwards (to where Heatherside Bungalow was standing) to reach its current footprint. To my untrained eye, the left and right parts of the house do look as though they may have been separate buildings which have been joined together.
This may or may not have been the correct sequence of events, but at any rate, Brookside is now a large house with a good-sized garden, sitting between the old Heatherside building and the Hoe Stream. The foundations of the museum and Heatherside Bungalow, if they have survived, would today be somewhere underneath the Brookside front garden.
Norfolk House & The Squirrels (previously Heatherside and Alpine Lodge)
The 2 houses Norfolk House and The Squirrels were originally built c1865 as a single house, called Alpine Lodge, later renamed Heatherside. We will cover the history of this house below, but first, we will look at the farm which previously occupied the present plot (and more), Tod’s Farm.
Up to 1865
Tod’s (or Todds) Farm comprised 9 fields, being 15 acres in size. 2 of the fields were called Stone Rye, presumably an indication that the underlying land was stone-ridden. Tod’s is coloured blue on the 1841 Tithe Map above.
It first appears in documents from 1576 in a survey: “Tods, abutting Pulleyns Grove” was owned copyhold by one Edward Lyle. By 1664 it was recorded as being owned (copyhold) by John Baker. In 1707 the farm was sold to Edward Ford, and passed to his daughter, Mary Ford, who, in 1768 sold the property to John Legg, who already owned the nearby Rickford Mill and Millhouse as well as Rickford House (now the site of Christmas Bakery).
[Commissary Probate in 1746 relating to Thomas Watts deceased refers to “copyhold messuage Tods”, but there is no entry in Court Roll extracts, so the validity of this is uncertain.]
John Legg died soon afterwards, in 1770, and the property passed to his 6 daughters. They sold it 15 years later to John Stedman (sometimes spelt Steadman), and the farm remained in the hands of the Stedman family for the next 80 years. In 1841 it was categorised as pasture, arable and meadow in roughly equal proportions.
John Stedman died in 1818, aged 81, and Tod’s passed to his younger son, James, aged 42. John left to his elder son (John) all his household goods and an instruction to pay various legacies. This doesn’t sound like a very fair split, but no doubt there were all sorts of additional factors we don’t know about.
When James Stedman died in 1847, he left Tod’s to his wife, Sarah, and his 26 year-old son, David, to be jointly held until either the death or remarriage of his wife (a rather unusual restriction!). Thereafter, it would revert to David. There were legacies for his other 3 surviving children, although his eldest child, James, who was a baker in Old Woking, received only a low amount. It was rather unusual in those days for the bulk of a farm estate to be left to a younger son over the head of an elder brother. James seems to have done something which displeased his late father, or maybe his late father had learnt the idea from his father (John – see above).
Sarah Stedman died in 1854, but David was not interested in carrying on the farming business. By 1861 was living in Finsbury as an “Outdoor officer, HM Customs”, whatever that was, and in 1863 an advertisement for the sale of Tod’s appeared on the front page of the Surrey Times in 1863, placed by a “Y.Z.” of 9, Woodhouse Place, Stepney Green (see photo below). This was David Stedman’s address. But why did he choose to hide his identity behind the letters “YZ”? Was he trying to hide the sale from other members of the family? Perhaps he thought his brother James would be particularly unimpressed. By this time, James had moved to Clapham, but he died shortly afterwards in 1866.
The years 1865 - 1894
The farm was purchased by an Ebenezer William Williams, who lived in The Old Kent Road. He was a “skin salesman” at Smithfield, and must have been successful at this trade, as he was granted freedom of the City of London in 1849, aged 31. He seems to have been an early property developer, as within 5 years, he had knocked down Tod’s Farm and in its place had built a rather grand residence called Alpine Lodge (presumably because of its appearance), which still stands (in the form of Norfolk House and The Squirrels).
Ebenezer never lived in the property. He had simply demolished the old farm, replacing it with a large house which he could sell quickly (in fact, 3 years after it was built), presumably for a fat profit. He died in 1892, leaving £5,000 (worth over £400,000 today) as well as property, and has an imposing memorial at Nunhead Cemetery, Peckham. In fact Alpine Lodge was the first new-build in the Fox Corner area for at least 200 years (apart from farm cottages). Looking at the area now, it seems that Ebenezer was a man ahead of his time. A press announcement of his death is shown below.
Alpine Lodge was leased from when it was built (1867) to Henry Wooderson Rumsey (born 1832), who was a schoolmaster from Edmonton, and the son of a schoolmaster before him. Somehow, Henry had managed to accumulate a surprising amount of cash, as from the age of 38, he gave his occupation on official documents as “gentleman” or “living on own means” or suchlike. When he was renting Alpine Lodge, he employed a general servant, a nurse and a groom/gardener – not insubstantial costs.
The source of his wealth was his wife, Marianne (nee Wimbush). Marianne was the daughter of Samuel Wimbush, a jobmaster from London and his wife, Mary Anne. A jobmaster was someone who kept a livery stable and hired out horses and carriages. Samuel’s stables were in a mews just off Belgrave Square in London, and he was clearly a very successful jobmaster; by 1851 he was employing 28 men.
In 1871, 3 years after Henry, Marianne and their family had started living in the house), Ebenezer sold the property to Marianne’s father, Samuel. We can only hope that Henry fully appreciated this generosity from his father-in-law, which allowed him to live in a large, new house in the country, set in 15 acres, having retired from his schoolmaster’s job in his early 30’s. The property also had its own chapel (The “Iron Room”). Henry had set up a mission room, and conducted gospel services there “for the spiritual good of his neighbours”.
Then, in 1881 tragedy struck. Marianne died at the early age of 44, leaving Henry with 3 teenage children. And in 1882 Samuel Wimbush, Marianne’s father, also died, leaving £71,000, which would be worth £4.5 million today, as well as some property.
Samuel left Alpine Lodge to Barnes Wimbush, one of Marianne’s 2 elder brothers (the other was a Reverend in Yorkshire). Within 2 months of Samuel’s death, Henry had decided to leave Alpine Lodge – whether it was his own choice, or whether his brother Barnes had kicked him out, we don’t know – but the newspaper clip below advertising the sale of the contents of the house makes interesting reading. His leaving testimonial was attended by 100 people, and the local newspaper spoke highly of the esteem in which his friends and neighbours held him.
Henry moved initially to Merrow, then on to Hampshire and then Suffolk, and died at Sudbury in 1909, aged 76.
Barnes wasted little time (2 weeks actually) in placing newspaper ads for re-letting the house, which contained “5 bedrooms, dressing ditto, dining and drawing rooms and ample offices. It is surrounded by 16 acres of park-like land and has farmyard with all necessary buildings”
During the next 9 years the house was occupied first by William Birch, then by Hugh Munro, then by a Captain Boyle. In 1885, an ad was placed selling “6,000 spring cabbages”, and there were frequent ads offering horses (usually described as quiet to ride) for sale.
In 1890, the house was occupied by Dudley Mansfield, the 32 year-old son of a builder from Streatham. . The farming side of the business now included stud farm activities, as well as pigs, poultry and cows. Rather intriguingly, an ad for a housemaid insisted that she had to be tall. Perhaps the house had high shelving, which was difficult to reach? Or was there another reason?
Dudley had had an embarrassing incident in 1886 (before he moved to Alpine Lodge). As is explained in the press cutting below, he was accused of trying to defraud a London pawnbroker. At the Old Bailey trial the following year, Dudley and his accomplice were found not guilty, on the basis that the fake stones seemed so genuine that it was considered possible that Dudley himself had been taken in. Hmm....
In 1891 Barnes decided to sell the property, with Dudley Mansfield as sitting tenant. It was advertised for sale as a “bijou residence”, albeit with 18 acres, being mainly used as a poultry farm at this point. It may have been known as the West Surrey Poultry Company, which had described itself elsewhere as being “a 3 minute walk from Rickford Mill”. In fact Dudley himself bought the property, albeit only for a short time.
1891 was to be a big year for Dudley, as he married Louisa Burstall at Pirbright Church that summer. Louisa was aged 28 and had been married once before – to a Canadian freemason, Edward Burstall, who had died in 1890. The census of that year (taken a few months before their wedding) records Louisa as the head of the household, and Dudley as a “visitor”.
The Mansfields remained at Alpine Lodge until 1894, carrying on their farming activities, with several adverts being placed in the local newspapers advertising horse stud activities. “Norfolk Nobleman” was their stud horse, and the fee for a mare to be serviced was 3 guineas (£250 today, only a little less than current rates). They also advertised for sale several dog-carts (a dog-cart was a small carriage pulled by a single horse). The poultry and cow activities continued. An advert for a cook contained the direction “abstainer preferred” – perhaps they had had a bad experience with a previous occupant.
In 1894, the Mansfields left Alpine Lodge for Betchworth. They later had one daughter, Zillah, but Dudley died in 1902, and Louisa in 1918. They sold Alpine Lodge, which still comprised the lands of the original Tod’s Farm, to a gentleman called Frederick Selous, and this began a new chapter in this part of Pirbright.
1894 and beyond
Frederick Selous (pronounced “Selloo”) had forged a notable reputation as a big game hunter in Africa, and one of his first actions was to establish a museum (named Zambezi) at Alpine Lodge, to house his many exhibits. Many trophies (ie animal heads) adorned the walls. Newspapers report that the exhibits included lions, leopards, buffalo, hippopotami, cobras, antelope and zebra. The results of his hunting were reported as having been sent to half of the world’s museums, including the Natural History Museum in London. This may be distasteful to many these days, but these were objects of wonder in the 1890’s. A photo of Frederick is shown below.
He was often referred to by local newspapers as “the famous” or “the celebrated” Frederick Selous. It is thought that he was the inspiration for Sir H. Rider Haggard’s character, Allan Quatermain. Selous was a good friend and hunting companion of Theodore Roosevelt, and was later employed personally by Cecil Rhodes.
But let’s start at the beginning. The earliest members of the Selous family we know about arrived in England in the late 1700’s from Jersey and settled in London. Henry Courtney Selous (1803-1890) was a notable artist. But we will start with Henry’s brother, Frederick Lokes Selous (1802-1892). Frederick was a member of the Stock Exchange, as was his younger brother Angiolo, and clearly the family was a close-knit (and a wealthy) one, as the 3 brothers and their families were living next door to each other on the Gloucester Road in 1881. Frederick eventually became chairman of the Stock Exchange, and had 6 children with 3 wives. His third child (with his third wife) was the Frederick who lived in Pirbright.
Frederick Courtney Selous was born in 1851 in London, and is recorded in the 1871 census as being an “artist scholar”, but this didn’t last long, as the same year, he journeyed to South Africa. He landed at Algoa Bay (now Nelson Mandela Bay) at a time when most of Africa was untrodden by Europeans. Southern Rhodesia was largely unknown, diamonds had been found just 4 years earlier, but gold had not yet been discovered at Johannesburg.
He spent much of the next 20 years in Africa, chasing animals, gun in hand, bagging large numbers of elephants to pay his way. In 1890 he was employed by the British South Africa Company at the direction of Cecil Rhodes, to guide an expedition through Mashonaland (the north eastern part of present-day Zimbabwe). The expedition founded the capital Salisbury (now renamed Harare), and Selous spent a great deal of time mapping the interior of the country there. For this detailed work he received a Gold Medal from the Royal Geographical Society.
Later in 1890 he had a letter regarding the weaknesses of any Portuguese claims to land in present-day Zimbabwe printed in The Times. This was not just a short 1-paragraph letter, but one covering nearly 4 whole columns (and The Times was a full-length newspaper in those days, not a broadsheet).
In December 1892, he set sail for England from Cape Town, the journey taking 18 days. The following year, 1893, he married Marie Catherine Gladys Maddy (who lived in Gloucestershire and was 23 years younger than him), bought Alpine Lodge, and by the end of the year he was back in Africa, fighting in the First Matabele War (Matabeleland is now Zimbabwe), where his “stalking” skills were much appreciated by the Intelligence Department to which he was attached. How he found time to do all this (and what his wife thought about his immediate return to Africa after their marriage) is unknown. Gladys may have accompanied him on this trip, but soon returned to the UK when the war became too dangerous. A (perhaps rather wistful?) picture of Gladys in her younger days is shown below.
By 1898 he had returned to the UK again, and he and his wife were soon blessed with their first child (Frederick Hatherley Bruce Selous), soon followed by 2 more (Harold and James). Harold was born in the Rickford Malthouse.
Frederick lived his life at a fast pace. He was a long-distance runner in his youth, and claimed that this had helped him track animals in Africa. A journalist in 1899, who reported arriving for an interview at Alpine Lodge, just 5 minutes before Frederick who was returning from a 5-week chamois shoot in Hungary.
Shortly after this, in 1899-1900, Alpine Lodge was significantly extended and renamed Heatherside, which seems a rather restrained name for such an energetic person. Perhaps that is why the name was chosen.
By this time he was regarded as an expert on South African matters, and the journalist above was after his views on the Boer War, which was then in progress. In general, Frederick was sympathetic to the Boer wishes for freedom. He had written: “In all my long intercourse with these people [the Boer people], whether as casual acquaintance, friend of the family, or total stranger, I have never met with anything but hospitality and kindness”. He was well-known locally, and was president of the Worplesdon (not Pirbright) Cricket Club. When he was back in England from his travels, he frequently played for the club, even when in his sixties.
He was also a prominent public speaker on South African affairs. As an after-dinner speaker, he used to relate some of his “hair-breadth escapes during the Matabele War”. An example announcement for one of his talks is shown in the newspaper ad below. We've also added a picture of Frederick sitting on a train with Teddy Roosevelt.
He was an active supporter of the Liberal Party, a member of the Anti-Vivisection Society, and (not surprisingly) president of the Worplesdon and District Rifle Club. For some reason he always described himself as “of Worplesdon”, rather than “of Pirbright”.
He continued to travel, adding to his trophy collection in North America, as well as back in Africa.
On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he had to abandon a planned hunting trip to Sudan, and found himself back in England. Selous being Selous, he offered himself for active service at the age of 62, on the grounds that he was a member of the Legion of Frontiersmen (a civilian organisation, founded in 1905, but with little military experience). Below (left) is a summary of a speech (in which he puts across his views clearly) he gave to a public meeting in Shamley Green at the time.
It was some time before the military authorities allowed the Frontiersmen to join the military, but permission was granted to form a group of 1,000 men, and Frederick was one of the 2 men who organised this. In March 1915, he was appointed a “temporary lieutenant” of the 25th Battalion (Frontiersmen) of the Royal Fusiliers (Battalion History describes them as “The oddest crew.....clerks, book-keepers, music-hall comedians…Moroccan bandits, ex-MPs, cowboys, prize fighters and acrobats”), and he made his final journey, to British East Africa, in May 1915, aged 65.
Not wanting to be left out, Gladys volunteered for work at the Red Cross in France (based at Le Havre) in 1915 (at the age of 51), for which she was awarded the British War Medal.
Frederick meanwhile was promoted to Captain, mentioned in dispatches by Jan Smuts, and in 1916 awarded the DSO. Above (right) is a newspaper article celebrating the fact, and giving an insight into how he was regarded by his men.
A visit back to England in the summer of 1916 was to be his last. Sadly, he was killed in action on 4 January 1917, in what was then German East Africa (now Tanzania) and is named on the Pirbright War Memorial. He is buried at Beho Beho, tucked into the northern edge of the Selous game reserve in Tanzania. The exact circumstances of his death appeared in a letter to The Times in December 1918, reproduced below. Also shown are 2 photos of his grave.
A man of such energy and drive, it was perhaps fitting that he should die on the battlefield in the land he so loved. One example of the tributes paid to him is shown below.
Despite all his achievements, he was known as a modest man. In addition to all his other activities, he even received a mention in the book Birds and the War by Hugh S Gladstone (1919) as being one of 19 people who were “well known on account of their contributions to ornithology”.
As an aside, his estate was valued at over £330,000, which would be equivalent to over £10 million today.
A bust of him stands in the Main Hall of the Natural History Museum. In their Selous Collection the Museum has 524 mammals from three continents, all shot by him, including nineteen African lions.
What happened to the Selous Museum at Fox Corner? After his death, Mrs Selous donated the entire collection to the Natural History Museum.
The Selous Game Reserve in south eastern Tanzania is a hunting reserve named in his honour. Established in 1922, it covers an area of more than 17,000 square miles (which is more than 20 times the area of Surrey). It is rarely visited by humans due to the strong presence of the Tsetse fly. In 1982 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature.
He neither drank nor smoked, but, rather bizarrely, he apparently married three African women (before he married Marie) according to tribal custom, and produced at least three children with them. Although he left them considerable property in Rhodesia, this section of his will was declared null and void, and the property appropriated by the colonial administration.
In 1971, Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe then was) issued a postage stamp featuring Frederick (pictured below). He is one of only 3 people connected to Fox Corner who share the honour of appearing on a postage stamp. The other 2 are mentioned in the Malthouse Lane section.
We can only wonder whether Frederick ever met Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), the well known African explorer, who lived on the other side of Pirbright on Stanley Hill. Their time in Pirbright overlapped by 10 years, and it is unthinkable that they were unaware of each other’s presence. What conversations they might have had about their respective times in different parts of Africa! As a further point of interest, a relative of a third well-known African explorer, David Livingstone, also lived in Pirbright, in Malthouse Lane. Perhaps she lived there because of a connection with either Stanley or Selous, but we can’t be sure.
There are several accounts of his life on the internet, and he has his own Wikipedia page (which is well worth reading).
We have included more information about him, together with links to useful internet pages here.
What did the Heatherside estate consist of at the time of Capt Selous’s death in 1917? We can’t be sure, but the OS map of 1915 (extract below) is very detailed, and gives us a good idea.
Some of the more interesting features are:
The estate covers the same area as the original Tod’s Farm. No land has been added or sold.
The eastern section, which had been 3 of the 9 fields on Tod’s Farm, now comprises the main house, together with 7 other buildings, bordered on the east by the Hoe Stream.
One of these buildings is clearly marked as the museum. Not surprisingly it was quite a big building. On the earlier 1897 OS map it is shown as 2 smaller buildings, possibly farm buildings, but they would probably have been demolished to make way for the museum.
Next to the museum (on the eastern side) was a building known as Heatherside Bungalow, in which George Steedman lived (alone). He had arrived in 1897 as the farm bailiff, but soon became the museum caretaker, and stayed there until 1929 (by which time he was 85).Neither the museum nor Heatherside Bungalow exists anymore.Their foundations, if they have survived, would today be somewhere underneath the front garden of Brookside.
5 of the outbuildings are arranged in a circle, suggesting a farmyard-type setting. Only 2 of these 5 buildings exist today in the form of Heather Cottage.
The gardens seem to have been laid out carefully, with a well-defined pattern of paths, one of which follows the stream. The paths are interspersed with lawns and well-spaced trees. One can imagine how pleasant it would be to stroll around these paths on a summer’s day, although I wonder if Frederick Selous ever thought of mischievously placing some of his stuffed animals at strategic points to liven up the promenade.
The western section now comprises 5 fields instead of the original 6, with some consolidation having taken place. In one of the fields there is a building, presumably some sort of animal shelter.
Back home, Mrs Selous was actively pursuing charitable and fund-raising activities during the war. One of these involved packing and sending parcels to men on the front from Christmas 1915. The packing list for each parcel makes interesting reading (below, next to a rather dramatic photo of Gladys).
Their eldest son, Frederick Hatherley Selous was born in 1898 and educated at Rugby School (like his father), where he became captain of rugby. His middle name is the name of the town near Cheltenham where his mother had been born. He seems to have inherited much of his father’s dynamism, as he gained his aviator’s certificate in 1916 just 2 weeks after his 18th birthday. This would have been a significantly riskier enterprise than nowadays. Below (left) is a picture of the type of airplane in which Frederick took his test. On the right is a picture of an SE5, which Frederick flew during WW1.
By the following year, Frederick was a captain in the Royal Flying Corps (the precursor to the RAF). He had already shown plenty of courage, having earned the Military Cross for Gallantry and the Italian Silver Medal for Military Valour. But very sadly he was killed in action exactly 1 year to the day after his father. He is buried at Arras and commemorated on the Roll of Honour at Worplesdon. Losing both her husband and her eldest son in the space of a year must have been a terrible burden for Gladys to bear. 2 photos of Frederick are shown below. The left hand picture is from 1916 when he joined the RFC (doesn't he look young?), while the right is his first commission into the Royal Surreys.
By the following year, Frederick was a captain in the Royal Flying Corps (the precursor to the RAF). He had already shown plenty of courage, having earned the Military Cross for Gallantry and the Italian Silver Medal for Military Valour. But very sadly he was killed in action exactly 1 year to the day after his father. He is buried at Arras and commemorated on the Roll of Honour at Worplesdon. His story is told in more detail on the Pirbright Historians website.
Losing both her husband and her eldest son in the space of a year must have been a terrible burden for Gladys to bear. 2 photos of Frederick are shown below. The left hand picture is from 1916 when he joined the RFC, while the right is his first commission into the Royal Surreys.
The 1911 census records the Selous’s as having only 2 children. Their second son, Harold became a civil servant in Nyasaland (now Malawi), spending most of his time in Nyasaland, interspersed with visits every few years back to England, no doubt primarily to see his mother.
Meanwhile what became of Gladys, having suffered a double tragedy during the war, followed by her other son emigrating to Nyasaland? Apart from a spell during WW2, she remained at Heatherside for the rest of her life, no doubt tending carefully to the estate that she and her husband had created there. She was President of the Worplesdon Women’s Institute for many years, and was known for her skill in making patchwork quilts.
During WW2, Gladys moved to Apple Trees in Malthouse Lane, to allow a London firm of Chartered Accountants to use Heatherside as their offices for the duration of the war. The firm was Smallfield, Rawlins & Co of Ironmonger Lane, and their move to Heatherside was no doubt the result of 2 of its partners living nearby (Thomas Rawlins at Cramond House in Pirbright, and Arthur Rawlins at Littlefield Manor, Worplesdon). Rachel Collier (whose recollections we have been quoting from) took a job at the firm during the war, but the firm itself no longer seems to exist. The museum at Heatherside was used as an office for the Ministry of Food, Meat Rationing Division. Arthur Rawlins was controller of that division, employing 30 people.
Gladys meanwhile was busy making woollen garments for the troops at Apple Trees. After the war, she returned to Heatherside and remained there until she died in 1951, aged 77.
After the death of Mrs Selous, I presume that most of the estate would have been left to her only surviving son, Harold, who was living in Nyasaland. Harold (pictured below) died just 3 years later, in South Africa in 1954.
It seems that some parts of the estate (eg Heather Cottage) were sold immediately. Others were more slowly dismantled.
By 1953 Heatherside itself had been divided into today’s 2 houses, named East Heatherside (now Norfolk House) and Squirrels (now The Squirrels). The Clarkes and then the Dobsons lived at East Heatherside, together with a doctor, Alexander Lundie, OBE, MC, MD, BSc, MB, ChB, DTM&H, FRC Path. Arthur and Betty Henderson initially moved into Squirrels, followed by Peter and Mary Cadwallader (previously living at New Haw), followed by the Capito family.
The elaborate gardens constructed by the Selous’s were divided up and are now attached to Brookside, Norfolk House and The Squirrels, although judging by aerial views, the layout has changed completely (mainly to accommodate ownership by 3 different properties). I wonder if there are any traces of the Selous’s handiwork still visible.
From an outside view of the old house, there are no obvious traces today of Frederick Selous, which is probably just as well, as his activities would not necessarily meet with everyone’s approval in the current age. However the house remains as an impressive reminder of its illustrious former inhabitant.
As to the other parts of the Heatherside estate, we cover Brookside above, and Heather Cottage below.
Most of the land further to the west, formerly the Tod’s Farm estate, was sold off for development after the death of Mrs Selous, during the 1950’s, and is dealt with under the Ash Road page.
But the most southerly part of the garden and one of the fields (the most southerly) became the westerly extension of the Wildlife Area (ie, over the Winter Bridge), and so is open for anyone to walk through. As one walks to the westerly side of the Winter Bridge into the old garden, it is sobering to think that over 100 years ago Frederick Selous would have wandered over this land, while regaling visitors with his tales from deepest Africa. There are, unfortunately, few, if any, old trees surviving within this part of the Wildlife Area. However within the neighbouring private gardens, and visible from the Wildlife Area are some large oak, ash and sycamore trees, which surely would have been alive in his day. These may well date from the time when Alpine Lodge was originally built, over 150 years ago. If one searches in this area, the foundations of some buildings can be detected, but these may well date from more recent times.
A thin slice of the most southerly field was shaved off to form part of Hockford Close when it was built in the 1990’s. The two most westerly houses were built on this thin slice.
Both of the buildings in the grounds of today’s Heather Cottage appear on the 1915 OS map, possibly as farm buildings. At that time the electoral rolls show that there was a third dwelling associated with Heatherside (in addition to Heatherside Bungalow and Heatherside itself, both of which are covered above). It was described as “Rooms over stables”, and was presumably occupied by someone who worked on the property. Rachel Collier’s recollections tell us that the stables (together with the “rooms above”) became today’s Heather Cottage. The building nearer the lane looks as though it has been largely rebuilt since 1915.
It is difficult to be certain as to who was living there, partly because there are other houses with similar names in Pirbright. However we shall try.
In 1945-46, a Stuart and Irene Matthews were living at “Heatherside New Cottage”, the name perhaps indicating that this was when the conversion from farm building to residential property took place. From 1947, an Oswald and Marietta Weaver were living at “Heatherside Cottage”.
These short stays look as though they might have been rental arrangements.
After Mrs Selous’s death in 1951, I assume that the property was sold. From 1952, it was occupied by Derek and Virginia Ritchie and had been renamed as Heather Cottage.
George and Kathleen Anderson moved there in 1959. Kathleen was still living there in 1981. In 1987 a J White was living there.