top of page
The Bagshot Road
In olden times, the Bagshot Road connected Guildford and Bagshot, passing through Worplesdon, Brookwood and Bisley – just as it does today. The Senex map of 1729 (the section from Worplesdon to Bisley is shown below) shows it following the exact same route as today’s A322. [If you’re having difficulty locating it, it is the road running south-north in the centre of the picture].
At that time though, it would have been a pretty wild, heathland route. The only buildings anywhere near the road were Ostend and Bridley Manor (shown as “Bradly Farm”), both dealt with in the Bridley section of this site. Unsurprisingly, 19th century maps also show the road following the same route.
Fast-forward nearly 300 years from that map and the northern end of the Bagshot Road (now the A322) is dominated by Brookwood Cemetery on one side and West Hill Golf Course on the other side. Further on, one sees many rather grand houses, mostly built in the early 20th century. Examples are The Links, Woodruffe and The Rough (all of which lie outside the boundaries of this site). The southern end was developed a little later, again with some large houses, although additionally with some smaller buildings.
[A useless piece of information: When the road classification scheme started in the 1920’s, the A322 started only at Fox Corner and ran north as far as the A30 at Bagshot. The road from Fox Corner to Guildford was at that time classified as the A321. Today the A322 runs from the centre of Guildford to Bracknell.]
We will start our tour of the Bagshot Road at the roundabout, on the east side, heading northwards. There are only 3 buildings on this side of the road, as most of the land is taken up by Worplesdon Golf Course.
We will then return to the roundabout and head northwards on the west side. There are several houses on the west side of the road, most of them of a fair size. We will proceed as far as The Fairway, and then stop.
We have devoted separate sections (accessible from the menu) to Lawson’s Hill Road and Lawson’s Hill Close, and to The Fairway and Storrs Lane.
We have shown below today’s OS map of the Bagshot Road (with grateful thanks to Ordnance Survey). The strip on the left is the southern part of the road heading northwards from the roundabout. The right-hand strip is the northern section. For some reason some house names are missing or incomplete on this latter section. They should read (from the bottom): Selbourne House, Abney, The Whins (which is described in the Lawford’s Hill Road section), Hunter’s Green, Mascot House, Sleepy Hollow, Gateway House. The tiny sliver of road at the top is part of The Fairway.
A table of the houses and their dates of construction is provided below. The houses on the east side of the road are coloured salmon-pink, while the houses on the west side are coloured blue.
Below is a photo of the Bagshot Road in unfamiliar circumstances.
Bagshot Road – East side
There are only 3 properties on the east side of the Bagshot Road near Fox Corner, but one of them, Rickford Malthouse, is of historical significance as it dates back to the mid-1700’s. Together with the nearby Rickford Mill it would have been a notable landmark on the Guildford – Bagshot Road until the 20th century, when private houses began to spring up.
Rickford Malthouse (Malthouse Farm)
Rickford Malthouse does not appear on the 1729 Senex map, but it is shown (unnamed) on the 1763 Rocque map, as shown below. The malthouse is just north of the river on the east side of the road. Behind the house (ie on the opposite side from the Bagshot Road) is a freshwater well. On the west side of the Bagshot road are barns, no doubt used for storage. We discuss these barns in the section below dealing with the houses on the west side of the Bagshot Road.
But before looking at the history of Rickford Malthouse, let’s remind ourselves what a malthouse actually does. The basic job of a malthouse is to convert cereal (often barley) to malt (which is a sweet substance used in making beer and whisky). The malthouse does this by:
First, soaking the grain in water for a few days. The grain expands in volume.
Next, the expanded grain is removed from the water and piled up in a layer about a foot thick. This generates heat and the grain starts to germinate.
After a day or so, the part-germinated grain is spread out and allowed to grow for maybe 2 weeks. A chemical reaction in the grain will produce a type of sugar: maltose.
The chemical reaction is then stopped (usually by heating the grain for a few days).
The malt is then sieved and stored.
We will not go into the detailed process of beer-making here, but the key thing is that adding yeast to a warm malt solution will produce alcohol in a rather pleasant-tasting liquid. Beer! In the 18th century, many villages had their own malt house, to supply malt to local publicans, estates and home brewers. But during the nineteenth century, with the advent of mechanisation, a lot of the small breweries disappeared. Improved techniques allowed larger breweries and specialist maltsters to build their own maltings and operate year-round. During the 19th century Rickford Malthouse suffered the same fate as many other small malthouses: increasingly frequent changes of ownership, followed by a complete cessation of malting activities in the mid-1800’s.
Now back to Rickford Malthouse. The Crastock Court Rolls (which were written every 15 years or so) tell us about the early (copyhold) tenants of the properties comprising Crastock Manor. The Malthouse is not mentioned on the earliest Rolls, but appears on the 1742 Roll, which corresponds neatly with its appearance on maps of the time, as described above. It is described as lying in Woking and comprising:
a tenement (ie dwelling) with 3 acres of land called Fford Place,
another tenement and garden near Rickford Bridge,
half an acre of land called Parrotts,
a barn and yard on waste.
We can’t be sure exactly where these various places were, as no detailed maps exist from that time. However, by tracing them through later Court Rolls and other records, we know that they include what is now Rickford Malthouse.
The1742 Roll goes on to state that the original copyholder, Henry Rober, had became bankrupt (this happened in 1736), and that the premises had been sold to John Huntingford. For those who would like to try their hand at reading writing from nearly 300 years ago, the relevant piece from the Court Roll is shown below (good luck).
John Huntingford died in 1743. As well as owning the Malthouse, he owned (together with his son Richard) the nearby field named Speeches, which is now part of the Fox Corner Wildlife Association.
The Huntingford clan is a little tricky to work out, but John Huntingford (1676-1743) was descended from a line of Huntingfords in Worplesdon, whose eldest male children were generally named either John or Richard. He married Ann Martyn in 1701 and they had 9 children. One of these children, Richard Huntingford (1708-1786), was the father of another Richard Huntingford (1738-1813), who owned Hockford Farm in 1774. Another of his sons was Henry Huntingford (1749-1827), who rented the Malthouse in 1796 (as described below).
In his 1744 will John left to his wife Ann Huntingford a house and malthouse, with 5 closes of land, 8 acres in total, 5.5 in Woking and 2.5 in Pirbright, all freehold. This must be Rickford Malthouse, with the land in Pirbright being the barns on the west side of the Bagshot Road. Ann died shortly afterwards. One of their sons, John Huntingford (junior), inherited the malthouse, and within a few years had sold it to John Howard, a timber merchant of Woking.
In 1754, John Howard sold the property, which then consisted of a dwelling, malthouse, gardens, orchards, barns, and stables, to George May, a maltster.
By 1773, George May had died, and his son, James May, owned the property. The details of the property are more explicit: 1 malthouse, 1 barn, 1 stable, 1 garden, 1 orchard, 8 acres land, 2 acres meadow, 4 acres pasture in Woking and Pirbright.
Young James May does not seem to have been interested in the intricacies of being a maltster, as within 2 years he had sold the property to Henry Hammond.
Henry Hammond (1696-1775) was an elderly (by 1700’s standards) yeoman from Windlesham. His farm must have been fairly large, as he was one of only 11 jury-qualified freeholders of Windlesham parish. Today the town of Windlesham is quite a long way away from Fox Corner, but at the time, the parish of Windlesham lay within the Woking Hundred and included Chobham. If asked to guess, we would say that Henry’s farm was probably located somewhere near Chobham. In 1738 Henry had married an Elizabeth Chuter, and soon after they had a son, also called Henry, who we shall call Henry II. 2 years later (in 1741), the family suffered a great double tragedy. Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, who died the same day, and 2 weeks later Elizabeth herself died.
20 years later, in 1761, Henry I bought some land in Pirbright – possibly located near Rickford Malthouse - and was included as a jury-qualified freeholder in Pirbright that year. We don’t know why Henry I made this investment, but it may have been to keep his eldest son (Henry II) busy. Whatever the circumstances, the following year, Henry II married a lady named Mercy Remphant from Pirbright, the marriage taking place at St Michael’s, Pirbright. Mercy produced 2 sons – Henry III (born 1765) and William (born c1770). And then another tragedy struck the Hammond family, when Henry II died in 1769, aged only 30.
Henry I now found himself alone, with his wife and children all having pre-deceased him. It was at this time (c1773) that he bought the Malthouse, presumably as an investment for his grandchildren. He also moved to Stoke (which is between Guildford and Worplesdon). Henry I died in 1775, aged 79, leaving his various properties (in Windlesham, Chobham, Yateley and Woking) to his 2 grandsons, who were both minors. The Windlesham properties were bequeathed to Henry III. But the Woking properties “near Rickford Bridge” were left to his younger grandson, William Hammond.
The next record we have is a cutting from (strangely) a Newcastle newspaper in 1785 (see photo below), asking for information about a lost horse, naming William Woods as the occupier. Land tax records confirm that William Hammond was the owner at this time, although he was living elsewhere.
William Hammond married Mary Chappell in 1796 in Chobham, and the officiating minister was none other than his elder brother, Henry Hammond (Henry III). Henry was recorded as a curate at Pirbright in 1795, and vicar there 1897-1927. He died in 1840.
William and Mary produced 3 sons, but the Malthouse (with 8 acres of land) was put up for sale in 1792. The advert for the sale (shown below) shrewdly mentions proximity to the brand new Basingstoke Canal, and tells us that William Woods was still the tenant at the Malthouse, and that William Hammond was living at Windlesham.
The 1792 effort to sell the malthouse was obviously unsuccessful, as William Hammond still owned the property in 1796. It was now occupied by Henry Huntingford, whose grandfather, John Huntingford, had owned the Malthouse back in 1743 (see above).
But by 1798 the malthouse had been sold, and it was then owned by Henry Harris (who lived in Woking), and occupied by John Honer.
John Honer was born in 1770, the 3rd son of James Honer, whose story is told in the Heath Mill section (where he is referred to as James Honer I). John’s eldest brother (James Honer II) had bought nearby Heath Mill in 1802. In 1809 John married a widow, Hannah Wakeford (born 1783) and they produced one child, Anne. John Honer also owned property in Worplesdon (from 1799), although we do not know exactly where this was. His occupation was given variously as a farmer and a “malster” on official documents.
This arrangement continued until 1808, when John Honer bought the malthouse and some other neighbouring property to expand the Malthouse estate to 26 acres.
In 1813 John died and his property passed to his widow, Hannah Honer. Hannah sold the Malthouse estate to William Evershed in 1819 and moved to Guildford. She died in 1850.
William Evershed was born in 1782 in Cranleigh, the son of a farmer. He married Sarah Braby in 1812 and they soon had 3 children, 2 of whom died in infancy. Sarah sadly died in 1819, aged only 39. Within a year, William had moved to Rickford and married Charlotte Butcher. They had 2 children.
William spent only 6 years as the maltster at Rickford before selling up. In 1825 he advertised the property for sale. At the time several malthouses were being offered for sale across the country, and so it is not surprising that William’s ad contained a lot of detail about the malthouse at that time. We have included a copy of it below.
Some of the more significant features of the property are:
The house was a large one – with 6 bedrooms. However we’re not sure that a 19 x 13 foot parlour would be described as large today.
The malthouse included a brewhouse, had access to spring water, and had cellaring facilities, all of which indicated that beer was brewed and stored there. But the advert makes clear that the main business carried out was malting, not brewing.
The garden was large, with an orchard and a grape vine.
The malthouse itself was fully equipped with a kiln and barley lofts.
The overall estate comprised 26 acres of arable, pasture and meadow land.
The main towns mentioned (as possible commercial outlets) were Guildford, Farnham, Chertsey and Bagshot, as well as the Basingstoke Canal. An obvious absentee from the list to our modern minds is Woking, but we must remember that, pre-railways, Woking was just today’s Old Woking, a small town.
So the Evershed family sold the Malthouse in 1825-6 and, in 1841, were living just off North Street, Guildford, of independent means, with their 2 children. William died in 1843, aged 61.
The property was bought in 1826 by Henry Halsey, Lord of the Manor of Pirbright, and rented out to James Stanford.
James Stanford owned nearby Hockford Farm, where his story is told more fully. In 1841 he described himself as a “farmer and malster”, meaning that he not only grew and harvested the grain, he also wanted to convert it to malt himself. Perhaps he even did a bit of brewing on the side. By 1851 James had retired and moved to Guildford. He died there in 1857.
It looks as though the size of the property had again been increased, although we are not sure by how much.
Henry Halsey (1801-85) was the son of Henry Halsey (c1745-1807). The elder Henry Halsey had amassed a large fortune by his work as an “East Indian Merchant”. He owned properties in Farnham, Chichester, Yeovil, Bath, Woking and 5 houses and an Inn in London, as well as estates in Worplesdon, Ash and Pirbright. He had purchased Pirbright Manor in 1784 and had lived at Henley Park.
The younger Henry Halsey had inherited much of this wealth, including Pirbright Manor and Henley Park. He was obviously alert to opportunities to add to his property portfolio, as seen by his purchase of Rickford Malthouse. Henry was married twice, and had 11 children. Much has been written about the Halsey family, so we will not repeat it here. If the reader is interested, he/she might like to delve into the admirable Henley Park in Surrey: The History of a Royal Manor (2012) by John Squier.
A photo of Henry Halsey the younger (aka “th’ Owd squire”) is shown below.
c1851 Henry Halsey sold the malthouse to the owner of Bridley Manor, Alexander Robertson, for reasons unknown. There is a separate section on Bridley Manor.
Between 1851 and 1855 the malthouse was occupied by Samuel Saunders, who was also living in a property in Thames Ditton.
In 1857 the whole of the Bridley Manor estate was put up for sale, following the death of Mr Robertson. The detailed plan below shows the Malthouse, together with substantial outbuildings, including The Barnstores directly across the Bagshot Road, where Salway House and Hartfield are now (both covered below).
We are fortunate that such a detailed plan was drawn up to support this auction, and that a copy survives in such good condition for us to see. Other extracts of the plan are included in the sections on Bridley, Lawford’s Hill, and The Fairway/Storr’s Lane.
Bridley Manor (including Rickford Malthouse) was purchased by William Fletcher Norton, the 3rd Lord Grantley. His story is told on the Bridley Manor page, as is his successor as Lord of the Manor of Bridley, Major Ewing.
Major Ewing died in 1888, and the Bridley estate was again put up for sale, this time as a series of 7 separate lots. We are again fortunate that another detailed plan was drawn to support the sale and that a copy in good condition has been preserved. Unlike the 1857 sale, there was accompanying literature to accompany the plan, and this is an excellent source of detail for us to understand what the Malthouse was like at the time.
The malthouse (now named “Malthouse Home Farm”, suggesting that its malting days had now finished) formed part of Lot 1. We have shown an extract from the plan below, together with the page showing details of Malthouse Home Farm.
The extract from the plan shows most of the Malthouse Farm land (shaded pink). There are several points of interest in these 2 documents:
The farm is surprisingly large, extending to 130 acres, a considerable increase on the 26 acres of 1825. Some of this additional land had been purchased since 1825, but other parts had merely been transferred from the Bridley estate. It includes land in Woking, Pirbright and Worplesdon.
The farm stretches from Fox Corner and Heath Mill Lane in the west across to Bridley Manor in the east, and from the Hodge Brook in the south up to the southernmost border of today’s Worplesdon Golf Course. This included all of what is now Lawford’s Hill Road (and Lawford’s Hill Close) and The Fairway.
The Barnstores (across the Bagshot Road) can be seen, as well as some smaller buildings behind them.
Just north of the Barnstores is a building that was not on the 1857 plan. This building was constructed of brick and used as stables. It still stands, and has been converted into housing (Sunrise Cottage and Springfield Cottage - both covered below)
Ostend is part of Malthouse Farm, and not a separate property.
Field 1246a (between the Malthouse and Ostend) comprised 13 acres of fruit trees – that’s a lot of fruit trees!
Some of the outbuildings which were behind the farm in 1857 have been removed, and part of the land had been converted into a fruit farm (covering the area where Lantana now stands, and a field further to the east).
The farm was let until 1895 to a tenant, Lt Gen FA Willis CB
There is also a photograph of the Farm taken from the east side (shown below). Is that Lt Gen Willis peering out of the lower left-hand window?
Let’s take a closer look at Lt Gen FA Willis. He was born Frederick Willis in Kensington in 1827, the son of Browne Willis, who was also a Lt General (in the Royal Artillery). Browne had spent 48 years serving with the army in Jamaica, Curacao, Honduras, Nova Scotia and Gibraltar. He eventually retired aged 74 to a house near Winchester. He died there in 1874, aged 84.
In 1826 Browne Willis appears on the Slave Register of 1826 as being a slave owner in Jamaica. The register does not show the numbers of slaves in his employ at the time, only the numbers of births and deaths in the previous 3 years (11 births and 9 deaths were reported). There are few details in the register, but it does not make happy reading.
Frederick Willis had followed his father into a military career, albeit into an Infantry Regiment. He served in India and was wounded at the siege of Lucknow in 1857 (where he received 2 clasps of the India Mutiny Medal). On his return from India he married Augusta Young, daughter of John Young, a magistrate and Police District Commissioner, and his wife, the exotically-named Julia S Topham Arthur-Worsop.
Augusta was 13 years younger than Frederick, and they produced 3 children. For his military service, Frederick was awarded CB – Companion of the Order of the Bath. At the time of the 1888 sale, Frederick, Augusta and their family had only recently moved into Malthouse Farm. But he surely wasn’t there to farm the 130 acres, and neither was Gordon, their only surviving son, who promptly moved to New York and remained there for the rest of his life. Rather it was a place to which to retire, so it leaves open the question of who was responsible for farming the land at Malthouse Farm?
The Willises had extended their tenure at Malthouse Farm, but Frederick died at the Malthouse in 1899. 2 obituaries are shown below, the longer of which will be of particular interest to those with a detailed knowledge of military history in the 1800’s.
Just 2 days after his death he was awarded (posthumously) KCB - Knight Commander of the Bath - which is restricted to 355 people in the country. Let us hope that he was aware that he was about to receive this award before he died. The award entitled Augusta to refer to herself as “Lady Augusta Willis” (which she did). After Frederick died, Lady Augusta moved to Holt in Wiltshire where she died in 1922, aged 63.
By 1901 Richard Smith had moved in as the occupant. He was a farmer, born in Middlesex in 1853. In 1891 the family had been living on a farm in Northolt, but in the 1901 census, Richard gave his occupation at Malthouse Farm as cattle dealer. The Smiths stayed just 5 years at Malthouse Farm, and then moved to “The Cottage, Rickford”. We think that this was the house on Goose Rye Road now known as Rickford Cottage, near Stonebridge Cottage. Richard gave his occupation in 1911 as a retired farmer. Richard’s wife Mary was 2 years older than he was, and they had 3 children.
By this time Malthouse Farm was still part of the Bridley Manor estate, owned by one Thomas Montague Richards. He was a solicitor and crook, and his misdeeds are spelt out in some detail on the pages dealing with Berry Lane. His story is well worth a read, as it describes a man who wanted to make a quick buck illegally, but for whom everything went pear-shaped. He was jailed for 7 years. Today, sadly, 120 years later, there are still plenty of con-men trying to take advantage of others in order to make money quickly. New technology has provided plenty of new areas of opportunity.
Mr Richards’s first attempt to make money was to try to sell Bridley Manor in 1902 for twice as much as he had paid for it. He had borrowed money from his clients to pay for Bridley, but provided he sold it quickly at a good profit and repaid the stolen monies, all would be well for him.
Although the sale attempt failed (there were no takers), it did give us yet another high-quality plan of Bridley Manor, together with supporting narrative. So at least some good emerged from Mr Richard’s dastardly deeds... The part of the plan dealing with Malthouse Farm (now renamed “Rickford Malthouse”) is shown below (coloured grey). Rather irritatingly the plan was drawn such that due north was rotated anticlockwise about 40 degrees. The Barnstores and the brick stables across the Bagshot Road can be seen.
It is pretty obvious from the way the land has been subdivided that Mr Richards’s intention was to sell most of the land in separate lots for development. Accordingly the Rickford Malthouse property is now much smaller than it had been in 1888 (in fact it is only 10 acres), and no longer includes Ostend or its orchard. It does, however, still span Woking, Pirbright and Worplesdon parishes, and we think that Mr Richards was offering it as a large residence with a good-sized plot (rather than as an opportunity for the bulldozers to roll in).
So after his failed attempt to sell the Bridley estate at a handsome profit, Mr Richards continued to own Rickford Malthouse (as well as the rest of the Bridley estate), gradually getting more and more worried about how he was going to wriggle out of his financial dilemma. Over the next few years he did manage to sell a few of the Bridley properties piecemeal, although this did not avert his inevitable doom.
In 1905 Rosamund Thompson and her family purchased Rickford Malthouse from Mr Richards and moved in. For the first time, after 100 years of regular changes in ownership as part of a larger estate, the Malthouse existed as a separate entity. The Thompsons had previously been living at Bridley Manor on a 21 year lease starting in 1896, but this was annulled as part of the sale.
Who was Rosamund (sometimes spelt “Rosamond”) Thompson? She had been born Rosamund Deane near Finsbury Circus in 1842, the 4th of 12 children of John and Louisa Deane. John Deane was a clergyman who had been born in the Cape of Good Hope. He had been married prior to meeting Louisa, but his first wife had died aged only 27, leaving him with a young child. So he actually had 13 children in total. One of these 13 children, Walter Deane, went on to become head of the Hong Kong Police Force for 25 years. Another (John Deane Deane) became a Commander in the Royal Navy.
But the most celebrated of the Deane children must surely be Eleanor Deane (1851-1941), who married Henry Ernest Wodehouse, and was the mother of PG Wodehouse (1881-1975). PG Wodehouse fans will want to know if Wooster’s Aunt Agatha was modelled on Rosamund. The answer is No. She was modelled on Rosamund’s younger sister Mary, who died a spinster at the age of 95 in 1940. A photo of Eleanor is shown below.
In 1868 Rosamund married Malcolm Thompson, who was also the child of a clergyman. Mary Deane (“Aunt Agatha”) was witness to the wedding. The couple moved to Friern Barnet and had 5 children – 4 girls and the youngest a boy. 6 weeks after the birth of their youngest child, Malcolm died, aged only 40. He had been a colonial broker (ie a civil servant who acted as liaison between the British government and a particular British colony).
After Malcolm’s death, Rosamund moved her family to Snowdenham House, Bramley. It was (and still is) a big house, and Rosamund employed 5 servants and a governess. By 1891 she was living with her family in Hitchin, this time with 4 servants. She was obviously a wealthy lady, but we are not sure whether this wealth came from her family or her husband’s.
By 1901 she was living at Bridley Manor (now with 6 servants), having it rented it from the then owner, Richard Garton. And just 4 years later she bought Rickford Malthouse, with a view to settling down after several moves during the previous 35 years. We have shown below the plot that Rickford Malthouse stood on at the time (although only part of the land to the east of the Bagshot Road is shown).
However, Rosamund died in 1910, aged 68. Surprisingly, the Malthouse seems to have passed to George Malcolm Thompson, her youngest child, presumably because he was the only boy in the family. Quite what George’s elder sisters thought of this is unknown – perhaps they preferred to let George have the Malthouse, while they inherited any savings their mother had. 3 of the sisters (Evelyn, Gertrude and Winifred) never married and moved to Perry Hill Cottage (later renamed “Perry”) in Worplesdon after WW1. They also purchased Rose Cottage in Berry Lane at the same time, but sold it a few years later.
The 3 Thompson sisters were well known figures in the local Worplesdon community, and Evelyn had been one of the founder members of the local WI group in 1921. She was also the President for a time, and, for a few years, President of the Surrey County WI group. The 3 sisters remained at Perry until their deaths in 1932 (Gertrude), 1943 (Winifred) and 1946 (Evelyn). Below is how the death of Gertrude in 1932 was reported. We have reprinted it in full, as it shows how respected Gertrude was in the community. The piece on the right “An Appreciation” is particularly worth reading. Gertrude’s frailty partly explains why Rosamund needed servants (some of whom were nurses) to help her raise her family. It may also explain why the sisters wanted to live in a smaller property than the Malthouse.
We cannot trace what happened to the 4th sister, Lilian. But we must now revert to George Malcolm Thompson, who inherited Rickford Malthouse.
George entered the army, and in 1898 was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in a Battalion of The Queen’s Royal Regiment. He was later appointed Captain in another Battalion of the same regiment (except that this was not a volunteer force). But by 1901 he described himself as a “Colonial merchant”, ie buying goods from abroad and selling them locally. Perhaps he used some of his father’s old contacts to help him in this work.
Having inherited the Malthouse in 1910, he decided to follow Thomas Montague Richards’s idea of developing the land, although the key difference was that he did not “borrow” his clients’ monies in order to pay for his dealings. The full details of what he did are spelt out in the section dealing with Berry Lane and so we will not repeat them here.
In fact he did not get very far with his development idea: He subdivided the land on the west side of the Bagshot Road into 3 plots, 2 facing Berry Lane, and the third facing the Bagshot Road, but that was about it. He did not actually sell or develop any of the land himself.
In 1913 he married Lucy Myrtle Thompson (no relation, they just happened to have the same surname). A few weeks prior to the wedding, he granted the Malthouse property to 4 trustees. Why? Their role was almost certainly to look after the interests of his intended wife, eg to prevent her husband from selling the property and running off with the money. The wedding itself was a grand affair in Knightsbridge, widely reported in the newspapers, with a very expansive list of wedding presents. The report of the wedding presents took up 2 whole columns in one (broadsheet-sized) newspaper.
In 1918 an uncle, James Thompson died, leaving nearly George £370,000 (worth over £20 million today). Lucy immediately used £525 of this money to purchase Primrose Cottage in Storr’s Lane. But the sheer size of their inheritance probably convinced George and Lucy to look for bigger fish than developing Rickford Malthouse, and in 1920 they sold the Malthouse (now called The Old Malthouse) and moved to a farm near Chippenham. In 1939 they were living near Dorchester, but later they moved back to Wiltshire, near Tetbury. George died at Tetbury in 1958, aged 80, and Lucy died there in 1963, also aged 80. As far as we know they had no children.
The new owners in 1920 were Thomas and Elizabeth Craig. Thomas was aged 51 (born Hampstead) and was a Director of British East Africa Estates. Elizabeth (known by her middle name of Phillis) was 65, and had been born Elizabeth Breay in Buckinghamshire. They were married in 1903 and in 1911 were living in Fleet. They had no children.
The Craigs didn’t develop any of the land immediately either. In fact they waited 10 years before developing one of the plots in 1930. The house on this plot was named Threeways (covered further below).
That was the end of the Craig’s building ambitions, and the following year (1931) they moved to Horsell, where they both died in 1936 within 3 months of each other.
The purchasers of The Old Malthouse in 1931 were 2 gentlemen called Cyril Swaffen Weekes and Edward Sidney Bates. They were estate agents, each living in a large house in Guildford, and they had no interest in living in the Old Malthouse, or developing the land. Instead they rented The Old Malthouse out to a tenant for the whole period of their ownership: Mrs Nora Gardner. Presumably Nora had instructed the agents to find a suitable property for her, and the Old Malthouse was the result.
Nora was born Nora Blyth in 1866 and had an interesting background. She was the daughter of James Blyth, who became the 1st Baron Blyth.
A few words about James Blyth: He had been born in Chelmsford in 1825, the son of a grocer. He worked with his uncle, Henry Gilbey in the wine trade, and became a partner in W&A Gilbey, a successful wine and spirits merchant. Gilbeys (the company) survived long into the 20th century, and after a series of mergers in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, the company now forms part of Diageo. Gilbeys gin is still made. James had bought a house near Stansted in 1875, and remodelled it to become an imposing residence, Blythwood House. He also bought a house in Portland Place where he liked to entertain. James built a model dairy, with the intention of producing top-quality milk. The photo below was taken at the opening of the dairy in 1892. Sir James is 2nd from the left in the back row (sandwiched between 2 of the Gilbey founders. Nora is 2nd from the right (in the white coat) in the back row. Nora’s mother, Lady Eliza Blyth is in the front row on the right. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) is second from the left in the front row.
James then became heavily involved in research around bovine TB and its possible effects on humans. For this research he offered one of his properties where a laboratory was built. For his work in this area he was raised to the peerage, becoming Lord Blyth. 2 photos of Lord Blyth are shown below.
Lord Blyth enjoyed entertaining, and he obviously had a great deal of inner drive. A historian has written: "Blyth exuded a powerful presence, which made men tremble and women easy prey!" He died in 1925 and his obituary in The Times spanned 2 columns. We have shown a shorter obituary below.
One of James’s great-great-grandsons currently holds the title of 5th Baron Blyth of Blythswood (sic). Blythwood House burnt down in 1926 and has been replaced by a series of residential roads, one of which is named Blythwood Gardens. The area has been somewhat spoilt in recent years – Stansted airport is about 2 miles away.
Back to Nora (James’s daughter). In 1885 (aged 19) she married Alan Coulstoun Gardner (aged 43), and within a year had produced the first of their 5 children.
Alan Gardner was an interesting fellow, so we need to say a few words about him. He is the subject of a biography written in 2018, “Rifle and Spear with the Zulu”. Below is the publicity material for the book. It gives a good summary of Alan’s life.
Born in 1842 Alan Gardner was a professional soldier in Queen Victoria’s Army for 22 years serving both in India and Africa. He then went on to become a famous big game hunter and Liberal Member of Parliament.
During his time as a soldier he would carve his name into the annals of military history as one of only five Imperial Officers to survive the disastrous Anglo-Zulu War battle of Isandlwana in South Africa on 22nd January 1879. Responsible for writing the note warning the garrison at Rorke’s Drift of the impending arrival of 4,000 Zulus, which ultimately led to its survival and the award of 11 Victoria Crosses to its defenders, he would go on to fight at two other major battles of the Zulu War: Hlobane and Kambula. A controversial figure during the campaign, this book explores in great depth his relationship with his fellow officers, the press and why he was seen by some as a coward who ran away.
After leaving the army he returned to his family who lived at Stansted Hall, Essex and married a local girl, Nora Blyth, from Blythwood House. Along with his wife (a fascinating figure in her own right) they travelled the world in search of big game, and both became renowned hunters. This book looks at these foreign travels, hair raising encounters with the local wildlife and later political campaign trail when Alan would become a Member of Parliament for Ross in Herefordshire.
The above text misses out 1 or 2 details of Alan’s life. For example it omits to mention that Alan was the grandson of the First Baron, Admiral Alan Gardner of Uttoxeter (1742-1809). This distinguished gentleman had spent his most of his naval career fighting French ships in the Caribbean, and then became an MP. He was apparently the first naval officer to support the issue of lemon juice to sailors to prevent scurvy. He was renowned for being pugnacious and irascible, zealous and forceful, exceedingly brave, excitable, nervous and bellicose. Whilst on fleet duty he often stayed awake at night pacing his stern gallery to ensure that the ship astern did not ram his. He was described as ‘zealous and brave with the worst nerves possible’. He had heavy black eyebrows, flaring nostrils, a strong jaw, and missing upper teeth. Below is a portrait of him, together with a portrait of the House of Commons in 1793 (The First Baron Gardner is there somewhere).
Another omitted point is that the father of Alan Gardner (the soldier who fought the Zulus and married Nora Blyth in 1885) was the 3rd Baron Gardner of Uttoxeter, and one would have expected that Alan, being his eldest son, would have become the 4th Baron. Not so. The 3rd Baron had married in 1835 and produced 2 male children: in 1842 (Alan) and 1847 (Herbert). The only trouble was the mother of these 2 children was not his wife – she was a different lady (who subsequently became the 3rd Baron’s 2nd wife, but after both boys had been born). So both boys were illegitimate and could not therefore inherit the title. The 3rd Baron’s only other children were both girls (who were unable to inherit a title), and therefore the Baronetcy lapsed. The 3rd Baron died in 1883 leaving £155,000 (worth over £14 million today), so that may have assuaged Alan’s angst about not inheriting the title.
A fuller (6-page) description of Alan’s military exploits, written by Mr Ron Lock (with due acknowledgment), is given here: https://www.anglozuluwar.com/images/Journal_5/5)_Capt_Gardner_-_RL.pdf We cannot vouch for its accuracy, but it’s a good read. A photo of Alan in uniform is shown below.
Alan became Liberal MP for the Ross Division of Herefordshire in 1906, but he became ill during the winter of 1907 and took a holiday in Gibraltar in order to recuperate. He finally succumbed to pneumonia on Christmas Day whilst in Algeciras, aged 63.
Alan’s death in 1907 left Nora, aged 41, with 5 children to bring up. Alan had left an estate of £55,000 (worth £5 million today), so there was some consolation for Nora (who would have had considerable wealth herself).
In 1911 Nora was visiting her father’s house (No 33, Portland Place). Her father employed no less than 12 servants at this rather grand London residence. In case the reader is having trouble visualising what 12 servants would have been doing, their titles were: Housekeeper, Cook, Housemaid (3), Kitchen maid, Scullery Maid, Valet, Footman (3) and Hall Boy. Nora’s own house was near Maidstone, where 2 of her daughters and a grand-daughter were living. They had a more modest entourage: Just 8 servants, including a Lady’s maid and a Boot boy.
In the 1921 census Nora was visiting a property near the beach at Folkestone with a friend. Perhaps she owned this property? And in 1931 (by which time her children had scattered to other parts of the country) she settled into life at the Malthouse. She died there in 1944. After her death the contents of The Old Malthouse were sold (an advert for the sale is shown below).
The estate agents who owned the property, Cyril Weekes and Mrs Edward Bates (Edward had died) now showed a nice bit of commercial acumen. Without any more rental income from their client (ie the late Nora Gardner) they would have been keen to sell the Malthouse. But before doing so, they sold the remaining 2 plots on the west side of the Bagshot Road. The purchasers were the Bailey family (that is, the 3 Bailey brothers: Reg, Charlie and Dick), who had lived at Heath Mill. This land mainly comprised the Barnstores (now called Malthouse Corn Stores), as well as the brick stables for the horses and carts that worked at The Old Malthouse. It was probably all this infrastructure that persuaded the Baileys to buy the land. A few years previously the Bailey family had rented out the milling activities at Heath Mill to third parties (with hindsight, a wise move), and they now decided instead to turn the Corn Stores into a retail outlet. We cover the Malthouse Corn Stores and the brick stable block further down this section.
We can compare the 1945 Malthouse with the plot that existed in 1902. The 1902 plan is shown below left. The Malthouse plot comprised the strip marked with a “7”, and was shaded grey. On the right, we have traced (roughly) the 1945 boundary of the Malthouse plot in a rather garish purple colour. The main changes are:
The plot now comprised land only on the east side of the Bagshot Road. The portion on the west side had been sold, as described above.
A chunk of land at the eastern end had been sold off at some stage and is now owned by the owner of Crastock Manor and Bridley Equestrian Centre.
The Malthouse plot now comprised around 3 acres.
In 1945, Leslie & Dorothy Billingham bought The Old Malthouse and moved in. Leslie was one of 10 children from a family who lived near Northampton (about 200 yards away from the path of the M1 today). His grandfather described himself as a “Shoe-maker and musician”, which is an unusual combination. Leslie’s father was a coal agent who became a sergeant in the Suffolk Regiment, but died at Flanders in 1915.
In 1921 Leslie was an art student at Goldsmith’s College, living in Lewisham. In 1928 he married Dorothy Starling (born 1904, the daughter of a stockbroker) in Lewisham. By 1939 Leslie was a director in an advertising agency, and the family were living in a leafy road on the outskirts of St Albans.
We don’t know why the Billinghams moved to Surrey from St Albans (we suspect it was a work-related reason), but move they did, and they remained at The Old Malthouse until c1960. At this time they moved to Shepreth, a small village between Royston and Cambridge. Leslie died there in 1973, and Dorothy in 1989. They had 1 child.
After the Billinghams, George and Judy Millar moved into The Old Malthouse c1960. George (born Croydon, 1912) was the son of a “Colonial Produce Broker” and grandson of a Scottish “Commission Agent” (who incidentally had 17 children). These two professions are very similar, involving import of foreign food and other goods for local resale. Rewinding several years, both George Thompson and his father Malcolm (who lived at the Malthouse until his death in 1878) had very similar jobs. But given that George left the Malthouse in 1920, we think this is one of those rare instances of genuine coincidence, rather than some hard-to-find connection.
Judy was born Judith Harraway in Coulsdon in 1923, daughter of a solicitor. Her family was pretty well off as they had 2 servants in 1911, although this had dwindled to just 1 in 1921 – times were obviously tough post-WW1.
George and Judy married in 1950 and soon moved to Epsom (living quite close to the Tattenham Corner end of Epsom Racecourse). They had 3 children, but then moved to The Old Malthouse c1960.
George died in 1991, aged 79. After George’s death, Judy continued to live at the Malthouse, operating it as a B&B. For this purpose, the house was divided into 3 self-contained areas, each with its own kitchen. There was also a housekeeper’s “cottage”. When Judy had too many bookings to fit into The Old Malthouse, she would ask the owners of Crosswinds and Hartfield (both covered further down this section) across the road if they would take in the surplus bookings (which they usually did). A photo of the Malthouse around this time (with the B&B sign clearly visible) is shown below.
Judy died in 2009, and the same year new owners bought The Old Malthouse. Within a year, they had gained planning approval for a fair-sized extension at the rear of the house. A condition of the approval, however, was that the house remained as a single residence in perpetuity, and was not subdivided. From the road, the house appears more or less unchanged, although the old front door is no longer in use (a large bushy plant has grown across it).
Around the same time a very large oak tree on The Old Malthouse’s land a little way south of the house and abutting the Bagshot Road died and had to be removed. It was quite a landmark in the locality, and its removal was mourned by many, but it has given the roundabout a more airy feel. In 2022, someone ran off the road at that same point, knocking over a concrete post and damaging the fence. The stump of the old oak tree resisted the impact however.
Lantana lies on land that, in the early 19th century, formed part of Malthouse Farm (see section above). From the 1850’s Malthouse Farm (including the Lantana land) became part of the Bridley Estate. But the Lantana land was transferred to the neighbouring house to the north, Ostend as part of one or other of the transactions in the early 20th century.
The house itself was only built c1948 on about 3 acres of land that had been purchased from Ostend. The designation of this land in 1948 was a nursery. We have shown below the 1902 plan of the Bridley Estate with the Lantana plot bordered in garish turquoise. The plan shows that in 1902 the entire Lantana plot was taken up by an orchard.
The first owners were a rather insular family called Ellis. Given that they were nurserymen, it seems likely that the name Lantana came from the plant of the same name, also called Yellow Sage. It’s not a particularly significant plant, so it seems an odd choice, but still.
We will start their story with Eli Ellis (1852-1927), a farm labourer at Cove, Frimley, and scion of a line of Ellises from that part of the world dating back to at least the 1700’s. Eli and his wife, Emily, had 4 children. One of these, John William (born 1884) married Caroline Amy Parker (born Warwickshire in 1887) in 1906, and became a nurseryman.
John and Caroline had 4 children: Gilbert John (born 1907), Frederick (born 1910), Donald (born 1912), and Mary (born 1916).
After WW1, John and Caroline ran a nursery business near Virginia Water Station, living in a house named Indiana. Their sons worked with their parents in the business at various times. Mary married a Frederick Lee in 1936, and they lived nearby.
Then in 1948 the Ellises decided to start a new business in Woking, purchasing the land for Lantana and proceeding to build the house there. They were no doubt attracted by the mature orchards which were already on site. John, Caroline and their 3 sons moved into Lantana, but Mary and her family remained at Virginia Water. A copy of their entry in the 1950 telephone directory is shown below.
c1952 Frederick and Donald moved into Brook Farm at Rickford. It seems that the Ellises ran their business out of the combination of Lantana and Brook Farm.
Caroline died in 1958, aged 71 and John in 1966, and aged 82. The 3 sons carried on the business on their own (none of them married). In 1972 they did submit two rather ambitious planning applications, one for 7 dwellings, and the other for 28 dwellings. Fortunately for the local residents, both were turned down. We have shown below an aerial photo of Lantana taken between 1971 and 1973.
The photo contains a lot of detail, and there are several points of interest:
The Lantana plot is demarcated by 2 fences (straight lines emanating from the bottom right hand corner). The yellow field at the base of the picture belongs to The Old Malthouse (refer section above), and the fields at the top right belong to Ostend.
The original Lantana house is in the centre of the picture, near the road. It has little or no garden area. Some sheds and a large glasshouse are clearly visible within the nursery area.
The nursery itself looks to be well laid out, with one wide central path and other smaller paths leading off from it.
There are a lot of young trees in the nursery, but several are already larger than the Ellises would have liked (ie too big to dig out and sell).
The Berry Lane crossroads was a true crossroads, with traffic able to enter from the east end.
The house across the road from Lantana is Threeways. Left of Threeways can be seen a corner of Oaklands (both covered further down this section).
Along the top of the picture can be seen (left to right): Part of Orchard End (with the steep sloping roof), Hillbrow, Tullywhisker House (99% hidden by trees), Corner House (the large white house, covered further down this section) and the newly-built Amber’s Leap.
As the years went by, the 3 sons got older and the business declined. Their sister, Mary Lee, moved in with the 3 brothers. Frederick died in 1982 (aged 72), and the author of these pages remembers buying a Bramley apple tree in the early 1990’s from the 2 surviving Ellis brothers. At the time it seemed as though it was the only sale the business had made that month. We are pleased to report that the tree is still going strong today.
Gilbert died in 1995 (aged 88) and Donald in 2000 (aged 90). At that point Lantana was sold and a new chapter in its existence began.
In 2003 the new owners, Mr & Mrs Cobb, gained permission to demolish the 1950’s house and outbuildings, and build a new house slightly nearer to the road. They also gained permission for the new house to have residential status (upgraded from the previous nursery status). The new Lantana house now sits on the north western corner of the plot, just to the west (ie nearer to the road) than the original 1948 building. It has a garden attached, but the rest of the plot is restricted to horticultural use. The entrance to the Bagshot Road was also moved (although the gate to the original entrance still exists).
A couple of years after Lantana was rebuilt, the Cobbs let out the property. During the time the property was let out, rumours spread locally about the business being conducted at Lantana. For example, large items of machinery (allegedly stolen) were allegedly moved in and out of the property under cover of darkness. Several power cuts happened at the same time, allegedly because someone had illegally tapped into the local electric supply. Complaints to the local electricity company were met with an “unable to comment due to confidentiality” response. Police were involved. After the tenants were removed, the electricity supply seemed to revert to normal.
c2012 the Cobbs moved out and the current owners moved into the house. Many of the old nursery trees had become overgrown and had to be cleared.
The next few metres on this side of the Bagshot Road are the edge of a field belonging to Ostend. We have discussed this property under the Bridley menu option.
Openwood is the house on the east side of the Bagshot Road immediately south of the 9th green of Worplesdon Golf Course (refer separate section below). It sits neatly in a triangle formed by the Bagshot Road to the west, Berry Lane (to the north-east, the section leading to Bridley Manor) and a footpath connecting these two roads running roughly east to west. Openwood consumes about 90% of this space, being 4.5 acres in size. It lies opposite Linksholme (now named Abney, covered below) on the other side of the Bagshot Road.
In terms of its history, the triangle can be clearly seen on the 1841 Tithe Map. At that time it was described as “common”, being 4 acres in size. It was owned by Henry Halsey, the Lord of the Manor of Pirbright, and occupied by a James Fladgate. Henry Halsey also owned Rickford Malthouse at the time, and we have said a little about him in that section (refer above).
A few years later, Henry Halsey sold the property to the then Lord of the Manor of Bridley, Alexander Robertson, probably as part of the same 1851 deal in which Rickford Malthouse was sold (refer above). The Openwood triangle then remained as part of the Bridley Estate until the end of the 19th century.
The 1873 and later OS maps show the triangle as being wooded. The footpath along the northern boundary appears on the 1895 map, presumably intended as a shortcut from Bridley Manor to the house on the opposite side of the Bagshot Road (which was rebuilt as Linksholme and now renamed Hunter’s Green, covered below).
In 1902, the land on which Openwood stands was offered for sale by Thomas Montague Richards (together with part of today’s Worplesdon Golf Course (holes 8, 9, 10, 15 and 16) and the fields opposite Bridley Manor. This lot totalled 104 acres. This attempted sale is described more fully in the section dealing with Rickford Malthouse (refer above). Here are a couple of extracts from the accompanying sales blurb:
Consisting of beautiful pine woods, grass lands and thriving larch plantations, together with an acre and a quarter of ornamental water
Eligible for conversion into a residential estate or sub-division into numerous excellent sites for superior residences or as a “SITE FOR A LARGE INSTITUTION” (written in upper case for emphasis).
Fortunately the sale was unsuccessful, and so neither the residential estate nor the “large institution” was built. Instead the land was sold in 1908 as “The Worplesdon Golf Estate”. The Openwood triangle was part of the sale, but it was wooded, and sat on its own, and so it is easy to understand why it was not used as part of the golf course.
The triangle of land was presumably sold by the Golf Estate to a developer sometime over the next 10 years. Openwood itself was built just after WW1 and the first occupants (probably owners) in 1919 were Stuart and Mary Smith. Stuart (born Surbiton in 1877) was a Stock Jobber on the London Stock Exchange (a profession which disappeared in 1986 at the time of the Big Bang). Stuart’s father was an underwriter, as had his father’s father, so Stuart was probably a City person through and through. Mary (nee Evill) was born in 1882 in Paddington. In 1911 they had been living in Coley Avenue, Woking, a leafy road near Woking Station.
Their stay in Openwood proved to be a short one. Mary produced a son, but it seems that Stuart may have had health problems (possibly WW1-related). By 1921 the family had moved to Eastbourne to live with some of Mary’s family, and Stuart recorded that he was unemployed. He died at Eastbourne in 1933, aged only 56. Mary died in London in 1974, aged 92.
Donald and Constance Welch purchased Openwood in 1921. Donald was a scion of the Welch family who had founded Welch, Margetson and Company, a menswear manufacturer, in 1832. Based in London, with production in Londonderry, the company specialised in shirts, but also manufactured silk scarves and handkerchiefs. Production of some products began to move to London at the end of the 19th century, and the company was eventually bought by Viyella International in 1968.
The photo below shows the factory in Carlisle Road, Londonderry, which was used by the company from 1876 to 1991. Below it is a Welch, Margetson silk scarf from the 1950’s depicting all the Derby winners from the first one in 1780 until Never Say Die in 1954. Each little cartouche gives the year, owner, jockey, name and line of the winner. Amazing! Beside it is a page from a Welch, Margetson catalogue from c1930 showing mens' dressing gowns. Hmm. A casual internet search will reveal several Welch, Margetson items for sale, often at rather high prices.
Donald had been born Carshalton in 1877, the son of Joseph Welch, who went on to lead the family company and his wife Annie (nee Hubbard). Joseph and Annie had 6 sons, each of whom bore the middle name of Hubbard. Joseph died in 1923 and his obituary in the local newspaper recorded that “The Borough of Reigate loses a highly-respected citizen; one whose influence in public affairs was a force for good, and who belonged to a type of country gentlemen that seem to be fast dying out”. It also noted that he had given great service to the East Surrey Hospital and the Royal Earlswood Institution.
Donald went into the family business, but we don’t think that he ever attained the heights reached by his father. Perhaps he didn't like the dressing gowns. Constance (nee Hunter) had been born in Rawalpindi, India (where her father was a Lieutenant in the Bengal Artillery) the same month and year as Donald. They married in 1902 and soon had 3 children.
Donald was mentioned in the local newspaper in 1931 and 1932, as he had kept meticulous weather records (days of rain, amount of rain, etc). We assume he had retired by this time, and had too much time on his hands...
After 11 years at Openwood, Donald and Constance moved to Esher in late 1932, where Donald (presumably still keeping his weather records) died in 1939, aged 62. Constance died in Norfolk in 1951. Their 3 children all lived to their 80’s. One (Wyndham Welch) became a Wing Commander, was detained in a Japanese POW camp during WW2, and was awarded the DFC.
The next occupants (for just 2 years 1933-34) were Gerald and Olivia Moxon, who moved in immediately after their marriage in 1932. Gerald was born in Newport, Monmouthshire in 1898, the son of a solicitor. He had fought in Salonika in WW1 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. We don’t know what Gerald did for a living, but the couple had 2 servants while they lived at Openwood.
A very strange event occurred just after the Moxons moved into Openwood. It involved the death of a son of the Governor of the Bank of England, who had just finished dining at the Moxon’s house. Rather than try to paraphrase the story, we’ll include the full newspaper article (below). It’s a long article, but if the reader enjoys Agatha Christie, then they will enjoy this.
In 1935 the Moxons moved to Tilford, near Farnham, and named their new house Openwood, suggesting pleasant memories of their early married life at Fox Corner (despite the train incident above). The house at Tilford still exists as a large house with wonderful views, priced at over £2.5 million. Olivia died in 1959, aged 62 and Gerald in 1967, aged 69.
In 1936 Thomson and Jean McLintock moved into Openwood. Now any chartered accountant over the age of 60 will pick up their ears at the mention of Thomson McLintock, as it was a very well-known accountancy firm in the UK in the 1980’s, and it merged with the even better-known firm of Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co in 1985. The merged firm was named Peat Marwick McLintock. The McLintock name was dropped in 1991, but the firm lived on and is now one of the “Big 4” global accounting firms. It is called KPMG.
Our Thomson McLintock was the grandson of the founder, so we will write a little of what we know of his family.
We will start with William McLintock (1826-1916), born in Sanquar, Dumfries, a small town south of Glasgow. He was a particularly religious fellow, belonging to a Christian sect called The Church of God (Seventh Day).
William had a son, Thomson McLintock in 1851 with his first wife Mary, and it was this gentleman who qualified as a chartered accountant and founded the firm of Thomson McLintock & Co in Glasgow in 1877 at the tender age of 26. He married twice and fathered 7 children, dying in Glasgow in 1920. He was a very well-respected figure in the local business community. His photo is shown below.
One of these 7 children was William McLintock, born in Govan in 1873. Like several of his family, he became a chartered accountant, but William did not stop there – he became senior partner of his father’s firm. He married Margaret Lyons and they had 4 children. For his hard work he was appointed a Baronet (and awarded GBE and CVO), becoming First Baronet of Sanquar. He died at Bournemouth in 1947 (on the same day as Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges) and Margaret died in 1960.
One of Sir William’s children was Sir Thomson McLintock (born 1905), who became a chartered accountant, married Agnes Jean Aitken (born New Brunswick in 1904) in 1929 and also became the 2nd Baronet when his father died. It was this gentleman who moved into Openwood in 1936 (with at least one servant).
Sir Thomson and Jean had 2 children and left Openwood at the beginning of WW2. Sir Thomson died in 1953 aged only 48 in a car accident in Kenya, where he had been working. The circumstances are described in the press cutting below.
Jean died in London in 1991. One of their sons, Peter Thomson McLintock (1933-2012) lived in Widgers Wood, one of the houses in the middle of Sheet’s Heath (just north of the canal), for a few years in the early 1960’s.
By 1942 Harold and Cora Molins were living in Openwood (with one servant). Harold had been born in Manhattan in 1886, the son of a Cuban tobacco worker. By 1900 the family had sailed to England and were living at Houndsditch. In 1929 Harold married Cora Parry (born Cardiff in 1902, and whose father had the delightful name of Harry Parry). A photo of Cora (in her younger days) is shown below.
Harold, an engineer by trade, and Cora had 2 children and lived in Kent and Sussex before arriving at Openwood. Their stay at Openwood was possibly best remembered by an incident involving a car that was reported in the local newspapers. The sub-heading is best overlooked, but the story, in particular the excuses given, is worth reading.
By 1946, the Molinses had moved out and Openwood had been purchased by Frederick, the 3rd Baron Cawley of Prestwich and Rosemary Cawley. We must devote some space to the background on the Cawley family.
Their story starts with Frederick Cawley, born in Bunbury, Cheshire (near Crewe) in 1850, the son of a Land agent farming 72 acres. He has his own Wikipedia page, but we will summarise. He was the youngest of 8 children, and soon left Bunbury to decamp to Crumpsall, now a northern suburb of Manchester, but at that time, very much on the outskirts of the city. A great deal of industrialisation had recently taken place in the area, led by the cotton industry. So Frederick started a business bleaching and dying cotton, and sited it close to several cotton mills – a smart move. In 1876 he married Elizabeth Smith (born 1852, the daughter of a bleacher and dyer), and they produced 5 children.
The business was clearly successful and by 1901 Frederick and his family had moved a couple of miles west to a large house near Heaton Park (which was, and still is, a large green space). He had become a Liberal MP for Prestwich in 1895, a seat he held until 1918. In 1916 he was admitted to the Privy Council and appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the war-time coalition of Lloyd George, a post he held until 1918. Sadly 3 of their children were killed in WW1. One of the 3 had been an MP (for Heywood) since 1910.
In 1901 Frederick and Elizabeth bought Berrington Hall, a large country house in Leominster, which remained in their family’s hands until 1957. It is now a National Trust property. In 1906 Frederick was created a Baronet and became First Baron Cawley of Prestwich.
Elizabeth died in 1930 and Lord Cawley in 1937 (at Berrington Hall), leaving £860,000 (worth £46 million today) as well as his property portfolio. Their eldest son, Robert (born 1877) had married Vivienne Lee (also born in 1877, the daughter of a Salford cotton merchant and manufacturer) in 1912. For their honeymoon, they sailed on the Lusitania to New York and then to Yokohama. As is well known, the Lusitania was torpedoed 3 years later with the loss of 1,200 lives, an incident which contributed to the USA’s entry to the war. Robert and Vivienne had 3 children, the eldest of whom, Frederick Lee Cawley, inherited the baronetcy on his father’s death in 1954.
We have shown a photo of Berrington Hall and a portrait of Frederick Lee Cawley below.
Frederick had been born in 1913 in Salford. He became a barrister and in 1939 he was living at Berrington Hall with his parents and his siblings (oh yes, and 10 servants). In 1944 he married Rosemary Marsden (born Kensington, 1922, the daughter of an Eton schoolmaster), who had been living close to Berrington Hall.
They moved to Openwood soon after the end of WW2, and produced 7 children. Meanwhile Frederick continued to practice law at the Inns of Court in London. In 1951 a frivolous article appeared in the local paper, referring to an Iris Marsden of Openwood. Iris was Rosemary’s sister. We have copied the article below, but make absolutely no comment on the content.
In 1954, on the death of his father, Frederick inherited the title of 3rd Baronet of Prestwich, and they remained at Openwood we think until at least the mid-1970. Adele Pannell, who lived at No 11, Pirbright Cottages used to cook regularly for the Cawleys.
Frederick died at Berrington Hall in 2001, aged 88, and Rosemary died in Worcestershire in 2008, aged 86. A photo of Rosemary in her later years is shown below.
In the late 1970’s Barrie and Linda Scott purchased Openwood. They obviously smelt the opportunity to make a quick killing, as in 1981 a proposal to erect 16 houses on the Openwood site was submitted. Thankfully it was refused by Woking Borough Council. The very thought of the traffic that would have resulted around the Berry Lane junction is pretty horrifying.
By 1986 Graham and Joan Tanner had bought Openwood. Graham was born in 1937 in Uxbridge and he and Joan (nee Hannell in 1933) were married in 1960. In 1965 they were living on the edge of Uxbridge, close to what is now the start of the M40. They had one son, Simon, and remained at Openwood until at least 2001.
So Openwood managed to survive the developer’s bulldozers in 1981 and occupies the same footprint as it did in 1841. The house now boasts what must surely be the longest fence in the Fox Corner area. A recent agent’s photo of Openwood is shown below (with grateful thanks).
The land beyond Openwood
Heading north from Openwood is some unused land, which is either commonland or belongs to Beesacres on the north side of Berry Lane leading towards Bridley Manor. Judging by its condition, few humans venture into it.
Beyond this patch of unused land is Worplesdon Golf Course, to be precise, the 9th green. After this, running parallel to the Bagshot Road is the 10th hole, a short hole over Bridley Pond, which the club describes as its “signature hole”. 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.
In 1841 this part of the golf course (and the “unused land” above) were commonland, owned by the then Lord of the Manor of Bridley, James Bourdillon. The area around where Bridley Pond is today was demarcated by a 7 acre rectangle of wooded land oriented in an east-west direction. The pond itself is not shown, but it surely would have been there - maybe the surveyors saw no need to record it.
The 1873 and later OS maps show the rectangular area, and Bridley Pond as well as a smaller pond to the east. This smaller pond still exists today as a hazard next to the 9th fairway for erratic golfers. There is also a “Danger, deep water” sign nearby, which the authors have not verified for accuracy. The only remnant of the 7-acre wooded rectangle is the straight path between the 9th tee and the 10th green, which originally formed the northern boundary of the wooded rectangle.
With imagination we can visualise the 19th century Bridley pond itself nestled quietly in its own copse, perhaps with a collection of wildlife living there. That is, until some sadist constructed a golf hole across it. The 1915 OS map shows that a boathouse even stood on the western edge of the pond, where the outflow is. Unsurprisingly, there is no visible trace of the boathouse today.
As we explained in the Openwood section above, in 1902, this part of the golf course (holes 8, 9, 10, 15 and 16), as well as the land on which Openwood now stands and the fields opposite Bridley Manor were offered for sale. This lot totalled 104 acres. This attempted sale is described more fully in the section dealing with Rickford Malthouse (refer above). Here are a couple of extracts from the accompanying sales blurb:
“Consisting of beautiful pine woods, grass lands and thriving larch plantations, together with an acre and a quarter of ornamental water” (Author’s note: presumably Bridley Pond)
“Eligible for conversion into a residential estate or sub-division into numerous excellent sites for superior residences or as a Site for a large institution” (the latter in upper case).
Fortunately the sale was unsuccessful, and so neither the residential estate nor the “large institution” was built. Instead the land was sold in 1908 as “The Worplesdon Golf Estate”. Thus it remains today.
Bagshot Road – West side
Until the end of the 19th century there wasn’t much to be seen on the west side of this part of the Bagshot road other than farmland. In fact the only things the traveller might have noticed were:
Barns (used as corn stores) and a stable block standing opposite the Malthouse.
200 yards further along there was a small farmstead called Lawford’s set back from the road along a track (now Storr’s Lane).
But in the early part of the 20th century a few large houses sprang up. The Corner House was the first, and then Hunter’s Green, and then a large house called Linksholme (now named Abney). Other large houses followed north of the Berry Lane junction. In the 1960’s several smaller houses were built on and around the Corn Stores. Over the next 40 years more and more houses were built, and the Corn Stores themselves were demolished. Today the earliest surviving building on this stretch of the road is the stable block opposite the Malthouse, albeit now converted into 2 semi-detached houses.
We will first describe the early history of Corn Stores and the stable block. We will then start our tour of the western side of the Bagshot Road house-by-house, starting at the roundabout and work our way northwards, ending at The Fairway.
Malthouse Corn Stores and Stable Block (until late 1900’s)
The Malthouse Corn Stores no longer exist. c1980 they were demolished and replaced by Salway House and Hartfield. The brick stable block next door was, however, converted into 2 semi-detached cottages (Sunrise and Springfield Cottages) in 1999. We will devote this section to the Corn Stores and the Stable Block prior to 1980 and 1999 respectively.
The Corn Stores appear on the 1841 Tithe map, situated opposite Rickford Malthouse (refer separate section above). They were owned by the then owners of the Malthouse, and were presumably used in various storage capacities (eg for raw grain, finished malt, tools, etc).
The stable block first appears on the 1888 sale plan for the Bridley estate, but not on the OS map of 1873. We can therefore date the block to sometime between 1873 and 1888. It would have probably been used to house horses used for work on Malthouse Farm (as well as horses belonging to the tenants of the Malthouse). The Flemish Bond brickwork (with alternate stretchers and headers) and the curved brick window arches are in good condition and can be seen on several Victorian houses in the area. They were pretty solidly built stables!
Even though malting activities at the Malthouse ceased in the mid-1800’s, the Corn Stores and stable block remained under the ownership of the Malthouse (now a farm), and in use. Perhaps they were also partially let out to farmers who stored their produce there.
The stable block (from 1931)
We will now jump ahead several years and look at what happened to the stable block.
c1931 the stable block was converted into a business premises. It seems very likely that this was carried out by the 2 estate agents (Cyril Weekes and Edward Bates) who bought the Malthouse in 1931. They showed a commercial instinct by turning what was then a redundant building into something which could earn them rent until it could be sold at some future date.
From 1933 Louisa Lawrenson was operating at the stable block, now named Springfield House (or Springfield, or Springfields). She worked as a “costumiere” (as she labelled herself in the phone directory – it translates as a female costume designer), but later she called herself a dressmaker. Louisa (nee Butler) was born in Madras in 1878, where her father (Colonel James Butler, who was Irish) was serving in the army. In 1900 she married Colonel Thomas Lawrenson (who coincidentally had also been born in Madras, albeit 7 years earlier than Louisa and also had Irish parentage). The first 26 years of their married life were spent in India, and they had one daughter, Doris (born 1906 in Quetta, now in Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan).
In 1927 Thomas’s fighting days were done, and so the family sailed to England to start a new life. For some unknown reason they chose Woking as a place to live, and initially they decided to live in Hockering Gardens. Within 4 years they had moved to Durrows, which is the house on the bend of Berry Lane 500 yards past Bridley Manor, but on the opposite side of the road. By 1933 Louisa had started up a dressmaking business at the newly-converted Springfield House, which she may have purchased. We assume that the downstairs area was for serving customers, while the upper floor was the workshop. We have shown below 2 advertisements placed by Louisa in the local newspapers: one for staff (1939), the other for customers (1950).
We have also shown below a photo of a dress, possibly in late 1930’s style (so we have been told). A label sewn into the shoulder reads “Louisa Lawrenson Worplesdon Surrey”. Our thanks to Photobucket for use of the photo.
Louisa died in 1951 and Thomas in 1952. However the dressmaking business continued under the name “Louisa Lawrenson”, and we assume that it was run by their daughter Doris Brown, who had married Donald Brown. Donald was born in Brixton in 1897, the son of a bank clerk. He fought in WW1 (in the Royal Engineers), attained the rank of Colonel and was awarded the OBE. This means that Louisa had a father, a husband and a son-in-law who were all colonels....
Until 1949 Donald & Doris had lived with her parents at Durrows, but in 1950 Donald and Doris bought their own house (Drum House, Wych Hill). Donald died in 1963, aged 66, and Doris moved house to Maybury. We presume that Doris continued to run her mother’s business, as it remained in the phone directory under the name “Louisa Lawrenson” until 1976, when Doris would have been 70. The business itself had run operated for 43 years. Doris died in 1989 (without any children, we think).
After the dressmaking business closed, the building became the office for a printing (or typesetting) business (name unknown). The business was run by a Brian Flexman, who had bought Springfield House (from either the Bailey brothers or from Doris). He made a few alterations to the property (installing a fire escape and extending the car parking facilities). Then In 1994 Mr Flexman gained approval to convert the top floor into a flat “to be used in association with the business use on the ground floor of the property”.
This proved to be the thin end of a wedge to convert the building to housing. After gaining approval to convert some of the property to residential use in 1994, Brian Flexman went several steps further by requesting (and obtaining) approval to convert the entire building into 2 semi-detached houses in 1999. He was successful and soon Sunrise and Springfield Cottages came into being and were sold off. We continue their stories in sections devoted to each house below, although there is very little further to tell.
The Corn Stores (from 1945)
Returning now to the Corn Stores:
By 1945 any commercial activities had long since finished at the Malthouse, and so the 2 estate agents (Cyril Weekes and Edward Bates) who had bought the Corn Stores decided to sell them. The full story is told in the section dealing with the Malthouse (covered earlier in this section). The buyers were the 3 Bailey brothers who had lived at Heath Mill: Reg, Charlie and Dick. They had stopped working as millers at Heath Mill a few years previously and were probably looking at other ways to occupy themselves. [The Bailey brothers also bought a second plot from the estate agent, comprising some land on the south side of Berry Lane. This meant that they owned about 60% of the triangle of land south of Berry Lane as far as the roundabout, and is described in some detail in the section dealing with Berry Lane.]
The Bailey brothers found themselves not only with the Corn Stores (and possibly also the converted stable block next door), but also a fair amount of land into the bargain. The exact plot can be seen on the left-hand plan (drawn in 1902) below. It comprised all the grey land to the west of the Bagshot Road (ie plots 1131, 1132 and 459). The plan on the right shows the same plot superimposed onto today’s map (with grateful thanks to Surrey CC for use of their map). The plot is outlined in garish orange on both maps.
The main differences between these plans are:
The maps don’t quite tie up with each other. There are small differences, which we will put down to errors in the original plan (drawn in 1902).
The only buildings on the 1945 plot were the Corn Stores and stable block. There are now 9 dwellings on the plot (clockwide from the top left: Openview, Springfield and Sunrise Cottages, Salway House, Hartfield, Crosswinds, Tangles, The Linney, and Oakdene. The first 6 these are described on this page (below). The last 3 are described on the page dealing with the north and east sides of the Guildford-Pirbright Road.
The Corn Stores have been demolished. Salway House and Hartfield now stand in their place.
The brick stable block still exists. It has been converted into Springfield and Sunrise Cottages. It may have already been sold by 1945, but if not, it was probably sold c1977.
The plot lies mainly in Woking, but a small part (the south-west corner) lies in Pirbright. The boundary is shown as a dashed line on both maps, and is slightly different on each.
Guildford Borough Council must have purchased the southernmost tip at some point, in order to widen the road and construct the roundabout.
Under the stewardship of the Baileys, the Corn Stores became something of a landmark on the Bagshot Road. Some residents remember a greengrocer’s shop (operated by the Baileys) on the premises.
Below are 2 photos of the Corn Stores, perhaps from the 1960’s. In the left-hand picture the stable block (then used as a dressmaker’s shop) can be seen. We have also shown a picture of a Baileys flour sack, giving the address as the Corn Stores, and so suggesting it is post-1945. Pedantically, the name of the company is different from the name on the building, suggesting the photos were taken at different times. Our guess is that the picture of the sack is the earliest of the 3.
During the next few years several developments took place. Each of the houses has its own section below.
By 1953 the Baileys had built a bungalow (later named Openview – see below).
In 1964 land near the current roundabout was sold to a building company.
In 1965 planning permission was granted for two detached Chalet bungalows (Crosswinds and Tangles) to be built on this piece of land. Permission was also granted for the Corn Stores to be demolished (which duly happened sometime around 1980).
c1990 Salway House and Hartfield were built on the site of the Corn Stores.
Crosswinds and Tangles were built in 1965 on land that had previously been part of the Malthouse Corn Stores property, owned by the Bailey brothers, as explained above. Tangles fronts onto the Guildford-Pirbright road, so we have considered it in that section. The builder was FJ Alexander, who had built Oaklands (see below) in 1961.
The first owner of Crosswinds was a Mr K Yates from c1969 to c1974. They were followed by Peter and Winifred Curd, who were Government tax officials. They were followed (in the late 1980’s) by Donald and Elizabeth Fox. Donald was a driving instructor. The current owners purchased the house in 1999.
During the 1990’s, the house was used by Judy Millar at The Old Malthouse (covered earlier in this section) as an overspill for guests if her B&B bookings exceeded capacity. This answered the question in the puzzled current owner’s mind as to why there were key locks in each bedroom and the main lounge!
Hartfield (previously Quintana)
Hartfied and Salway House were built c1990 on the site of the Malthouse Corn Stores. Prior to that, the Hartfield plot had been used as a builders’ yard for a few years. The 2 houses were initially of the same design, with their garages sharing a central wall. As at Crosswinds (above), during the 1990’s, Hartfield was used by Judy Millar at The Old Malthouse (covered earlier in this section) as an overspill for guests if her B&B bookings exceeded capacity. The first owners were Reginald and Beatrice Winter, and at this time the house was called Quintana (which means Country House in Spanish), but in 2006 the house was sold and renamed Hartfield. A recent agent’s photo of Hartfield is shown below (with grateful thanks).
As with Hartfield (see above), Salway House was built c1990. The 2 houses were initially of the same design, with their garages sharing a central wall. The first owners were Spiridon and Pauline Roussos. By 1996 Peter Trevett had bought the house. The house was sold again in 2012. A recent agent’s photo of Salway House is shown below (with grateful thanks). The similarity with Hartfield is immediately apparent.
Openview was built c1953 on land at the rear of the Corn Stores, which the Bailey brothers purchased in 1945. It was originally known as “The Bungalow, Malthouse Corn Stores”. The property includes a well, which contains drinkable water, apparently. We think that the water flows underground from the land immediately to the north of the property (The Fairway, Lawford’s Hill, Berry Lane, etc).
The photo below shows James Bailey (the owner of Heath Mill) and his family sitting in front of The Bungalow. It must have been taken shortly before James’s death in 1953. We have included 2 more photos of The Bungalow, taken at around the same time.
The photos show that at the time The Bungalow was actually a fairly modest bungalow. The photo on the left with the tree in the foreground shows the front (ie north-east facing) side of the house. This is the same side from which the family photo was taken (the bird table features in both). The other photo shows the other side of the house. The large trees at the front of the house have long since disappeared.
The photo below shows the view from the back of The Bungalow looking towards what is now the Fox Corner roundabout, taken one winter’s day back in the 1950’s or 1960’s (it must be pre-1965 as Crosswinds has not yet been built). There was no roundabout at the time, just a zebra crossing. Could that be a Hillman Minx passing by? And the openness of the scene is really quite a surprise – the absence of Tangles and The Linney makes a striking contrast with today’s scene. Rickford House can be seen in the distance, with the road snaking away to Worplesdon.
The Bungalow had (and Openview still has) access via a driveway to the Bagshot Road, but there is also a path through to Berry Lane (emerging between Sheen and Laburnham Cottage, if you look carefully).
After James’s death in 1953, two of the Bailey brothers (Reg and Dick) and their widowed mother, Annie, were living in The Bungalow. Annie died in 1960 and the 3 brothers continued to live at The Bungalow. They built an extension to the south-east corner of the house, which can be seen in the photo below.
By 1967, Reg was still living at the bungalow (now renamed Openview), with the phone number Worplesdon 64 (the same number that James had at Heath Mill back in the 1920’s). Reg moved out of Openwood in 1969, but in 1974 he died in Aldershot.
Duncan and Eileen Berry bought Openview in 1970. Duncan was born in Burnley in 1931 and married Eileen (nee Massey) in 1957. They carried out a further extension in the early 1980’s to enlarge the house into its current L-shape and then moved to Wales.
By 1986 Douglas and Janet Goodacre and their family had moved in. New owners purchased the house in the mid-2010’s.
Sunrise Cottage (from 1999)
Sunrise Cottage and Springfield Cottage were created in 1999 when the old 19th century stable block (from the 1930’s known as Springfield House) was converted into 2 semi-detached houses by the owner, Mr Flexman. For the previous history, please refer above to the section “Malthouse Corn Stores and Stable Block (until late 1900’s)”.
Springfield Cottage (from 1999)
As with Sunrise Cottage above, Springfield Cottage was created in 1999 when the old 19th century stable block (from the 1930’s known as Springfield House) was converted into 2 semi-detached houses by the owner, Mr Flexman. For the previous history, please refer above to the section “Malthouse Corn Stores and Stable Block (until late 1900’s)”
Springfield Cottage has been sold twice since it was converted in 1999. Judging by recent agents’ photos, quite a lot of the original brickwork has been preserved within the building. A recent agent’s photo is shown (with grateful thanks) below.
Strangely there is a house around the corner in The Fairway called Oaklands. As far as we know they are not related to each other.
The land on which Oaklands now sits was sold by the Bailey brothers in 1950 as part of a package, with the land on which The Bays in Berry Lane now sits. The purchaser was Herbert Caleb Barden, who went on to build The Bays, and whose story is told in the section dealing with The Bays.
Herbert Barden sold the Oaklands plot in 1961 to FJ Alexander, a builder who lived in Rowe Lane, and who we think was c1970 responsible for building Millstream House, on the Guildford – Pirbright Road. Mr Alexander wasted no time in building a bungalow (called Oaklands) on his newly-acquired site. 4 years later, Mr Alexander built Crosswinds (see above) and neighbouring Tangles, so he was certainly in demand in the locality.
By 1967 Peter & Lorna Jennings and their family were living there. They remained at Oaklands until 1973, when they moved to Guildown Road in Guildford.
Ken and Irene Pemberton-Wood lived there in 1985 until 1999. Ken was born in 1918 (As Kenneth P Wood) and died in 2000 (as Kenneth Pemberton-Wood). He was an officer with the Royal Engineers, and was stationed in Hamburg after WW2 where he was responsible for the clearance of war damage and the city’s rebuilding, which is an impressive achievement.
He was also responsible for getting the war memorial next to Threeways (see below) moved away from the road following damage to it by a vehicle accident. The re-dedication of the memorial was witnessed by the Mayor and several military personnel. For the next few years Ken’s regiment would regularly put a wreath on it for Remembrance Day. All this did not stop Ken from being somewhat pompous (we understand from those who knew him). Irene (born 1916) died in 2002.
In 1999, the new owners effectively demolished the house and built a new 2-storey house. The current owners moved in during the mid-2000’s.
Threeways was built on land belonging to The Old Malthouse in 1930. The owners of The Old Malthouse at the time were Thomas and Phyllis Craig, and their story is told earlier in this section dealing with The Old Malthouse. The plot was (and still is) in the shape of a sharp pointed triangle, and it is presumably this shape that provides the house with its name. The plot has entrances on both Berry Lane and the Bagshot Road (the latter granted in 1988).
The purchasers of the new house in 1930 were 2 ladies named Edith and Dorothy Gabriel. Edith was Dorothy’s mother, and they had an interesting history.
The Gabriel story starts with Thomas Gabriel (1811-1891), a timber merchant, who we shall refer to as Thomas Gabriel I. He was born in London, the 9th of 10 children of a well-to-do family of timber merchants. Thomas’s grandfather, Christopher Gabriel, was a distinguished plane maker (that is, he made hand planes, for smoothing wood, not aeroplanes...). Thomas I married Mary Pearson in 1844 and progressed to become a partner of the family firm, Thomas Gabriel & Sons, which by now imported and resold timber. The company was based at Gabriel’s Wharf, which still exists, not far from where Waterloo Station is today, and named after the Gabriel family.
Thomas I became an alderman, then Lord Mayor of London in 1866-67, was knighted, and became a baronet. A curiosity on Wikipedia is an invitation to a reception in 1867 issued by him during his Lord Mayorship. It is reproduced below (with thanks to Wikipedia).
By 1871 Thomas, Mary and their family (and their 7 servants) were living at Edgecombe Hall, near Putney Heath – at the time a large imposing house with a large orchard and ponds, set in a semi-rural location. It was demolished in the 1960’s and replaced by today’s Edgecombe Hall Estate, which includes a 14-storey tower block. Below are 2 wonderful photos of the original Hall (with very grateful thanks to the Edgecombe Hall Residents’ Association). The right–hand photo is post-1937, as Battersea Power Station can clearly be seen, but the left-hand photo looks considerably older. We have also included a photo of today’s Edgecombe Hall Estate.
In 1881 Thomas and Mary were still at Edgecombe Hall, but now with 11 servants. Sir Thomas died at Edgecombe Hall in 1891 leaving £378,000, worth £38 million today. He and Mary had 4 daughters, but the rules in those days were that only male heirs could inherit titles. Therefore the baronetcy died with Sir Thomas in 1891.
The eldest daughter, Mary (1845-1926) married John Fenwick, a shipowner from Tynemouth, in 1869. They had 7 children and in 1901 were living in a large house on Putney Heath, with 7 servants.
The second daughter, Helen, died in 1857, aged only 11.
The third daughter, Jessie (1851-79), married Sir Lumley Smith KC, a barrister. They lived in Kensington, but Jessie died aged 28 just 2 weeks after giving birth to their 3rd child.
The youngest daughter, Hester, died in 1921 in Rusper nunnery (unmarried) at the age of 65. Actually the nunnery was no longer a working nunnery – it was owned by Sir Cecil Hurst, who had married one of Hester’s nieces, so Hester was unlikely to have joined the sisterhood; merely she was living at a relative’s house.
In summary, during the 19th century the Gabriel family were well-off, and well-connected. When Thomas I died in 1891, the timber merchant’s business was being run by one of his nephews, also called Thomas Gabriel, so we will call him Thomas Gabriel II. He had been born in Lambeth in 1835 and was the son of Thomas I’s eldest brother, Christopher, who had also been involved in running the business with Thomas I in earlier years. Thomas II died in 1898, leaving £80,000 (worth £11 million today).
One of Thomas II’s sons was Thomas Burton Gabriel (we will call him Thomas Gabriel III). He was born in Streatham in 1870, and married Edith Tapply (born Streatham in 1874) in 1897. They soon (1901) moved to Elmstead in Wych Hill, Woking, then in 1904 they moved to Hart Hill in St John’s, and then to Sudpre Farm in Worplesdon.
In 1911 Thomas III described himself as a timber merchant and importer living at Sudpre Farm, Worplesdon. He was presumably working in the family business. But by then the business had merged with other firms, and was soon (1919) to become a public company, named Gabriel Wade & English Ltd. A poster (from 1966) is shown below. After being acquired by other companies (twice) the name of Gabriel Wade & English Ltd was allowed to disappear.
Thomas III and Edith moved to Frosbury Farm, Worplesdon (from where today’s Frosbury Farm Feeds operates), and Thomas died there in 1928. They had 3 children:
Dorothy (“Dodie” born 1897) never married, but moved into Threeways with her mother in 1930. She died there in 1984 leaving £366,000 (worth £1.2 million today). She is buried in Worplesdon churchyard.
Joan (born 1898) married John Callender Ritchie in 1922. John was a soldier who had been born in Scotland in 1897. After John’s death in 1939, Joan went to live with her mother and sister Dorothy at Threeways. Joan died in 1952.
Thomas Gabriel (1903-1978) married Winifred Zoe Gorell-Barnes (a rather uncommon name...) in 1929. She died in Fordingbridge in 1963, aged 80. Thomas died in Fordingbridge in 1978.
Edith died at Threeways in 1963, aged 91.
Thomas’s main claim to fame – and one that neither he nor Edith would have known anything about - is that his brother, Christopher Burton Gabriel (1876-1947), would have a grandson: Peter Gabriel. Peter’s family lived in Chobham; he attended Charterhouse School, and is a well known musician (the band he co-founded with fellow Charterhouse students, Genesis, in the opinion of the writer, played some of the very best rock music of the 1970’s and 1980’s). Who knows, perhaps Peter spent time playing at his aunt’s house at Threeways when he was a youngster? A photo of
After Dorothy’s death in 1984, Gill and Bill Hart bought Threeways. We know little about them, although we have heard stories about Bill’s golfing prowess. Applications to build a bungalow in the grounds of the house in 1986 and 1996 were refused. By 2002, Paul Walker and his family had bought Threeways. They sold up in 2022 to the current owners.
A recent estate agent’s photo of Threeways is shown below (with thanks). We have also taken the opportunity to include a photo of Genesis, with thanks (Peter Gabriel is on the right).
Berry Lane junction
We should mention the junction between Berry Lane and the Bagshot Road, as it has some interesting features. Originally of course it was a crossroads, but for safety reasons the western access was blocked off c1984, following a lorry accident. This has caused the stub western end of Berry Lane to become a peaceful leafy street. We have devoted a separate section to Berry Lane.
At the junction itself is the War Memorial, placed there because during WW1 troops marched across the junctions on their way from the Bullswater Common Training Ground to railway stations (and to war). However, after traffic accident in the late 1980’s which caused damage to the War Memorial, the pointed bit of the Threeways garden was acquired by Woking Council, in order to widen the area where the War Memorial stands. The memorial itself was moved a few metres back from the road so that a flower bed could be created. Nearby are 2 (less attractive) green boxes which provide fibre access to those in the locality who want it.
The next few metres on this side of the Bagshot Road comprise the garden of Amber’s Leap. We have discussed this property under the Berry Lane menu option.
The Corner House
The Corner House was built in 1911 by a wealthy solicitor called William Behrens. Mr Behrens had recently acquired a 26-acre plot of land (coloured pink on the plan below) after a series of transactions, dating back to the crooked solicitor, Thomas Montagu Richards. The full story of this – and it is quite a story - is set out in the section dealing with Berry Lane.
The plan above shows that Mr Behrens owned the entire strip of land running alongside the Bagshot Road from Berry Lane as far as a track running westwards. At first glance, the reader will doubtless wonder whether this track is today’s Lawford’s Hill Road or The Fairway. Surprisingly, it is neither – it is Storr’s Lane. Thus all the houses from The Corner House to Storr’s Lane are built on land acquired by Mr Behrens. The building line marked on the map appears to have observed up to the present day by subsequent developers.
The Corner House was the first (and the only) house built by Mr Behrens on this plot. He sold the rest of the plot in 1923 and let future developers call in the bulldozers. The first owner of The Corner House in 1911 was William Hunt of Alresford. He was a 76 year-old widower, a retired architect born and bred in Alresford, and it seems likely that he had purchased the house as an investment, rather than with any idea of living in it himself. The original plot included the plots where Blossom House, Tullywhisker House and Amber’s Leap are today, and is outlined in orange on the current OS (with thanks) map below.
The first tenants in 1911 were Alfred Herman & Evelyn Sydney Oppenheim. Alfred was a scion of the Oppenheim family which created the Sal. Oppenheim Bank. Until its sale in 2009 to Deutsche Bank, Sal Oppenheim was the largest privately owned investment/banking house in Europe, with assets of €348 billion, according to Wikipedia. Alfred’s father, Heinrich Oppenheim had moved from Germany to England as a teenager c1850, and had been a partner in the bank. He was reasonably wealthy in his own right – his estate when he died in 1912 was valued at £513,000 (worth £46 million today).
Alfred (born in Park Lane, London in 1872) bucked the family trend and became a stockbroker, not a banker. In 1905 he married Evelyn Sydney Brodie, who was the youngest of 9 children in a family from Moray, Scotland. Her grandfather had been the Lord Lieutenant of the county of Nairn, and his grandfather in turn had been the 21st Thane of Brodie. The Brodie family can trace its roots back to the 1500’s. Those who enjoy reading about society weddings might like the article below, which describes their wedding. Obviously jewellery was in fashion in 1905.
Alfred and Evelyn had 2 daughters, the second of whom, Daphne, was born at The Corner House in 1917. During WW1 it must have been difficult for the Oppenheim family living in England with a German surname, despite Alfred having been born here. But by 1921 Alfred was retired (aged only 49) and was living in the magnificent Sussex Square in Brighton with his family. Alfred died in 1927. Obviously stockbroking was not as lucrative as banking, as Alfred’s estate was worth only (only!) £36,000 (worth £2 million today). Evelyn survived a further 47 years until 1974, when she died aged 92. In her final year, she was subjected to a nasty crime – something which should never happen to a 92 year-old - detailed in the article below. Daphne married a Robert Kersley (unsurprisingly a wealthy fellow) in 1949 and they had one son. Daphne died in 1981 at Nairn, Scotland, no doubt at Brodie Castle, the family home. We have shown a photo of Brodie Castle below. It is supposed that the Brodie family have been associated with it for over 1,000 years.
In 1914 William Hunt (the owner of the house) died in Alresford, and we think that William’s 6 surviving children probably retained the house as a source of income. At any rate there was no change in the tenants – the Oppenheims were still living at The Corner House in 1920, at which time they moved to Brighton.
The next occupants (for only a couple of years) were Arthur and Phyllis Lucy (Lucy being the surname). Arthur (born Malvern in 1884) was a barrister, and during WW1, was a captain in the London Regiment. In 1915 he married Phyllis (nee Petrie in Birkenhead in 1890) and they had 3 children. The youngest, Lorna, was born in 1921 at The Corner House, which therefore had hosted 2 births in its first 10 years. By 1920 the house had been one of the first to connect to the Worplesdon exchange of the telephone network. The Lucys had the privilege of owning the number Worplesdon 50.
The 1921 census records the Lucys as having 2 servants and 2 nurses living in the house. One of the nurses was a 15 year-old Harriet Snowden, who lived her whole life less than half a mile away – first at 5, Pirbright Cottages and then at 1, Malthouse Cottages, where she cut a distinctive figure.
In 1922 the Lucys moved to Cranleigh, and were still living there when Phyllis died aged only 57 in 1947 (at Bridport). Arthur died in 1957, aged 73, at Battle, Sussex. Lorna married John Brotherton in 1950 and they had 2 children. Lorna died at Marlborough in 1998.
The departure of the Lucys probably persuaded the Oppenheim children to sell up. The next occupants, and (we think) owners in 1923 were Colonel George and Dorothy Dyer.
George Nowers Dyer was born in Cape Colony (today part of South Africa) in 1881. We do not know where the unusual name of Nowers originates. But his father, Frederick Dyer, was born in Lewes in 1843 and had set up a merchant company with his 2 brothers in Cape Colony, trading as Dyer and Dyer Ltd, and based in East London. The company presumably imported goods from abroad and exported goods (mainly cotton and wool) from The Cape. We do not know who or when Frederick married, but when he returned to England in the early 1900’s, he described himself as a widower.
George probably started work in the City of London, as he became a freeman of the City of London in 1905. His chosen guild was the Frame Work Knitters Company, which sounds rather unusual, but then his father was in the cotton and wool trades.
George soon joined the army and in 1913 married Dorothy Graham (born 1893), daughter of Mr & Mrs Charles Graham of Hove, in 1913. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant in the Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey), just in time for the start of WW1. He served in France from the very start of the war, as the copy of his service record (below) shows.
They started a family in 1915 (their son being named George Charles Graham Dyer) and this encouraged them to move out of Kensington, where they had been living until then. Their second child, Susan was born in Purley (1917) and then Phyllis in Farnborough (1920). In between all this, George had time to join the freemasons (1918).
The Dyers were destined not to continue the series of births at The Corner House, and had no more children. George was promoted to Major, and then (in 1931) Colonel. In 1935 he was still in the army, as an Inspector of Physical Training (at the age of 54).
In 1925 they had bought one of the plots on the newly-formed Lawford’s Hill Road. We can’t be sure which plot it was, but it was probably on the south side of Lawford’s Hill Road, where Lawford’s Hill Close now stands. In 1931 they owned Malthouse Cottages on Berry Lane, but we do not know for how long they owned them (or why they had purchased them in the first place).
Their second child, Susan, married Dr Bernard Kieft in 1942. Bernard was from The Mumbles, near Swansea. He was a nephew of Cyril Kieft, who founded Kieft Cars, a British car company that built Formula Three 500cc, sports racing & even a Formula 1 car. The author had never heard of this make of car, but perhaps it will bring back memories for some readers. Below is a photo of (a very young) Stirling Moss after winning a race in a Kieft.
Susan and Bernard lived for a while with George and Dorothy, but then moved to Farnham to live in a house named The Corner House, no doubt named after Susan’s first home.
George junior joined the Royal Artillery, but died in 1942 (in England on leave) in a car crash just 5 months after his sister Susan’s wedding. George junior was aged only 26, which must have been a terrible blow for the family. A newspaper report of the incident is shown below.
George senior was appointed DSO and CBE and the family remained at The Corner House until his death in 1955. Dorothy sold the house in 1957 and moved to the newly-built Cawood in neighbouring Rickford, where she died in 1960.
The next owners of The Corner House were Roland and Dorothy Seel. Roland was born in Southend in 1911, and grew up initially in Southend, but later in Cheam. He married Dorothy (nee Smith near Bristol in 1911) in 1939 and they started their married life living in Harrow. In WW2 Roland joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery and reached the rank of Lieutenant, while being awarded the Military Cross. They had one son, Robin (born 1940). After the war they lived at Abinger Common, but in 1957 they moved to The Corner House.
Roland was a company director, but we do not know what company he worked for. It entailed several visits to New York, initially by sea (at least one of which was on The Queen Elizabeth, travelling first class – nice), but later by air. In some years he was travelling to the US every 2 months, and it rather looks as though he was for several years based in New York (the bimonthly journeys being journeys home).
The Seels made a lasting impact on Fox Corner during their 7 year stay: In 1957 they sold off part of their land for development, which became Tullywhisker House, and 2 years later they sold off another plot which became Amber’s Leap.
We think that they also sub-divided the house to form a new semi-detached house called North Wing (unsurprisingly to the north of the house). This house has its own section below.
In 1964 Roland and Dorothy moved to Cowshot Manor in Pirbright. Soon after 1970, they moved to Bermuda and both died there (Dorothy in 1973 and Roland in 1976).
In 1968 Mr GJT Allen was living in the Corner House. Between 1970 and 1977, Peter & Nicole M Purdon lived there. Peter died in 1973, aged only 44, and after then, the house was occupied by members of the Purdon and Eyles families. We don’t know the relationship between these families, but the fact that the new owners were James and Nicole M Eyles suggests that Nicole remarried after Peter’s death.
In (we think) the 1970’s yet another piece of the property was sold off for development – this time it was the slice of land to the north of The Corner House. A new house was built and named Tacoma, but since renamed Blossom House (see section below).
So today’s Corner House plot only 25% of the size of the original Corner House plot. The remaining 75% is now owned by Tullywhisker House, Amber’s Leap, North Wing, Blossom House and a small part of Oakwood (see below).
The house was sold in 2001 (to Andrew and Alanna Holley), and sold again in 2003 and 2008. A recent agent’s photo of The Corner House is shown below (with grateful thanks).
North Wing (or to give it its full name “North Wing, The Corner House”) is, well, the north wing of The Corner House. The 2 houses share the front driveway but have separate rear gardens.
In 1959 Frederick and Edna Witney were living at “The Lodge”, The Corner House, which sounds as though it could have been the earliest incarnation of North Wing. The Witneys were both aged 50 from Woking, and Frederick was a greengrocer. Perhaps he worked at the greengrocers operated by the Baileys in the Corn Stores (see above). Fredrick died in 1963, but we cannot trace what happened to Edna.
Richard and Phyllis Watson purchased North Wing in 1972. Richard was a barrister (born 1915) who had lived at Pyrford. He and Phyllis (nee Lewis) married in 1940. They remained there until the late 1980’s, when Peter and Marion Dawson bought the property. c2003, the house was sold again, and the new owners began to recombine the house with The Corner House (now completed).
Blossom House (previously Tacoma)
Blossom House, originally called Tacoma, was built on land belonging to The Corner House. It does not appear on the 1975 OS map, but we think it was built c1973. The first owners were Paul and Karen Greenslade. Paul was born in 1941 and married Karen (nee Cooper) in 1964. They stayed at Tacoma until the late 1990’s. The next owners were John and Susan Hammonds. The house was sold in 2003 and renamed Blossom House when it was resold in 2014.
Oakwood (previously Lees Cottage until at least 2016)
Lees Cottage was built on land sold by the owners of Abney (see below) in 1968. The first owners were Michael and Joanna Iwac, who lived there until at least 1981. Mike was born in 1910 in Poland and was a soldier in the Free Polish Army in WW2. He fought in the Middle East, and at one point his army group walked from Turkey to Palestine (now Israel) in order to form protection for Jerusalem. Joanna was born in 1917 and they married in Amersham in 1961.
“Polish Mike” and Joanna were sometimes seen walking to The Fox along Berry Lane in the evenings. They were more often heard though – when they were returning - and this usually proved highly entertaining for local residents. Latterly Joanna had to use a wheelchair, which Mike pushed. On more than one occasion the wheelchair (with Joanna on board) ended up in one of the Berry Lane ditches on the return journey.
Joanna was died in 1994 and Mike in 1998.
After the Iwacs died, the next owner was David King, who immediately built a significant extension to the house. He lived there until 2006 and then a Mr J Nottage until 2011. The house was sold again in 2021.
At some stage, Lees Cottage seems to have acquired a small piece of Corner House land, giving it a wider frontage onto the Bagshot Road. In the early 2010’s the house was extended and changed its name from Lees Cottage to Oakwood for reasons unknown.
Selbourne House was built in c1989 on land belonging to Abney (see below). The first owners were a family named Hart, followed 4 or 5 years later by the Scott family.
Abney was built c1918 (about 5 years after neighbouring Linksholme was built – see below) on part of the 26-acre plot owned by William Behrens on the north side of Berry Lane. The story of how Mr Behrens had acquired this land is told in the section dealing with Berry Lane, and quite a story it is too.
The first owners of Abney were Hugh and Lilian Merriman. Hugh (born Cranleigh, 1873) was the son of Joseph Merriman, a clergyman, best known for being the first headmaster (in 1865) of Cranleigh School, a post he held until 1891. The school today has a Merriman Music School, named after Joseph. A summary of his life can be seen at http://www.stcatshistory.info/Filename.ashx?tableName=ta_history&columnName=filename&recordId=26.
Joseph died in 1905 in the Isle of Wight, where he lived. His funeral was attended by Lord Tennyson (son of the poet, and also a friend). A photo and a portrait of Joseph are shown below.
Hugh was educated at nearby Charterhouse, probably under a tit-for-tat scheme whereby one school agrees to take boys who were sons of masters at the other school. After all, being a pupil at a school where your father is the headmaster might have been rather unpleasant.... He went to Cambridge University and soon qualified as a solicitor, practising in London, but living at Hall Dene, Merrow (now Redwood Close). In 1908, at the age of 35 and 3 years after the death of his father, he married Lilian Bowles. Lilian was the daughter of a land agent (and obviously a successful one as he and his wife had 4 servants). The Bowles family had been living close to Hugh Merriman in Merrow.
Lilian was aged 25 at her marriage (10 years younger than Hugh). Within 2 years they had produced 3 children (including twins).
By this time Hugh was working at Smallpeice & Co, a well-known firm of solicitors in Guildford, and after WW1 Hugh, Lilian and their young family moved into Abney. We cannot work out why the house was named Abney. Abney Hall is a grand mansion in Stockport, but the Merrimans do not have any obvious connection with it.
By 1916 Hugh had taken on a greater share of the firm, whose name had changed to Smallpeice and Merriman. We think that Lilian also worked there in some capacity, as she appears on the Electoral Register at the firm’s address in Guildford. The firm operated from 138 (now 136), High St in Guildford and was still practising in the 1970’s. We believe that it continued until the 1990’s.
[Frederic Smallpeice (who owned the firm before Hugh took over) was a very well-known man in Guildford, having served as mayor of Guildford in 1905. As an aside, Frederic was the last of 12 Smallpeices to serve as Mayor of Guildford, the first being in 1502.]
In 1938 Lilian was recorded as owning property at Nuthill Farm (today the site of occasional car boot sales by the A3 just opposite the Ripley turnoff).
Hugh died in 1944, aged 70. He was Clerk of the Guildford Magistrates’ Court for several years, and was a well-respected and much-loved man. A report of his Memorial Service at Guildford Cathedral Church is shown below. We have not shown the full list of mourners, which comprised over 200 names.
After Hugh’s death in 1944, Lilian moved to Bognor Regis and died there in 1955. Of their 3 children, 2 were married to another brother and sister: Lilian Merriman (1909-2002) married Miles Illingworth, and Hugh Merriman (1910-1983) married Anne Illingworth. From 1939, Miles and Lilian lived in Dodger’s Well, just around the corner in The Fairway. The third child, Rosemary (1910-1937), married Henry Wightman, from Dunfermline.
Between 1945 and 1948 Donald and Eileen Aldington lived at Abney. They were born in 1907 and 1910 respectively, Eileen being born Eileen Ross. The 1939 register shows Eileen as being the Sales Director of a motor car business, whilst Donald had no occupation. This would have been rather unusual at that time – or perhaps it was a mistake on the form. They were living in Dorking at that time of the register.
c1948 Dr Oliver and Joan Garai moved into Abney. Oliver was the son of Bernhard (“Bert”) and Rose Garai. Bert’s background is particularly interesting. In the summary below, we have drawn largely from Bert’s book “The Man from Keystone”. We have also included some photographs from it.
Bert Garai was born in Rakamaz, Hungary in 1891. His father, a shopkeeper married twice. His first wife bore 3 daughters, while his second wife produced 10 boys. Bert was No 7. He excelled in school, and as a young man sought work first in Budapest, then in Berlin and finally in Paris. In 1913, however, he realised war was imminent, and moved to London.
Within a few weeks of arriving in London, he had met Rose Pike, the 16 year-old daughter of his landlady, and a year later – 2 weeks after the start of WW1 in 1914 - they were married in Edmonton. Because of the risk of being detained as an enemy alien, Bert sailed to America (on The Lusitania, which was torpedoed 6 months later with the loss of 1,201 lives). Bert had to borrow the fare from 2 wealthy Hungarian ladies (one of whom was Baroness Orczy, the creator of The Scarlet Pimpernel). Rose joined him in New York the following year.
Initially Bert worked as a journalist, but in 1915, one of Bert’s Hungarian friends introduced him to a tall, quiet Russian named Leon Trotsky. Bert and Trotsky played chess together (Trotsky invariably won). After some time, Trotsky became more approachable and asked Bert to make some copies of an old photo for the purposes of applying for a passport. Bert kept a copy, which is reproduced below.
In New York, Rose soon produced 2 sons: Oliver (born 1916) and Bertram (born 1919). Bert found work at a small news picture agency. He was impressed by the immense height of the skyscraper he worked in (it was all of 12 stories high). He soon made a name for himself by persuading personalities to pose for pictures (eg Thomas Edison), and by being the first person to pull stunts such as using provocative captions and staging photos. An example of one of his stunts is the picture below of a 4 year-old, dressed in military uniform, captioned as America’s youngest recruit when they joined the war in 1917.
Bert claimed that the child was his son Oliver (who later moved into Abney). But Oliver would have been a 1 year-old at the time, so this claim was another of Bert’s stunts. However he did use his children in many of his stunt photos a few years later.
Just after WW2 Bert and Alice moved to Storrs Hill, Danes Hill (off Hockering Road, Woking) and they remained there for several years. Alice died in 1972 and Bert in 1973, living at Hockering Corner, Hockering Road.
Until then, the pictures in American newspapers were usually only portraits. The news agencies realised that this need to change, and Bert was soon asked to build a business creating spot-news and feature photographs, using his journalist experience and journalist background. His company merged with a company producing lantern slides, called Keystone View Company. Within a few years, Bert had developed his news photo business internationally in Europe. His next task was to break into the established agencies in London (which he successfully did). He formed and led Keystone Press and proceeded to take on the more well-established London photo agencies of the time. Bert and Rose moved to London (living in Surbiton), and Rose produced their 3rd and final child, Earle Stanley, in 1923.
We should clarify at this point that Bert himself didn’t take any photographs. His skill was to persuade royalty and celebrities to be photographed in relaxed poses, which showed them as human beings. He also had to bargain and “persuade” middlemen to let him have interesting photos for publication. He admits that he had to tell the occasional terminological inexactitude during his work. Reading between the lines, he told several. His huge self-confidence, charm and ability to make connections were key elements for these to be successful. And successful he was – Keystone rapidly became one of the most well-known Fleet Street photo agencies.
He spent his time travelling around Europe, getting good pictures (one way or another), and arranging to get particularly newsworthy pictures to London by the fastest possible means ahead of the competition. He arranged or procured exclusive photos of the Pope, European royalty, Ludendorff, Stresemann, Kemal Ataturk, Mussolini and a young Adolf Hitler. For a few years it was the only picture of Hitler that foreign newspapers had. Some of these pictures are shown below: The Kaiser and his second wife, the King of Sweden, Stresemann and Adolf Hitler.
In 1933 Bert arranged for a picture of the finish of the Epsom Derby to be in the Evening Standard on the streets of London just 30 minutes after the finish of the race. In those days, this was an amazing feat, which involved a fast motorcyclist riding from Epsom to Fleet Street in about 16 minutes (it was before the days of the 30mph limit – today’s quickest time is around an hour and 10 minutes!). The photoshots continued – Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden were 2 of his subjects.
But WW2 came and had a major impact on Bert’s business: In 1941 the Keystone office in London was hit by a Luftwaffe bomb. Millions of negatives and prints were instantly destroyed. Bad enough, but in 1943 came even worse news for Bert and Rose: Their youngest son, Earle, was reported missing in action while flying over Germany, and he was later confirmed as killed.
Bert carried working on after the war. One of his last photo interviews, in 1950, was with Albert Einstein (photo below). In his memoirs, Bert wrote: “...the impact of his personality was overwhelming. Einstein was the only great man I have met about whose greatness there could be no doubt.” A photo of Bert in his later years is also shown below.
Back now to Oliver and Joan, who had moved into Abney around the same time that Bert and Rose had moved to Woking. Oliver Garai MRCS FRCP entered the medical profession. We can do no better than show below his bio from the Royal College of Physicians website (with thanks) below.
Oliver Frank Garai was a consultant physician at Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey. He was born in New York, the son of Bernard and Alice Rose Garai. His father was a company chairman and a former journalist. Oliver was educated at Kingston Grammar school and then went to King’s College Hospital to study medicine, qualifying in 1941.
He spent the Second World War working in the Emergency Medical Service, in the King’s College Hospital sector. From 1945 to 1948 he was a senior medical registrar at King’s College Hospital and then, from 1948 to 1951, chief assistant in the department of neurology. In 1951 he moved to the Royal Marsden Hospital, where he was a part-time medical registrar and a research fellow in the department of cancer research. He was appointed to his consultant post at Frimley Park Hospital in 1963.
He wrote papers on varied topics, including on Parkinson’s, heart attacks and hypertension.
At the time of his election to the fellowship of the RCP he listed music, travel and literature among his interests. In 1942 he married Joan Glover, who became a consultant psychiatrist at Brookwood Hospital, Surrey. They had one daughter, who qualified MB BS in 1971, and two sons.
Below is a photo of Oliver (the doctor) attending to his brother, Bertram, in a military hospital at Epsom in 1944. Bertram had been wounded in the D-Day landings, and had been sent to the hospital by coincidence.
Joan (whose name was actually Joan Glover Gibson, not Joan Glover, as stated above) had been born in Wandsworth in 1919, the daughter of a headmaster. She too followed a medical career, and from 1968 she was the most senior medical person at Brookwood Hospital.
We think that Joan and Oliver had 3 children. Oliver died in 2003, and Joan remained at Abney until c2006. She died in 2014.
An internet search will reveal that one Romola Garai, an actress, is the great-great-granddaughter of Bert and Rose.
In 2007, the new owners built a major extension to Abney.
Between Abney and Lawford’s Hill Road is a fence marking the end of the garden of The Whins, which we have written about in the Lawford’s Hill Road section.
Hunter’s Green (previously Linksholme)
Linksholme was built c1913 on part of the 26-acre plot owned by William Behrens on the north side of Berry Lane. The story of how Mr Behrens had acquired this land is told in the section dealing with Berry Lane, and quite a story it is too.
A smaller house had previously existed on the site. It sat on the south side of a thin strip of land running alongside the Bagshot Road to the east and abutting Storr’s Lane to the north. We have written about this house in the section dealing with The Fairway.
The first owner of the house was Col Henry Dacres Thomas. The Electoral Register records that he was living at Linksholme, although he is also recorded as living in Tilford (near Farnham). Henry had been born in Canada in 1848, but served in the Indian Army. His first wife, Emily, died in Bombay in 1879 just 8 months after their marriage, aged 24. One year later Henry married again – to Julie Battye in Maharashtra. 9 months and 5 days later they had a daughter, Violette. Both Henry and Julie died in 1922. Violette remained single, living in Christchurch, Hampshire, and dying there in 1974, aged 93.
It looks as though Henry sold Linksholme during WW1 to (the unusually named) Elton Bally Higgins. Elton was born in Birkenhead in 1853, and married Mary Harrison in 1881 on the Isle of Man. Mary was from the Isle of Man, the daughter of one Ridgway Harrison (another one for the unusual name spotters). They moved to Birkenhead and quickly had 2 children, Harry and Mary. But alas, Mary (the mother) died within a few days of her daughter being born in 1883.
Elton brought the children up on his own, working as a cotton broker. In 1911, Elton and his 2 children (by then in their late 20’s) were living in Birkenhead in a nice house (with 2 servants) with Elton’s elder brother (Walter) and his younger sister (Elizabeth Jane). Both Walter and Elizabeth were unmarried, and Elizabeth appeared on the census as the head of the household.
Elton’s son, Harry, married a Hester Wade in 1911, fought in WW1, rising to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps, but was killed at the Somme in 1916. A photo of him is shown below. In 1921 Hester remarried (to a Rev Philip Phelps), but had no children.
The 1921 census shows Elton living at Linksholme with his sister, Elizabeth and 2 servants. This time, Elton was the head of the household. One of the servants was 26 year-old Olive Boylett, who had been born in Brookwood and was the daughter of Charles Boylett, who worked at Brookwood Cemetery. Olive lived with the Higgins family for the next 35 years.
In 1939 Elton was at Linksholme with his daughter Mary. Elton died in 1942, but Mary continued to live there until the late c1956, when she moved to Greenacres at Burners Heath, Pirbright. She never married and died at Greenacres in 1972, aged 89.
Harold and Evelyn Allix moved into Linksholme for just 1 year in 1956. Harold was born in India in 1913 and was a Planning engineer in 1939. Evelyn (nee Lister at Yarmouth in 1912) and Harold were married in 1940 and had 2 children. They retired to the Sussex coast and died there in the 2000’s.
Clement and Gladys Nichol purchased Linksholme c1957 and promptly renamed it Hunters Green for some reason. They had previously been living in a large house in Esher. Clement was the son of a Yorkshireman who composed hymns. His best-known hymn is “We’ve a story to tell to the Nations”, a stirring missionary song written in 1896 and published in over 200 hymnals. The lyrics sound somewhat dubious to our modern ears, but the melody and harmonies are not unpleasant. YouTube versions are available if you want to listen to it.
Clement and Gladys were married in 1927 and had 3 children. In 1939 Clement and Gladys (nee Coldwell) were living in Leeds (although at the time of the register that year, Clement was in a London hotel and gave his occupation as Chemical manufacturer). Clement died in 1961, aged 61, and Gladys moved to Suffolk later that year. She died there in 1983, aged 83.
John and Phyllis Moir moved into Hunters Green in 1961. John Hay Moir MB B Chir (born at Burton in 1912, the son of John Hay Moir DSO MC MD) married Phyllis (nee Willett in 1912) in 1940. John had joined Hollow Trees Surgery in Worplesdon (near the Green) after WW2 in 1946, direct from the RAMC. When Hollow Trees closed in 1961, John moved to the new Fairlands Surgery in Worplesdon.
Phyllis died in 1962, aged only 50 and only just after the couple had moved into Hunters Green. c1971 John moved to Oakmead House in Church Lane, Worplesdon. He continued to practice at Fairlands and died in 1983.
David and Alicia Hodge lived in Hunters Green from 1972, but sold the house 6 few years later. The next owners were Esmond and Pamela Banks, who again only stayed in the house for a few years.
The next owners were Dr Robin and Dr Barbara Jones. In 1983, permission was granted to them to build a house in the northern half of the property, adjoining Storr’s Lane. The house was duly built, named Mascot Jays, and sold. Its history is described below.
Derek and Maureen Greaves bought the house in the late 1980’s and stayed there for about 5 years.
At some stage in the recent past, the owners of Hunters Green installed a miniature railway track in their back garden, which local children used to enjoy during the summer months.
Mascot House (previously Mascot Jays)
As described above, Mascot Jays was built in 1983 on land belonging to Hunters Green. The first owners were John and Joanna Manches, who had previously been living near to the Woking Football ground. They stayed there for about 10 years. Gary and Elaine Temple were the next owners, living there until 1998. The house was resold in 2003 and 2004 and significant extensions and alterations were soon carried out by the new owners. It was renamed Mascot House c2010. An agent’s photo is shown below, from before the time of the extensions (with thanks).
Sleepy Hollow and its neighbour, Gateway House (see below) were built on a large field belonging to Lawford’s Farm. The early history of this farm is set out in section dealing with The Fairway.
Sleepy Hollow sits on a plot about 1 acre in size, which had been carved out of the Gateway House plot next-door. The house was built in the early 1980’s (about 20 years after Gateway House) and the original owners still live in it.
Gateway House (previously Cobrin)
The land on which Gateway House sits was originally a 3.5 acre field belonging to Lawford’s Farm. The early history of this farm is set out in The Fairway section. Originally named Cobrin, Gateway House was built in 1961 in what we think was then called a “modernist” style. Hearsay has it that the house won a newspaper/magazine competition when it was built.... The name Cobrin is certainly unusual. It may have Russian origins – perhaps selected by its first owners (below).
It is set some way back from the Bagshot Road and fronted with thick undergrowth, so is well-shielded. But there is a good view of the back of the house from the path between The Fairway and Storr’s Lane. We do not know the origin of the house name; Cobrin is a (rather unusual) surname, and perhaps it belonged to the builder.
The first owners were Sam and Monica Heppner in 1962, who had moved from Streatham. Sam was born in Hackney in 1913, the grandson of Russian Jewish immigrants, who had fled Russia to escape persecution. Many of the 150,000 Russian immigrants to England of those times had to work in London sweatshops. But Sam’s grandfather had been a jeweller and his father, a diamond merchant, seemingly enjoyed a more comfortable life.
In 1939 Sam was living in Esher as a BBC journalist and scriptwriter. That year he played a small part in the first airings of the BBC radio comedy “It’s That Man Again (ITMA)”, which (we are reliably informed) was very funny (and popular) in its day and is still broadcast on Radio 4 Extra once or twice a year. Mrs Mopp’s catchphrase – “It’s bein’ s’ cheerful that keeps me goin’” could apply to many of us today.
We don’t know what Sam did during WW2, but after the war he worked as a PR Officer, travelling occasionally to places like New York and Jamaica. He occasionally presented the popular BBC radio show “Housewives Choice” and later wrote the lyrics to music by Johan Strauss the younger to a film called “Gay Rosalinda”. Hmm, we’re not sure whether we’ll bother to watch that one. We managed to find a picture of Sam in The Radio Times from 1971 (below, with thanks). He was also a member of the Guildford Humanist Group, and liked to write slightly pompous letters to the local newspapers. In 1962 he and Monica hosted a concert at their house in aid of Freedom From Hunger. 50 people attended, and they hoped to raise £60.
Monica was born Monica Drinkwater in Maidenhead in 1919. During the early part of WW2 she worked as a secretary in the Women’s Land Army (sample poster shown below).
Monica and Sam married in 1943. They had 2 children, Guy (born 1945) and Harriet (born 1947).
The Heppners sold Cobrin in 1980 and moved to Richmond, where Sam died in 1983. Monica died in Suffolk in 2007.
The new owners c1983 were Michael Moutray-Read and Sally Forsyth (they married a few years later in 1987). Michael was born in Brighton in 1944. His grandfather’s brother, Anketell Moutray Read, was a champion boxer and was awarded the VC for gallantry under fire during WW1, but sadly he was mortally wounded during the encounter and died in 1915.
Michael appears to have worked for a company called The Forum Limited, which went bankrupt in 1996 (we can’t find anything out about this company, but wonder whether it was connected to the old Volvo dealership of the same name which had a showroom in Pirbright). Michael also owned a racehorse called Guys All Hart (named after his son perhaps??), which raced at Newmarket a couple of times. We think that Sally was born Sally Russell in 1933 and had previously married a gentleman called Dugald Forsyth in 1974.
In 1983 the couple promptly sold off an acre of the property on which was built Sleepy Hollow (see above).
By 1988 a Mr Wenman was living at the renamed Gateway House. He may have been a member of the Wenman family who ran a contracting firm based in Bisley.
Between 2001 and 2006 Peter and Kerstin Flockhaus lived at Gateway House. The house was sold in 2006, 2014 and again in 2021. A recent agent’s photo of Gateway House is shown below (with thanks).
bottom of page