The Wheadon’s of Snowhill Cottage – 50 Years on the Move, 1957 to 2007
This document sets out to chart the establishment and growth of A. W. Wheadon Ltd., a family company specialising in Removals and Storage based in Snow Hill, together with the history and development of Snowhill Cottage, the Wheadon family home for over forty years, along with their connection to the Scottish Ballet.
A. W. Wheadon Ltd.
A. W. Wheadon Ltd. is a family run removals and storage company that has been trading for over fifty years. Today, in its familiar livery of maroon, green and gold, it operates from Snowhill Cottage, Snow Hill, Sussex, offering household and office removals, specialist piano moving, local, long distance and European removals, free estimates and advice, with full insurance cover and containerised facilities.
The early years
In 1957, Barbara and Albert William (known as Curly) Wheadon bought a second hand furniture shop and removal business, with living accommodation, in Southall in Middlesex. They moved in on 1st February 1957, changing the name on the one lorry to Wheadon’s Removals. Curly oversaw the removals, employing his nephew Donald Wheadon and one young lad called Billy to help him, whilst Barbara, who at the time was expecting their first child, ran the office, taking bookings for removals, as well as running the shop.
Removals in these early years, and in the area in which they lived, were far different from today. Most days loading would start about 8.30 a.m. and a local job would usually be finished by lunch time. In 1960, after the birth of a second son Ricky, Barbara learnt to drive and she and Curly would then often do longer distance removal jobs at the weekend, sharing the driving and taking the boys with them.
In 1965 it was decided, after the birth of their third and fourth sons, Andrew and Mark, that the living accommodation in Southall was too small, plus the work had also become too much for Barbara with four young sons to look after. Curly and Barbara started looking for a property that was large enough to meet their family requirements, which were, a lot of ground so that Curly could ‘play with his tractor, digger and dumper’ and the other ‘toys’ that he had accumulated, and the property had to be without close neighbours so as not to receive complaints about the children’s noise.
A. W. Wheadon Ltd. move to Snow Hill
In 1965, Curly and Barbara saw Snowhill Cottage advertised. The property was very run down, as it had stood empty for several months having been previously occupied by a very elderly gentleman, it was perfect. The Wheadon family moved to Snowhill Cottage in August 1965, when Barbara was expecting their fifth son.
Curly and Barbara put a manager in to run the Southall shop and Curly would travel back and forth each day, whilst Barbara stayed home looking after their five sons and ‘growing vegetables’. They then decided to turn one room in the house into an office and started advertising removals in the local area, which soon took off. They still carried on their business in Southall for a number of years, employing men in that area, whilst establishing the removals business in this area. Then in 1968, with two flourishing businesses up and running, the Wheadon family was completed with the birth of their sixth son.
In 1972 Curly and Barbara purchased a removal firm in Haywards Heath which had a yard, office and warehouse. On purchase, they decided to offer the previous owner, Don Shergold, the job of running the office for them whilst building up their business in the Haywards Heath area. Three years later, they purchased another second hand shop and small removal business in Hove, as by this time their eldest son, Gary, had left school and joined the family business.
Barbara would drop the other five boys off at school, then head to Hove to run the shop and removal business there, leaving in time to collect them from school. Shortly after this, Jimmy Simmonds, who was running the Southall branch of the business decided to retire, so the decision was taken to sell the Southall business. By this time the Wheadon’s second son, Ricky, had left school and had also joined the business. The Hove shop and office was run by Patrick Murphy from Mondays to Fridays, and on Saturdays by Curly and Barbara, with help from their younger sons. By then, Don Shergold who had been working at the Haywards Heath business, decided to move away from area so Barbara started to work at Haywards Heath all week, whilst Curly ran the office from Snowhill Cottage as well as doing removals with Gary and Ricky.
Eventually Curly and Barbara decided to sell the Hove business and put in an automatic transfer system on the telephone in Haywards Heath so that all calls were received at Snowhill Cottage. At this time they had five sons working in the business, Curly still did a few removals and Barbara worked in the office. As time passed there was more and more office work to do, especially with the introduction of new rules and regulations, so Curly did all the estimating and he and Barbara did the office work between them.
Over a period of time the eldest three sons left the family firm and went there separate ways, leaving only Mark and Simon. The Wheadon’s youngest son, Brady, was the only one not to have gone into the business, following his own career and becoming a professional ballet dancer. However, at the beginning of 2001 Curly asked Brady to join the family firm, which he agreed to do after completing his commitments in the dance world. Unfortunately, Curly passed away in March 2001 and Brady gave up his career to join the family firm and take over the running of the business.
A. W. Wheadon Ltd. – Moving Stories
In the past, before all the Health and Safety Laws were introduced, the Wheadon’s used to transport the local Scouts and Cubs to camp in their lorries, as well as hop pickers to their hop picking destinations. Curly Wheadon also always worked on Christmas day, hiring the vehicle out to the post office to do the parcel delivery. The Wheadon’s used to do a regular trip to London each week with a band and all their equipment, and when the Heathrow baggage handlers were on strike, Wheadon’s were called upon to transport luggage from Heathrow to Manchester airport. They have also been called on by the R.S.P.C.A. at Heathrow to transport a donkey and some geese.
Other unusual removals include, a removal for somebody whose mother was bedridden, so she was carried out in her bed last and put in the back of the lorry along with everything else being moved. One year, in early December, the Wheadon’s moved an elderly lady from Southall to Malmsbury, and as she didn’t have a car she travelled with the Wheadon’s in the truck. The lady in question also didn’t have the address of the new property and the directions were that there were two cottages in a field and she would recognise them when we got there. Needless to say it took quite a long time driving round till they found the cottages. A week later the lady rang the Wheadon’s and asked to be moved back as it was too isolated and the toilet was at the bottom of a very long garden. The Wheadon’s brought her back just in time for Christmas.
As a removal company, the Wheadon’s regularly clear rubbish for people when the clients are moving to a smaller house and need to get rid of things. However, Curly Wheadon always had to go one stage further and has been known to come back, on several occasions, with dogs or budgies, and even on one occasion, a horse. Toby, as the horse was named, lived with the Wheadon family at Snowhill Cottage for several years helping keep the grass short.
A. W. Wheadon Ltd. today
The removal business has changed a great deal over the years since the Wheadon’s purchased their business in Southall. Houses have got much bigger and people now have many more possessions. In 1957 nobody asked the removal company to pack for them or expected them to supply boxes, now approximately half of Wheadon’s clients want some amount of packing done, either a full pack or sometimes just glass and china, and more or less everybody wants the loan of boxes if they are doing their own packing. In the early years the majority of removals were local, now people are moving further afield.
Since joining the business in 2001, Brady and his two brothers, Mark and Simon, have realised a new direction for the company, offering not only local and long distance removals, but also European removal services for both domestic and commercial clients. As a member of B.A.R. (British Association of Removers) A. W. Wheadon Ltd. has a modern fleet of vehicles ranging from small vans up to three large Mercedes Benz trucks, catering for all removal needs, both here and in Europe. The company now has its own large warehouse and a new purpose built office, and employs eight people as well as the three Wheadon brothers and Barbara, who still helps out in office when needed [for further details see, http://www.wheadonremovals.co.uk].
Snowhill Cottage is situated off the Copthorne Road (A264) at Snow Hill, being one of three properties to bear the name Snowhill Cottage. The other properties are a pair of semi-detached cottages lying to the east of Snowhill Cottage, known as numbers 1 & 2 Snowhill Cottages. These were built as a single dwelling sometime around 1871 before being extended and converted as a pair of cottages between 1891 and 1901, whereas Snowhill Cottage was built as a detached property around 1851. This section sets out to chart the history and development of Snowhill Cottage, along with the lives of the people who have owned and occupied the property.
History and development of Snowhill Cottage
The land on which Snowhill Cottage stands was once part of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield and comprises of two plots that were enclosed off the waste or common of Snow Hill. One plot was held as copyhold of the manor until its enfranchisements in the late 19th century, and the other as freehold, the two plots being joined under a single ownership in 1904. For ease of tracing the development of these plots they are referred to in the text as ‘Front Field’ and ‘Back Field’, being originally of equal size at just over two acres each.
Owners and Occupiers of ‘Front Field’
‘Front Field’, amounting to 2 acres 4 perch, was enclosed off the waste of Snow Hill on 23rd June 1830, being granted as a copyhold property by the manor of South Malling – Lindfield to John Potter, a blacksmith of Snow Hill. Prior to this date the land formed part of the waste of Snow Hill abutting the south side of the main road from Felbridge to Copthorne. The yearly rental for ‘Front Field’ or Plot 682 as it was known in the South Malling – Lindfield schedule of tenancies, was 3/- (15p), with a herriot (a payment from an incoming tenant to the lord of the manor) of 2s 6d (12½p).
John Potter was born the son of William and Mary Potter, being christened on 3rd September 1786, in the parish of Worth. William and Mary Potter had at least nine other children including, Catherine born in 1769, Phillip born in 1771, Elizabeth born in 1775, Mary born in 1777, James born in 1781, Ann born in 1784, Phillis born in 1789, Mildred born in 1792 and Thomas born in 1793, all christened in the parish of Worth.
John Potter married Ann Dolton [Dalton], the daughter of William and Elizabeth Dolton [Dalton], on 26th May 1807. Ann was christened on 27th September 1789 and was one of at least five children, her siblings being Thomas born in 1782, Richard born in 1784, Mary born in 1785 and James born in 1787, all christened in the parish of Worth.
John and Ann had at least thirteen children including, William born in 1808, Ann born in 1809, Mary born in 1810, Thomas born in 1814, Jonathan born in 1816, Jane born in 1818, James born in 1820, Abraham born in 1824, George born in 1825, Henry born about 1826, Caroline born in 1827, David born in 1829 and Charles born in 1833, all christened in the parish of Worth.
At the time of the enclosure of ‘Front Field [Plot 682] in 1830, there was no building on the land and the Potter family were living elsewhere in the area. John Potter held ‘Front Field’ until 6th July 1837 when he surrendered the land to John Franks (further details to follow) a farmer, for the sum of £42.
John Potter spent all his life as a blacksmith and in 1841 was still working as a blacksmith, living with his family in Copthorne. Also, working as a blacksmith and living with the Potter family, was John’s brother Thomas.
John Franks was born the son of John and Ann Franks being christened on 13th March 1791 in the parish of East Grinstead. John and Ann Franks had at least four other children, George also christened on 13th March 1791 in East Grinstead, William born in 1793, Thomas born in 1795 and Susannah born in 1796, the last three children being christened in the parish of Worth.
John Franks, the son of John, also married an Ann, sometime around 1818, and they had at least four children, George born in 1819, William born in 1821, Thomas born in 1822 and Ann born in 1825, all the children were christened in the parish ofEast Grinstead. However, Ann died fairly young and she does not appear in the 1841 census.
In the Worth Tithe Map and Apportionment of 1839, John Franks was recorded as holding ‘Front Field’ (Plot E18). The plot was described as arable implying that John Franks was growing crops there. He was also recorded as ‘owing and occupying’ Plots E367 to E368, which in 1841, was known as Great Fenn Land, being situated next to Sand Hill Gate Farm in Crawley Down, as there was a cottage within this holding the implication is that John Franks lived at Great Fenn Land.
In 1851, Great Fenn Land was recorded as a farm of 150 acres, and John Franks was employing two men and one boy. Living with John Franks at Great Fenn Land were his youngest daughter Ann, his widowed brother William, working as an agricultural labourer, and two nieces Susan and Ann Franks, both working as servants.
On 8th March 1851 John Franks surrendered ‘Front Field’ to James Beal (further details to follow), a timber hewer of Worth, for the sum of £40.
By 1861 John Franks had retired from farming and was living with his daughter Ann and son-in-law Joseph Simmonds, and their family consisting of Ann aged two, John aged one and Joseph aged 2 months. Joseph Simmonds was recorded as a grocer and farmer of thirty acres, his property being situated near Grange Farm in Crawley Down. John Franks died later in 1861 at the age of seventy.
James Beal was born the illegitimate son of Mary Beal, being christened on 24th July 1814 in the parish of Worth. Mary Beal later married Benjamin Holman on 9th January 1818 at Worth, and they had at least three children, Ann born in 1824, Sarah born in 1826 and Edward born in 1829, all being christened in the parish of Worth.
James Beal married twice. His first wife was Sarah who was born about 1799 from the census entry of 1851, and they would appear to have not had children. In the 1851 census, James and Sarah Beal were recorded as living in the property next to Copthorne Farm (now called The Park Farm) at Snow Hill, James being listed as a farmer of six acres.
Unfortunately Sarah died in 1853 and within three years James married Amelia Charman, the widow of Jonathan Charman. Amelia was born around 1816 in Minster near Thanet in Kent, and had married Jonathan Charman in 1840 in Sevenoaks, Kent. Amelia and Jonathan had at least three children, Mildred born in 1841 in Horne, William born about 1844 and Ann born about 1848, both in Worth. By 1851 Jonathan Charman had died and Amelia and her young family were living in Snow Hill.
By 1861, James and Amelia Beal were identified as living in Snowhill Cottage, and the census enumeration order would imply that James and Sarah were living in the same property as 1851. This would suggest Snowhill Cottage, had been constructed in ‘Front Field’ by the previous census. Supporting evidence for the construction of Snowhill Cottage is the fact that James Beal took out a mortgage for the value of £50 on acquiring the piece of land [‘Front Field’] from John Franks in 1851 although the cost of the land was only £40, perhaps the additional money went towards the construction Snowhill Cottage or an alteration to the property.
James and Amelia Beal were still living in the same property in 1881 but on 11th October 1888, James Beal, timber hewer of Worth, surrendered land amounting to 1 acre 2 rood and 4 perch, being part of ‘Front Field’, together with Snowhill Cottage, to Alfred Brackpool (further details to follow), butcher of Worth, for the sum of £250. The other part of ‘Front Field’ amounting to just short of an acre, (on which now stand nos. 1 and 2 Snowhill Cottages), had already been surrendered by James Beal to Stephen Langridge, hoop maker of Snow Hill, before this date.
It has not been possible to determine what happened to Amelia Beal but James Beal died in the spring of 1889 at the age of seventy-three.
Alfred Brackpool was born the son of John and Martha Brackpool, being christened on 4th November 1860 at All Saint’s Church, Crawley Down. John and Martha Brackpool had at least four other children, William born in 1849, Eliza born in 1853, Harry born in 1857 and John born in 1864, all being christened at All Saint’s Church, Crawley Down.
In July 1890 Alfred Brackpool was granted the enfranchisement of the piece of land on which Snowhill Cottage had been built, being formerly part of Plot 628, by the manor of South Malling – Lindfield for the sum of £8 1s 3d. Alfred Brackpool then sold the property to Thomas Reynolds (further details to follow), gentleman of Lyminster, on 13th September 1890 for the sum of £400.
Owners and Occupiers of ‘Back Field’
‘Back Field’, abutting ‘Front Field’ on the south and also amounting to 2 acres 4 perch, was enclosed off the waste of Snow Hill being part of the property called ‘Hosiers’ or ‘Husiers’ of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, held as a freehold by the manor of Hedgecourt. As a freehold property it is difficult to track the owner/occupancy of the property as it was leased out by the freeholder and the details of transfer would have been recorded and held by the freeholder and not the manor of South Malling – Lindfield. However, in 1830, ‘Back Field’, known as Plot 3 in the South Malling – Lindfield schedule of tenancies, was recorded as held by the Earl of Liverpool, (a descendant of the Evelyn family who held the manor of Hedgecourt and the Felbridge estate), for a yearly rental of 1/-. Records in the court book for the manor of Hedgecourt reveal that ‘Hosiers’ or ‘Husiers’ had become a freehold property before 1597, and unfortunately it has not been possible to determine the date of acquisition.
The Smith family
In the Worth Tithe and Apportionment of 1839 ‘Back Field’ (E24), and was recorded as being part of a holding owned by Francis Smith in the occupation of Edward Pattenden.
House & Garden
Fields 16 and 17, and 120 to 122 later formed the property known as Copthorne Farm, which is today called The Park Farm at Snow Hill. Field E24 was known as Common Field, being later incorporated as part of the property known as Snowhill Cottage. In 1839 Common Field was recorded as arable, the same use as for ‘Front Field’.
Although the tithe apportionment records the owner as Francis Smith it transpires that it is actually Frances Smith, and it was copyheld of the manor of Felbridge, the property being occupied by Edward Pattenden [for further details see handout, Pattenden family of Felbridge, SJC 06/01]. However, on 12th June 1841, Frances granted the land amounting to 2 acres 4 perch, [‘Back Field’] to her son Robert Smith, a carpenter of Southwark.
Little is known about Frances Smith except that she was born around 1791 in Kippax in Yorkshire. She married Robert Smith (date not yet established), and they had at least one son, although due to the common nature of their surname, it has proved impossible to determine whether they had any other children. It has also not been possible to determine the exact date that she acquired ‘Back Field’ being held as part of the property that was known as Copthorne Farm, or from whom. There is no evidence that Frances ever lived in the area so it is possible that the Farm was bought as an investment.
In 1851 Frances Smith, recorded as a widow, was employed as housekeeper to Lord Hawke at Womersley Hall near Pontefract in Yorkshire. The Womersley Park and Estate was vast, with twenty-five farms, eight smallholdings, fifty-six cottages and two quarries, the whole estate amounting to about 4,688 acres. To hold the position of housekeeper on an estate of such size suggests that Frances may have been in the position to make an investment with the purchase of Copthorne Farm.
In 1861 Frances Smith had retired from work and was living with her son Robert at 6, Robert’s Place, Newington in Surrey. The census records Frances as a house proprietor. Frances’ son Robert Smith was christened on 23rd December 1823 at Kippax, and in 1861 was working as a builder, although in 1851 he was recorded as being a carpenter. Also living in the Smith household in 1861 was Robert’s wife Caroline Susannah who had been born around 1821 in Shoreditch, and their children, Arthur who was born in 1851, Francis Berkley who was christened on 24th October 1852, Edwin R who was born around 1853, and Alice who was born around 1857 all four children born in Newington.
Robert Smith died in November 1861 and his estate passed to his widow Caroline Susannah, who surrendered the land amounting to 2 acres 4 perch in Snow Hill [‘Back Field’] to John Longley inn-keeper of West Hoathly, for the sum of £55 in 1862.
The Longley family
John Longley was born around 1803, the son of Richard and Ann Longley, in Bolney, Sussex. Richard and Ann had at least two other children James born in 1810 and Henry born around 1811. In the early to mid 19th century several members of the Longley family were associated with Turners Hill and the local area, they were living at Old Selsfield, Withypitts House, Rashes Farm (where Richard Longley died), and the Punch Bowl where John Longley was the inn-keeper and from where he ran a carriers business.
John Longley married Sarah Parker on 7th February 1828. Sarah was born on 9th August 1810, the daughter of Joseph and Mary Parker, in the parish of Worth. John and Sarah had at least eight children including Mary born in 1827, Sally born in 1828, Amelia born in 1831, John born in 1833, Elizabeth born in 1835, James born in 1838, Thomas born in 1843 and Joseph born in 1845, all christened in the parish of Worth except Joseph who was christened in West Hoathly.
In 1841 John and Sarah Longley and their family were living at the Punch Bowl in Turners Hill, John working as a publican and later inn-keeper and carrier. However, by 1871, Sarah had died and John and his youngest son Joseph had moved to Park House in Snow Hill. With the purchase of ‘Back Field’ in 1862, which appears historically to be attached to Copthorne Farm (now The Park Farm), it would seem likely that John Longley retired from the Punch Bowl around the time of his purchase of ‘Back Field’, moving to Park House, being described as a farmer and landowner.
John Longley remained at Park House until his death in 1886, being buried at All Saint’s Church, Crawley Down on 14th April 1886. On the death of John Longley ‘Back Field’ passed to his nephews, Charles Longley of More House in Wivelsfield and John Longley of Turners Hill, both timber merchants, on the provision that John’s son John could use the property during his lifetime.
Charles Longley was born in 1840 in West Hoathly, the son of Henry and Elizabeth Longley. Henry was the brother of John, born to Richard and Ann Longley in around 1811. In 1851 Henry Longley was a farmer of 30 acres living next to Hill House in West Hoathly. Henry and Elizabeth appear to have only had one other child, Henry born about 1838. By 1881 Charles Longley was living at More House in Wivelsfield with his wife Caroline who had been born in 1848 in West Hoathly. In 1881 Charles was recorded as a timber merchant and farmer of 360 acres, employing twelve men and four boys.
The other nephew to be admitted to the estate of John Longley on his death in 1886 was John Longley. Nephew John was born in 1841 in the parish of Worth, the son of James and Jane Longley (née Beard). James was also the brother of John and Henry, born to Richard and Ann Longley in 1810 in Bolney. Besides John, James and Jane had at least eleven other children including James born in 1836, Jane born in 1839, Mary born in 1843, George born in 1845, Julia born in 1847, Ann E born in 1850, Joseph born in 1851, Richard Thomas born in 1854, Florence born in 1856, Constance born in 1857, Emily in 1859 and Margaret in 1862. In 1861 and 1871 James and Jane, along with their family, were living at Races [Rashes] Farm in Turners Hill, James listed as a timber merchant and farmer, remaining there until James’ death in 1874. As a point of interest, son James together with two of his sons Charles and George founded the local building firm Longley’s & Sons in 1888.
In 1871, nephew John Longley was living with his wife Eliza and their family at 10, East Grinstead Road, Turners Hill (later South Pleasant); John was recorded as a timber merchant. Eliza had been born about 1841 in the parish of East Grinstead. John and Eliza Longley had at least eleven children John Frederick born in 1861, Emily Kate born in 1862, Frank William born in 1864, Florence Mary born in 1865, Arthur James born in 1867, Reginald born in 1868, Clara Louisa born in 1870, Evelyn born in 1872, Herbert James born in 1874, Constance E born about 1876 and Roland G born in 1879, all christened at All Saint’s Church, Crawley Down. John and Eliza Longley were still living at South Pleasant in 1891; John still recorded as a timber merchant.
John, the son of John, was born around 1833 in the parish of Worth. By 1881, John was living at 2, Church Terrace, Plumstead, Greenwich, where he was working as a labourer in an iron works. In the September quarter of 1888 John married Ellen Hayes in the Croydon Registration District, Ellen had been born around 1853 in Tunbridge Wells. By 1891, John and Ellen were living near Snow Hill Cottage where John was recorded as a farmer. Living with them were their two sons Horace John born around 1888 and Thomas Charles born around 1889, and a farm labourer called William Cooper. John Longley died in 1898 aged sixty-four and was buried at All Saint’s Church, Crawley Down on 24th March 1898.
After the death of John Longley (son of John) in 1898, his cousins Charles and John continued to hold the property for a further six months before selling ‘Back Field’ to William Wilkes junior (further details to follow) of Lime Cottage, Worth Park, for the sum of £55. As for John’s widow Ellen, she moved to 58 Glen Vue in East Grinstead and in 1901 she was recorded as a ‘plain needleworker’ and son Horace was a French polisher’s assistant.
William Wilkes junior was born around 1872, the son of William and Eliza Wilkes, in Enville, Stafford. William and Eliza had at least four other children George born in 1869 and Joanna born around 1870, both born in Enville, Mary born around 1874 and Elizabeth born around 1876, both born in Claverley in Shropshire. By 1891 the Wilkes family were living at Lime Cottage, Worth Park, where William senior worked as a gamekeeper along with both his sons, as under-gamekeepers on the Worth Park estate.
Within five years of purchasing ‘Back Field’, William Wilkes junior was granted the enfranchisement of the piece of land amounting to 2 acres 4 perch, being formerly Plot 3, by the manor of South Malling – Lindfield for the sum of £7 on 5th September 1904. On 24th September 1904 William Wilkes, then of Harley House in Bow, sold ‘Back Field’ to Thomas Reynolds of Snowhill Cottage (further details to follow), a retired builder, for the sum of £96. Thomas Reynolds had already bought part of ‘Front Field’ from Alfred Brackpool in 1890. William Wilkes would appear to have purchased ‘Back Field’ purely for investment, making a profit of £62 on its sale to Thomas Reynolds.
Owners and Occupiers of Snowhill Cottage post 1904
With the purchase of ‘Back Field’ by Thomas Reynolds of Snowhill Cottage from William Wilkes in 1904, came the formation of the property known as Snowhill Cottage as both parts of the current plot were under single ownership.
Thomas Reynolds was born around 1833 in Canterbury, Kent. It has not been possible to prove who his parents were, but from later census details there is only one Thomas Reynolds born in 1833 in Canterbury and in 1851 Thomas Reynolds, with the correct birth year and place, was employed as a footman by Arthur Ogle, an annuitant, living at 64 Marina, St Leonards-on-Sea in Sussex.
By 1861 Thomas Reynolds had moved to 2, Orchard Cottage, Hackney, and was working as a joiner. Living with him was his wife Amy and daughter Louisa Amy. Amy née Peters had been born around 1832 in Redhill, Surrey, and had married Thomas Reynolds in 1855 in the Marylebone Registration Dsitrict. They appear to have had only the one daughter, Louisa Amy who was christened on 15th June 1856 at Redhill. By 1871 the Reynolds family had moved to 8, Ifield Road, Brompton, Thomas recorded as a joiner and Louisa as a teacher at the age of fourteen. By 1891, Louisa, now Louisa Smith, and Thomas and Amy were living at Oak Cottage in Lyminster near Arundel inSussex; Thomas being recorded as a retired builder.
As already established, Thomas had purchased part of ‘Front Field’ from Arthur Brackpool in 1890 and by 1901 Thomas, by then a widower, was living at Snowhill Cottage. Thomas’ wife Amy had died in the September quarter of 1898 and her death was registered at East Grinstead. The implication is that Thomas and Amy had moved from Lyminster between 1891 and 1898 for her death to have been registered at East Grinstead.
Thomas Reynolds died on 19th March 1918, and on 1st June 1918 Snowhill Cottage with 1 acre 2 rood 4 perch of land was sold by William Bedlam, trustee to the will of Thomas Reynolds, to Miss Phyllis Muriel Grieves of Maida Vale for the sum of £600.
Phyllis Muriel Grieves
Phyllis Grieves was born around 1893, the daughter of Thomas and his second wife Elizabeth Grieves, in Kensington, London. Thomas Grieves had married Elizabeth Lewis who had been employed as his domestic servant in 1891, after the death of his first wife Sarah. Thomas and Elizabeth had at least one other child, Harold born around 1898. In 1901 Thomas, then aged seventy-five, was recorded as an agent on an estate.
In 1918, when she purchased Snowhill Cottage, Phyllis Grieves was living in Maida Vale but only owned the property for a short period of time, as on 7th June 1920 she sold it to Mrs Jessie Taylor for the sum of £1,200. Snowhill Cottage had been a very good investment for Phyllis as she made £600 profit from the sale.
Unfortunately there are few conclusive details about Jessie Taylor. What is known is that she was the second wife of Lachlan Taylor, whom she married in the June quarter of 1903. Lachlan Taylor had been born in Scotland around 1846 and his first wife was Wilhelmina with whom he had at least six children, Lachlan born around 1876, John born around 1877, Archibald born around 1879, Jeannie born around 1880, Wilhelmina born around 1882 and Evaline born around 1887, all born in Scotland. By 1891 the Taylor family had left Scotland and were living at 69, Wolfington Road, Norwood, and Lachlan was recorded as being an iron founder’s agent. By 1901 the family had moved to Brookland, Bruckley Park in Lewisham where Lachlan was working as a manager in Britain for a wheel stock manufacturer located in USA.
By 1903 Wilhelmina had died and Lachlan married Jessie MacDonald in the June quarter of 1903 at Thakeham Road. At the time of purchasing Snowhill Cottage, Jessie Taylor was residing at Dormans Park Hotel, her husband Lachlan being described as a merchant.
Jessie Taylor owned Snowhill Cottage for just less than four years before selling it to Frederick Charles McKenzie im Thurn on 11th March 1924, for £1,200, the same sum of money she had paid for the property back in 1920.
Frederick Charles McKenzie im Thurn
Frederick im Thurn was born around 1850, the son of John Conrad im Thurn and his wife Mary, in Camberwell. John im Thurn had been born in Switzerland around 1809 and his wife Mary had been born in Bermuda around 1824. John and Mary had at least seven other children Emma M born around 1844, John F H Conrad and Alice A born around 1846, Florence Ellen born around 1848, Everard Frederick born in 1852, Charles L born around 1854 and Colin Campbell born around 1860, all the children were born in Camberwell, except Colin who was born in Dulwich. As a point of interest Everard im Thurn succeeded in climbing Mount Roraima, the highest mountain in British Guiana in December 1884. Everard, with considerable expertise in botany collected specimens from the Roraima area from which experts at Kew Gardens were able to identify fifty-three new species and three new genera. Everard wrote a scientific journal entitled Timehri about his findings that became the catalyst for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional novel called The Lost World.
In 1861 John im Thurn was recorded as a general merchant but unfortunately went bankrupt in the mid 1870’s. Despite the downturn in the family’s fortunes, Frederick im Thurn pursued a successful career in banking and you can find his sister Emma living off her own means in the 1891 census and his brother John recorded as a gentleman in the 1901 census.
In 1891, Frederick is recorded as living at Middlemarch, Sydenham Hill in Camberwell with his wife Helen Charlotte, who had been born a British Subject in Spain around 1852. Frederick and Helen had at least five children including Robert McKenzie born in 1875, Archibald W McKenzie born in 1876, Florence M born around 1879, Alice L born around 1882 and Norah Beatrice born around 1887, all were born in Dulwich except Florence and Alice who were born in Spain.
By 1901 the im Thurn family had moved to 61, Park Road, Crystal Palace, although Frederick was not at home when the census was taken. At the time of purchasing Snowhill Cottage in 1924, Frederick im Thurn was living in Sydenham in Kent.
In 1930 Frederick im Thurn appears in the Phone Directory as ‘Poultry Farmer of Snowhill Cottage’ suggesting that he had taken up poultry keeping. Also living in the area at Woodlands, Crawley Down, was one M B im Thurn, but unfortunately it has not yet been possible to determine what M B stood for, although it seems likely that they were a relation.
Frederick im Thurn remained at Snowhill Cottage until 1935 when he sold the property to Col. Richard Ireland Purdon, CBE (further details to follow), of Kingsmead, Kingscote, near East Grinstead, Sussex, for the sum of £1,000. Frederick appears to have moved to Oxted at this date as in 1936 he is recorded as living at Garden Flat, Ravensbrook, and his daughter Florence was living at Brick Cottage, Oxted.
Richard Ireland Purdon CBE
Richard Purdon was born around 1876 as he died in 1964 aged eighty-eight. It has not been possible to ascertain who his parents were or where he was born, and he is conspicuously absent from all the available census records, implying that he spent much of his life out of the country until he moved to Snow Hill Cottage in 1935.
There is a local story that Richard Purdon was a spy in the Boer War and although there is no evidence to substantiate this rumour although he would have been old enough to have been involved with the war and it is known that in the early 20th century he was in South Africa. It is also known that he had connections with the military being cited in various documents as Major and Lt. Colonel, and he had connections with the British Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service as he resigned from it on 20th August 1915.
In 1916, the War Committee in London formed a Labour Corps of labourers from China to serve in France to help release much needed men from the docks to boost the manpower of the British and Allied Forces. Lt. Col. Richard Purdon was drafted in as one of the General Head Quarters advisers for the Chinese Labour Corps at Noyelles-sur-Mer in France. The Chinese were not new to travelling to foreign countries to work and had been working in the gold mines of South Africa between 1904 and 1910, where Richard Purdon was Chief Inspector for the FLD (Foreign Labour Department), rising to the position of Superintendent on 23rd August 1907.
The importation of Chinese labour was the British Government’s response to a shortage of labour following the Boer War. Chinese mineworkers were brought in to boost production and keep the gold mines operational, and by 1906 there were just over 50,000 Chinese labourers in the Rand, having all signed a three year contract. Supervision of the Chinese workers was overseen by a strict hierarchy of control, many of the supervisors having served in the British Army during the Boer War. The FLD was created to specifically oversee the Chinese labour force and operated independently from the Chamber of Mines. Richard Purdon was one of a team of inspectors employed by the FLD to ensure that housing, food and sanitary conditions were kept up to standard and record any grievances of the Chinese mineworkers, and as such needed to be proficient in Chinese dialects.
Riots were frequent amongst the Chinese mine-workers due to the binding three-year contract and the harsh working and living conditions. In August 1907 there was a large protest at the Cason Mine and the enquiry was overseen by Richard Purdon as the Chief Inspector of the FLD. He concluded that the riot was not connected with the grievances of the labourers but, having considered the evidence, was caused by a ‘bad character’. Shortly after the event, Richard Purdon was promoted to the position of Superintendent of the FLD.
With Richard Purdon’s earlier involvement with the Chinese labour force in South Africa, he was an ideal person to be involved with the Chinese Labour Corps in France during World War I, and by 4th September 1917, he had risen to second-in-command of the Chinese Labour Corps and successfully negotiated the return to work of four hundred Chinese workers who had gone on strike in protest of enemy bombing having caused the deaths of several of their co-workers.
It has not yet been possible to determine what happened to Richard Purdon during the remaining year of World War I or his return from the war, although he was mentioned three times in despatches, and in 1918 received an OBE and in 1919 he received a CBE for non-combat achievement. At the time of his purchase of Snowhill Cottage, on 20th September 1935, he was living at Kingsmead, Kingscote, near East Grinstead, where he had been living since at least 1932. Richard Purdon married Florence Lindsay who unfortunately died in 1938, shortly after moving to Snowhill Cottage.
On the purchase of Snowhill Cottage, Richard Purdon continued to run the poultry farm being situated in ‘Back Field’, which contained at least seven large poultry sheds surrounded by the chicken run.
After the death of his wife Richard Purdon employed a cook/housekeeper by the name of Therese. Richard Purdon died on 12th May 1964 and a year after his death, on 27th April 1965, Joseph Bridgeland and Joan Margaret Jewry, as executors of his will, sold Snowhill Cottage to Albert William Wheadon of 26,Norwood Road, Southall,London.
After some renovation work to the house, the Wheadon family moved into the property in August 1965, from where they have run their removal and storage company, A. W. Wheadon Ltd., for the past forty-two years.
Structure of Snowhill Cottage
Snowhill Cottage, as it stood at the time of purchase by the Wheadon family and when viewed from the main Felbridge to Copthorne road, resembled a small cottage with a large block extension at the west end, much as it appears today. However, structural evidence suggests that the property resulted from a series of extensions and alterations creating a deceptively large living space. The following is sequence of building phases that began around 1851 and were completed around 1924.
Structural and map evidence show that the property was originally a small red brick built cottage oriented roughly east-west with two rooms on the ground floor and two rooms on the first floor, being built shortly after 1851 by James Beal. The entire ground floor was just 20ft 5ins x 11ft (6.8m x 3.4m). There were two internal end stacks providing heating to every room. The entrance door was in the centre of the north wall and opened to a steep staircase immediately in front of the door. Entry to the ground floor was by immediately turning to the side upon entry. There was a back door in the south wall immediately opposite the front door and a passage beneath the stairs to allow access to both the east and west ends of the ground floor. The first floor provided two bedchambers. At this stage cooking would have been carried out on a range within a one of the ground floor fireplaces.
The first adaptation of the property was the addition to the rear of a catslide roof covering a single storey area probably used for food preparation and storage with surviving evidence of a meat larder. The floor level in the extension is a couple of steps down from the house.
At a later date, the single storey rear outshot was extended along the entire length of the rear elevation and probably included the addition of a cooking range in the south west corner of the outshot. This extension was made sometime before 1878, suggesting that James Beal was steadily improving his property with the addition of more ground floor space.
The next increase in size of the property was achieved by increasing the height of the rear extension and reducing the pitch of the rear roof such that a first floor could be added at a lower height than the first floor of the main dwelling. It would appear that at this stage a staircase was added that ascended from the rear extension up to the first floor. The south wall of the original dwelling was probably not opened through at this stage so the original staircase was still in use for the front chambers. The differing floor heights between the front chambers and rear chambers could have been avoided if the intention was to use only the rear staircase for access to the entire first floor. This division at first floor between the front chambers and the smaller rear chambers would have enabled the rear two chambers to be used by a domestic servant/housekeeper with a dedicated staircase descending to the domestic area of the house. This alteration was possibly made by Thomas Reynolds, who after the death of his wife in 1898 had employed a live-in domestic servant.
In the 1920’s a single storey addition was made to the east end of the original dwelling and at the same time bay windows, which were very popular at that time, were added to the ground and first floor frontage to increase the natural light inside the house. These additions used similar red bricks to the original with lime mortar, and were possibly added by Mrs Jessie Taylor who bought the property in 1920.
The final addition was a large square block at the west end of the property, which provided a large open staircase to wind to the first floor being well lit by a huge window in the north wall. The ground floor provided a large sitting room, whilst the first floor provided a large bedroom and bathroom. The ceiling heights are much greater than the original house and therefore even with a flat roof this addition rises above the ridge height of the earlier property. The positioning of a large stack on the north wall enabled large windows in the south and west walls of the ground floor to be inserted giving views over the gardens, but further increasing the visual impact of this block as being out of proportion to the earlier dwelling. The new staircase also provided access to the first floor of the old property and thus the original staircase immediately inside the front door could be removed and the ground floor opened up to provide a reception room and dining room. The house was still being occupied along with a housekeeper and bell pushes were present in the new sitting room and best bedroom as well as the front and back doors, all sounding at a surviving bell indicator box in the rear extension. It is likely that this extension was added by Frederick im Thurn who purchased the property in 1924.
Brady, the youngest of the six Wheadon boys, was born in 1968. From a very early age he was adamant that he was not going to go to any ordinary school. At the age of eight, Brady had an operation on his feet and during his convalescence would sit out the back of his mother’s second-hand furniture shop in Hove where she worked each day. This fact did not go un-noticed by a near neighbour, Danny O’Dare, who enquired as to the reason for him being there. Danny O’Dare, a former acrobatic entertainer, suggested that ballet would strengthen Brady’s feet and legs and after recovering from the operation Brady enrolled at a small ballet school in Brighton run by Danny O’Dare. What began as one lesson a week soon became six lessons a week.
Brady then trained at the Royal Academy of Dance in Battersea before gaining entry to the Bush Davies School in East Grinstead. The Bush Davies School was founded in 1914 by Pauline Bush, Noreen Bush, Victor Leopold and Marjorie Bush. In the late 1950’s the school moved from Romford in Essex to East Grinstead, offering training in classical ballet, modern, tap, character, music and drama. All students had the opportunity to dance in the Bush Davies Dance Company that performed regularly at the Adeline Genée Theatre attached to the school complex. The School was one of the best and most respected residential schools for the performing arts with many of its pupils making successful careers with top dance and theatre companies around the world, as well as in the field of music, television and the stage, but sadly closed in 1989.
At the age of fourteen, Brady left the Bush Davies School taking up a residential position at the Legat School of Ballet at Mark Cross near Crowborough in Sussex, where he trained in the Russian classical style of ballet. The school was named after Nicolai Legat, a Russian dancer, ballet master, choreographer and teacher who studied at the Imperial Ballet School in Russia, graduating to the Maryinsky Theatre, becoming principal dancer and favoured partner to ballerinas like Mathilda Kshessinska and Anna Pavlova. He became chief ballet master at the Maryinsky on 1910, teaching such dancers as Mikhail Fokine, Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky. Legat left the Maryinsky in 1914, teaching in various private schools and touring music halls in Paris and London. In 1922 he left Russia and took over from Enrico Cecchetti as ballet master of Sergei Diaghilev’s company between 1925 and 1926, eventually settling in London where he devised the Legat System of ballet training in the Russian classical style which is today promoted by the Russian Ballet Society. Pupils taught at his own studios include Ninnette de Valois, Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin, Moira Shearer and Margot Fonteyn, all leading English dancers of their day.
After the death of Nicolai Legat in 1937, the school was continued in his name by his widow Madame Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the Legat School was evacuated from London to Mark Cross where Madame Nicolaeva-Legat founded the first boarding school in Britain to combine ballet and music with professional standards of education. On her retirement in 1967, Madame Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat was succeeded by former pupil Madame Eunice Biedryski-Bartell, (born Eunice Gibson in Scotland in around 1920), who, after training at the Legat School, went on to dance with the Anglo-Polish Ballet. In 1986 Madame Biedryski-Bartell retired from the school, taking the headquarters of the Russian Ballet Society to Edinburgh whilst the school relocated to St Bede’s School in Hailsham in Sussex.
Whilst at the Legat School, Brady met Mikhail Berkut who was teaching at the school. Born in Russia, Mikhail Berkut had taken his master’s degree in ballet and choreography at the Moscow Theatre Institute, before becoming the Ballet Director of Dushambay Opera House and later Ulan – Uday Opera Theatre. He then went to St Petersburg to choreograph for the Kirov Company and School as well as teach at the Dance Institute. He then returned to Moscow to teach dance composition at the Theatre Institute before becoming the Director of the Bolshoi affiliated ‘Sputnik’ Company and School. In 1975 Mikhail Berkut emigrated toCanadawhere he founded Les Ballets Russe de Montreal and created the Character Dance Company Kalinka.
Whilst in Canada, Mikhail also taught at Les Grand Ballets Canadians, and was a guest teacher at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Boston Ballet and the National Ballet, Toronto. However, in 1983, Mikhail Berkut made his home in London, teaching in England and being invited as a guest teacher at major European dance schools including, the Paris Opera, La Scala in Milan, the Academia di Danza Napolitana – Mara Fusco, the Rome Opera, the Academie Princesse Grace in Monaco, the Dance Institute in Oslo, the John Crank Ballet School in Stuttgart and the Cologne Academy.
Since 1985, Mikhail Berkut, by then an acknowledge master of Character Dance, has been successfully teaching his own four-year syllabus of Historical and Character Dance to students at the Legat, the Central Ballet and the Royal Ballet Schools, and it was through this that Brady became acquainted with him whilst at the Legat School. During the time that Brady was at the School, Mikhail Berkut decided to embark upon a major project of visually preserving his acquired traditions of Historical and Character Dance and Brady was chosen to perform in the series of videos produced demonstrating various national folk dances from Russia, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Moldavia, Poland and the Ukraine, including the Pereplias from Russia and Tarantella from Italy.
It was under the direction of Mikhail Berkut that Brady left the Legat School and went to the Doreen Bird College in Sidcup, which had been founded in 1945 had had grown to become one of Britain’s most respected training centred for dance and musical theatre. Brady trained at the Bird College for a year before successfully auditioning for the Central School of Ballet founded and directed by Christopher Gable, but declined the offer and stayed on at the Bird College for a further eighteen months before taking up a place at the John Cranko School in Stuttgart.
John Cranko had been born inSouth Africa, training at the University of Cape Town Ballet School under Dulcie Howes. During the 1950’s he wrote and choreographed for the West End stage before becoming director of the Stuttgart Ballet in 1961 creating a company with an exciting and visually interesting style. In 1971, he founded the Stuttgart Ballet School consisting of the ballet school of the Württembergischen State Theater and the state Ballet Acedemy. However, John Cranko died in 1973 and was succeeded by Marcia Haydée and Reid Anderson who continued to build on his success.
Whilst at the John Cranko School Brady performed in several ballets including Diana and Actaeon where he danced the role of Actaeon with Ayako Yamada dancing the role of Diana. In the mythological tale Actaeon, the legendary huntsman of Greek mythology, sees Diana (also known as Artemis) bathing in a large pool surrounded by nymphs. Angered by the fact that he had seen her unclothed she turns him into a stag and the hunter becomes the hunted.
In 1988 Brady left the John Cranko School and went to dance with the Ballet du Nord, a French dance company founded in 1983 in Roubaix, near Lille. Then in 1989 he successfully auditioned for the role of John in the Scottish Ballet production of Peter Pan. As a point of interest, in 2006 Brady’s nephew Jonathan Wheadon made his professional stage debut as Michael along side Danni Harman in Peter Pan at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley.
The Scottish Ballet was founded by Peter Darrell and Elizabeth West as the Western Theatre Ballet in Bristol in 1957. In 1969 the Company moved to Glasgow and was re-named the Scottish Theatre Ballet, changing its name to the Scottish Ballet in 1974. The Company has on a strong classical technique at the root of all its work with a broad repertory including new versions of the classics, seminal pieces from 20th century modern ballet, signature pieces by living choreographers and new commissions. The Company performs across Scotland and the United Kingdom, and has a long history of touring internationally. Whilst with the Scottish Ballet, Brady danced in touring productions to cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka in Japan, Ottawa in Canada, St Petersburg, Moscow and Kiev in Russia, and Seoul in South Korea, where he was presented to Princess Diana after the performance in 1992.
Brady remained with the Scottish Ballet for five and half years before retiring from dance in 1994 when he embarked upon a post graduate course to re-train as a Stage Manager at Guildford School of Acting. Brady, who only wanted to work within ballet productions, then took up the position of Assistant Stage Manager with the Northern Ballet Theatre working with Artistic Director Christopher Gable with whom he’d met in 1987 when he turned down a position with the Central School of Ballet. However, Brady only remained with the Northern Ballet Theatre for a year before being asked to join Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in the West End as Assistant Stage Manager. Carried by the success of the all-male production of Swan Lake, Brady was promoted to Head of Stage Management and went on the manage Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella and The Car Man, both modern adaptations of classic ballets. Cinderella, set to Prokoviev’s score, takes its theme from a Powell and Pressburger film called A Matter of Life and Death, and The Car Man, set to a score based on Rodion Shchedrin’s version of Bizet’s opera Carmen, with the story line based loosely on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice.
In early 2001 Brady was asked by his father to return to run the family removals company, A W Wheadon & Sons, which, after consideration of the amount of travelling he was currently doing, he took him up on the offer. The last ballet production that Brady was involved in was Matthew Bourne’s American tour of Swan Lake which opened in Minneapolis in 2001. Unfortunately, having trained a replacement to take over from him, half the tour was cancelled due to the events of September 11th and his replacement was made redundant.
On his return to the family business, Brady initially continued to help out with stage productions for the Bourne Company by ferrying costumes and scenery to and from their store on request. However, he has now ceased any theatrical involvement and is enjoying working for the family firm and having a social life at home.
Documented memories of Barbara Wheadon, FHA
A. W. Wheadon Ltd, http://www.wheadonremovals.co.uk
Schedule of Deeds for Snowhill Cottage, FHA
Court Books of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, ACC 2371/1/5/6, ESRO
Tenancy book and Figg map for the manor of South Malling, 1829-1830, ACC2327/1/5/12, ESRO
Hedgecourt Court book of Freeholder’s, Box 3151, SHC
Census Records of 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901
Ordnance Survey maps 1878, 1898, 1911, 1957
Aerial Photographs 1957, 1999, 2001
Worth Tithe Map and Apportionment, WSRO
Handout, Pattenden family of Felbridge, SJC 06/01, FHA
The Womersley Collection by G Brannan
Crossroads Village by E Dawes
The Curious Case of Sir Everard im Thurn and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by R Dalziell, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920, Vol.45
British Phone Directory, 1930, 1933, 1936, 1944 -1964
Controlling the Coolies by Gary Kynoch, International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol.36 no.2
Foreign Office List and Diplomatic and Consular Year Book
The Chinese Labour Corps in France 1917-21 by B C Fawcett
Shot at Dawn, http://www.janpieterchielens.be/shotatdawn
Who’s Who, 1932, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1953
Burkes Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 1946, 1955
Debrett’s Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 1961
Documented memories of Brady Wheadon, FHA
History of the Russian Ballet Society, http://www.russsianballetsociety.co.uk
Mikhail Berkut, http://www.berkutdance.com
Jon Cranko, http://www.britanica.com
Scottish Ballet, http://www.scottishballet.co.uk
Northern Ballet Theatre, http://northernballettheatre.co.uk
Matthew Bourne, http://mathewbourne.org
Our thanks are extended to Barbara and Brady Wheadon for their information and memories.