Eating and Drinking establishments of Felbridge – PartII

Eating and Drinking establishments of Felbridge – PartII

This is the second of a series of handouts that will discuss the eating and drinking establishments of Felbridge, both those that have long since disappeared and those that are currently still providing service. Information varies from one establishment to another, generally depending upon their duration of time in existence and availability of records. All the eating and drinking establishments are listed under their most recently known or used name. The study of these establishments has been grouped together by location and not their chronological order of operating. This second group of eating and drinking establishments are situated on both the Sussex and Surrey side of the county boundary near the junction of the A264 and A22, often known as Star Corner.

The first in this series of handouts started at North End and continued to Felbridge Water on the Sussex side of the county boundary, covering Pattenden’s Beer Shop, East Grinstead Brewery and the North End Club, the Half Way House, the Emperor and the Felbridge Hotel & Spa.

This document sets out to discuss the history and development of the following establishments, along with the lives of some of the people associated with each property: the Red Lion, Harts Hall Hotel, the Premier Inn, Felbridge Garage Tea Shop and the White Duchess Hotel.

The Red Lion, Harts Hall and White Duchess have been discussed previously therefore the histories have been condensed for this document and supplemented by information that has been discovered since publication.

Red Lion
The Red Lion (no longer standing), was located on the northern edge of ‘Grinsted Downe’ (East Grinstead Common), just south of the Surrey/Sussex county boundary that runs through Felbridge, in the area known as Felbridge Water.

The first documentary evidence for the Red Lion is in 1711 when Thomas Sherman was admitted by grant to ‘Hartshall alias the Red Lyon’ at Felbridge Water ‘containing by estimation five acres of land being five acres inclosed of the waste of the manor of Imberhorne, formerly of Edward Sherman, deceased’, and also ‘a parcel of land of about one rood lying outside of the tenement inclosed of the waste of the manor’, also formerly of Edward Sherman, deceased. For the property to be known as ‘Hartshall alias the Red Lyon’ in 1711 the implication is that it had originally been called the Red Lion, suggesting that it was or had been an eating or drinking establishment. Unfortunately it has not been possible to accurately trace the history of the site before this date as the oldest surviving Court Book of the manor of Imberhorne dates to 1691 and Rental Book dates to 1686. As the property is not referred to by name until 1711, it would suggest that the plot was either known by a different name at these earlier dates or was part of a larger property, [for further details see Handout, Harts Hall, SJC 07/05].

The next mention of the Red Lion is in 1714 when the Court Book for the manor of Imberhorne records the presentment of the death of Mary Carr, spinster, who died on 18th August 1712, holding ‘Hartshall alias the Red Lyon’ near Felbridge Water. The Court Book records the property to include a barn, stable and land in East Grinstead, ‘before Shermans and before Homewoods’. In 1678 Mary Carr had surrendered all her lands held of the manor of Imberhorne to the lord of the manor until her death when her will and testament would be evoked and enacted upon. She had later appeared in the Court Books in 1693 when she, along with George Evelyn of Felbridge House and Richard Cooper, were ordered to pay a fine for the ‘incroachment of land belonging to the manor of Imberhorne’. Unfortunately the Court Book does not record the extent of the incroachment or the exact location but it is possible that Mary Carr’s incroachment was related to land near the Red Lion.

The Court Book entry of 1714 records the names of the two previous holders of the ‘Red Lyon alias Harts Hall’, Sherman and Homewoods. The name of Sherman relates to the Court Book entry of 1711 when Thomas Sherman was admitted to the property by the lord of the manor during the lifetime of Mary Carr, after the death of his father Edward Sherman. ‘Before Homewood’ indicates that someone named Homewood held the property earlier than Sherman. The name Homewood can be found in the Buckhurst Terrier, a survey with maps of the lands held by Sackville family in 1596/7, so it is possible that the Homewood connected with the Red Lion had descended from the one recorded in the Buckhurst Terrier. As there is no property depicted on the site of the Red Lion in the Buckhurst Terrier, the supposition is that was built after 1597, adjacent to the main road across Felbridge Heath and Hedgecourt Common between Felbridge and Copthorne and ideally situated to be an alehouse or inn.

On the death of Mary Carr in 1714, her will granted the copyhold of the ‘Red Lyon alias Harts Hall’ to Catherine Newman, the wife of John Newman, for the duration of her natural life after which the property was to be granted to Catherine, the daughter of John Pickering. In 1714 the property consisted of ‘all that customary messuage or tenement, barn, stable and lands thereunto belonging with the appurtenances called Hartshall alias the Red Lyon near Felbridge Water in East Grinstead above said, now or late in the occupation of Henry Cooper or his assigns’, implying that Henry Cooper was occupying the Red Lion in 1714, and possibly the Cooper family had been occupying the property since before 1693 when Richard Cooper was fined for the incroachment on land belonging to the manor of Imberhorne. It is also interesting to note that the Quarter Session Rolls for East Grinstead record a Henry Cooper applying for a victualler’s licence in 1704. As a licensed victualler, Henry Cooper would have been keeping an inn, tavern or eating house that provided intoxicating liquor and food fit for human consumption.

On the death of Catherine Newman in 1747, the ‘Red Lyon alias Harts Hall’ with its barn, stable and five acres of land was granted to Catherine, who by this date had married Francis Green who also held Gibbshaven and Little Gibbshaven in Felbridge [for further details see Handout Gibbshaven Farm, SJC/JIC 07/07].

The first depiction of the Red Lion can be found on the Bourd map, which was commissioned by Edward Evelyn to show the extent of his estate at Felbridge in 1748. The Red Lion is depicted as a dwelling house outside the bounds of his estate, situated on the northern extremity of East Grinstead Common, on the Sussex side of the county boundary, west of what is now the Star Inn. We know it is a dwelling house as Bourd was very particular in his use of roof colour to denote the difference between houses and barns, and we know it is the Red Lion because it was the only property on the north of Felbridge Water recorded in the Imberhorne Court Rolls. When modern maps are superimposed onto the Bourd map, the Red Lion stands within what is now the back garden of Strath Cottage. All of the buildings of the Star Inn and the Felbridge Place complex as well as the field boundaries align with their current locations demonstrating the accuracy of the Bourd map.

During the time that the Red Lion was held by Catherine Green, it was in the occupation of Robert Knight who operated a haulage company from the property, known as Knights Carriers. The surviving account books of Knights Carriers make reference to him paying ‘Mrs Green £10 for rent’, along with detailed accounts of many of his journeys including cannon from Warren furnace, timber from Imberhorne and cereals such as ‘Ots’ [oats] from many of the farms in the local area. Map evidence dating to 1768, suggests that during the occupation of Robert Knight a second building was erected in front of the Red Lion, on the Surrey side of the county boundary, abutting the Copthorne Road.

In 1779 Catherine Green died and the ‘Red Lyon alias Harts Hall’ along with the barn, stable and five acres’ passed to her daughter and son-in-law, Catherine and John Cranston, [for further details see Handout Gibbshaven Farm, SJC/JIC 07/07]. Then in 1786 Thomas Uridge, a wheelwright of Godstone was admitted to the ‘Red Lyon alias Harts Hall’. Thomas Uridge would appear not to have occupied the Red Lion as the Court Books record it in the hands of Thomas Walter, a tanner of East Grinstead. As a point of interest, the Surrey Quarter Sessions record that Thomas Ewridge [Uridge] applied for a victualler’s licence between 1785 and 1794 and all the documentary evidence suggests that this was for the Star Inn situated on the opposite side of the road to the ‘Red Lion alias Harts Hall’, perhaps this was where Thomas Uridge resided.

In 1798 the death of Thomas Uridge was presented at manor court of Imberhorne and the ‘Red Lyon alias Harts Hall’, with land, by then increased to ‘ten acres of land’, was conditionally surrendered to John Brooker and William Wickering, John Brooker being admitted to the property. Unfortunately, John Brooker only held the property for about a year before his death in 1799 but it was not until 1801 that John Franks and Melanethon Sanders were admitted to the property. Map evidence suggests that during the time that Melanethon Sanders held Harts Hall, the small building on the Surrey side of the county boundary that had been erected during the occupancy of Robert Knight, was extended creating a U-shaped two-winged building, the wings extending towards the road. This building stood on the site of what is currently the property owned by the Bentley Group at 9A Copthorne Road, to the east of the old Felbridge Institute, now Southey House.

In 1808, Harts Hall was surrendered by Melanethon Sanders to John Uridge and in 1809, the property was granted to William Muckamore, a timber merchant, who also held Mercers Land and Rowcroft. At this time Robert Batchelor occupied the property, departing in 1810. During the ownership of William Muckamore, from to 1808 to 1822, there is evidence to suggest that the site of the Red Lion saw several alterations, with the Land Tax records implying that from 1821 there were two dwelling houses within the site; however, it is not until 1840 that this can be confirmed by map evidence.

On 24th January 1822, William Muckamore sold the ‘Red Lyon alias Harts Hall’ to John Cuthbert Joyner, who held the property until 1830 when he leased his holding to Captain Jevin and Abraham Cotton, [for further details see Handouts, Harts Hall, SJC 07/05 and Stained Glass of St John’s the Divine, SJC 07/02ii]. In 1834, John Cuthbert Joyner was granted the freehold of the ‘Red Lyon alias Harts Hall’ by the R. Hon. Mary, Countess of Plymouth, the then holder of the manor of Imberhorne, and on 18th February 1834 John Cuthbert Joyner sold the property to William Southey, the blacksmith operating from the forge in Felbridge, east of the Star Inn (further details to follow). On his death in March 1838 the property was left to his wife Mary for the rest of her natural life, when it was to pass to his son John, who at the time of his death was only two years old.

In 1838, the Land Tax records imply that a third dwelling house had been built in the area of the Red Lion, one of which had been known as Felbridge Cottage since 1835. Map evidence from the East Grinstead and Godstone Tithe maps of 1840 and 1844 show that there had been much development since the Rocque map of 1768 or even the Ordnance Survey draft map of c1805. The Red Lion appears as two separate structures and a building, later called Harts Hall, is shown on the site of Felbridge Court, along with a structure where the new development known as Long Wall Court now stands. It is possible that the two dwelling houses referred to in the Land Tax records from 1821 were the pair of cottages that became the house called Long Wall, now the site of the new development. The Red Lion site, depicted as two separate buildings, was probably the original Red Lion (now no longer standing), and a barn/cattle shed which is currently still standing but in a very dilapidated state.

The East Grinstead Tithe map and apportionment of 1840 records John Hawes as the owner and occupier of the land that encompassed both the Red Lion and the later property called Harts Hall. The Land Tax also shows that John Hawes was the owner and occupier of Felbridge Cottage from 1840 until 1844, being part of the holding of William Southey deceased.

Field Use Acreage
2315 Dwelling house, offices, etc 00 03 26
2316 Meadow 00 03 02
2317 Meadow 03 02 29
2318 Meadow 02 03 26
2319 Meadow 02 00 28
2320 Meadow and plantation 01 03 22
2321 Arable 02 03 14
2322 Arable 01 01 16
2323 Arable 04 00 24
2324 Arable 02 00 14
2325 Arable 01 03 14
2326 Arable 02 00 19
Total 26 02 34

The property known as the Red Lion stood in field 2315, being part of the description ‘dwelling house, offices, etc’. It is not known when the Red Lion ceased to operate as an alehouse or inn, but as there are no references to anyone being a victualler or innkeeper living in the property from the earliest census it could seem reasonable to assume that the Red Lion had ceased trading by 1841, and probably some considerable time earlier.

Harts Hall Hotel
As already established, the name Harts Hall superseded the Red Lion, and by 1840 encompassed the site of the Red Lion together with a parcel of land being part of a holding called Mercers and about three acres of Felbridge Heath held of the manor of Imberhorne. The later property that took the name of Harts Hall stood to the east of the Red Lion on the site of what is now Felbridge Court, and from a fairly humble dwelling house was extended during the course of the second half of the 19th century by a succession of owners to create a very substantial private house, [for further details see Handout Harts Hall, SJC 07/05].

In 1878, Harts Hall became part of the Felbridge Place estate by its sale by William Ramsden Price to Charles Henry Gatty for the sum of £6,600. The area of land stretched from the London Road along the Copthorne Road to the Crawley Down Road, encompassing the strip of land west of the stream from Copthorne Road to Imberhorne Lane – the area now occupied by The Moorings, Standen Close, The Felbridge Business Centre, Stream Park, and part of the Birches Industrial estate. During ownership by Charles Gatty, the property appears to have been used as temporary accommodation with a series of short term residents.

In 1905 Harts Hall was home to George Huggett before taking over the Star Inn (further details to follow), and in 1906 it was home to Ormond Meppem, estate manager for the Felbridge estate, before his purchase of Rose Cottage in Imberhorne Lane, [for further details see Handout, Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, SJC 07/02vi]. Around 1909, Ernst Henkels junior was residing at Harts Hall. Ernst Henkels was born on 19th March 1884 the son of Ernst Henkels in Lornerfeld, Barman in Germany. He was educated at the University of Bonn and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. He was a breeder and exhibitor of pure-bred Hackney horses, specialising in showing harness horses. Among the horses he bred were Felbridge Boy, considered, at the time, to be a ‘very promising young horse’, and Nimrod, who was the winner of the 1st Prize as a Weight Carrying Hunter at Reigate in 1908, as well as many other prizes. Apart from horses, Ernst Henkels’ interests included shooting (having grown up shooting deer and boar in Germany), yachting and motoring. In 1907 he had been a competitor in the Herkonmer Race, as well as various other races in Switzerland, Italy, Germany and France. He also belonged to the Rolner Motor Yacht Club, the Imperial Yacht Club, Rolner Aero Club, and the Germany and Rolner Automobile Club. Ernst Henkels married Blanche Surmont on the 1st June 1908. However, by 1910 Mrs Goddin and her wards Robert and Ann Pavey were residing there, followed in 1911 by Arthur White.

However, in 1910 Harts Hall, as part of the Felbridge Estate was purchased by Emma Harvey and in May 1911 the whole of the Felbridge Place estate was put up for auction by Emma Harvey and the East Grinstead Estate Company. The auction catalogue describes Harts Hall as ‘A remarkably beautiful small freehold residential estate in the parish of East Grinstead and Godstone of about 23a 1r 3p’. The sale particulars were as follows:
Comfortable old-fashioned residence. Substantially built of brick and stucco, stands nicely back and is well screened from the road, approached by a Drive, and the accommodation comprises:
In the Basement – Excellent dry Cellars running under the whole of the house, with enclosed Wine and Coal Cellars.
On the Ground Floor – Entrance Hall, Drawing Room, 24ft by 11ft, with modern stove and white marble mantel, Dinning Room, 22ft by 12ft 6ins, with modern stove and marble mantel. The capital Domestic Offices include Large Kitchen, with a range, Scullery with a copper and sink, Pantry with a glazed sink and good Dairy.
On the First Floor, approached by 2 staircases, are 6 Bedrooms, each fitted with fireplaces and one fitted with bath (h & c), and housemaid’s sink, small Dressing Room and WC.
There is an excellent supply of water from well, with pump. The Water Company’s mains are laid in the road and are available if preferred.
The Model Buildings include:
Stabling, substantially built of brick and slate, and consisting of 7 loose boxes, Harness Room, large Coach House, suitable for Motor Garage, and timber-slated Cowshed for 11 cows, another timber and tiled Cowshed for 8 cows.
Pair of Cottages, brick-built and stucco, with slated roof, each containing 4 rooms. Detached Wood Lodge with copper and WC.
Remarkably beautiful old grounds, studded with luxuriant well-grown specimen trees, banks of rhododendrons and other shrubs, and including Old Turf Lawns with flower beds, productive Kitchen Garden, and
Park-like Pasture Lands, intersected by a running stream, and studded by fine timber, also small Plantation. The Property is partly enclosed by a high brick wall, and otherwise by belts of handsome Fir trees, and the total area is 23a 1r 3p as set out in the Schedule.

Plot Use Acreage
East Grinstead parish
8 Park 8.785
9 Park 6.988
10 House, buildings and grounds 2.604
11 Pasture 1.377
30 Garden 0.501
31 Plantation 0.774
Godstone parish
240 Buildings, grounds, etc 0.393
223 Park 1.848
Total 23.270

A large section of the Felbridge Place estate, including Harts Hall, was purchased by Arthur Smeeton Gurney but within two years his holding was back in the hands of the East Grinstead Estate Company and back on the market. The sale particulars for Harts Hall from the 1913 auction were almost identical to the 1911 sale details except that during the two years the Water Company’s mains had been laid on. After the 1913 sale Harts Hall continued to be used as short stay accommodation providing a home to Miss Withers, as well as Charles Saward and his family until they moved to North End. There are several years when Harts Hall does not appear in the Electoral Roll suggesting that it was unoccupied or in very short duration occupation. However, by 1925 the property was under the ownership of William Thomas, who was a Manager at Felbridge School, and was still in residence there in 1928, although no other information about William Thomas has yet been established.

In 1930 the Felbridge School Log notes that Mr Bacot of Harts Hall had agreed to be the correspondent of the school Managers, and the Electoral Roll of 1931 confirms Gerard Robert Bacot was residing at Harts Hall, suggesting that William Thomas had left Harts Hall sometime between 1925 and 1930. Little is known about Gerard Bacot other than in the 1901 census he was lodging at Mrs Emily Sherwood’s Boarding House at 15, Lupus Street, Westminster. His occupation was given as a tea broker’s agent, he was unmarried and his age was given as thirty, having been born in Blandford in Dorset.

Beside Gerard Bacot at Harts Hall, the Electoral Roll of 1931 also lists Gerard’s wife as Florence Eva Bacot, and living with them were Kathleen Marjorie Adams, Lillian Walker, Frances Laura Knight, Marjorie Belle Cheesewright and Lillian Eva Cheesewright. However, it has not yet been possible to determine whether these people were relations, guests, servants or paying residents at Harts Hall with the Bacot’s, and as such it has not been possible to determine whether Harts Hall was a private house or a hotel by this date.

By the mid 1930’s evidence suggests that much of the twenty-three acres that had accompanied Harts Hall in the original sales of 1911 and 1913 had been sold off [for further details see Handout, Harts Hall, SJC 07/05], and by 1938 Harts Hall Cottage, later known as Long Wall and recently re-developed as Long Wall Court, had become a separate entity from Harts Hall. However, it has not yet been possible be establish when Harts Hall ceased being a private house and became a hotel as no Electoral Rolls were taken between 1940 and 1944, although local residents recall that during World War II, Harts Hall became home to evacuees from London and a possible ladies club, called the Carlton Club. However, it is known that by 1946 Harts Hall was a Hotel and Country Club owned by Sir Ronald Gunter, and that Captain Cuthbert Griffith and his wife Florence who were residing at Harts Hall. One local resident remembers attending the birthday party of Cuthbert’s daughter Violet Griffith during the war, implying that the Griffiths family could have been in residence since the late 1930’s. The only information that has yet come to light with regards to Cuthbert Griffith is that his wife was called Florence and they had at least two children, Violet and Leonard.

As for Ronald Gunter, he inherited the title of 3rd Baronet of Wetherby Grange, Yorkshire, on the death of his father in 1917 and during the 1930’s could be found driving racing cars, driving for Lagonda in the 1935 Le Mons and finishing fifteenth [for further details see Handout, Harts Hall, SJC 07/05]. Although it is believed that Sir Ronald Gunter owned Harts Hall Hotel and Country Club there is no evidence that he was actually resident there and in 1949 he can be found at Felbridge Place Hotel (further details to follow). Unfortunately it has not been possible to determine who succeeded the Griffiths when they left in 1950 as Harts Hall was operating as a residential hotel with several recurring names of residents from the Electoral Rolls between 1950 and 1954 when it was sold it to Julian and Martha London.

Julian and Martha London had just returned to England from Australia with their two children, Christopher Robin (known as Robin) and Sharon. Robin was a boy of eight when the London family moved to Harts Hall Hotel and has fond memories of his time there:
‘I recall one entered the hotel via the front door into a small entrance hall with hat and coat racks on the wall. A door opposite led down to the cellar where the beer kegs for the bar and the boiler was housed. It was a very low roofed area as I recall Dad was always bumping his head on the ceiling causing an almost permanent graze on the top of his balding head.
From the entrance hall you turned right up a step into a large foyer area. Straight ahead there were some doors which led out and down some steps to the garden area. To the right of you, looking towards the doors was another door leading into the bar which had a large bay window overlooking the garden. Just inside the door on the right hand side was the bar counter and to the side of the bay window was a piano which was played by one of the members of the East Grinstead Rugby Club accompanied by my mother on her piano accordion during jolly Saturday evenings. I remember one of the rugby lads, a big chap called Dave, was a great pal of my parents.
On the left of the foyer area another door led into the dining room. This was similar in design to the bar and also had a large bay window overlooking the garden. Next to the dining room there was a door which led into the kitchen with a door leading outside and another door which led to a set of stairs going upstairs, (the back stairs).
As you stood in the foyer looking towards the doors to the garden, on your left behind you and opposite the garden doors, was the main staircase leading upstairs for the guests. This was a large staircase with polished banister railings, carpeted stairs and brass stair rods. The stairs went up in two stages with a landing in between from where I was able to see into the bar in the evenings when I should have been in bed! As regards the upstairs layout, I'm afraid I cannot remember. As far as I can remember all the bedrooms were on this floor. There was a further flight of stairs leading to an attic room which was mine. I recall getting into trouble for climbing out onto the very steeply sloping slate roof, extremely dangerous to adults but not to an adventurous 8 year old!
The grounds of Harts Hall were quite extensive and a paradise for a young boy to have many adventures in. Immediately outside the entrance hall doors was a large lawn area which led down to extensive ground of rhododendrons from the centre of which grew a very tall pine tree. Then followed a heavily wooded and shrubbery section of the garden with narrow paths leading around through the woods to a thatched roof summerhouse. At the bottom of the garden flowed a small stream with a little humped bridge which is still there. To the right of the garden, a path led off to an old tennis court that we never used and also an old apple orchard.
There were two guests that stayed with us that stick in my memory. The first was the first wife of film actor Stewart Granger [Elspeth March] who stayed for a week or so and brought with her two Siamese cats which I recall were very bad tempered and who would sit on top of the wardrobe when she was out and growl and spit at anyone who entered the room. I remember mum saying that Dorothy [the cleaner] refused to go into the room to clean as she was afraid of them. The second was a very eccentric man named Doug who owned a furniture manufacturing company in London somewhere and who was a regular visitor.
Our time at Harts Hall was a happy one albeit short and I have many fond memories of our time there’.
Sometime between 1930, when Gerard Bacot began his relatively long term of residency of Harts Hall, and 1954, when the London’s took over the Harts Hall Hotel, the original building dating to 1820 and the later extended structure, as described in the sales particulars of 1911 and 1913, had become enveloped within a very large extension extending to the west. This extension doubled the size of Harts Hall compared to 1913. A single storey sunroom on the south end of the original property had been replaced by a pair of three-sided bay windows, one above the other, which were divided by a deep band of tile hanging. Moving along the original west side, the window on the ground floor at the southern end had been replaced by a door. A single storey extension on the west wall had been incorporated into a two storey extension that retained its width before making a right-angled turn and extending west. On the southwest corner of the of this extended section was a pair of four-sided bay windows, one above the other, which were again divided by a deep band of tile hanging. However, unlike the other pair of bay windows at the other end of the building, which had a flat leaded roof, this second pair of bay windows was topped with tiles running into the hip of the main roof. Set half way along the wall between the right angled turn and the second set of bay windows on this new south side of the property was a large curved opening leading to a recessed entrance into the main house. Both this entrance and one that had been cut into the west wall of the original building were accessed by a flight of steps.

All the new windows in the walls, except a half circular one to the east of the recessed entrance, were sash but were of varying widths with differing numbers of small panes of glass. The roof of the new extension was tiled and there were a pair of casement windows set into the roof above the recessed entrance. No photographs have yet come to light of the north side of the extended property but map evidence suggests that a porch had been added in a central position to create a new front entrance to the property which by now had been realigned to face the Copthorne Road. Apart from the tile hanging associated with the bay windows and the brick surround of the archway to the recessed entrance on the south side of the property, the brick walls and chimney stacks were rendered in keeping with the stucco walls of the original Regency property. Unfortunately it has not yet been possible to determine who was responsible for this last extension of the Harts Hall Hotel.

One of the residential guests at Harts Hall Hotel was Miss Marjorie Grace Frome who appears in the Electoral Roll in 1954 before moving to the White Duchess Hotel that was situated about a quarter of a mile north of Harts Hall Hotel (further details to follow). Unfortunately no other information has yet come to light about Miss Frome other than in 1935 she was living at Wild Meadow in Rowplatt Lane, moving to the Old Pheasantry off Woodcock hill in Felbridge by 1938.

In 1955 Julian and Martha London sold Harts Hall Hotel as a going concern to Oliver Scott and Edward Harry Hearn, and around 1958 the hotel appeared in the East Grinstead Guide, advertised as ‘Harts Hall Hotel and Felbridge Country Club’. Within a year of the advertisement, Harts Hall had been sold, being purchased as a going concern by Aubrey Clement Gethin and his wife Edith Margaret. It was shortly after this purchase that Harts Hall Hotel acquired a bit of a reputation, being given the nickname ‘Tarts Hall’ by the local residents of Felbridge. Little is known about the Gethin family except that Aubrey was born on 7th November 1910 in Kidderminster and died in the October quarter of 1987 in Lewisham.

It is not known when Harts Hall Hotel ceased trading as a hotel but under the Gethin ownership the property went into steady decline and by the 1962 it was beginning to look quite neglected and overgrown, eventually standing empty. In 1964, an application was made for the re-development of the site, and the Harts Hall Hotel was demolished to build a development of Georgian-style town houses called Felbridge Court [for further details see Handout, Harts Hall, SJC 07/05].

Premier Inn
The site of the Premier Inn, adjacent to the Star Inn, was originally the site of a half-way stop-off for South Down coaches and was known locally as the Star Buffet, being opened by the South Down Motor Services Ltd in conjunction with Friary Holroyd & Healy’s Breweries Ltd, the owner of the Star Inn in the early 1930’s.

The Star Buffet, with distinctive green glazed pan tiles was opened in 1933 having been built on a piece of ground that belonged to the Star Inn. It not only provided a stopping off point for South Down coaches but was also used as a social venue by the residents of Felbridge. One local resident remembers that in the 1930’s a children’s Christmas party was held there every year. She writes: ‘I don’t remember how you got an invitation but it always had a slap-up tea, games and entertainment. I remember one year we were entertained by June Keywood, the daughter of the Keywood’s who ran the sweetie shop at the Felbridge Parade. She was an attractive girl and wore a green velvet dress and did a tap dance. When you left the party you were always given a bag with sweets and an orange in it’.

The Star Buffet operated until it became a Happy Eater in the late 1970’s. The Happy Eater was a chain of road-side restaurants formed by Michael Pickard in 1973 that catered for families with young children. In 1980 the chain consisted of twenty-one restaurants when it was taken over by Imperial Group. Six years later the Happy Eater chain consisted of seventy restaurants and was, in turn taken over by the Trust House Forte hotel group. In 1995 Trust House Forte was taken over by Granada and in January 1997 the Happy Eater in Felbridge ceased trading and stood empty.

In 1998, the owners, Allied Domecq, put in plans to demolish the Happy Eater to make way for a Wacky Warehouse, a soft play and activity centre for children, attached to a family restaurant, but despite getting planning permission, the Wacky Warehouse was not built. In March 1999 the Happy Eater was demolished and the site stood empty, except for a wonderful display of poppies that suddenly sprang into life after disturbing their seeds in the ground.

In 1999, the Star Inn and the site of the Happy Eater were taken over by Punch Group when they acquired 3,500 leased and managed pubs from Allied Domecq. Three months later plans for the re-development of the Happy Eater site were submitted by Punch Group. The plans included a two storey, forty-one bedroom Wayfarer lodge and associated parking for 115 cars, together with the demolition of the conservatory on the Star Inn to allow for the extension of the dining area, a new kitchen and toilet facilities.

The initial plans were submitted for the general public to view and make comment upon at the Felbridge Village Hall in August 1999. The over whelming objections to the proposed lodge were the height of the building, the mock Tudor facade and the fact that in its proposed position it would completely hide the Star Inn. After modification of the position of the lodge on the site and the removal of the mock Tudor facade the plans were eventually passed. Work began on the new Premier Inn in May 2001 and was completed by the end of the year.

Premier Inn, formerly Premier Travel Inn, was bought from the Spirit Group by Whitbread in 2004 and is now Britain’s largest budget hotel chain, and in the case of the Felbridge Premier Inn, only the building was sold, the surrounding area was retained by Spirit Group. Typically situated on an ‘A’ road, the Premier Inn at Felbridge offers a bed for the night with restaurant facilities at the adjoining Star Inn which is now run as one of Spirit Group’s Chef and Brewer chain of pubs and restaurants.

Felbridge Garage Tea Shop
The Tea Shop was part of the Felbridge Garage complex owned by Alexander Cadley, later purchased by the Paice family, which once stood opposite the Star Inn covering the site that now includes Hydropool at the Star junction, up to and including Kwik Fit. Little is known about the Tea Shop except that it was established in 1925 in the building now occupied by Hydropool, formerly the Boundary Stores. The most likely reason for the opening of the Tea Shop was as a response to the increase in motor traffic travelling between London and the coast, being a convenient half-way stop off for petrol at the garage and refreshments at the Tea Shop, as well as being an alternative venue to the Star Inn opposite.

Unfortunately it has not yet been possible to determine exactly how long the Tea Shop was in operation but it appears to have been quite short lived as by 1937 the premises had been converted as a shop held by Ephriam and Doris Cosens. The most likely reason for closure of the Tea Shop was increased competition following the opening of the Star Buffet opposite in 1933.

White Duchess Hotel
The White Duchess Hotel stood on the site of what is now Whittington College, being the mansion house for the Felbridge estate created by Edward Evelyn in 1747. The only surviving part of the mansion house complex is the stable and coach house block, now converted as staff accommodation [for further details see Handout, Whittington college, SJC 10/00]. The White Duchess Hotel took over the original mansion house that was built by Edward Evelyn’s son James in 1763, as denoted by a floor tile in the hall that was inscribed ‘William Barnes, July 1763’, possibly a reference to the builder. The mansion house either replaced or extended a previous house that had been built by Edward Evelyn’s father George, around 1690 that was called Heath Hatch. The mansion was originally set in gardens and parkland extending to just over eighty-three acres but by the time the property operated as a hotel the extent of the grounds had diminished to just eighteen acres.

Although demolished there are four descriptions of the mansion and grounds before it became a hotel, and one when it operated as a hotel.

The first description of the property dates to a lease of 1812 which provides a schedule of the leased items within the house that mentions many of the rooms.

Kitchen; return dresser drawers and three shelves one oak shelf eighteen feet long mantle piece and spit racks one towel roller one crane pothook and cinder grate. Housekeepers Room next the kitchen; one dresser two drawers and three shelves one stove for preserving. Skllery; two shelves one towel roll and one sink stone. Pantry; one dresser board and two return shelves two hanging shelves two fly raized to ditto. Servants Hall; Benches round the room two shelves one cupboard two set cloaths tacks. Laundry; two ironing boards two shelves. Butlers Pantry; one dresser three drawers and two cupboards one dresser one drawer one leaden cistern five shelves and one pump to water closet. In the Small Pantry; one cupboard four shelves and sundry tacks. House Maids Room; one dresser board and one shelf. Butlers Small Pantry next the stair case; One dresser Board returns two shelved returns. Office Room late Mr Evelyn’; two box seats and five shelves closet to the above room two shelves and five tacks, closet to the north. West Bed Room; One board three return shelves sundry cloths tacks one fill size bed back. Study Chamber; One cast iron back closet. South West Bed Room; two shelves. North East Garrett; two closets one bench two shelves sundry cloths tacks one cast iron back in chimney. Nursery, Library; Book case and four shelves. North West Garrett; one closet one shelf sundry cloaths tacks one cast iron back in chimney. Dairy; return benches with back lining one hanging shelf. Bakehouse; a return bench two ovens door iron one shelf one stable clock one bottle rack. In the shed Gardeners Room; return bench one shelf one carpenters bench.

The second description is 1855 appearing as Lot 1 in the sales particulars of the Felbridge Park Estate when it was put on the market by the descendants of the Evelyn family being purchased by George Gatty of Crowhurst Park in Sussex.
The Mansion
is on a moderate inexpensive scale
Placed upon a gentle elevation overlooking some Beautiful Scenery, embracing the Mill Lake and Surrey Hills,
and in a Parklike Paddock,
which might be easily extended by the removal of Fences, so as to embrace some of the adjoining Fields & Woods and is
Belted & Studded with Fine, Majestic & Varied Timber & Shrubs,
And Embellished by a Handsome Memorial Column.

It contains:
On the Upper Floor – 12 or 13 good airy Bed Rooms, and 2 or 3 Dressing Rooms, with several Closets. On the Ground Floor – A Handsome Drawing Room, with spacious Bow, decorated Ceiling, &c; a Dining Room and Breakfast Room; a handsome Paved Hall, with Portico Doorway; 2 Waterclosets and light broad Staircase, with Mahogany Balustrades; and the usual Domestic Offices – as Housekeeper’s Room, Servant’s Hall, Footman’s Pantry, Kitchen, Scullery, Cellar, &c; Kitchen Garden; Stabling for several horses, Double Coach House, &c; with Grooms’ Rooms and Lofts above; a Dairy, and various Out Offices, Court Yard, Walled Garden and Shrubbery.

The Paddocks usually let with the house are numbered 247, 251, 255, which, with the Pleasure Grounds &c, containing 45 acres, and certain other Pasture Lands, in the whole 83 acres, are now in hand and distinguished below:-

Field Name Description Acreage
234 Pasture Pasture 18. 03. 06
236 Shed and Yard 00. 00. 10
237 Pasture Pasture 15. 00. 00
247 Pond Meadow Pasture 15. 01. 17
248 Pond 00. 01. 03
249 Belt Plantation 00. 00. 11
250 Mansion, Gardens, &c. 03. 00. 00
251 Yard and Field Pasture 08. 00. 38
252 Shed and Yard 00. 00. 25
253 Yard, Field, Avenue &c. 01. 01. 27
254 Grove Grove 04. 03. 32
244 Garden Garden 01. 00. 35
255 Garden Park Pasture 11. 00. 00
261 Grove Plantation 03. 03. 09
Total 83. 01. 13

The third description of the property can be found in 1911 when the Felbridge Place Estate (as it was then called), was put up for auction as Lot 1 by Mrs Emma Harvey and the East Grinstead Estate Company Ltd, who had purchased the Felbridge estate from Alfred Leighton Sayer and Charles Lane Sayer, cousins and heirs of Charles Henry Gatty.
Freehold Manorial Estate
‘Felbridge Place’
East Grinstead in the County of Surrey,
The Handsome Mansion,
beautifully placed on an eminence some 330 feet above sea level, with lovely views, perfectly screened from the roads by finely grown timber, approached by two Carriage Drives, with a
Picturesque Lodge at each Entrance,
Together with
Excellent Stabling, coachman’s Rooms,
Glasshouses, Productive Old Gardens, and with the
Grandly-Timbered Park and Wood Lands extending to an area of about
104a. 0r. 11p.
together with Lordship of the Manors (or reputed Manors) of Hedgecourt and Felbridge.
The Mansion, an imposing structure of a very substantial character in brick with a tiled roof, in the Italian style, with paved Loggia on the south-west side, is most conveniently arranged and contains:-
On the Ground Floor – Entrance Porch opening into an excellent Hall, measuring 33ft. 6ins. long by 13ft., and 11ft. pitch, with oak door, fitted oak dado, slow combustion stove with tiled hearth, and Galleried Staircase; excellent Dining Room measuring 28ft. 6ins. by 19ft., with serving door from offices; handsome Drawing Room measuring about 27ft. by 23ft. 6ins. (including the bay), with very handsome carved marble mantel and curb, tiled hearth, opening by three large casement windows to the Loggia and beautiful Terrace; this room is expensively decorated and forms a very pleasant apartment with a lovely outlook over the beautiful grounds and park; the comfortable Library, about 20ft. 9ins. by 18ft. 6ins. opening also by casement windows to the Loggia and Terrace; the handsome
Lofty Conservatory
with tessellated floor, approached from the Loggia, measuring 34ft. by 18ft. with pretty Rockery and two beds of handsome camellias, the Gun Room well fitted with cupboards, Strong Room, Lavatory fitted with hot and cold supplies and W.C.
The Domestic Offices are well shut off and include spacious Kitchen fitted with ‘Eagle’ range, Servant’s Hall, Scullery with sink, hot and cold, Store Room, Larder, Butler’s Pantry well fitted with cupboards.
In the Basement are very excellent and extensive Wine and Beer Cellars, a great protection from dampness.
Outside are Brew and Bake Houses, Wash-house with copper, Pump House with good well, Coal House and Wood Shed, Gas House, Acetylene Gas Shed, Coke House with stoke hole.
On the first floor, approached by the fine Galleried Staircase aforementioned and Secondary Staircases, are Seven Best Bedrooms, measuring respectively about 21ft. by 17ft. 6ins., 19ft. by 15ft. 6ins., 21ft. by 17ft. 6ins., 19ft. by 15ft. 6ins., 15ft. by 14ft. 6ins. and 21ft. by 9ft. 6ins. (one Bedroom has a separate W.C. fitted in recess); Two Dressing Rooms; a Capital Bathroom fitted with hot and cold supplies, and W.C.
On the second floor are Nine Secondary and Servant’s Bedrooms (one fitted as Linen Room) and Housemaid’s sink. Many of the Bedrooms are fitted with wardrobe cupboards.
The Landings are spacious and well lighted, and from the Principal Bedrooms very beautiful views are obtainable, especially from those on the south-west side which opens on to a Balcony.
Company’s Water is laid on.
There are also wells and soft water tanks on the property.
The Drainage was recently overhauled, and is believed to be in thoroughly satisfactory condition.
The Mansion is lighted by an Acetylene Gas Plant which is found to work with efficiency and economy.
The East Grinstead Gas Mains are laid within a short distance of the property and would no doubt be available if required.
The Substantial Brick-built Stabling,
Mounted with clock in turret, is conveniently placed, and comprises six Loose Boxes, Coach-house for four or five carriages or motors with loft over. There is also accommodation for Coachman of Two Bedrooms with modern stove and iron mantle, Living Room with range, Scullery with glazed sink; Groom’s Mess Room; Detached Harness Room.
The Two Lodges
at entrance are substantial structures in stone with tiled roofs, and are of a most picturesque character, each containing Five Rooms and Scullery.
The Kitchen Gardens,
enclosed by walls on two sides and fenced on the other sides, are extensive and well stocked with wall and other Fruit Trees.
The Glasshouses include heated Peach and Nectarine House about 60 ft. long, two Vineries and Forcing House. There are also three ranges of cold Pits and heated Greenhouse in small orchard.
The Remarkably Beautiful Old Pleasure Grounds
Extending to some 6 acres include the
Fine Broad Terrace with Lawns and Flower Gardens,
Tennis and other Lawns and Lovely Woodland Walks.
Rustic Summerhouse.
The features of the Grounds are the unusually beautiful Banks of Rhododendrons and other shrubs, the fine old yew hedges, the magnificently grown Coniferæ and the fine old Cedar, Oak, Beech, Elm and other timber trees which adorn the same, and
The Park Lands
which latter slope towards the Grand Lake [Hedgecourt Lake] and present a lovely vista from the Mansion and Terrace. In the Park stands an interesting old monument erected by the late James Evelyn.
Conveniently placed there are Timber and Tile Cattle Lodge with Yard and Thatched Cow Lodge.
Field Description Acreage
187 Wood 13.290
195 Pasture 10.675
196 Plantation 00.440
227 Park 39.124
206 Plantation 02.800
117 Pasture 10.978
231 Mansion, Grounds & Lodge 06.862
237 Park 06.322
226 Wood 03.630
225 Plantation 02.090
197 Rough Grass 05.500
202 Rough Grass 01.209
203 Wood 01.151
Total 104.071
The Timber on this Lot shall be paid for by the Purchaser, in addition to his purchase-money, at the sum of £875 13s 3d.

The Purchaser of this Lot will be required to take and pay for at a valuation, to be made by two Valuers or their Umpire in the usual manner, the blinds, cornice poles and usual Tenant’s fixtures on the premises, and also for the Acetylene Gas Plant and fittings, also iron fencing, garden tools, plants in Conservatory and Greenhouses and growing crops.

Despite the auction, the mansion house and surrounding grounds did not sell in 1911. It is known that Mrs Emma Harvey and her son Percy Portway Harvey occupied the property for a short period of time but it was then let on a short term lease to the 8th Earl of Egmont after his sale of the Cowdrey estate in Midhurst in Sussex that had been purchased by the 6th Earl of Egmont in 1843.

In 1913, the East Grinstead Estate Company again put Felbridge mansion house and grounds on the market, producing a large booklet illustrated with photographs to advertise it. The property was being marketed to attract the sportsman with description like:
Few properties of similar area afford sporting opportunities equal to Felbridge. The shooting is particularly good, the distribution of the woods and coverts offering capital facilities for raising and holding a large head of game. Hedgecourt Lake and Wire Mill Pond are the resort of large quantities of wild-fowl. Boating, fishing and skating may also be enjoyed on these fine natural sheets of water.

Hunting is obtainable with the West Kent, the Eridge, the Burstow (whose kennels are on the estate) and the Southdown Foxhounds; there are also Meets of Staghounds and Harriers within easy access.

Golfers will be interested to know that the renowned Ashdown Forest Links are but five miles distant and other links are also within easy reach. It may also be incidentally mentioned that a portion of the estate would offer a magnificent site for an eighteen-hole golf course.

Within two miles of the estate is Lingfield Race Course, where there is a fine flat course of nearly two miles circumference, and a straight mile.

The booklet continues:
Of the advantages found outside its boundaries something has already been said; of the beauties of its grounds, gardens and park, pages might well be written. No one can enter without being impressed by the exquisite taste and discrimination exercised by generations long since gathered to their forefathers, in planting and conserving the magnificent specimen and timber trees which adorn the grounds and estate.

Here may be seen in a state of unusual perfection rare coniferæ, as well as superbly grown cedar, oak, beech, elm and chestnut trees.

Of the mansion house itself, the booklet states:
The mansion itself stands on a slight eminence with a south-west aspect, and commands charming views across the park over the expanse of water known as Hedgecourt Lake to the wooded heights beyond. Architecturally it is after the Italian style, its tendency towards severity being chastely relieved by the loggia of enriched brickwork on stone columns, which runs throughout the length and around the bay of the main facade. The elevations gain further dignity from the parapet balustrading of the tiled roof. Structurally the building is most substantial, the brickwork of the walls, the joisting of the floors, the joinery and fittings are all sound and serviceable.

The accommodation is of a comprehensive character. On the ground floor an entrance porch on the north-west front opens into a hall, which has a length of thirty-three feet and a width of thirteen feet; the oaken galleried staircase, the oak door and dado, tiled hearth and stove, all bespeak the solid comfort of an old English home as soon as one passes the threshold. The same note is struck in the dining room, an apartment conveniently planned for service from the offices; it has ample dimensions – nearly thirty feet by twenty feet. On the opposite side of the hall are the drawing room and library. Both rooms have large French casement windows opening on to the loggia, and commanding delightful views over the terraced Italian gardens, the park the lake and the woodlands.

The drawing room is spacious, with the dignity of good proportions; its painted ceiling, enriched cornices and panelled walls, with painted styling and gilded mouldings, together with its carved marble mantel piece and the lofty French window, give it quite the distinguished air and charm of a ‘petit salon’ – a room, in fact, delightful for ordinary domestic occupation, yet adequate and seemly for ceremonial reception. The library, a pleasant, well-lighted room, has dimensions over twenty feet by eighteen feet) which give scope for many uses. Admirably placed on the southern flank of the house is a large and harmoniously designed conservatory, some thirty feet in length and eighteen feet in width. The fern-clad rockery and magnificent camellia beds are notable and pleasing features.

The gun room, well fitted with cupboards – the strong room and the other ground floor offices are conveniently situated.

The domestic offices, cleverly shut off from the dwelling rooms of the mansion, are singularly replete with modern conveniences side by side with the accessories of old-world domestic economy.

The kitchen is equipped with an ‘Eagle’ range, and is fitted with numerous modern adjuncts. The servant’s hall is roomy and pleasant. The butler’s pantry and scullery, the store room and larder are well and conveniently fitted for their respective services in a well-ordered household.

Jutting out at a right angle from the other offices, and forming one side of a walled fruit garden, are brew and bake houses, wash-house and pump house over a good deep well, coal and wood houses, acetylene gas house, furnace house and stoke hole.

In the basement of the house are dry and extensive wine and beer cellars, giving useful accommodation as well as preventing dampness in the rooms above.

On the upper floors, to which access is given by main and secondary staircases, are several well-planned suites. The first floor, with fine balustraded landing, contains seven best bedrooms, in one of which is a separate w.c. fitted in an alcove, two dressing room, a well appointed bathroom and a water closet. The windows of the rooms on the south-west front open on to the balustraded balcony over the loggia, and from them one obtains a glorious vista of garden, park and pasture. The second floor comprises nine secondary and servants’ bedrooms also a fitted line room ad housemaid’s sink. Wardrobe cupboards are fitted in several of the rooms.

Between 1911 and 1913, some £30,000 worth of land had been sold from the Felbridge Place Estate and in 1913 sale, in the opinion of the East Grinstead Estate Company, ‘The sub-divisions of the estate have been made with a view to suiting the requirements of various classes of purchasers’. In their opinion, Felbridge Mansion house and Park formed a ‘suitable appanage for the country magnate’, although by 1913, the surrounding lands that went with the property had fallen to just over sixty acres:

Field Name Description Acreage
206 Birch Grove Lodge 02.800
225 Plantation 02.090
226 Rockery etc. 03.630
227 Park 39.124
231 Mansion, Grounds etc. 06.862
237 Park 06.322
Total 60.828

The Felbridge mansion house and park, along with a plantation and Smithfield farm, was bought by Arthur Smeeton Gurney of Luxfords, East Grinstead with a £10,000.00 mortgage from the East Grinstead Estate Company, although he appears not to have occupied the property. His ownership was short as in 1916 Henry Willis Rudd of 27, Pall Mall, London, purchased a large portion of the Felbridge Place estate that included the mansion, park, garden, Hedgecourt Lake and other pieces of land amounting to 218 acres 3 roods 1 perch for the sum of £11,750.00.

Henry Rudd stood to make a fortune through the manufacture and distribution of the Lewis Gun during World War I [for further details see Handout, The Downfall of Henry Willis Rudd, SJC 11/02]. In keeping with their new found wealth and status, the Rudd’s purchased the Felbridge Place estate with the intention of creating their own country seat and avenue of acceptability into the English upper class. The Rudd’s drew up a series of ambitious plans for the estate using the services of Sir Edwin Lutyens, the most eminent architect of the time. In the short term the Rudd’s occupied the mansion house before moving into Newchapel House in 1920 [for further details see Handout, Newchapel House, SJC 11/02]. The move to Newchapel House left the mansion house unoccupied and ready for demolition to be replaced by a new mansion house designed by Lutyens complete with indoor swimming pool and full size snooker room, all set in a newly designed Gertrude Jekyll garden. However, the Rudd’s went bankrupt before most of Lutyens’s designs could be implemented, with just the new stables and kennels being built, and as a result of Rudd’s bankruptcy, all their property in Felbridge was put up for auction in 1924.

In 1926 the Felbridge Place estate was put up for sale by order of the Rudd’s mortgagees and by the autumn of 1926 Arthur Edward Ready and his wife Ethel May had opened the Felbridge & Country Club Hotel operating from the mansion house.

Arthur Edward Ready
Arthur Edward Ready was born in Bromley in March 1870, the son of Henry George Ready and his wife Amelia née Reed. Sadly Arthur’s father died in 1874, leaving his wife to bring up two children, Arthur and his younger sister Agnes who had been born in 1874. Arthur Ready married Ethel Maud M Winstone in Bristol R.D. in the December quarter of 1905. Ethel had been born in Barton Regis in Gloucestershire in 1880, the daughter of Thomas and Eliza Winstone.

Arthur and Ethel Ready had at least one child, Kenneth Jack who was born in Bromley in 1906. Before moving to Felbridge in 1926, Arthur Ready had been working as a clerk to a coal merchant. Little else is known about the Ready family except that during their time at Felbridge Place they ran the Felbridge & Country Club Hotel, which appears to have been offering residential facilities as in 1929 there were seven guests on the books.

In 1931 Arthur and Ethel Ready are not recorded in the Electoral Roll as residing at Felbridge Place, nor are they in the local area implying that they had moved on. It is also from 1931 that the use of the name Felbridge & Country Club Hotel is superseded by Felbridge Place Hotel. The names recorded for Felbridge Place Hotel in 1931 were Kathleen Mary Ring, as proprietor with two children, Kenneth George and Rhoda Kathleen. Kathleen Ring had been born Katherine Mary Kersey in Suffolk in 1874 and had married George Charles Ring in 1898. Kenneth George Ring had been born in Devon in 1904 and Rhoda Kathleen had been born in 1907 in Norfolk. It has not yet been possible to establish the whereabouts of George Ring at the time of the 1931 Electoral Roll and Kathleen Ring and her family were only at Felbridge Place for a year as in 1932 John Ward was recorded as proprietor.

John Ward
There is little conclusive information on John Ward, the name being too numerous in the more recent records to be able to pin-point the correct person, although there was a John Ward advertising as a tobacconist in Felbridge in the Kelly’s Directory of 1924, eight years before John Ward is first recorded as proprietor of the Felbridge Place Hotel. In 1933 John Ward is joined by Augusta Ann Ward but it has not yet been possible to determine whether Augusta was John’s wife or another female relation.

John Ward remained the proprietor of the Felbridge Place Hotel until sometime between 1940 and 1944, unfortunately no Electoral Roll details were collected between these years and no other records have yet come to light on the exact date of leaving. However, by 1944 the Felbridge Place Hotel had been purchased by Herbert Cartwright.

Herbert Cartwright
Like John Ward, it has not yet been possible to find anything conclusive about Herbert Cartwright. However, from the Electoral Rolls it would appear that Herbert married Stella J Albert sometime between 1946 and 1947 as they both appear at Felbridge Place Hotel at the earlier date, Herbert Cartwright as proprietor, and Stella J Albert as resident, but in 1947 Stella appears as Stella J Cartwright.

Under the Cartwright’s the Felbridge Place Hotel operated as a steadily expanding residential hotel with an increase in clientele from ten to fourteen by the end of the 1940’s. With the end of the Second World War people could once again promote their businesses and in 1947 the Cartwright’s were advertising Felbridge Place Hotel in the East Grinstead Guide, being described as ‘A Country House with large and lofty rooms surrounded by very fine old trees and beautiful grounds’ with a ‘Garage’, the hotel being Recommended by the A.A. and R.A.C. Around the same date, the hotel produced a booklet advertising its facilities and tariff:

Felbridge Place Hotel
Situated on the borders of Sussex and Surrey and on the edge of the beautiful Ashdown Forest, with its famous Golf Course.
The Hotel combines the comfort, and pleasant happy surrounding of the old Manor House with the amenities of the modern hotel.
The Grounds
The beautiful grounds extending to eighteen acres are very popular with guests in search of peace and quiet. There are some very rare and wonderful old trees, some of which are famous throughout the country. Old walled gardens and orchards provide both pleasure to walk in, and good fresh things to eat.
From the Riding Stables, attached to the Hotel – Guests can hire Hacks and Ponies, for rides through the lovely surrounding countryside. Hunters can also be hired during the season, for this is great hunting country, and the ‘Old Surrey and Burstow Hunt’ have their kennels opposite the Hotel, at which the ‘Meet’ is often held.
For those who prefer to walk, there are plenty of woodland paths, and splendid lakes with good fishing.

Bed & Breakfast from 15/-
Luncheon from 5/-
Afternoon tea 2/-
Dinner 5/6
Garage (per night) 1/-
En Pension 25/- per day
Winter Terms or long periods £1/1/10 per day

Terms include – Attendance. Early Morning Tea. Breakfast. Luncheon. Afternoon Tea. Dinner. Bath.
No charge is made for Tennis.
The new Lounge Bar is very attractive and popular feature, and the Hotel boasts a first class cellar.
Our reputation for really good food is very high, and guests can always rely on a good table, well served, in pleasant surroundings and a friendly atmosphere.
Bedrooms are all fitted with hot and cold running water; and electric or gas fires.
The riding stables advertised in the brochure were run by Cecilia and Frances Kenton although they only appear in the Electoral Roll for 1947 at Felbridge Place Riding Stables.

In the late 1940’s, apart from offering accommodation and restaurant facilities, the Felbridge Place Hotel started to stage entertainments at the weekend. One local resident recalls that members of the Felbridge Youth Club, and later the Lake View Drama and Social Club, were often used to clear tables at such events and on one occasion, after a hypnotist act staged at the hotel, he offered to be hypnotised in the lounge bar. Another local resident recalls that a ballet company came down from London and performed a selection of Divertissements on an outdoor stage that had been set up in the grounds adjacent to the old coach-house and stable block. The resident in question was unsure which company it had been but remembered that one of the leading dancers was called Clementina Stuart, who she recalled as being a ‘rather tall dancer’. It transpires that Clementina Stuart was a contemporary of Moira Shearer (of Red Shoes fame) and a member of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet Company that had been founded in 1946 by Dame Ninette De Valois as the touring branch of the Royal Ballet Company. As a point of interest, Clementina Stuart went on to marry the comedian Michael Bentine.

The last Electoral Roll entry for Herbert and Stella Cartwright at Felbridge Place Hotel appeared in 1948 and, due to the nature of recording, the new proprietor of the hotel is not highlighted in 1949. However, as established above, Ronald Gunter was recorded as a resident at Felbridge Place Hotel in 1949 but not in 1950, and it was around this date that Colonel Ponsonby took over the hotel. One of the first alterations he made was to change the name to the White Duchess Hotel. This, in his opinion, was to avoid confusion with the Felbridge Hotel that had been operating since 1919, situated about half a mile to the south of the Felbridge Place Hotel [for further details see Handout, Eating and Drinking Establishments of Felbridge – Part I].

Col. Ponsonby
The only information known about Col. Ponsonby comes from the memories of former workers of the White Duchess Hotel, which pertain to the early 1950’s and can be found in the East Grinstead Compass, nos. 21 and 23. The second set of memories refer to 1951 when Les Coleman, then living in Lingfield, left his office job and went to work at the White Duchess Hotel where his father was the maintenance man. He recalls that at the back of the hotel there was a long low building, part of which was used as a workshop whilst the other part was full of ‘clutter’ and was ‘dark and gloomy’ with a deep open well. When Les went to work at the hotel George Bray was the gardener, assisted by a man called Arthur who worked part-time. As for the owner, Col. Ponsonby, Les recalls that it was said that he had been an interpreter at the Nuremberg war trials, although it has so far not been impossible to substantiate this story.

The memories referred to in the East Grinstead Compass no.21, are those of Michael Leppard who worked at the hotel in the summer of 1954. Staff working at the hotel at the same time as Michael Leppard included an Italian head-waiter called Peter who liked to collect and cook wild fungi from the grounds of the hotel, a Danish chef and a Scottish waiter. He recalls that the hotel was mainly residential with Col. Ponsonby and his assistant living in the old coach-house and stable block that had been converted as staff accommodation in 1950.

One of the permanent residents was Major Tozer, who was also at the hotel in the time of Les Coleman who recalls that the ‘Major’ was accompanied by his own chauffeur named Guest, and a young nurse. Michael Leppard also remembers two elderly ladies, Miss Marjorie Grace Frome and her friend (name not known), the former having also resided at Harts Hall Hotel. Besides residential guests, the White Duchess Hotel offered dinner in the restaurant to non residents and played host to a weekly dinner-dance, the music provided by a three-piece band.

The White Duchess Hotel after 1955
The hotel continued to appear in the East Grinstead Guide up until November 1954 but in 1955 the White Duchess Hotel closed and the property was sold to Mr Roff who had the mansion house and the old stable block/coach-house converted into apartments. Within a year the White Duchess Hotel had been fully converted into nine flats. The three apartments situated in the old stable block/coach-house were purchased by Brian and June Creed (who later moved with their two children to Australia), Nick and Wendy Rahder (Wendy having been a dancer at the Windmill Theatre in London) and Peter and Sheila Jackson (Peter went on to become editor of the TV Times). At some time, not yet established, Mr and Mrs Crosthwaite moved into one of these apartments when it became vacant.

The mansion house was converted as six apartments: No.4 was purchased by Mrs Davis, who had been housekeeper to Israel Sieff (who became Chairman of Marks & Spencer in 1964). No.5 was purchased by Mr and Mrs Taylor (who later moved to Hammerwood Road in Ashurst Wood). No.6 was purchased by Captain and Dorothy Lewis and their children David, Jane and Bryony. The Lewis family were followed by Mr and Mrs Roberts (who later moved to Forest Row). No.7 was purchased by Mr and Mrs Lindsay-White. No.8 was purchased by Mrs Cranmer (who had twins, John, who was in the Navy, and Fleur). After Mrs Cranmer left, Miss Sara Harris and Miss Monica Brown bought the apartment. No.9 was purchased by Patrick and Helen Marshall with their two children, their third child, Simon, born there in 1956. When the Marshall family moved to Rowplatt Lane in 1965, their apartment was purchased by Mr and Mrs Green.

The Marshall’s apartment was situated in the east end of the top floor of the mansion house. Simon Marshall recalls: ‘I remember the gardens particularly well. I spent many a happy day playing on a 25 foot swing from the cedar tree behind the house. This was situated right next to a gigantic monkey puzzle tree. There was a sequoia a few yards in front of the main entrance hall. There was also a lovely bluebell wood that smelt like heaven in the late spring. There were also beautiful pink and blue hydrangeas alternated with very old rhododendrons lining the western frontal border with Park Farm. There were also some other very old rhododendrons elsewhere in the grounds with stems or trunks around 10 inches thick. I also member the remains of the tennis courts to the south west of the building. They were very dilapidated and hardly recognisable by the 60’s’.

In 1966 the mansion house and grounds were purchased by the Worshipful Company of Mercers who had been looking for a suitable site to re-locate the almshouses founded by Richard Whittington called Whittington College [for further details see Handout, Whittington College, SJC10/00]. The mansion house stood empty for a further six years before being demolished, the only building retained was the old stable block/coach-house.


Red Lion

Bourd Map, 1748, FHA

Handout, Harts Hall, SJC 07/05, FHA

Imberhorne Court Book, Ref: ADA106, ESRO

Imberhorne Rental Book, Ref: ADA50, ESRO

Buckhurst Terrier, Ref: SRC vol. XXXIX

Imberhorne Court Book, Ref: ADA108, ESRO

Handout Gibbshaven Farm, SJC/JIC 07/07

Imberhorne Court Book, Ref: ADA109, ESRO

East Grinstead Quarter Session, QR/E/300/2

Roque Map, 1768, FHA

Imberhorne Court Book, Ref: ADA110, ESRO

Land Tax 1780-1848, WSRO

O/S Map 1808, FHA

East Grinstead Tithe apportionment and map, WSRO

Handout, Stained Glass of St John’s the Divine, SJC 07/02ii

Census, 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901

Handout, Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine,

SJC 07/02vi, FHA

Harts Hall Hotel

Handout, Harts Hall, SJC 07/05, FHA

Sussex by the 20th Century – Contemporary Biographies, ed. by

W T Pike, ESRO 

Felbridge School Log, FHA

Sale Catalogue of Felbridge Place estate, 1911, FHA

Sale Catalogue of Felbridge Place estate, 1913, FHA

Electoral Rolls, Ref: C/C70/105-161, ESRO

O/S map, 1938, WSRO

Documented memories of C R London, FHA

East Grinstead Guide, c1958, FHA


Star Inn

Court Books for the manor of Lagham, P25/21/11, SHC

Newchapel and Felbridge through the Ages, by L Opitz, FHA

Photographs, 1911 – 2008, FHA

Sale Catalogue for Felbridge Park, 1855, FHA

Sale Catalogue for the Felbridge Place Estate, 1911, FHA

The Development of Timber-Framed Buildings in the Sussex Weald, by D Chatwin

Wealden Buildings, by R T Mason

Timber buildings in Britain, by R W Brunskill

Medieval houses of Kent, by S Pearson

A Gazetteer of Medieval Houses of Kent, by S Pearson, P S Barnwell & A T Adams

Recording Timber- Framed Buildings: An illustrated glossary, by

N W Alcock, M W Barley P W Dixon & R A Meeson

Discovering Timber-Framed Buildings, by R Harris

Bourd map, 1748, FHA

Rocque map, 1768, FHA

Gardner & Gream map, 1778, FHA

Draft O/S map, c1805, FHA

Godstone tithe Map 1840, FHA

Tandridge tithe map, 1846, FHA

O/S maps, 1879, 1897, 1910, 1937, 1956, FHA

Aerial photographs, 1955, 1999, 2002, FHA

Handout, Lagham Manor, Godstone, 10/99, FHA

Pat. 30 Eliz. pt. vi, m. 6; Feet of F. Surr. Trin. 30 Eliz, PRO

Victoria Histories of Surrey

TheLiverpoolPapers, vol. CCXCI. P 258-267, Add 38480, BL

Handout The Commonplace Book of Colonel Edward Evelyn, JIC/SJC 09/07, FHA

Will of John Bryant, proved 29/4/1743, DW/PA/5/1743/11, Surrey Wills, vol.36, no.397

The History of East Grinstead by W H Hills

Mid Sussex Poor Law Records, Par/348/32/4/1, WSRO

Lagham Court Books, K61/7/5-30, SHC

Covenant of Recovery, WHL/107, ESRO

Beating the Boundary of Godstone, P25/18/1, SHC

Public Houses,


Handout, The Farm at Imberhorne, SJC 05/03, FHA

Wiremill, SJC 03/06, FHA

Handouts Biographies from the Churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge, SJC 07/02vi, FHA

Hedgecourt Mill Cottages, SJC 07/04, FHA

Gibbshaven Farm, JIC/SJC 07/07, FHA

Documented memories of Mrs A Wheeler, FHA

Godstone Tithe map and apportionment, 1844, SHC

Tandridge tithe map and apportionment, 1846, SHC

Census, 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901

Handout Golards Farm, SJC 11/07, FHA

PO Directory, 1854, 1855, 1859, SHC

Kelly’s Directory, 1867, SHC

Parish Registers of St John’s, Felbridge, FHA

Toll Gates and Roads, magazine article, FHA

The History of East Grinstead by W H Hills

Handout, More Biographies of the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge – Estate workers of the Gatty family, SJC 11/03, FHA

Handout, Bingham family of Felbridge, SJC 01/05, FHA

East Grinstead and Its Environs

Jesse Garman,

Handout, The Limes Estate, JP 07/04, FHA

Handout, Beef and Fagot Charity, SJC03/03, FHA

Felbridge Place Sale Catalogue, 1911, FHA

Handout, Llanberis Farm, SJC 01/07, FHA

Rate Book, Ref: 3293/12/7, SHC

Schedule of tenants of Felbridge Place Estate, 1911, Box 3151, SHC

Meux’s Brewery,’s_Brewery

History of the Crown Inn at Arford,

Holroyd’s of Byfleet Brewery,

Industry and Railways,

Burge & Co Ltd as a Subsidiary of Meux Brewery Co Ltd,

Allied Domecq PLC – Company History,

The Spirit Group,

Handout, Llanberis Farm, SJC 01/07, FHA

Electoral Rolls CC802/38/2-56/2, CC802/56a/3/1, CC802/57/3–58/3, CC802/60/9-61/9, SHC

Felbridge School Log, FHA

The Star Inn,

The Star Inn, Felbridge, an extraordinary predicament, local newspaper, 1912, FHA

The Licence of the Star at Felbridge, local newspaper, 4.3.1912, FHA

Documented memories of B Salmon, FHA

An Introduction of Buffaloism,

Series of postcards, Frith, FHA

Steak your place at the Star Inn, local newspaper, Jul 1999, FHA

What’s new in Felbridge, local newspaper article, 17.11.99, FHA

Premier Inn

Agreement between Star Inn, Southdown Motor Services Ltd and Friary, Holroyd & Healy’s Breweries Ltd, 1933, Ref:SMS/1/24/5, ESRO

Documented memories of M Jones, FHA

Happy Eater, Wikipedia

Wanted – new leases of life, EGC, 11.06.98, FHA

Planning Application, August, 1999, TDC

Premier Inn,

Felbridge Garage Tea Shop

Around East Grinstead by D Gould

Frith Postcards, FHA

Electoral Rolls, CC80238/2-52/2, SHC

Documented memories of A Dewey, FHA

White Duchess Hotel

Handout, Felbridge Place, SJC 10/99, FHA

Handout, Whittington College, SJC 10/00, FHA

1812 Lease, box 3151 SHC

Felbridge Park Estate Sale Catalogue, 1855, FHA

Felbridge Place Estate Sale Catalogue, 1911, FHA

Cowdrey House,

Some Facts & Photos of Felbridge, East Grinstead, c1913, FHA

Handout, The Downfall of Henry Willis Rudd, SJC 11/02, FHA

Handout, Newchapel House, SJC 11/02, FHA

Electoral Rolls CC802/38/2 -56/2, CC802/56a/3/1, CC802/57/3 -58/3, CC802/60/9 -61/9, SHC

Kelly’s Directory, 1927, 1924, 1934

East Grinstead Guide, 1947, 1951, 1954, EGL

Handout, Eating and Drinking Establishments of Felbridge – Part I, SJC 05/07, FHA

Felbridge Place Hotel booklet, 1947, FHA

Documented memories of AJW Jones, FHA

Documented memories of M Jones, FHA

East Grinstead Compass, no.21, FHA

East Grinstead Compass, no.23, FHA

Planning article, EGO, 13th October, 1950, FHA

Documented memories of K Housman, FHA

Documented memories of H and S Marshall, FHA

Handout, Whittington College, SJC10/00, FHA


Texts of all Handouts referred to in this document can be found on FHG website;

 SJC/JIC 03/08