Felbridge Place

Felbridge Place

The mansion was built in the Italian style in brick and tile. On the floor of the mansion there was a floor tile with the inscription ‘William Barnes, July 1763’. This is believed to be the name of the builder and the date of erection. It is believed that this mansion either replaced or extended a previous house that was built by George Evelyn around 1690 which was called Heath Hatch. It has also been suggested that the mansion constructed in 1763 was faced with bricks during the ownership of the Gatty family in 1860 to provide work for the estate workers and was greatly modernised to accommodate the Victorian way of living.

The mansion, standing in 1911 when the Estate was split up, was set on a slight eminence with commanding views of Hedgecourt Lake and the woodland beyond. The elevation gained further views from the parapet balustrading of the tiled roof of the loggia. Running along the length of the Southwest side and around the bay of the main façade was a loggia of enriched brick-work on stone columns.

One entered via an entrance porch on the Northwest front that opened to a hall. This measured about 33ft. 6ins. long by 13ft., with an 11ft. pitch. There was an oak floor, fitted oak dado, a stove with tiled hearth and a fine 18th century oak galleried staircase. Leading from the hall was a dining room measuring 28ft. 6ins. by 19ft. This had an apartment conveniently planned for service from the offices.

On the opposite side of the hall was the drawing room measuring about 27ft. by 23ft. 6ins. (including the bay). This had a carved marble mantel and curb, tiled hearth, opening by three large casement windows to the Loggia and Terrace. This room was considered to be expensively decorated with a painted ceiling, enriched cornices and panelled walls, with painted styling and guilded mouldings. Next to the drawing room was the library measuring about 20ft. 9ins. by 18ft. 6ins. This also had large casement windows to the Loggia and Terrace.

Placed to the South flank of the house was a large conservatory measuring 34ft. by 18ft. with a tessellated floor and was approached from the Loggia. Notable features in the garden s that could be viewed from the conservatory were the fern clad rockery and two camellia beds.

Still on the ground floor there was a gunroom well fitted with cupboards, a strong room, lavatory and the ground floor offices. The domestic offices were well shut off from the dwelling and included a spacious kitchen fitted with a range, servants hall, scullery, butler’s pantry fitted with cupboards and a sink, store room and a larder. In the basement there were extensive wine and beer cellars.

Jutting out at a right angle from the offices, and forming one side of a walled fruit garden, was an assortment of outbuildings. These included a brew and bake house, wash house with a copper, pump house with a good well, a coal house and wood shed, gas or furnace house, acetylene gas house for lighting, and a coke house with stoke hole.

Other outbuildings included a substantial brick-built stable block, mounted with a clock in a turret and comprised of six loose boxes and a coach-house for four or five coaches with a loft above. There was also accommodation for a coachman which comprised of two bedrooms with a stove and mantel, a living room with a range, and a scullery with a glazed sink. There was also a groom’s mess room and detached harness room. These lay screened behind the mansion and conservatory, and had a direct and separate access to the main road.

Returning to the mansion, the first floor was approached by the galleried staircase and a secondary staircase that led to a fine balustrade landing. Here there were 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 of the bedrooms had a separate WC fitted in a recess. There were also two dressing rooms and a bathroom.

On the second floor there were nine secondary and servants’ bedrooms, and a housemaid’s sink. One of the rooms was fitted as a linen room, and many of the bedrooms had fitted wardrobe cupboards.

The landings were spacious and well lit, and from the principal bedrooms there were beautiful views over the Parkland and beyond, especially from the rooms on the Southwest side which opened out on to a balcony running along the top of the Loggia.

The gardens included a productive walled kitchen garden, well stocked with fruit trees. There was a heated peach and nectarine house about 60 ft. long, two vineries and a forcing house. There were also three ranges of cold pits and a heated greenhouse in a small orchard.

The pleasure grounds extended from a broad terrace with lawns and flower gardens to some six acres of rhododendrons, shrubs and old yew hedges, and species trees, including a fine old cedar tree and sequoia. Within the grounds was a rustic summerhouse, tennis courts, woodland walks and the Evelyn monument from 1786.

The two principal entrances were guarded by a lodge, North Lodge on the main London Road, and South Lodge on the Copthorne Road. Both lodges were constructed of stone with tiled roof and accommodation consisted of six rooms apiece.

Felbridge Place Chronology

1588 – George Evelyn of Nutfield bought 70 acres of Felbridge, 30 acres adjoining Felbridge Water and 40 acres being the fields of Star Barn. The area then was little more than heathland and quite marshy.

1692 – George Evelyn, great grandson of the first George, settled these 70 acres and a newly built house called Heath Hatch on his youngest son William.

1719 – William Evelyn sold the house and land to his brother Edward, who also purchased Hedgecourt manor and a house called Park Corner, therefore creating the beginning of the Felbridge Place Estate.

1748 – Edward Evelyn had produced a map of his Estate which outlined the extent of his Estate, 1536 acres 2roods and 34 perches.

1751 – Edward Evelyn died and the Estate passed to James his second son, the first already having died.

1763 – James Evelyn had Felbridge Place built.

1793 – James Evelyn died and the Estate passed to Julia Annabella, his eldest daughter.

1797 – Julia Annabella died. It is not known whether her husband Sir George Augustus William Shuckburgh (Medley) Evelyn resided here or at his family seat of Buxted Park, it was most probably the latter. It is known that a decision to lease Felbridge Place was made some time between 1793 and 1801.

1801 – John Nicholls Esq. was listed as the tenant of Felbridge House and Park, date at which tenancy started unknown at present.

1803 – John Nicholls Esq. was still the tenant at Felbridge Place.

1804 – Sir George Shuckburgh (Medley) Evelyn died and the Felbridge Estate passed to his daughter Julia Evelyn Medley, who was married to Hon. Charles Cecil Cope Jenkinson, Earl of Liverpool. The Estate continued to be leased.

1826 – Charles Jevon Esq.’s lease expired. The date at which this commenced is unclear at present.

1826 – George Raikes Esq. took out a 21 year lease on Felbridge Place. George Raikes was of Fulham, Middlesex and the lease commenced on 29th September at the cost of £150.00, plus £50.00 an acre cut and mown twice a year or turned to tillage. The lease covered Felbridge Place with paddock and lawn, the lay or pasture fields, Bon Cheals Wood and Rookery Wood, all forming in the tenure previously held by Charles Jevon.

1841 – Maria Raikes was listed in the census as the head of household and was classed as independent, presumably her husband George Raikes had died, date unknown at present.

1851 – Thomas P Hutton was listed at Felbridge Park, he was listed as a Perp – curate of Lingfield, Surrey.

1851 – Felbridge Place was left in trust to Lady Selina Charlotte Jenkinson, Vicountess Milton after the death of her father. The Estate was probably left in trust because she had married Mr George Savile Foljambe in 1845 after the death of her first husband Viscount William Charles Milton in 1835. By keeping the Estate in trust it would pass to the heir of her first marriage.

1856 – The Trust conveyed Felbridge Place Estate to George Gatty Esq. on 20th March. It would appear that he might well have been tenanting the mansion before this time as in the indenture he was listed of Felbridge Place. The Estate included some1740 acres 0 roods and 14 perches.

1864 – George Gatty died and Felbridge Place passed to his wife Frances and son Charles Henry Gatty.

1876 – Frances Gatty died and the Estate passed to Charles Henry Gatty.

1903 – Charles Henry Gatty died and the Estate was left in trust to Alfred Leighton Sayer Esq. and Charles Lane Sayer, relations to the Gatty family on Frances Gatty’s side. The Estate then began eight years of being leased.

1911- The Earl of Egremont vacated the property, last known occupier of Felbridge Place before it was sold by the Sayers.

1911 – The Sayers conveyed Felbridge Place Estate to Mrs Emma Harvey, wife of Percy Portway Harvey of Bright Holme, Ronald Park Avenue, Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex and the East Grinstead Estate Company Ltd. of 46 Victoria Street, London, for £57,595.13.6 in February. Their purchase included the mansion house and park, buildings and land known as Felbridge Place, and all the messuages (cottages), farms, and land situated in the Parishes of Godstone, Horne and Tandridge, in Surrey, and in the Parishes of Worth and East Grinstead, in Sussex, containing an estimated 2116 acres 0 roods and 22 perches.

1911 – The East Grinstead Estate Company Ltd. put approximately 1,350 acres of the Felbridge Place Estate up for auction on 25th May. Some of the Estate was sold off, but it would appear that Felbridge Place, the house was either unsold or left empty, leased out or that the Harvey’s may have moved in until it was sold.

1913 – Arthur Smeeton Gurney of Luxfords, East Grinstead borrowed £10,000.00 from the East Grinstead Estate Co. Ltd to purchase the mansion and park, aswell as a plantation and Smithfield Farm.

1916- The East Grinstead Estate Company Ltd. put up for auction, ‘Cuttinglye and its Environs’. This included, Cuttinglye Estate, the remainder of Smithfield Farm, Home Farm, Harts Hall site, Coopers Moors, Thorny Park sites, Pond-Tail sites, Summerlands Estate, Mill Wood and Bakers Wood, an area amounting to approximately 785 acres.

1916 – Henry Willis Rudd of 27 Pall Mall, London, purchased Felbridge Place which included, the mansion, park, garden, Hedgecourt Lake and other pieces of land amounting to 218 acres 3 roods and 1 perch for £11,750.00. The estate was remortgaged later with the East Grinstead Estate Co. Ltd., which was paid back, and then remortgaged with Barclays Bank.

1924 – Barclays Bank, holding for the Rudd’s, sold the tennis court to Percy Portway Harvey, alias the East Grinstead Estate Co. Ltd.

1924 – Henry Rudd put up for auction New Chapel House and Felbridge Place Estates, which included New Chapel House, (now the Mormon Temple complex), Golands, (now Stradfords), Felbridge Place, Park Farm, (including the Bailiff’s house, now Park Farm, the old home farm, now Park House and the outbuildings), racing stables with bungalow, Hedgecourt Lake, woodland and other land suitable for building plots totalling 770 acres. It is not known who purchased Felbridge Place but the Pear’s soap family purchased New Chapel House and grounds.

1926 – By order of the Mortgagees 110 acres of Felbridge Place Estate was put up for auction as building plots along the main Eastbourne Road and Copthorne Road.

1928 – Henry Rudd sold part of the parkland to Samuel Cadley, on which was built Exton Court, later to become Arkendale.

1932 – George William Newling Ward was listed as owning part of the Felbridge Place Estate, as he had turned the mansion house into a hotel which was known as Felbridge Place Hotel in 1932.

1949 – Mr Cartwright took over the Felbridge Place Hotel and changed its name to the White Duchess. (Date approximate).

1951 – Col. Ponsonby took over the hotel. He ran Felbridge Place as a hotel for a couple of years before selling up, auctioning some of the contents of the hotel.

1955 – The Hotel had closed by the summer.

1957 – Mr Roff had Felbridge Place converted into small apartments by dividing up the rooms into smaller units. Whilst the alterations were taking place timber framing was discovered behind some of the Victorian interior, possibly some of the original Heath Hatch building that is known to have stood near or on the site before Felbridge Place was built in 1763.

1964 - It would appear that the house stood empty for a couple of years and gradually deteriorated.

1966 – The Mercers Company purchased Felbridge Place to move Whittington College to.

1972 – The Mercers Company demolished Felbridge Place house, retaining the old stable block and some of the outbuildings. The first floor of the stable block was converted into two staff flats.