Felmere is situated at the end of a long private road off the Copthorne Road (A264), in a secluded setting to the northwest of Hedgecourt Lake. This document sets out to chart the history of the site, construction of the house and the people who have owned and occupied the property.
The early days as part of the manor of Hedgecourt
The site of Felmere was once part of the manor of Hedgecourt which was formed in about 1290, having been created from the manor of Tylemundesdon together with a carucate (about 120 acres) of land of Lindelegh. The manor encompassed land in two counties, Surrey and Sussex, and in four parishes, Worth on the Sussex side of the county boundary, and Tandridge, Godstone and Horne, (originally part of the manor of Bletchingley), on the Surrey side of the county boundary, with the site of Felmere located in the parish of Horne.
The earliest listed holder of the manor of Hedgecourt was Stephen de Appeltrefeld who granted the manor to his brother Gilbert de Appeltrefeld in 1290, who was succeeded shortly after by John de Berewyk until his death when it eventually passed to his nephew Roger de Husee. In 1361, Roger de Husee died and the manor passed to his brother John who granted it to Hugh Craan sometime before 1365.
In 1366, Hugh Craan granted the manor to Nicholas Loveine and on his death it was settled on his daughter Margaret, wife of Sir Phillip Seyntcler [Sinclair]. The manor was retained by the Seyntclers until their deaths in 1423, when it passed successively to their sons, John and then Thomas. On the death of Thomas Seyntcler in 1435, the manor of Hedgecourt passed to his daughter Eleanor, wife of John Gage of Firle, and was retained by the Gage family until 1747.
Although the manor of Hedgecourt was held by the Gage family there is little evidence that they resided there. As early as 1457 the manor was listed as held by Sir Roger Lewkenor and in 1473 John Gage granted a twenty-year lease of the manor to Richard Luggesford and William Sharpe, with Richard Luggesford being listed of Hedgecourt Park between 1490 and 1492. In November 1492 William Gage granted a lease on the manor to Richard Lewkenor[e] senior who continued to hold the property until at least 1497.
In 1567, Edward Gage granted a twenty-one year lease of the manor of Hedgecourt, plus other lands, to John Thorpe, yeoman of Horne. It is known that John Thorpe originally came from Cudworth manor, Newdigate, Surrey, and it is possible that he had taken out a previous lease on the manor of Hedgecourt as he was already listed as a yeoman of Horne in 1567.
In 1578, John Thorpe was granted a forty-year lease on the manor of Hedgecourt which included the demesne lands of the manor in Sussex and Surrey, the Park of Hedgecourt, along with other lands. The extent of this lease included three messuage, four tofts, one watermill, one iron mill, four gardens, 100 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow, 300 acres of pasture, 500 acres of wood and 300 acres of furze and heath, with the rights to common pasture for all cattle in Burstow, Horne, Hedgecourt, Horley and Godstone.
The Thorpe family continued to lease the manor of Hedgecourt, including what was to become Hedgecourt Farm, until 1651 when Richard Thorpe, of Worth, gentleman, the son and heir of Richard Thorpe of Hedgecourt, gentleman deceased, conveyed his interest in the manor of Hedgecourt to Simon Everenden, gentleman of Cliffe near Lewes in Sussex, although Richard Thorpe continued to pay the yearly rent until 1655.
In 1656, Simon Everenden granted an eighteen-year lease, at the cost of £65, to John Wakeham of Hedgecourt, gentleman, implying that he may have already been in residence. The details of the lease are as follows:
The site and capital messuage of manor of Hedgecourt, with barns and buildings in Horne and the following lands, all in Godstone and Horne:
Lesser Millbrook (13a 1r 8p);
Bigger Millbrookes (16a 0r 32p);
Kents Bush (15a 3r 2p);
Ledgers Brookes (12a 0r 27p);
Sheep Pound Brookes (14a 1r 28p);
Lesser Rayles (13a 1r 14p);
Bigger Rayles (18a 3r 26p);
Moat Crofts (22a 3r 22p);
Mill Mede (16a 1r 3p);
Middle Roomes (9a 2r 20p);
Barly Close (2a 2r 3p);
Pond Side (8a 1r 19p);
Barley Field (12a 1r 12p);
Sheep leases (10a 3r 16p);
Sheeplease (8a 2r 17p);
Bigger Barnefeld (14a 2r 5p);
Little Cuttings (12a 1r 28p);
Densheir Cutting (15a 0r 20p);
Charts Gill (12a 3r 0p)
The tenant should yearly carry six loads of clay or cinder down to Hedgecourt millpond for repairing the bay.
John Wakeman held the property until 1701 when he was succeeded by Mr Marchant, possibly Joseph Marchant who held Hedgecourt Mill at the time, [for further details see Hedgecourt Watermill and Cottages, SJC 07/04 handout]. By 1730, Mr Marchant had been succeeded by Mrs Jefferson and in 1736 the property was granted to Thomas Holcombe, yeoman of Horne. The seven-year lease granted by William Gage included the capital messuage of the manor of Hedgecourt, with all its buildings and land as in the lease of 15th July 1656. The 1656 lease (outlined above) refers to the area that later became known as Hedgecourt Farm, although by 1667 the property was known as Wakemans Farm.
The site of Felmere as part of the Felbridge Park estate
In 1741, Edward Evelyn purchased from William Gage a property called Park Corner (now the site of the Star Inn) and some 130 acres of land, being part of the manor of Hedgecourt. Six years later after the death of William Gage in 1744, the remaining part of the manor of Hedgecourt was conveyed by his trustees to Edward Evelyn in 1747.
The Evelyn family had bought into the Felbridge area in 1588 when George Evelyn of Nutfield purchased seventy acres of land in Felbridge, thirty acres adjoining Felbridge Water and forty acres being the fields of Star Barn (now the site of the cricket ground), the area then being little more than heath land and marsh. In 1692, George Evelyn (the great grandson of the previous George Evelyn) settled these seventy acres and a newly built house called Heath Hatch (situated on the site of Whittington College) on his youngest son William, who in 1719, sold the house and land to his brother Edward.
With the purchase of Park Corner in 1741, the manor of Hedgecourt in 1747 and their amalgamation with his own holding, Edward Evelyn created Felbridge Park extending to 1536 acres 2 roods and 34 perches. This estate was held by the Evelyn family and their descendents until 1855 when it was put up for auction, being purchased on 20th March 1856 by George Gatty of Crowhurst in Sussex.
At the time of the auction, the Felbridge Park estate had grown to 2,200 acres although George Gatty only purchased about 1,740 acres which comprised of the mansion and home domain of Felbridge along with two other lots that included Smithfields Farm, on the south side of Crawley Down Road at the foot of Hophurst Hill, and Cuttinglye Wood in Crawley Down.
It is interesting to note that by 1855 the old manor and demesne lands of Hedgecourt had become known as the home domain of Felbridge, no doubt due to the fact that Edward Evelyn had established his holding in Felbridge before his purchase of the manor of Hedgecourt from the Gage family in 1747, therefore attaching more importance to the name of Felbridge than Hedgecourt.
The domain of Felbridge comprised of the Star Inn (formerly Park Corner), Park Farm, Wards Farm, Wiremill flour mill, pond and Farm, Hedgecourt mill and lands, Newchapel Farm, Rabys Farm, and Hedgecourt Manor Farm. The site of Felmere was included within the bounds of Hedgecourt Manor Farm which, in 1855, was described as the reputed manor of Hedge Court, embracing about 324 acres. The original manor house of Hedgecourt is situated at the moated site to the east of Hedgecourt Farm (now part of Beavers Fisheries off Woodcock Hill) and it is believed to have been rebuilt on dryer ground, as the house at Hedgecourt Farm, now known simply as Hedgecourt.
In the 1855 sale catalogue the land at Hedgecourt Farm that would eventually become the established holding of Felmere was listed as:
No. on Plan Description Cultivation Area
726 Arable Arable 12. 03. 04
727 Arable Arable 10. 00. 34
728 Arable Arable 09. 00. 24
Total 32. 00. 22
The site of Felmere as part of Hedgecourt Farm
The location of fields 726, 727 and 728 would suggest that historically they had formed part of what became known as Hedgecourt Farm, but unfortunately it has not yet been possible to determine the earliest date of inclusion. However, a comparison of the field names and acreage of the 1656 lease (as outlined above) with later maps and sales particulars shows that field 726 was called Little Cuttings, field 727 was called Sheeplease and that field 728 did not form part of 1656 lease and was therefore not part of the holding at that date. The name Little Cuttings suggests that the field had been cleared woodland, and the name Sheeplease may be a derivation of Sheep leas meaning meadow or grassland where sheep grazed. Unfortunately it has not yet been possible to determine under which holding field 728 fell in 1656, or whether it was still un-cleared woodland that had not yet been brought into cultivation. Additional information from the 1656 lease states that the description refers to a lease created thirty-four years earlier suggesting that the land holding had been established by at least 1622.
In 1748, fields 726, 727 and 728 are clearly depicted on the Bourd map which was commissioned by Edward Evelyn to show the extent of his newly formed Felbridge estate. Field 726 was called Long Cuttings and field 727 was called Outer Sheeplus, but field 728 was un-named. The apportionment attached to the Bourd map lists the names of the farms in the Felbridge estate and contains the first documentary evidence for Hedgecourt Farm extending to just over 305 acres. In 1656, the farm extended to just over 250 acres but by 1748 it had increased to 305 acres, suggesting that field 728 had been incorporated into the area of Hedgecourt Farm by 1748. The Bourd map indicates that fields 726, 727 and 728 were cultivated as arable, the predominant cultivation of Hedgecourt Farm in 1748.
It is important to remember the shift in the status of the manor of Hedgecourt after its purchase by Edward Evelyn and its amalgamation with his own holding of Felbridge. As part of the Gage holding, and previous lords of the manor, the lands of Hedgecourt Farm were the demesne lands of the manor of Hedgecourt containing the manor house after its relocation from the moated site. However, after the purchase by Edward Evelyn in 1747, the shift in emphasis passed to his already established property known as Felbridge House formerly Heath Hatch, and as such the status of the manor of Hedgecourt and manor house became less important, their original status being forgotten over the passage of time.
It is known that Hedgecourt Farm had been leased to a series of tenants and that by 1656 it was being farmed by John Wakeman and in 1736 Thomas Holcombe had taken out a seven year lease. The latter lease expired in 1743 but Thomas Holcombe was still paying rent on the farm in 1744, but it has not yet been possible to determine the names of later tenants until 1800 when William Stenning was cited of Hedgecourt, Horne, in the list of Felbridge tithes. William Stenning was succeeded by Edward Stenning who paid the land tax on Hedgecourt Farm between 1801 and 1815.
In 1815, Edward Stenning was succeeded by his son-in-law, Stephen Searle, who had married Edwards daughter Sarah Stenning. Stephen Searle remained at Hedgecourt Farm until 1820 when he took out a lease on Wootton Farm in Folkington, Sussex, although he was recorded of Hedgecourt until 1826. However, Stephen Searle was succeeded at Hedgecourt Farm in 1821 by Abraham Hale; unfortunately it has not yet been possible to determine when Abraham Hale left Hedgecourt Farm.
In 1840, the Godstone tithe records William Agate as the tenant of the Hedgecourt land in Godstone, confirmed in the 1841 census which records him as the farmer of Hedge Court, and the Horne tithe of 1844 records William Agate as the tenant of Hedgecourt Farm. The tithes record that Hedgecourt Farm consisted of 108a 2r 25p in Godstone and 225a 1r 27p in Horne making a total of just over 334 acres, an increase of twenty-nine acres since 1748. Living within William Agates household were three male agricultural labourers suggesting that he employed at least three labourers to help work the farm.
By 1851, William Agate had been succeeded by William Wells, the census recording him as the farmer of 347 acres, employing five labourers, the property was recorded as Hedgecourt House. However, by the date of the sale of the Felbridge Park estate in 1855 William Wells had been succeeded by John Winchester and the property was advertised as Hedgecourt Farm. At the time of sale, Hedgecourt Farm was recorded as 324 acres, twenty-three acres smaller than listed in the census four years earlier. However, the site of Felmere, fields 726, 727 and 728, totalling just over 32 acres, still formed part of Hedgecourt Farm at its sale in 1856.
Although Hedgecourt Farm came under the ownership of George Gatty in 1856, John Winchester continued to hold the tenancy. In 1861, Hedgecourt Farm was recorded as consisting of 280 acres, a decrease of forty-four acres from its sale in 1856, although the site of Felmere was still included within the bounds of the farm. In 1871, the farm had increased in size by five acres and John Winchester was employing four men and three boys. John Winchester appeared in the Kellys Directory of 1874 as farmer of Hedgecourt Farm but by 1881 the farm was under the tenancy of George Jupp who was employing four men but only two boys.
By 1891, Hedgecourt Farmhouse contained two households, under the tenancy of James West employed as the Farm Bailiff, and John Creasey working as an agricultural labourer. Shortly after the census the tenancy of Hedgecourt Farm was in the hands of Thomas Smeed, passing to his son George Edward Smeed by 1901, although Thomas aged eighty-two, by then retired, and his wife Sarah aged eighty-one were also residing at the Farm.
In 1903, Charles Henry Gatty, who had succeeded his father George Gatty as owner of the Felbridge Park estate on his death in 1865, also died and the estate passed to two cousins, Charles Lane Sayer and Alfred Leighton Sayer. The Sayers retained the Felbridge Park estate until 11th February 1911 when it was sold it to Mrs Emma Harvey and the East Grinstead Estate Company. At the time of sale, Hedgecourt Farm was still held by George Edward Smeed whose tenancy was due to expire on 29th September 1911.
The tenancy list for 1911 in the schedule of deeds for the Felbridge Park estate shows that the site of Felmere, fields 726, 727 and 728, was still part of Hedgecourt Farm under the tenancy of George Edward Smeed, although in 1911 the fields had been re-numbered as 529, 530 and 541:
No. on plan Description Cultivation Area
529 Arable 13.017
530 P. grass/pt. arable 10.071
541 Grass 9.113
In Horne Total 32.201
It is interesting to note the difference in the cultivation of the land which in 1855 was wholly arable yet by 1911 a large proportion of it had been turned over to grass, presumably for either pasture or hay. A trend that had also been adopted by the rest of Hedgecourt Farm, implying that the farm was being used more as a livestock farm than in 1855.
Although the Felbridge Place estate was put up for auction in May 1911, Hedgecourt Farm was not included in the sale catalogue, nor the site of Felmere.
Freehold purchase of the land and construction of the house
The freehold of Hedgecourt Farm (including the plot upon which Felmere was later built) was purchased by Eyre Crowe and the Felbridge Fruit Farm Company on 4th January 1912 from the East Grinstead Estate Company. The Felbridge Fruit Farm Company had been formed on 31st August 1911 with Eyre Crowe and Henry Hooper as joint managing directors, but Eyre held 940 shares compared to Henrys 10. It would appear that the Felbridge Fruit Farm was used as the address for Hedgecourt Farm. In October 1912, Eyre Crowe listed his address as Felmere, Felbridge, confirming that the house was built during 1912. A mortgage of 1912 refers to Felmere and one acre of freehold land upon which it stands indicating that Felmere was only a dwelling for Eyre Crowe at this time and did not have any directly associated land beyond the immediate garden. To gain access to the property a road had been cut across the common land of Pond Tail to the west of Hedgecourt Lake which in 1918 was known as New Road. This road runs due north and then dog-legs east and then north to the site of the house in field 530.
The house at Felmere is built in the deep heather-coloured bricks of the area, similar to Rowfants, interspersed with red bricks in a regular pattern, under a tiled roof. The property is rambling in design with many juxtaposing gables, reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts tradition that was the vogue in the first quarter of the 20th century. There are several decorative features that include a small gable overlooking the rear garden which is timber framed and infilled with red bricks in a herringbone design, and the corners of each gable have decorative layers of red clay tiles which can also be found in the walls adjacent to some of the window frames. There is also a row of red bricks that step-up along the line of the gable to the point of each of the three main gables below the line of the roof, and above many of the wider aspect windows there is a relieving arch of brick laid as a decorative feature into the straight courses of brick.
The rear of the house is south facing and accessed from the first floor master bedroom is a balcony creating a loggia below, although this had to be re-newed in the 1960s. The lounge would have once offered views of Hedgecourt Lake, although today this can only be viewed in the winter months when the leaves are off the trees. The positioning of the property must have influenced the naming of the property as Felmere, a name probably chosen by someone who knew the meaning of English words, fel meaning clearing or field and mere meaning lake or pond.
The main entrance into the house is from the north side of the property through a wide half-glazed door flanked by windows under a wide tiled porch. This leads to a small entrance area with a geometric tiled floor before opening into a large, light and airy hall with the rooms and the main, wide, shallow-stepped staircase accessed off of it.
The house, still containing many original fixtures and fittings including servant bell pushes, has remained virtually un-altered since its construction in 1912, except a possible early extension to the domestic areas of the property on the west side of the house, which is dominated by a large kitchen, complete with servants bell box still in situ. Leading north from the kitchen area is what must have once been an assortment of domestic offices. This is the most altered area of the property and speculation can only be employed as to the original layout and uses. There is some evidence to suggest that the boiler-room located in the cellar at the northeast corner of the house would have originally been accessed by steps external to the property. These steps have now been enclosed within the addition of domestic offices including a possible wash/laundry room, walk-in larder and two small rooms now knocked through into the kitchen area. There is also evidence that a servants staircase once rose from the kitchen area to staff accommodation on the first floor and possibly the attic space.
The interior of the house clearly demonstrates the class divide of the period in which it was built. The main part of the house is floored with teak floor boards whilst the staff areas and attic are floored with pine boards. The fireplaces on the ground floor of the main part of the house have ornate brick surrounds except one which has rich copper-green glazed tiles and wooden surround. First floor fireplaces are ornate brick but on a slightly smaller scale, however the attic rooms and staff quarters have small functional cast iron fireplaces. The staff accommodation is however light and airy and not depressingly dark as it would have been if constructed before the turn of the 20th century.
Owners and occupiers of Felmere
Since the construction of Felmere in 1912, there have only been nine owners, although there have been several people connected with the property as either employees or tenants of the associated property known as Woodland Farm, formerly The Moorings, a cottage built to house workers of the Felbridge Fruit Farm at Felmere.
The first person to have documented connections with Felmere is Eyre Crowe, listed, together with the Felbridge Fruit Farm Ltd, in a street directory in 1912 of Felmere. Eyre Crowe was responsible for the construction of the house, and as the Felbridge Fruit Farm Ltd. was registered in 1911 by Eyre Crowe, it suggests that Felmere was constructed with the purpose of him taking up fruit farming residing within the lands of Hedgecourt Farm, renamed at the time as Felbridge Fruit Farm. In 1912, Eyre listed his occupation as fruit farmer.
Eyre Crowe was born on 11th May 1862 in Warsaw in Poland, the son of Edward and Elizabeth Crowe. Edward had been born in France in about 1829, the son of Captain Eyre Evans Crowe and his wife Margaret. Edward Crowe had married Elizabeth (Bettina) Elliot Marconi on 28th April 1860 at the British Consulate General Chaplaincy in Warsaw. Elizabeth (of the famous Italian family), was a British Subject and had also been born in Poland in about 1829. Edward was a civil engineer by trade and worked during the 1850s and early 1860s on the waterworks at Warsaw before moving back to England, settling in Middlesbrough where he was involved with the iron industry until his death in 1873.
As well as their son Eyre, Edward and Elizabeth had seven other children, Edward born in 1861 and Henry born in 1863, both in Warsaw, Margaret born in 1864 in Redcar, Yorkshire, Robert born in 1866, Eleanora born in 1868, a still-born child born in 1869 and Amy Bettina born in 1872, the last four children being born in Middlesbrough.
Edward and Elizabeth Crowe and their family moved back to England between the birth of Henry in 1863 and Margaret in 1864, living first at Kirkleatham near Redcar, before moving to Marton, Middlesbrough, sometime between 1871 and 1873, where Edward senior died on 20th December at the age of forty-four. The death of Edward left Elizabeth with seven young children, Eyre being just eleven years old, and by 1881, Elizabeth Crowe and her family had moved to Neithrop near Banbury in Oxfordshire.
It is interesting to note that many of Eyres relations have interesting lives and the Crowe family was a truly European family. His grandfather, Captain Eyre Evans Crowe who was born in 1799, was orphaned at an early age and spent his youth with two spinster aunts in Ireland. In his late teens he moved to London earning money as a contributor of articles and poems to magazines. In 1823, he married Margaret Archer, the only daughter of Captain Joseph Archer of Kiltimon House, Killiskey, county Wicklow, and the couple set up home in London before moving to France. Here Captain Eyre Evans Crowe secured regular employment as the Paris correspondent for the Morning Chronicle newspaper in London. By 1846, he had moved to the Daily News and back to London and by 1849 he had become the editor, employing his son Eyre (uncle of Eyre Crowe of Felmere) as the newspapers art critic.
Eyre Evans and Margaret Crowe had twelve children, Eyre born in Chelsea in 1824, (Sir) Joseph Archer born in Chelsea in 1825, Eugenie Marie born in Boulogne in 1827, Edward (father of Eyre Crowe of Felmere) born in France in 1829, Amy born in Paris in 1831, Eyrielle Jane born in Paris (date not known), Ulrich Milne born in Paris about 1840, George born in Paris in 1841, as well as Edith, Piccola, Henry and a boy. Nothing is yet known about these last four children except that Henry possibly died in Paris in 1898.
Eyre Crowe (uncle to Eyre Crowe of Felmere) was a painter of historical and genre works during the 19th and early 20th century. He studied in Paris with the French artist Paul Delaroche and attended the Royal Academy Schools at the same time as several members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and although his work was never linked with the works of the Pre-Raphaelites, he was friendly with William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Frederick George Stephens all leading figures in the movement. Eyre also worked with William Makepeace Thackeray, accompanying him on a lecture tour of America between 1852 and 1853. Eyre was appointed honorary member of the St Johns Wood Clique of Artists and was also made an Associate of the Royal Academy.
Joseph Crowe (uncle of Eyre Crowe of Felmere) began his working life as a journalist like his father Eyre Evans Crowe, but switched to diplomacy in 1860, ending his career as the Commercial Attaché for Europe spending most of his adult life in Germany and France, being knighted in 1890. His son Sir Eyre Alexander Barby Wichart Crowe (cousin of Eyre Crowe of Felmere) became a civil servant, was knighted in 1911 and appointed permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1920.
Ulrich Crowe (uncle of Eyre Crowe of Felmere) initially lived in London where he worked as a railway clerk. However, he went on to found a commercial transportation company called Crowe & Co. in 1890 in Basel, Switzerland, where he eventually died at Vevey in 1921.
George Crowe (uncle of Eyre Crowe of Felmere) trained as a doctor in London and Edinburgh and in 1866 married the American actress Kate Josephine Bateman, a member of the theatrical dynasties of Bateman and Compton, George changing his career to become her manager. Their daughter Sidney Kate Bateman Crowe was also a successful actress, as was her daughter Sidney Kate Leah Hunter.
Amy Crowe (aunt of Eyre Crowe of Felmere) married Edward Talbot Thackery, a cousin of William Thackery, and moved out to India with him in 1865, unfortunately dying within two years at a young age. Eyrielle (aunt of Eyre Crowe of Felmere) was a talented painter like her brother Eyre, and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1874 and 1875.
As for Eyre Crowe of Felmere, he married Beatrice Stockton in April 1896 in Banbury. Beatrice was from a family of solicitors of Banbury and had been born there in 1865. She was well educated, being one of the first women to have been accepted at Oxford University. Eyre and Beatrice had three children, Beatrice Evelyn born in 1897, Henry, always known as Harry, born in 1899 and Sylvia born in 1901. In 1897, Eyre and Beatrice were living in Warkworth, Northamptonshire, where their daughter Beatrice was born but the family had moved back to Banbury within two years as Eyre had invested in the box-making and printing company called Henry Stone & Son Ltd. However, Eyre was not a fit man and retired early purchasing Felmere where he settled down as a fruit farmer, although the family also enjoyed travels in the South of France, Italy and Corsica where Eyre, an accomplished water colourist, painted the countryside and landscapes.
Sadly Eyre and Beatrices daughter Beatrice died in 1908 and the family settled in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, until around 1912 when Eyre Crowe purchased Felmere. As for the two other children of Eyre and Beatrice, Harry served in the army during World War I and then took a degree in Electrical Engineering at Faraday House followed by training at Plenty Electrical Engineers in Newbury where he met his future wife, Eileen Sybil (Brownie). Harrys career took him to India where he married Brownie in 1929 in Bombay. In 1932, expecting their first child, Brownie returned to Newbury where she had their son Simon before returning to India where Harry worked until his retirement in 1955, Harry having become a director of a number of electrical supply companies. On Harrys retirement the family returned to England to Deddington in Oxfordshire where Harry died in 1965.
Sylvia Crowe, daughter of Eyre Crowe of Felmere, was born on 15th September 1901. She attended school in Berkhamsted but at the age of ten she developed a form of tuberculosis and her parents were advised to withdraw her from school. It was shortly after this date that the Crowe family moved to Felmere around 1912. As a result of her illness, Sylvia was taught at home by her mother and spent most of her time outdoors working on the fruit farm that her father had set up at Felmere or wandering around the lake and surrounding countryside at Hedgecourt, which today has been given the status of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. As children, Sylvia and Harry also enjoyed the many pursuits afforded by Hedgecourt Lake, sailing in the summer and skating on the lake when it froze in winter. However, during the war years Sylvia had to work hard on the farm because all the men had joined the forces and she was made responsible for a small herd of cows. It was through the enjoyment of her outdoor life and pursuits and wanderings in the Felbridge countryside that Sylvia acquired an intense love and respect of the countryside, and landscape in particular.
Out of her love of the countryside and interest in the landscape grew a desire to design and create gardens. Even in her teens, Sylvia would visit William Robinson, the eminent garden designer, at his home at Gravetye Manor to view and discuss the gardens that he had created there, which made a significant impression on her. As her nephew later wrote, His style appealed to her, particularly the sculptural way in which plants were used and how his informality had composition. So in 1920, Sylvia pursued a course at Swanley Horticultural College in Kent, which was based on the more physical and practical side of horticulture, providing an understanding of plants, planting and soil.
Sylvias first place of work after completing her studies was at Hobland Hall in Norfolk, before spending time with her parents on their travels abroad. After World War I, Sylvias parents had resumed their travels abroad and Sylvia often accompanied her father when he was sketching and painting and as a consequence she developed her own artistic ability. In 1926, she returned to the idea of designing gardens and became a pupil under the landscape architect Edward White in London, where she learned skills in surveying and drawing a site. This then led to an appointment in 1928 as landscape architect with Cutbush Nurseries, primarily designing small private gardens, although occasionally she was able to work on a more grand scale, designing the gardens at Lower Soughton, near Mold in North Wales.
In 1934, Sylvia was elected an Associate of the Institute of Landscape Architects and in 1935 a Fellow of the Institute. In 1937, while still working for Cutbush Nurseries, Sylvia won a gold Medal for her garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it was an informal garden with a bluebell wood from which flowed a stream into a pond, somewhat reminiscent to the gardens at Gravetye which she had spent so much time visiting during her teens. On another occasion Sylvia designed a daring garden using a concrete summerhouse based on structure she had seen on a trip to France. This made a huge impact on the visitors, unfortunately mostly in a negative way, some being quite hostile towards her use of modern materials, although Geoffrey Jellicoe with whom she later worked, greatly admired the work. As a result of her bold use of concrete in the garden she was asked by the Cement and Concrete Association of Wrexham to design a plant container. Her design response was circular containers that fitted one above the other to make a group of various heights, a design which is still produced today.
However, Sylvias garden designs had to be put on hold with the outbreak of World War II. Sylvia joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and became an ambulance driver to a Polish brigade in northern France, being part of the withdrawal from Paris with the advance of the German forces. On returning to England, she served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service being promoted to Sergeant. After the war, with no job to come back to, Sylvia set up her own private practice in garden design which flourished, her underlying belief being that gardens were the link between men and the world in which they lived.
During the war years, the Institute of Landscape Architects had been kept going by Geoffrey Jellicoe and after the war, with the massive re-building programme, landscape architects saw new opportunities in garden design and a move away from gardens for the wealthy to landscaping for the public sector. The programme of New Towns and re-building increased demand for the services of landscape architects, expanding their horizons to deal with not only gardens but also roads, sports fields, schools and shopping centres, all the amenities of modern life. Sylvia was quick to embrace these new opportunities and from 1948 to 1968 worked with Geoffrey Jellicoe in the formation of the International Federation of Landscape Architects, being secretary for eleven years and later Acting President.
In Sylvias eyes, power-stations, gasometers, sewage farms, crematoria, airfields and large-scale sports grounds were all newcomers to the landscape and out of scale with its existing pattern. The great challenge was to design landscapes that would integrate these large, modern structures and to, as she put it, exploit their latent beauty and create from it a new landscape. She was the first ever landscape consultant for the Forestry Commission with her revolutionary ideas that forests should be places of enjoyment and that the contours of landscapes should be defined by the grouping of trees, and the principles she laid down on mixed planting, plantation outlines and response to contours are still followed to this day.
During her life, Sylvia was a consultant for variety of wide-ranging projects, a few of which are listed below:
Re-establishment of the sea front at Mablethorpe and Sutton-on-Sea, Lincolnshire
New Towns of Harlow and Basildon
Churchyards at St Marys, Banbury, and Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
Penicillin Rose Garden at Magdalen College
Car park to Tutors House, University College, Oxford,
US Air Force housing at Brize Norton and Greenham Common in Oxfordshire, Fairford in Gloucestershire, Alconbury in Huntingdonshire, and Lakenheath, Mildenhall and Woodbridge in Suffolk,
Royal Marines Camp at Bickleigh near Plymouth, Devon,
Friern Hospital in north London and Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny, Wales
Restoration of the garden at Barford Park in Bridgwater, Hampshire,
Garden designs for Hailey House in Ipsden, Oxfordshire, and Whalebones in Barnet, Hertfordshire Bradwell Power Station in Harlow in Essex, and the Nuclear Power Stations at Trawsfynydd and Wylfa in North Wales
High voltage transmission line routing in southern England for the Central Electricity Board
Landscape plans for the Lower Swansea Valley and the Swansea Foreshaw in South Wales Landscape plan for Abbotsinch Airport (Glasgow Airport) in Scotland, and the Aerodrome at Harrowbeer in Cornwall,
Landscape plan for the Aquadrome at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
Landscape plans for the Cumberland Basin Bridges and Ashton Gate Junction in Bristol
Landscape plans for the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel, London, and the Esher by-pass in Surrey,
Commonwealth Park in Australia
Landscape plans for Arlington Reservoir, Arlington, East Sussex, Bewl Bridge Reservoir (Bewl Water), Lamberhurst, Kent, Bough Beech Reservoir near Tonbridge, Kent, Empingham Reservoir (Rutland Water), Rutland, and Wimbleball Lake, Somerset
Landscape plan for the River Cuckmere, Eastbourne, East Sussex
Roof garden for the Scottish Widows Head Office overlooking Holyrood Park in Edinburgh
Work for the Forestry Commission.
Sylvia also wrote numerous articles and many books that set the scene for future development and the theory and practice of landscape architecture for the 20th century, books include, Tomorrows Landscape (1956), The Landscape of Power (1958), Garden Design (1959), The Landscape of Roads (1960), Forestry in the Landscape (1966), Landscapes of Forests and Woods, The Gardens of Mughul India a History and a Guide (1972), The Pattern of Landscapes (1988), and in 1961 edited Space for Living, and Shaping Tomorrows Landscape.
In 1967, Sylvia received a CBE and in 1973 she was made a Dame of the British Empire in recognition of her work and influence on gardening styles during the 20th century. Perhaps a direct comparison with the influences of her teenage years at Felmere can be drawn between her ideas for planting, particularly with regard to reservoirs and that of the lake side at Hedgecourt. Sylvia advocated softening the edges of the man-made lakes with planting to diminish and conceal the dams and concrete, a direct comparison with the man-made lake of Hedgecourt, which, having been created in the mid 16th century had had time to mature into its setting by the early 20th century when Sylvia lived at its edge. She also believed reservoirs, as with all modern amenities in her view, should become merged with their surroundings and offer recreational facilities to the populous, much as Hedgecourt Lake offered with it sailing and skating during her youth. Sylvias design concepts had the foresight to speed up the re-generation of nature surrounding the new structures appearing in the post-war years, to create a landscape that they comfortably sat into with the least visual impact on the natural landscape surrounding them.
After a long and influential life, Sylvia died on 30th June 1997 and was buried at Hardwick Hill Cemetary, in the rolling Oxfordshire countryside, in the town she where had been born nearly ninety-six years earlier.
Returning to Sylvias father, Eyre Crowe, the implication is that he must have been responsible for the construction of the house at Felmere. The property is a testament to the ideas and influences of the two eminent architects of the period, Charles Annesley Voysey and Sir Edwin Lutyens, containing design concepts that Eyre, as an engineer with his social standing and artistic and cultural background, must have been fully aware of. Another fact to consider is that until 1912, the site of the house and garden at Felmere had been no more than a field of Hedgecourt Farm and it would also be nice to think that perhaps Eyres daughter Sylvia had had some influence on the original garden design, although none of the designs for her early commissions for private gardens survive for comparison, as they were lost during World War II.
The Crowe family remained at Felmere until 1921 when Eyre and Beatrice resumed their travels in the South of France, although by this date, after the end of World War I, they must have seen a very different landscape to the one that Eyre had painted in Europe before the war. In 1921 Eyre and Beatrice sold Felmere house and the adjacent fields consisting of field 529, 530 and 541, a holding totalling just over thirty-two acres, and in 1922, they finally dissolved Felbridge Fruit Farm, of which they were now the joint managing directors.
Gerard G Lovell
In 1921, Gerard G Lovell succeeded Eyre Crowe and his family at Felmere, but unfortunately, Gerard Lovell has proved an illusive character to find much information on. What little is known is that Gerard was born about 1897, the son of Sidney and Catherine Lovell. Sidney had been born Sidney John Lovell in about 1870 in London and Catherine had been born Catherine Emma C Graydon in about 1862 in Dublin. Sidney and Catherine married in the December quarter of 1895 in Kensington and by 1901 the Lovells and son Gerard were living in Ealing, Sidney working as a stock-broker.
In 1921, the electoral roll lists Gerard Lovell together with Kathleen Lovell and Sidney Lovell as residing at Felmere. Although not proven, it would seem likely that Kathleen was the wife of Gerard and that Sidney, his father, was living with them. As there is no mention of Sidneys wife Catherine, it may suggest that she had died by this date being that she was eight years older than Sidney and would have been about fifty-nine years old in 1921.
Gerard Lovell is recorded as residing at Felmere for a further two years, the last entry in the Post Office Directory being in 1924.
William Guthrie Kirkhope
In 1924, William Gutherie Kirkhope succeeded Gerard Lovell at Felmere, having just returned from China where he had been living for several years, being highly regarded for his work in the medical field and in particular, his aid to famine relief.
William was born in 1880 in Cathcart, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the son of William Gutherie Kirkhope and his wife Johanne. William Gutherie Kirkhope senior had been born in 1843 in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland, and spent most of his working life in the sugar trade. Johanne had been born in 1840 in Dingwall, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, the daughter of Kenneth and Williamina Macleay. William and Johanne had one other child apart from William, Kenneth M born in 1878 in Pollock Shields, Renfrewshire. In 1871, William senior was working as a commercial clerk, living with Johanne at 29 Cleveland Street, Barony, Glasgow. By 1881, William was working as a clerk in the sugar trade and the Kirkhope family were living at 23 Myrtle Park, Cathcart, but by 1891 William was described as a sugar broker and the family had moved to 8 Myrtle Park. By 1901 the family were listed at 18 Myrtle Street and in 1912 William was listed as a sugar broker.
It has not yet been possible to find any further information on Kenneth M Kirkhope, but William junior was well educated and attended the University of Glasgow, and in 1901 his occupation was recorded as a General Commission Agent, a person who acts as the middleman for foreign partners who want to import and export goods and products. In 1912 William was living in Hankow in China, where he married Johanna Minnie Turner on 11th November 1912 at the British Consulate. Johanna had been born in 1883 in Glasgow and was the daughter of James Turner and his wife Eliza Jane née Gray. At the time of their wedding in 1912, William was working as the assistant manager of the International Export Company in Hankow, rising to the position of manager by 1916.
The International Export Company (IEC) was a subsidiary of the Union Cold Storage Company that had been started by brothers William and Edmund Vestey at the end of the 19th century. By the early 20th century, the Vesteys had started a highly lucrative trade of shipping eggs, chicken, duck, pork and other goods from China, thus establishing the IEC in Hankow, Central China in 1907, eventually expanding to other parts of China. Hankow, because of its geographical location, became the biggest collection and distribution centre of the Yangtze valley. However, the company was not without its difficulties in China and in 1910/11, shortly after its establishment, China was faced with a severe famine due to the failure of the second wheat crop and the high price of rice, this caused much unrest resulting in the revolution of Winchang in 1911. After a buoyant start, the IECs business had fallen into stagnation by 1912 due to a prejudice by the British consumer against Chinese pork; however, this began to change in 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War. With the outbreak of the war the British Board of Trade centralised the purchasing of meat to supply the Allied Forces, an action that allowed the IEC to consolidate and expand. As a result of these circumstances the workforce in Hankow increased to 12,000 people. Another factor that helped the IEC is that by 1916, most of the shipping in the Far East had been commandeered by the British government, although they would agree to allow the IEC to retain its Blue Star line on the condition that it supplied 1,000 tons of frozen beef with every trip, for use by Britain and its Allies.
The proposed increase in production was met with hostility by the local Chinese governors who viewed the IEC interests as purely financially based with no regard to interests of the Chinese people. In July 1916, William G Kirkhope, as the manage of the IEC in Hankow, had the unenviable task of travelling to Beijing to urge the British Legation there to convince the Chinese Authority to allow the IEC to continue exporting meat from China, pointing out that the country people had already expressed their willingness to bread cattle for export. The British Legation supported the IEC who were able to resume their exportation of cattle in October 1916 and continued until the end of the war fulfilling their side of the agreement. However, at the end of the war, the export of beef from China went into decline, primarily because of its low quality, although the export of other frozen produce continued to prosper.
It is during these fluctuating times that William worked for the IEC in Hankow. Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to determine when William and Johanna left Britain or for how many years they lived in China before they returned to Britain. As for the IEC, after the end of the First World War it continued to expand with a second factory at Nanjing that developed into a major refrigeration depot as important as Hankow and a third branch that opened in Tianjin in 1925.
In April 1923, Williams mother Johanne died and this may have been a contributing factor for Williams return to Britain, although it is also believed that ill-health had forced him to retire as a businessman in China and return with his wife Johanna. Whatever the reason for their return to Britain, William and Johanna moved to Felmere sometime around 1924, although Williams father continued to live in Scotland, where he died in December 1926.
Shortly after Williams return to Britain he became much involved with the Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital in Queens Road in East Grinstead, Sussex, being elected to the Management Committee. Within a couple of years of his election onto the committee it was evident that there was a need for a larger hospital, and much hard work was to follow raising funds for such a venture.
In 1931, Sir Robert Kindersley purchased a four and half acre site in Holtye Road, East Grinstead, for the new hospital and he generously gave the site to the trustees, one of which was William Gutherie Kirkhope (known as Mr Gutherie Kirkhope). As well as being a trustee, William was at the fore, taking the position of the Honorary Treasurer and giving his total commitment to the creation of the new hospital that opened on 8th January 1936.
In 1937, William and his wife Johanna cease to appear in the electoral roll at Felmere, moving to Springkell, Coombe Hill, East Grinstead, from where William continued his work at the hospital. William and Johanna are not known to have had a family and in January 1945 Johanna died and was buried at Mount Noddy cemetery in East Grinstead, Sussex. Nine months later William took a second wife, Elizabeth May Vasley, a Sister at Queen Victoria Hospital.
As for the hospital, sadly much was to change when war was declared on 3rd September 1939. One day later, Archibald McIndoe arrived to take over the new hospital as a Maxillo-Facial hospital for the treatment of air-crew members of the Royal Air Force and other air forces, as it was deemed that the war would be largely fought from the air and thus would cause many casualties. From this point on new pages of history were written about the story of Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital and Archibald McIndoe went on to become renowned world wide for his skill in plastic surgery on so many badly burnt servicemen, who became known as The Guinea Pigs.
As the war progressed, the hospital still had an ongoing demand for treatment, with more patients, more staff, more administration, more accommodation and other problems, and William was at the fore throughout. In 1943, a vote was cast and the name Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital was changed to simply the Queen Victoria Hospital, and in 1947 Archibald McIndoe received a well-deserved knighthood for his pioneering work during the war at the hospital.
In 1948, the National Health Service was created and the extra administration was certain to have increased the workload for William, yet he still found time to support other worthy causes and in 1953 joined the fund raising committee for Lingfield Lodge Retirement Home. William was also elected chairman of the Queen Victoria Hospital in 1951, succeeding Edward Blount of Imberhorne Manor, holding the position until 1956 when he was succeeded by Douglas Stern of The Stream, Felbridge.
In 1958, after thirty years service connected to the hospital, William took the decision to retire from his charitable works for the Queen Victoria Hospital and return to Scotland, a farewell presentation being made to him at the hospital in April 1958. Sadly, shortly after his retirement he became seriously ill and was rushed to Hammersmith Hospital where he died on the evening of 5th May 1958, at the age of seventy-eight, and was buried with his first wife, Johanna, at Mount Noddy cemetery in East Grinstead. On the death of Williams second wife, Elizabeth, in 1971 she too was buried at Mount Noddy cemetery.
In recognition of Williams enormous contribution to the Queen Victoria Hospital, Ward 1 was named the William Gutherie Kirkhope Ward after him.
Kenneth Graham Greenacre
In 1937, Kenneth Graham Greenacre and his wife Elizabeth succeeded William Gutherie Kirkhope at Felmere. Kenneth had been born in 1908 in Durban, South Africa, the son of Walter and Catherine Greenacre. Kenneth had at least one sibling, Walter Greenacre C.B., D.S.O., M.V.O., who was equerry to the Prince of Wales between 1924 and 1926, and in 1951 was brigadier in the Welsh Guards. Kenneths grandfather, Benjamin Wesley Greenacre came from Caister in Norfolk, where he was born in 1833, and emigrated to South Africa by 1867 where Kenneths father Walter was born in 1867. Benjamin owned Greenacres Stores in Durban and was Mayor of Durban on three occasions. He was also knighted in 1901 and was a prominent member of the burgeoning Victorian South African society.
Kenneth Greenacre married Elizabeth Margaret Brett, born in Klooff, South Africa, and they had a son John born in 1935, and a daughter Angela who was born at Felmere in 1938, a year after they had moved to Felbridge.
Other details about the Greenacres have been gleaned from Ann Dewey, the daughter of Samuel and Annie Streeter who worked for the Greenacres at Felmere from the mid 1930s and continued working at Felmere until the death of her father in 1960. Samuel Streeter was born in Felbridge on 17th January 1899, the son of William and Emma of Hedgecourt Cottages, and Annie, who was in service at Felmere for the Greenacres, was born in 25th March 1910, the daughter of Ernest and Annie Crane. Samuel Streeter worked the fruit farm for the Greenacres and looked after the livestock, which included pigs and chickens. Annie and Samuel married in 1941 and Ann was born at Felmere, the Streeter family living-in for the first few years of her life.
Although there are few records during the war years, it is known that Kenneth and Elizabeth Greenacre were at Felmere until at least 1941 as they gave a wedding present to Samuel and Annie Streeter, the gift card addressed from F.O. and Mrs Greenacre. From the gift card we know that Kenneth Greenacre was a Flying Officer during World War II, fighting in the Battle of Britain.
It has not yet been possible to determine how long the Greenacres remained at Felmere but they had left by 1947, and had moved back to Durban by 1955, where Kenneth and Elizabeth both died in the same year.
William and Dora Ball succeeded the Greenacres at Felmere, arriving sometime before 1947. Unfortunately it has so far proved impossible to find any information on this couple except that they had left Felmere by 1948.
Francis M Passmore
In 1948, Francis M Passmore succeeded William Ball at Felmere, being listed in the electoral roll along with Audrey, Elsie B and Gillian Passmore in both 1948 and 1949. Again like William and Dora Ball it has so far proved impossible to find any information on any of the Passmores. The only thing that has been determined is that the Passmore family left Felmere sometime in 1949.
Mendek and Claire Jedlin/Claire and Ovadia Barazani
In 1949, Mendek and Claire Jedlin (pronounced Yedlin) succeeded Francis Passmore at Felmere, moving from Highmore Cross, Henley-on-Thames.
Mendek Jedlin had been born about 1895 in Brody, in the western part of Poland known as Galicia, at that time under the rule of Austria. Mendek was the third son of nine children born to Eliahu and Blume Jedlin. Eliahu Moshe Jedlin had been born about 1864 and was, by the time of his marriage in the early 1880s, a hard-working cereal miller processing mainly buckwheat and millet, the staple food of Galicia at that time. Eliahu was a very capable and shrewd businessman and was also known for being charitable. Apart from Mendek, the other eight children of Eliahu and Blume include, sons Aba, Ephraim, Ascher, and Joseph, and daughters Riva, Hannah, Esther and Ella. Few birth years are known except, Aba was the eldest son, followed by Ephraim, Mendek, Ascher and lastly Joseph who was the youngest son and was born about 1906. Of the daughters, all that is known is that Riva was the eldest daughter and was born about 1885.
With the out-break of World War I came the Russian offensive of 1914 that turned the whole of Galicia into a battlefield and forced the Jedlin family to flee to Moravia in Czechoslovakia, settling temporarily in a market town called Uhersky Brod. During the war years Eliahu and Blume, along with their four daughters and youngest son Joseph remained in Uhersky Brod whilst Ascher was sent to a business college in Switzerland. It is not known of the whereabouts of Aba but Ephraim, who was a medical student, and Mendek were drafted into the Austrian army. Mendek saw a lot of fighting on the Russian front as a private soldier and corporal in the Infantry, and became a prisoner of war in 1917.
On his return from the war in 1919, Mendek took over the management of the Jedlin family fortunes from his father. During the war, the Jedlin family had become friendly with an Uhersky Brod merchant by the name of Schindler, who offered Mendek a substantial amount of money to go into business with. As such, the firm of Schindler and Jedlin was established in 1919, with one Schindler partner and four Jedlin partners, Eliahu, Aba, Mendek and Ascher. Initially Schindler was a sleeping partner but shortly after the firm was established he exchanged his sleeping partnership for an active one when he gave it to his son-in-law, Emil Buchler.
Mendek, like his father, was hard-working, trained as a practical miller, had an excellent market sense and tenacity. He was resolved to have a mill on the River Danube, the international waterway in Czechoslovakia. There were only two ports on the Danube in Czechoslovakia, that of Bratislava and Komárom (now in Hungary), and the cost of a waterside property in Bratislava was too expensive, so the choice of Komárom was made for him. The company flourished but in 1922 Eliahu retired and passed his share of the business to his son Mendek. The company continued to grow and in 1928 part of the business was transferred to Bratislava where a new mill, called the Jedla Mill, was built in open countryside, although now it has been enveloped by the town of Bratislava.
The mill at Komárom was retained for the production of pearl barley and decorticated millet, whilst the mill at Bratislava was built specifically as a flour mill, and was the responsibility of Mendek and his brother Ascher, who shared a modern flat adjoining the offices there. Also by 1928 Schindler and Jedlin had opened a third mill, situated in Lwow in Poland (now Lviv in the Ukraine), which was run by Samuel Messer the husband of Mendeks sister Hannah.
By 1935 the mill at Bratislava was flourishing and a bakery had been added to the mill, which is still there, and a chain of shops were added to the bakery. Adjacent to the bakery is the family home that Mendek and his wife and first child, Ruth, lived in until 1938. The mill at Lwow was ticking over, which by 1935, had a new managing director and for the first time in the history of the Jedlin family enterprise was not related. Also a small mill had been established in Bruck an der Leitha in Austria, and investments had been made in Palestine, partially in an enterprise called Beit-Lehem Ltd, and partly in land. Plans were also in hand to establish a mill in England as the Jedlin family were all too aware that Central Europe was threatened by the rise of German power under the leadership of Adolph Hitler.
In the mid 1930s Mendek married Claire Muntz who had been born in Vienna in Austria, in about 1911. Claire was the daughter of Joseph and Helen Muntz, whose family had originated from Odessa in the Ukraine. It is believed that Joseph was a merchant and the Muntz family were considered reasonably affluent. The Ukraine was one of the countries within the Pale of Settlement in which Imperial Russia would permit significant Jewish settlement. However, in 1881 a large scale wave of anti-Jewish feeling swept southern Russia after the Jewish people were wrongly blamed for the assassination of Alexander II. Riots broke out and the new Tzar, Alexander III, introduced Temporary Regulations in 1882, which actually remained in force for more than thirty years and became known as the May Law. The result of the Temporary Regulations, a systematic policy of discrimination against the Jewish people, was that more than two million of them fled Russia between 1880 and 1920, and it is likely that Joseph Muntz and his family were part of this mass exodus, the family settling in Vienna in Austria.
In 1936, Ascher arrived in England on behalf of the Jedlin partnership to establish a mill. Mendek remained in Bratislava and provided the plans for the new mill after a derelict warehouse on the Thames near Fulham Power Station had been secured. Mendek also supplied the funds needed to set up the mill, which was in operation as the Chelsea Flour Mill by 1938. On completion of the mill Mendek and his family left Bratislava for England and in 1939 purchased Stonehouse Farm at Highmore Cross, near Henley-on-Thames, where their second daughter, Ann, was born.
During the Second World War, Claire Jedlin managed to persuade the authorities to allow her parents to enter England and Joseph and Helen Muntz were able to leave the uncertainty of Austria under German rule and live with the Jedlins in England. As for Mendek, he farmed at Stonehouse Farm until some time around April 1949 when he took on the position of Director of the Chelsea Flour Mills. At around the same time Mendek and his family moved to Felmere but unfortunately Mendek was in poor health and did not enjoy much time at Felmere before he died there in 1950.
In 1949, Felmere consisted of just over thirty-two acres, the house, outbuildings and a workers cottage (now called Woodland Farm), and although the Jedlins continued the fruit farm they did not trade as the Felbridge Fruit Farm Ltd. The fruit that they grew consisted of apples and soft fruit including red and black currants, raspberries and gooseberries. As well as fruit there were pigs, chickens and horses, the farm still being worked by Samuel Streeter, although he was not living there by this date. However in 1952, Samuel was offered the tied cottage at Felmere but he and Annie declined the offer and moved instead to a cottage in Rowplatt Lane in Felbridge.
It has not yet been possible to determine the exact date for the construction of the tied cottage, which has now adopted the name of Woodland Farm. The first map evidence for it appears as a hand-drawn plot in field 541a believed to date to the 1950s using the 1938 O/S map as a base, the original O/S map of 1938 shows an empty field. The plot measurements are given as a road frontage of 240 feet by a depth of 80 feet, in the extreme south-west corner of the field 541a, originally part of field 541 in 1911.
The first verbal evidence for the cottage is from the memories of Ann Dewey whose parents were offered the cottage by Claire Jedlin in 1952, although Ruth Grimme, Claires daughter believed it to have already been built when her parents bought Felmere in 1949. However, the first documentary evidence for the cottage is 1931 when Frederick Mitchell was living there with his family, the property known as Mead Holme, Felmere Drive. In 1934 the Mitchells moved to North Church in Buckinghamshire and were succeeded by Walter Tompkins who had moved from Birchwood, Felcot Road, Furnace Wood, Felbridge, the property then known as Meadow Mead. The Mitchell family remained at Meadow Mead until 1938.
It has not yet been possible to determine who succeeded the Tompkins but in 1953 Sidney Holland and his family were living there, the property known by then as The Moorings, Felbridge Fruit Farm. The Holland family had moved to The Moorings from St Leonards-on-Sea in Sussex and returned there in August 1954 when Sidney was drafted to Korea. The Holland family were succeeded by John Rogers and his family who lived there until 1955 when they moved to Cowden.
In January 1956, Lt Robert Barnard and his family were living there but had to leave in 1958 when he was posted to Colchester. In May 1962, John Woollard and his family moved to the cottage, moving later the same year to Gillingham in Kent. In 1963, Eric Barnham and his family moved into the cottage, his two children recorded as attending Felbridge School on leaving the Army School in Nairobi. The Barnham family stayed until 1964 before moving to Macclesfield. Around 1968, Mr and Mrs McDonald and his two step-children moved into the cottage, and again only stayed for a couple of years before moving to 1 Yaxley Cottages, North End, Felbridge. For the duration of these short term occupancies, the cottage was known as The Moorings, possibly a reflection of its location at the end of Pond Tail Wood, close to Hedgecourt Lake.
It has not yet been possible to determine the full sequence of occupants at The Moorings, but some time before the mid 1990s, Claire Jedlin, by then married to Ovadia Barazani, sold the property, along with the field behind (field 541a). The property was purchased by Alan Walker, and at about this time the cottage was re-named Anchor Cottage. Alan Walker remained at Anchor Cottage until 2000 when he put it on the market and it was purchased by Duncan Hales, the current owner, and it was again re-named as Woodland Farm. At the time of sale the accommodation comprised of two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen with outbuildings, gardens and pasture of about seven and half acres.
Memories of Felmere, 1943-1960
The following are some of Ann Deweys childhood memories of Felmere under the ownership of the Jedlin family:
I can only remember four other workers [apart from Samuel Streeter] but they did not stay for long [at Felmere]. One was my Dads brother, Sid, there was a Mr Rogers who lived in the cottage, also a man from Spain and last, a young lad.
We did not see much of Dad in the summer as he went to work early and very often worked late, so we were often in bed when he got home. If he had a holiday he still had to go to see to the animals.
When we were older we spent our summer holidays on the farm, fruit picking with mum and several other women and their children. We were allowed to pick fruit as Dad worked there but the other children were not allowed to. There was nothing to keep us amused; you had to find something to do yourself.
There were apples, blackcurrants, raspberries and gooseberries. Apple varieties included Beauty of Bath, Russets and Worcesters, there were also a few pear trees. Lorries would come and collect the fruit, and there were two grades, the best grade went as fruit, the second best and over-ripe went for jam making.
We often went with Dad in the afternoon at weekends to shut the chickens up which we thought was a real treat. On one such trip in the spring I was picking primroses on a bank when I was bitten by an adder. I had to walk as far as Rowplatt Lane to a doctors who quickly took me to hospital where I spent eight days and was still not allowed to walk when I came home. If ever Granddad (Mrs Jedlins father, [Joseph Muntz]) was there I was not allowed in the orchards without wearing my Wellingtons.
Dad often had to go pig hunting as when they got out they very often went into Bakers Wood so he had to find them. The boar, Charlie, had a separate house to the sows, and we were not allowed around when he was out.
We were not officially allowed in the main house, although I did play with Ann Jedlin in her room when we were young. There was a walk-in pantry to the right of the back door into the boiler-house/kitchen area and a wash-room or something similar on the other side, possibly where the eggs were washed. We were also not officially allowed in the back garden.
When my Dad was ill, in the last few months, one of my sisters took time off school to help him with feeding and cleaning out the animals. When he died my mum and sister carried on feeding the chickens and letting them out and shutting them in at night.
Some time around 1954, a new Farm Manager was employed to run the Fruit Farm by the name of Ovadia Barazani. Ovadia had been born in Israel in 1917, and before taking up his appointment as Farm Manager at Felmere he had been working as a salesman for Marks & Spencer. Several years later in 1959, Claire Jedlin, a widow of nearly ten years, married Ovadia Barazania and they decided to move to France, where they set up a transportation company with a cousin of Ovadias, leaving Samuel Streeter to run the farm in their absence. However Samuel Streeter unfortunately died in April 1960, and Ernest Jones and his son Tony were employed by Claire and Ovadia Barazani to run the farm and keep an eye on the house whilst they were out of the country.
Felbridge Fruit Farm memories, 1960-1965
The following are the memories of Tonys daughter who occasionally went to the Felbridge Fruit Farm (as she knew it), with her grandfather in the summer holidays:
Felmere, or rather the Felbridge Fruit Farm as we always called it, had been a fruit farm growing both soft fruits and apples but around 1960 my grandfather and father were instructed to grub out the trees and fruit bushes and they farmed the land as arable. The farm at the time had no livestock although I now understand it once had pigs and chicken. My father would also maintain the property and gardens by mowing the lawns, and doing general repairs to the house which was in rather a sorry state.
On one occasion my father remembers removing a veranda from the south side of the house, which overlooked the lake, before it fell on someone, as he put it. There were French windows or a full length window leading onto the first terrace. There had been terrace walls of about eighteen inches high so as not to spoil the views, but these had long since disappeared by the time I was there. When these fell, rockeries had been installed.
As a child I remember sitting a little grey tractor, a Massey Ferguson I believe, watching the old fashioned binder at work. This machine, to a child of between five and seven years of age, resembled a set of windmill sails or a paddle from a paddle- steamer which knocked the ears of corn onto a large canvas sheet suspended below the sails or paddle. A Bristol caterpillar was also used on the farm although I do not recall ever seeing it at work. We, my brother and I, also played in the barn on the straw bales and the dry stems prickled our bare legs. The outbuildings had been the fruit packing sheds. At one point a troop of Didikies [a term used for travellers, not true Romany gypsies] took over what had been the blackcurrant field behind the corn field. I remember their rubbish thrown into the hedges and finding a beautiful, empty, blue-glass milk of magnesia bottle, my treasure for the day.
When the Barazanis were away the house was lived in by the Spanish maid and her daughter, who was a similar age to me, and we would play in what I considered to be the servants area of the house and around the garden. On one occasion I remember the maids daughter bit into a tomato and the pips splattered down the front of the white outfit she was wearing! I remember the garden was in terraces with a path and steps down the middle leading to a very flat lawn at the bottom that I considered would have once been a tennis, croquet or bowls lawn. The first terrace had box hedging or something along it and steps led down to the next level. On this level there was a pair of urns either side of the path and then steps down to the tennis/croquet lawn.
I well remember riding my bike, which was blue with lots of chrome on it, round the circular front drive and on one occasion not braking in time when I headed, at considerable speed, for the brick gate pillars. I then remember that my grandfather had to try and straighten my front wheel which had buckled on impact, not to mention sort my grazed knees! Just inside the gate, on the right, at ground level but built into a mound or something, there was an air-raid shelter. This had electricity in it and several iron-framed bunk beds with wire mesh that held thin blue and white striped mattresses. There was also a vast quantity of National Geographic magazines that were interesting to look through if I got bored waiting for my father or grandfather to finish work there. I also remember the floor of the air-raid shelter being very wet.
On one occasion my grandfather brought a box home that Mrs Barazani had turned out and had asked him to dispose of. It contained several pairs of crocodile-leather, stiletto-healed shoes with a clutch bag to match. The shoes were totally impractical for my mother to wear on our farm and I, being only about six, was forbidden to wear them, much to my dismay. However, I still have, and occasionally use, the crocodile-leather clutch bag, although the silk lining has long seen better days.
As well as the shoes and bag, there was a puce-pink silk dress with a tailored bodice and full skirt, typical of the 1950s height of fashion, this was too small for my mother but I was allowed to dress up in it. The dress also came with a matching silk clutch bag and stiletto shoes. Another dress I was allowed to dress up in was made of soft cream net over a peach coloured skirt with a peach taffeta under-skirt, the whole thing trimmed with peach velvet ribbons; I believe this was eventually altered by my mother into a ballet dress for me.
Slightly more my age was a set of plaster dolls. There was a pair of dolls wearing Chinese style peasant clothes sitting on a log, with another that stood by them, a standing lady who looked Greek wearing a white toga-type dress with purple cloak, a tall chauffeur doll in a long white coat and dark trousers with a cap in his hand, and a very elegant lady in a lilac suit with nipped-in waist. These all had a spike out of one foot as if they stood into something. I still have these dolls and recently I had the Greek lady repaired as she had arrived with a broken wrist and I thought it about time she was mended, some 45 years later!
After the Jones family ceased running the farm, a series of people kept and eye on the property for Claire and Ovadia Barazani, generally living in the cottage, sometimes Felmere itself, but the farm remained uncultivated. One of the property-sitters was Marguerite Jackson with her sons David and Jeremy whilst her husband was in Dubai. However, from the early 1970s, Felmere would appear to have remained empty for a lot of the time except for the occasional visit home by Claire and Ovadia.
Between 1980 and 1997, Felmere became an asset of the Clova Investment Company Ltd., an over-seas company that had been incorporated in Liechtenstein by Claire and Ovadia in 1975, (the company taking its name from a derivation of their names CLaire and OVAdia).
After living in France for many years, Claire and Ovadia Barzani sold their interest there and returned to Felmere permanently. In 1989, Felmere including the house and the remaining twenty-five acres of land, was put up for sale by Claire and Ovadia but was later withdrawn. However, by 1997, both Claire and Ovadia were in poor health and at the respective ages of eighty-six and eighty were moved to a nursing home. Felmere was then put back on the market, needing much care and attention, and purchased by Stephen and Jacqueline Hutchinson. Sadly Claire died shortly after the sale, in April 1998, and Ovadia died seven months later in November 1998.
During the Hutchinsons ownership some attention was paid to the property which included the installation of a new kitchen and bathroom, but on the whole very little else was done to the house, and nothing appears to have been done to the garden and farm except make safe some fallen trees. The Hutchinsons remained at Felmere until 2006 when the house and the twenty-five acres were put up for sale and were purchased by the current owners, Glyn and Rosemary Pockett.
Today the house at Felmere stands as a wonderful example of the solid Edwardian Arts and Crafts style of architecture, which due to many of its past owners living out of the country for long periods of time, has retained a wealth of original period features. The garden, for the same reason as the house, has also remained virtually unchanged since its conception and may well be a very early example of a Sylvia Crowe garden design.
Since 2006, new life has been breathed back into the farm with the re-introduction of livestock that include chickens, goats and lamas, shortly to be joined by pigs. There are also plans to open up the old surviving orchard, removing the unwanted native saplings and pruning the old varieties of apple trees. As for the house, it is now receiving long-overdue care and attention and the interiors are being painstaking restored to their original glory, and consideration is also being given to the original design concept of the garden.
Godstone by U Lambert
Victoria History of Surrey
Hussey Manuscript, FHA
History of Surrey by Mannings & Bray
1473 lease, SAS/G43/118, ESRO
1492 lease, SAS/G43/101, ESRO
1578 lease, SAS/G43/122, ESRO
1652 conveyance, SAS/G43/123, ESRO
General Accounts of the Gage family, SAS/G11/25 & 26, ESRO
1656 lease, SAS/G43/129, ESRO
General Accounts of the Gage family, SAS/G11/27, 28 & 29, ESRO
1667 lease including Wakemans Farm, SAS/G21/131, ESRO
Hedgecourt Watermill and Cottages, SJC 07/04, FHA
1736 lease, SAS/G43/137, ESRO
General Accounts of the Gage family, SAS/G11/30, ESRO
Felbridge Park Estate sale catalogue, 1855, FHA
Plan of Indenture 20th March, 1856, FHA
Bourd map and apportionment, 1748, FHA
List of Felbridge tithes, FHA
Horne Land Tax, SHC
1820 lease on Wootton Farm, AMS999, ESRO
Horne Tithe and apportionment, 1841, SHC
Godstone Tithe and apportionment, 1844, SHC
Census, 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901
Kellys Directory, 1874, SHC
Felbridge Parish Registers, FHA
Will of Charles Henry Gatty, Box 3151, SHC
Schedule of Deeds for Felbridge Place estate, Box 3151, SHC
Felbridge Place Sale catalogue and map, 1911, FHA
Cuttingly and its Environs Sale Catalogue and map 1918, FHA
Pockett Document compiled by N Bentley, FHA
The Crowe family, http://www.geocities.com/eyre_crowe/family.html
Dame Sylvia Crowe, http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening
Garden Design, by Sylvia Crowe
Sylvia Crowe, edited by Collen and Powell
Obituary of Dame Sylvia Crowe, http://www.aila.org
Post War Gardens and Landscapes in the UK by D Lambert
Notes on Mr Gutherie Kirkhope by D Brown, FHA
New British Companies In China by J Ning Chang
Glass of St John the Divine, Felbridge, SJC 07/02ii, FHA
The Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, http://www.queenvic.demon.co.uk
Documented memories of A Dewey, nee Streeter, FHA
Greenacre family tree, J Greenacre, FHA
Documented memories of Ruth Grimme, nee Jedlin, FHA
The Jedlin family by A Haasz, FHA
Pale of Settlement, http://en.wilipedia.org/wiki
History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union, http://en.wilipedia.org/wiki
O/S map, 1938, FHA
Sales particulars for Anchor Cottage, 2000, Local newspaper, FHA
Felbridge School Log, FHA
Documented memories of AJW Jones, FHA
Documented memories SJ Clarke, FHA
Felmere sales particulars from the EG Courier and Observer, 1989 and 1997, FHA
Our thanks are extended to Glyn and Rosemary Pockett for their initial enquiry about Felmere and for allowing us the opportunity to research the property. Also, our thanks are extended to Simon Crowe for information on the Crowe family, the Queen Victoria Hospital Museum (open by appointment with the curator, 01342 414000 or 01342 326141) and Keith Brown for information on William Gutherie Kirkhope, Jayne Greenacre for her information on the Greenacre family, Ruth Grimme for details about her familys ownership of Felmere, and Ann Dewey and Tony Jones for their memories of times spent at Felmere.