Felbridge is located on the Surrey/Sussex border, the area taking its name from an open space, (field), by a bridge. It lies in the centre of the part of South East England known as the Weald. This area, bounded by the North and South Downs, was originally densely wooded. The greater part of the Felbridge area lies on Tunbridge Wells Sand, varying from a loamy texture to a sandy soil, which has consolidated into a sandstone in places, and in the lower lying areas, to the North and South of the parish, the soil is Wealden clay, making the Felbridge area a mixture of heath land, woodland and marshland. There are numerous springs and streams that run through the area being tributaries of the River Medway, Felbridge Water and the River Eden. The dominant manor in the area was the manor of Hedgecourt, first mentioned in 1290, when Gilbert de Appeltrefeld confirmed the manor to John de Berewyk, which was later owned, between 1435 and 1747, by the Gage family who eventually made their seat at Firle in Sussex.
In 1588, George Evelyn of Nutfield purchased seventy acres of Felbridge, mostly heath and marshland, and in 1692, George Evelyn, the grandson of the first George, settled these seventy acres and a newly constructed house called Heath Hatch on his youngest son William. Heath Hatch was built on the site of what is now Whittington College. In 1719, William sold the house and land to his brother Edward, who also purchased a house called Park Corner, the site of the Star Inn, from William Gage in 1741. On the death of William Gage in 1747, Edward Evelyn purchased the manor of Hedgecourt, thus creating the Felbridge estate, containing over 1,536 acres. The Evelyn family had made their money through the manufacture of gunpowder, and it is believed that it was the extensive woodland that first attracted them to the Felbridge area. Edward Evelyn died in 1751, and the Felbridge estate passed to his second son James, who had a mansion house, Felbridge Place, constructed on or near the site of the earlier Heath Hatch, making the new house his permanent residence.
The Felbridge estate remained with the descendants of the Evelyn family until 1855, when George Gatty purchased it, being by then over 1,740 acres. On the death of George Gatty in 1864, the estate passed to his second son, Charles Henry Gatty who continued to extend the estate, and was responsible for the creation of the ecclesiastical parish of Felbridge in 1865 with the construction of St John the Divine parish church. On his death in 1903, the estate had grown to over 2,116 acres, which encompassed parts of Surrey and Sussex, and stretched from Newchapel to East Grinstead, from Copthorne Common to Crawley Down, and from Tandridge to Horne. Although Felbridge had grown to be the dominant place name in the area, it was not a traditional village, as those who lived in Felbridge only lived there because they worked on the estate, resulting in a scattering of cottages for the workforce with no central nucleus to the village, the focus being the mansion house, Felbridge Place, home of the lord of the manor.
With no direct heirs, Charles Gatty left the Felbridge Place estate to two of his cousins, Charles Lane Sayer and Alfred Leighton Sayer, who retained the estate until April 1911 when it was sold to Mrs Emma Harvey and the East Grinstead Estate Company. Arrangements had already been made for the break and sale of the estate by an auction held on 25th May 1911. Several of the smaller cottages were purchased as private residences, and on 5th August 1913, Arthur Smeeton Gurney of Luxfords, East Grinstead, purchased the mansion house and parkland, and a large portion of the estate including The Plantation and Smithfield Farm, and Andrew Duncan MacNeill and William MacKinnon MacNeill purchased New Chapel Farm and parts of Golards Wood in Newchapel. It would appear that although Arthur Gurney purchased Felbridge Place he did not reside there, and that Andrew MacNeill may have resided in the area, being responsible for extending New Chapel Farm into the Newchapel House that we see today, designed by the architect Charles William Bowles. In 1916, The East Grinstead Estate Company acquired the holdings of Arthur Gurney and on 27th March 1916, Henry Willis Rudd of 27 Pall Mall, London, purchased for the sum of £11,750:
the capital messuage or mansion and park gardens and lands, buildings and messuages held by Felbridge Place, Hedgecourt Lake, and all the pieces of land in Godstone and Horne in Surrey, all of which are known as Felbridge Place and amount to 218 acres 3 roods and 1 perch, together with the portion of Mill Lane that lies between Hedgecourt mill and Middle Road leading to Crawley Down, and the strip of land adjoining Mill Lane, formerly waste.
Henry Willis Rudd, whose nationality is obscure but may have been South African, was by 1910, a fairly wealthy businessman, and was one of the directors of the Armes Automatique Lewis, a company that had been set up by Col. Isaac Newton Lewis, in Liege, Belgium, in 1912, to produce the Lewis gun, a cutting edge weapon of its time. Henry Rudd approached several European governments, including Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Russia and Belgium and in all cases orders had been placed for models of the gun, each to be adapted to shoot the small arms ammunition of each particular country. As early as 1910, Britain had expressed an interest in the gun, but although impressed, the War Office declined to take out the patent when offered and eventually only ordered three guns. By 1913, due to the number of orders that had been placed, the Company, although now re-located to a larger factory in Antwerp, found it necessary to select another company to supply the assorted sized barrels and the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) was engaged.
By July 1914, the BSA had completed all orders for the various models of the gun, and Henry Rudd had arrived in Britain to collect and accompany the guns destined for Germany, Austria and Italy. However, with the outbreak of World War I, the British War Office instructed him not to proceed to these countries and that from then on, no orders for Lewis guns should be accepted from any country, except Britain. So in 1915, Henry Rudd signed a contract with the British War Office that promised him £135 per Lewis gun, which, as orders were by now rolling in, would make the Rudds multi-millionaires. Later that year Henry Rudd was taken seriously ill and returned to America, it was not expected that he would return to England, but in April 1916, he and his wife Mary, did return. On their arrival they set about finding a suitable property that would reflect their newfound wealth and status gained from the expected proceeds of the manufacture of the Lewis gun. The property chosen to realise their dream was the Felbridge Place estate.
The capital messuage or mansion house that they purchased was the house built by James Evelyn in 1763, a typical Georgian mansion house consisting of a hall with an oak galleried staircase, a dining room, drawing room with a beautiful painted and gilded ceiling, library, domestic offices, kitchen and gun room on the ground floor, with seven best bedrooms and two dressing rooms on the first floor and nine secondary or servants rooms on the second floor. The house stood with a southwest aspect overlooking Hedgecourt Lake and was described as architecturally 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 façade. The elevations gain further dignity from the parapet balustrading of the tiled roof. The terraced gardens were also designed in the Italian style, surrounded by parkland, the lake and woodland. Attached to mansion house was a conservatory, and discreetly located out of view from the house was the stable block and coach house.
At some time around 1916, although the exact date has not yet been established, the Rudds also purchased the properties of Newchapel House and part of Golards Wood from the MacNeills, creating an estate totalling 770 acres. The purchase of the estate and subsequent building work commissioned by the Rudds was funded by various mortgages obtained from the East Grinstead Estate Company and Barclays Bank in the clear knowledge that, and on the strength of, the fact that the British Government owed them millions from the purchase of the Lewis guns. Little is known about Henry and Mary Rudd except that when they settled in Felbridge they took up residence at Newchapel House, which had recently been extended and remodelled by Charles William Bowles for Andrew MacNeill, whilst they sought an architect to draw up plans to re-model the entire Felbridge Place estate. Newchapel House has the outward appearance of Berrydown Court in Ashe, Hampshire, that was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1898. Like Berrydown, it has a complex façade with numerous gables in front of the main body of the house. The building work had been completed using traditional materials and old methods of construction, and like many of Lutyenss early houses, is built using a mixture of tile hanging, timber framing with Sussex green oak, lime wash, Sussex stock bricks and dressed East Grinstead sandstone, all materials being locally derived and producing a rich visual texture. Another obvious similarity between Newchapel House and the early work of Lutyens is the excessive and decorative chimneys that rise from the roof line, reminiscent of Munstead Wood near Godalming, built in 1896, Crooksbury near Farnham, built in 1889-91, and Tigbourne Court, Witely, built in 1899, all properties located in Surrey.
It is understood that the Rudds kept the newly transformed Newchapel House much as they found it, except a few alterations to the first floor rooms. There is no evidence to suggest that Lutyens had anything to do with these alterations, although the gatehouse, located to the West of Newchapel House, has some similarities with Barton St Mary, in East Grinstead, designed by Lutyens in 1906. The Newchapel Gatehouse has white rendered walls with exposed patches of brick and sandstone under a steeply pitched, tiled roof. The South side has three gables whilst the North side of the roof is half hipped with a central gable, and like Barton St Mary and Newchapel House, has excessively tall chimneys. Although there is no evidence that Lutyens designed the Gatehouse it is known that Gertrude Jekyll laid out the gardens at Newchapel House in 1916, and it is probably through his association with Gertrude Jekyll that the Rudds chose Lutyens as their architect to re-model the Felbridge Place estate to reflect their new found status. Again, not much is known about the circumstances surrounding the appointment of Lutyens except the Rudds would have been typical Lutyenss clients, being newly rich, upper-middle class, and having a desire to impress, although Lutyens rarely worked for foreign clients. Lutyens too would have been a suitable choice for the Rudds, being an accomplished designer of English country houses for the more affluent members of society.
Edwin Landseer Lutyens was born on 29th March 1869 at 16 Onslow Square, South Kensington, London. His father was Captain Charles Lutyens who had been an infantry officer but had left the army in 1857 to take up painting. Capt. Lutyens was a close friend of the animal painter Edwin Landseer and so named his ninth son after him. In later life Capt. Lutyens followed a bohemian life style, but his wife Mary, a deeply religious woman, provided a dependable and puritan atmosphere in the Lutyens home. Within a short time of Capt. Lutyens leaving the army he had made enough money to buy a house in Thursely, Surrey, whilst still keeping the town house in Onslow Square. At that time, Surrey was still rural which was to have an enormous effect on the young Edwin. Being a sickly child, Edwin was not sent to a public school to receive a proper education as had all his other brothers, but was educated at home, largely by his mother, and instead of outdoor sports, was allowed to wander through the woods and fields of rural Surrey and visit the workshops of craftsmen and small country builders yards in the neighbouring villages. It is through his wandering that Edwin learnt about the craft of building many years before he learnt the art of architecture. In his wanderings he also developed a love and understanding of the vernacular cottages and barns that made up the majority of the buildings in his area. He soon tried to draw the buildings concentrating on the three dimensional aspect of the construction and how different parts of the building went together. It was his vision of buildings and knowledge of how they were put together that gave him a head start over his contemporaries when he went into the profession of being an architect.
In 1885, in the wake of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, Lutyens went to South Kensington School of Design and became influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. He was particularly influenced by William Morris who advocated truth to nature, good craftsmanship and honest materials. He was architecturally influenced by Philip Webb who, in 1859, designed the Red House in Bexleyheath, Kent for William Morris, and in 1890, designed Standen in East Grinstead for the Beale family. Lutyens also met Richard Norman Shaw who designed Cragside in Northumberland for William Armstrong in 1869, and Adcot in Shropshire in 1875. Shaw was the most successful of the creative architects whose buildings evoke a vernacular Tudor past particularly with his use of half-timber frames, tile hung gables, sweeping tiled roofs and tall, decorative, red brick chimneys. In 1887, Lutyens won a minor prize at the South Kensington School of Design and in the same year left to join the architects office of Ernest George and Peto. After a short time with George and Peto, Lutyens left to set up on his own in 1889.
Lutyens early work was characterised by rambling, picturesque houses, putting into practice his ideas of vernacular architecture and good craftsmanship. His first major commission was Crooksbury near Farnham, Surrey, designed in 1889 for Arthur Chapman, a director of Piggott, Chapman & Co, exporters of Calcutta. In 1896, Lutyens designed Munstead Wood in Munstead, Surrey, for the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and this proved to be a turning point in Lutyens career. Munstead Wood is different from Lutyenss early houses erring towards simplicity in the plan of it and use of materials. The house appears to grow out of the ground in a natural way, being integral to the garden design, a quality that came from the influence of Gertrude Jekyll. Munstead Wood draws together the influences of the Arts and Crafts Movements ideals of truth to nature, good craftsmanship and honest materials, and Lutyenss understanding of form.
Houses such as Crooksbury and Munstead Wood, established Lutyenss reputation for originality and imaginative ability in co-ordinating vernacular form. However, by the early 1900s he had become attracted by Classicism, which is demonstrated in the house called Heathcote built in Ilkley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, between 1905 and 1907. Here he teams grey Guiseley stone with a red pantiled roof and the use of Tuscan columns. The same classical details are carried out into the garden with a series of terraces, helping to integrate the house with the landscape. He then turned to the Neo-Georgian style, on a grand scale, producing Nashdom in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, between 1905 and 1908, and Great Maytham in Rolvenden, and The Salutation in Sandwich, both in Kent, in 1911. Shortly after, in 1912, Lutyens was commissioned to design the Viceroys House in New Dehli, this truly was on a grand scale. It was whilst Lutyens was designing on a grand scale in the Classical and Neo-Georgian styles and in the middle of World War I that he was commissioned to re-design the Felbridge Place estate for Henry and Mary Rudd.
Whatever the circumstances, and however the Rudds and Lutyens were introduced, Lutyens started work on re-designing the Felbridge Place estate that was to include a new mansion house, hunting boxes and adjoining bungalow, and a new home farm and farm buildings in 1916. As well as the proven work designed by Lutyens in Felbridge, it is also believed locally that he had a hand in the renovation of Wards Farm. Renovation work included a brick and slated range of racing stables that Mary Rudd had built as she was a racing fanatic, owning several race horses herself, and a four-stall stable range with a large harness room adjoining, and a loft over, built in brick and sandstone block with a slated roof.
It was also about this time that a stone built property was constructed adjoining Wards Farm, although it would appear that it may not have been part of Wards Farm, and was not sold as part of the farm in 1936 on the death of Allen Strudwick who had purchased the farm in 1924. The property is called Stone Cottage and is referred to locally as a cottage in the style of Lutyens. Part of the house is believed to date to 17th century but was extended and remodelled in the early 20th century, consistent with the period that Lutyens is known to have been working for the Rudds. The cottage stands opposite New Road that was put in by the Rudds to link the main London Road at Woodcock Hill, to the entrance to their new mansion house, their new hunting boxes and bungalow, and the racing stables and galloping track that were constructed off West Park Road in Newchapel, now the Churchill Stud. Stone Cottage is built of local dressed sandstone under a tiled roof, half-hipped at the northern end and with a cat slide at the southern end. There are three chimneys, the central and southern end being brick while the one at the northern end, more typically Lutyens, in sandstone block. The northern end wall has a double row of horizontal sandstone slabs running across it just above the ground floor windows. The front elevation has diamond leaded lights and stone mullions, and the south end dormer window, set into the cat slide roof, has small rectangular leaded lights. The style of the property shows similarities, but on a much less grand scale, to Little Thakeham in Thakeham, Sussex, designed by Lutyens in 1902. Stone Cottage, when built, consisted of four bedrooms, three reception rooms and a beamed farmhouse style kitchen, set in a quarter of an acre of grounds. In the early 1990s the property was extended, on the North and East sides, with an unsympathetic brick extension.
Unfortunately, there is no conclusive evidence linking Lutyens with Stone Cottage, save the reminiscences of past Felbridge inhabitants that have been passed down to the modern day. However, it is known that Lutyens designed and constructed a set of Hunting Boxes (stables) and kennels with an adjoining bungalow. On their sale in 1924 they were described thus:
A freehold property with a frontage of about 470 feet to the main Eastbourne Road and a valuable return frontage of about 650 feet on the New Road intersecting the estate, upon which has been constructed round a quadrangle at a cost of many thousands of pounds, a unique set of Hunting boxes and Kennels with a Bungalow adjoining. The whole covering an area of 7.2 acres.
The buildings are of stone construction with stone slab roofs and a colonnade in front of each block. The hunting boxes and range of kennels are luxuriously fitted and have tiled walls, all joinery being in solid oak. Central heating throughout.
The Bungalow contains two bedrooms, bathroom, fitted with porcelain enamelled bath, lavatory basin, pedestal WC and hot towel airer, all fittings being plated, sitting-room, kitchen and large wash house. Two Timber outbuildings, one of which contains the electric plant.
The land surrounding is laid out as ornamental grounds with small sunk garden, and is studded with a number of fine old trees.
The water is laid on from the Companys mains.
Considering these were built as kennels and stables with accommodation for the possible kennel master/groom, they are remarkably well equipped and sophisticated, as some properties in Felbridge did not have internal lavatory arrangements until as late as the 1950s, and there was even one property that when vacated in the 1980s still relied on an earth closet, well water and oil lamps!
After their sale in 1924, these two properties were converted as private houses, the stables now known as Felbridge Copse, and the kennels as Stonewall. The properties are accessed off New Road leading from the main London Road at the top of Woodcock Hill. The shared driveway is lined with poplar trees running along the line of the old iron park railings of the Felbridge Place estate. It is believed that originally the properties were to have been joined by an arch between the facing corners at the North end of the buildings as for many years these sections of roof was tiled, now finished with Horsham stone slabs. In 2001, both properties were put up for sale being described as a pair of colonnaded lodge houses designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, being Grade II listed and of architectural and historical importance. At the time of listing in 1994, both properties were described as Classical in style and constructed of dressed sandstone under a hipped Horsham stone slate roof, with sandstone chimneys. They were both listed as L shaped, single storey buildings with oak windows being a mixture of four square leaded lights across the front and six panel casement windows with broad oak sills to the rear. Across the full frontage of both buildings there was a portico of six Tuscan stone columns with moulded stone pediments over a flag stone floor. Since listing, Felbridge Copse has acquired a third side, to the East, and is no longer L shaped, being now U shaped, Stonewall has gained a PVCu conservatory, and since 1999, the grounds, particularly of Felbridge Copse have been transformed. Both properties were sold in 2002.
Felbridge Copse, formerly the stables, has a colonnade with a broad entrance door leading to the hall, which has three quarter height stained Oregon pine wall panelling. There are four bedrooms, three of which have sealed fireplaces. There is a study or possible fifth bedroom with three quarter height oak panelled walls and a corner fireplace. There is a T shaped, triple aspect drawing room with three quarter height Oregon pine panelled walls and a sprung oak floor. The room also has a broad recess with a tiled floor and there is a Renaissance style Portland stone open fireplace that is believed to date to the 14th century, possibly being put into the house at its time of conversion. There is a dining room with a broad recessed fireplace with an oak mantel and exposed brickwork, and this room also has oak flooring. Leading from the dining room is the kitchen, which has a door to the side garden lobby with a door to the rose garden. Outside there is a courtyard that is enclosed on all sides providing a sitting area with a brick base with beds of shrubs. In one corner there is a larder with a marble shelf and in the other corner there is a hobbies/utility room with part exposed stone walling. Leading from the courtyard through an oak door is the side garden. The gardens extend to about 2¼ acres and are believed to have been designed by Gertrude Jekyll, with a number of unusual plants and shrubs to provide all year round colour, although there is no record of them in the Reef Point Collection of Jekyll garden designs. To the side of the driveway is a low stonewall enclosing a side border that has a York stone pathway leading to the rear that has broad borders and a flight of steps to the lawn and a gateway to the South facing walled rose garden planted in the style of Gertrude Jekyll. The rose garden has broad areas of York stone paving with rose beds and borders. The upper lawn has a belt of shrubs and rhododendrons leading into an area of informal mixed woodland. To the side of the spur drive is a wild flower meadow bounded by metal Park railings and fringed by mature woodland.
Stonewall, formerly the kennel block and adjoining bungalow had been the larger of the two properties but is now slightly smaller than Felbridge Copse as it is still L shaped and does not have the third side. It comprises of three bedrooms, with a sitting room or possible fourth bedroom, with a dining hall of about 16ft 6ins/5m by 12ft/3.6m with a sealed brick fireplace. The drawing room, like Felbridge Copse, has a triple aspect and measures 20ft 6ins/6m by 12ft/3.6m and 7ft/2.1m wide. It has a shallow brick inglenook fireplace with three quartered height panelled walls, like Felbridge Copse. There is a kitchen/breakfast room, about 21ft/6.3m by 13ft/3.9m narrowing to 8ft/2.4m at the kitchen end. The breakfast room has part glazed doors leading to a modern conservatory, 14ft/4.2m by 11ft/3.3m, which has a pair of French doors leading to the terrace. Adjoining the South side of the building is a part stone walled area with paved terraces on two levels. Adjoining the stonewall is a border of azaleas planted for spring colour. Adjoining the North Western side of the property is a paved terrace and a rose garden with stone steps opening onto a lawn, with the remaining grounds put to lawn and Park-like planting, in all, the grounds extend to about 2¼ acres.
The use of sandstone, Horsham stone slates and oak is typical of Lutyenss belief in using local materials. The use of Horsham stone slates is wide spread in the Felbridge area with several old properties like Gibbshaven, Gullege and Imberhorne Farm having Horsham stone roofs. Parts of Felbridge are located on a sandstone ridge, and the church is built of Wealden rubble, sandstone quarried from the Felbridge estate. Indeed, standing within the parkland of Felbridge Place was a 75ft/22.5m high column constructed of local sandstone, erected in 1785 by James Evelyn the former owner of Felbridge Place and builder of the mansion house. Also, because Felbridge is located within the area known as the Weald, there has traditionally been an abundant supply of oak trees. Both properties have recently been described a lodge houses but their primary use was as stables and kennels, although perhaps they may have been intended to double as lodge houses to the new mansion house for the Felbridge Place estate.
Park Farm and associated outbuildings was a third property commissioned from Lutyens. This is located further North from the hunting boxes, kennels and adjoining bungalow, adjacent to the original home farm built in the mid 1700s by James Evelyn that had been known as Park Farm. After the construction of the new home farm, the original Park Farm became known as Park House Farm, now Manor House Park Farm, and the new farm took the name - Park Farm. This property was also put up for sale in 1924, at the same time as the hunting boxes kennels and adjoining bungalow. The details in the sale catalogue describe Park Farm thus:
Dwelling House designed by Sir Edward [should have read Edwin!] Lutyens in close proximity to Park House Farm but separately approached, is a new and expensively built dwelling house containing:
On the First Floor
Four large bedrooms, each about 17ft 4ins/5.1m by 16ft 9ins/5m, with brick built fireplaces and self-setting stoves and tiled hearths. Bathroom with enamel porcelain bath, lavatory basin, hot cupboard and water closet.
On the Ground Floor
Entrance hall about 16ft/4.8m by 15ft 3ins/4.6m. Two excellent sitting rooms each about 17ft 4ins/5.1m by 16ft 9ins/5m with brick chimneys and dog grates, one having a side door to the cow yard. Large living room about 21ft/6.3m by 17ft 6ins/5.3m with a dado of white glazed bricks 4ft 6ins/1.4m high. Kitchen with tiled floor, range and dresser. There is a larder, a coal house, a large wash house with copper and two sinks, and a water closet. There is central heating to this house.
Conveniently situated at the side of this house is a range of
These form two sides of a quadrangle, expensively designed and constructed on the most up-to-date principles for a Prize Herd, with glazed stone feeding troughs and glazed brick dados and cement floor with the following accommodation:
38 cow-stalls, 7 loose boxes, a calf pen, root and food stores, and bull stables with 5 loose boxes.
This block of buildings is capable of separate occupation by a Dairy Farmer.
This Farm is a very compact one and is well watered by a stream proceeding from the Hedgecourt Lake. It is approached off the Eastbourne Road to which it possesses a long and valuable frontage. Parts of it are ready for immediate building development and the remainder is yearly growing in value.
The water is laid on from the Companys Mains.
In 1924, Park Farm formed part of the Felbridge Place estate owned by the Rudds and being described as new and expensively built would imply that it had just been constructed. Shortly after the 1924 sale the farm was in the hands of Honore Dubar, the chairman of the European Iron and Steel Board who had come to England from Belgium in 1913, after becoming alarmed at the amount of armament grade steel that Germany had been purchasing. It may have been possible that Honore Dubar had known Henry Rudd from his time in Belgium with the company LArmes Automatique Lewis before the company relocated to England in 1914, or it may just be coincidence that two men with Belgian connections should end up in Felbridge. However, during the 1930s and 1940s Honore Dubar and Marjorie Thomas were at Park Farm, running a herd of prize Jersey cattle. After the death of Honore Dubar, Marjorie Thomas sold Park Farm to Mr Balfour-Smith in 1947, and went to live in New Zealand. Michael Dubar, the grandson of Honore, lived with his parents are Park House Farm between 1944 and 1962, and recalls that there were magnificent cowshed with individual stalls for each animal, name plaques and all, at Park Farm. Bette Housman (née Thomas), who, in the mid 1930s started work at the stables at Wards Farm, for Mrs Atkinson, wife of the Rudds former farm bailiff at Park Farm, also recalls the cowsheds as gleaming with white tiles inside.
Park Farm has recently been on the market and was described as designed by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, being spacious, easily managed accommodation with a range of outbuildings, changing hands in 1991. The entrance of the house leads into a reception hall with a semi-vaulted ceiling. Off an inner hall is a double aspect drawing room, with a Minster stone fireplace and casement doors leading to the garden. The dining room also has a fireplace, and there is a sitting room/study, and a kitchen/breakfast room. On the first floor there are five bedrooms. Close to the house is a large L shaped block containing a staff flat and the remainder of the building, a former milking parlour, contains five stable doors that could form loose boxes or workshops. There is a block at the end with a similar number of stable doors and a hay barn. The outbuildings at Park Farm have similarities with those found at Ednaston Manor in Brailsford, Derbyshire, designed by Lutyens in 1912. All but five acres of the twenty-eight acres that go with the house are laid out as paddocks. The gardens consist of sweeping lawns with beds of shrubs, with trees. A large wrought iron gate leads into the long drive up to the house. In 1994, the property was given a Grade II listing and was described as built in the vernacular Revival style, but unlike the hunting boxes, kennels and adjoining bungalow is constructed of brown brick in English bond. It has a tiled roof that is hipped to end projecting wings and swept low to the centre under a central large panelled brick stack, reminiscent of Middlefield in Great Sheldon, Cambridge, deigned by Lutyens in 1908. Middlefield was one of Lutyenss most influential Neo-Georgian vernacular designs, with steeply pitched roofs and tall chimneys. Park Farm is essentially a two-storey building except for the central bay, which is a single storey that has continuous five-light casement windows above a wide doorcase with pilasters and a flat wooden weatherhood. The wings either side have two casement windows on the ground floor and a corresponding pair on the first floor, with the window arrangement also being reminiscent to that of Ednaston Manor. The rear elevation at Park Farm is similar to the front but has a central loggia on brick piers and a hipped dormer. The interior has a fine staircase hall built around the central chimneystack, and the staircase has stick balusters and incorporates a gallery.
Also among the Lutyens designs and sketches in the Felbridge collection is a sheet entitled Felbridge Farm Granary. The granary building measures 59ft 8ins/17.9m by 21ft 8ins/6.5m, under a steeply pitched roof, with a dormer at each end, fitted with diamond lead lights. There is a row of nine windows along each side, with an arched entrance at each corner on all four sides, with a small window above the arches in the end walls. The granary has certain similarities to the entrance lodges at Middleton Park, Oxfordshire, designed by Lutyens for the Earl of Jersey in 1934-38. What is unclear about the proposed granary is to which farm it was intended as there is and never has been a Felbridge Farm; perhaps it was to have been built at Park Farm to compliment the model cowhouses.
Lutyens also prepared designs for a new mansion house to replace the old house known as Felbridge Place, which had been built by James Evelyn in 1763, but the new mansion was never constructed in Felbridge. From the available sketches it would appear that the new mansion started off as a moderately sized property, exhibiting similar Neo-Georgian elements to those found at Ednaston Manor and at The Salutation in Sandwich, Kent, designed by Lutyens in 1911. Following the sequence of drawings for Felbridge House, it appears that grand rooms like a billiard room and swimming baths were added and the proposed moderately sized building just kept growing in scale. The last of these designs are dated May 1917, a month after Henry Rudd had received a letter from Rt. Hon. A Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Exchequer, informing him that the company LArmes Automatique Lewis was not exempt from taxation, as Henry Rudd had originally been led to believe. Realisation must have then set in that he would not become the multi-millionaire that he had expected to become at the beginning on World War I. It would seem that it was at this time, or shortly after, that the Rudds were forced to abandon their ambitious plans for re-modelling the Felbridge Place estate and dispense with the services of Lutyens.
Henry Rudd never reached the status of millionaire as the British Government went back on their agreed price regarding the purchase of the Lewis guns, and even after a lengthy legal battle, Henry Rudd was only paid a tenth of the value of the agreement in useless offshore war bonds. The result of this was that the Newchapel House and Felbridge Place estates were put up for auction in May 1924, with the general remark that Upon these Estates during the last few years the Owner has spent many thousands of pounds, partly in the formation of a road which passes through the Estate for about one and three quarter miles from the Eastbourne road into the cross road which passes from Lingfield to Brighton; in new buildings and in additions and improvements to Chapel House and other residences upon the Estate. What is puzzling is why the hunting boxes, kennels and adjoining bungalow, and Park Farm and cowhouses were built before the construction of the new mansion house, perhaps the Rudds were unable to decide on the final design for their new mansion. Fortunately numerous sketches and scale drawings of the proposed mansion house survive which give a clear indication of how the property was initially conceived and how, over the space of a year, it developed into a very large mansion that was to have included not only a billiard room and swimming baths, but an extensive range of service buildings, an orangery, pigeon cot and Garden House. From the final drawings dated May 1917, it is possible to visualize how the mansion would have looked if it had been constructed. Although there are no surviving designs for the garden front elevation or the ground floor plan from this date, possibly because they were removed from the file to be developed as the front entrance for Gledstone Hall in Skipton, Yorkshire, designed by Lutyens for Sir Amos Nelson between 1920 and 1923, shortly after the time that the preliminary plans for Felbridge House had been prepared in 1916/17.
Felbridge House, if built, would have had similar features to Gledstone Hall and it is tempting to think that Lutyens re-used his abandoned designs for Felbridge House as a basis for the new commission and, with subtle differences, saw them to fruition at Gledstone Hall. Gledstone Hall, like Felbridge House, moved away from the picturesque being rooted firmly in the Classical tradition with a hint of the Continental French and Italian style. The external appearance of both houses is based on symmetry, although in the case of Felbridge this is limited to the garden entrance elevation, and what had been designed as the garden entrance elevation at Felbridge became the front entrance elevation at Gledstone Hall, with the entrance portico being approached between two flanking lodges. One slight difference between the two properties is the portico, as at Gledstone Hall Ionic columns support it, whilst the design for Felbridge shows Tuscan columns, as found on the hunting boxes, kennels and bungalow, which may have been designed to double as the two flanking lodges as at Gledstone Hall. Both properties were to be stone built, Gledstone Hall was constructed in local sandstone, but initially Lutyens had suggested that Felbridge should be built in Portland stone, although there is a strong likelihood that it too would have been built in sandstone local to the Felbridge area, particularly as the hunting boxes, kennels and bungalow are constructed in it. The roofing material for Gledstone Hall is Gloucestershire slates, so in all probability it would have been Horsham stone slates at Felbridge, again found on the hunting boxes, kennels and bungalow, although the initial drawings for the service wing suggests tiles for the roof.
Comparing the garden entrance at Felbridge with the front entrance at Gledstone Hall you find that at Felbridge, either side of the entrance portico the walls were to have been punctuated by tall, thin windows on the ground floor set below shorter windows on the first floor but at Gledstone Hall the windows are set the other way round, tall, thin windows above short windows. At Felbridge the projecting end wings were to be set with centralised windows, whereas at Gledstone Hall they are asymmetrically set towards the portico. The window arrangement of tall windows under short windows was continued on the entrance front at Felbridge whereas at Gledstone Hall the window arrangement is reversed for the garden entrance, with the tall, thin windows on the ground floor.
Gertrude Jekyll designed the gardens for both Felbridge and Gledstone Hall, and similar features can be seen between the two designs. The garden design for Gledstone Hall was designed in the Italian style with a long sunken garden between retaining sandstone walls, and a 128ft/38.4m formal canal running down the centre that stretches away to the South, ending with a reflecting pool. A similar scheme had been intended for Felbridge and had already been used to some degree at Marsh Court in Hampshire, Heathcote in Ilkley, West Riding of Yorkshire, and Folly Farm near Sulhamstead, Berkshire, designed by Lutyens in 1901, 1906 and 1913, respectively. At Felbridge a 101ft 6ins/30.5m canal of water would have extended to the northeast of the house, being viewed from the dining room window, ending with a circular reflection pool backed by a semi-circular colonnaded wall. A Garden House was to have been located the left of the feature and an orangery to the right. The colonnaded wall and the two buildings were so placed as to hide a glass-roofed garage for seven cars and the gardeners yard and sheds. Like Gledstone Hall, the canal was to have been set in sunken gardens running in line with the wall extending from the service wing. Unfortunately, there are no detailed drawings of the Garden House or orangery, although the latter may have looked like the orangery at Hestercombe, designed by Lutyens in 1904.
Extending to the southwest, on the other side of the house, was to have been a series of terraced lawns and borders leading to another circular pool with paths radiating from it. The garden to the South of the property was to have been laid to lawn with parkland-type planting including the retention of some of the ornamental trees that had previously been planted by the Evelyn and Gatty families, with the addition of firs and many native trees, interspersed with clumps of azaleas and rhododendrons, and culminating with a tennis court. The garden and grounds to the North of the property were also to have been laid to lawn with parkland-type planting. There were to have been two driveways to the house, one from the main London Road, roughly where the Whittington College entrance now is, and the other off New Road between the hunting boxes and kennels. These two roads would have met at a curved forecourt in front of the main entrance to the house. Leading South from driveway off the London Road was another driveway that would have passed the existing stables that were to have been retained, now Ebbisham Court, which would have led to the garage block and service wing. A tradesmen entrance, leading directly to the service wing, was also to have been located slightly to the South of the London Road entrance.
The proposed new mansion was to have stood with its front elevation facing northeast, with its side elevation at an angle to the main London Road. The old mansion house, which Lutyens referred to as a TERROR, was to have been demolished and the new mansion built on the site. Several of Lutyenss drawings for the proposed mansion show the plan of the old mansion, which although a fairly substantial house, looks tiny in comparison to the proposed new mansion, and would have stood roughly where the proposed entrance hall was to have been situated in the new mansion. It is evident that Lutyens intended to retain the existing stables but it is not evident as to whether they were to remain as stables or be used as some other service facility or staff accommodation. It would also appear that both North and South Lodges, (Old Lodge and Stone Croft), were also to be retained, but not in their former capacity as lodge houses. The mansion would have been approached from the semi-circular forecourt and the front elevation unlike the garden elevation, this was asymmetrical with the service wing extending to the northeast screened by a hedge. Access to the mansion was via a set of steps, flanked by two obelisks, leading to a central front door. The use of the obelisque as ornamentation can also be seen at Marsh Court in Hampshire, designed by Lutyens in 1901, but perhaps it was being used at Felbridge to echo the tall sandstone column that already adorned the parkland.
Adjoining the new mansion at Felbridge was to have stood a single storey service wing, similar in design to that found at Crooksbury, Surrey, which Lutyens had transformed in 1914. The range of buildings at Felbridge was to have extended from the northeast side of the front elevation for 150ft/45m. Entrance into the service wing could be gained from the service courtyard located on the South side of the existing stables, through a door at either end of the front elevation of the service wing. On the front elevation of the service wing was also a curved covered corridor, extending to the retained stable block, and linking one of the storerooms in the service area with the kitchen area. The service wing was to have included the kitchen, 24ft/7.2m by 24ft/7.2m, scullery, silver safe, several store rooms, servants hall and the housekeepers accommodation being situated at the far northeast end, under a pigeon cot. The housekeepers accommodation was to have been a large square room in which to conduct the day-to-day business of running the household with a smaller room leading off into which the housekeeper could retire. The pigeon cot was to have been like a little temple to the Lewis gun, the symbol of Henry Rudds expected fortune. It was to have been square in shape with a steeply pitched roof, surmounted by a copula, topped with a weather vane in the design of a Lewis gun. Balancing the copula of the pigeon cot on the skyline was to have been another copula/tower of small windowpanes above the kitchen area. Extending from the end of the service wing was a garden wall leading to a square formal garden that would have been in line with the Garden House, and beyond this, the garages, abutting the main London Road. In all the service wing and garages extended from the main body of the house for 217ft/83m.
There are few detailed drawings of the interior but suggestions of the interior of Felbridge can be glimpsed from Lutyenss preliminary drawings. The entrance to the mansion house would have led to an entrance hall known as the stone hall with a 28ft/8.4m high vaulted ceiling. A corridor leading northeastward from the hall would have given access to the service wing. Directly behind the stone hall would have been an open courtyard with windows that would have let light into the corridors in the centre of the house. Behind the open courtyard would have been another hall called the painted hall that would have led out into the garden through the garden entrance. Located on the northeast side of the courtyard would have been the swimming baths under a high vaulted ceiling. Also on this side would have been the dining room with views over the sunken water garden. On the opposite side of the courtyard, on the line of the swimming baths would have been the billiard room, again under a high vaulted ceiling. The first floor would have been accessed by two sets of stairs and a lift and would have had seven bedrooms with associated dressing rooms and bathrooms and a sitting room. The second floor would have had still more bedrooms, and although there are no detailed drawings for the second floor, Lutyenss wrote of the house that it was to have 10 best bedrooms, each with a bath, so presumably there would have been at least three best bedrooms on the second floor and possibly rooms for staff. The large halls have coved ceilings and all of the corridors in the Felbridge designs are vaulted and thus an idea of the proposed interior can be gained from the interior of Gledstone Hall, with its vaulted corridors and coved ceilings in the two-storey hall. Lutyens wrote to his wife that he had prepared his first drawings for Gledstone Hall during his voyage to India on the SS Caledonia in December 1920, the design was very similar to those of Felbridge leading to the conclusion that by 1920 the contract for Henry Rudd was considered closed.
Gledstone Hall was the last completely new mansion designed by Lutyens for which he drew heavily on his designs for the abandoned new mansion at the Felbridge Place estate. The Rudds estate was finally taken into the hands of the respective mortgagees in 1924, and put up for auction by Barclays Bank holding for the Rudds. The estate auction included New Chapel House with their recently laid out gardens by Gertrude Jekyll, Felbridge Place with its old mansion house and new hunting boxes, kennels and adjoining bungalow, the racing stables and galloping track at Newchapel, Wards Farm, and the old and new home farms, Park House Farm and Park Farm. There is some evidence to suggest that the Rudds had been considering downsizing, as it is known that by 1924, they had built a property in the middle of Golards Wood called Golands, now in the middle of the Hobbs Industrial Estate. The architect of the property is unknown but the drawings are definitely not those of Lutyens. This property had six bedrooms, an entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, morning room, kitchen and scullery, with a powerhouse and stabling. The descriptions in the sale catalogue of 1924 of the internal fittings of the house, the central heating and the power house are very reminiscent to those found in Newchapel House. Golands was accessed off the main London Road along a long driveway to the South of a former Keepers Cottage for the Felbridge Place estate, later known as Grim House and now Willow Cottage. Golands was set in 11½ acres of land in the middle of the estate owned by the Rudds. It is also known that in 1920 the Rudds had commissioned Gertrude Jekyll to design the gardens surrounding the Golands. Initial groundwork would appear to have been completed, but it is unclear whether the whole of the Jekyll design was implemented, although in the sale catalogue there is mention of an ornamental garden in front of the house and extending to the side that was newly formed, but well laid out, with lawns and flower beds.
Perhaps the Rudds intended to recoup some of their losses by moving to a smaller property and selling the bulk of their estate before the foreclosure of their mortgages, but unfortunately for the Rudds this was not to be. After the sale of May 1924, the tennis court area of Felbridge Place was sold by Barclays Bank, holding for the Rudds, to Percy Portway Harvey, by then the former Managing Director of the East Grinstead Estate Company, on 31st December 1924. Little is known about the Rudds after this point, except that in 1926, Percy Portway Harvey put up for sale a further 110 acres of the Rudds estate, along the Copthorne Road. Finally, in May 1928, the southern most end of Felbridge Place parkland, just to the North of the Star Inn, was put up for sale by Henry Rudd himself, being purchased by Samuel Cadley who had a house called Exton Court built there, later renamed Arkendale, which has now been re-built and forms part of Whittington College.
As for Sir Edwin Lutyens he went on to design, among other things, the Cenotaph at Whitehall, London, in 1919/20, the All India War Memorial Arch in New Delhi and also the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval in France, both in 1924, and became a consultant for a number of Midland Bank buildings during the 1920s and 30s. Lutyens also designed a Roman Catholic Cathedral for Liverpool but although work began in the early 1930s, it was abandoned when the building had reached the main floor level in 1941, and was never continued. Lutyens died in 1944 and although his work was well known during his lifetime, by the early 1950s seemed to have little relevance in a world obsessed by Modernism. However, in more recent years, attitudes towards his work have be re-evaluated and it is now accepted that he probably achieved more than any other British architect, leaving a legacy of exceptional buildings after a long and prolific career.
It is ironic that the mansion house that Lutyens designed to replace Felbridge Place should draw upon the Classical and Italian styles, both for the house and gardens, considering that the old house was Georgian and described as architecturally after the Italian style and the immediate gardens surrounding the house were laid out in terraces in the Italian style. It is also interesting to note that English Heritage described the hunting boxes, kennels and adjoining bungalow as in the Classical style in the manner of Soanes barns a la Paestum, as in 1785, Sir John Soanes had designed the previously mentioned sandstone column that stood within the grounds of the Felbridge Place estate, and in 1787, he also submitted designs for a large Classical style chapel, which may have been the one constructed to the South of Felbridge Place that was demolished in 1865 with the consecration of St Johns Church. The proposed design for the new mansion house at Felbridge demonstrates Lutyenss commitment to using local materials and a variety of materials to give a rich texture to the property. The mansion was to have used dressed stone for the walls, with Horsham stone slabs for the roof of the main house with tiles for the service wing, materials that are indigenous to the Felbridge area, and the proposed formal Italian gardens would have gently integrated the new mansion house into the less formal surrounding parkland. Lutyens, either intentionally or not, had proposed the use of several obelisks to adorn the front entrance of the proposed mansion, perhaps to echo the tall sandstone column erected by James Evelyn that stood within the parkland, in view from the mansion.
The last connection between the Rudds and the Felbridge Place estate that has so far come to light is the 1928 sale of part of the parkland to Samuel Cadley which names Rudd as the vendor. As for Lutyenss grand design for Felbridge, two of his designs were constructed in Felbridge, the hunting boxes, kennels and adjoining bungalow, and Park Farm and cowhouses, resulting in three properties, all of which appear to have been undocumented and unheard of outside Felbridge until fairly recently. Unfortunately, the Classical mansion house that Lutyenss designed for the Rudds never materialised in Felbridge, although his plans were not wasted and formed the basis for Gledstone Hall in Skipton, Yorkshire. It is tempting to speculate what Felbridge would be like today if the British Government had not reneged on their agreement with Henry Willis Rudd, which would have resulted in the Rudds retaining the Felbridge Place estate and which would have secured the construction of Lutyenss grand design for Felbridge.
Edwin Lutyens, Architect Laureate by R Gradidge
Lutyens and the Edwardians by J Brown
Edwin Lutyenss Country Houses by G Stamp
Arts & Crafts Houses by B Dunlop
The Arts & Crafts House by A Tinniswood
Penguin dictionary of Architecture and Landscape by J Flemming, H Honour and N Pevsner
A Magician of Style, Magazine Article, FHA
Munstead Wood, Magazine Article, FHA
A Look at Lutyens, Period Living & Traditional Homes Article, July 2003, FHA
Plans for Felbridge Park, 1916-17, by E Lutyens, RIBA
Reef Point Collection, Folders 123 and 127, Z312/2/9, SRO
Eccentric Weathervane gives the clue by K Chattaway, FHA
Title Deeds for Holly Bush, Copthorne Road, FHA
Title Deeds for Whittington College, Worshipful Company of Mercers
Mail on Sunday article by A Tims, 2002, FHA
Arms House, Today article, May 2002, FHA
Newchapel House & Felbridge Place estates Sale Catalogue, 1924, FHA
Wards Farm Sale Catalogue, 1936, FHA
Luxury Farmhouse, EGC, 28/3/91, FHA
Park Farm, IoE no.449385, Felbridge Copse, IoE no.449384, Stonewall, IoE no.449386, NMR
Felbridge Copse Sale Catalogue, 2002, FHA
Stonewall Sale Catalogue, 2002, FHA
The Lutyens Trust East Grinstead, FHA
The Lutyens Trust web site: http://www.lutyenstrust.org.uk.html
Documented memories of Bette Housman, Doris Trefine and Michael Dubar, FHA
Felbridge Place, Fact Sheet SJC 10/99, FHA
The Felbridge Monument, Fact Sheet SJC 08/99/2, FHA
The Felbridge Chapel, Fact Sheet SJC 05/00, FHA
The Downfall of Henry Willis Rudd, Fact Sheet SJC 10/02, FHA
Newchapel House, Fact Sheet SJC 11/02, FHA
Hobbs Barracks, Fact Sheet DHW 01/03, FHA
My thanks are extended to Jane Brown, Richard Breese and Tim Skelton for suggesting avenues of research.