More Biographies from the Churchyard - Estate Workers of the Gatty Family

More Biographies from the Churchyard of St. Johns - Estate Workers of the Gatty Family

Following on from Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge, [Fact Sheet SJC 07/02vi], here are a few more stories about the everyday lives of thirteen more past residents of Felbridge, all estate workers of the Gatty family of the Felbridge Place estate. The Gatty family purchased the estate in 1855 and the last surviving Gatty died in December 1903 leaving the estate in trust to two cousins who held it until 1911, when it was put up for auction and gradually broken up. The biographies that follow are but a few more, that will hopefully give an increased insight into the people of Felbridge and their lives since 1865, when St John’s, built by the Gatty family, became the central focus and final resting place for many villagers of Felbridge.

George Belton

George Belton was born the second son of William and Mary Belton, being baptised in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Horne, on 25th June 1826. At the time of George’s baptism, William was listed as a labourer, but by 1847 he was listed as a yeoman, a farmer who farmed his own lands, being able to vote and serve on juries. George’s parents, William and Mary née Hollands, married in the parish of Worth on 11th May 1823, and had ten children. George’s siblings include: William born in 1823, Mary born in 1825, Ann born in 1827, Milley born in 1829, Jane born in 1830, Harriet born in 1832, Elizabeth born in 1834, James born in 1836 and Henry born in 1839.

George’s older brother William and younger brother Henry were both born in the parish of East Grinstead whereas George and his seven other brothers and sisters were all born in the parish of Horne. This would suggest that William and Mary started their married life in the parish of East Grinstead, moved back to Horne, where William originated, before returning to the parish of East Grinstead sometime between 1836 and 1839. The move back to the parish of East Grinstead is borne out by the fact that the will of George’s father William leaves his ‘copyhold messuage or tenement held of the manor of Broadhurst, Sussex’ to his executor, William Chapman, to ‘sell or dispose of’. William’s wife Mary was to receive £50 and the remainder was to be invested and held in trust. The dividends of the investment were to be paid to his wife for the remainder of her life, and after her death were to be divided equally between his children. The only area of the manor of Broadhurst to be in the parish of East Grinstead is that of the extreme southern edge of Hedgecourt Common, Felbridge, and in 1851, Mary, George’s mother, is recorded as a charwoman living in this area, eight houses on from George, and next door to James Belton her brother-in-law.

The 1851, George Belton was recorded as an agricultural labourer living in the parish of East Grinstead. From his position in the census he was living in one of the pair of cottages, now converted as a single house called Long Wall in Copthorne Road, Felbridge, once forming part of the estate of Harts Hall, now the site of Felbridge Court. George had married Jane Roffey in about 1849 and they had a daughter Annie who was born at Felbridge Place in 1850. The fact that Annie was born at Felbridge Place would suggest that by 1850 George Belton was employed as an estate worker on the Felbridge Place estate. The only other child that is recorded as born of George and Jane is a son called George who was born in about 1869 in the parish of Horne.

In 1881, George senior and his family were living at Park Farm, the ‘Home Farm’ for the Felbridge Place estate, being listed as a farm labourer. From documented memories of some of the older residents of Felbridge, George was known as ‘the farm bailiff’. In 1881, Henry Bingham was listed as the farm bailiff implying that George could only have run the ‘Home Farm’ for the Gatty family after the retirement of Henry Bingham. Also from documented memories, George was an authority on bees and attended all those in the neighbourhood collecting swarms as and when necessary. Unfortunately, there being two Georges, father and son, whose employment ages overlap, it is unclear which one was the farm bailiff and authority on bees. George senior would have been a mature farm bailiff if he succeeded Henry Bingham, being only nine years his junior, and George junior would have been very young to have held the position of farm bailiff. If George junior was the farm bailiff he only held the position for a very short period of time as he died in 1900 at the age of only thirty-one, leaving a widow and two small children. The circumstances surrounding George junior’s death were mysterious as he was found shot dead in his house with no evidence to prove how he was shot. He was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 22nd May 1900, but unfortunately Rev. John Thorp, the vicar, did not make a note of which grave plot. George junior had married Ellen Creasey, daughter of George Creasey, on 4th June 1890, and they had Nellie Jane born on 13th November 1891 and Beatrice Annie born on 3rd June 1894.

George senior was still at Park Farm in 1891, but had moved from Park Farm by 1901 to Rope Plait House, Rowplatt Lane, now Lyric Cottage. He had lost his wife Jane in 1898 who was buried at St John’s, Felbridge in plot D2. 10. Living with George senior was his daughter, Annie Stripp, who was acting as housekeeper for him. The census records them as both being deaf, this may have been hereditary for although George was seventy-four and therefore possibly deaf through old age, Annie was only fifty-one, relatively young to have lost her hearing. In 1906, George was one of the Felbridge residents receiving an allocated 4lb/1.8kg of beef a month from the Beef and Faggot Charity that had been set up by James Evelyn in 1793. On the 10th June 1907, it was agreed by the Beef and Faggot Charity trustees that George’s daughter Annie Stripp should continued to receive the beef allowance after the death of her father.

George Belton senior died on 3rd June 1907 and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, in plot D2.12. His grave is one of only a few in the churchyard that have both a head and footstone. The headstone, positioned between the two grave plots of Jane and George Belton at D2. 11, is erected at the west end of the grave with the footstone at the east; generally it is the other way round with the headstone at the east end. The memorial inscription, on the west side of the headstone reads:



The footstone reads:


Henry Bingham

Henry Bingham was christened on 16th March 1817, at St Giles Church, Horsted Keynes. He was the fifth son of twelve children born to William and Ann Bingham. William Bingham came from the Horsted Keynes/West Hoathly area and married Ann Ellis on 22nd January 1799, at St Margaret’s Church, West Hoathly. Henry’s siblings include, John born in 1799, Ann born in 1801, William born in 1804, Martha born in 1806, Joseph born in 1808, Mary born in 1810, Thomas born in 1812, Elizabeth born in 1814, Harriet born in 1820, George born in 1823 and Jane born in 1826. An elderly descendent of Joseph recorded that the children were all born in West Hoathly but were christened at St Giles Church, Horsted Keynes.

Henry Bingham married Mary Ann Ferguson on 16th July 1837, at St Margaret’s Church, West Hoathly. Mary Ann was born in 1816 in Sevenoaks, Kent. Henry and Mary Ann had six children, William Ferguson born in 1838, Henry Ferguson born in 1843, Albert Thomas Ferguson born in 1846, Emily Jane born in 1849, Agnes Ellis born in 1851 and Allen Walter born in 1861. The baptism locations for their children suggest that Henry and Mary Ann started their married life in the Horsted Keynes/West Hoathly area before moving to the Horsted Keynes/ Birch Grove area by 1843. By 1846 the family had moved to the Lewes area and by 1851, the Buxted area, before moving to Felbridge sometime between 1851 and 1856. In 1856, George Gatty, who had purchased the Felbridge Place estate in 1855, makes reference to ‘Bingham’ in his journal.

From the memories of past Felbridge residents, Henry Bingham was a carpenter by trade when he came to work for the Gatty family at the Felbridge Place estate, and indeed, at least three of his sons worked as carpenters on the estate, but in 1871 and 1881, Henry was listed as a farm bailiff living at Felbridge Park Lodge, now Old Lodge on the London Road. Living at Felbridge Park Lodge would suggest that he was the bailiff for the Home Farm. It is also known that in the latter years of his life Henry was the parish clerk for Rev. John Thorp. As farm bailiff, Henry Bingham would have been responsible for the day to day running of the Home Farm and from the journals of George Gatty it is evident that Henry Bingham worked closely with him, keeping him well informed about the progress of his dairy cattle. As parish clerk, he was the keeper of the parish records and other associated parish duties.

Henry Bingham died on 20th March 1900 and was buried, with his wife who had died in 1895, at St John’s, Felbridge, in plot C1. 66-73. The headstone, by Jenner-Grynyer of East Grinstead, has a wealth of flowers carved into an arc-shape at the top of the stone, all of which have symbolic meaning, popular during the 1800’s. At the centre there is a rose, which together with the rest of the flower stems, is tied with a ribbon. To the right of the rose, there are three flowers that look like stylised calendula and at the point of the arc on the right, a lily. To the left of the rose there are three stylised flowers that look like flax or geranium, then two daisy flowers and a lily bud in the corner of the arc on the left. The rose, if white, symbolises purity, silence, innocence and worthiness. The calendula, known as ‘Mary’s Gold’, symbolises sacred affection, grief and remembrance. The flax flower symbolises, among other things, fate, and the geranium symbolises steadfast piety. The daisy is primarily known as the symbol of childhood innocence, and is associated with simplicity and modesty. The memorial inscription reads:






Thomas Bird

Thomas Bird was born in 1832 in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, a small village at the northern end of Bedfordshire. Nothing is known about his parents and family as the parish records have not yet been deposited and therefore access to them is difficult. Thomas met and married a lady called Clara; again no further details are available except that she was born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1833.

Thomas and Clara moved to Felbridge sometime between 1861 and 1871, the couple living next door to Benjamin and Elizabeth Jupp. Thomas was listed as a domestic servant and it is evident that he was working for the Gatty family, as the cottages formed part of the Felbridge Place estate. In 1881, Thomas was listed as a coachman, still living next to the Jupp family in Felbridge Cottages in the parish of Tandridge. Felbridge Cottages were a pair of stone-built cottages at the corner of Kennel Lane, now extended and converted into one house known as The Stone Cottage.

As coachman, Thomas Bird would have been in charge of the coach and coaching staff and was responsible for driving and ensuring the coach or coaches were well maintained. Maintenance work to the coaches would have included general cleaning, polishing the brass fitments, touching up the paintwork, and soaking the wooden wheels to keep the spokes tight because if the wheels become dry the wood shrinks and the spokes become loose. A common method for soaking the wheels was to drive or drag the coach into a pond, perhaps another use for the village pond located opposite the Felbridge mansion house at the top of Woodcock Hill. Stabling for the horses and the coach house were located within the grounds of the mansion house and are still standing, now known as Ebbisham Court, part of Whittington Court. In 1855, the range of buildings were described as ‘stabling for several horses, double coach house, with grooms rooms and lofts above’. There was further stabling at Wards Farm that was built of stone with a slate roof, which has now been converted to a private house known as The Coach House. Wards Farm also had a chaff house where straw was cut into short pieces for feeding animals, especially horses that require large quantities.

Thomas Bird died in 1889, and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 24th April at the age of only fifty-eight. Rev. Charles White was the officiating minister as St John’s was without a vicar at the time, Rev. Sydney Macartney having just left as curate to the parish of Hartfield, Sussex. Unfortunately, Rev. White did not note which plot Thomas was buried in so his gravesite is not known, although contemporary burials suggest the northern half of section D.

George Creasey

George Creasey was born the second son of nine children of Thomas and Mary Ann Creasey, being baptised in the parish of East Grinstead on 21st February 1830. Thomas Creasey was born in the parish of East Grinstead in 1798, and married Mary Anne Holland, who was born in the parish of Worth in 1802, on 4th August 1822. George’s siblings include: Mary born in 1823, Thomas born in 1825, William born in 1832, James born in 1834, Edward born in 1837, John born in 1840, Emily born in 1845 and Henry born in 1847. All the children were born in the parish of East Grinstead.

In 1851, Thomas Creasey and his family were living in a cottage in the small hamlet that was located behind Oak Farm, Crawley Down Road, on the extreme southern edge of Hedgecourt Common, which falls under the parish of East Grinstead. This hamlet had disappeared by the late 1800’s along with the road that ran through the middle of it linking Gullege Lane with the Crawley Down Road at the driveway of Ann’s Orchard.

George Creasey married Mary Ann Deacon in about 1858, and they had six children, Philadelphia born in 1859, Martin William born in 1861, Mary Ann born in 1862, George born in 1864, Fred born in 1868 and Fanny born in 1870, all baptised at All Saint’s Church, Crawley Down. The baptism record for all the children lists George as a gardener living in Copthorne. In 1871, George Creasey was listed as living in Copthorne Road Cottages, Felbridge. Also in April 1871, shortly after the birth of their youngest daughter, Mary Ann died leaving George with six children under the age of twelve to bring up on his own. Four years later on 17th July 1875, George married a widow called Fanny Conquest née Taylor, who had a seven-year-old son called James Conquest. Fanny was born in Brighton in 1828, the daughter of Abraham Taylor, a fishmonger of Brighton.

At the time of his second marriage, George was still listed as a gardener living at The Furnace in Furnace Wood, Felbridge, the house now just known as Furnace. However, by 1881, George had changed his occupation being listed as a farm labourer but was still living at The Furnace, which was part of the Felbridge Place estate owned by the Gatty family, Furnace Wood being one of the woodland sites for rearing the estate’s game birds. From the memories of past Felbridge residents, George went on to become head thatcher for the estate, not of houses but of stacks or ricks. It was his job, at the end of harvest, to thatch the ricks to keep the rain from entering the rick, which would render the hay or straw useless if it got wet.

In 1901, George and Fanny had moved to 1 Warren Cottages, now part of Vine Cottage in Crawley Down Road, living next door to Ellen Creasey, George’s sister-in-law and widow of his brother James, and her son Henry.

George Creasey died in 1906, and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 6th October, but unfortunately his gravesite is unknown as Rev. John Thorp neglected to note which plot he was buried in. Fanny lived for a further four months and died at the Union Infirmary in East Grinstead in January 1907, being buried on 1st February at St John’s, Felbridge, again the gravesite is not known.

Daniel Garwood

Daniel Garwood was born in 1837, at Brookley in Suffolk, the son of Daniel Garwood a farmer, but little else is known about his early years other than he had moved to Felbridge by 1865. In 1866, Daniel Garwood married a lady called Anne, who was born in the parish of East Grinstead in 1844. Daniel and Anne had eight children, all born in Felbridge, they were: Alfred born in 1866, Alice born in 1871, Edith born in 1872, Kate born in 1874, Emily born in 1876, Frances born in 1877, Albert Arthur born in 1878 and Ernest born in July 1880. Unfortunately, Alfred died in 1867 and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, in plot B3. 2a.

In 1871, Daniel Garwood was working as a coachman and domestic servant at Felbridge Place and in 1881, the Garwood family were recorded as living in Felbridge Park Lodge, next door to Henry Bingham, the farm bailiff for the Felbridge Place estate, and his family. At that time, Daniel was still listed as a coachman domestic and would have worked with Thomas Bird until his death in 1889. In 1882, Anne died at the age of thirty-nine and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 31st August 1882, in plot D9. 4. Daniel was left with seven children under eleven, the youngest being only two years old.

Daniel married a second time on 26th June 1886 at St John’s Church, Felbridge, the marriage being witnessed by Charles Henry Gatty. His second wife was Elizabeth Godly who was born in the Felbridge area in 1853, the daughter of George and Elizabeth Godley. At the time of their marriage Frances already had a son called Albert Godly born in 1869. Daniel and Frances went on the have two daughters, Ella born in 1887, and Ethel Mavis born in 1892. In all, the Garwood family totalled nine daughters, one stepson and a son lost at the age of eight months. Daniel went on to lose both his other sons at a fairly early age during active service in World War I. Ernest, Daniel’s youngest son, was killed whilst serving with the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) in 1916, and Albert Arthur (known as Bob), Daniel’s oldest surviving son, was killed in 1918, whilst serving with 13th Company, Training Reserve Labour Corps. Albert left a wife, Charlotte née Browning, and four surviving children, Dorothy Louisa, Albert Neville, born in 1902, Mabel Annie, born in 1905 and Margaret Adelaide, born in 1911, having lost a son, Arthur Reginald, at the age of ten months in 1908.

In 1901, Daniel Garwood was still employed by Charles Henry Gatty as a coachman on the Felbridge Place estate and was still living at Felbridge Park Lodge along with his second wife, Frances, and daughters Frances, Ella and Ethel. However, in 1903 Charles Henry Gatty died and the Felbridge Place estate was left in trust to two cousins and the mansion house of Felbridge Place was leased. In the will of Charles Henry Gatty, Daniel Garwood received an annuity of £160 implying that he had been a valued and trusted estate worker. It was probably around this date that Daniel moved to Sidney House, St James Road, East Grinstead, where he was to spend the rest of his life. St James Road, which links the main London Road with Station Road, had been laid out in the early 1890’s as a crescent of Victorian villas with some smaller terrace houses, so the house that Daniel moved to would have been fairly new and modern.

Daniel Garwood died in 1919 at the age of eighty-two, exactly one year after the death of his son Albert who had been killed in active service in Belgium. Daniel was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 24th January 1919, in plot D7. 10-14, located next to the Gatty family vault. Frances then moved to 28 College Lane, East Grinstead, where she lived with her daughter Ella until her death in 1934 when she was buried with Daniel. To mark their grave their surviving children had a square white marble urn placed on the plot inscribed with:
F & D

MA. & PA.

Over the years the urn became discoloured and dirty, and for ease of mowing was placed on the York ledger slab of the Gatty family vault. The urn was re-discovered when it was cleaned along with the Gatty vault in October 2003 to commemorate the centenary of the death of Charles Henry Gatty. The urn now stands at the east end of the Gatty vault, located to the south of the Garwood plot, perhaps a more fitting place for the memorial of a trusted and long serving estate worker to the Gatty family.

Benjamin and Ernest Jupp

Benjamin Jupp was born in 1826 in Oxted, Surrey, unfortunately nothing is yet known about his parents or siblings. He married a lady called Elizabeth who was born in 1828 in Kent, again no other details are yet known. Benjamin and Elizabeth had one son called Ernest born in the parish of Tandridge in 1863.

Benjamin Jupp was a gardener on the Felbridge estate in 1856, around the time of the arrival of the Gatty family as George Gatty makes reference to him in his journal with regards to recommending which strawberry varieties to plant in the fruit garden that he was creating at Felbridge Place. As an estate worker, Benjamin Jupp would have been given a cottage to live in and in 1881 his address was Felbridge Cottages, now known as The Stone Cottage, on the corner of Kennel Lane. He and his family were living next door to Thomas Bird, the coachman.

Felbridge Cottages were later known as Ward’s Cottages, being part of the Wards Farm complex. In 1911, at the sale of the Felbridge Place estate, the cottages were described thus:
‘A pair of stone-built cottages with slate roofs, lying well back from the road. Each cottage containing three bedrooms (two with fireplaces), a living room and a small kitchen with a range. One of the cottages has a wash-house or laundry with a copper. There is a pair of timber and tiled wood lodges, and two EC’s. Each cottage has good gardens back and front, a well for water and pump for joint use’.

Benjamin was joined by his son Ernest at Felbridge Place, Ernest also working as a gardener. It would appear that Ernest never married and sadly died at the age of thirty-three being buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 29th December 1896, in plot D4. 37. He was joined by his father Benjamin less than three months later when he died at the age of seventy-one. Elizabeth Jupp stayed on in Felbridge Cottage and when Charles Henry Gatty died in 1903, she received an annuity of £40, suggesting that the Jupp family service to the Gatty family had been much appreciated over the years.

In 1911, Elizabeth Jupp was mentioned in the Felbridge Place sale catalogue as occupying one of the pair of cottages by then known as Wards cottages. She is noted as being bedridden and the two cousins of Charles Henry Gatty to whom he had left the Felbridge Place estate, had agreed to allow her to occupy the cottage for the remainder of her life, provided that the rent of 4/- per week was paid. As it happened, Elizabeth only lived for a further six months before she died at the age of eighty-three being buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 9th November 1911, joining her husband and son. Their headstone has a crosshatched pattern around the top edge with a carved stylistic flower within a quatrefoil, being inscribed:








John Killick

John Killick was born the third son of eight children of Thomas and Elizabeth Killick, being baptised in the parish of Cranleigh, Surrey, on 12th September 1819. Thomas Killick married Elizabeth Harris on 2nd September 1809 at St John the Baptist Church, Croydon, where the Killick family set up home. John’s siblings include: Elizabeth born in 1810, Mary Ann born in 1812, Thomas born in 1813, Amy born in 1815, James born in 1817, William born in 1821 and George born in 1823. Elizabeth was born in Croydon but all the remaining children were born in Cranleigh implying that the Killick family moved from Croydon between 1810 and 1812.

John Killick married Emily Goble, who was born in 1821, in Upwaltham, Sussex, on 18th April 1846, suggesting that by this date he was employed in the area of Upwaltham. John and Emily had six children, Thomas born in 1846, John born in 1849, Harry born in 1850, Elizabeth born in 1853, Mary Ann born in 1856 and George born in 1858. From the locations of their children’s baptism it would appear that the family lived in Upwaltham until sometime around 1849, moving to Godalming, Surrey, by 1852/3, then Albury, Surrey, until sometime between 1853 and 1856, before moving to the Felbridge area where John Killick took up the position of bailiff at Chartham Park, Lingfield, Surrey, working for the Margary family. He remained at Chartham Park for several years before moving to the Felbridge Place estate to work as gamekeeper for the Gatty family. As gamekeeper, John Killick was responsible for the rearing of game birds such as pheasant and partridge, ensuring that there was an adequate supply for the shooting season. He was also responsible for the organisation and running of the shooting events, as well as the gun dogs required to support the shooting parties.

In 1881, John Killick held the position of head gamekeeper, whilst his son John was employed as under keeper on the Felbridge Place estate, living in Keeper’s Cottage, Golards Wood, now Willow Cottage, part of the Hobbs Industrial Estate. John Killick senior was living at The Kennel, Woodcock Hill, now The Old Pheasantry. The name of the property in 1881 suggests that John Killick senior was also responsible for the estates gun dogs as well as pheasants. There is a description of the property in the Felbridge Place sale catalogue of 1911, which states:
‘The house occupies a most charming situation, facing south and standing well back from the road. It contains three bedrooms (one with a fireplace), a sitting room, kitchen living room, and scullery with a sink and bread oven. There is an outside EC. The company’s main water is laid on and there is also a rainwater tank. The outbuildings comprise of a timber and tiled lodge with two coppers and a fireplace, and two timber and thatched chicken houses.’
The chicken houses were more likely to have been associated with the rearing of pheasants than chicken during the occupation of John Killick senior.

Emily, wife of John Killick senior, died at the age of eighty in 1901 and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 20th March 1901 in plot A2. 3-11. There is evidence to suggest that at sometime around this date John Killick junior and his family moved into The Kennel with his father, who was by then eighty-two years old.

On the death of Charles Henry Gatty in December 1903, John Killick, his gamekeeper, was left the sum of £100, what is unclear is which John Killick was by then his gamekeeper, as John senior was still alive but would have been eighty-four years old, suggesting that perhaps by then John junior had taken the position of head gamekeeper. This may be borne out by the clause in the Felbridge Place estate sale catalogue of 1911, three years after the death of John Killick senior, that states: ‘The possession of the meadow with the cottage [The Kennel] is on completion, but the house is in the occupation of the gamekeeper, who shall be entitled to remain in possession until February 1st, 1912, and the purchaser shall be allowed on completion the sum of £8 in respect of such occupation.’

John Killick senior died a year after Charles Henry Gatty and was buried on 11th September 1904, joining his wife in plot A2. 3-11. The headstone, supplied by W Wallis, Newchapel, has a stylised Celtic cross at the top inscribed with IHS, which represents the Greek capitals of IHC, the first two and last letters from IHSOUS, (the C being a form of S), or IEêOèê, meaning Jesus in Greek capitals. The headstone is inscribed:


‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’


‘Rest in the Lord’

The plot is surrounded by a curbstone and is located at the southeast corner of the church. There are also two other graves within the curbstones, but unfortunately this area of the church grounds suffered severe damage when one of a series of three bombs was dropped in and around the church on 28th August 1940. The only other surviving memorial in the plot is the base and part of the upright cross, in two separate pieces, to Elizabeth and Arthur Daws, daughter and son-in-law of John and Emily Killick. Elizabeth was buried on 12th September 1933, and Arthur on 15th November 1933. This memorial and the headstone of Emily and John Killick also show signs of shrapnel damage. The other burial in the plot was Caroline Killick, wife of Harry Killick who was buried on 31st December 1906. Harry was a son of John and Emily Killick, and at the time of Caroline’s death was living at 85 Lingfield Road, East Grinstead, employed as a gardener. There are no remains of this memorial, although it is uncertain whether one had originally been erected in 1906.

Richard and Elizabeth Stevens

Richard Stevens was born in 1820 in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, and nothing else is yet known about his family or background. He married a lady called Elizabeth who was born in 1816 in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, and again nothing else is yet known about her background. In adult life, both Richard and Elizabeth were in service to the Gatty family and it is probably through being in service that they initially met.

In November 1858, Richard Stevens bought a copyhold property of a cottage and two acres of land on Hedgecourt Common from Thomas Simmons, formerly belonging to Bankins and before that Finches, Smiths, Farmers and Wickendens. The cottage and 1½ acres of land fell within the manor of Broadhurst in the parishes of East Grinstead and Worth, and 2 roods of land, located near to Sheerstone, fell within the parish of East Grinstead. The cottage, no longer standing, formed part of the grounds of what is now known as Walnut Marches, Crawley Down Road. This would suggest that Richard Stevens had probably moved to the Felbridge area in 1858, possibly to take up a position at Felbridge Place. The property was probably bought as an investment as the surviving records show it to have been rented out during his ownership.

In December 1876, Charles Henry Gatty purchased the property on Hedgecourt Common from Richard Stevens for the sum of £220. In 1881, both Richard and Elizabeth are recorded as living at Felbridge Place in the household of Charles Henry Gatty, Richard being employed as the butler and Elizabeth as cook. The position of butler has widely diverse duties depending on the size of the household. The butler could have acted as house steward, headwaiter, been in charge of the wine cellar and acted as personal assistant to the householder. In 1881, Richard Stevens had two footmen or under butlers, George Wheatland and Joseph Bennett, working with him suggesting that he probably held a position of high regard and authority, especially as he was still working as Charles Henry Gatty’s butler at the age seventy-one in 1891. There is no reference to a housekeeper in the Gatty household of 1881 suggesting that Richard Stevens would have supervised the running of the entire household, carrying out the duties of the house steward. He would have been expected to keep the household in good order, the comfort of the family and its social reputation, as well as being the link between the family upstairs and the servants below stairs. Richard Stevens, as butler, held the highest-ranking position in the household and would have been in charge of all the male servants, the female servants being the responsibility of the highest ranking female, generally the housekeeper, but in her absence at Felbridge Place, Elizabeth Stevens, the cook and wife of Richard.

At this date it was not general practise for staff in service to be married, especially the butler and cook, as it was felt that being married could divide their loyalty between their duties and their spouse. However, Richard and Elizabeth were a married couple suggesting the Gatty family held an open mind on the situation. Elizabeth as cook would have worked her way up through the kitchen ranks and reached the height of her profession. Known as a ‘professed cook’ she would have been expected only to do the ‘proper’ cooking, kitchen and scullery maids did plain cooking and the cleaning and scouring of the kitchen. In 1881, Elizabeth Stevens had one live-in kitchen maid called Ellen Dodge who would have helped with the preparation of ingredients and basic cooking. The professed cook was employed for the flavour of her cooking unlike in the fashionably employed French chef of larger households of the period where the emphasis was placed upon the appearance of the dish. A professed cook could earn between £50 and £70 a year paid in quarterly instalments, and along with the butler, held a senior position in the household.

Elizabeth Stevens died in 1889 and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 19th October 1889, in plot D9. 11-14. The grave is located just to the west of the Gatty family vault, at the top of where the steps down to the vault would have started before being filled in. The headstone has the carving of a lily flower with a snapped stem set within a quatrefoil, which was generally used to symbolise the loss of youthful innocence. However, it could not have been used as such for Elizabeth Stevens as she was aged seventy-three years at her death, perhaps in this case it symbolised the restoration of innocence of her soul or perhaps Richard felt that she had departed too soon. Running down each side edge of the headstone are more carvings, starting with a decorative leaf motif at the top and ending with a scroll with a stylised flower on it.

In 1891, Richard Stevens was still employed as the butler at Felbridge Place, and Eliza Burt had taken the position of cook that his wife had held until her death. Richard Stevens died in 1895, at the age of seventy-five, and was buried with his wife on 1st January 1896. Their headstone is inscribed:




Thomas and Betsy Wheeler

Thomas Wheeler was born on 9th July 1857 in the parish of Godstone, the son of George and Dinah Wheeler. George was born in Edenbridge in 1821 and was married to Dinah who was born in Lingfield in 1827. Thomas Wheeler’s siblings include: George born in 1848, Anna born in 1850, Ellen born in 1851, William and Michael George whose dates of birth are currently not known, Emily Ada born in 1869 and possibly a son called James Richard born in 1856, as yet unconfirmed. George, Anna and Ellen were baptised in Lingfield, Thomas, William and Michael George were all baptised on 24th June 1866 at St John’s Church, Felbridge, and Emily Ada was baptised in Felbridge on 29th August 1869.

In 1851, the George and Dinah Wheeler were living at Old Platts, Lingfield, where George was working as a wagoner. The family had moved to the Felbridge area by the time of Thomas’s birth in 1857, as he gives his place of birth as the parish of Godstone. William and Michael give their place of birth as Lingfield, which suggests that they were born before Thomas, between 1852 and 1856. It remains a mystery as to why George and Dinah Wheeler had only three of their children baptised together at the newly built St. John’s, Felbridge. In 1870, the Wheeler family were living at Felbridge Lane, Lingfield and the same year Dinah Wheeler died and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 27th January 1870. Unfortunately, the plot number was not recorded so the location of her grave is unknown. At the time of Dinah death the majority of the children were of working age but Emily Ada was only five months old.

Thomas Wheeler followed his father and elder brother George onto the land and in 1881 was working as an agricultural labourer and lodging at Glen Vue Road in East Grinstead, with the Holden family. The head of the Holden family was George Holden who had married Thomas’s sister Ellen. In 1889, Thomas Wheeler married Betsy Susannah Baldwin who was baptised on 27th May 1866 at St John’s Church, Felbridge, the daughter of William and Caroline Baldwin of Wire Mill Cottage, Newchapel.

William Baldwin was born in 1834 in Cowden, Kent, and married Caroline, who was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in 1835. Betsy’s siblings include: Eliza born in 1861, George William born in 1863, John Edward born in 1868, James born in 1869, Sarah Annie born in 1871, Charles born in 1873, Fanny born in 1874, Henry born in 1876, and Kate Naomi born in 1878. From the location of baptisms, the Wheeler family set up home in Clapham, before moving to the Felbridge area by 1866, probably the time at which William Baldwin took up the position of corn miller’s loader at Wire Mill. As a point of interest, Betsy’s brother, PC James Baldwin, was stabbed to death whilst on duty in London in 1898, and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge. (For further details see Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge, Fact Sheet SJC 07/02vi.)

Thomas and Betsy Wheeler set up home at 1 Rowplatt Lane, Thomas working as a carter on the Felbridge Place estate. A carter was a man in charge of a cart, which had two wheels being drawn by a horse, which was used for transporting goods, as apposed to a wagoner, the occupation of his father, who was in charge of a wagon that had four wheels being drawn by horses to transport heavier loads. Rowplatt Lane at this date only had four cottages in it, running from the junction with Crawley Down Road, now Lyric Cottage and the sites of Nos.3 and 4, and The Ark, and the road was only a cart track with a corn field on one side and Warren House Farm the other. Thomas and Betsy had three children, Frederick born in 1890, Charles born in 1891 and Emily Ellen born in 1895. Sadly Frederick died during World War I and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, in 1916 in plot D3. 84-87.

Betsy Wheeler was, for many years, employed to clean St John’s Church once a week and launder the vicar’s surplice. In 1912, the Pattenden family who had farmed Little Hedgecourt Farm since 1823, bought the four cottages in Rowplatt Lane and the Wheeler family moved to Fir Tree Cottages, Crawley Down Road. Betsy died on 1st January 1929, and was buried at St John’s, Felbridge, on 5th January 1929 in plot D7. 41, just north of the grave of their son Frederick. On the death of Betsy, Thomas moved back to Rowplatt Lane to live with their son Charles and his wife Dora who ran the general stores from no.4. Dora was the daughter of the Pattenden family who had purchased the row of cottages in 1912.

Thomas died at the age of eighty-one on 13th October 1938, and was buried on 27th October 1938 in plot D7. 37, just north of his wife Betsy. The memorial to Thomas and Betsy Wheeler is an upright Latin cross mounted on three steps, signifying ‘faith, hope and charity’, the most commonly used symbol of the Christian faith, and is located in plot D7. 37. The monumental inscription is found on the west side of the three steps which states:




These are but a few more of the lives that past people of Felbridge have lived, some tragic, some long, some short, some fascinating, but none of which should be forgotten. Perhaps in the future, the biographies of yet more past people of Felbridge can be told.

Reflections on Felbridge Churchyard
by Olive ‘Tom’ Sharman

Here in this quiet place we left him,
How often had we helped him cut the grass,
Where birds sing softly for an anthem,
And swallows twitter as they pass.

Here he will sleep, while soft above him,
The wild flowers bloom and grasses wave,
In spirit he is always with us,
Although today we left him in the grave.

Census records 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901
A dictionary of old trades, titles and occupations by C Waters
Old farm tools and machinery, by P Blandford
The Victorian Kitchen by J Davies
The Edwardian Country House by J Gardiner
Sale Catalogue of Felbridge Park Estate, 1855, FHA
Plan of Indenture for Felbridge Place Estate, 1856, FHA
Sale Catalogue of Felbridge Place, 1911, FHA
Parish registers of St John’s, Felbridge, FHA
Parish registers for Horne, FHA
Godstone Tithe map and apportionment, FHA
East Grinstead Tithe map and apportionment, FHA
Notes on Felbridge by Mrs Nancy McIver, FHA
Minutes of the Beef & Faggot Charity, 1906-25, FHA
Felbridge Place Papers, Box 3151, SRO
Will of C H Gatty, SAY 2981, ESRO
Will of William Belton, 1847, FHA
A Girl called ‘Tom’, compiled by F & F Sharman, FHA
Notes on the Bingham family by J Biles, FHA
Pattenden Family Tree, compiled by K Taylor & Felbridge History Group, FHA
Documented memories of D Wheeler, FHA
Memorial carvings and statues of St John the Divine, Fact Sheet SJC 07/02iv, FHA
War Memorials of St John the Divine, Fact Sheet SJC 07/02v, FHA
Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge, Fact Sheet SJC 07/02vi, FHA
Pattenden Family of Felbridge, Fact Sheet SJC06/01, FHA

SJC 11/03