Nancy McIver and Woodcock
Nancy McIver (pronounced mac-eee-ver) had an interesting and eventful life and was one of the great benefactors of the village of Felbridge, and her legacies can still be appreciated by the local community to this day.
This document is set out in three sections. The first section talks about Nancy McIver the person, her family history, interests and achievements. The second section talks about the property known as Woodcock, the history and development of the plot and structure of the house. The third section talks about Nancy McIver’s lasting legacies to Felbridge, the Housing Association and Trust created by her and the Village Hall Grounds that she managed to secure for the residents of Felbridge which all continue to benefit the local community.
Family and early life
Nancy McIver was born Nancy Winifred Martin in Lewisham, Kent, on 24th July 1893, one of at least three children of Alexander William Martin and his wife and cousin Edith née Wilkinson. Nancy’s father, Alexander William, had been born in Deptford, Kent, in 1860, the son of Alexander Martin and his wife Anne née Wilkinson of Aldgate, London. Alexander had originated from Scotland but had moved south when the couple married in 1857 and they would appear to have only had two surviving children, Ellen Anne born in 1859 and Nancy’s father, Alexander William.
Nancy’s father came from a solidly middleclass Victorian family with his father Alexander working as a Colonial Merchant’s clerk in 1871, the family living at Victoria Terrace, St Donatts Road, Deptford. By 1881, Alexander William had left home and his father and mother had moved to Wales where Alexander was a Company Secretary, before moving back to Pepys Road, Hatcham, Deptford, by 1891 (where he was still working at the age of seventy) managing a Carrier’s business. During his parents sojourn in Wales, Alexander William boarded out at 1, Harvard Road, Lewisham, working as a Merchant’s clerk.
By 1892, Alexander William had met and married Nancy’s mother Edith and by 1901 the family were living at 61, Lewisham Hill, Blackheath; Alexander working as a Stockbroker. Living within the Martin household in 1901 was Alexander’s maiden sister, Ellen (living off her own means), and four servants, a cook, a housemaid and two nurses to care for Nancy’s brother Reginald aged four years and sister Edith aged eight months. Nancy was not living at home and does not obviously appear in any English or Welsh census records. What appears a little strange is that Nancy does not appear in any further census records within the Martin household.
From some postcards found in Nancy McIver’s Press Cuttings book it would appear that from at least April 1904 to April 1910 she resided at 65, Marina, St Leonards-on-sea, Sussex (with the exception of a trip to Paxford, Gloucestershire, in August 1904 when Nancy stayed with a Mrs Wilkerson). The postcards were all of Blackheath and Greenwich and were all posted from either Blackheath or Greenwich. Most are thank you notes for post cards received from Nancy, with mundane everyday chit-chat, although one, sent in April 1904 states: ‘I hope you are feeling much better, sorry not to see you up here’. Another sent in May 1906 asks: ‘when are you returning to Blackheath?’ and sends: ‘much love from Maggie and Self, SGG’, which is the only postcard to include a personal name, although one posted in August 1904 was sent by ‘Mr W R’ at the request of ‘Mrs G’. To be absent from the Martin family home for so many years and with messages as found on the April 1904 postcard, one can only speculate that perhaps Nancy was a ‘delicate’ child that had been sent to the coast for her health, especially as her siblings lived at home, each with their own designated nursemaid.
In 1911 the Martin family (minus Nancy) were still living at 61, Lewisham Hill, Blackheath, her father working as a Stockbroker, employing two people. Besides her parents and her two other siblings, living within the Martin household were three servants, a children’s nurse, a housemaid and a cook. 61, Lewisham Hill was a fairly large house with thirteen rooms, excluding any sculleries, lobbies, bathrooms or offices. However, although Nancy was not living with her family she can be found residing at Wentworth Hall, Mill Hill.
Wentworth Hall was, at that time, a School for Ladies run by Olga Elizabeth Hill (widow the wife of a retired Merchant John Gorrell Hill) and her two daughters, Nathalie Isabel and Cecilia Albertha. Olga had been born in St Petersburg, Russia, in about 1843 but had moved to England by 1861 as both her two daughters were recorded as born in England, Nathalie in Sydenham and Cecilia in South Kensington in 1861 and 1869 respectively. In 1891 and 1901, Olga Hill and her two daughters were the Principals of a PrivateGirlsSchool called The Cedars, situated in Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire. At some point between 1901 and 1908, the school, renamed OldCedarHouseSchool, moved to Slough, Berkshire, before transferring to Wentworth Hall, Mill Hill, London, in 1908. In 1911, when Nancy was at the school, Wentworth Hall had thirty-nine young ladies boarding whose ages ranged between fourteen and twenty. Olga and her daughters were recorded as Principals employing an English Mistress, a Matron and a handy-man servant. The girls came from all over the world, although most were recorded as British or British Subjects but overseas birth places included, Chicago, America; Grandforks, British Columbia; Montreal and Ontario, Canada; Paris, France; Como, Italy; Aachen, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; St Petersburg, Russia.
Again from Nancy McIver’s Press Cuttings book and notes one can get an insight into her interests as she grew into a young woman and in later life. Articles on the Royals can be found ranging from 1911 to 1975. There are also numerous articles about history and historical events (both national and local), and current affairs ranging from the growing desire for women’s rights and the post World War I depression. There are also three unused post cards by the Artists’ Suffrage League, that illustrate the growing desire for women’s rights. The images of the cards are in the Appendix.
Nancy, as a well educated young woman, lived through the years of women’s suffrage and would have been fully aware of their political struggle and of an age to appreciate the unfairness of the male dominated political system and society. In 1918 the coalition government finally passed the Representation of the People Act that allowed women over the age of thirty, who met minimum property qualifications, the vote. Nancy, being only twenty-five in 1918 would have to wait a further ten years to receive voting rights when the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act was passed, giving the vote to all women over the age of twenty-one.
Unfortunately it is not known how long Nancy remained at Olga Hill’s School for Ladies at Wentworth Hill, or what she did on leaving but within three years of the 1911 census entry, World War I had broken out, and in January1915 Nancy, aged twenty-one, married Kenneth Charles Goodyear (see below). As for her brother Reginald, he served in World War I and appears to have enlisted with the Machine Gun Regiment and advanced to 2nd Lieutenant of the 337th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. He won the Victory Medal and British War Medal and was presented with the Aviator’s certificate on 28th November 1916 that would allow him to transfer to the newly formed Royal Flying Corp. Aeroplanes were just coming into military use at the outset of the war and were initially used for reconnaissance but it was not long before they were armed with a forward mounted machine gun.
After the war Reginald worked as a Stockbroker like his father and in 1919 can be found living with his parents in Sanderstead. Five years later, Reginald married Heloise Scott Nicolls. Heloise had been born in Tulse Hill, Lambeth, on 9th August 1891 and her parents were Jasper Heriot Edward Nicolls, a stockbroker, and his American-born wife Heloise Elizabeth, who had moved from 43, St John’s Park, Blackheath where they were living in 1901 to The White House, Sanderstead, by 1911. Reginald and Heloise appear not to have had a family and in 1948 were living at The Weald House, Ockley Lane, Burgess Hill, Sussex. Reginald died on 30th May 1948, aged fifty-five, at the GeneralHospital, Hove, Sussex. Probate was granted to the Westminster Bank, his widow Heliose and Robert Frank Martin Wilkinson, stockbroker, leaving the sum of £55, 872 2s 3d. Heliose lived on until 1979, dying at the age of eighty-seven.
As for the remainder of Nancy’s family, by 1919 her parents had moved from 61, Lewisham Hill to Woodcote, Sanderstead. Nancy’s sister Edith is not initially recorded in the household in the Electoral Rolls but it has to be remembered that not all women would get the vote until 1928 and Edith was one such woman. Edith first appears in the Electoral Roll in 1929, residing with her mother at Woodcote, Sanderstead before they moved to Barrowsfield, Limpsfield Road, Sanderstead. Edith last appears in the Electoral Roll for Barrowsfield in 1939 and there is no evidence to suggest she ever married during her lifetime and she died in May 1998 in the Sussex area of Haywards Heath, aged ninety-seven.
Nancy’s father Alexander died on 5th April 1929 at the Empire Nursing Home, Vincent Square, Westminster, aged sixty-eight, his address given as Woodcote, Sanderstead (his home address), and 27, Old Broad Street, London (his business address). Alexander was buried in the churchyard at All Saint’s church, Sanderstead on 9th April 1929. The probate was granted to Reginald Alexander Martin (Nancy’s brother) and Robert Pelham Wilkinson, stockbrokers (the latter became Deputy Chairman of the Stock Exchange), and Frederick Arnold Biddle, solicitor; Alexander leaving £102,426 9s 6d. After the death of Alexander, Nancy’s mother Edith moved to Barrowsfield, with her daughter Edith Mildred, where she remained until her death in April 1937 aged seventy-eight. Edith was buried with her husband at All Saint’s church, Sanderstead, on 16th April 1937.
Kenneth Charles Goodyear
Kenneth Charles Goodyear was Nancy’s first husband and was born in Sydenham, Kent, on 24th August 1890, the son of Thomas Edward Goodyear and his wife Lizzie Davies née Keddell. Thomas and Lizzie married in the Greenwich registration district in 1889, and besides Kenneth, they had a daughter named Kathleen Mary born in 1894. Thomas worked his way up from being a Chartered Accountant’s clerk to the position of Chartered Accountant operating from 99, Cheapside, London, by 1893.
In 1891 Thomas and Lizzie were living at Denby, Trewsbury Road, Sydenham, but had moved to 9, Rodway Road, Bromley, Kent, sometime between 1894 and 1901 and then to Rothsay, 96, Plaistow Lane, Bromley by 1911.
Kenneth was educated at Durnford House, BrightonCollege, Eastern Road, Brighton, Sussex, between 1906 and 1910 and then went on to MagdaleneCollege, Oxford, gaining a First Class Degree in Mathematics. He had a great interest in photography and was an Exhibitor at the London Photographic Salon. The aim of the Salon was to exhibit photographs in which there was distinct evidence of personal feeling and execution and Kenneth must have been quite exceptional as he was exhibiting at a fairly young age before the interruption of World War I.
With the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Kenneth, a committed pacifist, joined the Territorial Brigade of the Royal Army Medical Corps. During the build up to and inevitable outbreak of war, many young men and women were opposed to the idea of fighting, which for the general patriotic population became unacceptable. Initially, men had white feathers being given to them and petty verbal abuse in the street, but when it became clear that the war would not be over by Christmas 1914, the stance taken towards pacifists became more aggressive, and as the number of British casualties rose from 1915 to 1916, it got worse. In public, known pacifists ran the risk of being assaulted and thrown into jail for the most trivial of reasons. However, all the time that enlistment remained voluntary the pacifists remained within the law if they had nothing to do with the fighting, but in February 1916 conscription was introduced that included all conscientious objectors and the alternative to conscription was imprisonment. As a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps at the beginning of the war, Kenneth could still maintain his non-combatant principals and be seen as patriotic.
In early January 1915, after training with the Royal Army Medical Corps and probably on leave, Kenneth Charles Goodyear married Nancy Winifred Martin. Sadly it was to be a very short life together, because Kenneth entered the war in France on 16th January 1915 and then on 28th September 1915 Private Kenneth Charles Goodyear, Reg. no. 345, was killed in action whilst stretcher bearing, along with Pt. Thomas Edward Lion, Reg. no. 265 and Pt. George Kraninger, Reg. no. 120. Kenneth was buried in the LoosBritishCemetery, Loos-en-Gohelle, Calais, France.
Back in England, Kenneth is remembered in a stained glass window in the chapel at his old school, BrightonCollege, which depicts St Joseph in the left pane, St Peter and a pelican in the central pane and St John in the right. The inscription reads:
TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN LOVING MEMORY OF KENNETH CHARLES GOODYEAR
KILLED AT VERMELLES SEPTEMBER 28TH 1915 WHILE SERVING IN THE R.A.M.C.
WHOSOEVER WILL BE CHIEF AMONG YOU LET HIM BE YOUR SERVANT. MATT 20-27
Kenneth was aged twenty-four when he was killed in action and had only been a resident husband for a matter of weeks before going to France, never to return, leaving Nancy a widow at the age of just twenty-one. His military records give his address as Rothsay, Bromley, implying he was still residing with his parents and that he and Nancy had not yet found a home of their own. All Nancy had as a reminder of Kenneth was his Victory Medal, British War Medal and the legacy of £1,195 0s 4d granted in probate. Sadly there is no indication of what Nancy did in the immediate years of widowhood in her cuttings book, notes or surviving documentary evidence. It is most likely that she remained in or returned to the Martin family home at Sanderstead to give support to her parents and sister, especially as her brother Reginald was away fighting in the war. What is known is that on 9th January 1919, Nancy was bound for Bombay, India, as a 1st Class passenger on board the SS Merkara.
The Merkara was a passenger/cargo liner that operated between London and Bombay, owned by and registered under the British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd, a subsidiary of the P&O Group. It had a passenger capacity of eighty-nine 1st Class and forty 2nd Class and a cargo capacity of 13,302 cubic metres (469,755 cubic feet). It is not known whether Nancy travelled alone (there are no apparent family members on the passenger list) but the passenger list records that her future residence was to be Calcutta. As to why Nancy travelled to India, the answer can be found in the Times of India dated 8th February 1919 that reported the marriage on 6th February 1919 (at Waudby Road United Free Church of Scotland, Bombay), of Nancy Winifred Goodyear, elder daughter of A W Martin of Woodcote, Sanderstead, Surrey, and Daniel Lewis McIver, eldest son of the late Daniel McIver of Karachi.
Daniel Lewis McIver
Daniel Lewis McIver (pronounced mac-eee-ver) was born in India on 2nd January 1885, the son of Daniel McIver and his wife Helen Isabella née Mackenzie. There is very little available documentary evidence for the McIver family so it is not known when or where Daniel’s parents married or when they travelled to India, other than they must have been there in 1885 when Daniel Lewis was born. It is also not yet known what drew the McIver family to India but the most likely reasons were either through trade or the military. There is evidence to suggest that Daniel Lewis had a brother named Kenneth Ian, although he was born about 1887 in Stornoway, Scotland, and both can be found in the 1901 Scottish census boarding with Helen Isabella Murray (widow of Donald McIver Murray formerly of Darjeeling, India) who was living on own means at Marischal Villa, Dollar, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. Also in the household was James M Mackenzie (another boarder) aged thirteen and a housemaid. All three boys were recorded as scholars.
It is possible that the three boys had been sent ‘home’ to attend DollarAcademy, a school founded by a bequest left by Capt. John McNabb who had made his fortune as a merchant and ship owner. A Trust was set up on his death in 1802 but it was not until 1815 that work began on a ‘great academy’ to educate not only the local children but also paying pupils from outside Dollar who would generally board with teachers. Thus to attract these paying pupils from abroad the policy was to appoint ‘excellent teachers’.
From surviving Passenger Lists it is known that in November 1904, Daniel Lewis McIver left Britain from the port of London on board SS Marmora to return to Karachi, Pakistan (which at the time was still part of Indian Empire). Although his destination was recorded as Karachi he must have travelled to Calcutta, Bengal, within five years of arriving back in India as on 1st December 1909, Daniel Lewis McIver was assigned to the 1st Battalion, Calcutta Volunteer Rifles as 2nd Lieutenant Two years later on 21st April 1911, Daniel Lewis transferred to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers – Infantry as 2nd Lieutenant. The Indian Army was the principal army of India before independence from Britain in 1947 and was responsible for the defence of both British India and the Princely states (sovereign entities of India that were governed by a local ruler and not directly by the British during the British Raj). Daniel began his Indian military service at a time when there was growing unrest for nationalism, particularly in the Bengal region.
Daniel was still living in Calcutta in 1912 but by 1914 had returned to Britain and was living at Sydenham House, Bexhill, Sussex, from where he enlisted with the 14th (Reserve) Battalion (London Scottish) of the London Regiment Reg. no. 2891 on 2nd September 1914. Daniel’s date of disembarkation to France was 24th November 1914 and he was discharged on 3rd March 1915 due to wounds received that made him ‘No longer fit physically for War Service’. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
It is not known how or where Nancy and Daniel met and they did not travel to India together in January 1919 but were obviously both in India on 6th February 1919 when they married in Bombay. From the Passenger List of the SS Merkara, Nancy’s intended future permanent residence was to be Calcutta, presumably where Daniel was living and working in 1919. However, by 1922 Nancy and Daniel McIver had returned to Britain and had bought Woodcock off Woodcock Hill, Felbridge (see below), together with the already established poultry farm.
Woodcock Poultry Farm
The Woodcock Poultry Farm had been established and run by Miss Constance May Birdseye (see below) and operated from twelve acres on the east side of Woodcock Hill. It has not been possible to determine when Miss Birdseye established the poultry farm but she first appears in the Telephone Directory in 1920 [for further information see Handout, Poultry Farming in Felbridge, SJC 05/11].
Returning to Nancy McIver’s book, contemporary articles from her early years in Felbridge include several on poultry farming, agricultural practises and gardening tips. Other articles of interest to her include: the fate of the ‘Cotton Village’ of Low Moor when the mill closed in 1930; the Sussex Archaeological Society from 1932; the death of Lawrence of Arabia in 1935; and the stranding of SS Winchester Castle Captained by John Holman Kerbey (married to Marjorie Wilkinson, sister of Robert Pelham Wilkinson, stockbroker (see above)) in 1936.
There is some evidence to suggest that Daniel’s mother, Helen Isabella McIver, moved to Felbridge in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. Helen, who had been born in 1856 in Stornoway, Ross-shire, Scotland, was listed as a widow living at Ebor Lodge, London Road, Felbridge, at the time of her death on 9th February 1942. Living at Ebor Lodge, Helen (who would have been in her eighties) would have been a near neighbor of Nancy and Daniel who were no more than half a mile away at Woodcock. For some unknown reason, probate was granted in Llandudno, on 30th June 1942, Helen’s effects amounting to £14,886 10s 6d. As for Nancy and Daniel, they did not enjoy a very long married life together as Daniel died within six years of his mother on 10th January 1948, eight days after his sixty-third birthday. At his death, Daniel’s effects amounted to £10,643 14s 11d.
After the death of Daniel, Nancy closed the Poultry Farm and, having no children from either marriage, devoted herself to helping others, building on the aims and ideologies of the Women’s Voluntary Service, of which Nancy had been a member since it’s formation in 1938, being a founder member of the local branch of the WVS and the East Grinstead Care Society.
Perhaps one of Nancy’s first projects was the construction of Little Woodcock, built in 1948 as a home for friends Bernard Theodore Foss and his wife Margaret Isabel née Moss. Both Bernard (the son of Frederick Foss, a solicitor) and Margaret (the daughter of Charles Moss, Director of the Marzawatee Tea Company) originated from the South Croydon area, which is possibly from where their friendship with Nancy was established, especially as all three were of a similar age.
After serving as a Lieutenant in the Duke of Cambridgeshire’s Own, Middlesex Regiment during World War I, Bernard Foss embarked upon a career in rubber, first in India and then in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having established himself in Kuala Lumpur, Bernard returned to England and married Margaret on 15th October 1936 at Addington Church, Croydon, the marriage solemnised by the Bishop of Croydon. The couple then returned to Kuala Lumpur to start their new married life together. However, on 11th January 1942, Kuala Lumpur was captured by the Japanese Army who quickly took control of government and institutional buildings, including the Pudu Jail, which after the battle became a notorious Japanese detention centre. Unfortunately Bernard and Margaret must have got caught up in the outcome of the battle as they both ended up as Prisoners of War until the end of Japanese occupation on 15th August 1945.
When able, Bernard and Margaret returned to England, no doubt traumatised and probably with little to show for a life-time in the lucrative rubber industry, hence Nancy had Little Woodcock constructed within the grounds of Woodcock to afford them a home.
Bernard and Margaret resided at Little Woodcock until the death of Bernard in 1971, aged seventy-six. Margaret then moved to the Tunbridge Wells area from where she died in 1993, aged ninety-nine.
Returning to Nancy McIver’s Press Cuttings book, articles from after the death of Daniel include those related to her growing interest in local politics, the local community and charity works, such as: Godstone Rural District Council, Felbridge Parish Council, the new Felbridge Village Hall and various charities including the United Nations Association and the Pestalozzi Children’s Village Trust.
In 1949, Nancy stood as a Conservative candidate for Godstone Rural District Council (GRDC) election. From a Conservative flier for the elections there is a brief potted history that states:
Mrs McIver, who is Vice Chairman of our Association, has lived in Felbridge since 1922. During the last war she did excellent work as Felbridge’s representative of the WVS and has since become a Horne Parish Councilor. Mrs McIver is specially interested in farming, horticulture, all problems of the land, education and housing. She was Chairman of Godstone, Horne and Felbridge District Nursing Association and is a Manager of the FelbridgeSchool.
A newspaper clipping indicates that the ‘Labour challenge fails in Godstone Rural Council election’. The Godstone seats all went to the Conservative candidates, ‘Col R.S. McClintock, Mrs N.W. McIver and Mr D.H. Burnett’; Nancy getting 754 votes, tying with Mr DH Burnett and just two behind the winning candidate, Col RS McClintock. The significance of Nancy McIver entering what was at the time a male dominated local government cannot not be under-estimated, especially when you consider that it was less than twenty years previously that she even gained the right to vote!
The pledges outlined in the Conservative flier included:
We consider that Housing is an urgent need, calling for special attention, and we will press the claims of the people of the Godstone Area at every possible opportunity.
There is room for improvement in the conditions of Elderly people, and we will lay the matter before the Council.
We will continue to impress on the Council the vital need for main drainage in Felbridge and for better traffic control at the Star Corner.
The co-operation between the Rural District Council and the Parish Councils should be improved, and we will carefully consider matters put forward by your Parish Council and bring them to the attention of the Rural District Council.
What is apparent from the pledges outlined in the Conservative flier, is that even if Local Government failed to implement any of them in the Godstone area, Nancy McIver would (and did) implement all of them in the Felbridge area.
At the time of the election there was no dedicated Parish Council for Felbridge which had three different Parish Councils administering the Surrey part of the ecclesiastical parish of Felbridge – Godstone, Horne and Tandridge. It was also a widely held belief by the residents of Felbridge that some members of the Parish Councils who were responsible for Felbridge had never actually set foot in Felbridge. The majority of the village of Felbridge formed part of the South Ward of the civil parish of Godstone. Felbridge was separated from the ecclesiastical and civil parishes of Godstone by a strip of land forming part of the parish of Horne, and for this reason, Felbridge was known as ‘Godstone (Detached)’. With no one Parish Council in control of this area in Surrey, and being detached from Godstone that was considered to be the main Parish Council for Felbridge, the residents of Felbridge felt isolated and forgotten. To try and give them a voice that might be heard they had formed the strictly non-political Felbridge Ratepayer’s Association in 1945. Initially it was set up to represent the concerns of Felbridge, but the ultimate idea was that if Felbridge could get a majority vote on any of the Parish Councils, the village would be able to achieve its aim of being a separate Civil Parish with its own dedicated Parish Council.
Horne, as one of the Parish Councils that administered to Felbridge, was chosen as their scene for this
Stratagem. A large number of Felbridge residents invaded a Horne parish meeting; the result was that Felbridge managed to get four Parish Councillors elected onto the Horne Parish Council. Out of the seven available seats, four were taken by Felbridge residents, one being Mrs Nancy McIver, the other three for this working majority being Richard Back, Herbert Ford and Charles Wheeler. At this point an official snag cropped up in the shape of the Government Commission on CountyBoundaries. Little more was heard of the Felbridge ‘Separationists’, (as they were called), until the Boundary Commission review died a natural death in 1949, the year that Nancy McIver enhanced her career in Local Government by gaining a seat on the Godstone Rural District Council [for further information see Handout, Civil Parish of Felbridge,SJC 03/03].
Felbridge Parish Council
After 1949, the movement towards a dedicated Felbridge Parish Council gained momentum resulting in the first meeting of the civil parish of Felbridge being held at the St John’s (Felbridge) Institute, Copthorne Road (now the site of Mulberry Close), on Wednesday 1st April 1953. The meeting was chaired by Nancy McIver and was attended by approximately seventy people. The Clerk of Godstone Rural District Council, Mr F W Walpole, stated that the meeting had been called in accordance with Article 5 of the County of Surrey (Parish of Felbridge) Confirmation Order of 1953. Mr F W Walpole submitted the Order of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and dealt with several matters that the Order required to be carried out prior to its coming into operation on the 1st April 1953, the main requirement being the election of Parish Councillors to represent the newly formed civil parish of Felbridge that had been held on 28th March. The following candidates had been elected and formed the first Parish Council for Felbridge:
Richard Henry Back, of Bosworth House, Copthorne Road, Felbridge
Arthur Sidney Fry, of Double Dee, London Road, Felbridge
Frank Glover, of Bitterne, Rowplatt Lane, Felbridge.
Nancy Winifred McIver, of Woodcock, Woodcock Hill, Felbridge
John Sever Phillips, (Wing Commander, Rtd.), of Copthorne Cottage, Copthorne Road, Felbridge
Lancelot Sanderson, (Captain, RN Rtd.), of Homestead, Copthorne Road, Felbridge
Charles Wheeler, of Brockworth, Crawley Down Road, Felbridge
Being a member of the Felbridge Parish Council, Nancy was now in the position to channel her energy into the numerous good works for Felbridge that ensued throughout her fourteen years of service, retiring in 1967 at the age of seventy-four [for further information see Handout, Civil Parish of Felbridge,SJC 03/03].
All her life Nancy was passionately fond of Felbridge and constantly strived to maintain its own identity and went to great pains to point out to those who dared to suggest that Felbridge was just part of East Grinstead, her retort being ‘That place is in Sussex’.
Two years after retiring from the Felbridge Parish Council, Nancy McIver founded the Woodcock Housing Association Ltd to provide sheltered housing, first and foremost, for those living in the village of Felbridge (see below). During that year Nancy gave her home – Woodcock, to the Association and with reluctance moved to 8, St Swithun’s Close, East Grinstead, to live next to her younger sister, Edith.
By 1971, as Nancy’s friend Bernard Foss had died and his widow had moved away (see above), Nancy decided to give the woodland at Woodcock, along with Little Woodcock, the home that she’d had built for Bernard and Margaret, to the Woodcock Housing Association (see below). As for Nancy McIver, she remained at St Swithun’s Close until her death on 3rd May 1993, aged ninety-nine, fulfilling her wish that she had ‘no intentions of living to be a hundred’.
History and development of the property
Woodcock is situated to the east of the London Road at Woodcock Hill in Felbridge and straddles the old parish boundaries of Godstone and Tandridge. By 1856 the site of Woodcock formed part of the Evelyn estate of Felbridge, with plots 85 and 86 in Tandridge, plots 190 and 193 and a small portion of Coopers Moors in Godstone. In 1856 when the Evelyn estate of Felbridge was put up for auction, the four plots, amounting to just over fifteen acres, formed part of the farm known as Woodcock (also known as Wiremill) in the occupation of miller, Thomas Brand [for further information see Handout, Woodcock alias Wiremill, SJC 03/06] and at that time all four fields were stated as arable. At that time Coopers Moors was not part of the Evelyn estate of Felbridge. In 1856, much of the Evelyn estate of Felbridge was purchased by George Gatty which on his death in 1864, passed to his only surviving son, Charles Henry Gatty [for further information see Handout, Dr Charles Henry Gatty, SJC 11/03]. On 10th October 1884, Charles Gatty added Coopers Moors to his estate through its purchase from the Trustees of the Aitkin family. However, In 1903, Charles Gatty died and the Felbridge estate passed to two male cousins, brothers Alfred Leighton Sayer and Charles Lane Sayer who retained the estate until 11th February 1911 when they sold it to Mrs Emma Harvey and the East Grinstead Estate Company [for further information see Handout, Break-up and Sale of the Felbridge Estate of 1911, SJC 01/11].
On 25th May 1911, a portion of the Felbridge Place estate was put up for auction, including the site of Woodcock as part of Wiremill Farm, Lot 7 and Coopers Moors, Lot 36, 41a 1r 32p of ‘beautiful woodland’. By this date plots 190 and 193 had become 111 and 112, and plot 85 and 86 had become 450 and 460 and this section of Wiremill Farm, along with Coopers Moors, failed to sell and the majority of the Lots were retained by the East Grinstead Estate Company. In a second auction held circa 1912, the remainder of Lot 7 was divided and purchased by four individuals with the freehold land to the southeast of Wiremill Lake, including plots 111, 112, 450 and 460 being purchased by Herbert Malcolm [for further information see Handout, Woodcock alias Wiremill, 03/06]. Herbert Malcolm also purchased a plot of land in Coopers Moors abutting plots 111 and 112 from the East Grinstead Estate Company on which he had built the dwelling called Woodcock House, where he and his wife Sarah Alice and family resided until 1919/20.
Herbert was born in Boughty Ferry, Forfarshire, Scotland, in 1873, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Malcolm. Robert (along with his father James and brother Alexander) were members of the flax spinning and manufacturing company James Malcolm & Sons of the Chapelshade Works, Logie; Robert being listed as the mill and factory manager in 1858 with James Malcolm as the owner. During the first half of the 19th century, flax was a major import into Dundee being used locally to make linen cloth and coarse linen for sacking, tarpaulins and canvas, with 40,000 tons being imported in 1851. However, the Crimean War of 1854-6 badly disrupted supplies of flax whilst at the same time creating a growing demand for army supplies such as canvas and sacks. Thus the flax spinning and manufacturing companies of Dundee turned to a different raw material; and imports of jute grew steadily reaching 414,550 tons at their peak in 1902. This switch is reflected by James Malcolm & Sons who changed to jute spinning and manufacturing sometime between 1861 and 1881, as in 1881 George was recorded as being a jute spinner and manufacturer employing ‘74 men, 337 women, 62 boys and 53 girls, in all – 526 hands’. Like the mine owners of south Wales, the jute mill owners of Dundee realised vast profits during the 19th century.
Herbert was one of at least nine children born to George and Elizabeth Malcolm, his eight siblings being: Thomas C born about 1860, Frederick J born about 1861, Margaret C born about 1863, Norman J born about 1865, Elizabeth born about 1867, Florence born about 1870, Percy born about 1876 and Evelyn M born about 1880. The family home was Forthill House, Forthill Road, Bougthy Ferry, although they seemed to have spent the years between 1881 and 1901 in lodging houses. In 1891 Herbert had left the family and was studying at the Royal Agricultural College, Tetbury Road, Cirencester returning by 1901 to live with his mother at Forthill House, being listed as a jute spinner, thus following in the footsteps of his father Robert and older brother Thomas.
In 1907, Herbert Malcolm married Sarah Alice Lawrence, daughter of solicitor John Lawrence and his wife Mary Rosa Bell of Liverpool. Sarah (sometimes known as Alice) was born on 23rd August 1878 at Mossley Hill, Liverpool, one of at least four children of John and Mary Lawrence. Sarah’s siblings included; John Gerald born in 1875, Mary Rosabel born in 1877 and Edith Whateley born in 1885.
By 1911, Herbert and Sarah were living at Grey House, 14, Rotherfield Avenue, Bexhill-on-sea, Herbert listed as a retired jute spinner and manufacturer at the relatively young age of thirty-eight. Also, by 1911, Herbert and Sarah had a son called Robert Lawrence born in 1908 in Catsfield (near Battle), Sussex. By 1912, Herbert had purchased the site of Woodcock in Felbridge and moved up from Bexhill to the dwelling he’d had built called Woodcock. A year later Herbert and Sarah had their second child, a daughter called Elizabeth Mary born in 1913. The Malcolm’s remained at Woodcock Hill until 1919/20 when the property was purchased by Sidney George Birdseye.
Just to conclude the Malcolm family, son Robert went on to become a chartered accountant; daughter Elizabeth never married and became a school matron; Herbert died in 1952 aged eighty, leaving an estate worth £17,781 16s 1d; and Sarah died in 1974, aged ninety-five, both had been living at West House, Seaview Gardens, Worthing, Sussex, together with their daughter Elizabeth who remained in the property until her death in 1974.
Woodcock has not been surveyed in detail but a number of observations can be made from photographs of the property and detailed floor plans. The main range has a symmetrical south facing frontage with 3 large windows on the ground floor either side of an entrance porch. The first floor has 4 smaller windows either side of the centre, maintaining classical proportions. The whole building is painted white and the brick-work at the corners of the porch and building are laid in the form of quoin stones. There were two external end stacks to provide heating on both floors and a central stack heating the hall and stairwell.
There is a range attached to the east end of the rear elevation. The floor plans clearly show the original external wall locations such that it is possible to determine that the first build of the main range was two large rooms on the ground floor either side of a circulation space including the staircase and access from the front porch and to the rear range. The rear range probably contained the domestic space as it had a chimney stack on the west elevation to service a cooking facility.
The first floor layout was similar to the ground floor except that the access from the stairs led to a corridor along the north side of the first floor, from which access to the bedrooms would have been provided. The first floor of the rear range would have provided a bathroom and a small bedroom/living space for a live-in servant including a small fireplace for heating.
Whilst the front of the building has remained visually as it was originally built, there have been numerous additions to the rear, including extensions on the rear of the main range at the west end and extensions both north and east of the rear range.
Sidney George Birdseye
Sidney (registered as Sydney) George Birdseye was born on 6th January 1861 at 114, New Church Street, Bermondsey, the son of Michael Birdseye, tailor, and his wife Fanny née Rogers. Sidney had at least three siblings including: Bertha Louisa born in 1857, Herbert Frank born in 1864 and Ernest Richard born in 1867. Sidney went into the same trade as his father working his way up to the position of a haberdasher and hosier and in 1882 married Emmeline Skinner.
Sidney and Emmeline had at least two children, Herbert Sidney born in 1883 and Emmeline May born in 1888. Sadly both mother and daughter died in 1888. Sidney then married (Alice) Mary Stockdale in 1890 and in 1891 they were living at 25, Old Kent Road, Bermondsey. Sidney and Mary had three children, Eva Dorothy born in 1894, Constance May born in 1896 and Ruby born in 1899. At the time of the birth of his daughter Constance in 1896, Sidney was listed in the Kelly’s Directory as a hosier and outfitter. In 1901 Sidney, described as a hosier and tailor (employer), had moved to 60, Tyrewitt Road, Deptford, Kent. In 1901 Sidney’s son Herbert had joined him in the business as a hosier’s assistant, Sidney being listed in the Kelly’s Directory as a hosier, glover, hatter and tailor of 21 & 23, Montpelier Vale, Blackheath, Surrey. By 1911 the Birdseye family had moved again and were residing at 9, SherardGardens, Eltham, Kent; Sidney listed as a hosier and outfitter. However, in 1918 Sidney appears in the Kelly’s Directory as a poultry farmer of Hoskins Farm, East Grinstead, and then in 1920 Sidney purchased Woodcock.
It has not yet been possible to determine whether Sidney Birdseye set-up a poultry farm at Woodcock or whether he took over an already established farm on its purchase in 1920. A surviving catalogue for Woodcock Poultry Farm (dated 1921) describes the farm as ‘delightfully situated on very high ground, being equipped with all modern appliances. All birds are kept in open-fronted houses and large grass runs. They are scientifically fed for egg production. Only birds true to type and in perfect health laying eggs over 2 ozs. (54g) are bred from’. If the poultry farm was taken over, it would suggest that Herbert Malcolm was potentially realising his training received at the RoyalAgriculturalCollege.
What is interesting is that the catalogue records that the poultry farm in 1921 was being run by Sidney’s daughter Constance, stating that ‘Miss Birdseye is an Associate of the British Society of Aviculture and a Member of the Scientific Poultry Breeders Association and the National Utility Poultry Society’, all organisations established to promote the well-being and potential egg and meat production of poultry. Constance also welcomed inspections of Woodcock Poultry Farm ‘on any day except Sundays’ and offered instruction to ‘Lady Students’. This may suggest also that it was actually Constance and not her father who was running the poultry farm at Hoskins Farm.
Also, from the catalogue it is possible to determine that Constance specialised in selling eggs mainly for the purpose of hatching as well as breeding poultry, offering the sale of both chicks and stock birds. The breeds of chicken favoured by Constance were Rhode Island Reds (Crowley strain), Brown Leghorns (Street-Porter strain) and Buff Orpington (Cam strain). Eggs and chicks were sent by rail from East Grinstead station, costs depending on egg production quotas of the hens. Arranged in three pens, the most expensive eggs were 20/- (£1) per dozen and 40/- per dozen chicks, the second grade was 15/- (75p) per dozen eggs and 30/- (£1.50) per dozen chicks and the lowest grade was 10/- (50p) per dozen eggs and 20/- per dozen chicks. There was also a guarantee that ‘infertile eggs would be replaced if returned, carriage paid, within ten days’ [for further information see Handout, Poultry Farming in Felbridge, SJC 05/11].
Sadly Constance died in 1922, aged just twenty-three and Woodcock was put up for sale being purchased by Daniel and Nancy McIver who continued to run the poultry farm (see above). As for Sidney, he was given the Freedom of the City of London on 2nd June 1924, his address at the time given as 14, Elmfield Road, Bromley (currently Zippy Stitch offering bespoke tailoring, repairs and alterations to clothing and sewing classes), and his occupation given as a colonial outfitter. Sidney died in Devon in 1954, aged ninety-three, his wife Mary having pre-deceased him in 1942, aged eighty-four.
Woodcock remained the home of Nancy McIver until 1969 when (having been widowed in 1948) she decided to establish the Woodcock Housing Association and give over her home for conversion to smaller dwellings for local elderly people.
Woodcock Housing Association
The Woodcock Housing Association was established on 16th July 1969 by Nancy McIver through the donation of her home, Woodcock, and its surrounding gardens. Nancy engaged and paid for an architect to design the conversion of Woodcock into six units of accommodation. Funds for the conversion were raised by means of an outright grant of £3,700 from the local authority and a loan, secured by way of a mortgage on Woodcock from the Stock Exchange Benevolent Fund (SEBF), for the sum of £6,300. In return for the loan the SEBF had a right to apply for three vacancies on behalf of its annuitants. The loan was finally repaid on 31st July 1984 when the mortgage was discharged. Nancy was also instrumental in recruiting the first members of the Association’s committee that she chaired for ten years.
Running alongside the Woodcock Housing Association was a sub-committee, called the House Committee, made up of four people who were responsible for the care and welfare of Woodcock and its residents. It was this committee that was initially charged with securing tenants for empty apartments, interviewing prospective tenants and managing the waiting list; advertising for Wardens when the position became vacant; identifying and rectifying health and safety issues and maintenance of residents’ property and fittings; and organising social events such as the annual Summer Garden Party and Christmas Party/Lunch and residents’ celebratory events such as birthday parties and special wedding anniversaries.
On 16th January 1970, Nancy made an Irrevocable Assignment in favour of the Association of her half-share in a Will Trust made by her father Alexander Martin, of which the life-tenant was her younger maiden sister (Edith) Mildred Martin, on whose death Nancy’s half-share would pass to the Association. Thus in the Summer of 1970, Woodcock became home to the Warden and six tenants.
In 1971, after the death of Nancy’s friend Bernard Foss and after his widow Margaret had vacated Little Woodcock, Nancy paid for the conversion of the dwelling into two flats, leasing the lower flat to the Association to enable it to take another tenant, whilst keeping the upper flat for herself, in case she ever decided to return. On 3rd May 1977 Nancy decided give to the Association the woodlands adjacent to the land they already owned, and on 6th March 1981 Nancy also decided to give the upper floor flat to the Association as she felt she would not be returning now or in the foreseeable future.
Up until 1981, the upper floor flat in Little Woodcock had only been used for meetings of the Management Committee and had not been used much but it was felt that a new tenant could not be installed until they had an alternative meeting place. To this end, Nancy paid for the former Egg Room (built by Nancy and Daniel McIver in 1922) to be converted and furnished for use as a Committee/Community Room. When finished the Egg Room had a main meeting-room and small entrance hall, kitchen and cloakroom. It was heated and the manner of its furnishing meant that it was able to be used for an overnight stay by a relative or friend of a tenant or the Warden. Nancy retained the ownership of the Egg Room, leasing it to the Association for a nominal rent. In retaining ownership of the Egg Room, together with the driveway leading to it and a small parcel of land upon which it stood, along with a greenhouse, Nancy retained the right to return to the property whenever she wished to do so.
Thus by 1981 the sheltered housing project, set in 2½ acres of grounds consisted of:
The property called Woodcock, the large house containing six self-contained units of accommodation, one of which was occupied by a part-time Warden. The units all had gas central heating and hot water, the cost of which was included in the rents. Cooking was done by electricity and all electricity was to be paid for by the tenants.
The smaller house called Little Woodcock was divided into two self-contained flats, each with electrical central heating, hot water and cooking, all to be paid for by the tenants.
Two garages, one an integral part of Little Woodcock for lease to a tenant and the other for use by the Warden. The latter was located in a separate building that also had a storeroom for trunks, garden furniture etc.
A brick building known as the Bothy Block (in recognition of its origins) that contained an emergency kitchen supplied with Calor gas cooking facilities in one part and a store and outside lavatory in the other.
And the Egg Room, a wooden building used for Management Committee meetings and communal activities.
Nancy was the Chairman of the Management Committee until she resigned the post on 17th September 1979, but remained a Member of the Committee for some years after that and a Member of the Association until her death. Despite her extreme age, Nancy was always keenly interested in the welfare of the Association and its finances. She had planned on her death, to leave a substantial sum of money to the Association. However, because there was always a risk that some future government might bring in some form of nationalisation that could result in the expropriation of any surplus funds the Association might have, she established the Nancy McIver Trust, a charity to which she could leave the money, safe in the knowledge that it would only benefit the Association.
However things move on, and in November 2011 the Woodcock Housing Association as envisaged and founded by Nancy McIver in 1969, ceased to exist. The accommodation units at Woodcock, along with the Egg Room and the remaining land, were transferred to Amicus Horizon together with a final payment of £46,700 releasing the Nancy McIver Trust from any further obligations in respect of the cost of managing the Woodcock properties (including the grounds and gardens), thereby concluding an agreement originally begun in January 2006 between Southern Housing Ltd (which due to the protracted negotiations had become Amicus Horizon), the Official Guardians, the Nancy McIver Trust and the Woodcock Housing Association Ltd.
Woodcock now forms one of just under 28,000 properties owned and/or managed by Croydon based Amicus Horizon Ltd who provide homes and services to communities across London, the South and South East of England.
Nancy McIver Trust
The Trust was set up on 17th November 1982, with the Founder Trustees being Nancy McIver, CJ Carpenter, AC Burrows and Ralph Sheffield (at the time all Members of the Woodcock Housing Association and Members of the Association’s Management Committee), together with RJ Carter, solicitor and partner of Wynne Baxter Godfree, solicitors to the Trust. The main aim of the Trust was to benefit the Woodcock Housing Association, to ensure its continuance in perpetuity.
Initially small fund-raising events were organised, evidence for which can be found in articles within Nancy McIver’s Press Cuttings book, the odd ‘Garden Party’ here and ‘Sale of Items’ there. Also, from time to time, people made small donations to the Trust but the total assets never exceeded £5,500. On the death of Nancy in 1993, the Trust’s assets amounted to just £1,721.70. However, under the terms of her Will, Nancy bequeathed the following to the Trust: £100,000 in cash, her house at 8, St Swithun’s Close, East Grinstead (valued at £188,000), the residue of the contents of her house, the Egg Room and greenhouse and the land upon which they stood at Woodcock and the abutting field comprising 12.39 acres. Thus, after conversion of the house and the residue of its contents into cash, together with the £100,000 cash, the total value of the Trust rose to £283,108.
It was decided that the money would be invested on a long-term basis, broadly divided 50/50 to provide capital appreciation and income. The policy for the income from the Trust was for it to be applied for the long term maintenance of the property of the Association and, in due course, for its refurbishment. The effect of this policy was to provide the tenants with a substantial subsidy, which had always been Nancy McIver’s intention. The Fields were let to a farmer who was responsible for their maintenance and for cutting the hedges, which was to ensure their long term care. At the time, in accordance with Nancy’s wishes, the Trustees had no intention of selling the Fields, since they were part of the overall ambience and attractiveness of the combined properties.
After the initial agreement in 2006 that Southern Housing Ltd should take over the properties at Woodcock, the Nancy McIver Trust had to agree the future role of the Trust. Thus in January 2008, it was noted that ‘the Trust was able to benefit and help Woodcock Housing Association’ but that ‘Given the transfer of the Association to Southern Housing Ltd it was appropriate to consider if there were any other organisations to which the Trust might make donations’. Therefore it was agreed that a list be drawn up of possible local housing associations and almshouses that might be potential beneficiaries.
On 31st July 2011, the fields, amounting to 12.73 acres, were put up for sale by the Trust, realising the sum of £145,000 less costs, and in November the Trust’s obligations to Woodcock Housing ceased with the transfer to Amicus Housing.
The applications for grants from the Nancy McIver Trust were debated and the two beneficiaries to receive grants agreed upon, being the William Buckwell Memorial Almshouses and the Lingfield United Trust’s project to modernise Hochee Cottages.
William Buckwell Memorial Almshouses
The William Buckwell Memorial Almshouses on Godstone Road in Lingfield, Surrey, were built in 1907 from the estate of, and in the memory of, William Buckwell. William was a boot maker from Deptford who had property and connections with the Lingfield area. The Almshouses are made up of nine apartments, each with their own rear garden. Six of the apartments are for couples and three for single occupation. Qualifications for residency are that the occupant must be over sixty and a resident of Lingfield, Dormansland, Crowhurst, Felbridge or Horne, or from the Borough of Lewisham.
The Nancy McIver Trust agreed a grant of £50,732. 89 for the implementation of considerable improvements to the Almshouses that now bear a plaque acknowledging the significant donation made by the Nancy McIver Trust.
Lingfield United Trust
The Lingfield United Trust (formerly known as Lingfield United Charities) applied for a grant from the Nancy McIver Trust to help with the cost of the extension and refreshment of Hochee Cottages, two almshouses in Plough Road, Dormansland. The Lingfield United Trust is responsible for the management and maintenance of the two properties and had been planning to upgrade and enlarge the accommodation for sometime.
The cottages were originally built in the early 1870’s in the memory of John Hochee (close friend and benefactor of John Fullerton Elphinstone, director of the East India Company) by his widow Charlotte Hochee on land that her husband had inherited from John Fullerton Elphinstone. In May 1874 the cottages were given by Trust Deed to the Vicar and Churchwarden of Lingfield parish, with an endowment of £50. The cottages were extended in the 1920’s but by 2012 were in need of some care and attention to bring them into the 21st century. This was made possible by a donation of £225,000 granted by the Nancy McIver Trust.
The final meeting of the Nancy McIver Trust Trustees was held on 15th August 2013. Those present included: John Head (Chairman), Jonathan Holland (Secretary), Barbara Sheerman-Chase and Martin Stoneham (Treasurer). It was reported that the Trust held £3,392.00 in the current bank account and it was agreed that after payments to caterers and examiners, the remaining balance should be divided equally between the charities to which grants had been made. As to the future of the Trust, it was unanimously agreed that once all debts had been repaid and the annual reports satisfactorily examined, the Nancy McIver Trust should be de-registered with the Charity Commission, the action taking place on 6th April 2014. It was also agreed that Trust’s original deeds, minutes, annual reports and any other relevant documents would be donated to the archive of the Felbridge and District History Group.
Nancy McIver’s Legacies to Felbridge
Evelyn Chestnuts of Felbridge
The Felbridge Chestnuts (also known as the Evelyn Chestnuts) are two rows of Sweet Chestnut trees planted in V shape, running through the grounds of the Felbridge Village Hall and along the Crawley Down Road. They were planted in 1714 by William Evelyn, Lord of the manor of Hedgecourt and Felbridge, probably to celebrate the return of Protestant monarchy with the accession of George I.
The Felbridge Chestnuts were allowed to stand relatively intact in their two avenues until the break-up of the Felbridge Place estate in 1911, which resulted in the loss of the Lord of the manor, opening the village up to external influences. As a result, since the early 20th century the Felbridge Chestnuts have been constantly under threat, with many of the trees being felled, being considered unsafe by the powers that be.
Although some of the original 104 trees have been lost, a few Sweet Chestnut trees have been planted in the gaps left by their removal. Unfortunately, in 1965 the avenue in Crawley Down Road was joined by several Horse Chestnut trees, which whilst creating endless entertainment for children in the conker season, seem out of place among the Sweet Chestnuts. The Felbridge Chestnuts were under threat yet again in the late 1960’s when District Council officials tried to declare them unsafe and recommended their removal, fortunately this decision was successfully over thrown by Nancy McIver and Ivan Margary, a friend and Felbridge benefactor [for further information see Handout, Roman Legacy of Ivan Margary FSA, SJC11/01], who mobilised the Men of Trees (a national organisation formed in 1931 to encourage more planting and care of trees) who wrote an report on the Chestnuts declaring that whilst some were in need of attention the majority were safe and well. They also discussed the merits of removing the Horse Chestnuts planted in the avenue along Crawley Down Road and suggested the generation of a trust to provide funds for maintaining the trees. Sadly, neither of these recommendations has yet been taken up.
In 1982, many Felbridge Chestnuts in the wooded area of the school were considered ‘unsafe’ and again it was only through prompt action taken by Nancy McIver and members of the Felbridge Parish Council that prevented them from being felled. Thus today, with thanks to Nancy McIver’s actions, Felbridge still has 38 of the Sweet Chestnut trees still standing [for further information see Handout, 300 Years of the Evelyn Chestnuts, SJC 07/14].
Felbridge Village Hall Grounds
In 1954, the land on which the Felbridge Village Hall now stands was to be put up for auction by the Trustees of the Evelyn estate for the purpose of development. Nancy McIver stepped in and, after protracted negotiations, arranged to have the field purchased in 1955 and held by Godstone Rural District Council, in perpetuity, as an open space for the people of Felbridge. She made one stipulation, that should anyone wish to build a new Village Hall then the Council would be obliged to make land available for that but nothing else.
In 1965 these grounds became known as the King George Playing Field when Godstone RDC transferred the name from the Recreation Ground further down Crawley Down Road. The Recreation Ground, home to the Felbridge Bowls Club, Football Club and Tennis Club, had been set aside as the King George Playing Field when the area was purchased with funds from the publicly subscribed King George V Appeal to provide a recreational area/playing fields for the Felbridge community to be held in trust by Godstone RDC back in 1936/7 [for further information see Handout, Oak Farm, JIC/SJC 01/13]. However, somehow Godstone RDC had failed to complete the legal creation of a King George Playing Field so when the new ground was purchased it gave the opportunity to legally create the King George Playing Field at what is now the Village Hall site. The bronze plaques are now fastened to the gateposts of the Village Hall fields. As you enter the Village Hall car park, the left plaque has a lion and shield inscribed George V AD 1910-1936 and the right plaque has a unicorn and shield inscribed King George’s Field.
Felbridge Village Hall
Nancy McIver was one of the driving forces behind the Felbridge Village Hall. She had been chairman of the old Felbridge (St John) Institute (on the site of Mulberry Gate, off Copthorne Rod) for some years. Thus in October 1960, Nancy McIver, as chairman of the Institute Executive Committee, made the first moves towards building a new village hall by approaching the Surrey County Playing Fields Association (SCPFA) to see if they would be able to obtain a grant from them towards the cost of building a new hall. Felbridge had an ideal piece of ground – three and a half acres of former meadow (now the site and grounds of the Felbridge Village Hall) that had been taken over in 1955 by Godstone Rural District Council at cost price from the previous owner on the condition that it be used as a recreational open space for the village (see above). At the time of purchase, the District Council gave an assurance that should the need arise, a site for a new hall would be provided on it. To back up her case to the SCPFA for a new hall, Nancy McIver wrote:
Our present Hall, put up 40 years ago is very badly planned and lacking in any storage facilities. It is very noisy and very difficult to keep clean as it stands parallel to and only 12 feet from the busy highway. The site is very shallow and constricted and we can, with difficulty, park a maximum of seven cars off the road. There is no possibility of increasing this. The road is narrow and congested as a queue frequently forms outside of traffic waiting to get onto the A22 junction with the A22 (London-Eastbourne Rd) about 150 yards away.
We have a Darby and Joan Club meeting weekly, also Youth Club (about 35), Guides, Women’s Institute and a Drama Club. Population of Parish is 1,400 - 1,500 and product of 1d rate £90 approx. We cannot provide adequate facilities for either young or old in our present hall.
The people here have always been held up as an example to other villages by the Godstone Rural District Council because they have always been willing and able to put in work to help themselves in any project of common interest…’
Unfortunately, the SCPFA replied that they were unable to give a grant towards the cost of a building as it only gave grants for outdoor recreational facilities and not indoor sports or for Village Halls. In retort, Nancy replied that accommodation was difficult at the Institute, as there was no storage room and there were kitchen difficulties. ‘Nowadays’, she said, ‘one must look ahead a long way’. Other members of the Institute committee were also worried about the increased traffic travelling along the Copthorne Road as well as increased parking at the Institute itself. Mr. A. J. Edgerton believed that there would be a ‘very serious accident outside the Institute at any moment owing to the parking difficulties’.
Understandably some of the Felbridge residents had their reservations about building new Village Hall, one commenting that it was all very well to talk about the young people but they were not the ones who would foot the bill or pay the rates. However, in December 1961 it was unanimously agreed to appoint a committee to pursue the construction of a new Village Hall and the following were elected: Nancy McIver, Ralph Sheffield, Mr. T. Scorer, Pat Quilley, Bill Bax, Don Beale, M. R. Atkin and AR Kirke.
In March 1962 the committee reported, at the Annual Meeting of the Felbridge Parish Council, that the proposed Hall would cost in the region of £12,000. Some attending members of the public expressed their opinion that the believed it would cost much less to make the existing Institute adequate to meet requirements. However, eventually the proposal was made ‘that the Committee should proceed to implement the matter and do such acts and things as may be necessary to procure a New Village Hall’, the motion being carried with just five against.
The Felbridge Village Hall was officially opened on 2nd October 1965 by the president of the Felbridge Village Hall Management Committee – Ivan Margary, supported by committee members including Nancy McIver (chairman), Ralph Sheffield (secretary) and Pat Quilley (treasurer), representatives of clubs and associations who were going to use the facilities, the vicar – Rev. Walters, as well as other local dignitaries including Bill Bax (chairman of the Felbridge Parish Council), Vaughan Morgan (local MP) and Godfrey Forward (District Councillor) [for further information see Handout, Felbridge Village Halls, SJC 01/12].
As a post script, Nancy wrote in her Press Cutting’s book: ‘We never asked for or received any money from the rates’, and once built, she regularly gave money for the up-keep of the Felbridge Village Hall.
In recognition of Nancy McIver’s tireless work for Felbridge as a Parish Councillor and through her beneficial actions to the community it was decided, on the completion of the new development of housing built adjacent to the Felbridge Village Hall Grounds in 1995, to name the close after her – McIver Close, thus preserving her memory for generations of Felbridge residents to come.
Nancy McIver’s Press Cuttings book and papers, FHA
Census records, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 www.ancestry.co.uk
Birth, marriage and death index, www.freebmd.org.uk
Documented memories of Ken Housman, FHA
Documented memories of Alec King, FHA
Documented memories of Ralph Sheffield, FHA
Documents relating to the Nancy McIver Trust, FHA
Birth, marriage and death records, www.ancestry.co.uk
Probate records, www.ancestry.co.uk
Military Details of R A Martin, www.forces-war-records.co.uk
Electoral Rolls for Surrey, www.ancestry.co.uk
London Commercial Gazette, 5th April 1893
Military records, www.ancestry.co.uk
Passenger Lists, www.ancestry.co.uk
Electoral Rolls, 1922 – 1950, www.ancestry.co.uk
Telephone Directory, 1920 – 1925, FHA
Handout, Poultry Farming in Felbridge, SJC 05/11, FHWS
100 Buildings of East Grinstead by M Leppard
Built for a prosperous London stockbroker, article in the EG courier, 23/09/04, FHA
Probate of H I McIver, 1942, www.ancestry.co.uk
Probate of D L McIver, 1948, www.ancestry.co.uk
Foss/Moss marriage announcement, The Straits Times, 2nd Nov. 1936, FHW
Handout, Civil Parish of Felbridge, SJC 03/03, FHWS
Nancy McIver Tribute, 1995, Com. R Sheffield, FHA
Felbridge Park Sale Catalogue and map, 1856, FHA
Handout, Woodcock alias Wiremill, SJC 03/06, FHWS
Handout, Dr Charles Henry Gatty, SJC 11/03, FHWS
Felbridge Estate Particulars of Acquisitions 1884 Aitkin [Atkin]/Gatty, Box 3151, SRC
Felbridge PlaceSale Catalogue and Map, 1911, FHA
Handout, Break-up and Sale of the Felbridge Estate of 1911, SJC 01/11, FHWS
O/S Map, 1910, FHA
Electoral Rolls, 1918-1930, FHA
Dundee Directories, 1858 - 1878, National Library of Scotland
Verdant Works and the Dundee Jute Industry, www.oneworldcentredundee.org.uk
Probate records, Malcolm, 1952, 1974, www.ancestry.co.uk
Kelly’s Directory 1896, 1902 and 1918, www.ancestry.co.uk
Handout, Poultry Farming in Felbridge, SJC 05/11, FHWS
Nancy McIver Trust documents, FHA
Amicus Horizon Ltd, www.amicushorizon.org.uk
William Buckwell Memorial Almshouses, article in Lingfield Community News, Oct 2011, FHA
William Buckwell, article in the Lingfield Community News, Dec 2008, FHA
Lingfield United Trust, article in the Lingfield Community News, Dec 2013
Hochee Cottages, RH7 History Group Fact Sheet No. 40, FHA
Handout, Roman Legacy of Ivan Margary FSA, SJC11/01, FHWS
Handout, 300 Years of the Evelyn Chestnuts, SJC 07/14, FHWS
In Celebration of the Evelyn Chestnuts of Felbridge 1714-2014, pub by the FHG
Handout, Oak Farm, JIC/SJC 01/13, FHWS
Handout, Felbridge Village Halls, SJC 01/12, FHWS
Texts of all Handouts referred to in this document can be found on FHG website; www.felbridge.org.uk