Three More Biographies From The Churchyard

Three more biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine

This document sets out to cover the lives of three more residents of Felbridge who were laid to rest in the churchyard of St John the Divine at the end of their lives, together with associated family members who were also laid to rest with or near them.


All three people covered in this document where not originally from Felbridge but chose to buy properties on the southern side of Copthorne Road around 1920 when this strip of land was put up for sale for development, having formerly been part of the Felbridge Place estate.  Each of the three people, John Hogger, Frederick Millard and John Vestey, remained in Felbridge until their death and each have a fascinating life history. 


John Hogger

John Hogger came to Felbridge just after the First World War where he established a nursery business off Copthorne Road (now nos. 79 to 83), where he lived until his death in 1952.


John was born in Horndean, Hampshire, the son of Peter and Miriam Hogger, being christened on 7th December 1873.  Peter Hogger born in 1833 in Brently, Suffolk, was the son of Peter, a wheelwright.  By 1851 Peter junior was an apprentice boot-maker living with his master Frederick Golding in Cavendish, Suffolk.  Peter junior married Miriam Benny[Benney] in London in 1855, and although born in London in 1833, Miriam came from a large family based in St Columb, Cornwall, her father Samuel being a shoemaker. 


John Hogger was one of at least eleven children born to Peter and Miriam, his siblings include; Theresa born in 1857, Samuel Peter born in 1859, Anne born in 1860, Jane born in 1862, William born about 1865, Ann born about 1866, Alice Mary born in 1867, Fanny born in 1870, Jesse born in 1871 and James born in 1876.  Of these children, the first six were all born in Newington, although Anne died within a year of her birth, Alice and Fanny were born in Portsea, Hampshire, and the remaining two were born in Horndean like John.


From the census records it is known that in 1861 the Hogger family were living at Kings Street in Newington and that by 1871 the family had moved to Catherington Lane in Horndean, Hampshire, where Peter was working as a shoemaker.  However, by 1891 the family had moved to the Causeway, Catherington, where Peter was working as a labourer in a brewery (probably at the George Gale & Co Brewery in Horndean that had recently been re-built and expanded after a fire in 1869), although he was to return to his original occupation of shoemaking by 1901.


In 1881 John Hogger was still at school but by 1891 he had left home and was boarding with Henry Hellyer and his wife Annie in Brockbridge Cottage, Meonstoke near Petersfield, Hampshire.  The census records John’s occupation as ‘cowman’, probably working on Stock’s Farm which was the dominant farm in the area.


In 1897 John Hogger married Phoebe Lavinia Wake in Edmonton, the registration district that spans Essex, Hertfordshire and Middlesex.  Phoebe was born in Andover, Hampshire, in 1874, one of at least ten children born to Charles Wake and his wife Elizabeth née Hack.  Phoebe’s siblings include; Mary born in 1869, William born in 1871, Eliza born in 1873, Edwin Charles born in 1877, Arthur born in 1879, Margaret born in 1880, Elizabeth born 1882, Louisa born in 1886 and a second Eliza born in 1889.


It is not known how or when John Hogger met Phoebe Wake although in 1891 Phoebe was working as a general domestic servant at the Fleming Arms, Swathling in the New Forest, Hampshire, in the household of John and Sarah Crook.  In 1901, four years after their marriage, John and Phoebe Hogger and their first child were living in a room at 60, Kew Road in Richmond, John recorded as a ‘domestic gardener’.  John and Phoebe had three children, Peter John born in 1899, William Samuel born in 1901 and Marian Theresa L born in 1903, all their births registered in the Richmond district.


In 1911 the Hogger family were living at Park View, East Molesey, Surrey, where John was being employed as a nursery gardener.  By 1911 the Hogger family were enjoying a reasonable standard of living as the census records that they were living in a house with five rooms, excluding the kitchen and utility areas, compared to just the one room they were occupying in 1901.


John Hogger and his family moved to Felbridge just after the First World War, founding Hogger’s Nursery in 1919, this is when the strip of land to the south of what is now the Copthorne Road was divided and sold off as plots, having been until at least 1914, part of a sixty-acre woodland belonging to the Evelyn estate.  John Hogger purchased the plot of land that today covers the site of nos. 79 to 83, Copthorne Road, constructing a bungalow in which to live (now no. 83), with the remaining land serving as his nursery gardens. 


John Hogger specialised in raising and cultivating heathers and the varieties of conifer known as Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, of which several carry his name, including: Green Pillar raised in the 1930’s, Hogger’s Blue Gown (alias Glauca Hogger) raised in 1935, Winston Churchill raised in 1945, President Roosevelt raised in 1945/6 and Hogger raised in 1949.  Also in 1947 John Hogger and H Jackman of Woking simultaneously raised an identical mutation of a Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, John naming his Green Spire whilst H Jackman named his Jackman’s Variety, Jackman later adopted John Hogger’s name of Green Spire.  Three further types of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana that carry John’s name are Hogger’s Gold, and Hogger’s No. 1, although it has not yet been possible to determine the dates he raised them.  During the war years John Hogger had to turn his nursery over to growing food and chose to grow tomatoes.  However, examples of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Hogger’s Blue Gown, Churchill and President Roosevelt can still be found growing on the site today, as well as several as yet unidentified conifers dating to Hogger’s days at the nurseries. 


John Hogger remained at his nursery site until his death, aged seventy-eight, being buried on 22nd December 1952 in the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge, the grave marked by a granite box surround and boulder-style cushion headstone.  On his death his nursery was bought by Tony Edgerton who (it is believed) had been employed by John Hogger during his ownership and in March 1953 Tony Edgerton registered the company as Hogger’s Nurseries Limited.  A contemporary advertisement placed in a local newspaper states:

Hedging a Speciality


Hoggers Nurseries Ltd.


Large Stocks in many varieties of –









Bedding Plants always

available in season









424 Bus passes                     Tel. Copthorne 126


During Tony Edgerton’s ownership a section of the nurseries, adjacent to the Copthorne Road (to the east of Hogger’s Bungalow) was sold off for private development and a bungalow was built on it (now no. 79).  The nursery business continued to operate from the rear of Hogger’s Bungalow (now no.83) and the newly built bungalow, being accessed by a roadway running between the two dwellings.  However, the business eventually went into receivership and Hogger’s Bungalow and the remainder of the nursery gardens was put on the market, being bought by Mr and Mrs Gains.  The Gains occupied Hogger’s Bungalow and nursery site until 1969 when the property was put up for sale as two lots, Hogger’s Bungalow being sold separately from the nursery site.  The nursery gardens were purchased by Jeffrey and Sally Hudson and continued to operate (licensed for wholesale only), under the new name of Danecourt Nurseries specialising in tomatoes and lettuce (grown under cover); with the remainder of the site growing strawberries, runner beans, sweet peas and cut chrysanthemums.  Today, some forty years later, Danecourt Nurseries is still in the ownership of the Hudsons but now specialises in seasonal bedding plants, vegetable plants, geraniums, fuchsias, mixed perennials, hanging baskets and planters.


Frederick William and Emma Millard

Frederick William and Emma Millard moved to Felbridge in the mid 1920’s where Frederick established a renowned garden at Camla (now nos. 55 and 55a, Copthorne Road), which they shared until their deaths in 1944 and 1950 respectively.


Emma was born in Alvescott, Oxfordshire, in 1862, one of at least nine children of Charles and Elizabeth Oakey.  Charles Oakey from Alvescott married Elizabeth Bowles of Great Barrington, Gloucestershire, in 1846, the couple settling in the village of Alvescott where Charles worked as a baker.  By 1861 the Oakey’s had opened a shop that by 1871 had expanded to become the Alvescott Bakery and Grocery Shop.  After the death of Charles in 1873, Elizabeth continued to run the shop until her death in 1907.


Emma’s siblings include; Frederick born in 1846, Robert born in 1848, Elizabeth born in 1850, Ann born in 1853, Mary Ann born in 1854, Fanny born in 1856, Jane born in 1859 and Eleanor born in 1864.  After the death of their father, Fanny, Emma, Eleanor and Jane all assisted their mother in the shop at some point.  Fanny appears as an assistant in 1881, Emma and Eleanor in 1891 and Jane in 1901. 


In 1881 Emma and her sister Eleanor were recorded as pupil teachers, which were older and educated school pupils who assisted with teaching.  This, coupled with later assisting their mother run the bakery and grocery shop, would suggest that Emma and her sister Eleanor were well educated and had a good knowledge of business.  However, after a short period of working in her mother’s bakery and grocery business, Emma Oakey married Frederick William Millard in Alvescott, in the winter of 1891.


Frederick William Millard was born in Aynho, Northamptonshire, in 1864, one of two children of James and Maria Millard.  James (son of Charles Millard a land steward and farmer of Aynho employed by the Cartwright family who were lords of the manor of Aynho) married Maria Louisa Jackson of Godalming, Surrey, in 1858, although it has not yet been established as to how they met.  Frederick’s other sibling was Clement born in Addington, Buckinghamshire, in 1859.


Aynho is a truly feudal village, mentioned in the Doomsday Book and until the 1950’s an individual had always owned the village and most of its farms.  The most influential of these families was the Cartwright family after Richard Cartwright, a wealthy solicitor of London, purchased the village in 1615.  It is this family who were the lords of the manor until 1955.  In the extensive Aynho archive that was purchased by Northampton County Council in 2006/7, references to Charles Millard can be found on at least seven occasions in correspondence between 1847 and 1853, and it is clear that the Cartwrights regarded the Millards quite highly.  


In 1861 James Millard was working as a gamekeeper in Addington, although at the time of the census he was at his father’s house in Aynho, whilst his wife Maria was still in Addington with their son Clement.  James always worked on the land being recorded in 1871 as a ‘stock keeper and farmer of 28 acres’ of Aynho, in 1881 as a ‘grazier of 24 acres’ of Aynho and 1901 a ‘park and game keeper’ living at Keeper’s House, Aynho (sadly no longer standing).  However, James and Maria do not appear to have been residing together for much of their early married life as they were living separately in 1861 [see above] and in 1871 James’ sister Elizabeth was living with and acting as his housekeeper.  It is not until the 1881 census that Maria returns to the household.  After this date it would appear that James and Maria resided in Aynho until at least 1901, moving closer to, or in with, their son Frederick who was living at Great Amwell, Ware in Hertfordshire, where James died in 1907 and Maria in 1911.


In 1871 Frederick William Millard was living as a boarder in Richard Poole’s household (next door but two to his father James); Frederick listed as a scholar and Richard Poole as schoolmaster.  In 1881 Frederick was back home with his parents, aged sixteen and recorded as a ‘farmer’s son’ which may imply he was not working at that time.  In 1891, still living at home with his parents, Frederick was working as a gamekeeper, probably on the Aynho estate.  However, within a year of the census, Frederick had been hired by Gilbertson & Page, game, poultry and dog food manufacturers, as ‘a traveller attendant at Shows and Exhibitions and clerical assistant’. 


Gilbertson & Page have been making dog food since the company was founded in 1873 by Albert Stacey Gilbertson and Alfred George Page, being awarded a Royal Warrant in 1884.  During their life time they also had concerns in pheasant rearing at Old House, Farm, Roydon, Essex, which were relinquished with the sale of the property in 1915.  Today the company has become a market leader of food products for dogs, as well as expanding to include cats and ferrets, but it would appear that they have discontinued supplying food for game and poultry that had included pheasant food and wild duck meal. 


Shortly after starting his new job, Frederick married Emma Oakey [see above].  Frederick and Emma probably met through Emma’s brother Robert who had settled in Aynho with his second wife sometime between 1871 and 1881 to run a butcher’s and bakery shop.  Shortly after their marriage, on 26th October 1894, Frederick purchased a property comprising of ‘a piece of land in Great Amwell with a messuage thereon, fronting Briscoe Road’.  This was probably 5, Briscoe Road, the address at which Frederick and Emma were living in 1901 with their daughter Violet Kathleen who had been born in Aynho in the last months of 1894.  In 1901 Frederick gave his occupation as ‘game food manufacturer’.


In 1901, through his associations with Gilbertson & Page, Frederick became Secretary to the Gamekeepers’ Kennel Association which was formed to take over the organisation of the Gamekeepers’ Dog Show that was first held in 1900, Frederick, as Secretary  writing:

The Gamekeepers’ Kennel Association has been formed with the primary object of taking over the organisation of the Gamekeepers’ Dog Show as first held at the Westminster Aquarium, on 31st July and 1st and 2nd August 1900.  It being deemed advisable by all parties concerned that the show should cease to be proprietary or to be promoted by any firm having trading interests with Gamekeepers.  The other aims which the Association has in view are fully described in the following pages [a list of 27 rules and ‘Rides for the Conduct of Meetings’], and the Executive do everything in their power to uphold and protect the rights of Game-preservers, recognising that in this lie the best interests of the Association and its members.  The rule regarding the exclusion of undesirable persons from membership will be strictly enforced, and the Executive hope, that in time, the fact that a Gamekeeper is a member of the Association will be looked upon as a proof of ability and good character.


The object of the Association was:

to hold an Annual Dog Show for the exhibition and sale of trained dogs owned by gamekeepers, to uphold by all lawful means the rights of Game-preservers, to maintain at the Offices of the Association a register of Gamekeepers out of place, of situations vacant, and of dogs for sale, and also to promote the interests of game-preserving and Gamekeepers generally in the United Kingdom.


Frederick must have been an ideal candidate for the position of Secretary of the Gamekeepers’ Kennel Association, coming from a family with a long tradition of game keeping, also having worked as a gamekeeper himself as well as for a company that manufactured foods for both dogs and game.  Frederick is also recorded as the Secretary to the Gamekeepers Association that later merged with the BASC (British Association for Shooting and Conservation) in 1975.  The Gamekeepers Association used to hold their annual general meetings at Crufts Dog Show, and before the days of youth training schemes, this was the place where young gamekeepers would be interviewed, where jobs changed hands and new beat-keepers were engaged.  Unfortunately it has not yet been possible to determine whether the Gamekeepers’ Kennel Association and the Gamekeepers Association are one and the same.


In 1906 Frederick wrote his first book (published by Horace Cox) called Game and Foxes or the Protection of Foxes not incompatible with the Preservation of Game.  Frederick was considered to have a balanced approach to game keeping, stating that foxes were beneficial for:

One good work the fox does is the snapping-up of diseased game as soon as it becomes at all feeble, and thereby preventing the spread of the complaint.  In the Eastern Counties, and elsewhere, conveys of partridges are frequently seen afflicted with gapes, and, when flushed, individual birds drop exhausted at intervals along the whole line of flight.  These birds linger on from day to day, spreading the disease, but if foxes existed there all but the most vigorous would be promptly destroyed, and their capacity for harm at once brought to an end, with ultimate benefit to the rest of the stock .

He even makes suggestions on how to encourage a litter of foxes into an artificial earth, by:

Having prepared the earth as suggested, every effort must be directed to attracting the vixen towards it.  If a fox’s excrement is found, remove it near; also snare a few rabbits close by, and leave them alive in the snares, for a squeaking rabbit will draw fox a mile on a quiet night’.


Recommendations like those found in his book can only have been made by someone who had observed nature at first hand and had weighed up the benefits afforded by foxes (generally considered as pests and predators) in close proximity to game birds.


As an aside, it is interesting to note that there are two documents dated 1907 and 1908, held at the Essex Record Office involving F W Millard that refer to his purchase of pheasant eggs stolen from the Elsenham Hall estate at Bishops Stortford belonging to Sir Walter Gilbey, supplied by H W Stride, gamekeeper.  However, it has not been possible to determine if this was Frederick Millard.  If it was, then the incidents seem to have had little impact upon his career as he went on to become Editor of The Shooting Times, a position he held for many years, and later he became Editor the journal called The Gamekeeper (now part of Countryman’s Weekly).  As a point of interest, The Gamekeeper was first published in 1896 in conjunction with Gilbertson & Page. 


In 1911 the Millards had left England and were living at ‘house no. 5’ in Camla, a small townland or village near Rossmore, County Monaghan, Ireland, where Frederick (recorded in the census as Fred) was employed as an estate agent.  In the past (and at the time of Frederick’s employment) an estate agent was a person responsible for managing a landed estate, and the biggest estate in the Camla area was owned by the Barons Rossmore (Westenra) of Rossmore Castle.  The Millards standard of living had risen since they had left England as in the household were Mary Phehan and Julia O’Brien employed as cook and domestic servant respectively.  It is interesting to remember that Frederick’s grandfather Charles had also worked as ‘land steward’ (another term for the original meaning of estate agent) for the Cartwright family in Aynho in the mid 1800’s.


Unfortunately it has not been possible to determine when the Millards moved to Ireland or when they came back to England but it is believed that sometime in the early to mid 1920’s Frederick and Emma moved to a newly constructed house on the south side of Copthorne Road, which they called Camla after the village they had left in Ireland.  It was within the grounds of Camla at Felbridge that Frederick created a world-renowned garden and established himself as a commercial alpine plants-man, whilst still pursuing his career in journalism.  The gardens often held open days and a local story is that Frederick would defy anyone to find a weed in his garden, or he would give them £5!


Frederick became well respected in the plant world and there are several species of alpine plants that he found, introduced or cultivated, many that bear his name or that of his property as Camla or Camlaensis.  These include; Calluna vulgaris Camla, Dianthus arvernensis Camla, Erica ciliaris Camla, Gentian Macaulayi, Houstonia caerulea Millards Variety, Houstonia michauxii Fred Millard, Iris cristata Camla, Phlox nivalis Betty (after his grand-daughter), Phlox nivalis Camla, Phlox nivalis Camla alba [white], Phlox Camlaensis subutala and Primula marginata Millard’s Variety.


Frederick was an Honorary Member of the Alpine Garden Society and may well have been a founder member since the Society’s inception in 1929.  He was also a member of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and in 1932 was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the RHS for his ‘introduction to cultivation of many new plants’.  There are only sixty-three horticulturalists at any one time in possession of the medal, the number representing the number of years Queen Victoria was on the throne.  As such a medal can only be awarded to a British horticulturalist, resident in the United Kingdom who the RHS Council consider deserving of special honour by the Society, on the death of previous medal holder.


Frederick introduced many new plants, not just to Britain but also abroad, and in 1929 Professor A Wall of Canterbury College, Christchurch, New Zealand, compiled a Catalogue of N. Z. Plants Cultivated in Britain in which forty-eight of the listed plants were cultivated by ‘F W Millard Esq.’ of Camla.  As well as cultivating plants Frederick also wrote a number of articles and books on plants including; Gentians at Camla Gardens published in 1932 and Lewisias at Camla published by the RHS in 1935. 


The gardens at Camla were featured in AGS (Alpine Garden Society) Bulletin in 1957, (vol. XXV, p. 200-209) written by H E Bawden and illustrated with photographs by D Merrett [for further information see Handout, Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, SJC 07/02vi], although this was after the death of both Frederick and Emma Millard and Camla was by then in the ownership of their daughter Violet Bramble.  H E Bawden, a frequent visitor to the gardens at Camla, wrote: 

These gardens were at their best in the 1930’s, packed full of the finest collection of alpines and all plants that could be placed in the various pockets of rock garden.  These were from all countries of the world, some were collected by Mr and Mrs Millard, many were specially imported from abroad, some collected from nurseries all over the country, as perhaps most of us do now, but the majority were new plants raised from seed from all over the world.  Raising plants from seed was his speciality and many new and old plants were re-introduced by his keenness, and resulted from his correspondence with gardeners all over the globe….  All these plants were raised and tried in the gardens, and then, propagated and distributed to friends and the trade alike….


Mr Millard gave me great encouragement and help, for he was always pleased to see young people interested in gardening.  He was very generous and would often give me a new plant to try out, with the remark that it was a good insurance for if he lost his or it would not grow for him, and I was successful, he would be able to have it back….


Mr Millard passed away just before the end of the war when he was over eighty, but even then when I visited him on leave from the Army, he was potting up plants that he said would be needed to help nurserymen when the war was over.  I was fortunate to come back to the Felbridge district in 1949 and found Mrs Millard doing her best to keep the garden going, and even growing on and propagating plants, for she too was an incurable gardener.  In 1950 Mrs Millard also passed away after a very short illness, and the house and garden were left to her daughter Mrs Bramble, who had little knowledge or experience of gardening; consequently it was some time before Mrs Bramble realised that she could take an interest with impunity….  Once again it was an uphill struggle, with the weeds well in control, and finally some of the lower rock gardens had to be abandoned, but still many good plants surviving among the weeds….


The rock borders were constructed with a very picturesque local stone, known as Lingfield sandstone, which by nature of its rugged character is ideal for building crevices and crannies so beloved by saxatile plants.  These borders are made up entirely of high and low pockets with good crevices between.  Most of the rock borders remain, and many original plants still survive in their crevice positions, so well were they planted and so deeply was the rock embedded that the moisture should be held in reserve.


The remainder of the article lists all the plants (far too many to list in this document) that were to be found still growing in the garden at Camla in 1957 with the concluding paragraph stating:


Even though it has not been possible to mention all the surviving plants this article may make catalogue reading for some members, but for those who love gardens and have to neglect their plants for longer than they would care to do, it may be of some guide as to which plants will stand neglect when properly planted and well established.


There is also local story that the Millard’s house was an ‘Ideal Home house’, although it has not yet been established as to whether the design came from an Ideal Home exhibition or was featured in the Ideal Home magazine.


Another frequent visitor at the Millards home was Lucy Wells.  Lucy began writing soon after she moved to The Birches, Crawley Down Road, at the start of her married life with Frank Wells who was one of the gamekeepers and eventual bailiff of Imberhorne Farm [for further information see Handout, The Wells family of Imberhorne, SJC 01/10].  Lucy met the Millards shortly after moving to The Birches in 1927 and made several references to them in two of the books she penned about her life, she writes: 

The Millards lived in the next road to us, in a long, low house named Camla.  Though not knowing it at the time they were to be my staunch friends for the next twenty-five years; that was until their death. 


Mr Millard was an Honorary Member of the Alpine Society and his gardens at Camla were glorious; people from all over England and from other countries came to see them.  Once a Crown Prince and Princess dropped by, an event made much of by the local newspaper.  Mr Millard was for a time editor of The Shooting Times and much later took over the editorship of The Gamekeeper and Countryside. 


Mrs Millard was charming.  She had lovely silver platinum hair coiled about her head like an aureole.  She called at The Birches one afternoon and invited me to her house which was open to anyone who cared to go – any time.  You never knew who you would meet there; and it was just as well to be prepared not to bat an eyelid at whatever they said; writers, artists most of them – Bohemians…


We were invited to tea one Sunday afternoon…..  A long drawing room half the length of the house; a blazing log fire – it was the beginning of February – and tea on a trolley in front of it.  A Bechstein piano…. Such luxury…..


Camla was to remain the home of Frederick and Emma Millard until their deaths.  Frederick died first at the age of eighty-one, being buried in the churchyard of St John the Divine on 21st April 1944.  Emma survived Frederick by nearly six years, dying at the age of eighty-six and being buried in the same un-marked grave on 15th February 1950.


Camla remained in the ownership of descendents of the Millard family until being put up for sale by their grand-daughter Mrs Constance East, in 1998, the property being described as:


A detached chalet-style house of character

Mature garden of about 2 acres

offering scope for further improvement



This detached chalet-style house of character, built during the 1920’s for William Robinson and believed to have been featured in ‘Ideal Home’.  William Robinson was a celebrated gardener and the gardens were often shown and we understand won an RHS Gold medal.  The property has brick, rendered and whitened elevations with lead light windows under a pitched tiled roof.  The property is considered to offer good accommodation with scope for further improvement and/or enlargement, (subject to Planning Permission).  The accommodation is more particularly described as follows:



Ground Floor:                      Oak front door to small Entrance Vestibule with oak door to:

Sitting Room:                      About 24ft 4ins x 12ft 7ins with vaulted ceiling with feature beams and high level window, brick fireplace and hearth, two radiators.

Dining Room:                      About 14ft 6ins into bay window x 3ft 10ins with three quarter height timber panelled walls, brick fireplace and hearth and double panel radiator.

Breakfast Room:                About 11ft 5ins x 10ft 7ins with cupboard containing the lagged hoot water cylinder and radiator.

Kitchen:                                About 11ft 7ins x 10ft 7ins maximum measurements, with stainless steel sink unit with mixer tap, cupboard and drawers under, further base cupboard with work surface, wall cupboards, fitted ‘dresser’ unit with work surface, two drawers and cupboard below with shelved cupboard above, display shelves, radiator, Potterton ‘Kingfisher’ 2 gas fired boiler for central heating and hot water with programmer, plumbing for automatic washing machine, gas point for cooker, walk-in larder with cold shelf, half glazed door to Rear Garden.  Door to Storage Area with space for upright refrigerator/freezer, shelved area.  Door to:

Guest Suite:                         Comprising:

Bedroom4/Sitting Room: About 24ft 6ins x 8ft 6ins with casement doors to Front Garden, radiator and louvred doors to:

En-Suite Shower Room: With shower cubicle, fitted with Myra shower, rail and curtain, pedestal basin and wc.

Inner Hall:                           Accessed from Breakfast Room and Sitting Room with two store cupboards, room stat and radiator.

Bedroom 1:                          About 14ft 8ins into bay window x 12ft 2ins plus wardrobe cupboards, front aspect, wardrobe cupboards and double panel radiator.

Bedroom 2:                          About 14ft 7ins into bay window x 10ft 10ins, side aspect, with double panel radiator.

Bathroom:                            With panelled bath with mixer tap/shower attachment, pedestal basin and double panelled radiator.

Cloakroom:                          With WC.


First Floor:                          Staircase to small Landing with wall mounted ‘Dimplex’ electric heater, (not tested).

Bedroom 3:                          About 14ft 2ins max x 12ft 4ins, front aspect, with built-in wardrobe cupboard, further small built-in cupboard with hanging rail and double panel radiator.

Inner Hall:                           Of irregular shape approached from the small landing with numerous eaves storage cupboards and radiator.  Louvre door to:

Shower Room:                     With wc. ‘Dolphin’ shower unit/hand basin with rail and curtain, extractor fan and heated towel rail.

Lounge:                                About 17ft 5ins x 10ft with casement door to balcony and stairway to ground level, windows either side of casement doors, double panel radiator and sliding door to:

Study/Playroom:                 About 12ft 10ins x 10ft 7ins average, with large eaves store cupboard and other storage areas, plus radiator.

N.B.                                       It is considered that the Lounge/Study could be converted into a principal bedroom/bathroom suite if required.


Outside:                                The property is approached via a gravel drive-in with space for at least five vehicles.  There is also space to erect at least a Double Garage (subject to Planning Permission).  Brick built building comprising Garden Store and Fuel StoreTimber Garden Shed.


Gardens and Grounds: The Gardens and Grounds form a delightful setting for the property, particularly the woodland at the far rear, all of which is considered to be a feature. The Front Garden comprises lawn, flower borders, flowering and other shrubs, matured hedges and trees and gravelled pathways.  At the rear there is initially a ‘Victorian’ style garden with paved patio area with outside seating areas, well stocked flowerbeds and borders, flowering and other shrubs and trees, whilst beyond this the Garden is mainly informal with many mature trees, flowering and other shrubs, including Rhododendrons, spring bulbs.  In all 0.81ha (2 acres).


It should be noted that the Guest Suite comprising of Bedroom 4/Sitting Room with En-Suite Shower Room was not part of the original build.  There is also some debate locally as to whether the property was truly built for William Robinson who actually lived at Gravetye Manor from his purchase of the property in 1884 until his death there in 1935.


Camla eventually sold in 2000 as: Two individual freehold building plots approximately 0.405ha (1 acre) with outline planning permission for two houses of approximately 255sq.m (2750 sq.ft).  The house was demolished being replaced by two five bedroom detached houses being offered for sale in 2002 and described as: Carefully planned traditional style homes, set in plot approaching half an acre providing spacious accommodation and with a high level of specification by West Construction.


It should be noted that each house is set in a plot of half an acre, the remaining acre of the Camla’s original two-acre plot, the woodland at the rear of the garden, being retained by the vendor.  Unfortunately, with the construction of the two new houses, what had once been described as ‘the glorious’ gardens of Camla were obliterated and the section of garden that remains undeveloped is now very overgrown and unrecognisable.


John Joseph Vestey

John Joseph Vestey and his family moved to Bosworth House (no. 105, Copthorne Road), Felbridge, in 1922 and he remained there until his death in August 1932.


John Joseph Vestey was one of seven children born to Edmund Hoyle Vestey and his wife Sarah.  Edmond had married Sarah Ann Barker in 1887 and John Joseph was born in 1888, his birth registered at Ormskirk, Lancashire, between July and September 1888.  John’s siblings include; Samuel B born in Chicago, Illanois, in 1890, Percy Charles born in 1893, Hannah born in 1897, Ronald Arthur born in 1898, Gladys Muriel born in 1900 and William born in 1903 (the last five children born in England).  Edmund and Sarah Vestey divorced in 1926 and Edmund married Ellen Soward. 


John’s father Edmund Hoyle Vestey was one of a pair of brothers who founded the company today known as The Vestey Group, a fourth generation business still owned by the Vestey family that today are known as a ‘global foodie’ company, as well as being the official licensed vendor for the worldwide distribution of the British Army ration pack.


Edmund Hoyle Vestey was born in 1866, one of at least ten children born to Samuel Vestey and his wife Hannah née Uttley.  Edmund’s siblings include; William born in 1859, Annie born about 1862, John Uttley born in 1863, Beatrice Sarah born in 1864, Percy born in 1867, Sydney Stead born in 1871, Florence Martha born in 1872, Francis Joseph born in 1875 and Mary Elizabeth born in 1877.


Samuel, born in Yorkshire, was a wholesale and provisions merchant working in Liverpool when both William and Edmund went to work for him.  In 1876 William was sent to Chicago to source meat and dairy products for Samuel’s business, resulting in the establishment of the Vestey Meat Packing Plant.  This canning factory purchased the cheaper cuts of meat and made them into corned beef that was shipped to Liverpool.  The venture was very successful and the management of the canning factory was given to Edmund, who had joined the firm in 1883.


In 1890 William travelled to Argentina where he exploited the uses of refrigeration to preserve foodstuffs, shipping frozen partridges, and later mutton and beef, from Argentina to Britain.  Thus in 1897, William and Edmund set up the Union Cold Storage Company, not only sourcing products from America but also poultry, eggs and dairy products from Russia. 


To consolidate their cold storage business they created a number of stores in Liverpool, Hull, London and Glasgow before expanding the business with storage in Paris, Moscow, St Petersburg, Vladivostok, Riga, New York and Johannesburg.  In 1905 William and Edmund set up an egg producing plant in Hankin in China, the first of five such plants.  In 1911 they bought an old refrigerated ship from New Zealand in order to control the shipments of eggs to Britain, thus the Blue Star Line, a fleet of ships to carry eggs and other perishables from China, was founded by William and Edmund.


Other Vestey brother exploits include developing the importation of beef and beef products to Britain which in turn led them to owning cattle ranches in Brazil, Venezuela and Australia, and their own meat processing factories in Argentina, Uruguay, New Zealand and Australia.


During World War I a considerable profit was made by William and Edmund on the Blue Star Line through the carriage of beef to supply the allied forces in France, coupled with their world-wide holdings of cattle-raising farms and ranches that supplied the beef.  As a consequence of their business ventures and the introduction of the 1914 Finance Act in Britain, William and Edmund found themselves as tax exiles, eventually returning to Britain in 1919 having devised a highly successful tax avoidance scheme.


In 1913 both William and Edmund Vestey were created baronets for their role in making food more widely available, and in 1922 William purchased a peerage.  By 1925 William and Edmund owned the biggest refrigerated fleet in the world and owned cold stores in several cities as well as 2,365 retail butcher’s shops going by the name of Dewhurst.  By the death of William in 1940 the multi-national corporation was valued at £90 million.  After the Second World War, Edmund was joined at the company by Samuel Vestey (William’s son and heir from his first marriage).  Edmund continued as Chairman of the Vestey Group until his death in 1953 when the control of the business was assumed by his fourth son Ronald, as all three of his older sons (John, Samuel and Percy) had pre-deceased their father Edmund.


With William and Edmund Vestey’s business interests abroad, both their families are difficult to trace in the surviving British documents and records, either the births of their children or residences.  From surviving records it is known that John’s father Edmund travelled extensively between 1891 and 1925, mostly work related, to places such as Buenos Aries, Madeira, Rio de Janeiro and the Cape of South Africa.  Sometimes Edmund travelled alone but was generally accompanied by one of his children or by one of William’s children.  Due to this globe-trotting life style Edmund’s son John does not appear in the census records of 1891 or 1901.  The reason for his absence from the British census records may be due to the fact that he had a fairly well travelled young life, as his first voyage was in 1891 at the age of two and a half when he crossed the Atlantic with his parents and his younger brother Samuel (then aged just one), leaving Liverpool for New York on board the SS Servia of the Cunard line.  Surviving passenger lists show that he made this crossing on at least three other occasions.


However, in 1911 John was back in England and living with his parents at Shirly, Pampisford Road, South Croydon.  This census records John as a merchant and his father Edmund as a ship owner.  The census also records that by 1911 one of John’s siblings had died; the most likely candidate being Samuel as, apart from his birth record, no further documents make mention of him.  The census also records the type of life-style the Vestey’s enjoyed as Shirly was a house containing eighteen rooms (not including the kitchen and associated utility area or bathroom) and the family also employed a live-in housekeeper named Mary Jones and a coachman named William Peak and his wife.  Later additions to the census note that there were also two female domestic servants.


In 1913, John, at the age of twenty-four, married Dorothy Mary Beaver.  Dorothy was born in Baildon, W. Yorkshire in 1889, one of at least four children born to John Henry Beaver and his wife Sarah née Simpson.  Dorothy’s siblings include; Charles William born in 1885, John Henry born in 1886 and Donald Kingsley born in 1894.  By 1901 the Beaver family were living at Gledhow Mount, Oxenhope, W. Yorkshire, and the census records that Dorothy’s father John was a ‘mohair spinner, employer’, implying that perhaps he owned or ran one of the many mohair mills in the area.


John and Dorothy Vestey had two children, John Derek (known as Derek) born on 4th June 1914 and Charles Gordon born between October and December 1916, both births registered in the Croydon district.  Sadly, Dorothy died within two years of the birth of Charles in 1918, and within six months of Dorothy’s death, John married Minnie Gertrude Mills (their marriage registered in the Paddington district in 1919), although it has not yet been possible to establish how or when they met.


Minnie Gertrude Mills was born in East Grinstead, being christened on 11th June 1893, one of eight children born to James Mills and his wife Sarah Ann née Dobleday.  Minnie’s siblings include; Edith Mary born in 1885, Alice born in 1887, James Edward born about 1892, Arthur Thomas born in 1897, Albert born in 1899, Nellie Rose born in 1899 and Stanley George born in 1900.  In 1901 the Mills family were living at 88, Glen Vue, East Grinstead, the census recording that Minnie’s father James was a bricklayer.  However, by 1911 the Mill’s family had moved to Forest Row where James was working as a builder’s foreman.  Minnie, aged seventeen, was still living at home but not working.


In 1922 John and Minnie and his two sons (Derek and Charles) from his first marriage moved to a newly constructed property called Bosworth House in Copthorne Road.  It would appear that John and Minnie did not have a family of their own and sadly, within ten years, John Vestey died at the age of just forty-four, being buried in the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge, on 24th August 1932, the grave marked by a pale grey marble box surround with a cross as the headstone. 


As the eldest son of Edmund Vestey, John would have been his heir apparent and in line to become 2nd Baronet Shirley, as well as succeeding Edmund at The Vestey Group had he not died twenty-one years before him.  With the death of John, his eldest son Derek succeeded as 2nd Baronet on the death of his grandfather Edmund Vestey (aged eighty-seven) in 1953.


After the death of John Vestey, Minnie continued to live at Bosworth House and in early spring of 1934 married Richard H Back.   As a couple they both showed a keen interest in the village of Felbridge and in 1953 Richard became a founding member and Chairman of the Felbridge Parish Council [for further information see Handout, Civil Parish of Felbridge, SJC 03/03]. 


As a point of interest, both of Minnie’s parents are also buried in the churchyard of St John the Divine.  James and Sarah Mills had followed their daughter to Felbridge, living at Binfield, Copthorne Road, from where James died being buried on 20th March 1937.  Sarah outlived her husband by a further eight years being buried on 17th February 1945, having died at Bosworth House.


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.



Parish Registers of St John the Divine, Felbridge


Free BMD

Ancestry – BMD index

Census records, 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911

Post Office and Telephone Directories, 1908 – 1955

A girl called ‘Tom’ by Frank and Frances Sherman


Manual of cultivated Conifers, Ed. By P Den Oulden

Hoggers Nurseries Ltd, www.ukdata,com

Hoggers Nurseries Ltd. advertisement, local newspaper, c1955


Oakey family,

Aynho information, Peter Cole, Aynho History Society

Hiring Agreement – Gilbertson& Page/Millard, 1892 & 1895, DE/L/3676-3677, ERO

Conveyance of land and messuage, Great Amwell, 1894, DE/L/4975/1-3, ERO

Gilbertson & Page,

BASC at Crufts,

Game and Foxes or the Protection of Foxes not incompatible with the Preservation of Game, by F W Millard

Constructing a Pond, The Countryman’s Weekly, 5/5/10

Proceeding s– Rex v Stride and Millard, 1907, D/DHf L9, ERO

Proceedings – Rex v Stride and Millard, 1908, DE/L//B437, ERO

RHS Awards for 1932, The Times, Dec 16, 1932, FHA

The Survival of Plants at Camla Gardens, H.E. Bawden. Alpine Garden Society Bulletin 1957. Vol 25 pgs 200-209

Handout, Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, SJC 07/02vi Handout, The Wells family of Imberhorne, SJC 01/10, FHWS

From the Beginning by Lucy Wells

Sunshine and Shadows by Lucy Wells

Sales particulars for Camla, Local newspaper, July 1998, FHA

Sales particulars for Camla, Peter J King Estate Agents’ July 1998, FHA

Sales particulars for plots at Camla, Local newspaper, July 2000, FHA

Sales particulars for the two new houses on Camla’s plot, Local newspaper, January 2002, FHA


Vestey Foods Group,

Vestey Group, Wikipedia

William Vestey, first Baron Vestey, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Blue Star Line,

Debrett’s Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage & Companionage, 1961

Sir Edmund Hoyle Vestey,

Handout, Civil Parish of Felbridge, SJC 03/03, FHWS

Texts of all Handouts referred to in this document can be found on FHG website;


I am most indebted to Peter Cole of the Aynho History Society for the information he provided on Aynho and the Millards, and to Sally Hudson for information about Hoggers Nurseries.

SJC 09/10