Yew Lodge is situated on the Surrey/West Sussex border, lying to the east of Felbridge, between East Grinstead and Lingfield. The site of the property is on what was once the most southerly tip of Felcourt Heath, being part of the manor of Felcourt in the parish of Lingfield.
The manor of Felcourt extended to about 600 acres that included Felcourt Heath, which covered 323 acres, this being the largest area of common or wasteland in the parish of Lingfield until its inclosure between 1809 and 1816. The first use of the name Feldecote (Felcourt) appears in 1403, meaning cote or cottage in the open or cleared space. Although there is no mention of a derivation of the name Felcourt until 1403, it is generally believed that the first reference to this piece of land is between 959/75, when Ethelflaed, wife of King Edgar and mother of Edward the Martyr, gave six hides of land in Lingefeld (Lingfield) to the Abbey of Hyde, near Winchester. A hide was an old English measure of land, usually the amount held to be adequate for one free family and its dependants, varying in size from 60 to 120 acres, depending on the quality of the land. It is believed that the six hides referred to formed all or part of the manor of Felcourt for which rent was paid at the Abbots manor at Felcourt until the dissolution of the monastery.
In 1540, Henry VIII granted the manor of Felcourt, which included the site of Yew Lodge, along with other lands in the Lingfield area, to Sir John Gresham of Titsey Place, Surrey. Sir John was the son of Sir John Gresham of Holt in Norfolk, and had moved to London with his elder brother Sir Richard in the early 1500s, being admitted to the Worshipful Company of Mercers in 1517 and, like his brother before him, became Lord Mayor of London. Sir John traded in silks and spices from the Middle East and timber and skins from the Baltic, founding the Russia Company to trade with the little known country of Russia. He invested his new found wealth in land, buying the manors of Titsey, Tatsfield, Westerham, Lingfield and Sanderstead on the Surrey-Kent borders, as well as properties in Norfolk and Buckinghamshire, residing at Titsey Place from 1534. On the death of Sir John in 1556, the land passed to his wife Mary for the duration of her life and then to their son William who inherited Felcourt manor on her death in 1561. William Gresham died in 1579 and the manor of Felcourt passed to his son William. This William held the manor of Felcourt until December 1589 when he sold it to John Valentyne of Titsey. On the death of John Valentyne in 1591, the manor of Felcourt passed to his son Henry who in turn sold the manor to John Courthopp, gentleman. John Courthopp held Hoath Place and lands on the Kent and Sussex borders being part of the Buckhurst estate, listed in the Buckhurst Terrier of 1597 as Hoath Place, Broome Land, Bodlingherst, Bower Lands and Cocks. The exact date of the transaction between Henry Valentyne and John Courthopp is not known but the inquisition of the death of John Courthopp in 1616 shows that he had recently sold the manor to Henry Bysshe of Burstow, esquire, and Daniel Bassano of Shalford, esquire.
In 1616, George Turner purchased lands in Lingfield and Crowhurst in the county of Surrey, including the manor of Felcourt. George Turner, who originated from the Turner family of Ham in Bletchingley, Surrey, was responsible for building New Place in Lingfield, (opposite the station), in 1617. This property is built of stone, except for the chimneystacks that are made of brick, and it has a Horsham stone slated roof. It is the only house in the Lingfield area to be built entirely of stone and is very reminiscent of Sackville College, East Grinstead, built for the Sackville family in 1609, and the frontage of Gullege added by the Alfrey family, (MPs for East Grinstead from 1361), attributed to 1610. George Turner was married to Mercy Thorpe, daughter of John Thorpe, occupier of Hedgecourt and under whom the Felbridge iron industry started in about 1570. George Turner died in 1626 and the manor of Felcourt and other lands passed to his nephew and heir, John Turner. It is a little unclear as to what happened to the ownership of the manor of Felcourt between 1629 and 1637, as in 1637 it is recorded that George Turner, possibly Johns brother, left the manor of Felcourt to his second son John, with the remainder of his lands passing to his eldest son George.
In 1656, brothers John and George Turner agreed to divide the manor and demesne lands of Felcourt, with John taking two thirds, including the manor house, and George a third. In 1684, John, together with his son George, sold a quarter of the manor of Felcourt to Anthony Farringdon whose descendents held this portion until 1787. Anthony Farringdon was the son of Anthony Farringdon a celebrated Royalist preacher, who was born in Berkshire and settled in the Lingfield area, dying in 1730 aged 85. Details of the property conveyed in 1684 are described in a release from Anthony Farringdon to Sir Richard Barnes, dated 1755. This included the southern end of the manor of Felcourt, today the Chartham Park golf course area, and Batnors, Lingfield.
The remainder of the manor descended with New Place and remained in the hands of George Turner until his death in 1688. Some time between 1688 and 1700, John Wicker, a gentleman from Horsham, Sussex, purchased this part of the manor of Felcourt along with New Place, and in 1700 there is a lease on these lands in Lingfield and Crowhurst, including the manor of Felcourt and the site of Yew Lodge, between John Wicker and Timothy Burrell of Cuckfield, Sussex and Peter Burrell a merchant of London. The lease was granted for one year at a peppercorn rent, so that a release could be granted. There is a possible site for what is today known as Yew Lodge, identified from the lease as a messuage next to Fell Court and seventeen acres, being occupied by Anne Wickindon or Weddenden for a rental of £8 per annum. The acreage compares well with that of the site of Yew Lodge in 1842 (24.5acres) less the plot 2135 purchased during the inclosure of 1809-16 (8 acres).
In 1729, John Wicker is recorded as selling the lands in Lingfield and Crowhurst, including those of the manor of Felcourt, and New Place in Lingfield to John Hopkins of Broad Street, London. Confirmation that the site of Yew Lodge was under the ownership of John Hopkins in 1763 is found on a map commissioned the same year by Nathaniel Newnham esquire of New Timber Place, Sussex, a citizen and draper of London who also held land in Felcourt. The map details land holdings of Nathaniel Newnham in the Felcourt area and includes some of the neighbouring owners, of which John Hopkins is listed as holding approximately fifteen acres adjacent to the East Grinstead to Lingfield road near the southern end of Felcourt Heath. John Hopkins died in 1774, but it is interesting to note that New Place remained in the hands of the Hopkins family until well into the 20th century, still being owned by Sir John W W Hopkins, Bart. as recently as 1933.
Although the lease of 1700 identifies a possible site for Yew Lodge, there is no evidence for an enclosure or buildings in this location on the Senex map of 1729, but he does appear not to depict buildings that are of humble origin, only properties that are substantial or important. However, the Roque map of 1768 clearly shows the enclosed area on Felcourt Heath that later became known as Yew Lodge. The enclosure shows a central boundary running north/south suggesting two separate fields to the north of the two buildings within their own boundaries at the southern end of the main enclosure. Again the Lindley and Crossley map of 1793 confirms two buildings in the enclosure, although this map shows the enclosure not to be divided north/south. What is evident is that even if the enclosure on Felcourt Heath that became known as Yew Lodge was not the seventeen acres referred to in the 1700 lease between John Wicker and Timothy and Peter Burrell it was definitely there, with buildings, by 1768, making the inclosure from the common very early.
Until 1809, Felcourt Heath stretched from Jacks Bridge, Lingfield, to Shepherds Water, East Grinstead, where the stream feeding Chartham pond passes under the road (in 1809 the stream was forded at this location). At its widest point, Felcourt Heath extended from Felcourt Farm eastwards to Blackberry Farm, narrowing to almost a point near Chartham, opposite The Grange, formerly known as Stumps Farm. In 1809 the decision was taken to enclose the commons and wasteland of the Lingfield area with two objectives, to increase the area of cultivated land and improve the parish roads. To enable this to be done an Act of Parliament was passed to give the necessary authority. To progress the inclosure of the commons, commissioners were appointed and their first duty was to complete a survey of the commons, to establish which roads were public and which were private. To accompany the survey a map was drawn up on which the site of Yew Lodge can clearly be seen as a pre-existing inclosure from the heath. Again the final inclosure awards and accompanying map by William Figg of 1816, indicates that the site of Yew Lodge was an old inclosure held by Mr Jewell. On this evidence it would appear that the site of Yew Lodge must have been inclosed at an early date and at some time between the death of John Hopkins in 1774 and the start of the inclosure of the commons in 1809 Mr Jewell had acquired the site. There is no map evidence of any buildings on this plot at this date, although these may have been omitted as the plot had already been enclosed and would not have required a detailed surveyed.
The most likely Mr Jewell to have owned the old inclosure in 1816 was John Jewell as he is listed in the Inclosure Awards of 1816 purchasing field no.2135, adjoining the old inclosure on the west side, for £96. John Jewell came from a large farming family of the Lingfield area and there was at least one other Jewell yeoman farmer farming at this period, his brother James. John Jewell was born in 1778, and farmed Line House Farm in Godstone Road, Lingfield, and James was born in 1781, and by 1851 farmed Colledge Farm, and some 400 acres. Colledge Farm was the area around what is today called The College, standing to the west of St Peter and St Pauls Church in Lingfield. The house was built during the reign of George I on the site of the former College that had been founded in 1431 by Sir Reginald Cobham of Starborough. The current property would appear to have been a farmhouse and the surrounding land, formerly the estate of the original College, the farmland. In the 19th century Colledge Farm was considered to be one of the best farms in the area for raising stock.
In 1841, the property on the site of Yew Lodge was occupied by Thomas Chapman although map evidence suggests that there may have been more than one dwelling, plus associated outbuildings on the site. Thomas Chapman was aged fifty and listed as an agricultural labourer, living with his wife Amelia, aged forty, and children, Charles aged twenty, May aged twelve, Jessie aged ten, and William aged five. Also living within the same property but listed as a separate household was Mary Treeslan?, aged twenty. At sometime between 1832, the end of the land tax records, and 1846, the site of Yew Lodge passed from Mr Jewell to William Searle esquire as the tithe apportionment of 1846 lists him as the owner, the property being occupied by Thomas (later amended to James) Skinner.
In 1846, the property included the following field numbers:
Field no. Field name Acreage Usage
1026 Meadow 01 02 00 Meadow
1027 Barn Field 02 02 12 Arable
1028 Two Acres 02 01 10 Arable
1029 Two Acres 02 02 16 Arable
1030 Acre & three quarters 01 03 22 Arable
1031 The Mead 03 00 00 Meadow
1032 Three Acres 03 03 01 Arable
2135 Felcourt Heath 08 00 00
Total 24 02 21
From the land usage it would appear that the property was being run as a small farm, and from the map evidence there were four buildings in field no.1026, now the site of Yew Lodge, two on the west side of the plot, one probably being the dwelling house, and two to the east, probably barns as the field adjoining was called Barn Field. The area of land previously listed as Mr Jewells old inclosure in 1809 can be identified as field nos.1026 to 1032, with field no.2135 being enclosed and added between 1809 and 1816 by John Jewell. It is interesting to note that Thomas Skinner, listed as a yeoman, had also purchased land off Felcourt Heath during the commons inclosure. He purchased, at a cost of £34. 14/-, field no.2117 that was adjacent to the East Grinstead to Lingfield road on the east side, opposite the track leading to Felcourt Farm. From the census records there is only one Thomas Skinner in the area around this date and by 1851 he had moved closer to East Grinstead living in the Baldwins Hill area, being listed as a bricklayer journeyman.
In 1851, the property on the site of Yew Lodge was still occupied by Thomas Chapman, by then aged sixty. Living with him was his wife Amelia, their son William, aged fifteen and granddaughter Amelia, aged nine. From the available evidence it would appear that although Thomas or James Skinner were listed as occupying the property in 1846, they may have been sub-letting to Thomas Chapman. By 1861, the property was occupied by William Roffey aged forty-five, listed as a farmer of thirty-four acres. Living with him was his wife Elizabeth aged twenty-nine and an agricultural labourer who worked for him called James Wood, aged fifteen.
By 1870, the property on the site of Yew Lodge was known as Little Felcourt Farm, although before the inclosure of Felcourt Heath 1809-1816, this name had been attached to what is now simply known as Felcourt Farm. By 1870 there is map evidence that suggests the property had been extended since 1846. The two buildings on the west of the plot would appear to have been extended and joined together making a fair sized house, whilst the two possible barns to the east have either been demolished and re-built or been joined by two other buildings, one laying parallel to one of the original structures with another much larger building laying at right angles. The additional outbuildings are located outside the original plot on which the house stood suggesting that a distinction is being drawn between the house and possible farm buildings. Occupying the property in 1871 was John H Woodhams aged forty-two, listed as an agricultural labourer. Living with him was his wife Jane aged forty-three and their daughter Louisa A aged ten.
It was sometime between 1871 and 1881, that the property became known as Yew Lodge, the name by which it is still known, being named after a yew tree that grows within the grounds. The exact age of the yew is not known but an estimation sort by Ivan Margary, a later owner, put it at about 800 years old, and more recently Rentokil, the current owners, have sort advice from The Tree Register who proposed the age of about 500 years old, stating that they suspect that the tree is exceptionally vigorous, and that there are very few trees in the countryside that ever reach anything like that age. On their visit they also identified several other fine specimen trees, a Weeping Beech, Fagus sylvatica Pendula, a Chinese Juniper, Juniperus chinensis, a Japanese Sawara Cypress, Chamaecyparis pisifera, a Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtuse, and three uncommonly large specimens of Victorian conifers.
From the available evidence it would appear that the name change from Little Felcourt Farm to Yew Lodge was the consequence of a new owner who did not reside there but installed a farm bailiff to run the farm, who in 1881 was recorded as Thomas Smeed, aged sixty-two, living with his wife Sarah, aged sixty-one. Sometime between 1881 and 1890, Yew Lodge saw yet more changes. The house that appears on the 1870 map was demolished and replaced by one of equal size but slightly further south of the original site. The complex of buildings to the east of the house had again been extended, adding a northeast/southeast wing on the west side and a northwest/southeast wing on the east side. A new structure also appears to the northeast of the house straddling the boundary between the house and grounds and the outbuildings complex. There is also evidence that a sweeping drive way had been created which may suggest that the area immediately surrounding the house had been landscaped, especially as a distinct boundary appears between the house and outbuildings to the east, suggesting they were being distanced from the house. Richard Rose was the most likely person to have implemented the changes that took place at Yew Lodge during this time as by 1891, Yew Lodge is recorded as owned and occupied by Richard Rose, aged fifty-one, living on his own means with his wife Emma. Also living with Richard and Emma are two members of staff, William A Smeed, aged thirty-eight, who was the gardener and a domestic servant, and Fanny, his wife. It is evident that by this date Yew Lodge had moved away from being a farm to that of a substantial dwelling set within maintained grounds.
Sometime between 1891 and 1901, Richard Rose sold Yew Lodge to Douglas Alexander Mavor, as in 1901, Douglas Mavor with his wife Ethel are recorded as owning and occupying the property. Douglas Mavor was aged forty-one, and was recorded as a stock investor agent who was born in London; his wife Ethel was aged twenty-eight. Living with them were three members of staff, Alfred Fuller, aged twenty-five working as the coachman, Kate Calman, aged thirty-nine, as cook and Alice Pleet, aged sixteen, as housemaid. From the occupations of the staff it is evident that the outbuildings at Yew Lodge now contained a coach house with stabling for horses and associated buildings, presumably located to the east of the main house in their current position.
Douglas Alexander Mavor continued to reside at the property until 9th May 1908, when Yew Lodge was sold to Sydney Larnach of Brambletye, near Forest Row, Sussex. Sydney was the third son of Donald Larnach, a Scottish banker, and his wife Jane Elizabeth née Walker. The Larnachs had purchased the estate of, but not the manorial rights to, the manor of Brambletye in 1865, building their house, now Brambletye School, high up on a spur overlooking Ashdown Forest and the Medway Valley.
Yew Lodge at the time of purchase by Sydney Larnach consisted of a house and outbuildings with just over fourteen acres of land and a further sixteen and a half acres of woodland. The initials SL and date stone above the door of 1908 indicate that extensive enlargements and alterations to the property were carried out by Sydney Larnach creating a large country house, walled garden and associated outbuildings, stable block/garage and aviary. Map evidence from 1912, suggests that the house of 1890 was doubled in size whilst the west wing of the outbuildings was demolished and replaced by a wing containing a staff cottage, probably for the coachman, to the east of what had been the eastern wing of the outbuildings complex. By 1912, Yew Lodge consisted of five best/guest bedrooms with associated bathrooms, dressing rooms and box rooms, and staff quarters on the first floor, and on the ground floor, an entrance lobby, entrance hall, library, dining room, sitting room, morning room, flower room, housekeepers room, kitchen, scullery and associated staff offices/accommodation.
Yew Lodge became the main residence of Sydney Larnach, living next to Chartham Park the home of the Margary family. Chartham Park had been purchased by Major Alfred Robert Margary in 1855, and on his death in 1892 was inherited by his son Colonel Alfred Robert Margary who took up permanent residence in 1895. Colonel Margary married Elizabeth Walker Larnach and they had one son, Ivan Donald, born in 1896. Elizabeth Walker was the youngest sister of Sydney Larnach, making him uncle to Ivan Margary. Sydney Larnach remained at Yew Lodge until his death around 1927 when his estate passed to the Margary family, and was eventually inherited by his nephew Ivan Donald Margary on the death of his father, Colonel Alfred Robert Margary, in February 1936. Colonel Margary must have held the property since his brother-in-laws death in 1927, as it did not assent to Ivan Margary until 23rd June 1936.
Ivan Margary had married Miss Dorothy Marie Jolly in January 1932 and they made Yew Lodge their permanent residence, although it is unclear whether this was from 1932 at the time of their marriage or 1936 when the property assented to him. Also on the death of his father, Ivan became responsible for the Chartham Park estate, inheriting the property on the death of his mother in 1940. As a consequence Yew Lodge became part of the Chartham Park estate. After the death of Ivans mother, the Georgian mansion house of Chartham Park was commandeered by the 23rd Armoured Brigade until they went to Alamein, and after the Second World War, not being needed as a home by Ivan Margary, it was loaned to the Royal Westminster Hospital, rent-free, as a convalescent home. James Turner, the bailiff, ran the estate of Chartham Park, which by then including the estate of Yew Lodge. He lived with his family at Chartham Park Farm, lying just north of the mansion house and south of Yew Lodge. On the death of James Turner, his son Alan was asked to take over the 350 acre estate, ten men and one hundred head of Sussex cattle, and he continued to run the estate until the Chartham Park estate was split up and sold off.
Ivan Margary was a great historian, contributing much to the Surrey and Sussex Archaeological Societies. He was also responsible for the excavation of the Long Man of Wilmington, and the Fishbourne Roman Palace, both in Sussex, and for locating the routes of the Roman roads of the area, writing extensively of his findings. Of local interest he excavated most of the length of the London to Brighton Roman road that passes through Felbridge, and the section of Roman road at Holtye, Kent. He had a generous nature and helped finance the purchase of land for the construction of the St Johns (Felbridge) Institute in Copthorne Road, the St John Ambulance Hall in Crawley Down Road, gave the field behind Paices Garage, now Kwik-Fit, to the North End and Felbridge Cricket Club so that they could have their own cricket pitch, and, like his father before him, was patron of St Johns Church, Felbridge. He and his wife never had children and on his death in February 1976 he left £1.68 million. Among his bequests was £10,000 each to the Society of Antiquaries, the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, and the Royal Archaeological Institute. He also left £40,000 to his farm bailiff, and £10,000 each to his chauffeur and housekeeper. Ivans wife Dorothy died two years later in May 1978, leaving over £950,000. Among her bequests was £10,000 to the vicar of St Johns Church, Felbridge, £10,000 each to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the Gardeners Royal Benevolent Society, the London Association for the Blind, Missions to Seamen, the Church Army, the British Sailors Society and the Friends of the Clergy Corporation, and one years salary to members of her staff.
In the summer of 1978, shortly after the death of Dorothy Margary, the first of several auctions took place that would eventually lead to the total demise of the Chartham Park estate. In December 1978, Yew Lodge and 107 acres was auctioned for a second time, consisting of seventeen lots, at Ye Olde Felbridge Hotel. In the intervening months between the first and second auction date, planning permission had been sort and gained to divide Yew Lodge house into two separate dwellings advertised in the sale catalogue as Yew Lodge (Lot 1) and Yew Court (Lot 2). The property was described as:
An impressive mature Country House of the Edwardian style in delightful surroundings In the Auctioneers opinion, Yew Lodge can be separated very easily and with minimum structural alteration Thus divided Yew Lodge will provide a very attractive house, its gabled brick and timber framed elevations beneath a mellowed tiled roof being adorned with many varieties of climbing plants including Virginia creeper, honeysuckle, clematis and wisteria. The accommodation will be spacious and comfortable and features fine oak panelling and joinery in many rooms, and leaded windows to the reception areas.
When converted the section of the property to retain the name - Yew Lodge, was to comprise of:
Entrance Porch Timber pillared with flagstone floor, with a fine heavy front door.
Entrance Lobby oak panelled with a mosaic-tiled floor, a single radiator and glazed door leading to
Main Hall 34ft 2ins by 12ft 6ins (10.3m by 3.8m), oak panelled throughout, stone fireplace with tiled surround and ornate beaten copper canopy with a timber mantel and slips, a glazed cupboard over, parquet floor, central heating thermostat, single radiator and fitted coat cupboard.
Study (facing south and west), 22ft 5ins by 13ft 8ins (6.7m by 4.2m), oak panelled with parquet floor, a recess with window seats either side, radiator, metal fireplace with a tiled surround and timber mantel and slips, and a fitted glazed bookcase with cupboard beneath.
Dining Room (facing west), 19ft 4ins by 18ft (5.8m by 5.4m), oak panelled with timber ceiling, parquet floor, single radiator, metal fireplace with an ornate copper surround and timber mantel and slips. Fine range of west-facing windows.
Cloak Room with a separate WC, basin with marble surround, tiled walls and floor.
Lounge (facing west and north), 28ft 10ins by 25ft 9ins (8.7m by 7.7m), oak panelled with timbered ceiling, a recess with bow windows and seats overlooking the north front, a further recess with window seats, fireplace with beaten copper surround and timber slips with glazed cupboards over, and parquet floor. There is a tapestried south wall with a single further tapestry on the west wall. Three radiators, large glazed display cabinet and double glazed door leading to:
Loggia with timber pillars and rails and a tiled floor, overlooking the west front. A corridor runs from the Main Hall with fitted cupboards and a radiator to:
Flower Room panelled with fitted shelves, enamel sink (cold water only) and fitted cupboards.
Cellar with tiled floor.
Kitchen (facing south), 13ft 3ins by 8ft (3.9m by 2.4m), with a large enclosed dresser, stainless steel sink unit with double drainers and cupboards and shelves under and electric cooker point. A door opens from the corridor to an Enclosed Yard and Tradesmens Entrance.
Impressive Oak Staircase with turned oak balusters leading from the Main Hall to:
Fine Galleried Landing with large oak cupboard with shelves over and a radiator.
Bedroom 1 (facing west and south), 12ft 2ins by 18ft (3.9m by 5.4m), with a metal fireplace with a tiled surround and timber mantel, overmantel and slips. There is a radiator and counter-balanced twin double lamps on metal frames.
Dressing Room with a small radiator, large shelved basin with a mirror and enamel back.
Bathroom with panelled bath, low-suite WC, large shelved basin with a mirror on enamel back, a heated towel rail and tiled walls.
Bedroom 2 (facing west), 18ft 2ins by 14ft (5.5m by 4.2m), with timber and tile fireplace.
Bathroom 2 with panelled bath, basin, heated towel rail, tiled walls, and a separated low-suite WC.
Bedroom 3 (facing west), 18ft 6ins by 15ft 5ins (5.6mby 4.6m), with a metal fireplace with painted timber mantel and glazed cupboards and mirror over, and a single radiator. This room has fine northerly views.
Bedroom 4 (facing north), 14ft 5ins by 10ft (4.4m by 3m), with a metal fireplace with a tiled and timber surround, a single radiator and fitted cupboards.
Bedroom 5 a double bedroom with metal-canopied fireplace with a tiled surround and timber pillared mantel and slips.
Yew Lodge is set in extensive lawns sheltered by mature woodland of many varieties including cedar, oak, cypress and beech. There are numerous beds of flowers and shrubs and dominating the west front is a magnificent Yew Tree of immense girth (19ft/5.7m) from which the house takes its name.
In addition the southern end of the Stable Block, currently a Coal Shed and Store is included in this Lot, which could provide a Double Garage.
In all, this Lot extended to just over 3½ acres, with several Tree Preservation Orders in place on many of the native and ornamental trees.
The other section of the house, proposed to be known as Yew Court, was described as:
A handsome Country Residence standing in its own grounds. Yew Court occupies a charming position with lovely aspects both north and south over paddocks and woodland. It comprises of the eastern half of the original Country House together with a Staff Flat, and its construction of brick, part rendered beneath a tiled roof covered with several varieties of creeper including honeysuckle, ivy and rambling rose presents a most pleasing appearance.
If separated from Yew Lodge, Yew Court would have comprised of :
Paved Entrance Patio (when converted) to a new Entrance.
Entrance Lobby (when converted).
Cloakroom (when converted).
Entrance Hall spacious, with staircase (when converted).
Lounge (facing south and east), 26ft by 19ft 9ins (7.8m by 5.9m), in an L-shape with a large fireplace (when converted).
Kitchen (when converted)
Back Lobby with door to Back Yard.
Cloakroom fitted with shelves.
Breakfast Room 15ft by 14ft 11ins (4.5m by 4.5m), with a solid fuel Rayburn and fitted cupboards.
Dining Room 14ft 10ins by 9ft 3ins (4.5m by 2.8m), with shelved cupboards and tiled fireplace with timber mantel and slips.
Staircase (when converted) leading to:
Bedroom 1 (when converted) with a basin with mirror over, fireplace with tiled surround and timber mantel and slips, and a fitted dresser with glazed shelves over.
Corridor with Airing Cupboard with shelves and hot water pipes leading to:
Bedroom 2 (facing south and east), 14ft 11ins by 14ft (4.5m by 4.2m), with a metal fireplace with a copper canopy, tiled surround with painted timber shelved mantel and slips, a fitted wardrobe and a radiator.
Bathroom with panelled bath, low-suite WC, basin with shelf and enamel back, and a heated towel rail.
Bedroom 3 (facing east), 12ft 1ins by 11ft (3.6m by 3.3m), with a blocked off fireplace.
Bedroom 4 (facing north and east), (when converted).
Bathroom 2 (when converted).
The purchaser will be required within six months of completion to demolish, and replace with a drive and gateway the outbuilding lying between the back courtyard and front entrance sweep at present comprising of a Washroom, Coal Shed, Knife Room, Separate WC and Wood Store.
The remaining outbuildings comprise of:
Garage with panelled walls, a radiator and workbench.
Beneath the Back Courtyard and approached by steps from it, is a Boiler Room with a Potterton oil-fired boiler complete with standby generator, switch gear, hot water tank and pump. This supplies both Lots 1 and 2 at present and the purchasers of these Lots will be responsible for separating the supplies.
Gardens and Grounds
There is a very pleasant sheltered lawn with a sundial on the south front leading down to mature woodlands of about two acres. On the north front is a lawn and orchard, looking out to a fine Paddock of just over an acre.
In all Yew Court, would have extended to just short of 3½ acres.
Being sold as a separate Lot was the Kitchen Garden, adjoining the eastern boundary of what was proposed to be Yew Court, and the northern boundary of the former chauffeurs cottage. The eastern portion of the garden, described as productive, was sheltered by a brick wall with the remainder sheltered by a tall hedge. Attached to this Lot were a number of outbuildings comprising of:
Three large Water Tanks adjoining this Building and an Underground Tank (no longer used).
Further Garden Buildings include free-standing Greenhouse with water connected, lean-to Green house with water tank and fitted shelves, a range of Three Cold Frames, Boiler Room no longer used, Apple Shed with shelving, Potting Shed with a fireplace, shelving and fitted cupboards, Incinerator, Separate WC (unused), Mushroom House with cold water tank, Coal Shed, Implement Store open-fronted and a further range of Three Cold Frames. In addition there are two 600 gallon Fuel Oil Tanks, which supply the boiler attached to the main house but these are excluded from the sale of this Lot with the rights for the owners of Lots 1 and 2 to enter and remove one tank each within three months of completion of the purchase of these Lots. Outside the garden but adjoining its northern wall is a large Wood Shed.
The walled garden and attached outbuildings extended to just over ¾ acre and paths, bounded by low privet hedges, divided the enclosed gardens. This Lot was being recommended as suitable to provide an excellent site for a single house (subject to planning consent).
Apart from main house, Yew Lodge/Yew Court, and the walled garden, the staff cottages were also up for sale. These included the former chauffeurs cottage, with nearly two acres of paddocks, and a pair of semi-detached cottages. The chauffeurs cottage, known as Garage Cottage, was a detached cottage, located to the southeast of the main house, comprising of a kitchen, living room and sitting room with three bedrooms and a bathroom. It had a small garden and a range of outbuildings including a WC, wash house, large double garage, stable, tack room and small petrol store. The pair of semi-detached cottages, known as No.1 and 2 Chartham Cottages, were situated to the north of Yew Lodge. Both cottages consisted of a sitting room, kitchen, dining room, three bedrooms and a bathroom. Outbuildings contained two separate WCs and Stores. Cottage no.1 had a little over two acres attached and cottage no.2 had 1½ acres.
The eight other Lots in this initial break up of the Chartham Park estate included several paddocks and woodland attached to Yew Lodge, and Lower Barn Farm, off Lowdells Lane, East Grinstead, with its associated outbuildings and farmland totalling nearly forty acres.
From the description of the properties in the sale catalogue of 1978, it is possible to gain an idea of the house and country estate that was Yew Lodge, created in the Edwardian era out of a small inclosure off Felcourt Heath that had been established in the 18th century. A gentlemans small country estate established by Richard Rose and improved by Douglas Mavor in the late Victorian period, and extended by Sydney Larnach in the Edwardian period and consolidated by Ivan Margary, a fading memory of the quintessential English upper middle-class way of life from the turn of the 20th century.
Fortunately, Yew Lodge was not divided into two properties as recommended by the auctioneers when the sale was finalised in 1979. The house has been retained as a single property being purchased by Rentokil Ltd, whose world-wide head quarters were, and still are, located just slightly further north at Felcourt, formerly the site of Felcourt manor and later home of Mr H Sturdy and more recently Robert McAlpine. Rentokil Initial plc, as the company is now called, purchased Yew Lodge and its surrounding grounds, Garage Cottage and outbuildings, and the kitchen garden and associated outbuildings, as a Residential Training Centre, solely for the use of their employees both in Britain and world-wide.
Rentokil Ltd was registered by Professor Lefroy and his assistant Miss Elizabeth Eades in 1925. Lefroy had developed several successful formulations for the treatment of various pests including woodworm and deathwatch beetle, and together with Miss Eades had started supplying bottles of woodworm killer that they called Entokill Fluid. Unfortunately in 1926, poisonous fumes in a laboratory experiment killed Prof. Lefroy, and Miss Eades took over the running of the business. In 1944, Dr Norman Hickin joined the company and started a servicing section that became known as Woodworm and Dry Rot Control Ltd. In 1957, British Ratin, a company specialising in pest control, both rodent and insect, acquired Rentokil Ltd and its service section. In 1960 the two companies began trading under the umbrella-name Rentokil Group Ltd and in 1962, all the companies trading in Britain became divisions of Rentokil Laboratories Ltd, shortened to Rentokil Ltd.
In 1969, Rentokil Group Ltd was listed on the stock exchange and also established the basis of a hygiene division with the purchase of Rashbrooke Chemical Co, adding to it, a year later, with the acquisition of Thames Services (Kingston). Post-listing, Rentokil Pest Control created the leading pest prevention systems in the food industry and established itself as the largest pest control contractor in Britain. Between the 1970s and early 1990s Rentokil embarked on a programme of expansion and increased its list of services with the acquisition of businesses involved with office cleaning, office machinery maintenance, healthcare in the form of wash room services, indoor tropical plant care, and security and parcel delivery. In 1996, Rentokil made its largest acquisition, British Electric Traction, (BET), a major competitor in the business support services sector, which gave Rentokil access to new business areas including textile services, electronic services, and education and training centres. With the acquisition of BET came the problem of about branding and it was decided to use both names and Rentokil Ltd became Rentokil Initial plc. Today Rentokil Initial is one of the largest services companies in the world operating in over forty countries.
Since the purchase of Yew Lodge as a training centre, very little has been done to alter the external appearance of the building or the ground floor rooms and it remains virtually as the Margerys left it in 1978. The oldest part of the current house dates to between 1870 and 1890 and is buried within the northern half of the building. The oldest structure at Yew Lodge, once a barn and dating possibly to before 1768, is located in what now forms two training rooms and four bedrooms, formerly the staff cottage and stable/garage block, to the southeast of the main house. The only indication of different periods of building in this complex is a difference in the height of the roofline. As for the house, externally there is no obvious visual differentiation between the oldest part of the property and the extension by Sydney Larnach, as the use of a variety of building materials carefully covers any joins.
Yew Lodge combines red bricks with purple/brown flecked Rowfant bricks, and herringbone with bonded brickwork and even sandstone block work. There are pebble-dashed sections of wall, black and white timber framed and plaster walls and white painted brickwork. The use of numerous building materials is a common feature of properties dating to this period being advocated by eminent architects like Sir Edwin Lutyens who designed numerous rustic houses in the Surrey and Sussex area, including Barton St Mary in East Grinstead, Munstead Wood in Surrey, and also by lesser known architects like Charles Bowles who designed Newchapel House in Felbridge. There are windows that are flush to the walls, curved bays and square bays, natural wood window frames, white painted window frames and cast iron window frames, all nestling under a mellow brown tiled roof with several very impressive chimney stacks of red brick rising upward.
Entrance to the house is through a dark oak door under the initials for Sydney Larnach SL and the date stone of 1908 carved in the sandstone surround, and then passing into the entrance lobby. This has a mosaic-tiled floor leading to the entrance hall, which has square golden oak panelling on the walls, like most of the rooms on the ground floor. The use of oak panelling was very common at the turn of the 20th century, evoking the feeling of a Jacobean interior, which was the most fashionable retro-style at that time. Many of the fireplaces and fingerplates on the doors show the influence of the Art Nouveau style, the swirling organic shapes of the contemporary style of the period. The main rooms, service area and staircase lead off from the entrance hall. The Margerys lounge, which was probably a library originally, in the southwest corner, is now a training room, and running along the west side of the house, the dining room is still the dinning room, complete with dark oak panelling and beamed ceiling in squares, the flower room is the bar and the original living room that the Margerys called the Oak Room but rarely used by them, facing west and north, is now the lounge area and is also panelled in dark oak. A conservatory has replaced the loggia that once ran along the west side of the room.
The walls of the lounge are hung with tapestries that were sold with the property in 1978, a single tapestry on the west wall and three along the south wall, all protected by glass. The Oriental style designs are worked in silk embroidery on beige silk in shades of beige, cream and white. The single tapestry on the west wall measures about 5ft/1.5m wide by 10ft/3m tall and depicts a cockerel and hen standing on the bank of a lake under a clump of bamboo with cherry blossom hanging down. The western tapestry on the south wall is also about 5ft/1.5m by 10ft/3m and depicts chrysanthemums, storks and flying birds in a landscape. The central tapestry is about 10ft/3m by 10ft/3m and depicts a lake with ducks on it and reeds, with storks flying overhead. The final tapestry, again 5ft/1.5m by 10ft/3m, depicts a lake scene with cherry blossom hanging down and flying storks. To add to the Oriental feel of the room the Margerys kept their collection of ivories in the glazed cupboard on the east wall of the room, which were sold by Mrs Margary shortly after Ivans death.
The impressive golden oak staircase has wood panelling with the occasional carved panel depicting a pair of tall, elegant plant-like images with roots at the bottom and leaves and fruits at the top. The newel post decoration at each turn of the stairs forms an openwork, onion-shaped dome. The stairs lead to a large galleried landing with an intricately carved golden oak cupboard with a shelf over that was purchased with the property. It is only on the first floor that there are any sign of the additions made by Sydney Larnach in 1908. The northern wall of the landing area is very thick suggesting that this may have been an outside wall at some time and set into this wall on the east side is an opening that may have been a window which now holds a carved openwork oak decoration. To the east of this opening, on a east facing wall, is another very thick wall before leading into what would have been the staff area of the first floor. The thickness of this wall also suggests it may once have been an outside wall. It is also very evident on the first floor that the east side of the house was originally staff quarters and the service area as the door frames are less ornate and the door widths much narrower than those of the west side. Also, the woodwork has been painted in the east side suggesting inferior wood was used whereas the doorframes and doors are polished oak in the west side.
The first floor is where most of the alterations have taken place since the purchase of the property in 1979, but only in that the very large bedrooms have been divided and dressing rooms and box rooms converted as bedrooms. Today there are seventeen double bedrooms located on the first floor and four single bedrooms in the former staff cottage and stable/garage block, all en-suite. The stable/garage block has also been joined to the main house by a corridor leading from the service area at the southeast corner of the main house. The original service area has been retained virtually unchanged on the east side of the house except for the addition of toilets.
Yew Lodge now stands in 9½ acres, of which two acres are rented out as paddocks, 3 acres form the driveway, main and staff car parks, former walled garden and associated outbuildings, and about 2½ acres are woodland, the remaining 2 acres being landscaped gardens on the south and west side of the house. Unfortunately the green houses have fallen beyond economic repair and are currently out of bounds, deemed to be unsafe. The low privet hedges are still clipped but the productive fruit and vegetable garden is now left as grass or form a grassed staff car park, although a few old apple trees still remain. The landscaped gardens are an informal parkland design with large curving beds of shrubs, particularly rhododendrons and azaleas, the grass is dotted with species trees and the large yew stands to the west of the house. A gravelled path leads from the west side of the house to, around and down from the yew, passing beside a small ornamental pond at the bottom of a gentle slope and on to the woodland. There is a bed of shrubs against the south wall of the house and a large sundial, purchased with the property, which stands on the lawn immediately in front. The main lawn on the south side of the house is a flat rectangular area with steps on the west side leading down between a planted area to the woodland beyond, and to the south, what is now the main car park. The aviary that once stood to the southwest of the property is no longer there, having been removed in the mid 1960s.
Today there is no sign of the original property that once stood within the old inclosure of Felcourt Heath before 1809. This property, probably dating to the early 18th century, would have stood to the north of the current house on a northwest/southeast alignment in the centre of what are now landscaped lawns and gardens. As for the current house, the oldest part on the north side dates to between 1870 and 1890 being transformed into an elegant Edwardian home by Sydney Larnach in 1908, making it his home until his death in 1927. The house then passed to his nephew, Ivan Margery, who also made it his home until his death in 1976, passing to his wife Dorothy until her death in 1978, when it was put up for sale. Fortunately, Yew Lodge was purchased in its entirety and has currently found an alternative use that has prevented it from being divided or demolished, retained as an in-house training centre for the enjoyment of the employees of Rentokil Initial plc.
Victoria History of Surrey, LL
History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey, Mannings & Bray, LL
History of Surrey by Brayley, LL
Place names of Surrey, LL
A History of Lingfield by Hayward & Hazell, FHA
History of East Grinstead by W H Hills
A History of East Grinstead by M Leppard
Forest Row, vol.4 pt.3 and pt. 4, FHA
The Grange by L & E Deighton, FHA
Ashurst Wood 1086-1986, FHA
Sir John Gresham of Titsey, http://www.geocities.com/antus79/sirjohngreshamtitsy.html
John Courthopp, http://thesussexweald.org
Counterpart Bargain and Sale, 1624, Ref: K154/5, SHC
Turner/Wicker papers, Ref. 3818/, 3818/2, SHC
Farringdon/Barnes release, 1755, REF: 303/17/3, SHC
Hopkins papers, Ref. 324/-, SHC
Jewell papers, Ref. 2029/5/2, SHC
Land Tax Records, 1780-1832, Ref: QS 6/7, SHC
Senex map, 1729, FHA
Map of Coopers Moors, 1740, Ref. 2/308/1, SHC
Map of Newnhams land by R Budgen, 1763, Ref. 3349/1/Plan 1, SHC
Rocque map 1768, FHA
Lindley & Crossley map, 1793, LL
Inclosure map of Lingfield Common by Figg, 1816, FHA
Tithe map and apportionment, 1846, HMHC
O/S map 1870, FHA
O/S map 1890, FHA
O/S map 1912, FHA
O/S map 1914, LL
O/S map 1963, LL
Papers pertaining to lands in Lingfield and Crowhurst, 1700, ref. 3818, SHC
Sale particulars of freehold estate of Felcourt, 1855, G54/2/40, SHC
Chartham Park Sale Catalogue, Dec. 1978, FHA
Census records 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, FHA
The Times, 27/1/1919, FHA
Burial Register for St Johns, Felbridge, FHA
Documented memories of Yew Lodge under the Margerys, M Lawrence and A Turner, FHA
Documented memories of Rentokil, P Coleman, FHA
Rentokil Initial plc, http://www.rentokil-initial.com
My thanks are extended to Ria Balaam of Rentokil for allowing access to Yew Lodge and Alan Turner, former bailiff of Chartham Park.