Places: We are just starting to add some of the notable places that can be found in Bletchingley.
Check back here soon for more information.
Location: High Street (opposite the War Memorial)
Listed building: Grade II (Historic England Listing: 1029981)
This is an important building built in the early 18th Century- its position in the High Street marks a distinct change from the lower (wide market) area to more residential buildings further up the narrowing road.
The building has changed little over the years (except some internal modernisation and re-arrangement) though the frontage (early 18th century) is very different to the rear which more clearly reflects an earlier original building. Clearly identified on historic maps.
Owners: Seventeen owners including three Baronets, seven Members of Parliament, a Rector, a Master of the Kings Household and an England Cricketer. See below for additional information on specific owners
Sir Robert Clayton (MP and Baronet): held the patronage to nominate MPs for the Rotten Borough of Bletchingley but with talk in Parliament of reform he decided to sell all his property to his cousin, John Kenrick in 1779 for £10,000. However he had second thoughts when the talk of reform receded and he filed a case against his cousin saying that he had been “imposed upon” to sell at a much reduced price. However the Court did not agree and he lost the case.
John Kenrick (who like many others, nominated himself as one of the Bletchingley MPs): also held the very powerful position of Clerk to the Master of Ordnance – he was in charge of all the delivery of munitions and equipment to the Army and Navy.
William Kenrick MP: inherited the patronage and he too followed suit by returning himself as a Bletchingley MP. He became Master of the Royal Household – effectively in charge of all the domestic matters involved with running the royal palaces. He eventually resigned his seat in Parliament and sold Glenfield House (and of course the parliamentary patronage) to a Matthew Russell.
Matthew Russell MP: His purchase of Glenfield House helped set in motion one of the greatest changes in the organisation of Parliament. As a way of starting their political careers Matthew Russell (over the years) appointed a number of fellow Whig MPs to Bletchingley including the two future Prime Ministers William Lamb (Lord Melbourne) and Lord Palmerston; they eventually brought about the Great Reform Act of 1832 – thereby abolishing the disliked rotten boroughs.
It should be remembered that though there were some illustrious owners of Glenfield House it does not necessarily mean that the people concerned actually lived in the village. However after 1832 this started to change.
Doctor Robert Allan: recorded as a Glenfield House tenant between 1832 and 35 but then purchased the house when the whole village was put up for sale (as it was not worth so much now there were no MPs). His surgery was in the next door Melrose Cottage. The house was slightly extended at this time when the side passage (to the east) was purchased and incorporated into the side elevation.
Sir John William Kaye: tenant 1850 and 1857. Previously, following a number of years in the Bengal Artillery, he joined the East India Company and spent some mysterious years as a civil servant in the “political and secret” department of the India Office. His two volume “History of the Sepoy War in India” is still available.
Maurice Allom: Following various other owners and tenants (and the building at the bottom of the garden of a new house called Glen Irvine – now known as Tower House) Glenfield House was bought by Maurice Allom and his wife Pamela in 1929. See our “People” page for more information
Glenfield House staff at the wedding of Maurice Allom's son, Anthony.
Original picture Geraldine Brooks
A quiet afternoon in the High Street - Glenfield House with garden and trees. Date early 20th Century.
Location: Outwood Lane
Listed Building: Grade II (Historic England Listing 1204573)
For a large, distinctive building in the village there is remarkably little information available. We know it didn’t exist in 1835 (as the land on which it stands was included in the Sale of the Village and there is only a mention of a small “Homestead and Buildings” on the Sale Particulars). Uvedale HH Lambert mentions Tower House as being built in the 1860s with its Lodge on the old holding known as “Le Lords field” (sometimes Lawds Field). This area had been owned by Richard Stevens in 1523 and subsequently by the Drake and Evans families. Tower House was originally called Glen Irvine (perhaps a nod to Glenfield House whose owners were also involved with this land); the Lodge is now called Beech Lodge in Outwood Lane.
The original Tower House site included land stretching from the footpath (now Greensand Way running parallel and to the south of the High Street) to the area in the High Street occupied by Melrose Cottage and adjacent buildings to the west. There are many mortgage documents covering most of the second half of the nineteenth century which shows a complicated history for these cottages. Glen Irvine changed its name to Tower House in 1896 with most of the grounds laid out as gardens as can be seen from the plan of 1919 alongside.
The house has had numerous owners and/or occupiers over the years, including the Rolls (as in Royce) family. See People page for more information on their tenure of the property.
The tower was removed in the early 1930s by the then owner Furze Scutton but was restored as a Millennium project by Robert Stiby (then a director of Capital Radio).
During World War Two, Tower House was requisitioned by the Canadian Troops as an Officer’s Mess. The Tower Bungalow (subsequently built on part of the land towards the High Street) was home to the “Report Post” for the village. All Home Guard units had to make regular reports and the Bungalow is where they collated the informationin the log-book. The Air Raid Siren was also moved to the garden at Tower House (from Clerks Croft) and operated by the warden or telephonist on duty. On the night of the 23rd/24th February all the sirens from Oxted to Redhill were affected by a severe frost which froze the fans and meant they didn’t work. Later on a small electrically heated element was added to the fan box to stop the problem happening again.
The Report Post was also where the Parish store of spare gas masks was kept including special gas helmets for babies. Demonstrations to parents were given but it is hard to see how the equipment would have been that successful in saving babies lives. Morrison Shelters and heavy steel tables for indoor use were also provided to the village from here.
Tower House has been offered for sale a few times over the years including for £70,000 in 1974 and again in 1986 for £265,000.
The plan attached is from the Sales Particulars when the House and land was placed under auction in 1919.
Now you see it.......
Tower House prior to the removal of the tower.
... Now you don't
Tower House without tower
Copyright Ibbett Mosely
1919 Sales Particulars - Plan