Bulletin 159

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September 2006 Bulletin 159
Surrey Probate Inventories 1558-1603 P J Hopkins
Mitcham station and its rear extension M Watts
‘Little Hobbs’ [Sir Joseph John Talbot Hobbs] J A Goodman

and much more

PRESIDENT: Lionel Green PRESIDENT: Lionel Green
VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Eric Montague and William Rudd
BULLETIN NO. 159 CHAIR: Judith Goodman SEPTEMBER 2006


Tuesday 5 September 1.15 for 1.30pm Visit to Poppy Factory, Richmond

This visit has now been booked, and no further applications can be accepted.

Saturday 14 October 2.30pm Snuff Mill Centre
.Lost Country Houses of South London.

For this year’s Evelyn Jowett Memorial Lecture we welcome a well-known and popular
speaker. Brian Bloice, of the Streatham Society, will share some of his encyclopaedic

Saturday 11 November 2.30pm Snuff Mill Centre

Annual General Meeting
This will be followed by a talk by member Vince Webb on the Battle of the Somme, which
took place 90 years ago.

Saturday 2 December 2.30pm Snuff Mill Centre
.Frosts, Freezes and Fairs: 100 years of winter on the Thames and elsewhere’

In these times of climate change it is hard to believe that the Thames once froze over
regularly. Our speaker, Ian Currie, will bring those days to life. Social, as well as
meteorological history.

To reach the Snuff Mill Centre from Morden Hall Garden Centre car-park, cross the bridge

the café and the garden centre, go through the gateway in the wall, turn right and follow the

pathway to the right, which leads to the Snuff Mill Centre. Note that numbers here are limited.

Morden Hall Road is on several bus routes and close to Morden town centre.

The Society’s events are open to the general public.
You are invited to make a donation to help with the Society’s running costs.


Friday 30 June, afternoon meeting. Eight present. Sheila Harris in the chair.

!!!!!Rosemary Turner reported that in the East Surrey Family History Society Journal of June

2006 there was
an item seeking information about Mowbray Bessell of Mitcham. She had found the name mentioned

MHS Local History Notes No.20, Parishioners of Mitcham 1837/38: the Reverend Herbert Randolph’s
Notebook. On 9 January 1838 Randolph had visited a Mrs Bessle [sic] of Phipps Bridge, who was


!!!!!Madeline Healey spoke of her happy time as a young girl starting work at Fielder’s

bookshop in Wimbledon.
She was urged to make a record of that part of her working life in a local family business.

(This would be
very welcome at the Wimbledon Society’s parallel to these Workshops . the monthly meetings of

Local History Group.)

!!!!!Judith Goodman had noticed that in the ESFHSJournal for June there was another local

reference, supplied

by Sheila Gallagher of that society. A Walter Martin Burnham .of Carlingford House, Merton,


gent.. had been found guilty of speeding in May 1904. He does not appear in local directories

of the time.

She had continued to research the substantial material on the Leach/Bennett families, which

included the

Smith/Cook connections. There was information on Nelson renting Bennett’s stables on the east

side of

Haydons Road. Furthermore, Bennett’s wife Sarah Jane had turned down an invitation from Emma


Three substantial family trees had been produced. Then eventual publication was anticipated by


with pleasure.

!!!!!Peter Hopkins had done further research on the former stream that had determined the

north-eastern boundary
of Sheila Harris’s property, built 1910, in Cannon Hill Lane [see page 3 in Bulletin 158]. He

handed out an
extract from the 25-inch OS map of 1895 which showed the course of the stream from the future

Road, crossing Cannon Hill Lane to the footpath that became Whatley Avenue, with a footbridge

across the
stream. Until 1923, Sutton’s Cottages (see illustration 6 in Merton and Morden: a pictorial

history) would
have been the next building on the left, going towards Kingston Road. The site had been

enclosed from
Merton Common in 1816.

Illustrated London
Sheila Miller had picked up at a Covent Garden stall a print of Morden News 24.5.1851
church from 1851, and also one of the great house at Houghton Conquest,
near where she was an evacuee as a child, and she recalled the fascination
the place had for her.
Lionel Green spoke of a recent visit to the remains of Plympton priory in
Devon. It had been suggested that a certain grave slab had marked the site
of the grave of William Warelwast, bishop of Exeter from1107 to1137 [see
page 3 in Bulletin no.158], who had been buried in the chapter house.
However Lionel concluded that the grave slab, with a floriated cross, was
that of a 13th-century priest. Probably it had been unearthed when the church
was rebuilt in 1858-61, and the floor lowered by a foot. The slab was flush
with the new floor-level, orientated north-east and against the east wall.
Cyril Maidment had prepared a new conducted walk
.Double Gates to Singlegate. for 14 May, and he had
brought along two workbooks that he had compiled.
These were examined with interest. The Wheelhouse
potter, Stephen Llewellyn, with the support of Wandle
Heritage Ltd, had made and laid on the Wheelhouse floor
a large number of precise replica floor tiles, based on
those found at the priory site. A photograph and a tile
(£10 at the Wheelhouse) were circulated and admired.
Cyril Maidment
The next workshops will be held at Wandle Industrial
Museum on Friday 6 October at 2.30
and Friday 24 November at 7.30.
All are welcome



On 18 May our party travelled by train from Clapham Junction to Farnham, where our tour started

at The Maltings,
a short walk from the station. Our guide Brian Pittuck gave us an introduction to the history

of Farnham and of The
Maltings, followed by a tour of the building. He then took us round the town, pointing out

interesting buildings
and features, and telling us about people who used to live there.

Fearnhamme, a fern or bracken area by water-meadows, had a pre-Roman community by the River

Wey, but the
name is Saxon. The Romans used the extensive clay deposits. Some kilns produced blue pottery,

and at that time
production was the largest in southern Britain. In Saxon and Norman times wool predominated.

The Cistercians at
Waverley Abbey south of the town were good administrators and traded wool to Flanders as well

as southern
Britain. Wool declined, and at the end of the 1600s corn was all-important: for 35 years the

corn market was one
of the busiest in the country. This declined in turn, but wealth remained in the town, leaving

it with many fine
Georgian buildings. Huguenots brought hops, and so brewing increased, and with it a demand for

malt. This
aspect of Farnham’s development led us into more details about The Maltings.
Originally a tannery, in 1830 half the site was turned into maltings, local
barley being sprouted and toasted in kilns to .malt. it. In 1845 the other half
of the site became a brewery, the owner John Baird opening pubs all over the
area, taking advantage of the army now being garrisoned at Aldershot. Later
the whole site was owned and operated by Courage who continued malting
there until it became uneconomic in 1956. The buildings remained derelict
until 1968, when they were offered to the town. The people of Farnham
raised the required £30,000 within six weeks, and The Maltings is now a
flourishing arts and community centre, thanks to grants, public donations
and enormous voluntary effort.

Our tour of the town now took us past Firgrove House (with some disputed connection to Nelson

and the Hamiltons).
However we were told that the Nubian Fatima, taken out of a slave ship and given by Nelson to

Emma was, in later
years, removed to the workhouse in Bear Lane, Farnham [this story is now discounted by most

historians . Ed.].

We paused at the William Cobbett pub, formerly the Jolly Farmer, in Bridge Square, where there

is a blue plaque
stating that it was the birthplace in 1762 of the politician and writer, best known for Rural

Rides. He is the most
famous son of Farnham and has been called Champion of Democracy, Master
of English Prose and Enemy of Cant in Public Affairs. His Parliamentary
Debates was later taken over by Hansard. He died in 1835 and he and his
wife are buried in the parish churchyard. We passed the police station with
three modern murals depicting Farnham history. Middle and Lower Church
Lane have buildings older than they look, timber-framed behind later brick
fronts. The Old Vicarage beside the church is 13th-century and the oldest
inhabited building in the town. The parish church of St Andrew, one of the
largest in Surrey, is partly Norman but mostly 15th-century. Under the centre
of the nave lie the burnt remains of a Saxon church.

In West Street with many Georgian houses we were shown the interior of a shop, owned by the

Earl of Shaftesbury
in the 16th century, with a marvellous plaster ceiling said to be the work of an apprentice to

Inigo Jones. Further
along is Vernon House, now the library, where Charles I spent a night in December 1648 on the

way to trial and
execution in London. The king gave his host Sir Charles Vernon his embroidered morning cap as a

memento. It
now takes pride of place in the museum. Farnham Museum which we visited later is in Willmer

House, early
Georgian with a fine hand-cut brick façade. Its wealthy hop-growers and brewers left Farnham a

legacy of Georgian
buildings. Lion and Lamb Yard on the north side of West Street is partly Elizabethan, has

woodblock paving to
quieten the sound of hooves and cartwheels, and recently won awards for sympathetic


Castle Street, wide to hold fairs and markets and lined with 17th- and 18th-century houses,

leads up to the castle. Its
width allows a good view of the varied façades, mostly Georgian, since many of the older houses

had later fronts
added. Farnham was owned by the Bishops of Winchester from 688. In 1138 the bishop started to

build the castle,
which remained a bishop’s palace until 1927, and was then the residence of the bishop of

Guildford until 1956. We
did not have time to visit the castle (limited opening) or the extensive grounds, which are

open to the public.

This account gives only a summary of the interesting things we were told and shown, and

hopefully will encourage
you to visit Farnham. The museum with its excellent displays of local life and industry is

worth a long visit, as is
the parish church, not to mention the castle and its park.

Further information: www.farnham.gov.uk; www.farnhamsociety.org.uk;

W E Newman The Story of Farnham 1978; N Temple Farnham Buildings and People 1973; Maxwell

Fraser Surrey 1975

Tim Fripp

The building beside the Maltings,
the sign from the time before Courage took over the brewery

The group with the William Cobbettpub in the background



On Saturday 24 June about 30 members and friends were met at the Chelsea Gate of the Hospital

by Sergeant
Bill (.Paddy.) Fox, our assigned guide. Resplendent in his scarlet summer coat (blue coats in

winter), and
with the brilliant sunlight reflecting from his polished buttons, Paddy, assisted by an old

soldier friend
(whose purpose we were told was to be a Jack Russell, who would snap at the heels of any

straggler) started
by telling us something about the foundation and the institutional structure of the Hospital.

Despite little support, Charles II, inspired by Louis XIV’s Hôtel des Invalides in Paris (a

hostel instead of
pensions to provide care for veterans of the regular army who had become unfit for duty),

determined to
found such a hospital in England. Help came at last from ex-Paymaster-General Sir Stephen Fox,

still in
control of the Pay Office through one of his sons. But deductions from pay and pensions were

the Hospital’s
main source of revenue until 1847. Since then it has been supported by Parliamentary votes. Sir

bought the site (on it James I had once intended to establish a theological college) out of his

own pocket. As
stated by the Latin inscription on the Figure Court colonnade, Charles II’s foundation (1682)

was augmented
by James II and completed by William and Mary in 1692; but further buildings were erected

during the 18th
and early 19th centuries.

Management of the Hospital has been vested from its earliest days in a Board of Commissioners

by the Crown, some (including the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor) by virtue of their posts in

or Crown service, plus others as individuals. This composition has varied from time to time,

but the Paymaster-
General has always been the chairman. The administration is organised on military lines, and in

addition to
the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, there is an adjutant, three medical officers, a chaplain,

a quartermaster
and six retired officers, styled Captains of Invalids, in charge of six companies of .In-

Pensioners., whose
uniforms are a modernised version of the service dress of Marlborough’s time. In earlier days

the companies
were armed and had to mount guard, but (un-armed) parades are now virtually limited to those

for church
and pay.

The In-Pensioners number about 400 and are drawn from .Out-Pensioners. of good character, and

of not less than 65 years of age. On entry, an old soldier surrenders his (as yet there are no

female In-
Pensioners) out-pension, and receives instead board, lodging, clothing and medical care. Some

120 In-
Pensioners are employed in the Hospital, as guides, chapel staff, clerical assistants, ground

staff etc. Each
company has a sergeant-major and complement of NCOs . all on a voluntary basis, and this

helps in running the Hospital, and provides interest and purpose for the In-Pensioners.

From the colonnade on the north side of Figure Court the recently
re-gilded statue of Charles II drew our attention, and from here also
we could appreciate the cool, detached character of Wren’s classicism
. all in red brick with white stone quoins. Two four-storied Long
Wards run towards the tree-lined Thames from the northern block.
Giant columns and pilasters of the Tuscan, severest of the classical
orders, mark the centre of each wing. The whole complex is an
elegant, if understated, architectural answer to Louis XIV’s Invalides.

We now entered the vestibule between the Great Hall and the
Chapel. Its cupola, supporting a stone lantern, gives, with the
regularly spaced chimney-stacks, the necessary vertical accent to
the whole group of buildings. Steps on the east side lead to the
Chapel, a perfect Wren interior, essentially a long rectangle, barrel-
vaulted, with an apse at the eastern end. It is filled with light through
its big clear-glass windows (more so than Wren’s two, smaller,
college chapels at Cambridge . Pembroke and Emmanuel . due to
the later insertion there of stained glass). Ornament is confined to
the plaster ceiling panels and the woodwork, all of the finest quality.
The organ is modern, but its case is of the Wren period and it
stands on the western gallery supported by Corinthian columns which match those of the reredos.

The Riccis.
Resurrection of Christ on the apse ceiling is an explosion of colour and movement. A cohort of

Roman soldiers
scatters left and right of the sepulchre, and above, around the figure of the risen Christ, is

a vortex of angelic
wings, bodies and drapery; over all is a group of putti . which it has been suggested may be a

reference to those
children of Queen Anne who died in infancy.

Statue of Charles II in Figure Court


But not all is quite .Wren.. The former three-decker pulpit has been substituted by a lower

pulpit and separate
reading desk. The altar candlesticks in Wren’s time would have flanked, not a cross, but a

large alms dish.
Paddy pointed out the golden altar frontal and falls for pulpit and reading desk with oakleaf

and acorn motifs,
referring to Charles’s escape after the Battle of Worcester, and the many kneelers embroidered

with regimental
badges. He also told us that Sir Denis Thatcher’s funeral service took place here, and that

Lady Thatcher
sometimes attends Divine Service.

The Great Hall, to the west side of the vestibule, is a plain, flat-ceilinged rectangle. On the

west wall a huge
painting shows Charles II on horseback, with allegorical figures, against the river front of

the Hospital. The
large brass chandeliers and the royal portraits make up for lack of architectural detail, and

the well-arranged
dining tables add to the conviction that the Hospital is indeed a good place in which to

retire. In 1852 the body
of the Duke of Wellington lay here in state . a table by the door bears a commemorative plate.

In those days the
Great Hall was used, not for eating, but for administration, including Army entrance exams.

The other interior we saw was that of the present museum, built originally for administrative

purposes to the
east of Wren’s main block. It is a single-storey structure, the exterior evidently designed, by

Sir John Soane, to
match Wren’s buildings, but concealing an eminently Soanian interior. The entrance hall is

dedicated to the
memory of the great Duke of Wellington. It is dominated by large paintings of him and of the

Battle of Waterloo,
and there are several objects associated with him. There is also a recent portrait of HM the

Queen. A model of
the Hospital enabled as to further understand the location and purpose of each part of it.

Various facets of the
Hospital’s life and history are presented in the Long Gallery, including a mock-up of one of

the .berths. or
cubicles. These were only six feet (1.8m) square, but they have been enlarged and improved

several times, and
there is now the intention to modernise the Long Wards, with .en suite. facilities. A further

room houses a large
collection of medals.

While on this western side the burial ground was pointed out to us, containing 900 interments.

It was closed in
1840, but cremated remains may still be placed here. Soane’s Infirmary was destroyed in World

War II, and its
replacement is now being itself replaced by a building which, though Wren-style externally, is

a state-of-the-art
installation within.

At the south-west end of Figure Court we saw some interesting cannon and huge mortar bombs

intended to be
used (but were not) in the Crimean War. Round the corner we passed what was once Sir Robert

orangery but now houses the Roman Catholic Chapel and the Library. There is also a clubroom, TV

and billiard
rooms, and a bowling green. Finally we were impressed by the allotment gardens. colourful

display of roses
and magnificent delphiniums. In the far corner is a former mortuary, which we were pleased to

see now houses
garden equipment.

Back at the Chelsea Gate (and in the shadow of the former stables, the only surviving building

here whose
exterior shows it to be by Soane) we expressed our thanks to Paddy (who, in addition to

imparting so much
information, entertained the group with amusing anecdotes); to his .Jack Russell. (who never

would have
snapped at the heels of any of us even if we had failed to keep up); and to Sheila Harris for

arranging such a very
enjoyable visit.

Ray Ninnis


We were saddened to learn in early July of the death at the Royal Marsden of Don Fleming. Don

lived .over the
border., in Sutton, but he had picked up our programme somewhere and thought it looked

interesting, and he joined
the Society in 1998/9. At the 1999 AGM he volunteered from the floor to join the Committee, and

within two years
offered to take on the duties of Membership Secretary. In this role his genial face and voice

were an admirable
recruiting aid, and our numbers rose steadily during his tenure. He also served for a time as


Don was a delightful raconteur and mimic: not a few committee meetings and workshop sessions

overran on
account of his stories. A real enthusiast for history, he would always have an interesting

nugget of information to
share with fellow-members, and many will remember his lively account of Elizabeth I after the

AGM of 2002. He
relished occasions and events; he was an active member of his NHS retirement group and a

dedicated theatre-goer
and jazz fan.

Don enjoyed belonging to this society, and his roles within it. He chose not to reveal that

ill-health was the reason
for his resignation from the Committee early last year, and for his increasingly rare

appearances at our functions.
We miss his cheerful presence.




On 19 July, the hottest day (so far) of the year, 32 MHS members and 20 WEA members
embarked on an air-conditioned expedition to Buckinghamshire. We first visited The King’s
Head (now owned by the National Trust), an ancient former coaching inn in the centre of
Aylesbury, the earliest records of which date from 1450, when three messuages were
granted to the Verney family. Following a very welcome cup of tea or coffee, and biscuits,
there was a conducted tour showing the various rooms dating from different periods from
15th-century to Georgian. Parts of the building have over the years performed many different
functions, including one of the earliest Post Offices, a private mint (trade tokens), a
courtroom, a tourist information centre, a priest’s hole and a World War II black-market
stash. Cromwell is known to have stayed there, and Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn are
popularly supposed to have met there. We were also able to try for size two cavalry swords
used by the Royal Bucks Hussars, which were found behind panelling during renovations.

After lunch at Watermead, a modern lakeside development outside Aylesbury, we went on to the

Trust’s Hughenden Manor, home of Benjamin Disraeli. Before he was known as a politician he was

already a
successful writer (he produced 13 novels in total) and was the first novelist to receive an

advance of £10,000. It
was partly this success, together with his marriage to a rich widow, that enabled him to buy

Hughenden Manor
in 1848 for £35,000, although nearly all the money was borrowed and he spent much of his life

one step ahead
of his creditors. However, it enabled him to join the landed gentry, and shortly afterwards he

became leader of
the Conservative party in the Commons, having been an MP since 1837. He later became Prime

Minister twice,
briefly in 1868 and again from 1874 to 1880. During the latter period he was elevated to the

peerage as earl of
Beaconsfield (which he always pronounced Beeconsfield).

Hughenden Manor itself began life as a farmhouse, which was later (mid-1700s) converted into a

residence. At this time it was a plain stuccoed building, but when in 1840 it was acquired by a

local antiquary,
he decided to Gothicise some of the interior. When Disraeli bought it he continued the process,

removing the
stucco and adding battlements, elaborate chimneys, vaulted ceilings etc. The interior is full

of pictures of
Disraeli’s family and friends, including the earl of Derby, Bulwer Lytton, and of course Queen

Victoria, whose
favourite Prime Minister he was. He was a witty and charming man and a master of debating, with

no great
opinion of his rival Gladstone whom he dismissed as .a self-made man who worships his creator..

Queen Victoria sent a message offering to visit him on his deathbed, he is reputed to have

said, .Tell her not to
bother; she only wants me to take a message to Albert..

Many of the rooms have been restored by the National Trust to an appearance as close as

possible to that of
Disraeli’s time, but part of the house is a museum of his mementos. These include his robes as

Chancellor of the
Exchequer (which he should have passed on to the next Chancellor, Gladstone, but refused to do

so), the
manuscript of his final, incomplete, novel, showing his alterations to the text, and statuettes

of Queen Victoria
.at her spinning-wheel., and of John Brown with her favourite pony (both given to him by a

grateful monarch).
Disraeli also took a leading part in the Congress of Berlin, 1878, when Britain was awarded

Cyprus, and there
is a cherrywood fan, signed by all the participants in the Congress, including Bismarck. Queen

Victoria visited
Hughenden incognito, and although she could not, by protocol, attend his
funeral, she did visit the house shortly after his death, so that she could sit
in his study and remember him. There is even a chair with specially shortened
legs to suit the tiny figure of the queen.

The gardens have also been restored to their Victorian appearance, although
in fact Disraeli left the running of the garden and indeed the house to his
beloved wife Mary Anne. He preferred to walk in the woods or to sit in his
library when he wasn’t busy with his novels or state business. He also
restored the local church of St Michael and All Angels, which stands in the
grounds. Here he is buried, together with Mary Anne, and Queen Victoria
had a memorial erected to him in the chancel. The more energetic of us
managed to include this in the two hours which we were allowed at
Hughenden, while most of the rest retired thankfully to the tea-room.

Many thanks to Ray Kilsby for organising this very interesting outing, and
to the National Trust guides who helped us to understand the history and
significance of all the various buildings and artefacts.

Desmond Bazley


PETER HOPKINS has been reading about

In the 16th and 17th centuries, inventories of domestic goods were required to be taken when

someone died and
their will was being proved. These valuations of an individual’s belongings cover all assets,

from silver and cash
in a wealthy household to a single sheet or bolster in a poor man’s cottage. Some inventories

list items room by
room, thus enabling us to understand something of the size and layout of the property.

In 2005 Surrey Record Society published Marion Herridge’s transcription of Surrey Probate

Inventories 15581603.
The volume is enhanced with extracts of the related wills, and also includes a comprehensive

glossary. The
extracts below are those relating to residents of Merton, Mitcham and Morden, arranged in

chronological order.

Extracts relating to Merton, Mitcham & Morden

[The number shown in brackets after each heading is the reference number used by the editor of

the inventories]
The first two inventories seem to have been placed in the wrong order, as Nicholas Goryng’s

widow seems to have
then married John Frysbee. Goryng was among the .tenants and farmers of the King’s manor of

Morden. who
appealed to Edward VI during a conflict with tenants of neighbouring Cheam over common rights

in Sparrowfield,
as a result of which two plans or .plotts. were made of the area. The second plott marks .the

place of takyng the
distress by Frysby., suggesting that John Frysbee may have served as constable or a similar

office in Morden.1

Unfortunately nothing else about them is known at present, though Nicholas Smythe, Frysbee’s

landlord, held
a freehold property in Central Road, Morden, and several copyholds nearby, as well as two

tenements in Merton.
John Mantle or Mantyll, who is mentioned in the first three extracts, was curate of Merton and

vicar of Morden.2
John Frysbee of Morden, husbandman; taken

by Nycholas Smythe, Thomas Heryngman
and John Mantle, 23rd December 1558. [12]
Note: The Will was written and the Inventory
4 kyneA horse
A mare
4 0
1 0
taken on the day of the testator’s death, 23rd 5 wether tegges 6 8
December and Probate was granted to Joan 2 Hogges 6 8
Frysbee, the widow, six months later on 30th 5 acres of wheate 2 0 0
June 1559. It seems possible that his
executrix, his wife Joan, had been widowed
once before, leaving her with 3 children, John
Goryng, Joane Goryng and Alis Goryng, who
Brasse and puter Spyttes and cobyrons Sheetes and table clothes
One fetherbed and 2 mattresses
Coverlettes and blankettes to them belongyng
were each given 20s in the Will. The testator One table, one cubborde, a fourme and chestes 1 0

left bequests to his sister Ellen and to the son In money 2 0 0
and daughter of another sister, Anne Palmer.
George Myller was to take care of the
Debtes owyng [the total should be £17.7.0]
1 10
£17 10
livestock, both for them and for his own two

sons Lennard and John Myller. The clothes were bequeathed to the testator’s brother Thomas

Frysbee and to a
certain Henry Cotes. The lease of 2 acres of land in Mitcham was given to the aforesaid

brother, Thomas.
Nycholas Smythe, his landlord and George Myller, his brother-in-law were appointed overseers.

Richard Myles
and John Mantyll witnessed the writing of the Will.

GLRO Ref: DW/PA/5/1559/117 Will and Inventory on same document.

Nycholas Goryng of Morden, labourer; taken by Nicholas Smythe,
£ sd

Thomas Heryngman and John Mantyll, 2nd February 1558/9. [13]

10 kyne 6 13 4

Note: The Will, dated 2nd February 1558/9, is interesting because the

A horse 13 4

bequests include 6 kine, two each to the testator’s 3 children Alice,

10 sheepe 1 0 0
Jone and John, who were to receive the profits from Nicholas Rolande Brasse and puter 1 0 0
of Merton, [.] Goldsmith of Merton, Rychard Randolfe and John Tyler, Spyttes and cobyrens 2 0

Lynnen and beddyng 2 0 0

all of whom .hyred. cattle and sheep from him. Monetary bequests

Two acres of wheate 13 4

were added to the livestock and the residue was bequeathed to his wife,

One hogge 3 4

Jone, who was to be executrix. The first two appraisers of the goods

[£12 54]

were appointed overseers. Richard Myles and William Mathew were
witnesses. No date of Probate was recorded on this copy of the Will.
GLRO Ref: DW/PA/5/1558/118 Will and Inventory


Thomas Morrell of Merton, tailor;
taken by Richard Woodnet and
Nicholas Clarke, 30th January
1564/5. [54]

Note: The Will, the list of debts
and the Inventory, were written on
one document on the same day. The
will was proved on 1st June 1565,
leaving the residue of the estate to
the executrix, his wife Jone. The
overseers appraised the goods and
chattels listed in the inventory. The
unnamed children of the testator
were left 20s apiece, to be paid to
them before any subsequent
marriage of his wife. Were the
widow to remarry, her future
husband was ordered to secure
money for the children’s legacies
beforehand. Rafe Chylmyd,
brother-in-law of Thomas Morrell,
was left a white fustian doublet. He
and John Mantyll had witnessed the
signing of the will and two days
later, on 2nd February, Thomas’s
burial was recorded.

Ref: 1565 B 67 Will and Inventory

There is no mention of Morrell in
any of the known records of

William Walter of Mitcham,
yeoman; taken by William Jackson,
William Longe, Robert Giles, John
Everist, Edward Sone and George
Frith, 20th May 1585. [218]

Note: The Will was dated 10th
April and proved on 27th May
1585. The executrix and residuary
legatee was the testator’s wife
Isabel. The overseers were William
Jackson and William Long, both
husbandmen of Mitcham. The
family messuage, together with 18
or 19 acres of arable land called
Nisils Hoult at Tonbridge in Kent,
was the subject of detailed order of

In the hale £ s d
A Table, a Forme and a paire of Tresseles 3 4
A Cupbord and 2 lyttell Chayres, 2 stoles 5 0
A Cradell 2 0
2 Wheles 1 4
In the parlor2 bedstedes of bordes, 2 Flocke bedes, 3 kiveringes,
2 payre of blankettes, 2 bowlsters 1 13 4
6 Chestes whereof one waynestecote and 5 of bordes 16 0
A Cowpbord of Waynestecote and a chaire 8 0
5 Cowssions 3 4
14 payre of Sheites fyne and cowrse 2 0 0
8 table clothes, a dozen of napkins and 5 pillowbeares 13 4
A Testor of a bed of lynnen 2 0
A Cote, a payre of hose, 3 Clockes and a doblett 1 0 0
3 paynted clothes 1 0
In the chamber over the parlorA sadell and 10 pounds of hempe 4 0
£s d
Two bullockes 1 8 0
One old mare 10 0
In the hall
Two old cupbordes 6 8
One chayre 1 4
4 stooles 1 4
Payntted clothes 2 0
In the parlerTwo chestes 4 0
Paynted clothes 2 0
In the fyrst chamber Two fetherbeddes and bolsters 1 0 0
Two bed stedles 4 0
One presse 3 0
4 chestes 4 0
Paynted clothes 4 0
Two shred coverles 5 0
In the second chamber
Two olde mattresses 2 0
Two bedstedles 2 0
Two old coverynges 2 8
Paynted clothes 2 0
8 payre of shee[te]s of hempe 1 0 0
In the keychyn3 brasse pottes 10 0
4 olde kettles 8 0
5 candlestickes 4 0
4 puter platters and dishes and sawcers 5 0
5 puter pottes 3 0
One spyt, a payre of cobyrons and a gyrdyron 2 0
716 0
I owe unto my brother in law Rafe Chylmyd 4 0
I owe unto Goodman Clarke for 2 bushells of wheate [blank]
I owe unto the bruer for olde debte 1 0 0
I owe unto Mr. Steeven of Kyngstone 7 0
I owe in new debte unto the bruer 10 4
I owe for my halfe yeares rent 8 0
29 4
(continued on opposite page)

Alice Walter, William’s mother,
was still to occupy the land with his
brother John, as long as the old lady
lived. Then it was to go to William’s
2 sons, the next generation of
William and John Walter. They
were each to deposit on bond 100
marks [£66 13s 4d] to ensure an
annual payment of £3 each to their
mother Isabel. The boys were to
have 12 wethers and the 3
daughters, Katherine, Ellen and
Joan, were each given £6 13s 4d
and 4 ewes. The Will was witnessed
by the overseers, together with
Robert Musgrave the curate,
Edward Sooan, Richard Hargrave,
Raphe Tissie and John Betts. The
widow and the overseers bound
themselves well and truly to
administer the estate. The burial
was registered on 14th April 1585.

Ref: 1585 B 72/1 Will
1585 B 72/2 Inventory

No mention has been found of
William Walter in Mitcham
documents, though he may have
been related to William Walter of
Wimbledon, who died in 1587.3 His
landlord, Mr Rutland, was probably
Nicholas Rutland who held an
important copyhold estate in
Colliers Wood, as well as property
in Wimbledon, and who died 21
February 1585.4

Other debts listed in the Will:

Owing by the testator to Mr. Knowesberye ofWansworth
6 quarters of barleye £3 12 0

Owing to the testatorby the Widdowe Deaconof West Throme 2 0

(continued from opposite page)

In the lofte over the buttr yA Bedstedle 2 6
3 peces of wollen clothe, 2 white, one Russett 1 10 0
One payre of Stocke cardes 1 0
One Bow and 6 Arrowes 1 8

In the entry betwene the hale and the parlorA bowltinge hutche 1 0

In the buttry nexte the parlor11 platters, 5 pewter dishes, a bason, 3 Sawsers, a pewterpynte

pott, 3 Salte sellers, 5 pewter spones, 2 Candlestickesof latten, one morter of latten with a

pestell 1 0 0
Tubes with other lomber 8 0

In the buttrye nexte the hale2 kylderkins, 2 Firkins, one cherne and 2 bottelles 3 4

In the sarvantes Chamber nexte the entry One olde bedsted, an olde kiveringe, a payre of

Sheites and a boulster 5 0
A Cowlter and a shaire, 3 Sithes with other olde Iron 5 0

In the Kytchen2 brase pottes, one Caldron, 4 kyttes, a Chaffinge dishe,
2 Skyllettes, a payre of pothangers and a spite 1 0 0
2 Fattes to Brew withall and 3 towbes, 4 payles 13 4

In the Corne lofte
3 quarters of Rye and 5 bussheles of Barley and 9 sackes 2 0 0
In the malte lofte
Certayne malte 7 0 0

In the stable
2 geldins, 2 mares and harnis belonging to them, acarte sadle and a ridinge pannell 5 0 0
3 Coltes 1 6 8
A Carte and a plowe, 2 payres of harrowes anda donnge carte 1 10 0
2 Oxen 5 00
4 kyne and 2 hayfayres 6 0 0
40 shepe and 20 lammes 10 0 0
14 hoges and piges 1 13 4

In the barne
2 Fannes, 2 Pytche pronges and one bushell and awynoinge sheite 5 0

Growinge in the Feildes13 acres of wheate and Rye 13 0 0
17 acres of barley at 18 shillings the acre 15 2 0
12 acres of beanes, peace, Tares and otes 8 0 0

Good Dettes
John White of Mitcham, alekeeper, for malt 2 0 0
Wydow Etheridge of Mitcham for malt 15 0
Owinge more by John White for malte 13 4

Desperat Dettes owinge to the testator in his life tyme at Westram Owinge by Christopher Bawcome

29 bushells of maltat 22 pence the Bushell [£2.13.2] 216
owinge by Hew Johnson for malte 1 10 0

96 04

Owinge by the said testator in his life tyme as ffolloweth Owinge to Mr Rutland his landelorde 5

0 0
Owinge to Richard Powell of Martyn 5 0 0
Owinge to a kynesman of the said testator dwellynge in Kent 3 0 0

13 00
The chargis of the Funerall of the said testator Payed for the same 1 0 0


Robert Seith of Mitcham, yeoman;
taken by Roger Tomson and
William Jacson, 27th April 1592.

Note: The Will was dated 30th
March and proved on 9th May
1592, The executrix and residuary
legatee was the testator’s wife
Helen. Of the three overseers, the
most important, without whom no
decision was to be made, was Mr
Henry Sytern, parson of Ewhurst;
Robert Gyles and William
Swillinghurst of Mitcham were
singly or together to assist in
determining the just cause of any
controversy between the executrix
and Margaret, Joan, William and
Elizabeth, four of his six children.
He asked to be buried in Mitcham
churchyard and gave 3s 4d for
church repairs and 10s to the poor.
To both Robert, his son and
Frances, his daughter, a gift of £20
was made, each being the other’s
heir if one should die young. The
four other children were likewise
given £20, but at the age of 21 rather
than 26. A gift of £1 went to his
brother Henry Seith and to his sister
Jane, the wife of Edward Russly of
Kingston. The maid Joan, the
manservant John Augustine and his
brother-in-law Laurence Smith,
were given 3s 4d, 5s and £1,

The lease of Newbarn and the tithe
of Mitcham, which the testator had
of Mr Richard Burton, were given
to the executrix provided that she
brought up the four children in a
manner befitting .their state and
condition.; this last bequest would
be revoked if any future husband of
Helen’s were to neglect them in any
way. The overseers witnessed the
Will, Henry Sytern and William
Swillinghurst signing the
document. Robert Gyles, Laurence
Smith, Henry Seith and John
Augustine made their marks. The
parson of Ewhurst provided the
administration bond.

Ref: 1592 B 51/1 Will
1592 B 51/2 Inventory

In the Hall £ s d
One Table, one forme, three stooles and one Chaire 6 8
Six Cusshins and painted Clothes Two pair of small andirons and a fire shovell,
a pair of tonges and 2 pair of pothooks In the Chamber over the hall
One bedstead and a Truckle bedsteed with one
fetherbed and a flock bed, two bolsters and three
pillowes, one Coverlet and a pair of blanketes2 Chests, a stoole and a small Deske and
2 0 0
painted Clothes In the maides Chamber
14 8
One bedsteed of boardes, a mattresse, one old
Coverlett a bolster and a pair of sheetes In the Chamber over the Parlor
6 8
Wheat thresshed 2 10 0
In the parlor A small Joind bedsteed, a fetherbed, a Coverlett
and bolster, a pillow and a pair of blanketes, asmall stoole and a forme 2 0 0
Painted Clothes 2 0
in the Milk Howse
A poudring tub, 10 booles, 2 shelvesin the Servantes Chamber
10 0
A bedsteed of bordes, a mattresse, a Coverlet,
a pair of blanketes, a pair of shetes and a bolster.
In the Buttrye Thre kilderkins, two firkins, a lether bottle
In the Kitchin
one brasse pott, one litle brasse pott, a Chauldron and one Copper Chaldron, a skymmer, 3 brasse

skillettes and a kettle 1 15 0
10 platters, 8 pewter disshes, 6 porengers, 3 pewterpotts, 3 salts, 2 pewter basons, 4

pewter Candelstickes and two brasse Candelstickes 1 10 0
Two Coules, 2 hoghedes, two bruyng tubs and two half tubs 4 0
Two Iron tryvetes
Bacon in the rowfe 2
In the kitchin loft
In Malt 13 4
one axe, 2 bils, one mattock, one spade and a shovel A Cheesepresse In the Stable and Yarde
Six Cart-horse and 2 Twelmonthing Coltes
Harnesse for the horse
11 0
8 Drawing oxen10 Steares of the bigger sort8 two yearling bullockes6 kyne6 Twelvemonthing

20 small shootes
10 piggs Two long Cartes and two dongue Cartes 4
Two ploughes, two pair of small harrowes, one oxeharrow, 8 yokes and Cheines and a pair of

Draftes 2
40 sheep and 12 lambes 10
In the barne
Wheat unthresht 20 0 0
Barlie threst and unthresht 5 0 0

(continued on opposite page)


We are told in his will that Seith held
the lease of Newbarns Farm,
Commonside East. The late 17th-/
early 18th-century successor to
Seith’s home was renamed South
Lodge, and occupied by Tooting Bec
Golf Club from 1905 until its
demolition in the 1920s.5


.An Old Plan of the Country near Nonsuch
Palace. The Home Counties Magazine Vol.
1 (1899) pp.284-285 ed. W J Harvey FSA

2 MHS Bulletin 149 (March 2004), pp 10-11
3 R J Milward Tudor Wimbledon (1972)pp39-53
4 E N Montague Colliers Wood (in

5 E N Montague Pollards Hill, Commonside
East and Lonesome (2002), pp78-87

(continued from opposite page)
Wheat upon the groundMore in an other placeRie upon the groundBarlie upon the groundOetes upon

the ground4 geese and a gander, 40 hennes and 2 Cockes
In hayeTimber in the gate
In Linnen
15 pair of sheetes, 6 table Clothes, 4 Towels,
two dozen and a half of napkins, two pairof pillowbeirsIn the barne
3 0 0
Two Fannes, one busshell and a skryne

There are no inventories relating to Wimbledon from this period.


When Winifred Mould stepped down as our Honorary Treasurer in mid-1994, it was a worrying

moment, until
David Luff, a long-time member, valiantly offered to take on the role . as Acting Treasurer. He

said at the time,
and has said regularly since, that he would gladly step down if and when anyone else

volunteered in his place.
Well, it has taken 12 years, and now David Roe, who joined the Committee at the AGM in 2005,

has kindly
done just that. As the Society’s financial year ends on 31 May, it was convenient to begin

effecting the handover
at that time. The appointment cannot be ratified until the AGM in November, but the two Davids

are sorting
things out together, and David Roe is Acting Treasurer until then. We are very grateful to them




One of our members, John Pile, will be a speaker at Surrey Archaeological Society’s autumn

.Aspects. & After: the research framework on Saturday 7 October at The Dixon Hall, Letherhead

Leatherhead from 10.00am. The day costs £5, payable to Surrey Archaeological Society, and sent

Conference 2006, Surrey Archaeological Society, Castle Arch, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3SX. John’s

is spring-line parishes between Croydon and Ewell.

TV archaeologist Julian Richards will be leading workshops at Surrey History Centre, Woking, on
Saturday 9 September. Tel: 01483 518737 . there might be some places left.

Look out for another well-researched book by Dorian Gerhold, well-known to us particularly as a

of Wandsworth. It is called Carriers and Coachmasters: trade and travel before the turnpike.

last year by Phillimore, it is a hardback and costs £19.99 . or request it at your library.

A new and already highly praised biography of John Donne [see Bulletin 185 p13] is in the

shops, and, it is
to be hoped, libraries. It is John Donne: The Reformed Soul by John Stubbs, published by Viking

at £25.

The Society has been given a number of back issues of Current Archaeology, to be sold at 20p

each for the
Society’s funds (six copies £1). They will be available at meetings from October, or from the

Secretary (postage extra).

The current exhibition at Merton Heritage Centre looks at the twelve men with Merton

connections who
have received the VC. It is on until 18 November at The Canons, Madeira Road. Tel: 020 8640



In July it was reported in the local newspapers that the enterprising residents of Richmond

Avenue, in Merton,
had held a street party to celebrate the 100th birthday of their road. Land which had been used

as a sports field
by the Regent Street Polytechnic began to be developed for housing in 1905/6, and the grid of

new roads was
known in early days as the Polytechnic Estate. Quintin Avenue and Merton Hall Road were begun

at about the
same time as Richmond Avenue, and Chatsworth and Sandringham Avenues soon followed.



[This is a shortened version of a letter in the July 2006 edition of London Railway Record by

once of Mitcham, now of Ajax, Ontario. Thanks to David Luff for drawing our attention to it.]

Partial views of the extension have appeared over the years, as well as plans from OS maps, but

I was not able

to properly establish what connected the extension to the up platform.
I think it was built when the LBSCR took over the main building as its station house. In

building a model of the
station I discovered that the platform buildings were exact mirror images of the other on the

opposite platform.
More importantly they included only waiting rooms and porters. facilities. As far as I can tell

they did not
include any station administration rooms for use as offices, such as a ticket hall or parcels


For many years tickets seem to have been issued both on the up side, probably from the

extension, and from a
building situated higher up the embankment on the down side (south), adjoining London Road.

Whether this
down side building went out of use for such purposes when the footbridge was built in 1892, I

do not know, but
it did survive well into the 20th century. However, I speculate that the chimney on the

extension was there to
serve a fireplace put in just for administrative offices, including a parcels office. Of

course, the goods facilities
for Mitcham were far to the west, through the road bridge.

The road bridge is interesting, as it was completely rebuilt in 1929 in connection with the

electrification of the
line, as a single span, spanning both tracks. Prior to this the road bridge had been twin

arches, each over the
single tracks, one up and one down. I have a postcard view of this bridge in the process of

demolition in 1929,
with the new replacement bridge having been built immediately to the west of the old bridge. It

also explains
why on the 1896 OS map, the up and down roads seem to diverge slightly in passing under the

main London

The history of the main station building has been examined in detail by the renowned Mitcham

historian E N
Montague.* There can be no question that what became the main station building in LBSCR times

was originally
built as twin private homes, with the archway entrance(s) being in the original building, but

only as entrances,
not trackways as has been speculated.

It has only been possible to date it as .early 19th-century., which has raised speculation that

it was a feature of
the Surrey Iron Railway. I think this speculation can be laid to rest for several reasons. It

was not only a pair of
dwellings, but it was separated from the SIR by a strip of land on the whole of its length,

several feet wide. If
there had been need for a tollhouse, or some similar office, at Mitcham, it would not have been

such a building,
but probably one similar to the very small older one that existed at Colliers Wood until the


The building appears to be symmetrical, when looked at from the front (road side). In fact it

is not. Halfway
along the right-hand side (south side) the outer wall tapers in slightly, about one to two

feet, which makes the
rear wall asymmetrical. I took numerous photos of it when the extension was removed and it was

being renovated
for use as private offices. From very detailed examination of the brickwork I am absolutely

sure that it is
original brickwork on the side walls, although the demolition of the rear extension meant that

patches of the
brickwork on the rear wall had to be renewed. This was done very sympathetically, using the old

yellow bricks,
so common in the area from the 19th century, and from which the main building is constructed.

The re-used
bricks almost certainly came from the demolition of the extension.

The interesting point is why it was built in such an asymmetrical fashion. I feel it had

something to do with the
strip of land between it and the SIR. Looking at the levels of land here, I suspect that the

surveyors of the SIR
decided to purchase the parcel of land for their railway track set back from the Archway House

or the boundary
of the previous property, because they needed to establish an easier gradient for their line.

The land generally
slopes southwards here to the valley of the River Wandle, a quarter of a mile or so away. Their

.motive power.
was horses, and they needed a track bed as level as they could obtain, hence siting the rail

bed well away from
the house, and at a lower level.

As to the purpose of the original building of Archway House, it is very likely that the site

was .carved out. of an
existing estate. Certainly the SIR cut across one at this point. Artisans needed good,

respectable homes, and
Archway House provided a touch of Regency elegance.

E N Montague Mitcham Histories: 4, Lower Mitcham Merton Historical Society 2003 pp.115-120.
The book is obtainable from our Publications Secretary.


This has been under way since the end of 2004. Our prime objective is to establish a record of

the Society’s area
of interest as it is today, for the benefit of future historians and members of the Society. To

date 445 photographs
have been professionally archived at Surrey History Centre, and the Society’s copies have been

kept on CDs
and in albums, with an accompanying database. The albums were displayed at the 2005 AGM. We

have been
able to procure donations to fund the project, so it is being run at no cost to the Society.

We are photographing buildings, parks and open spaces, other scenes, specialist or traditional

shops, events,
everyday activities . anything that may be of historic interest in the future. As expected, it

has proved relatively
easy to photograph buildings and general scenes . given good light and spare time. However,

activities are
more of a problem. In particular, we sometimes learn of a special event too late. We would much

advance information of, for example, community celebrations, opening ceremonies, displays or

open days
organised by schools, clubs etc.

Next year we plan to make a serious attempt to locate and if possible borrow old photographs

held by various
organisations and individuals. I would like once again to ask members to lend such photographs

for the project.
I stress that such photographs will only be borrowed for a short time . to allow copying (we

can scan in to the
computer both prints and slides), and that the copyright will remain with the photographer.

If you want to help please telephone me.

David Roe


Sara Goodwins Merton & Morden Past & Present Sutton Publishing, 2006. £12.99 (£8.57 from


pp.128; nearly 200 illustrations. ISBN 0-7509-4189-8
Sara Goodwins is a freelance writer specialising in business and education, so it is no

surprise that the book is
well-written and most readable. It contains a lot of previously unpublished historic

photographs, reproduced to
a good standard. Many were provided by the professional photographer Alan Cross, and also by

various schools,
churches and local organisations. They are of particular interest because many cover the post-

war period from
the 1940s to the 1970s, when relatively few photographs are publicly available, as distinct

from 100 years ago,
when photographs were taken for commercial postcard production. The old photograph of a scene

is often
contrasted with a modern-day one, taken from the same viewpoint by the author’s husband George


The inclusion of a map or two would have benefited readers new to the area, or living outside

it, or just
becoming interested in local history. It would also help spell out the difference between

Merton the old village
and Merton the London Borough. The text appears to be as factually accurate as can be hoped,

bearing in mind
that the author is not a local historian in the area . inevitably a few familiar errors from

secondary sources have
crept in. One photograph is wrongly identified . on page 63 a view said to be of the interior

of the church of St
John the Divine in 1914 in fact shows St Mary the Virgin, Merton Park.

There are some parts of Merton and Morden not covered as comprehensively as others, because the

emphasis is
on certain subjects or locations where several photographs were available . such as the

widening of London
Road at Morden Park, Merton Abbey Primary School, Emmanuel church, old buses, and the 43F

(Merton &
Morden) Squadron of the Air Training Corps. However, in many ways this is a strength, as it

allows room for
some detailed and fascinating information on specific topics that are not covered in previous

books about the
area. It is a valuable addition to the published history of Merton and Morden. David Roe

E N Montague Mitcham Histories 8: Phipps Bridge £5.95 (£4.80 to members + 80p
p&p). pp. 160; 51 maps and photos. ISBN 1 903899 53 2. Available from Peter Hopkins
(address at foot of page 12).

Monty’s latest volume replaces the small booklet we published in 1999, which has
been updated to form the opening chapter of the new book. In addition there are
chapters on the calico printers . Nixon, Rucker and Howard & Co; diversification .
Peter Wood, silk throwster, the Patent Steam Washing Factory, and the silk printers;
the Hatfeilds and Wandle Villa; Everett’s Place; Wandle House; New Close; the paint
and varnish manufacturers . Harlands, Hadfields, etc; the area north of Phipps Bridge;
and the Phipps Bridge Estate . a wide range of subjects that brings the area to life.

Peter Hopkins

Mitcham Histories: 8
E N Montague

JUDITH GOODMAN looks at the life and the two careers of

[Most of the references for this article have been kindly provided by John Taylor, architect,

of Perth, Western
Australia, who is writing a PhD thesis on Sir Joseph John Talbot Hobbs.]

In May of last year an email enquiry reached me, by way of Nicholas Hart of Wandle Industrial

Museum. John
Taylor, of Perth, Western Australia, wanted to know of any local information about a boy called

Joseph Hobbs
who attended Merton National Schools in the 1870s. As it happens, I recognised the name at

once. It appears in
the boys. school log-book,1 kept by Edward William Pillinger, the boys. headmaster:

July 14 [1897] …
Capt. & Mrs. J. Talbot Hobbs visited the Boys. School this Afternoon. The Captain, an
old School Boy, admitted 4.73, left 7.79, had entered an architect’s Office at Twickenham,
accompanied his master home eleven years ago to West Australia, married one of his
employer’s daughters, was taken into partnership and is now an exceedingly prosperous man.
He holds the post of Diocesan Architect, is Captain in the W. Australian Artillery Service
& was selected to command his Colony ‘s Contingent of Artillery to assist at the Queen’s

Diamond Jubilee Commemoration Festivities. The following are extracts from his letter
written upon his arrival in England:
.It was the writer’s good fortune some 17 years ago to be a boy under your tuition & care.”

.Owing in a very great measure to the care & interest taken in me at School . I prospered.”
.I should esteem it a very great favour if you would allow me the pleasure of once more seeing
& thanking you & also viewing the schools I remember so well.”

Joseph John Talbot Hobbs was born on 24 August 1864 at 13 Ranelagh Grove,
Pimlico, the firstborn child of Joseph Hobbs, a joiner journeyman, and his
wife Frances Ann (née Wilson). Joseph senior and Frances had been married
in May of the previous year at Chelsea . presumably the bride’s parish, as
Joseph’s place of residence appears as Merton on their marriage certificate.
Most probably, the couple settled in Merton, and Frances perhaps went to
stay with family when due to give birth. Joseph senior’s father, John Thomas
Hobbs, was described as .gentleman. (which may only have meant that he
was not earning) and Frances’s father Talbot Thomas Wilson was a coachman.
It is clear where the names of the infant Joseph John Talbot Hobbs came
from. In subsequent years two more sons and five daughters were born.

Joseph Hobbs is listed in local directories in Merton High Street as a cabinetmaker
in 1870, 1872 and 1874 and as a .wardrobe dealer. (secondhand
clothes) in 1876. A Samuel Hobbs, thought to be his brother, appears as a
furniture dealer and then a wardrobe dealer, also in the High Street. .Our.
Hobbs family lived at No.2 Somerset Place, High Street,2 which lay between
Abbey Road and Pincott Road. These modest terraced premises have been

13 Ranelagh Grove . December 2005

replaced by post-war housing.
Young Joseph John appears in two admission books3 for the Merton Schools (the second book

overlaps the first,
as a new method of recording admissions came in). In the earlier book his father is described

as a french
polisher, Joseph John’s age at admission is given as eight years and eight months, and his

.place of previous
instruction., rather mysteriously, as .Kenyon’s, Cabinet Maker.. In the second book it is given

simply as

.Kenyon’s.. The .whole time during which the Scholar ha[d] been at School before coming to this

School. is
given as six weeks. I have not so far been able to locate .Kenyon’s..
There is no mention of Joseph John in the log-books during the six years he spent at the Merton

school, but the

boys whose names were logged by the master were generally those whose behaviour, health or

attendance were
unsatisfactory. Young Hobbs is likely to have been a model student. Considering that the

Education Act of 1870
had made schooling available to all children (though neither free nor compulsory at this date),

it is surprising
that a clearly able boy had reached the age of nearly nine having had only six weeks teaching.

After this late
start he stayed until he was nearly fifteen, in a period when most children were in employment

well before that
age. By early 1880 the Hobbs family had moved to Mill Lane (now part of Windmill Road) in

Middlesex,4 and Joseph John was apprenticed as architectural draftsman to a builder in

Teddington called John
Hurst.5 According to one of Hurst’s sons .Joe. Hobbs .acted as office boy. and .became one of

the family,
really an adopted son..6 The Hursts, with Hobbs, had moved by the time of the 1881 census to

Brighton, where


Hurst continued in his trade. Mr Pillinger’s comment above implies that Hurst was an

Australian, but in any
case, when in 1887 Hurst went (or returned) to Western Australia, Hobbs, by now aged 23, went

with him and
his family.5 He set up on his own, first as a carpenter (an early job was building seats for

Fremantle railway
station),7 but soon as an architect, and in April 1890 he married the eldest Hurst daughter,

Edith Ann, at St
George’s Anglican Cathedral, Perth. He rapidly became a leader in the small community of Perth

prominent in the new West Australian Institute of Architects and successful in obtaining

commissions for
churches, hotels, schools, offices, the Swan Brewery and many large private houses.5,7 His own

house, The
Bungalow, at Peppermint Grove, was set in spacious grounds, with a summer-house, orchards,

stables, a fern
garden and vinery.7 What a distance he had come from High Street, Merton.

Despite small stature and apparent physical frailty, Hobbs was a fencer, gymnast, oarsman,

sailor and boxer. He
was a devout Anglican: he served in synod and, as Mr Pillinger noted, had been appointed

diocesan architect.
But perhaps his greatest love was the science of soldiering. Unusually, this successful

architect had a parallel
career in the army.

Hobbs had joined the 1st Cinque Ports Volunteer Artillery in 1883,5 and, it appears,

immediately on arrival in
Perth he joined the Volunteer Field Artillery. He was commissioned in 1889, and, as we have

seen, was a
captain by 1897. In 1903 he commanded the 1st (West Australian) Field Battery, Australian Field

Artillery; by
1908 he was lieutenant-colonel the Western Australian Mixed Brigade; and by 1913 he was a full

colonel, the
22nd Infantry Brigade. He twice attended gunnery courses in this country, as well as a military

science course in
Sydney, and he was attached to the British Army twice for training (1897 and 1913). Most of

this was at his own
expense. (He also served as aide-de-camp to several governor-generals.) A Gallipoli veteran

wrote in 1934,
.He gave his Youth, Leasure[sic] and Purse to perfect himself and us..5

On the outbreak of war in 1914 Major-General W T Bridges announced, .I am going to make .Little

CRA of the division..7 Command of the artillery of the 1st Division, Australian Imperial Force,

was a striking
compliment to the abilities of this part-time soldier. On 21 October Hobbs sailed with the

first convoy of 20,000
Australians for overseas service.7 At Gallipoli he clashed with his commander over the

deployment of batteries
on the Anzac front, and won his point. Briefly in command of the whole 1st Division, early in

November 1915
he was stricken with dysentery and relieved of his duties, despite his protests, and not until

he was unable to
stand.7 In March 1916 he was with the AIF in France and he commanded successfully in several

engagements. At the end of the year he was given command of the 5th Division, and on 1 January

1917 he was
promoted major-general. He was said to have .commanded a division with great distinction, made

fewer mistakes
than most, and earned the undying affection of 20,000 men..7 He was known for his common sense,

justice and
integrity; he created harmony in his division and won the affection and loyalty of his staff,

and he often spoke
bluntly to his superiors in (successful) defence of the well-being of his men. At Polygon Wood

his determination
helped swing the situation round. He was appointed KCB in December 1917. In April 1918 he was

responsible for the recapture of Villers-Bretonneux. Further successful actions in the last

months of the war led
to his succeeding the brilliant Lieut-General Sir John Monash as acting lieut-general. In 1919

he was appointed
KCMG. He was awarded a Serbian order and the Croix de Guerre avec Palme, and was mentioned in

eight times. The younger of Hobbs’s two brothers, Howard Frederick Hobbs, became a lieutenant-

colonel in
the British Army and won the DSO and the MC, and Hobbs’s eldest son, John Mervyn, served at

Gallipoli, won
the MC in France and ultimately became a brigadier in the Indian Army.5,7

After the war Hobbs continued in the army until 1927, while resuming his practice as an

architect. His younger
son Athol, after serving for a time in the Indian Army, had joined his firm. Hobbs involved

himself in the
erection of memorials to the Australian divisions in France. Four of the five designs chosen

were his, including
that at Polygon Wood. And he was also chosen to design the Western Australian war memorial in

Perth. An
important public figure now, he held a variety of posts, including chief scout, and president

of Toc H. But in
particular he was concerned with the well-being of returned soldiers.5

Mr Taylor is in touch with Tony Hobbs of Lewes, a grandson of Talbot Hobbs, who has provided

him with a
copy of a letter written on 20 January 1920 to Hobbs by James King of The Oriels in Kingston

Road. At The
Oriels was the Merton Park Estate office and that of estate agents Edwin Evans. King’s paper

was headed .THE

Dear Jof

I am quite sure that in your pile of correspondence you will not find anyone addressing you so

familiarly. The reason I write you now is to congratulate you upon your well earned honours/
When I remember that nearly 50 years ago I had the privilege of sitting on the same form in

school & profiting by your kind help in one’s juvenile studies, it seems almost inconceivablf


that I should be reading in an Australian newspaper of your marvellous doings. It makes one

proud of the old school for having started you in the 3 Rs/
Our dear old friend & master!
[Mr Pillinger] died in 1915 & was never tired of telling thf

youngsters about .Colonel Talbot Hobbs. whilst he dug his thumbs in his braces & expanded his

chest with pride in the telling/
The newspaper in which I read of your welcome homf
[after the war] was sent to his brother bz
David Fininley [member of a local family] who is somewhere in your country & always keeps

hisbrother informed when your name appears in print/
An old schoolboy Abner Lane of Mitcham asked me some time ago if it was true that you had

.gone under. in Gallipoli as he had heard the report that you had. So it was a pleasant

surprise to

me to find that you had returned to become a .good citizen. according to the West Australian

When you next come to the old country call & see me —
I have no doubt you have the photo of the Old Boys taken in Hatfeild Park in Morden [Morden

Hall Park]/
Mr Pillinger gave me before his death an old School Register to keep the Old Boys on record for

future use/
I see you entered on 30 April 1873 & your birthday is 24/8/64 Son of Joseph High St &

from Kenyons Schoom
Many years have passed since that time but you are still remembered with kindly interest bz
Yours sincerelz
James Kinh

In April 1938 Talbot Hobbs left for France, with his wife and daughter, to attend the unveiling

of the Australian
war memorial in that country (and perhaps hoping to visit the .old country.). However he

suffered a heart attack
and died at sea on the 21st. His body was brought back to Perth for burial with state and

military honours. There
is a memorial to him on the Esplanade in Perth, and a portrait of him in the Australian War

Memorial in
Canberra, where his papers are held.5

A remarkable man, and two remarkable public careers. A little gift which he made to his old

school at Merton
was probably typical of Hobbs the private man. It was recorded by Mr Pillinger as follows:

Dec 23 [1897] …
Capt Talbot Hobbs. Prizes for Punctuality . Good Manners . Clean & Neat appearance,

awarded to
Ernest Ockleford 5th Standard
Herbert Payn . Do.


Bertie Clift

Merton Boys. School Log-Book 15 June 1896 to 23 May 1922. Held by John Innes Society.

Transcript at Surrey History Centre, Woking
1871 census for Merton
Merton Schools. Admission Books, 1868-74 and 1869-90, held by John Innes Society
J Taylor, personal communication
P Serle Dictionary of Australian Biography Vol I Angus and Robertson, Sydney and London 1949

pp.435-6. B Nairn and G Serle (eds)
Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol 9: 1891-1939 Melbourne University Press 1983 pp.315-317
Photocopy of single sheet of typescript headed .Memoirs of John Herbert Hurst., provided by J

L Hunt (ed.) Westralian Portraits University of Western Australia Press 1979 pp.152-158
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