Abele Grove

latterly the Convent of the Sacred Hearts and now The Haywain public house

The Haywain in 2010 formerly  Abele Grove and the Convent of the Sacred Hearts
The Haywain in 2010 formerly Abele Grove
and the Convent of the Sacred Hearts
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2011

As shown by the following extract from the 1866 OS Map, Abele Grove was sited next to The Elms on the Dorking Road (formerly New Inn Lane), Epsom.

Extract from the 1866 OS map showing Abele Grove, click to enlarge
Extract from the 1866 OS map showing Abele Grove
click to enlarge

In Some particulars relating to the history of Epsom, of 1825, Henry Pownall wrote: -
"Adjoining Sir James Alexander's, on the east, are a pleasing villa and grounds, belonging to Mrs. Pugh. This estate was formerly the property of Sir William Parsons, and was then a place of much grandeur. At his death, it came into the possession of Mr. Bowles, who divided the lands, and suffered the house to remain in a most ruinous state for a long period; during which, a gang of smugglers occupied it, spreading a report that the place was haunted by evil spirits beyond all doubt, during their stay, forbidden spirits too frequently took up their abode in it. These premises subsequently became the property of Mr. Price, and were sold by him to Mr. Thomas, whose widow resided here many years; and afterwards sold the estate to John Pugh, Esq., who repaired and greatly improved the house, from which the grounds ascend, with a gentle acclivity, to a grove upon the summit of the hill, whence Saint Paul's, and other eminent objects may be seen. We have been informed, that a row of houses formerly stood near the site of the kitchen garden, no traces of them are now visible."
Unfortunately, there seem to be a number of errors in this account.

On 6 April 1670, Humphrey Beane had purchased several areas of real estate in the district which are variously described in The Residential Copyholds of Epsom but some areas of land held freehold do not appear in the manorial Court Rolls. It appears, however, that Beane had a new residence built on New Inn Lane to the east of what became Sir Richard Rooth's house [Lehmann 1B28 & 3A7/3B7]

Humphrey Beane had married Katherine Vincent at Holy Trinity the Less in 1649 and their daughter, Elizabeth, became the first wife of John Parsons. A London merchant and alderman, Beane was appointed Master of the Cordwainers' Company in 1677.

In a will dated 15 September 1679, Humphrey Beane, 'late of London and now of Ebbisham' [PROB 11/362, 14 January 1679/80], left the new house in which he resided with his son Parsons to the relict Katherine Beane. A record of the latter's demise was made in a Court Roll of 19 October 1695 [Will proved 24 October 1695, PROB 11/427] and the property then descended to Sir John (rather than, as suggested by Pownall, William) Parsons.

John Parsons, a wealthy brewer who owned the Red Lion Brewery Co., purchased Reigate Manor in 1681. Having been knighted at Windsor Castle 15 August 1687, he became Lord Mayor of London1703-4. On his death 25 January 1717/8 [PROB 11/556], he was succeeded by a third and only surviving son, Humphrey Parsons.

Humphrey Parsons, also a brewer in Aldgate, was in turn knighted and became Lord Mayor of London in 1731 and again in 1740 but died on 2 March 1741, 'of Reigate' [PROB11/708, 28 March 1741]. He had married Sarah Crowley 18 April 1719 and entered a settlement of his estates upon Sarah and himself for life with remainder to male heirs.

After Sir Humphrey's son, another John Parsons, brewer, was declared bankrupt in 1746 the reversionary estate had been purchased by his mother. Dame Sarah survived until 1759 but, after her demise, disputes arose which were only resolved by a private Act of Parliament in 1766 - 6 George III c26. The real estate was subsequently sold off by auction during July 1766.

Since the Parsons main residence had become established in Reigate Priory it is possible that Humphrey Beane's old house in Epsom was let out for some years previously. Whether or not that was the case, by 1780 it seems to be owned and occupied by Mrs MacDowell whose burial in St Martins churchyard is registered for 10 January 1795. Later in that year the property appears to have come into the possession of Miss Price who retained it until 1821.

The tenant of Miss Price in 1801 was Rev. Joseph Thomas (1765 - 1811), of Camberwell, 'late chaplain of the Vanguard man of war', who had married Millecent Parkhurst on 22 September 1791. They resided at Abele Grove on the Dorking Road, Epsom, in some style although Joseph had no church benefice. He became a connoisseur, patron of William Blake, and friend of the Flaxmans. Joseph Thomas died at Abele Grove on 22 March 1811 but his widow, Millecent, remained there until 1816. The earliest references to the house by name date from the Thomas' occupation there and it would have been derived from a group of white poplar trees on higher ground to the rear*.

The occupier from 1817 to 1821 who preceded Benjamin (not John as stated by Pownall) Pugh was called Ritchie. The latter retained his main residence at 33 Bernard Street, Russell Square, and was for many years Deputy Clerk to the Assize, Oxford Circuit. He bought the freehold in 1822 but died within the following year [Will 14 September 1822, PROB 11/1679, 3 December 1823]. Brayley's Topgraphical history of Surrey records in St Martin's church, at the west end of the nave, 'a neat tablet, surmounted by an urn, to the memory of Benjamin Pugh of Abele Grove in this parish who died 25 July 1823'.

Hassel watercolour of tablet to Benjamin Pugh of Abele Grove
Hassel watercolour of tablet to Benjamin Pugh of Abele Grove
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Although the widowed Mrs Sarah Pugh inherited the house and occupied it for a further 6 years, it was advertised in The Times of 14 May 1829 to be let on lease with the following description: -
'This much admired villa is in the most complete state of repair and finished in a superior tasteful style replete with convenience and contains a spacious entrance hall, neat morning room,well proportioned dining room, handsome drawing room , 4 best and 3 secondary chambers, dressing room, water closet, good kitchen, washhouse, footman's pantry, china closet, cool dairy and larder, ample cellaring, capital three-stall stable, coach house, cow house, piggery, tool house etc. A neat lawn neatly encircles the residence which is embellished with shrubs. Basin of gold and silver fish etc. 15 acres of rich meadow land encircles the lawn about 5 acres of which form a pleasing eminence adorned with stately Abele* and other trees affording well-shaded walks commanding beautiful and extensive views and is partly stocked with fine full bearing fruit trees; an excellent vegetable garden well cropped, walled in, and clothed with fruit trees adjoining'
A view from the rear of Abele Grove house
A view from the rear of Abele Grove house.
Date and artist unknown.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

By 1830 it had been taken on by Webb Marratt Bennett after his marriage to Mary Pierce of Lindfield, Sussex during the preceding year. They were followed as tenants successively by Rev John Wellings, who died at Abele Grove in 1841, and Captain Peter Hunter.
In 1839 Mrs Pugh sponsored the Rev Benjamin Bradley Bockett's induction to the Vicarage of Epsom and three years later contributed money to the fund used to establish a new chapel of ease on Stamford Green: the vicar had married her niece Fanny Skinner Bramwell on 12 November 1829. When Mrs Sarah Pugh died on 19 May 1867 the main beneficiaries under her will were the Bockett's children.
From about 1847 up to 1895 the Holland family used it as their residence in Epsom but during 1895 Augustus Holland, landowner of St Mary's Uplyme, Devon, died and the following year Abele Grove was offered for sale with vacant possession. The published particulars included the following description: -
'It comprises an old-fashioned residence containing accommodation for a moderate family, with stabling, outbuildings, capital kitchen garden with several closes of ornamentally timbered park-like pasture land sloping to the south and east. The extent of the property is about18 and a half acres. In its present form it possesses, after the necessary outlay, all that can be desired for enjoyable occupation but,having a frontage of 1550 feet to the main road to Dorking, it is available for building operations which would, no doubt, prove most remunerative as there is a good demand for residences in this district.'
Plan from the 1896 Sale Particulars - click to enlarge
Plan from the 1896 Sale Particulars - click to enlarge
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Of note is a depiction on the plan of Abele Cottages within the curtilage fronting on to South Street. These premises are believed to have been built in the late seventeenth century but were renovated in 1896.1

Abele Cottages
Abele Cottages
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

The purchaser seems to have been Edward E. Tatham a Stock Jobber.
The real estate was again offered for sale in 1907 by auction as: -
'Attractive and compact freehold property in a rural and healthy position nearly 200 feet above sea. Comfortable old-fashioned residence containing ten bed and dressing rooms, bath, two staircases, three good sized reception, full sized billiard room and ample offices. Stabling for five. Lovely old pleasure ground, lawns, wooded grove, romantic dell, kitchen gardens etc., in all about 6 acres. Valuable main road frontage.'
There are indications that by 1908 the house had become a rest home which are supported by an advertisement from 21 July 1914: -
'Aged or infirm Ladies or Gentlemen carefully looked after. Comfortable rooms. Large Grounds. Trained nurses. Inclusive terms. Abele Grove, Epsom'
It held licences to operate as a private mental institution up to 1914 but may have closed during WWI.

On 19 January 1920 the property was reported to be standing empty pending sale : -
'The freehold known as Abele Grove, Epsom, is a house in the Georgian style with nearly seven acres including a meadow'
Subsequently Henry John Delaforce of the family of port wine merchants lived at Abele Grove up to 1928. He is assumed to have installed blue and white tile panels - in the porch, of the Virgin Mary and, inside, two more showing a merchant ship and grape-harvesting - produced by the Carvalhino factory in Porto. [Images may be viewed at www.tilesoc.org.uk ]

The building then became The Convent of the Sacred Hearts up to 1992ii. [for further details see The Sacred Hearts Convent, Epsom: A Past History Remembered by Mary McInally] In 1997 it was converted to The Haywain public house.

Detail from the tile picture in the doorway of The Haywain, dating back to the Convent period
Detail from the tile picture in the doorway of The Haywain,
dating back to the Convent period
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2011


English Heritage Listed Buildings Grade II

iNos. 58 to 62 (even) Abele Cottages
SOUTH STREET, EPSOM (West Side) Listing NGR: TQ2060760314

Late c17 - c18. (Date panelling refers to alterations). Two storeys, red brick ground floor, roughcast upper floor. Plain eaves. Old tile roof hipped to left side, two flat topped dormers. Slightly lower part to right with one window and dormer.

iiConvent of The Sacred Heart and Perpetual Adoration including railings to front.
DORKING ROAD, EPSOM (North Side) Listing NGR: TQ2053360239

Early c19. Two storeys, stucco, 1 - 3 - 1 sash windows in architrave surrounds, the central one blocked, the others with jalousies [slatted blinds or shutters]. Central portico with square piers. Central part has hipped slate roof, outer parts also with hipped slate roofs. Original railings in front, with urn finials, piers with anthemia finials. [Classical motif based upon the honeysuckle and with inward pointing lobes]


Brian Bouchard © 2010
Member of Leatherhead and District Local History Society


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