Down Hall

Burgh Heath Road, Epsom

Down Hall in 2012Grove House
Down Hall in 2012
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2012

English Heritage Listing Grade II

Early C19. Two storeys, stock brick. Upper floor has three French casements opening on to a balcony on Doric columns with frieze and cornice and with cast iron railing. Central doorcase with semi-circular fanlight. Bowed windows to each side of door. Modillioned eaves, flat pitched hipped slate roof. Listing NGR: TQ2171859821

John Forth

John Forth Advert 1
John Forth Advert 1

As may be seen from the preceding advertisement, John Forth, a racehorse trainer from Yorkshire, maintained establishments in and outside London. On 23 May 1809 Edward Harris Esq of Upper Barley Street, Cavendish Square, Marylebone, Middlesex, sold John Forth of Oxford Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, stable keeper, land at Epsom (described in SHCOL_4537), for £1943-15s. Here he set up Down Hall, otherwise 'House', racing stables and Stud. Births & deaths of some of his children appear in the registers of St Martin of Tours Parish Church from 1810 onwards.

The marriage of Clarissa Forth [born 18 February 1797, baptised, at Egham, 12 March 1797], on 22 July 1819 at New Church, Marylebone, was announced in the British Register:- "Mr. Chas. P. Bartley, of Duke-street, Grosvenor-square, to Miss C. Forth, of Down Hall, Epsom."

Before 1824 Forth had erected a new 'hunting box' at Down Hall as evidenced by the following advertisement for sale which appeared in The Times on 14 June in that year. -
John Forth Advert 2
John Forth Advert 2
Source The Times 14 June

He, the vendor, was no doubt the 'celebrated sporting character of the turf'.

The following information given by Henry Pownall must have been out of date, therefore, when his book, Some particulars relating to the history of Epsom, was published in 1825: -
"Passing the house of John Jackson, Esq., on the right, and a cottage adjoining, belonging to James Gibson, Esq., the road continues by Down Hall, the residence of the Earl of Oxford, a building indicating comfort rather than splendour. Behind this mansion are the stables appropriated for training race horses, under the care of Mr. Forth, whose knowledge is held in high' estimation by the fanciers of the turf. Adjoining to these stables are those occupied by Mr. Farrall, the clerk of the race course, and which are likewise appropriated for race horses. Beyond Farrall's, the road continues on the south east to Banstead, by Nork, the seat of the Right Honourable Lord Arden, and to the south it terminates on the downs, where the horse races are annually held".
The tenant would have been Edward Harley, 5th Earl of Oxford & Earl Mortimer (1773-1848). His wife, Elizabeth Jane Scott, one of Byron's lovers, gave birth to several children by other fathers earning her offspring the nickname "The Harleian Miscellany".

John Forth moved on to train at Michel Grove but retained stabling in Ashtead; his patron became Mr. W. G. R. Gratwicke, an influential Sussex squire who lived at Ham, near Worthing.

In 1826 Phantom threw a bay colt to Little John, which on
"the advice of Mr. Forth was entered for the Derby of under the nomenclature of Frederick; and as every one who is acquainted with turf history knows, he won the Derby, trained and ridden by Forth, whose own horse Exquisite was second - the only two placed in a field of sixteen; and it is a fact unprecedented, that a gentleman should with only one mare at the stud, and with only one horse in training, and that the produce of this solitary brood mare, win the Derby with his first nomination."
Frederick, winner of the 1829 Epsom Derby. Jockey John Forth. Painting by John Frederick Herring Sr.
Frederick, winner of the 1829 Epsom Derby.
Jockey John Forth. Painting by John Frederick Herring Sr. (1795-1865).
Image source Wikipedia

For the Derby race of 1829, "The Downs were as hard as a McAdamized road, and old Forth, by keeping his horses quiet on the nice bed of down at Michel Grove, had a wonderful advantage over the others. The race was run in very quick time, and old Forth on Frederick just won by a head from young Buckle on The Exquisite: fifteen others ran in the group, completely enveloped in dust". 'Daddy' Forth, claimed to have been the oldest jockey to have ridden a winner in the Derby, aged over 60. He does not, however, appear to have been a sexagenarian then by reference to the age given on his tombstone as noted below.

In later years John Forth became embroiled in controversy and regarded as somewhat unscrupulous. For the 1844 Derby, one Lichtwald, a German horse-dealer, sent over a horse called Leander, who broke his leg in running, while racing against Mr. A. Goodman's Running Rein, who came in first. Leander was subsequently proved to have been more than three years old and Messrs. Lichtwald, his owners, were 'declared for ever disqualified from entering or running any horse in their own name, or the name of any other person, at any race where the rules and regulations of the Jockey Club are recognized' According to The Bye-Lanes, Downs of England, and Turf Scenes and characters, published in 1850: -
"Old Forth's 'Pot' a terrific cauldron! boiled over, and scalded the whole stable! The German nag, that ran in the names of Mynheer, Lychwaldt, and of any age you pleased, over four, broke his leg in the race, and was buried at Ashtead on the sly. But, a jolly gang of revellers, who were celebrating the 'Oaks' victory, at John Scott's, at Leatherhead, headed by poor little Charley Robinson, resolved upon looking into the dead horse's mouth, and disinterred him for the purpose. But, when they came to the stiffened corpse of the veteran, lo! and behold, his lower-jaw was gone! Old Forth being rather too wide awake to leave even this remote chance of the damning evidence of his age to be brought against him."
Old Forth had been succeeded at Michel Grove by his son Henry Townsend Forth. In 1844, following the scandal, it was announced the latter was to dispose of his training tackle by auction, 'being about to relinquish the craft of a public trainer'.

On 4 February 1848, John Forth died at Oxford Street, Hyde Park, aged 74, 'after a long and painful illness' [reg. Marylebone 3/1848]. He had accumulated, one way or another, considerable wealth and in his Will, proved 23 June 1848 [PROB 11/2076], had been described as 'Gentleman of Saint Marylebone'. His son, H T Forth, survived only until 1852 [reg. Staines in March Quarter], but three daughters, Louisa, Martha and Christiana, lived rather longer - before being returned to Epsom for interment in the family grave.

The Memorial Inscription 58 on an Altar Tomb in St Martin's churchyard has been transcribed as :-

East Side
Also to the Memory of Louisa EVANS Second daughter of the above
JOHN & HANNAH FORTH and Wife of WILLIAM EVANS of London &
Chertsey who died on the 27th day of January 1880 Aged 79 years.

North Side - Blank

West Side
Sacred to the Memory of HANNAH, the Beloved Wife of MR. JOHN FORTH;
Obiit the 31st of May 1825 Aetat 56.

Also to the Memory of MR. JOHN FORTH,
Obiit the 4th of February 1848, Aetat 74

Also to the memory of CLARISSA wife of CHARLES PITT BARTLEY, Esq.,
of Somerset Street, Portman Square, and eldest daughter of the
above who departed this life January 3rd 1830, Aetat 32.

Also to the Memory of MATILDA Third Daughter of the above
who departed this life December 3rd 1836, Aetat 35.

South Side
JULIANA KATE FORTH Born 17th Septr. 1809 Departed this Life 27th Janry. 1810.

ANNA MIRA FORTH Born 2nd Janry. 1814.
Departed This Life 23rd Janry. 1818.
Suffer little children to come unto me
And forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of God.
Luke Chap.18: Verse 16.

Top
Sacred to the Memory of HANNAH, the beloved Wife of MR. JOHN FORTH
Obiit 31st. May 1825 Aetat 56.

Also to the Memory of MR. JOHN FORTH Obiit 4th February 1848 Aetat 74.

Also MARTHA Fourth Daughter of the above JOHN and HANNAH FORTH
who died on the 14th day of November 1869, Aged 64 years.

Also CHRISTIANA Fifth daughter of the above JOHN and HANNAH FORTH
who died on the 24th day of October 1876, Aged 65 years.

Edmund Lechmere Charlton

The purchaser of Down Hall premises seems to have been Edmund Lechmere-Charlton of Ludford Park, Herefordshire, Whitton Court, Shropshire and Hanley Castle, Worcestershire, who had succeeded to the Charlton Estates in Shropshire upon the demise of his father Nicholas Lechmere Charlton, Colonel of Worcestershire Militia, in 1807. Both house and stables appear to have been let.

On 27 March 1827, the Hon. and Rev. Edward Moore, youngest son of late and brother of then Earl of Mount Cashell, married the Hon. Matilda Trefusis, daughter of late and sister of then Lord Clinton. Their daughter, Louisa Fanny Matilda Moore, had been christened on 26 Feb 1828 at Headley, Surrey. A son was delivered at Down Hall, 20 November 1828, but only lived for a day as shown by a memorial plaque in St Martins to:- EDWARD ROBERT MOORE Died 21st Novr. 1828.

The Hall is also mentioned in Charles Greville's memoirs -
11 June 1829 -
"I have been at Epsom for a week; the Duke of Grafton, Lords Wilton, Jersey, and Worcester, Russell, Anson, Irby, and myself took Down Hall for the races and lived very well. Nothing particular has occurred."
Lechmere-Charlton had qualified as a Barrister, was a patron of one living and a moderate reformer, who sat as MP for Ludlow from January 1835 until 1837. He appeared on behalf of himself and other petitioners in the matter of the Ludlow charities before a Master in Chancery. After the hearing Mr. Charlton wrote to the Master a letter, not only offensive, but seeking to influence his conduct in the pending suit. Lord Chancellor Cottenham committed Mr. Charlton to the Fleet prison, and a Committee of Privileges of the House of Commons acquiesced in the detention of the honourable member. Thereafter he retired from politics and died during 1845 [reg. Ludlow in June Quarter].

Edmund Lechmere - Charlton, Esq., had come to represent the two families of Lechmere and Charlton. Arms - Quarterly; first and fourth, or, a lion rampant, gu. for Charlton. Second and third, gu. a fess between three pelicans or, vulning their breasts ppr. for Lechmere. Crest - A leopard's head front faced, gu. for Charlton. Out of a ducal coronet, a pelican, vulning itself, ppr.

Charles George Webber

In Mar 1830 Edmund Lechmere Charlton of Ludford Park, Hereford, had sold to Thomas Francis Gastineau of Camberwell and William Young of the City of London, trustees for Charles George Webber and his wife Louisa, the mansion house called Down Hall, with surrounding freehold and copyhold estates, in Epsom. Webber was an 'Oporto Merchant', partner in Messrs Offley Webber and Forrester, port wine importers. Charlton had also separated and previously disposed of some other copyhold plots from this estate.

The premises were insured on 23 November 1830 by William Young, presumed to be a lessee.

William Morgan

In 1838, by the direction of the Webbers, Down Hall with the freehold and copyhold estates was sold to Charles Morgan and William Mariner, who were acting as trustees for William Morgan and his wife Ellin.

George James Clifton was appointed trustee in place of Charles Morgan in 1842. On 15 July 1842 Mariner and Clifton, at the direction of Ellin Morgan, conveyed the Down Hall estate to George William Burford of Chigwell, Essex. In August 1842 a treaty was made for the repurchase from Burford of the Down Hall estate, by Mariner and Clifton on behalf of Morgan and his wife [overall, possibly an arrangement to raise money akin to a mortgage].

The 1843 Tithe map shows the premises in William Morgan's ownership spread over plots 1427-9 & 1434-6. They were then occupied by Henry Stubbs.

Down Hall on the Epsom Tithe Map - Click to enlarge
Down Hall on the Epsom Tithe Map - Click to enlarge

In 1844 Mariner and Clifton, at the direction of Morgan and his wife, sold the estate to Thomas Drake Bainbridge of Holborn, Middlesex.

Thomas Drake Bainbridge


This purchaser had been born on 8th November 1805, and became a fellow commoner of Trinity College, Cambridge. Having joined the 82nd Regiment as an Ensign he returned India in 1827 owing to ill health. Subsequently described as 'of Croydon Lodge', he married Hester M Rickards at All Souls, Langham Place on 22 April 1830. Sir Allen Young, T D Bainbridge, and T Y C Bainbridge, his son, carried on business as corn-distillers & rectifiers under the style of 'Anderson & Young' in Holborn.

Thomas Drake Bainbridge of 25 Holborn, Middlesex, was admitted to the copyhold lands in Oct 1844, and they were enfranchised by the lord of the manor in the following year.

Between 1851 and 1856 John Edward Bovill, a corn factor and merchant of Milford Lane, Strand, and of Epsom, Surrey, who had married Priestly-May Collyer at Croydon in 1850, occupied the house. Five children from their union appear in the register of christenings for St Martin's church. The Bovills moved on to Sondes Place, Dorking, where John died on 13 June 1882.

C J Swete, in A hand-book of Epsom, 1860, reported: - Down Hall, the residence of T. D. Bainbridge, Esq., stands on the south-east side of Epsom, and commands one of the best views of the town, while beyond it stretch the noble Downs, and extensive ranges of richly diversified scenery.

Bainbridge died at Down Hall, Epsom, 8 February 1870 and was buried in St Martin's churchyard on 12 February.

Tomb 632
Sacred to the memory of THOMAS DRAKE BAINBRIDGE ESQ. of Down Hall, Epsom,
who died 8th February 1870 in the 64th year of his Age. Requiescat in pace

The 1871 census showed only a housekeeper there.

As directed by the will of Thomas Drake Bainbridge, the Down Hall estate was sold in February 1872 to Lt.- Col. James Hornby Buller of Farnham, and the mortgage redeemed. In the conveyance the property is described as: Down Hall, and 2 pieces of meadow or pasture land at the rear towards the north, formerly several pieces of land lying interspersed but since thrown together, bounded on the east by the High Road from Banstead to Epsom and on the west by a road or bridle way; and also a piece of land used as a kitchen garden, opposite the above property, bounded on the west by the road leading from Reigate to Epsom and the south and east by a new road leading to Epsom town, 2r 18p, and formerly known as Down Hall Paddocks, and also a piece of land adjoining the Paddocks, being part of an old chalk pit containing 1r 28p; 9a 9p in all.

James Hornby Buller

Major James Hornby Buller, formerly 57th Regiment of Foot, then from the late Military Train, had become a Lieutenant-Colonel by purchase on 28 May 1870. He mortgaged the estate to Thomas Wynn Hornby on 11 March 1872.

Down Hall is the address given for James' first wife, Catherine Anne Buller, when she was buried in Epsom cemetery, aged 38, on 12 December 1874. She had died on the preceding 9 December and was the daughter of Sir William Williams, Bart. of Tregullon, Cornwall; she bore James a son and four daughters. Similarly James' mother, Elizabeth Buller, who died on 25 May 1875, aged 72, was in turn buried in the cemetery on 29 May. She had been living at Hampton Court, perhaps in a grace and favour lodgings.

In 1876 Buller purchased from the devisees in trust of the will of Caroline Harrison 50p (pole/perch = 5.5yards = 5.03m) in Straight Furlong Shot formerly used as a chalk pit, together with the 2 cottages erected on that land. [SHCOL_777]

In 1877 he took as a second wife Emily Augusta, daughter of Major Henry Dashwood, R.H.A. Lieutenant-Colonel James Hornby Buller, half-pay, late Military Train, was granted the honorary rank of Colonel, 28 September 1877 and became a member of H M Bodyguard.

James Hornby Buller died in 1895 and the following year his trustees and executors sold the Down Hall estate to John Tryon

John Tryon

Tryon was a Solicitor practising from 1 Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn. He withdrew from the partnership Burgess Taylor and Tryon on 12 March 1923.

Down Hall and lands were auctioned in 9 lots, 24 April 1923, on behalf of John Tryon The particulars and conditions of sale (which include photographs and a plan) describe the property as: Down Hall, Burgh Heath Road, Epsom, with 1½a of land and 8 eligible building plots, altogether comprising 7¼ a approximately. Part of the estate was sold to Brig-Gen Clement Carr Wrigley and Mrs Ethel Hay Wrigley. [SHCOL_777]

Clement Carr Wrigley

Mrs Wrigley was the daughter of Maj.-Gen. A R Lempriere who had married her husband during 1898.

Clement had been gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in The Royal Warwickshire Regiment in September 1889 and rose to become a Colonel in December 1914 and Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores, at the War Office, 1915. Having been awarded the honorary rank of Brigadier-General and created CB, he retired from the Army in 1922. [Obituary The Times 29 June 1934]

Down Hall
Down Hall
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall

Brian Bouchard © May 2012


Postscript: Since writing this article we have established that the Down Hall property was subject of two Fire Insurance Policies see Royal Exchange Insurance Policies:
MS 7253/61 Policy 242839 (showing that the stables were in use for training by John Forth before Christmas 1808)
MS 7253/63 Policy 251528 (showing that the house was built by 02 February 1810).


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