sometimes called Hookfield Grove or Hookfield Park
Hookfield shown on the 1866 OS Map - click image to enlarge
The house, lodge and stables are marked in red
The green area shows the approximate area of the estate.
It has been suggested that this area, bounded by Wheelers (formerly Summersgate) Lane, West (otherwise Clay) Hill and Stamford Green, derived its name from the fact that the site tapered to a point remaining as the Fair Green. Documents held in Surrey History Centre under reference K121/1-36, however, reveal that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries part of the area had been called 'Hook's two acres', 'Hook's Close' or simply 'Hookes' presumably after a copyholder prior to 1535. In the manorial survey of 1680 a messuage may be identified abutting on Stamford Hill.
A plan of Hookfield dated 1719 - click to enlarge
Various changes in the holdings were listed by the late Dr Hans Lehmann in The residential copyholders of Epsom at 11A 1-2, 11B1-2 & 11C 1-3.
On 24 May 1700, John Ward, merchant of London, paid £600 to settle a mortgage taken out by John Pinke and in return the property was transferred to John Ward and William Bucknall, a trustee. John Ward had married, 17 April 1684, Mary Bucknall daughter of Sir William Bucknall of Oxhey, Hereford.
John Ward, Alderman of London, (knighted 25 September 1714) "did, at his own cost, take down the said messuage or tenement, stables, coach houses and outhouses thereunto belonging or most part thereof, and on the toft and soil whereon the same stood and on the two closes of pasture ground and premises or on some part thereof did at his like costs erect one substantial capital brick messuage tenement or mansion house with coach houses, rooms, greenhouse and other buildings and converted those two closes of pasture ground most into garden ground or orcharding and some part thereof into a wilderness, and made several canals or fishponds on the said garden ground and orcharding, and planted the said ground with good trees, and built several brick walls and fences about the premises and made other considerable improvements thereupon."
The first house at Hookfield, one of the late 17th-century mansions built for London
merchants, was captured by the camera just in time before being demolished in 1858.
Sir John Ward of Clay Hill, Epsom and St Laurence Pountney, London, Lord Mayor of London 1718, died in 1726 before interment at St Mary Abchurch, London. By his will, dated 6 March 1725/6, proved 29 March 1726 the property was left to his wife and on her demise to his eldest son also called John Ward. The widowed Mary Ward lived on just until 2 May 1726. John Ward, junior, an East India Director, had his own seat at Squerries Court, Westerham, Kent. He, with William Bucknall, sold the Epsom real estate to Sir Randolph Knipe on 5/6 April 1727 for a total of £2500.
Randolph Knipe had married Sarah Letten at St Dionis Backchurch, London, 10 November 1698. An eminent 'Turkey Merchant', he was an Alderman for Bassishaw Ward and had been Sheriff of London in 1714. On 3 June 1728, he was found "drown'd and naked in one of his own fishponds near Epsom". An edition of The Daily Journal published two days later reported the tragic event as an accident: "having been induced to bathe himself and is supposed, by his being found sticking in the clay, to have slipt as he went into the water; his gown, shirt, and a couple of napkins were found by the side of the pond". Subsequently it was alleged that Sir Randolph had come under suspicion of fraud and had taken his own life. On 12 June 1728, his coffin was borne under a pall supported by six aldermen into St Botolph, Bishopsgate, for interment.
Sir Randolph's eldest son Edward had been christened at St Katherine Creechurch, London, on 15 September 1699. In accordance with his father's will proved 5 June 1728 the land in Epsom passed to the relict Dame Sarah Knipe.
Edward Knipe, Merchant of London, married Dorothy Lloyd, daughter of the Rev. Montague Lloyd D D, during 1735 when a Marriage Settlement was established. In 1742, Edward and Dorothy Knipe bought the Manor of Water Newton, Huntingdonshire - for £12,000 of which part was paid by the transfer of South Sea Bonds. Subsequently, this manor with the advowson was settled on Dorothy in tail male for Randolph Knipe (christened St George the Martyr, Holborn, 28 January 1736) who was then the only son and heir. This Randolph, however, died on 10 December 1760, in his father's lifetime.
Edward Knipe's demise is recorded as at Clay Hill, Epsom, buried St Martin's 24 April 1786, followed by probate of the will of Dorothy Knipe, widow of Epsom, on 12 June 1794 [She had also been interred in St Martin's churchyard during that month]. After his mother's death, Edward Knipe, junior, (born circa 1744) came into possession of both Water Newton and the real estate in Epsom.
Hookfield Grove estate plan of 1811 - click to enlarge
Reproduced by permission of Surrey History Centre, © Surrey History Centre 2010
The younger Edward Knipe appears to have been a Steward involved in the original article of agreement for Epsom races in 1778. He married Caroline Western, 4th daughter of the late Thomas Western and Jane, nee Calvert, of Abington Hall, Cambridgeshire, at Bath on 21 June 1794. There seem to have been no issue from this union. Edward died in 1825 before burial, aged 81, at St Martin's on 28 October of that year. Caroline Knipe retained Hookfield Grove until her death at Bath, 14 November 1837. [Interred St Martin's, Epsom, aged 68, 24 November 1837]
Brayley states in a description of Epsom parish church from a Topographical History of Surrey (1850) that: -
About the middle of the [south]wall, is a large and handsome white marble mural tablet to the memory of EDWARD KNIPE, esq., of Hookfield-grove in this parish, who died on the 19th of October, 1825, in his eighty-second year;-of Caroline, his widow, daughter of Thos. Western, esq., of Abington-hall, Cambridgeshire, who died November 14th, 1837;-and of other members of his family.
This had been placed at the level of a gallery which was subsequently removed.
The Knipe tablet in St Martin's Church - click image to enlarge
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2010
Randolph Richard Knipe, born about 1773, had been presented to the Rectory of Water Newton by Edward Knipe in 1807. His parents were Robert of New Lodge, Berkhampstead, [Will made at Epsom 31 December 1725, died 6 September 1796] and Jane Knipe nee Davis. Documents held at the Surrey History Centre, under reference 6632/2, show that Edward was Randolph Richard Knipe's cousin. The latter's marriage to Harriott, daughter of the late Thomas Willard of 'East Bourne' took place on 27 February 1810; she died on 30 September 1840.
A life interest in Hookfield Grove and Water Newton had been provided under the Will of Edward Knipe for Caroline Knipe, his relict. Caroline died on 14 November 1837; her Will, as 'widow of Epsom', proved 15 February 1838 made only a specific legacy for the Rev R. R. Knipe.
The estates at Hookfield, Epsom, and Water Newton had been intended to be passed down to a son of Edward Knipe or failing that to a son of his brother Samuel but both appear to have died without male issue. By default, therefore, the inheritance went over to their cousin Rev. Randolph Richard Knipe for his life and then his son.
Consequently, in the 1843 tithe award for Epsom his name appears as owner, with John Winstanley the occupier, of Hookfield Grove [Winstanley had been enumerated there with his family in 1841].
Rev. Randolph Richard Knipe, having become Lord of the Manor of Water Newton, resigned his position as Rector of that parish in favour of his son Randolph, junior, 1846. Hookfield Grove was sold during1858 before Rev. R. R. Knipe died at Bath in 1859, aged 86.
The younger Rev. Randolph Knipe, Rector of Water Newton, married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Rev. Wm. Wing, Rector of Stibbington, the neighbouring parish, during 1867. His death, aged 57, was registered for the September Quarter 1873 at Peterborough before the Water Newton estate was sold off in 1874.
There are the following monuments in the chancel of the church of St Remigius at Water Newton:- Caroline Knipe, d. 1832; Harriot Jane Knipe, d. 1833, and William Knipe, infant, d. 1824; Harriot wife of the Rev. Randolph Richard Knipe, d. 1840; Frances Knipe, d. 1844; Frances wife of Edward Samuel Knipe, d. 1844; the Rev. Randolph Richard Knipe, Rector, d. 1859; the Rev. Randolph Knipe, Rector, d. 1873, and Elizabeth his widow, d. 1908.
C J Swete remarked in A handbook of Epsom (1860):- "Lastly we would mention the demesne of Hookfield Grove, the residence of James Levick, Esq., on Clay Hill. The house, which is a noble building, stands in an extensive park, whose beautiful home-views it commands at the north-west side. The ranges of glass and a beautiful conservatory render it, with its own architectural advantages a most conspicuous object. It stands on the site of the mansion which Toland speaks of, when he says 'Sir J. Ward's is a noble palace on Clay Hill'. The house which Mr. Levick removed to make way for the present building was inhabited by the family of Knipe, of whom many curious traditions are handed down. It is told that they were remarkable for the luxury of their living."
James Levick of West Hill House, a colonial merchant operating in partnerships established in Australia and South Africa, had acquired the old house during 1858 to pull it down and build a "large and commodious mansion" in white Suffolk brick on a site higher up the hill. Facing the Fair Green, part of the red-brick wall around the earlier buildings was retained and survives to the present day.
On 9 August 1867, James's wife Averilda Levick died at Hookfield Grove aged 48 [reg. Epsom 9/1867]. He sold the estate to Isaac Braithwaite during the following year.
James Levick, moved to Hill House, Streatham Common, before remarrying during 1870 [reg. Kingston 9/1870] He migrated to Australia in 1871. Described as 'formerly of Hookfield, Epsom,' his death was recorded at Hunters Hill, Sydney, NSW, on 12 November 1884 aged 68.
Isaac Braithwaite, of Hookfield Grove, Epsom, was partner in Foster and Braithwaite, of London, Stockbrokers , born at Kendal 6 July, 1810, and died at Hastings 26 January, 1890 He had married, 10 March 1840, Louisa, daughter of John Masterman of Leyton, Essex, banker, D.C.L., Oxon, 1848, M.P. City of London, 1841-57. His wife died 22 December 1886, having had 5 sons and 4 daughters.
Basil Braithwaite inherited Hookfield Grove, Surrey. He had been born 7 February, 1845 married, 17 July 1872, Rosamond Augusta, daughter of Augustus William Gadsden of Ewell Castle, Surrey, by his wife Emma, daughter of John Barkworth of Tranby House, Yorkshire. He died 26 September 1918.
Interred in Epsom Cemetery: -
||Age at Death
||Place of Death
||Date of Burial
||Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey
||2 October 1918
On offer for sale in 1919, the freehold had been described as consisting of 15 bedrooms, two bathrooms, two dressing rooms and 5 reception rooms, large entrance hall then used as a billiard room, handsome winter gardens etc. together with lovely gardens and parkland, farming, stabling, garage, lodge and cottages - 44 acres. In addition there was White House Farm with Murrays Meadows - 60 acres of pasture land - this real estate lay to the south of the railway, behind The Elms and Abele Grove, with access to the Dorking Road.
Subsequently, Basil Braithwaite's Trustees conveyed Hookfield Grove to Walter James Purdy, 19 Bolingbroke Grove, Wandsworth Common, Surrey.
Henry John and Frank Ernest Roll, builders, of High street, Epsom, acquired the mansion house with pasture plantations, cottages, stables, and pleasure grounds (44.5 acres of land) for £25,000 from Purdy (who moved to Ashley Court, Ashtead Woods Road, Ashtead) on 9 March 1932.
After the area around it came to be developed in 1937 the old mansion was put to use as Hookfield Park Hotel, advertised as 'Epsom's Best Residential Hotel' in about 4 acres of lovely grounds. In the late 1950s the building came to be pulled down for the development of houses in a cul-de-sac, Lindsay Close.
1 Hookfield, the former lodge to Hookfield House, survives. It is Grade II listed as:- 'Stock brick. Pitched slate roof, with very overhanging eaves on elaborate brackets. One storey. Cruciform plan, with central chimney with dentilled cornice. One canted bay window at end of each arm, and casements with glazing bars in sides'.
The former stable block, 23 -25 West Hill, has been converted for residential use and named Hookfield Mews.