Hylands House

Hylands House in 2010
Hylands House in 2010
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2010

Sir William Stewart undertook development of the Hylands estate on land that had belonged to the New Inn after 17 October 1716. When his death was recorded at the Court Baron on 29 June 1723 he had been in occupation of a recently built messuage with outbuildings, yards, gardens and appurtenances, and held another that had been let. These properties later became known respectively as Hylands House and Hylands/Whitmores. Both houses were disposed of by his executors on 17 December 1724 to Micajah Perry of London, merchant. Perry sold on the larger house, former residence of Sir William Stewart, 4 December 1734, to John Starke of London.

John Starke's father, Thomas, had been a tobacco trader with Virginia and Maryland who also engaged in the slave trade. Thomas Starke died in February 1705/6 leaving most of his substantial estate to his only surviving son, John, [Baptised at St Dunstans in the East 13 May 1685]. Legal disputes arose which dragged on for years. Having returned from Chesapeake, John Starke embarked on a voyage to the "East Indies": he married Martha Empson at Fort St George, Madras, 20 April 1713. Their son who was baptised Richard, at Madras 6 July 1720, became a civil servant in India from 1735: sometime Upper-Searcher in Cuddalore Customs House, he was appointed Deputy Governor of Port St. George for a short period in 1752, and thereafter Deputy Governor of Fort St. David until 1756 when he resigned on account of his supercession by Robert Clive (the famous 'Clive of India'). In the following year he came home accompanied by his brother, John, who had also been in the East India Company service.

Listed as an Allegation for Marriage Licence, 29 June 1759, one finds: - Richard Starke of Bansted, abode 2 months, Esq., bachelor, 38, and Mary Hughes of Bansted, abode 7 years, spinster, 23; at Bansted. John Hughes of Bansted, Esq. Subsequently the marriage was announced as between Richard Starke, late Governor of Fort St David's1 in the East Indies and son of John Starke of Ewel (sic) to the eldest daughter of Isaac Hughes, merchant in Crutched Friars.

Many of the following details are derived from a summary at 3C2 in Dr H L Lehmann's The residential copyholds of Epsom.

John Starke's wife Martha may have died in India because a second spouse called Honour was buried in plot 158 of the churchyard of St Mary's Ewell, aged 55, in 1757. John joined her there having died on 4 April 1765 in his 80th year. A third wife and relict, Ann, mentioned in his will, 'departed this life' aged 68 on 16 November 1774 and was laid to rest nearby in plot 149. The messuage which had been erected as a seat for Sir William Stewart was left in the will [proved 26 April 1765 PROB 11/908] of John Starke of Ewell, Esq., merchant, to his son Richard Starke Esq. Richard had been a former Governor of Fort St George, Madras (now Chennai) who was then living in it, and who was admitted to the copyhold on 21 Oct. 1765.
[LINK to https://leghornmerchants.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/richard-starke/ ]

Headstone of Honor and John StarkeHeadstone of Ann Starke
Headstone of Honor and John Starke (l) and Ann Starke (r) in 2010
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2010

Richard Starke, late of Pisa, Italy, died in 1794 to be buried in the Old English Cemetery, Livorno2, central Italy. By his will dated 26 May 1790, he left the property to his wife Mary Starke, nee Hughes, in trust. Because his son Lieut. Col. Richard Isaac Starke inherited from his grandfather a considerable fortune, which ought to have come to the testator, he directed his wife to pay to the son £500 and no more as proof of his affection, and bequeathed to his daughters Mariana and Louisa Starke the messuage, together with the freehold land thereunto belonging. Miss Louisa Starke died in Nice on 18 April 1792.

Richard Starke's Tomb, Livorno
Richard Starke's Tomb, Livorno
Image courtesy of Matteo Giunti and the Leghorn Merchant Networks Project © 2010

Mrs Mary Starke was admitted to possession of the copyhold on 1 Nov. 1794. On 21 May 1804, when of Exmouth, Devon, widow, she obtained a licence to let the property to James Gubbins of Surrey Street, Strand, Middx., surveyor, for 21 years, and on 12 Jan. 1805 she transferred the messuage together with the freehold land, now in the occupation of James Gubbins, to her daughter Mariana Starke [travel writer,1761/2-1838, died at Milan on her journey from Naples to England] of Exmouth, spinster. On 21 Oct. 1805 Mariana Starke obtained a new licence to let for 21 years. Mrs Mary Starke, widow of R Starke, Esq. 'of Highlands near Epsom' died on 13 April 1816 in her 81st year at Exmouth. Hylands House, late in the occupation of James Gubbins, then of John Talver, was surrendered by Mariana, on 27 May 1817, to her brother Richard Isaac Starke of Laugharne Castle, Carmarthen, Esq.

Lieut Colonel Starke of 2nd Life Guards had, in 1798, married Elizabeth Ravenscroft, owner of Laugharne Castle. The Starke family had the old Castle House, which was probably built in about 1730, modified and altered around 1810. Richard Isaac Starke sold Hylands House, Epsom, late in the occupation of John Talver, Esq., subsequently of Joseph Kilner, Esq., then of George Pearkes Barclay, Esq., to George Pearkes Barclay for £2000 on 7 April 1825.

[Barclay3 was the second son of George Barclay of Burford House, Westhumble - sometime Sub-governor of Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation amongst other things.]

A number of the names mentioned earlier appear in Henry Pownall's Some particulars relating to the history of Epsom, published in 1825:
"...we approach the south-west entrance into Epsom; at the commencement of which, about half a mile from the town, to the right of the turnpike road from Dorking to Epsom, stands Mr. Steele's Academy; adjoining is a large house, lately occupied by Mr. Kilner, but now by Robert Barclay, Esq. It was formerly the seat of Governor Starke, and subsequently of Lady Duckingfield4; from the back of the house, are some delightful views of the downs, Woodcote, and surrounding country."
Robert Barclay was a Director of Royal Exchange Assurance but a family relationship to George Pearkes Barclay has not been determined. The latter, 'of Epsom', conveyed Hylands House to Nathaniel Alexander of Epsom, Esq. on 1 Sep. 1842 for £1900.

In A handbook of Epsom, under Gentlemen's Seats, C J Swete remarks: -
"At the entrance to Epsom on the Dorking road is a large and handsome house of red brick, standing in its grounds... It now belongs to Nathaniel Alexander, Esq., who resides there. The garden front looks over the lovely country around Woodcote, commanding sweet views. In the pleasure grounds there is a noble specimen of the Spanish laburnum, which is quite a picture in its flowering season, when, clothed with blossoms of great size which completely hide its trunk, it presents its contrast to the foliage of its neighbours."
On 8 December 1875 a petition in bankruptcy was presented against Nathaniel Alexander, Brice Hugh Pearse, and Alexander Collie, all of 23 Great Winchester Street in the City of London, East India merchants and agents, trading in co-partnership under the style or firm of N. Alexander Son & Co., and Robert Palmer Harding of 8 Old Jewry, accountant, was appointed trustee, and admitted to the property, which he surrendered to Henrietta Frances Scott of Epsom, widow, who had bought it from him at an auction on 19 Nov. 1875 for £3400, £3200 for the copyhold messuage, £200 for the freehold land.

Nathaniel Alexander died at Epsom, in his 84th year, on 14 October 1880. The 1881 Census reveals that Sophia Alexander, 80, widow of merchant, headed the household at this property on the Dorking Road. Her daughter, Henrietta F Scott, 47, born Calcutta [6 August 1833] (British Subject), widow of BCS Civilian is listed with other members of the family and servants. [Mrs Scott's husband had been Robert James Scott, Bengal C S, son of Lieut. Gen Scott, R A, whose demise at Epsom, aged 41, was recorded in November 1864.]

Sophia Charlotte, widow of the late Nathaniel Alexander died at Hylands House, aged 82, on 29 April 1883. On 30 Sep. 1884 Henrietta Frances Scott obtained a licence to rebuild certain of the outbuildings, and on 28 Oct. 1886 she mortgaged the property, now in the occupation of Thomas Townsend Bucknill, to Henry Hales Playdell Bouvery and John Lloyd Pierce for £1500. On 19 Jun. 1894 Henrietta Frances Scott, now of 65 Denbigh Street in the County of London, had the property enfranchised. Her death aged 65 was registered at Chelsea for the March Quarter of 1899.

Sir Thomas Townsend Bucknill (18 April 1845 - 4 October 1915), QC and Judge, had been MP for Epsom and Ewell 1892 - 1899. He died at Epsom in Hylands House, Epsom, aged 70, after a long period of bad health. He was the second son of the well-known doctor, Sir J C Bucknill, FRS, who, from 1862 to 1876, acted as one of the Lord Chancellor's Visitors in Lunacy.

The late Cloudesley S Willis produced a detailed description for Old houses in Epsom, Ewell and Cuddington published in Surrey Archaeological Collections Vol. 51, 1950: -
" Hylands House. This is the central house of a group of three, facing north-north-west in Dorking Road, until lately named respectively Hylands, The Hylands and Hylands House. It is a gracious house in form and colour, and stands back with a circular drive enclosed by wrought-iron railings with vases, and brick walls pierced by garden doorways, and over the doorways are stone vases. In front a row of pollarded lime trees border the road leading up to Epsom Common.

It is an early Georgian house, three storeys high with an attic above, which has been re-roofed, and it is built of red brick with yellow brick dressings. The front breaks back at the ends and it has two angular bays carried up two storey; there is a cut brick cornice below a parapet and below the second-floor windows a string-course which is carried round the bays as a cornice. The bold wooden doorway has fluted Corinthian pilasters and an entablature carved with modillions and foliage; over this is a round-headed window. The frames of the sash-windows are slightly recessed. The garden front corresponds, but with one bay onlv, and the window-frames are flush with the wall; the wooden doorway has an entablature supported on trusses. In the entrance-hall there is a heavy moulded plaster cornice, and an arch marking the division from the inner hall, which contains the main staircase. This wooden staircase has an open string and carved brackets on the ends of the treads decorated with rosettes; it has twisted balusters and a moulded oak handrail with breaks in the ramps; on the staircase wall is a panelled dado. The west ground-floor front room contains a moulded marble chimney-surround without a shelf, a glazed china-cupboard, box shutters with raised panels and a heavy moulded cornice. The east front room is similar with foliage on the plaster cornice. The drawing room on the first floor extends the full depth of the house and is lighted from a bay at each end. There is a quantity of joinery of later dates in the house; and there is evidence that the principal rooms were panelled in pine, but that this has been removed except in the dining room. On the third floor are bedrooms fitted with inside shutters that slide back on the face of the wall; and there is a marble chimney-piece without shelf and a late I8th-century hob-grate with a pierced fret."
Earlier, in SAC Vol. 48 from 1942/3, Mr Willis had remarked on the external ironwork: -
"In those days the iron came to the smith in roughly rolled bars which had to be made even and 'drawn down' to the required section, often showing the hammer marks; these irregularities - the touch of the craftsman's hand - and the almost imperceptible differences of size and setting-out gave to old ironwork a variety and quality that modern work made from evenly rolled bars never possesses.

This quality may be seen at Hylands House in Dorking Road, a house of about the first quarter of the 18th century. The forecourt is enclosed by carriage-gates and railings on a dwarf wall with stone coping, finishing with scrolled iron buttresses against brick piers having stone caps. The railings are 3 feet 6 inches high and of varying sizes about 1 inch square, with square-section tapered spike heads and swages; the standards are 2 inches square, stayed, and with cast-iron flask-shaped vases. A pair of similar carriage gates, with arrow-head dog-bars and a scrolled lozenge-shaped finial on the shutting style, are hung on four-sided piers decorated with four similar vases and dog-bars." [Compare report on The Hylands/Whitmores]
As noted above, at the end of the last century Hylands House had been occupied by the Hon. Sir Thomas T. Bucknill #; in 1950 it was in the possession of Mr. Cecil Miliar.

The initials HW or WH have been incorporated into ironwork cresting gates into the forecourt but their significance has not been established.

The property is listed Grade II* "Circa 1740. Three storeys, stock brick with red brick facings Five tall narrow sash windows, with outer ones to each side of half width. Two later 2 storey canted brick bays with cornice and blocking course in similar style to house replacing two windows each, each side of the centre. Central Corinthian fluted pilastered doorcase having ornamental panel of foliage between the capitals, frieze with shield and moulded dentilled cornice. Central 1st floor window with round head, plain band surround of rubbed brick with stone key and archivolts, stone cill and brackets; similar flat arched window 2nd floor. Bands between storeys, angle quoins, cornice, panelled parapet. Flat topped mansard elate roofed attic to top floor with three sash windows, Interior. Original staircase with open string, carved brackets and twisted balusters. West ground floor room has marble chimneypiece and glazed china cupboard, panelled walls. East front room also with marble chimneypiece. C18 rails in poor condition to forecourt."

During October 2007, this property was offered for sale with a guide price of £2.25 million The house had been described as provided with three bedrooms in the main part of the building in addition to accommodation sectioned off into four self-contained flats and with a separate guest cottage that formerly housed the servants. Its then owners were reported to have lived there for five years after managing to buy it from a friend who had been resident for the previous quarter century.

# A description of Mr. Justice Sir Thomas Townsend Bucknill's home appeared in The Launceston Examiner, Tasmania, 4 March 1899: -
"Hylands House, a fine old-fashioned residence, is built entirely of red brick in the Elizabethan style. The large square entrance hall is charming. The walls are hung with stags' heads - not shot, your host will tell you with characteristic humour, by himself. There are also some ancient weapons and some engravings; one, a proof impression of Ladas, the Derby winner in 1894, and Mat Dawson, his trainer, was presented to the judge by Lord Rosebery. There are some fine carved oak chests here, and a carved oak hall table. Ornithologists will be attracted by the cases of stuffed birds, and amateurs of antique china by the collection in the drawing-room corridor. There are more oak chests here, and a delicately carved console-table. The drawing-room windows afford a fine prospect of the surrounding country. The scheme of colour employed in the decoration is white and yellow, and is most effective. The brass mounted grate is Georgian; and displayed on the mantel above are excellent specimens of Marseilles and Lowestoft ware, among which are some of those quaint teapots recalling the days when tea cost a guinea a pound. To the, left is a handsome French bureau, and the judge especially values the Empire card table which. formerly belonged to John Delance, the whilom ['sometime'] editor of 'The Times'; but he will warn you that he is not an enthusiastic collector. Lady Bucknill, however, ,has a true love for the antique. If she finds in you similar tastes, she will show you the richly cut urns of old coloured Bohemian glass standing on their curious little corner table, and the old family miniatures, silver snuffers and tray used by her forebears, as were also the old Queen Anne silver sauce boats near to them. The seal that formerly belonged to Nelson was presented to the judge by a 'grateful client', and there are also old watches, rings, and some lovely Georgian buckles."

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

1A Description of Fort St. David, circa. 1773

Fort St. David is a small, but strong and regular fortification, built on a rising ground, about a mile from the Black-Town, which is called Cuddalore. This last has a wall running round it, with the addition of a few bastions, but is too large even for all the English troops on the coast properly to defend. In it reside the greatest part of the native Indian inhabitants of Fort St. David's boundaries. Both the town, and the fort, are situated near the sea side, Cuddalore lying almost due south from the fort. The extent of this settlement's boundaries, are, towards the land, about four miles, and three along the sea side: the former are pointed out by a thick hedge of the aloe plant and cocoa-nut tree, having bastions of six or eight guns, at about three-fourths of a mile from each other. In one of these little forts Deputy Governor Starke had fitted up a pleasant apartment, and to which he frequently retired from Fort St. David.

2 The inscription on Richard Starke's Tomb, Livorno
The inscription on Richard Starke's Tomb, Livorno
Image courtesy of Matteo Giunti and the Leghorn Merchant Networks Project © 2010

Sacred to the memory
Rich.d Starke Esq.re
An Englishman of the Parish of Epsom, in the County of Surrey
who died at Pisa on y. 5th of March 1794 aged 74 years.
He served the Hon. English East India Company 24 years
with fidelity & honour
& when advanced to the important Station of Governor of Madras
he sacrificed all personal considerations to the dictates of Filial Piety
& quitted India in obedience to a Father
who earnestly solicited his return
As a Husband, & a Parent his conduct was equally exemplary
proved him to be in practice what he ever was in principle
a firm & zealous

3Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary

George Pearkes Barclay, b. 1784, son of George Barclay (died 8 June 1819) m.1810, Maria, dau. of Henry Boulton, of Givon's Grove, co. Surrey, Esq., and had issue: - George-Barnard, Frederick, Maria, Rebecca-Andalusia, Juliana-Elizabeth & Emily

4Gentleman's Magazine 1823

Oct.29 - At the family seat, Stanlake, Berks, in her 68th year, Katherine, the wife of Sir Nathaniel Duckingfield, Bart. [5th Baronet 1746-1824] She was a sister of John Ward of Squerries, co. Kent, Esq.; married Sir Nathaniel Duckingfield, Bart. In 1783. He became Lieut.colonel of the Windsor Forresters, Fencible Light Dragoons raised on the outbreak of war with France, 1794. They had issue 7 children, 6 sons, 3 of whom only now are living, and one daughter. One of the sons, Charles, Captain 7th Light Dragoons, was wrecked Jan. 22,1810, on the Manacle Rocks, near Falmouth, in the Despatch transport, on his return from the campaign in Spain, where he had distinguished himself much to his honour.

Reminiscences of Hyland House

We are grateful to Pat O'Mahoney
for his reminiscences of Hyland House.

When I was about 8 years old my mother was appointed as housekeeper to the owner occupier of Hylands House a Mr WH Saunders who I recall as a rather dapper elderly gentleman. I understand he was an Architect with a practice in London. We lived there from about 1952/53 until my mothers sudden death in 1956. He had previously lived elsewhere in Epsom in apartments in Grove Road I believe. My mother and I occupied a first floor room at the front of the house as a spacious bed/sitting room.

The other front facing room on the first floor was a bed room with an adjoining dressing room. Facing the garden on the first floor was the bathroom and the glorious landing and staircase with windows facing out to the garden, The other bedroom facing the garden had a bay with a small balcony. Mr Saunders had a collection of wonderful antique furniture and ornaments, in the balconied bedroom was a huge double bed that was reputed to have been owned by a Russian Prince, the room also contained one of those fascinating beautifully inlaid decorated cabinets where the doors open to reveal an interior like an Italian courtyard with small hanging chandelier from the top and lots of small drawers and cupboards.

On the ground floor the front door opened onto a black and white marble floored hall to the right a dining room with a carved wooden fireplace surround and to the left a drawing room full of sumptuous velvet tasselled sofas, Chinese vases, marble busts and a large red pouffee in the style of the woolsack that was reputed to have belonged to Lady Astor, or so I was told. There was a the morning room with a bay window looking out onto the terrace and garden and on the other side a door led to the staircase down to the larder and the kitchen in the semi basement. I remember the iron bars on the kitchen window which was above the sink, having stuck my head through....only the once. The second floor was let as an apartment to a lovely couple with an Alsatian dog, another couple lived in the attic and the servants quarters adjoining the main house were also let out to very friendly people. There were large trees at the front of the house, at the back was at least one Holme Oak tree and the trunk of one that had been felled, a small summer house an apple orchard and a kitchen garden. The garden was decorated with antique statuary, pots and urns. It was a lovely house. At that time the land at the back of the garden was just being developed and it was a large building site, the local children had built a tree house there and we knew its days were numbered. I attended the small flint stone school that was in Epsom Park. I can remember being able to walk to school on my own and meander home along the back road and up through the pathway that ran between the cricket ground and the hospital and to never have a care, but the of course back then everyday was sunny.

Pat O'Mahoney
January 2013

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