A farm called Langley in the Parish of Epsom

sometime part of Ashtead Park estate, and The Warren, Langley Vale.

Composite Langley Vale OS Map 1860s - click to enlarge
Composite Langley Vale OS Map 1860s - click to enlarge

There is evidence for a settlement at Langley, as a small hamlet or single farmstead, dating back to the thirteenth century that is probably represented by what is still called Langley Bottom Farm. This article is directed at dissecting the history of adjacent land developed as the modern village, Langley Vale, on the one hand and The Warren, including a recreation ground, on the other.

According to tradition, King Charles II had a hunting lodge built at what became The Warren on a bluff overlooking Langley Bottom, a starting point for the original straight course used to race horses on Epsom Downs (sometimes called Banstead or Walton Downs interchangeably). Banstead Downs had long been a venue for sport as evidenced by the parish registers of Banstead which record the burial in 1625 of a man who in running the race fell from his horse and broke his neck When a royalist uprising took place at Kingston in 1648, the original plan had included a gathering of insurgents, as for a horse race, on Banstead Downs. A race is actually recorded first to have taken place on the Downs during 1661 and in his Diary, for 27 May 1663, Samuel Pepys wrote "This day there was a great thronging to Banstead Downs, upon a great horse-race and foot-race. I am sorry I could not go thither".

Title deeds for The Warren contain a reference also dated to 1663 about a tri-partite agreement between (1) Sir John Lewkenor and Dame Anne, (2) Richard Evelyn and his wife Elizabeth of Woodcote, & (3) Sir Henry Parkhurst. Particulars have not survived but Anne and Elizabeth were daughters of Mrs Anne Mynne nee Parkhust and granddaughters of Sir Robert Parkhurst so that one may infer a family arrangement over a parcel of land in the Manor of Epsom. The erection of timber structures at that time from which royal parties could conveniently watch horse racing, hare coursing and stag hunting, and feast between events, before perhaps returning to Nonsuch Palace, seems entirely feasible: it could take all day to travel from London and another 12/14 hours to get back. In 1668 a gamekeeper was appointed by the Duchy of Lancaster, at £30 p.a., to preserve hares and partridges on "Banstead Downs" and during 1669 the King went hawking there. However, proof that the real property became a royal possession in the 17th century is lacking. Evidence suggests the area remained part of the demesne and that facilities for entertainment there were provided by the Lords of the Manor - the Evelyns to 1692. A hare warren more closely associated with Nonsuch Palace (a royal residence to 1670, pulled down 1682) would have been one at Cheam with walls dated by Pevsner to the 17th century but believed to have had Tudor origins.

A survey of Epsom Manor commissioned in 1679 for Elizabeth Evelyn includes a reference under the list of demesne property to "one parcel of lands not inclosed, lying in Short Oaks, containing Ten Acres abutting on the lands of Thomas Hart on the west part and on the Common Downes on the east part". Thomas Hart was then a copyholder who held, with other pieces, "... two acres of woodland lying upon Ebbisham Downes, abutting on Walton Downes on the south part, on the lands of the Lady of the Manor on the north and east parts, and on lands called Langleys on the north and west parts". Also in the demesne could be found "...one parcel of woodlands called Round Wood containing 8 acres abutting on Walton Downes peece on the west part and on Langley in the tenure of William Page on the east part". A detailed description of Langley could not, however, be found nor could William Page be identified.

Henry Pownall tells us in Some particulars relating to the history of Epsom, published in 1825, that: -
"Mrs. Evelyn died in 1692, and from that period to the year 1706, [Epsom manorial] courts were held in the names of the trustees under her will. In 1696, Mr. Lewknor had the estate for his life, but dying without issue, John Parkhurst came into possession and held his first court in 1707. Nathaniel Parkhurst died in his father's life-time, leaving John his son and heir, on whose marriage with Ricarda, a daughter of Robert Dormer, Esq., one of the justices of the court of common pleas, his grandfather gave up this manor to him, reserving the rectory for his life. There were issue of this marriage three sons, Dormer, Robert, and Fleetwood Parkhurst. By some family arrangement, Dormer gave his father power over the estate, and dying in his life-time, the father by his will, dated 4th December 1792, devised the manor and rectory to Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte, Bart, and George Byrd, Esq., upon trust for his wife Ricarda for her life, and after her death, upon trust to sell the same, and divide the money arising therefrom, between his younger sons Robert and Fleetwood. The advowson of the vicarage was to go to his eldest son John. Mr. Parkhurst died in December 1765, leaving his son the Rev. John Parkhurst his heir at law.
Mrs. Ricarda Parkhurst died in 1770, and in September following the manor was sold by auction, and bought by Sir Joseph Mawbey, Bart. for £7,140."
Robert Morden's map of 1694 had depicted the old four-mile track extending from the modern straight of the Epsom race-course across Banstead Downs. In 1711, Toland referred to "... the new orbicular Race which may be term'd a rural Cirque" and "The four mile course over the Warrenhouse to Carshalton..." John Senex's map of Surrey based on a survey in 1729 shows Epsom Warren although slightly misplaced.

Surrey drawn by Robert Morden in Camden's Britannia 1722 - Click image to enlarge
Surrey drawn by Robert Morden in Camden's Britannia 1722
Click image to enlarge

Extract From Emanuel Bowen's Map 1753 - Click image to enlarge
Extract From Emanuel Bowen's Map 1753
Click image to enlarge
Image courtesy of Timothy Cox

Toland's reference to a "Warrenhouse" implies that a hare-warren also existed from before that time. In 1544, Nicholas Leigh (of Headley) had exchanged "Lee Farm, and all messuages and lands in Hedley, Letherhead, Ashted and Walton-on the Hyll, Co.Surr(ey)" with Henry VIII for the Templars' Manor at Addington. Ashtead Manor was already in royal hands having been acquired by King Henry during the previous year and it has been suggested that Langley became attached to the demesne about this time. Ashtead later passed from the Crown to the earls of Arundel and dukes of Norfolk before being purchased from a kinsman by Sir Robert Howard in 1680. His account book for the years 1694 & 1695 refers specifically to the cost of mowing grass at Langley.

Ownership of the Manor of Great Ashtead descended by inheritance to Lady Diana Fielding who, in anticipation of her demise, entered an Indenture Quadripartite dated 19 October 1727. In consequence of that arrangement, the Rt. Hon. Henry Bowes Howard, 4th Earl of Berkshire, inherited the Manor of Ashtead in 1731 and, on 7 November 1734, he was able to lease, to Robert Parker, junior of Epsom, brewer [in the church forecourt area of St Martin of Tours], for a term of 21 years, "several acres of arable, pasture and woodland commonly called or known as Langley, adjoining to a certain part of the Downs called Short Oaks and estimated as 68 acres" [approximately 3 acres of which could have been occupied by a hare-warren].

Although English Heritage lists a boundary wall to The Warren as having been set up by Lord Baltimore of Woodcote Park about 1720 there is circumstantial evidence to suggest it could have been erected two decades later. As noted in the second paragraph above, the site of The Warren had been adopted as a vantage point but such use would have been precluded by new brick wall rising to a height of 8 feet. In 1730, however, heats were still being run along the old straight course that started above Langley Bottom and ran round the Warren and the Bushes, a practice that did not cease until 1740. Between 1737 & 1747, Frederick, Prince of Wales leased Durdans at Epsom from Lord North and Guildford, a lord of his bedchamber, to be close to the Downs where he could indulge an enthusiasm for hunting and hawking. [Frederick Louis himself had not come to England until 1728 and was only made Prince of Wales on 8 January 1729 whilst Charles, 5th Lord Baltimore was born in 1699 and only became another gentleman of the bedchamber to Frederick, Prince of Wales during 1731.]

It appears that the substantial building work would have been commissioned by Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baltimore to enclose Short Oaks and Round Wood, land that had been passed down by Elizabeth Evelyn, extending over 25 acres in total. Nevertheless, the property came to be documented in the 18th century as "HRH The Prince of Wales' hare-warren". For example, in an appeal from the Penny London Morning Advertiser dated 11 July 1744: - "Lost from the Prince of Wales's Hare-Warren at Epsom, a Greyhound Dog, pied white and blue both Sides of his Face; blue brindled and bad Eyes; both shoulders brindled; and blue brindled one Side behind, and about six inches down its Tail; he is about two Foot high and one Year old. Whoever brings the said Dog to Mr William Wood, Warren-Keeper at Epsom shall have Half a Guinea Reward and no Questions asked." George Bubb Dodington also recorded that "We went to course on Epsom Downs. The ladies in a landau. We din'd at H.R.H.'s hare-warren - Le Chevalier a la mode". Rent for the property remained outstanding at the prince's death in 1751 ["Poor Fred" had succumbed to a brain abscess having been hit on the head by a cricket ball].

Henry Bowes Howard appears to have passed ownership of the parcel of land, Langley, leased to Robert Parker, on to his 5th son, Thomas, 14th Earl of Suffolk and 7th of Berkshire, which allowed the latter to grant a subsequent lease of 21 years to Rt. Hon. Frederick Calvert, Lord Baltimore during 1754. Frederick, 6th and last, Lord Baltimore's father had died 24 April 1751 leaving great wealth including the Manor of Horton, Epsom.

As already indicated, real property forming part of his inheritance would have included Short Oaks, of about 10 acres, and Round Wood covering 13 a 1r 9p which had passed to his great-grandfather, Charles, Lord Baltimore, under Elizabeth Evelyn's will proved 3 August 1692. These two areas on Epsom Downs had been enclosed to create the The Warren, quite distinct from Langley (although confusion can arise from the fact that part of the original warren remained within its bounds). The lessee of Langley, Robert Parker, brewer of Epsom, had been declared bankrupt on 30 March 1747 before the Rt. Hon. Thomas Howard of Ashtead Park granted the fresh lease of 21 years from 28 October 1754 to Frederick Calvert, Lord Baltimore who was already in occupation of the farm.

Frederick, Lord Baltimore, conveyed the two pieces representing The Warren to Robert Eden and his wife Caroline nee Calvert in 1768. They in turn sold the land to John Durand of Carshalton 14 March 1769. Durand (1719 - 1788), formerly a Captain with the East India Company, may well have acquired the residue of Calvert's lease of Langley then or when 6th Baron Baltimore sold up in 1770 before fleeing the country in disgrace. Importantly, from this time The Warren can be identified as a discrete entity, 25a 1r 27p in area, comprising Short Oaks and Round Wood, "parts of Hare Warren". Although its history as a stud and racehorse training establishment is intertwined with neighbouring Langley it had a different series of owners: -
  • 1788 John Hodson Durand (on death of his father),
  • 1826 Felix Calvert Ladbroke,
  • 1840 Felix Ladbroke, junior,
  • 1858 George Samuel Ford followed by Charles Hallowell Hallowell-Carew,
  • 1867 Benjamin Ellam
  • 1907 United Racecources (Holdings) Ltd.

The descent of the manor of Ashtead continued to be complicated [as explained by the late G. J. Gollin and R. A. Lever in Bygone Ashtead on pages 45-47] but by 1783 it had passed to Frances Bowes-Howard and then her husband Richard (Bagot) Howard. At the end of the eighteenth century Richard Howard commissioned a survey of his Ashtead Park estate that was produced with the Wyburd Map of 1802. Inset was a plan of "A farm in the Parish of Epsom" [Langley], showing the "Hare Warren", as copied below. The strip of woodland alongside which the wording appears does indeed appear be the original hare warren in two pieces, No. 543 1a 2r 4p & No. 544 1a 2r 22p, together covering 3a 0r 26p, although the positioning of the words could equally well indicate The Warren. The tenant of Langley Farm is shown by Wyburd's terrier to have been Jno. Hodson Durand.

A farm in the Parish of Epsom, the property of Richard Howard Esq.
A farm in the Parish of Epsom, the property of Richard Howard Esq.
Sketch plan courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2010

Langley and The Warren 
as shown on 1838 Tithe Map for Epsom
Langley and The Warren as shown on 1838 Tithe Map for Epsom
A = Langley, B = Supposed location of original hare warren,
C = The Warren enclosed by brick wall 8 feet high
Sketch plan courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2010

1858 Sales Particulars for The Warren - click to enlarge
1858 Sales Particulars for The Warren - click to enlarge
Sale by Ladbroke to Ford

On the deaths, in 1818, of Frances and Richard Howard the Ashtead Park estate was inherited by their daughter Mary who married Col. Fulk Greville (Upton) Howard. Consequently, in the 1843 Tithe Award, Fulk Greville Howard had been shown as owner of Langley farmland with Felix Ladbroke, a neighbour in The Warren, as his tenant. Mary Howard outlived her husband, who died in 1846, by 31 years. On her death in 1877, The Langley estate passed in tail male to the trustees of the will of Major General Edward Richard Bagot (deceased 20 July 1874) and the connection to Ashtead was severed when the parcel of land, "abutting Langley Bottom, containing 67a 2r 7p, suitable for the erection of a gentleman's residence or for a training establishment" was sold in 1880. Title to "three closes of arable land and the two pieces of woodland known as Langley Wood and part of the Warren, containing 65a 3r 32p," was supported by a declaration made by Robert Milne, Steward and General Manager of the estates that, between 1859 and 1877, Mary Howard had been the recipient of rents and profits arising from them.

Outline of The Warren estate when offered for sale in 1907
Outline of The Warren estate when offered for sale in 1907
A brick wall 8 feet high ran round three sides of the property - from a through b,c,d & e to f.
Sketch plan courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2010

Subsequent development of the area as a housing estate with a recreation ground adjacent to The Warren is fully described in Langley Vale - Memories of a Surrey Village.

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

We have two other pages on the Langley Vale area:-
Langley Vale - A Village In A Valley
Langley Vale Remembered.

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