The Cedars

14 Church Street, Epsom
14 Church Street, Epsom
14 Church Street, Epsom
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2013

The late Cloudesley S Willis, FSA, included a description of this house, with a ground floor plan, in an article Old Houses in Epsom Ewell and Cuddington published in Surrey Archaeological Collections, Vol. 51, 1950 : -
"THE CEDARS, CHURCH STREET

This is a George II house enclosed within walls in a garden and fore-court. Two cedar trees stand on the roadside in front. There are stables adjoining.

The front, facing north-east, is two storeys high, with a parapet and the middle compartment carried up as an attic storey. It is built of stock bricks with red brick dressings. The porch has a pediment supported by trusses and on it are the arms of the builder [ Mysters of Charterhouse Square, London, Lord Mayor of London]. The garden elevation has camber-headed windows and a heavy porch with fluted pilasters and a pediment.

The spacious hall has a moulded plaster cornice and is paved with stone and black lozenges. It contains the staircase, which is of wood with low risers, turned balusters and a moulded hand-rail; the half-landing is carried over the garden door as a gallery. On the ground-floor south front is a handsome room decorated with plaster panelled walls with enriched mouldings, cornice and a panelled ceiling with rococo ornament. The wooden chimney-piece has carved drops on the jambs and a pediment on the shelf; the over-mantel is arranged to take a picture. The doorway has reeded pilaster jambs, trusses and a cornice; over it are the arms of Mysters. The door has six raised panels; and there are sash windows and box shutters. The joinery throughout the house is good and pleasant work, and there is some original door-furniture with drop handles. The north front room is more plainly treated. The south back room has a plaster cornice and a heavy panelled ceiling with gadroons, and medallions containing the heads of the Four Seasons. The north back room has a panelled ceiling well-designed architraves, and cupboard doors and dado with raised panels.

In the kitchen, which probably formed part of a late 17th century house, are moulded beams, and Dutch tiles covering the walls; the fireplace and two flanking arches have heavy moulding carried round their heads.

Two bedrooms north and south front are treated with dados and acanthus cornices. Two bedrooms on the garden front have the walls covered with raised panelling and wooden moulded cornices and dados.

In the 19th century a young ladies' school was kept here by Miss Esdaile; she was a friend of Dr. Robert Moffat, and Dr David Livingstone married Mary Moffat from The Cedars#. It is now the property of the Corporation of Epsom and Ewell."
Mr Willis did not mention that brickwork for the early 18th century facade was laid only in headers.

See also Surrey's Historic Environment Record SHHER_7849 - Listed Grade II*.

A Delft Tile From The Cedars
A Delft Tile From The Cedars
Image Courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

In his The Residential Copyholds of Epsom, 1987, H L Lehmann traces the history back to the Will of Thomas Boys of Epsom dated 30 October 1656 which was proved 9 November 1661 [PROB 11/306/126]. The property appears in the 1664 Hearth Tax Returns with Mr Boyce (sic) chargeable for 9 chimneys. In 1680, his widow had come to hold by free deed one messuage , one barn, a wash-house, a cart-house , one garden and one orchard , abutting on Woodcott fields and Church Street [Lehmann 7A1]. Eleanor Boys died in 1691 and by her Will dated 6 January 1689 left this freehold estate to her brother in law, William Boys, for life, remainder to her nephew Paul (otherwise Paulus) Healy, citizen and goldsmith of London. A William Boyes, buried 27 October 1701 aged 94, in St Martin's churchyard may have been the life tenant. In any event, the premises had come into the possession of Francis Shepheard, wine merchant of London, in time for him to sell them on to Anthony Lopes Suasso, Baron de Avernas le gras, 20 November 1726, for £1050. The latter is credited with converting the existing house to create a more elegant layout with two tall rooms either side of a central doorway, with a symmetrical front of red and yellow bricks. Having acquired the late Richard Rooth's house on 5 June 1736, he is presumed subsequently to have disposed of his Church Street property.

He sold this building to a Lord Mayor of London of German extraction, and by the 1750 survey of Epsom, it had become John Myster who held by free deed, the messuage, coach-house and stables, and a garden, 1 acre abutting on Church Street, Woodcote common field, the vicarage and Worple way. Myster further embellished the structure, adding the Myster coat of arms, according to Lehmann, on one of the outbuildings - now above the front door apparently adjusted to fit the available space, with, oddly, a unicorn crest cut down.[ Mysters (Charterhouse Square, London). Sa. two bars gemelles or, in chief three griffins' heads erased of the second. Crest - A griffin's head erased sa-. charged with two bars gemelles or. Burke's General Armoury.]

14 Church Street, Epsom
14 Church Street, Epsom
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2013

On 11 July 1749, Mary Myster, John's elder daughter, had married Colonel William Thornton who fought in the Scottish Rebellion, under the Duke of Cumberland and held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for York between 1747 and 1754. In his Will dated 6 May 1761, proved 10 June 1763 [PROB 11/889/55], John Myster bequeathed to his son in law William Thornton of Thornville, Yorks., and Mary his wife, the messuage in which he lived 'together with the use of all the furniture and linen therein...to use and occupy it as they thought proper, but not to let it, and all the goods , furniture and utensils thereon...' and after their decease to his grandson Thomas Thornton, who was to take the additional name Myster by act of Parliament. William Thornton died, aged 50, 10 July 1769 followed by his relict, Mary, 26 October 1800. A massive and elaborate tomb was erected by her son in the south transept of St Martin, Allerton Mauleverer, North Yorkshire, 'To perpetuate so great and so good a character', further inscribed: -
Know that this catacomb contains the remains of Mrs Mary Thornton, relict of Col. William Thornton...The most generous of mothers The most dutiful and affectionate of wives … … vivacity and sound sense … … admiration of all that knew her and which she retained till the age of 84.

[Link To www.flickr.com ]

Thomas Thornton had been born in 1757 - http://en.wikisource.org - and died in 1823. It seems that he did not adopt the name of Myster and the Epsom property inherited from his grandfather, was sold off before Mary Thornton's demise.

There was a monument in St Martin's churchyard recorded as being: -

To the Memory of (GEOR)GE WHITEHORNE LAWRENCE Esq.
of the Parish of St. Ja(me)s in the Island of Jamaca [sic]
who was born 11th of June 1711 and departed this life
January the 28th 1783.

The Will of George Whitehorne Lawrence of Epsom, dated 9 April 1781, proved 1 February 1783 [PROB 11/1100/264] from the parish of St. James, Cornwall, Island of Jamaica, sick and weak in body, now residing at Epsom, Surrey, Esq. To my wife Margery my sugar plant, called Running Out - it also mentions a messuage [presumably the one later called The Cedars] in Church Street or Lane purchased from John Roberts Hawkins of Epsom, 2 April 1781 , given to his wife, with plate, horses and carriages and all residue. An executor was named as Sam. Barrett of Trelawny, Jamaica, Esq. His relict was Margery nee Barrett, buried 22 March 1798 as 'Margaret' from London - where she had a home in Portland Square. Will, widow of Saint Marylebone , Middlesex proved 31 March 1798 - PROB 11/1304/15 - Margery Lawrence of Portman Street, St. Marylebone, widow of Geo. Whitehorne Lawrence, late of Jamaica, deceased, dated 9 March 1798. To be interred in Epsom in the vault where my husband is buried...To my brother Edward Barrett of Jamaica, plate, pictures, furniture at my house at Epsom, and my negro slaves, cattle, horses, mules and stock in Jamaica and all residue for his life and afterwards to such of the children or reputed children of his late son Sam. Barrett by Eliz. Barrett Williams, widow of Martin W. late of Jamaica decd., as he may appoint, if he die before me I give all my estate to Sam., reputed eldest son of my late nephew Sam. - http://archive.org

The Companion from London to Brighthelmston was surveyed by James Edwards about 1789 before the death of Mrs Lawrence and appears to describe her house as 'a large brick house, with a small garden in front enclosed with a brick wall, [but wrongly stated to be] the property and residence of John Whitmore, Esq' [who certainly owned and occupied The Grove on the opposite side of Church Street].

The immediate descent in the extended Barrett family is uncertain but by 1812 this property was in the hands of Charles Moulton who, as a merchant from Madeira, had married Elizabeth Barrett in Jamaica, 28 August 1781. Edward Barrett Moulton, the second child, was born in 1785, at Cinnamon Hill, and was later to become the father of Elizabeth Barrett of Wimpole Street, wife of Robert Browning. By 1789 Charles Moulton had left his wife, who subsequently raised their children with the help of other members of the Barrett family.

Charles Moulton continued to be named as owner up to 1826 but lived on until 1834. Unaccountably, in the land tax returns for 1828 -1831 the proprietor's name is reported, by Hans Lehmann, to have been Stephen Barrett.

Print of The Cedars c1830
Print of The Cedars c1830
Image Courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Edward Barrett Moulton took the name and arms of Barrett by license in 1798, becoming known as Edward Barrett Moulton-Barrett. For the 1843 Tithe Award the property, named the Cedars, Church Street, is shown owned by Edward Moulton Barrett, 74 Gloucester Place, Portman Square, London.

Extract From The 1843 Tithe Map - Plot 594
Extract From The 1843 Tithe Map - Plot 594

Dr H L Lehmann records that land tax returns list the occupiers as: - 1812/1813, C Molton (sic) himself, 1813 -1816 unoccupied, 1817 - 1820 H Parish, 1821/1822 William Parish [possibly, with Henry, a son of Samuel & Mary Parish of The Hermitage], 1823 - 1827 Revd. Mays (sic), & 1828 -1830 Mr Cornelius.

Rev Dr Charles Mayo, an early follower of Pestalozzi, with whom he had studied in Switzerland, ran a school here from 1822 to 1827 [Link To Schonbein] before moving on to become headmaster of Cheam School.

He was succeeded as Principal of the Pestalozzian School by B Cornelius who wrote a letter from Epsom dated 5 June 1830 - An account of M. Jacotot's method of universal instruction - published in the same year [Link To http://books.google.co.uk ]

By 1831, the tenant had become William Everest, late Cornelius. Mr. William Everest (1801 -1866), solicitor, of Croydon and Epsom, was for many years, from 1836, clerk to the Epsom Board of Guardians In 1835 William Hasted of Epsom made a public apology to William Everest, the Vestry Clerk, for accusations of corruption. Everest, living at The Cedars, was a solicitor, involved in property development. He had teamed up with William Dorling, also a member of the Vestry and printer of the apology, to modernise local government. The 1841 Census shows Everest at The Cedars with his wife Harriet and 5 children along with ten other residents of the house, mostly domestic servants and their families, but also one 15 year-old clerk who was presumably apprenticed to William's solicitors practice. He died at Deal, aged 65, registered at Eastry for the December Quarter 1866.

The Eisdell sisters were daughters of the Rev Thomas Eisdell, dissenting Minister to the Andover congregation from 1790, who died aged 76 at Twyford on 27 August 1832. David Brooks tells us that:-
"Rebecca Eisdell was born in Andover at the end of the eighteenth century. She and her sister, Rosanne who was ten years her junior, had run a school in Walworth Place, Newington before coming to Epsom. In 1851 they were running a select establishment for young ladies at The Cedars in Church Street, Epsom, a private school taking in boarders. Rebecca was the headmistress and taught general literature. The school was small, with eight boarders and some day pupils. Most of them came from Epsom's leading families and lesser gentry, but its best known pupils were the children of David Livingstone, whose fees were paid by the London Missionary Society. The teaching staff lived out the school had a parlour maid, under house maid, cook and gardener living in. Rebecca was still teaching in 1871, she died aged 76 in 1875 and is buried in Epsom and Ewell Cemetery. Buried in the next grave to Rebecca is Elizabeth Young who was Rebecca's servant for many years."
In late 1854, Mary Livingstone, nee Moffat, wife of David, the missionary, had moved to lodgings in Epsom, where the Misses Eisdell helped care for her and the younger children. Contrary, however, to the late #C S Willis' suggestion that Mary Moffat ( born 12 April 1821, Griquatown, Cape Colony, South Africa,) married 'from The Cedars', her wedding to Dr David Livingstone had taken place at Kuruman, Bechuanaland, in January 1845. During 1862, in camp at Shupanga on the Zambezi River, she became very ill with malaria and died on 27 April before being buried there, under a baobab tree.

On 9 April 1856, at the Independent Chapel, Church Street, Epsom, Miss Rose Anna Eisdell married William Woodford from Old Trafford, Manchester.

In the electors register of 1858 appears Edward Moulton Barrett's name implying his continued ownership of The Cedars although his private address was given to be 50 Wimpole Street, London; his death had in fact been registered in St Marylebone for the June Quarter of 1857 [Will proved 18 May 1857 - PROB 11/2250/404]. It is reported eleven children survived him but those who married were disinherited and the later descent of this house through the family has not been established.

C J Swete in a Handbook of Epsom, 1860, remarks : -
"The next house [to the Vicarage], called the Cedars because two handsome cedars stand in front,from their size, forming an interesting addition to the scene, is quite an ornament to that part of the town; it is a large brick structure, half covered with ivy. It is now in the occupation of Miss Eisdell, who is head of a select establishment for young ladies."
1861 Census - Rebecca Eisdell Head 62 Governess General Literature (unmarried) born at Andover, Hampshire.

The death of Rebecca Eisdell was registered in Epsom 6/1875, to be interred on 17 April 1875.

In the 1900 Rate Book, the owner appears as S Robertson with Frederick W Coles as his tenant.

Arthur John Warren seems to have become a lessee in 1904: a commentary on his biography notes:-
' An old print of Epsom, about 1710, shows the house standing at the head of a lane, now the Parade, running across fields from Epsom village from the Parish Church....Prior to present lease, this house was for fifty years a girls' school'.
Warren bought the old Brewery on Church Street, retained what had been the brewer's residence called Stoneleigh, and occupied the property by 1922 to remain there until his death on 17 November 1930 - buried Epsom Cemetery, aged 83, 22 November 1930.

The next owner, from 1923, can be identified as Walter James Payne, a Solicitor, of Messrs Payne Beale, 22 Budge Row and 73 Basinghall Street, City of London, who retired in 1925.He died, 23 April 1940, aged 81, at The Cedars leaving an estate of the gross value of £126,142 (net personalty £123,176) [reg. Surrey Mid E 6/1940].

The house was finally bought from the Payne estate, by Epsom and Ewell Council for £2,000 and initially it was used as a first aid post. Celebrating its salvation from being cut up into flats or demolished for 'a large building in the modern style',the Epsom Herald forecast that, though its eventual purpose must await more peaceful times, there was no reason why The Cedars should not be an ornament to Epsom for many years.

The ancient cedars were lost following the 1987 storm but two young cedar trees, one grown from the seed of the old ones, still stand outside.

Fallen Trees outside The Cedars
Fallen Trees outside The Cedars
Image courtesy of Epsom and Ewell Local and Family History Centre

Circumstances change, so that in 2007 a planning application was made for 'Alterations, extension and conversion of existing grade II star listed building to form seven one and two bed flats, and one attached, two storey cottage. Erection of one pair of two storey dwellings and one single storey dwelling in grounds.



Brian Bouchard
January 2013


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