Newchapel House is the large, half-timbered and tile-hung house that stands on the Northern-most extremity of the parish of Felbridge, located to the West of the main A22 when approaching the roundabout at Newchapel from the South. Known, in the past, as Chappel Farm or New Chapel Farm, the property currently forms part of the complex of buildings that support the London Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was described by Nikolaus Pevsner in 1962, as ‘an elaborate fake, half timbered, with a lot of tile hanging, not too well done, by Charles Bowles, from 1908 onwards, built for Pears of Pears Soap’. The following is an attempt to unravel the development of the property and to demonstrate the errors in the statement made by Pevsner.
The area of land on which Newchapel House stands once formed part of the manor of Lagham, also known as Walcnested, Walkhamstead or Godstone, and the manor of Hedgecourt. Early in the 14th century, the St John family of Marden and Lagham held both these manors, when they acquired the manor of Heggecourt in 1313. However, it would appear that the St John family had falsely taken the manor of Hedgecourt on the death of John de Berewyk, so the manor was taken into the hands of the King who committed it to the custody of Gilbert de Middleton until Roger de Husee, the rightful heir of John de Berewyk, had come of age in 1324. In 1361, the manor of Hedgecourt passed to John de Husee on the death of Roger de Husee, and some time after 1361, and before 1365, the manor had been granted to Hugh Craan, as in 1365, Hugh Craan ‘granted free warren of the manors of Hedgecourt and Covelingelye, called Lynlee, with the chapel in the park there’ to Nicholas de Lovaine. This action re-united the manors of Lagham and Hedgecourt, as Margaret, the wife of Nicholas de Lovaine, was the sole heir of the St John family of Lagham.
By 1408, the manors of Lagham and Hedgecourt were in the ownership of Philip St Clare who had married Margaret, the daughter and sole heir of Margaret and Nicholas de Lovaine. On the death of Philip St Clare in 1408, the manors passed to his son and heir, John. John St Clare held the manors for a further ten years before they passed to his brother and heir, Thomas. However, on the death of Thomas St Clare in 1435, his estates were divided between his three daughters, with the manor of Lagham passing to Edith, married to Sir Richard Harcourt, and the manor of Hedgecourt passing to Eleanor, married to Sir John Gage.
From 1435, the manor of Lagham had a chequered history with a complicated succession of ownership, including George and Robert Evelyn from1591 until 1673, when Sir Robert Clayton and his partner, John Morris, of the manor of Bletchingley, bought the manor. The manor of Hedgecourt, on the other hand, remained in the ownership of the Gages until the death of Sir William Gage in 1744. The owners of Lagham, like the Gages, as lords of the manors, did not live at the manors but leased them to a succession of gentry, who in turn tenanted out parts of the manor to yeomen. Consequentially it is to the Lagham Court Books and the Gage papers that we must turn to track the early development of the site of Newchapel House.
The property may well be one of the three messuages or four tofts referred to in the lease of the manor of Hedgecourt on 20th October 1578, between John Gage and John Thorpe, but with no other description of lands or location, apart from being in the demesne lands of the manor of, or the park of Hedgecourt, it is not conclusive. Perhaps one of the first indications that there was a property on the site of Newchapel House is in a counter part sale of timber by John Gage to Thomas Thorpe on 20th January 1594. The lease details, ‘the trees on land occupied by Thomas Humfrey, living in one tenement in the park of Hedgecourt, adjoining Newe Chapell; a parcel of trees adjoining the last sale made in Thorne Park [now Domewood] and divided by an old bank of old trees lying northwards from the bank to the pale, through which piece of ground the mill way goes to Burstow; 1000 decaying stubs in various places in the manor of Hedgecourt, already marked out by Henry Collins [servant of John Gage], to be cut down, coaled and carried away within ten years’. The property now known as Newchapel House is the only tenement in the park of Hedgecourt that is known to have adjoined the hamlet of Newe Chapell, which was known by that name prior to 1534.
In 1620, John Gage settled on Edward Gildford, his cousin, and John Thetcher, the manor of Hedgecourt, in which it has now been established that the site of Newchapel House was located. In the Hedgecourt Court Book 1625, there is a description of the boundary for Hedgecourt Park, which formed the demesne lands of the manor. For the parish of Godstone, start at Park Corner, now the Star Inn, follow the road North to Newchapel, turn West to Stub Pond Lane, head South to Plaws Corner and then back to Park Corner. This description of the Park, including the distances given, confirms that the site of Newchapel House fell within the bounds of the Park. In 1641, there is a Recovery or Conveyance recorded by John Thetcher and Thomas Rooper, and Thomas Lethbridge and Richard Lyson, for the manor of Hedgecourt, including, by this date, four messuages, and perhaps one of these messuages refers to a property located on the site of the current Newchapel House.
The first reference to the name of ‘Chapel’ or ‘Newchapel’ associated with the site of the current Newchapel House is in 1745, when it is listed in the Articles or Contract between Lord Gage and Col. Evelyn, as ‘Chappell Farm’ in the occupation of Benjamin Stenning. Therefore to follow the history of the site you have to turn to the known acreage of farm, which fortunately, seems to have been a fairly consistent size since the 17th century. The first identifiable reference to the property is in 1652, in a 21-year lease between Simon Evernden and Robert Filkes, a yeoman of Godstone. The lease refers to ‘a messuage with barn and buildings on 2a 3r 35p, in the occupation of the said Robert Filkes, also several pieces of land amounting to 79 a 1r, also five parcels of land, lying together, called Crooked Rishett, the Longfield, Shepherds Toft, Little Goldherd and Great Goldherd, containing 59a 3r, in Godstone, then or late in the occupation of Avery Harman and Robert Filkes’. When compared to the Bourd map and schedule of 1748, the five parcels of land are identifiable, Crooked Rishetts has become Rushets, Longfield has been divided in two and is known as Lower Long Mead and Upper Long Mead, Shepherds Tofts would appear to be Rooms, Little Goldherd has become Gold Hoard Field and Great Goldherd would appear to refer to Rail Field. The land acreage amounting to 79a 1r, matches the remaining part of Chappel Farm in 1748.
Unfortunately, the preceding lease is missing to determine whether Robert Filkes was an interested party prior to 1652. We do know that in 1652, Simon Evernden renewed for 21 years a prior lease of 1629 to Richard Thorpe, which Simon Evernden had received on the death of Richard Thorpe. This original lease of 1629 must therefore have included the lands of Chappel Farm although it is not possible to determine if a property was in existence at that time.
The 1652 lease between Evernden and Filkes ran until 1673. In the next surviving Court Book of 1678, Edward Stenning is recorded as paying £32 rent for a property, the same value as Filkes was previously paying who is not listed in this year. As other rents and occupiers match across this period, it would seem that the Stenning family took out a lease on the property on the expiry of the Filkes lease. The Stenning family are then recorded as continually tenanting the property until the early 1840’s, and the succession of family members is evident in the rent and land tax records recorded in the Hedgecourt Court Books and the Godstone Land Tax returns.
The site of Newchapel House itself is located in the North Eastern edge of the manor of Hedgecourt, with the plot straddling the boundary with the manor of Lagham such that it includes part of what was Froggit Heath. The outbuildings of the property were almost certainly built on waste ground, as indicated in the Court Book of Lagham in 1682, when the tenant, Edward Stenning, was fined 10/- for ‘the erection of one barn upon the waste of land of Froggetts Heath and the same day, enclosed in and encroached an acre of land, at least, of the waste, to the great damage of the Lord and tenants of the manor’. Edward Stenning appears again in the Lagham Court Book eight years later in 1690, when he is recorded as not yet pulling down the barn [of 1682] and having encroached three acres of the waste. It is recorded that the barn ‘must be pulled down within three weeks’ and that he was ‘under penalty of 11/-’. It is not known whether Edward Stenning removed the barn, but on 30th November 1695, we find John Stenning taking out a 21-year lease from John Gage on the property. John is listed as a yeoman of Godstone, and the lease details record ‘a messuage, barns, buildings and 2a 3r 5p belonging late in the tenure of Edward Stenning deceased, several pieces of land amounting to 79a 1r, five pieces of lying together called The Croked Rishetts, Longfield, and Sheapheard’s Toft, Little Gold Heard and Great Gold Heard, amounting to 52a 2r 31p, also a coppice in Godstone called The Roome Wood, otherwise Shepperd Tufft of 5a 2r, adjoining the above land, all in Godstone and Horne’. When compared to the lease details of 1652, it is evident that the property now has ‘barns’ and may indicate that the barn of 1682 was not pulled down! However, in 1701, John Stenning legitimately builds a barn on his property, recorded in the Hedgecourt Court Book at the cost of £5. 10/-.
The earliest depiction of a property on the site of the current Newchapel House is to be found on the John Senex map of 1719. The property is positioned to the West of the crossroads leading from the Coast to London, and to the South of the road leading from Lingfield to Horne, via what is now known as Bones Lane as at that date West Park Road did not exist. Although not evident on this map, as it is not a detailed map, the Bourd map of 1748, clearly shows that the plot on which the property is located creates a bump that is out of alignment with the edge of Froggit Heath. The house and possibly one barn are situated within the bounds of the manor and park of Hedgecourt, but there is one building located further North, perhaps indicating that the barn and encroached area were not entirely returned to the manor of Lagham.
In 1723, John Stenning renews his lease for a further twenty-one years, at a cost of £32 per annum, and in 1730, seven years later the property is listed in the hands of John Stenning jnr., implying that perhaps John Stenning had died. In 1742, the property has again passed to another member of the Stenning family, with Benjamin Stenning paying the £32 annual rent. This same year, Benjamin is recorded as being exempt from paying his land tax to compensate for the money he had spent on his property, and a year later he is exempt from paying £16 of his rent as payment for work carried out in the manor of Hedgecourt.
In 1744, William Gage, Lord of the manor of Hedgecourt died, and the first time that the property is referred to by name is in 1745, in the Articles or Contract drawn up between the executors of William Gage and Edward Evelyn, referring to the manor of Hedgecourt, including Chappell Farm in the occupation of Benjamin Stenning. The estate finally passed to Edward Evelyn on 29th February 1747, for the sum of £8,260. A year later in 1748, Edward Evelyn commissioned a map of his estate, which was surveyed by John Bourd. The Bourd Map of 1748, is probably the first detailed depiction of Chappel Farm, and shows three buildings on the plot of land now associated with Newchapel House. From the depictions that Bourd used, there is a house, aligned North/South, to the West of the main London Road, with a barn located on the same alignment to the West of the house, and another barn, slightly to the North of the first barn, aligned East/West, next to the Lingfield to Horne Road. The accompanying schedule details that Chappel Farm consisted of 124a 1r 38p. The land was split between arable and pasture and is located to the West of the London Road, bounded by land belonging to Sir Kenrick Clayton and Froggit Heath to the North, and the East side of Stub Pond Lane, forming a rectangular plot with its Southern edge in line with Wire Mill Lane, although New Field Wood and Chappel Park, also woodland, possibly the original site of ‘the chapel in the Park’ referred to in the grant of 1365, are not included in the farm due to the value of wood for fueling the iron industry. It is from 1748, that the development of Newchapel House can be traced through the papers of Evelyn family referring to Felbridge Place, until 1855, when George Gatty purchases the estate. The details for Chappel Farm are:
Field name Description Acreage
Meadow Pasture/meadow 3 0 09
Barn field Arable 4 2 00
Arable 3 3 02
Arable 3 0 10
Little Rails Arable 3 0 02
Arable 4 3 15
Broom field Arable 11 3 10
Arable 9 1 21
Grub’d Cops Arable 4 2 31
Broom field Pasture/meadow 9 3 15
Bridge field Pasture/meadow 3 3 15
Heathy fields Pasture/meadow 4 3 11
Pasture/meadow 5 2 19
Brook field Arable 5 0 02
Hideknaves Arable 3 1 22
Lower Long Mead Pasture/meadow 10 2 10
Rushets Pasture/meadow 5 1 18
Upper Long Mead Pasture/meadow 6 2 32
Rooms Arable 8 1 14
Rail field Arable 9 0 23
Gold Hoard field Arable 3 2 37
Total acreage 124 1 38
It is evident from studying the draft O/S map of 1792 to 1812, and comparing it with the Bourd map of 1748, that the buildings at Chappel Farm have greatly expanded. By 1812, the site shows at least four buildings. It is unclear which Stenning was responsible for the expansion, although in 1801, William Stenning is recorded as residing at Godstone Chapel Farm, having succeeded Benjamin Stenning around 1785. Perhaps a reason for the expansion can be determined by the fact that in 1856, the property is referred to as the Evelyn Arms or Chapel Farm. This may imply that the property was not only run as a farm but was also operating as an inn, and considering its location, close to the London to Brighton road running North/South, and the Lingfield to Turner’s Hill road running East/West, it was ideally situated to take full advantage of the passing trade.
The last Stenning recorded at Chappel Farm was William, son of the previously mentioned William, around 1835. By the census of 1841, it is in the joint occupancy of John Weller, a farmer, and family, and Jane Kichner, a lady of independent means, with her daughter and associated staff. The Tithe map and apportionment of 1844, records that the farm is owned by the Hon. Charles Cecil Cope Jenkinson, the Earl of Liverpool, husband of Julia Evelyn Medley who was the great granddaughter of Edward Evelyn, and that it was in the occupancy of Samuel Weller, son of John. The details of the farm are as follows:
Field Name Description Acreage
112 Two acres Arable 3 0 24
122 Eight acres " 8 3 04
123 Four Acres " 4 3 20
124 Bridge " 5 3 30
126 Two acres " 2 0 12
127 Middle Three acres " 2 3 07
128 Grub copse " 4 2 16
129 Pt. of eleven acres " 7 0 38
133 Hides Nares " 4 3 11
168 Goldhards field " 4 1 03
169 Eight acres " 8 2 03
171 Seven acres " 7 3 33
173 Lower Mead " 6 1 04
174 Upper Mead " 6 1 06
108 House Mead Meadow 7 0 21
111 Three acre Mead " 3 3 28
132 Brook Meadow " 5 3 31
125 Slip Pasture 0 2 06
131 Pt. of Alders Meadow 2 2 29
127 A Little Wood Wood 4 3 35
130 Alders " 0 3 36
170 Eight acre Shaw Coppice 0 2 23
105 Clump 0 1 06
106 House & buildings 0 3 00
107 Pt. of house & cottage 0 1 11
Total acreage 105 2 37
In the Census of 1851, New Chapel Farm is listed in the tenure of James Halls or Walls, aged 62, a farmer of 100 acres, but also listed is New Chapel House, occupied by William Jupp, aged 45, also a farmer, farming 190 acres. To date it has not been possible to determine whether the two properties were joined, but from the acreage being farmed it would seem more likely that James Halls was actually farming the land attached to New Chapel Farm, although the location of the 190 acres has not yet been ascertained. As a point of interest, the Stenning family had not moved out of the area at this time, as there is an Edward Stenning holding Flint Hall Farm, Godstone, of 433a 3r 15p, plus a further 10a 1r 37p in North Godstone from Sir William Clayton. William and Edward Stenning are also recorded as holding Young’s Farm, probably Cherry Tree Farm, Newchapel, from Sir William Clayton, as well as a large area of land in North Godstone belonging to Rev Robert Gream. There is also a William Stenning recorded as owner of the Blacksmith’s Head at Newchapel, and in 1855, in the Sale Catalogue for the Felbridge Place estate, of the same year, there is a William Stenning recorded as holding Smithfields Farm, on the ‘S’ bends of Crawley Down Road, and Ward’s Farm and Park Farm, off Woodcock Hill. Throughout, the Stenning family are recorded as yeomen or farming, but they were also listed as timber merchants, however, to date, they cannot be linked to the Stenning Timber Company that operated in East Grinstead, whose founder, John Stenning, originated from Chailey, Sussex.
In 1851, the Felbridge Place estate, including New Chapel Farm, passed to Lady Selina Charlotte Jenkinson, Vicountess Milton, daughter of the Hon. Charles Cecil Cope Jenkinson and Julia Evelyn Medley, and in 1855, was sold to George Gatty. At the point of sale, William Jupp was recorded as residing at New Chapel Farm, and it is evident from the details that he also held the land of Rabies Farm, which was located to the East of New Chapel Farm and consisted of 22a 2r 31p, although the old farmhouse at Rabies, dating to the 14th century, was by this time split into three tenements.
In the Sale Catalogue of 1855, New Chapel Farm was called New Chapel Farmstead and the house was described as being constructed of brick and tile, containing five attics, seven bedrooms, two parlours, a kitchen, wash house, pantries, dairy and cellar. The schedule for New Chapel Farm was thus:
Field Name Description Acreage
112 Two acres Arable 3 0 24
122 Eight acres " 8 3 04
123 Four Acres " 4 3 20
124 Bridge " 5 3 30
126 Two acres " 2 0 12
127 Middle Three acres " 2 3 07
128 Grub copse " 4 2 16
129 Pt. of eleven acres " 7 0 38
133 Hides Nares " 4 3 11
168 Goldhards " 4 1 03
169 Eight acres " 8 2 03
171 Seven acres " 7 3 33
173 Lower Mead " 6 1 04
174 Upper Mead " 6 1 06
108 House Mead Meadow 7 0 21
111 Three acre Mead " 3 3 28
132 Brook Mead " 5 3 31
125 Slip Pasture 0 2 06
131 Pt. of Alders Meadow 2 2 29
127 A Little Wood Wood 4 3 35
130 Alders " 0 3 36
170 Shaw Coppice 0 2 23
105 Clump 0 1 06
106 House & buildings 0 3 00
107 Pt. of house & cottage 0 1 11
105 2 37
664 Pt. of eleven acres Arable 5 1 00
87 Nine acres Arable 9 3 34
88 Three acres " 3 1 08
99 Pasture Meadow 2 3 30
16 0 32
Total acreage 127 0 29
By 1859, William Jupp had left New Chapel Farm and the Jupp family are later to be found farming Hedgecourt Farm in 1881, and Stanton’s Hall Farm, and Snout’s Farm (now the Red Barn), Blindley Heath, in the early part of the 20th century. The Census of 1861, records that New Chapel Farm was again in the tenure of James Halls or Walls, with Thomas Sanders occupying New Chapel House, although by 1867, Thomas Sanders was listed in the tenure of Shaws Farm, Newchapel Road, and by 1871, Thomas J Smallpiece, aged 22, is listed as the farmer of New Chapel Farm of 150 acres.
In 1881, the Census details two households residing in New Chapel Farm House. The first is Mary Tomlin, a widow aged sixty-nine, who is an annuitant, with her daughter Marie, aged thirty-five, a professor of music. The second household listed is Alice Heaton, as head of household, a widow aged twenty-six, with her two sons, William aged three and Jesse aged two. Also recorded, as living in the household, is George Stone, aged thirty-three, brother of Alice Heaton, employed as the bailiff of her farm of 150 acres, employing four men. These details imply that the property was in joint occupancy, with only one household responsible for running the farm.
Four years later in the Kelly’s Directory of 1887, Edmund and Frederick Winchester are listed as farmers of New Chapel. Edmund Winchester is still there in 1891, when the Census records three households at New Chapel Farm. Alexander Winchester, a labourer, aged twenty-five, is recorded as living in two rooms with his wife Jane, aged twenty-one and their sons William Henry and Albert John Winchester, aged one year and one month respectively. A second household is headed by Edmund Winchester, a single farmer aged forty, with his mother Mary Winchester, a widow aged sixty-five, acting as housekeeper, along with border William Buckland, a widower aged sixty-five, employed as a labourer, and a visitor, Julie Stenning, aged fifteen. The third household, occupying four rooms, is William Jenner, a miller aged twenty-nine with his wife Louisa, aged twenty-five and their son Francis aged three. As a point of interest, Edmund, Frederick and Alexander were all sons of Mary Winchester, and members of the Winchester family had previously farmed Hedgecourt Farm in the mid 19th century and Brick House Farm in Horne in 1881.
By the 1901 Census, New Chapel Farm is recorded in the occupation of Mrs Edith Goodwin, a widow aged forty-five with her daughter Elizabeth, aged twenty-two. Edith is a retired farmer, and Elizabeth is living off her own means. Also living at New Chapel Farm is Edmund Winchester, a farmer now aged fifty, along with his mother Mary, aged seventy-five and a farm servant named Walter Medlock, aged thirty-eight. Two years later, in 1903, Charles Henry Gatty, owner of Felbridge Place, died, and his estate, including New Chapel Farm, passed to Charles Lane Sayer and Alfred Leighton Sayer, two of his cousins. The Sayers held the estate until 1911, when they sold it to Emma Harvey and the East Grinstead Estate Company. At the time of sale in April 1911, New Chapel Farm, of 111a 2r 6p, was in the occupation of a Charles Taylor. The East Grinstead Estate Company had purchased the estate as property developers, and the entire estate was put up for auction on 25th May 1911. The Auction Catalogue describes New Chapel Farm thus:
‘A commodious old English residence. At the northern end of the Estate where the main London road intersects the Lingfield road, stands a highly picturesque, many-gabled structure. Its brick and tiles gloriously time and weather-stained to a beautiful russet harmony, it engrosses attention and excites interest. Quaint and rambling it silhouettes against the sky, flanked by clumps of ancient trees; its chimney stacks and its gables, its inglenooks and dormer windows all help to give the house that air of reposeful solidity which is so conspicuously lacking in much of our modern architecture.
Tradition tells that it was once an important wayside hostelry, and its situation at a crossing of the old Roman road endorses the likelihood of such a history. Indeed, its commanding position might, in these days of motor travelling, justify resumption of its former role, though its peaceful, restful aspect will appeal strongly to the private owner on the look out for a convenient rural retreat.
The interior is no less interesting than the exterior; it exhales an air of commodious comfort tinged with quaintness. Heavy old beams and wainscot panelling, low ceilings, rambling stairs and lozenge-paned attic windows give an old-world charm to the place and allure the artistic mind. The introduction of modern fittings has made the house a thoroughly comfortable, as well as a picturesque, habitation’.
The house comprised of a large panelled hall, 21ft (6.3m) by 11ft 3ins (3.38m), a drawing room of 21ft 6ins (6.45m) by 12ft (3.6), with fine oak beams in the ceiling and heated by a ‘modern’ stove with tiled sides. There was a dining room 18ft (5.4m) by 13ft (3.9m) again heated by a ‘modern’ stove. A lobby led to the kitchen, which had a range, there was a pantry and the scullery had hot and cold water supplies. There was a washhouse with a sink, two coppers and a bread oven. The first floor of the house was approached by two staircases, leading to five bedrooms, two dressing rooms, a bathroom and a water closet. There were also three rooms in the ‘old’ portion of the house and a further five rooms in the attic.
The farm buildings consisted of a timber and tiled granary, a cart lodge, and a coach-house. There was a timber and tiled stable for four horses, a forage room, and a chaff room with a loft above. There was a chicken house, and two timber and tiled cowsheds for six and eight cows respectively. There was also a mixing room, brick build grain pits, a timber and tiled double bay barn, with a calving house and yard at the rear, three piggeries and a timber and thatched wagon lodge. The grounds included a productive kitchen garden and a small orchard, with a grass paddock, bounded on the South by a stream, and totalling just over 12½ acres.
On close examination of the photographs of the house at the time of sale in 1911, it is possible to formulate a theory about the possible development of the property. When viewed from the South, an early part of the property appears to be the gabled section on the East side, possibly a two bay structure running North/South having a much lower gable height than the rest of the property. This fits in with the earliest depiction of the property on the Senex map of 1729, which also depicts a rectangular building in a North/South alignment to the London/Coast road. When viewed from the North, the remains of an earlier building can be seen as a projection of the front of the house at the West end. Between these two earlier buildings are a series of gabled extensions, the first being of similar proportion to the East end. The next is again the same height, but projecting Southwards from the line of the property. The final addition would appear to be a high double gable running East-West completely joining the two previously separated buildings. The North gable forms the structure beneath which the hall and dining room are located, whilst the Southern gable covers the corridor and everything Southwards. The house had assumed this shape and design some time between 1748, and 1812, visible by comparison of the Bourd map and the draft Ordnance Survey map. Although the bulk of the 1911 house has been incorporated within the current house, internally, only the earlier timber framed structure is still visible and may be viewed in one of the bedrooms, as the timber framing and beam work has been incorporated in the room.
Although some of the smaller individual properties were sold in 1911, the main part of the estate, including the mansion house, park, grounds, lodge and Hedgecourt Lake, was bought by Arthur Smeeton Gurney, gentleman, of Luxfords, East Grinstead, on 5th August 1913, for £15,000. Arthur Gurney was a solicitor and son of a retired wine merchant from Balham, and had moved to East Grinstead around 1905, residing first at Knowle Villa, Lingfield Road, before moving to Luxford’s. It is not clear whether New Chapel Farm was included in the purchase of Arthur Gurney, as in 1914, the Electoral Roll lists Andrew Duncan Macneil as having a share in the freehold of the house and land of New Chapel Farm. What is known is that Charles Taylor is recorded at New Chapel Farm until some time in 1912, with Walter Nicholson appearing on the Electoral Roll for New Chapel Farm in 1913. It is also known that some time before the outbreak of World War I, the architect Charles William Bowles was employed to turn the farmhouse at Newchapel Farm into the Newchapel House we see today. The most likely candidate for whom Bowles worked was Andrew Macneil, as he was still recorded as having a share of the freehold house and land of New Chapel Farm up until 1915, and up until this time Arthur Gurney is recorded as living at Luxford’s, but qualifying to vote by ownership of Felbridge Park, which is listed as unoccupied.
Bowles described the original farmhouse as ‘a Surrey farmstead, a typical old house of brick, with tile hanging on the upper storey and a tiled roof. New Chapel Farm house had, in the course of its existence, been altered and added to, although some parts, in the opinion of Bowles, appeared to be of great age, especially the large chimney in the centre of the house, along with some of the timber work on the first floor, but he also stated that ‘modern’ improvements of a deplorable kind had wrought havoc with it’. Nevertheless, it believed that there was enough of the original building remaining and Bowles was requested to restore the house and add to it. However, when building work was begun, it was found that there was very little of the old house worth keeping.
The first intention was to build a fairly modest sized house, but after two changes of mind, the property grew in size and acquired the rambling character that we see today. The building work carried out was completed using traditional materials and old methods of construction. The bricks are Sussex stock, the stone is hammer-dressed East Grinstead sandstone, and green Sussex oak was used for the timberwork. The timbers were adzed on the quarter and framed together in the traditional way being pinned at all the joints with oak pins. Bowles made no attempt to ‘age’ the new work relying on time and the elements to give the house its weathered look. To service the house a range of outbuildings were utilised to the West of the house, comprising of a lodge, with stabling, and a battery and engine house, and an old barn of the farmstead was converted to form garages. On completion of the building work, Bowles had transformed the property from, what was already a fairly substantial house with up to eight bedrooms, and associated farm buildings in 1911, to the very large and impressive house, with assorted service buildings, that stand to this day.
In early 1916, three years after the purchase by Arthur Gurney, the estate, including Newchapel House, was again in the hands of the East Grinstead Estate Company. The most probable cause for this was that Arthur Gurney had secured a loan of £10,000 from the Company for the initial purchase and with the onset of World War I his financial situation must have been affected so that he could no longer repay the loan. The estate was auctioned on 27th March 1916, and was purchased by Henry Willis Rudd, and his wife Mary. The estate included at this time, the mansion, park, grounds, Hedgecourt Lake and Newchapel House. It is evident from surviving records that World War I had quite a drastic effect on the economic situation in Britain, as the Rudd’s only paid £11,750 compared with £15,000 for the same acreage that Arthur Gurney had bought three years earlier. The Rudd’s, like Arthur Gurney, were also aided in their purchase by a loan from the East Grinstead Estate Company, but this time for a modest £5,875.
Henry Rudd, an American, was a director of the Belgian Company Armes Automatique Lewis that had been forced to operate in exile in Britain, as Belgium had been over-run by Germany early in the war. However, the onset of World War I appeared to be fortuative for the Rudd’s as orders for the Lewis gun, placed by the British Government, looked set to make them multi-millionaires. The Rudd’s naturally wanted a property to befit their new found wealth and status, and chose the Felbridge Place estate to realise their grand scheme. They commissioned the eminent British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens to design a replacement for the Felbridge Place mansion, along with a kennel block and stables with lodge, and a new home farm. To compliment the work of Lutyens they commissioned Gertrude Jekyll to design the gardens for the new mansion house and also for Newchapel House, their chosen residence for the duration of the work.
The Rudd’s kept the newly transformed Newchapel House much as they found it on their purchase, save a few alterations to the first floor. It should be remembered that at this period in history the popular ‘retro-look’ in interior design harked back to the Jacobean period, so Newchapel House, with its wealth of traditional building materials, oak panelling and beams would have been in the height of fashion. The main feature of the house was, and still is, the large hall on the ground floor that extends up through two storeys. It is entered off a corridor that leads North/South across the house, through a dark oak panelled screen that is set with a series of lead lights glazed with horn. The ground floor corridor supports a carved balustraded first floor corridor, referred to as the minstrels gallery. The walls are panelled to a height of 8ft (2.4m), and from the centre of the room hangs a chandelier reproduced to the design of one at Knole House, Sevenoaks, Kent. There is a large mullioned window set centrally in the wall facing North, and at the end of the hall, facing the screen, is a high stone inglenook fireplace with brick interior. Four large beams span the ceiling with pierced brackets descending from the corbels. Opening out of the hall, passing to the North of the fireplace, was the dining room. This room was, and still is, pannelled to the ceiling, which is spanned by two beams that intersect at the centre, dividing the ceiling into four quarters. Running between the panelling and the ceiling is moulded plasterwork with depictions of thistles with a rose in each corner. Next to the dining room were the kitchen area and service quarters, occupying the wing built onto the West end of the 1911 house.
To the East of the corridor leading to the hall, could be found the drawing room looking towards the South, with the octagonal room leading off it to the North, both rooms occupying the East wing that was added to the 1911 house. The walls in both rooms were, and still are, panelled. The panelling in the octagonal room was made of Sen wood, a Japanese wood similar to walnut, and set across three corners were, three glass fronted display cabinets, with a fireplace set across the fourth corner to the North East. The panelling in the drawing room was finished in an ivory tone with applied dull-gilt mouldings, but this finish has now been removed to expose the natural wood beneath.
The main staircase is of oak, with the newels and balusters being pierced and of square form, reminiscent of the Jacobean period, and is located in the South East side of the house. The staircase leads up in three flights to a gallery on the first floor, from which gallery corridors gave access to the bedrooms and bathrooms. At the time of the Rudd’s purchase there were five principal bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms. At the West end of the house was a bedroom with an open ceiling, considered to be the oldest part of the 1911 property that Bowles managed to retain. Its beams had been hidden from sight by a later ceiling and rafters. To keep the high ceiling, whilst retaining the bedroom at a comfortable temperature, especially during the winter, Bowles packed the space between the ceiling and the new roofline with a quilting made of dried eelgrass enclosed in a paper jacket.
This room would appear to be a salvaged bay from a medieval building, with a crown plate and crown post roof construction. This style of roof construction was common in East Surrey until mid 16th century when side purlin construction became popular. The bracing beams are curved and very large which is also in keeping with early construction techniques with buildings after the mid 17th century generally having slender, straighter bracing, if present at all.
A study of the timberwork in this room reveals that the outer surface of the timbers at the East end of the room show signs of weathering implying that they once formed part of an outside wall. The timbers to the North also show some weathering on their outside surface, but to a lesser degree than those on the East, unfortunately, the outside surfaces of the other two walls are now covered with plaster. On the ground floor beneath this room is the old dining room, however this room is larger than that above it with pannelled walls to the ceiling preventing inspection of any ground floor timber structure. The North wall of the first floor beamed room is not visually supported from below as the North wall of the dining room is about 3ft (1m) further North than the timber frame above it.
By comparing the plan of the transformed Newchapel House with the photographs of the property standing in 1911, it would seem likely that this bedroom was the remnants of an earlier structure that had been incorporated into the property some time after 1748 and prior to 1840. Perhaps the most conclusive evidence for this is that Bowles was able to insulate between the ceiling line of the room and the roofline, implying that part of the original roof of the old structure had been roofed over during alterations carried out on the property prior to 1911. The 1911 picture shows the earlier structure to be partially hipped, this style had developed in East Surrey by the 17th century. However, there are several researched examples at the Weald & Downland Museum that were partially hipped structures at time salvage, but during restoration were found to have been fully gabled when built. Considering the few beams that are visible today it is not possible to accurately date or determine the purpose of the timber framed structure. However, it would appear to be in keeping with timber framed buildings in East Surrey dating to the second half of the 16th century. Dendrochronology would be the only available technique to accurately date the beams, however without the ability to prove that the first floor timbers are structural and consistent with the building this would only date the beams not the building.
Returning to the corridors, a second staircase spirals its way up from the ground floor to the second floor. This is located to the South of the inglenook fireplace in the hall, and is central to the transformed house. This staircase is narrow and plain, and was used primarily by staff, but is contemporary with the property standing in 1911, if not the earlier property to which the afore mentioned bedroom is associated.
Making only minor changes to the interior of Newchapel House, the Rudd’s spent most of their attention building their grand scheme at Felbridge Place and developing the grounds surrounding Newchapel House, to designs by Gertrude Jekyll.
However, it soon became apparent that the Rudd’s were not going to become the multi-millionaires they had envisaged, when the British Government defaulted on their agreed payment for the Lewis guns they had ordered. The legal battle that ensued ended with Henry Rudd receiving only £200,000, a tenth of what the original contract had promised, paid in offshore war bonds, which he could not access. Faced with financial ruin, the Rudd’s dispensed with the services of Lutyens and on 24th August 1923, the Felbridge Place estate, amounting to 770.906 acres, was taken into the hands of Barclays Bank in ‘recognition of the sum of £50,000’, owed by the Rudd’s, plus ‘£3,070 1s 6d, in interest and recognition of the preparation of the agreement’, the total amounting to £53,070 1s 6d. Some of the money had been spent on renovation work to Wards Farm, Woodcock Hill, along with the building of what is now known as Park Farm, which superseded the old home farm, now called Park House, also accessed off Woodcock Hill. Completed too, were the kennel block, now known as Stonewall, and the stables and lodge, now known as Felbridge Copse, both accessed off Woodcock Hill. The new mansion house was never built in Felbridge, although the design was later used for Gledstone Hall in Yorkshire. The implementations of the landscaped grounds to designs by Gertrude Jekyll at Newchapel House were left uncompleted, and those for the new mansion house were never implemented. Also completed was a Galloping track, now known as the Churchill Stud, with a road known as New Road, linking the stables at Woodcock Hill with the Galloping track and West Park Road.
On 7th May 1924, Barclays Bank, holding for Mr and Mrs Rudd, put Felbridge Place and Newchapel House estates up for auction. The estate included lands totalling 770 acres, including three residences, Newchapel House, Golands and Felbridge Place, a racing stable with bungalow and Galloping track, two farmhouses, with 300 acres of pasture and arable land, eight cottages, also Hedgecourt Lake, and some 250 acres of woodland. It is at this point that Mr and Mrs Rudd disappear from the history of Newchapel House, and local legend takes over, suggesting that Henry Rudd died shortly after his bankruptcy and Mary Rudd ended her days in a small bed-sit, in poverty, in East Grinstead.
Newchapel House was auctioned off as Lot no.14 of 35 Lots, and the detailed description gives an insight into the property and way of life of the Rudd’s:
The top floor contained seven servant’s bedrooms, two with fire places, the others being heated by hot water pipes, these were quite large and airy in comparison to servant’s quarters of the period. There was also a servant’s bathroom with bath, and sink, with a separate servant’s WC. Also located on this floor was a large housemaid’s closet fitted with two sinks. There was also two large family bedrooms measuring 17ft 3ins (5.18m) by 15ft 5ins (4.63m), and 16ft 9ins (5.08m) by 14ft 9ins (4.43m), each having a raised, tiled hearth and chimney opening for a basket stove. Opening from each of these rooms was a bathroom fitted with a bath, lavatory basin, hot towel rail and WC, one having a glass plate door and the other a hanging cupboard. In the corridor there was a range of six fitted cupboards with shelves, and two dwarf cupboards with shelves, whilst off the landing there was an oak staircase to the roof, with a door opening on to a flat lead roof.
The first floor contained, six best bedrooms and five bathrooms. Bedroom 1 measured 18ft 3ins (5.48m) by 14ft 3ins (4.28m) with walls panelled in oak to the ceiling, and a pair of folding doors fitted with plate glass mirrors. For heating it had a hob grate set in a coloured marble surround with a tiled hearth and curb fender, as well as a radiator. Opening from this room was a bathroom with high tile dado, fitted with a bath, hot towel airer, lavatory basin and douche, all with plated fittings, and an adjoining WC with valve apparatus encased in oak with rising seat.
Bedroom 2 was about 17ft 3ins (5.18m) by 17ft 3ins (5.18) with a well fire, set in a variegated marble surround with a hearth, curb fender and wood mantel, there was also a radiator. The bathroom leading from this room had the same fittings to those in the bathroom previously described, as well as a tiled floor, and a stove. There was also a hanging cupboard with a panel door and enclosed mirror fitted to wall.
Bedroom 3 was about 14ft 10ins (4.85m) by 13ft 3ins (3.98m) with a radiator and a well fire set in a variegated marble surround with a curb fender. The walls and mantle were panelled in wood that was painted white. Communicating was a lobby fitted with a hanging cupboard enclosed by a pair of folding doors and with an obscure-glass screen door opening to a bathroom with tiled floor and walls. The fittings being similar to those previously described.
Bedroom 4, probably the oldest part of the retained property, was about 19ft (5.7m) by 12ft 9ins (3.83m) with half-timbered walls and ceilings in old oak, having a open canopy fireplace in brick with tile on the edge and hearth, with an oak curb fender on a brick base and oak mantel board. There was also a radiator hidden behind an oak lattice casing for extra warmth to compensate for the high ceiling. Next to the radiator, fitted to the wall, was a mirror in an oak frame and six shelves. There was a small anti-room with two shelves and bathroom communicated by the bedroom. The bathroom had tiled walls and the floor was part tiled, with the remainder being in parquetry. There was an open grate for log fires with a stand, with a tiled surround and hearth, with an oak mantel and metal mounted curb fender. The fittings were similar to previously mentioned but there was also a shower, enclosed by a plate glass screen in a plated metal frame. There was a carved oak angle wardrobe fitted with tray shelves and a hanging cupboard.
Bedroom 5 was about 17ft 9ins (5.33m) by 15ft (4.5m) with oak panelling to walls and an oak window seat. It had an open fireplace with dog grate, set in a black and white marble surround, with a steel curb and oak mantel. Behind the panelling of this room there were hot circulating pipes to give extra warmth.
Bedroom 6 was about 15ft (4.5m) by 11ft 9ins (3.53m) with an angle fireplace with a tiled hearth, stone curb and oak mantel. There was a recess fitted with a lavatory basin, with hot and cold water, enclosed in an oak casing, with a cupboard under and window over. Adjoining was a bathroom with high coloured marble dado and black and white tiles to floor. This was fitted with bath, lavatory, plated brackets and plated towel airer, and a WC that had a similar dado and tiled flooring, and was fitted with a valve apparatus in an oak casing with a rising seat.
These six bedrooms all led off the corridor landing, on which was also constructed a fitted wardrobe in oak and a 10ft (3m) range of carved oak cupboards, and an oak box seat with a rising top set in a window recess. There was also a housemaid’s closet with tiled dado walls, fitted with a glazed stoneware sink, two deal shelves and a small corner cupboard.
There was an impressive staircase gallery of about 30ft (9m) by 19ft (5.7m) with carved oak timbered walls that was heated by two radiators enclosed in an oak and steel mounted casing. Leading Northward from the staircase gallery was the music gallery of about 18ft (5.4m) by 6ft 6ins (1.95m) that overlooked the baronial style hall. At the end of the gallery was a small writing room lit by three lead light windows.
On the ground floor, there was an entrance vestibule about 18ft 6ins (5.55m) by 5ft (1.5m) with stone paved floor leading into the staircase hall of about 29ft (8.6m) by 13ft 6ins (4.05m), which had panelled oak walls, oak block flooring and an impressive carved oak staircase leading to the staircase gallery on the first floor. There was a door opening on to stone-paved logia and then in to garden. To the West of the stair case and accessed from the logia was a flower room fitted with a glazed stoneware sink and shelving, with an oak door opening into the back corridor, to the West of the staircase and leading to the domestic offices. This room is currently a storeroom, and gives access to a cellar that was, at one time, shelved out in stone to form a wine cellar.
A feature of the house was the baronial style hall, measuring 29ft (8.7m) by 18ft (5.4m) and about 16ft 4.8m) high. It is well lit with leaded light windows in the North wall, with fitted seats under that originally had hot water coils for warmth. The flooring has wide oak boards, with high oak panelling to the walls with carved oak timbers above and on the ceiling. The fireplace has a carved stone front and the chimney recess, which is 4ft 6ins (1.35m) deep, has stone seats at the sides with shelved recesses at the back. There was a tiled canopy for a log stove, but now has just an antique cast iron fireback and log stand on a brick base. At the East end of the hall was the oak music gallery with an oak screen, with the lead lights of horn, opening into the entrance vestibule.
To the South of the fireplace in the hall was a panelled door that led to the narrow central staircase, now blocked off, and to the North, a door leading to a lobby that led to the dining room. This lobby had a lead light window in the North wall, with a seat under, and a glazed display cupboard running along the side of the back- to-back fireplaces of the hall and dinning room. The dining room, although now not used as such, is about 22ft 5ins (6.73m) by 17ft 6ins (5.25m) with polished oak flooring. The walls are panelled in oak to the ceiling, which is timber in antique oak. Two lead light windows effectively light the room and it has an open fireplace with a carved stone mantel and hearth, stone curb fender, originally holding a steel log stove. To the South of the fireplace was a panelled door also leading to the narrow central staircase, now blocked off. A serving hatch was located in the South wall of the room opening from the back corridor.
In the East wing was located a drawing room of about 26ft (7.8m) by 25ft (7.5m), now no longer used as such. This room is well lit by four casement windows, the walls being panelled to the height of the ceiling, which had been painted white, but have now been stripped and returned to natural wood. There is an open fireplace with green marble surround and hearth, which originally had a white painted mantel, again now stripped like the pannelled walls. At the North end of this room there was a fitted bookcase on either side of the door leading to the boudoir or octagonal room. The bookcases had cupboards under and glazed doors over, and were decorated to match the walls, again now stripped back to the wood. In the East wall there is also a half glazed panel door opening on to what was the sunken rock garden.
Leading from the drawing room, between the bookcases, was the octagonal boudoir. This room is 15ft (4.5m) by 15ft (4.5m), and was described in 1924, as having ‘oak panelled walls to height of the ceiling’, compared to Sen wood as stated by Charles Bowles, the architect employed to transform the house. The room was fitted with three corner display cupboards with glazed doors. In 1924, these were described as having plush lined shelving and interior illumination, now they are hung with curtains behind the glazing. In the North East corner is an angle fireplace with oak or Sen wood mantel, with a hob stove, and a moulded stone surround to a hearth with a curb fender. The room also has two recess windows and a door opening to the entrance vestibule.
The above description for the vast majority of the ground floor rooms could still be used today, with many of the features still visible. The oak staircase is unaltered, so is the hall, even the oak screen still retains its lead lights of horn. The glazed cabinet between the hall and dining room is still there, as are the three glazed corner cabinets in the octagonal room, and even the safe has been utilised as a cupboard. The bulk of the current alterations are on the first and second floor with the conversion of the bedrooms and bathrooms into three room apartments, even so, the rooms still retain most of their original features. Perhaps evidence for the most structural alterations appear in the oldest part of the house, bedroom 4 of 1924, which now form a bed/sitting room and kitchen, although the adjoining bathroom remains unaltered. It is evident that the exposed rafters in this apartment are not contemporary with the ancient timbers within the structure of the walls.
The domestic offices were approached off the back corridor, and were located on the South and West side of the house. They were considered to be ‘very complete and exceptionally well arranged and fitted’. They comprised of a large and well-lit kitchen about 26ft (7.8m) by 16ft (4.8m), the walls being finished with white tiles to within 18ins (45cm) of the ceiling. The kitchen contained a Brefault range that projected 2ft 4ins (70cm) from the wall with a surrounding tiled floor. The range had two ovens with a hot plate closet above and a plated frame enclosed by glazed sliding doors and canopy top. On one side of the range there was a charcoal grill, whilst on the other side there were four cupboards enclosed by double doors. There was also an 11ft 6ins (3.45m) dresser with four drawers and a pot board under with shelves over. There was also a 12ft (3.6m) range of dwarf cupboards, enclosed by double doors.
Located to the West of the kitchen was a larder that was fitted with slate and deal shelving. Opposite the kitchen, to the South of the back corridor was located the scullery of about 16ft 6ins (4.95m) by 13ft (3.9m), with red tiled flooring and white tiles on the walls. This was fitted with a large glazed stoneware sink, three taps and a draining board. There was also a 36ins (90cm) Carron range with an oven and a high-pressure boiler, and an 11ft 5ins (3.43m) dresser with three drawers under and shelves over. The scullery also had a small larder, again with tiled walls and fitted with slate and deal shelving. To the West of the scullery was a servant’s WC and a door leading to the kitchen yard that was partly enclosed, from which was approached the stoke hole and wood store, later the boiler house fitted with two boilers that supplied the central heating. To the East of the scullery was the servant’s hall, formerly the maid’s sitting room, of about 15ft(4.5m) by 13ft (3.9m), with an open fireplace with a tiled hearth and fitted cupboards. To the East of the servant’s hall was the butler’s pantry with an open fireplace, lead lined sink, and a range of dwarf cupboards enclosed by panel doors. There was also a range of cupboards over for glass and china having glazed doors. Built into the wall was, and still is, a safe about 5ft (1.5m) wide and 2ft (60cm) deep, which was originally lined with baize and fitted with shelves, being enclosed by a Milner’s door about 6ft 8ins (2m) by 2ft 4ins 70cm). Leading out of the pantry was a bedroom for the butler, abutting a gunroom accessed from the back corridor.
Outside, located in the South East corner of the kitchen yard were two outside WC’s, and the woodshed, with an archway leading to the ornamental grounds on the South side of the house. Situated at a convenient distance behind the house, approached by the carriage drive and built, in character with the residence in part brick and timber, was a range of buildings having a central gable, comprising on the ground floor on the East side, stabling for three horses, a store room with a fireplace, some refrigerating rooms, fitted with a complete ice making plant including a 2½ -horse power engine and dynamo. On the West side there was a well-fitted laundry with cement and glazed channel flooring. It had three divisions of washing trays, a large copper, with a hot water circulating boiler. There was a drying room with fitted bench and ironing stove. The washhouse had a tiled floor and was fitted with sink and copper. On the first floor, there were five living rooms, two fitted kitchens and a scullery, two bathrooms, two WC’s and a box room. The whole building was lit by electricity.
Other outbuildings included a brick built and tiled coal shed that held 20 tons, and an old barn in brick and timber that had been converted into garages, having in the upper part, a man’s room, WC and extensive loft accommodation, and on the ground floor, three garages, respectively 29ft (8.7m) by 17ft (5.1m), 19ft 6ins (5.85m) by 14ft 7ins (4.38m) and 20ft (6m) by 19ft 6ins (4.5m). The whole building, including a small workshop, was centrally heated by radiators and hot water pipes supplied from the boiler house in rear.
On the South side of the quadrangle there was a single storey building with a plaster front, containing two rooms, which was originally used as a powerhouse. In the rear of the garages was a brick built and tiled powerhouse with tiled floor and white tiled dado to walls, this was fitted with a 20 horsepower Hornsby oil engine with a motor and generating plant for the electrical service of the entire premises, including the pump attached to the septic tank. There was also a battery room that was fitted with 56 storage cells. Outside this building there were two large cooling tanks enclosed by a louvre timber framed building with tiled roof, each holding about 1,000 gallons, also an oil tank for 200 gallons in a sunken, brick pit with an oak cover, having pipes communicating with the engine house with pump attached.
There was a gardener’s mess room of about 20ft (6m) by 9ft (2.7m) with open gates, and a concrete floor, fitted with a bench and cupboards. The adjoining storeroom was about 17ft (5.1m) by 19ft (5.7m) with a concrete floor and men’s WC. There was also a large brick built and tiled wood shed about 40ft (12m) by 15ft (4.5m), with three parts open at the front. There was also a brick built incinerator with five brick built rubbish dumps with concrete bottoms, and a brick built petrol store adjoining with a concrete roof and floor, enclosed by an iron lined door. The property was supplied by mains water and generated and stored its own electricity, it would be another ten years or so before the village of Felbridge was served by electricity.
The ornamental grounds surrounding the house included a tennis lawn and sunken Bowling Green, a rose garden enclosed by a yew hedge, rock gardens and a small ornamental lake. Herbaceous borders were planted with a variety of flowering and other shrubs and there were several rhododendron beds. There was, and still is, a broad grass walk some 30ft (9m) wide bordered by rhododendron and ornamental trees extending for about 150ft (4.5m) towards the woods forming a picturesque vista. The extent of the gardens was about 4½ acres in addition to which some 4 acres had been partly planted. The remaining land comprised of meadowland and woodland, and in all, the grounds of Newchapel House covered about 29½ acres, broken down thus:
Field Name Parish Acreage
76 House & Gardens Godstone 1.449
88 Grounds & Pasture " 10.950
89 Pasture & Grounds " 5.887
129 Pasture " 4.967
140pt. Wood " 5.285
140A pt. Wood " .962
Total acreage 29.500
The bulk of the Felbridge Place estate ended up in the hands of Percy Harvey, formerly Managing Director of the East Grinstead Estate Company and husband of Emma Harvey. However, Lord Dewer purchased the Stud Farm and Galloping track at Newchapel, and Harry William Kilby Pears and his wife, Katherine Irene, purchased Newchapel House.
Harry Pears was the son of Kilby Pears, a pharmaceutical chemist who had set up a manufacturing chemist company in the early 1870’s, operating from 16, Western Road, Hove, Sussex. Harry joined his father in the business about 1890, and the company changed its name from Kilby Pears Pharmaceutical Chemist to Kilby Pears & Son. The company disappeared between 1899 and 1909, and the whereabouts of the Pears family is unknown until 1924, when Harry W K Pears arrives at Newchapel House. The Pears’ made few alterations to the house during their ownership of nearly thirty years, except installing a staircase leading from the music gallery to the second floor, and adorn the walls of the hall with a selection of arms and armour that Harry Pears had acquired from the Mapleton Collection.
The Pears family included a son, John Seymour and a daughter, Nira Kathleen, although local legend suggests that there was a second son who was killed in World War II, but to date no details have been found. What is known is that John was born in 1915, and attained a BA at Trinity College. With the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted with the Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons), Royal Armoured Corps. He was part of the Allied forces that invaded the Italian mainland on 3rd September 1943, but his active service was cut short as he lost his life on 20th October the same year. Lieutenant John Seymour Pears, 13257, was buried in Minturno War Cemetary, in Italy. The Pears family were said to be devastated, not only had they lost a son, or possibly two, but also they no longer had an heir to whom Newchapel House would pass.
Harry Pears died in 1951, and his widow Kate, continued to live in the house. In 1952, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who were looking for a suitable site on which to construct their London Temple, approached Kate Pears to purchase the property. Initially she did not want to sell, but being in her eighties and finding the property difficult to maintain, she eventually agreed, and in June 1953, Newchapel House and, by now, its 32 acres of grounds was purchased by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The house was retained and the first and second floors were converted into a series of small apartments for staff. This was done with the minimum impact upon the structure of the building. The ground floor remains virtually unchanged with the rooms being used as offices. Outbuildings, located to the South West of the house, were in a bad state of repair and were demolished to make way for a reception area, residential block and visitors centre, but other than minor alterations Newchapel House remains as it was when the Pears sold the property.
The site chosen for the construction of the Temple was part of what had been known as House Mead in 1856, located to the East of the lily pool, in front of the tennis court, South of Newchapel House. Being that the area was quite damp, it was felt necessary to drain the pool to avoid the footings and foundations being water-logged. The architect chosen to design the London Temple was Edward O Anderson, from Salt Lake City, and work began on its construction in 1954. The architect supervising the construction was Sir Thomas P Bennett, of Bennett & Sons, London and the contractors were a London firm, Kirk & Kirk Ltd, who also sub-contracted to local companies in the area. The pool was later re-instated on the South side of the Temple. The Temple measures 84ft (25.2m) wide by 159 ft (47.7m) long and 56ft (16.8m) high, with the spire being 156ft 9½ins (47m) from ground level, being lifted into position in one piece. The building is constructed of reinforced concrete and steel, with the walls being made of brick and faced with Portland Stone. It is roofed with cooper sheet and the spire is also copper covered. Marble for the interior came from Italy, and the stainless steel baptismal font with twelve bronze oxen that support it was made in Switzerland. When installed the oxen looked golden but over the years have acquired the patina of aged bronze. At the time of the Temple’s construction there were seventy-five rooms and it had a total seating capacity of 1,500. The external appearance also belies the fact that the building had three storeys and a mezzanine gallery, plus a basement. The London Temple was the fourteenth to be built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and was estimated to have cost between £400,000 and £600,00. The Temple took three years to build and was dedicated in September1958.
The Temple remained unchanged until 1989, when a major refurbishment program was instigated. The architects chosen for the project were Peter J Crockford ARIBA, of New Milton, Hampshire, and the contractors were Walter Lilly of Thornton Heath, Croydon, Surrey. A new floor was added to replace the mezzanine floor of the Temple, and five more rooms were added, and the Temple re-opened in 1990. Since then a residential staff block has been added to the West of Newchapel House, which was completed in the year 2000.
There are still more avenues yet to pursue in the development of the site of Newchapel House, especially in the earlier years, and the families who lived and worked there, but from the research carried out it is evident that there has been a property on the site of Newchapel House since at least the mid 16th century. It is also evident that the property standing in 1911, still stands within the house we see today, essentially the 1911 structure forms the central part of the building with a North/South wing added to the East and West ends of the house. It is also evident that part of the 1911 structure dates to the medieval period and may be part of the original property that had been incorporated into the 1911 building. It is also clear that Bowles’ intention was not to create a ‘fake’, but to simply adopt traditional building methods and materials, in keeping with the property he acquired as a basis for his designs, whilst retaining as much of the original structure as possible. He was following in the footsteps of the Arts and Crafts Movement, founded by William Morris, whose four main aims were: the use of natural imagery, the return to hand production, the reinterpretation of the medieval style and a return to visual simplicity and truth to scale. Bowles’ style of design and construction is also contemporary with other architects of his day, for example, Berrydown Court in Hampshire, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, is very similar in appearance to Newchapel House, and another architect whose life’s work was based on traditional building methods and materials was Blunden Shadbolt, examples of his work being found locally at Paygate, West Park Road, Felbridge, and The Old House, Effingham Road, Copthorne. Their work should not be considered as ‘fake’, simply a reinterpretation of historical building techniques using traditional building materials. On the evidence so far uncovered, the opening statement by Pevsner is some what flawed, even down to the owners Pears being of ‘Pears Soap’, as to date no link has been found between the two Pears families, as Harry Pears came from a pharmaceutical manufacturing background and not a soap manufacturing background, nor is there evidence that he descended from Andrew Pears, the founder of the Pears Soap Company.
The London Temple, known locally as the Mormon Temple, has become a landmark for the area, being clearly visible to travellers from both the road and the air. Standing just South of Newchapel House it dominates this area of Newchapel, and as a point of interest is located just North of a field called Chappel Park, the possible site of ‘the chapel in the park’ referred to in the 1365 grant between Hugh Craan and Nicholas Lovaine. As for Newchapel House itself, it stands, little altered from the initial designs of the architect Charles W Bowles, as a testament to the traditional building materials and skills employed in its construction in the early part of the 20th century. The interior design of the house has also changed little in the past ninety years, and some of the fittings, dating from the 1924, sale are still insitu, including a settle type bench at the West of the staircase, and a large carved oak cabinet located on the stairway gallery on the first floor. The house is like a time capsule of early 20th century cutting edge design and technology, with the use of electricity, encased radiators, built-in furniture, refrigeration and waste disposal, all household items and services that are taken for granted in modern housing.
Buildings of Surrey by Nairn and Pevsner
Godstone by U Lambert
Victoria County History of Surrey
The County of Surrey by Mannings & Bray
The Oxford Companion to local and Family History by D Hey
Gage papers, SAS/G39/10, SAS/G43/37, 49, 122, 139, 145, 147, 148, SAS/G11/27, 28, 29, 30, & SAS/G26/2, SAS/G/ACC/914a. ESRO
Notes on the Godstone Hearth Tax by U Lambert, Ref: 3924/11/91, SHC
Lagham Court Book, P25/21/11, SHC
The foreign and domestic papers of Henry VIII, 21 vols, 1864-1932, FHA
Map of John Senex, 1719, FHA
Map of J Bourd, 1748, FHA
O/S map 1792-1812, FHA
Tithe map and apportionment for Godstone, 1844, FHA
Sale map and schedule for Felbridge Place, 1856, FHA
Sale map and schedule for Felbridge Place, 1911, FHA
Some facts and photos of Felbridge, by Reflector of the Pall Mall Gazette, FHA
Sale map and schedule for Cuttinglye and its environs, 1916, FHA
Sale map and schedule for Felbridge Place and New Chapel House estates, 1924, FHA
Land Tax Records for Godstone, Q56/7, SHC
Tax Record for Felbridge, 1801, FHA
Plans for Felbridge Park, 1916-17, by E Lutyens, 77/1-33, RIBA
Kelly’s Directory, 1855, 1867, 1874, 1887, FHA
PO Directory, 1859, 1867, 1871, FHA
Census records, 1841, 1851, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, FHA
Will of CH Gatty, 1903, FHA
Schedule of tenancies at Felbridge Place, 1911, FHA
Title Deeds for ‘Holly Bush’, Copthorne Road, FHA
Title Deeds to Felbridge Place, Mercer’s College
Horne, by P Gray
Farmsteads and Farm buildings in Surrey, by P Gray
Discovering timber framed buildings, by R. Harris.
Timber building in Britain, by R. W. Brunskill.
Recording timber-framed buildings, by Alcock, Barley, Dixon & Meeson.
The buildings of Surrey, by Nairn and Pevsner
Electoral Roll, 1900 - 1945, SHC
Kilby Pears & Co, Welcome Trust
John S Pears, Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Lesser Country houses of Today – Newchapel House, Country Life articles, pt. 1&2, 1926, FHA
£400,000 Mormon Temple to have cafeteria, article from Local paper, mid 1950’s, FHA
Thousands of Mormons at Temple dedication, article from Local Paper, 1958, FHA
The London Temple, http://www.lds.org.uk/temples/london/londonstory.htm
A brief history of the London Temple, by Lelend R Grover, FHA
The Story of the London Temple, by the church of the Latter-day Saints, FHA
My thanks go to Elder Peter Talbot-Ashby for his time, tour of the old house and information.