South Home (formerly The Hollies, now rebuilt as Oaklands)

The Hollies was the orginal name of the house later called South Home. The grounds of South Home were just over 2 acres. Oaklands have now replaced the apartments that were built in the 1960s when South Home was developed.

The house, later named South Home, was originally “The Hollies”. It was built by 1880. It stood at the western end of its grounds of just over 2 acres, and had a cottage at the rear of the grounds. We have seen no pictures of the house, so do not know its style, but since the houses on both sides were built by William Paxton, it is reasonable to assume it was in the same style as Nizels and Inglewood. Its footprint shows that it was about the same size and shape as Woodheath.

The first occupant of the house was a Mr McLeod, who stayed there for less than a year until Margaret Davis, a widow, born in 1816 in Islington, moved into the house in 1881. Her son Robert Thomas, born in 1850 and two daughters Sarah Ann, born 1848 and Marian (1858) also lived with her. According to the 1881 census, the three children had all been born in different places around London, so the family had moved a great deal, at least around the time of their births. They had left by 1885, when Edward Roche moved in. He in turn stayed until 1891, when the house became the home of Sir John Scott from Carlisle and was renamed South Home.

Sir John was 76 at the time, having been born in 1815, the year of Waterloo. He had retired from his work, and was described as “living on his own means”. There was no family living with him at this time, although he did have four servants to look after him.

Sir John stayed at the house for 10 years, but had moved on by 1899, and the house was now occupied by Donald Campbell Shearer. He was 64 at the time, having been born in Thurso in Scotland in 1835. He had retired from being a Provisions Merchant, and was a Justice of the Peace. His 22 year old daughter, Barbara, was living with him. He stayed at the house until 1903, when James White took up residence with his wife Emma.

OaklandsArthur Battle, at the time he was delivering bread to Kemnal Road on a daily basis, recalls that the owner was a Dr White, a professor of Theology, but he gives no further information. Dr White and his wife stayed at South Home until at least 1937. After that date there is no reference to him at the house, though neither can we find anyone else.

When records resume in 1945 the house had been divided into five separate flats. Eventually, in 1958, the house was demolished, and replaced by the twelve South Home flats. These were in turn demolished, and in 2000 the new Oaklands apartments were built, which can be seen through the trees on the right here.

Anne Kyne has been in contact with us regarding her memories of the house in the 1950s, and these are reproduced here:

I lived, with my mother and younger sister, in an apartment on the first floor of South Home when I was a young child, after the Second World War. I understood that South Home had been converted into apartments after the war, but the house was very much intact. I was told that it had been requisitioned during the war, for use by the army, but have no confirmation of this.

South Home was an imposing house, with an impressive semi-circular drive and a front garden that hid the road from view. If my memory is correct, the house was similar in design and materials to Woodheath, though probably not on quite so grand a scale. I don’t remember it as being in any way mock-Tudor, like Nizels next door.

I recall a rather grand staircase, off to the left as one came through the front entrance, which, I believe, had a galleried landing. I remember my sister and I sitting crying on these wide stairs one day when my mother was late home and someone from the ground floor flat coming to comfort us. The many large windows made the apartment very light and I used to sit looking out over the garden.

The rooms were very large. Our bedroom was vast. My mother told me, possibly tongue-in-cheek, that it had been the ballroom, and I remember being frightened in the night because of its size.

There was a large bathroom on the second floor above the sitting room, with a huge old fashioned geyser at the end of the bath. One day, when workmen were busy in the bathroom, the ceiling collapsed onto the sitting room below just after my sister and I had gone from there into the kitchen.
The garden was very large, with many beautiful trees and shrubs including a striking bank of rhododendrons down the left-hand side. There was also a stream and woodland at the bottom, which backed onto fields. It was like having one’s own private park. I noticed, when I visited, in about 1995, that the old garden had been divided between South Home, by then rebuilt as an ugly 1960s style block of wardened flats (where my grandmother ended her days), and what had once been the gardener’s house behind (now Wild Wood).

AnnKyne1950(2)Kemnal Road was very rural in those days, and there were a great number of children who played there and in the large gardens of the nearby houses. I went to Mead Road school, and remember being taken there by a lady called Jean, who had a withered arm and looked after my sister and me whilst my mother was at work. I never knew her surname. I was surprised to see how little changed the school was after so many years, and the same trees, which are an abiding memory, lining the street.

Kemnal Road and Chislehurst were special to me, and gave me a sense of place. I love space, tree lined streets and prefer rural to built locations. My memories are of the house and surrounding area being a little bit of heaven for a young girl and her friends, and when my family left, childhood was never the same again.

I believe that living at South Home shaped my future. It gave me a love of plants, landscape, wildlife and the environment. I eventually studied ecology and horticulture, and have spent my adult life working and campaigning for the environment and designing gardens. Architecture has been another lifelong interest, especially vernacular architecture and could stem from memories of living in a child’s paradise amongst beautifully designed houses and gardens

I have photographs showing parts of the house and garden, but I think they are in store at the moment, but I will be happy to have them displayed on the website if I find them again. I am sure those attached were taken at South Home. Hopefully some of the other children in them may recognise and identify themselves.

Wild Wood

There was a property in the north east corner of the grounds of South Home, at the rear of the house. Today this is Wild Wood . There is no mention of it or of any residents in 1881, but in the census of 1891 there were two families living there in what Arthur Battle later refers to as “two adjoining cottages”. In fact one was a gardener’s cottage, and the other was above the stables

The rooms above the stables were used by South Home’s coachman. Charles Catlin, born in 1852 in Uxbridge, was the head of this household. His wife Betsy was three years his senior, from Cambridgeshire, and was 42 at the time of the census. They had five children with them; their two daughters, Annie, 14, born in Acton, and Bessie, 5, born in Finchley, and three sons, George, 13, and Charles, 11, both born in Pimlico, and Albert, 8, born in Notting Hill. This is a large family for four rooms. Annie and George were both working at this time. Annie was described as a pupil/teacher, and George as an indoor assistant.

Edward Giles, born in 1865, was the next resident coachman. According to the census information in 1901, he was from Hampshire, as was his wife, Harriett, two years his junior at 34. Their son Ernest was born in Mill Hill in 1890, and their nine year old daughter Lillie was born in Banstead, Surrey in 1893.

It is possible that the coachman's quarters were unoccupied for some time, but by 1904 Alfred Chamberlain and his wife Margaret were living there with their four children. Alfred was the chauffeur. He was born in Twickenham in 1871. His wife was from Suffolk, one year younger than her husband. Dorothy, their eldest daughter (born 1898) was a dairy worker. Alfred, Herbert and George were all still at school in 1911.

The gardener’s cottage was occupied in 1891 by John Fletcher, born in 1846, from Ledbury. He was a gardener, and lived with his wife Mary, aged 48 in 1891, from Whitchurch, and their two daughters, Mary, born in 1872 in Hendon, and by now a domestic servant, and Emma, born a year later in Barnet, who is described as an “amanuensis”.

By 1901 the Fletcher family has gone, and Philip Hopkins, aged 39, and his family were in residence. He was a gardener from Oxfordshire, and his wife Emily, aged 33, is from St Albans. They had two daughters living with them, Ada, 13, and Edith, 10, both born in St Albans, and a son, William, aged only 4, born in Cricklewood.

The Hopkins family stayed, as far as we can see, until at least 1939. Their younger son, William, born after 1901, was with them, and when he married Ada in 1934, they stayed on in the flat. It is likely that Philip and Emily died around this time; they would have been almost 80 years old.

After the war two separate families lived in the property until about 1951; Karl and Mary Dukamp, and Charles and Kathleen Showell. When they left, Henry Baker moved to the flat, and stayed here until 1979. Cyril and Louise Gorman, and later, Arthur and Marjorie Wakeling lived in the cottage. Later still the property was converted into three flats, until at some stage after 1988 it was converted into a single residence, which it remains to this day.

Domestic servants at South Home

There were four servants at the house at the time of the 1881 census, Jane Hull, who was then 70 years old, but still described as a Nurse servant, Mary Anne Cruse (37) from Wiltshire, parlour-maid, and two housemaids, Alice Mary Young (25) from Surrey, and Caroline Osborne (21) from Essex.

By 1891 the servants had all moved on, and there were four new servants, Ellen Lambden (59), the cook from Basingstoke, Emily Birmingham (33), the housemaid, from Farnham, Mary Lambden (30), the parlour-maid from Dummer, Hampshire, who must be Ellen’s daughter, and Hessal Norris (24), the kitchen-maid, from Ashford.

The number of servants had fallen to three by 1901. Annie Tesserson (38) was from Perth, Scotland, with Rhoda Croucher (31) and Kate Eysbuck (20) both from Kent.

With the arrival of the White family, the number of servants rose to 5 by 1911. Marcia Willis was cook, aged 47 from London, Sarah March (25), parlour-maid from Buxted, Surrey, Florence Levey (25), housemaid from London, Edith Fletcher (21), housemaid from Stroud, and Annie Wright (17), kitchen-maid from Stepney.