Wyvelsfield (renamed Mulbarton Court)

Wyvelsfield print

This most impressive house was originally called Wyvelsfield, and was built before 1881. We cannot find any local source for the name of the house, though there is a Wivelsfield village in East Sussex. The print above was featured in The Building News of January 1878. The house itself was very impressive, as the photographs here show.

More photographs of the house and its interior are shown here...

The details of the house are also contained in Sales Particulars from 1920. Click here to read them.

Wyvelsfield from westWyvelsfield was one of the larger houses in Kemnal Road. Up to 1909 it sat in 2.23 acres of land in a triangular shape whose northern apex was at Foxbury South Lodge. Around 1930 the then owners acquired substantial amounts of land to the east and the south of its original boundary, so that the grounds covered some 15 acres, swallowing up Kemnal Warren, and the land behind Inglewood, South Home and Nizels, as well as some of the southern-most grounds to Foxbury Manor. The first owner was Henry Honey who moved into Wyvelsfield in 1878 with his wife Harriett Higgs. Henry was born in 1818 in Redruth, Cornwall, and described himself in the census return as a “Manager and Director of Companies”. Harriet was from Leicester, where she had been born in 1822. One of their daughters, Catherine, was married to Travers Hawes, living at Nizels, just down the road from them. Unfortunately she died in 1891 after giving birth to a daughter.

At the time of the 1881 census their 33 year old married daughter, Harriet Eva was staying with them together with her husband, Richard Welch (34), a solicitor who was born in York, and their two young children, Trafford Richard (3) and Winifred Eva (2), both born in Norwood. It is not clear how permanent the living arrangements were regarding the Welch family, but at the time of the next census in 1891, two of their grandchildren are there again, Trafford, now aged 12, and a new addition to the Welch family, Charles, born in 1883. There is a governess living at the house, presumably to teach the two boys, which does imply some permanence. Neither their parents nor their sister feature anywhere in the England census information for 1891, and we can only speculate on what might have happened, or where they might have gone. Henry looks as though he might have retired from his directorships, and describes himself as “living on own means”. They had a visitor staying with them in 1891, Fanny Jackson, who was then 62, from Harriett’s home town; she may have been Harriet’s younger sister, and if so was probably there following her niece's death.

Wyvelsfield from northIn 1893 Henry and Harriett moved to Folkestone, and lived at 36 Castle Hill Avenue. They were still there in 1901, when Henry was 83. Their daughter, by now 53, was with them, but no other family. They had seven servants, and two hospital nurses living with them at this time.

Edwin Jones from Worcestershire moved into Wyvelsfield when Henry and his wife left. He was born in Worcestershire in 1834, and had been an ironmaster and a Justice of the Peace. His wife Jane was living with there him. She was from Staffordshire, where she was born in 1830. They had moved from Hackney where they had lived with their daughter, but she does not appear to have moved here with them. He died, aged 70, in 1904, and is buried in St Nicholas churchyard. His wife lived on for a little time at the house, but in 1907 she died, aged 77, and was buried with her husband.

Mr William Henry Peckitt was the next resident, and stayed at the house until 1920, with his wife, Helen. He was born in 1870, and was a dealer in stamps. Arthur Battle refers to the owner at the time he was making bread deliveries in the road as “Peckitts, the well known authority on stamps”. William purchased a number of famous collections, and retired a rich man in 1913, having sold his business and collections to Stanley Gibbons in the Strand (where they still are). He had left Wyvelsfield by 1920, and died in 1934 at Monte Carlo, aged 64.

Wyvelsfield from southBernard Cuddon is the next occupier. He bought the house for £10,500, and enlarged the grounds significantly. He enlarged the grounds significantly. He took up residence in 1920, and stayed there for 13 years. It was he who changed the name to Mulbarton Court, though why he should do this is not clear. The name Cuddon is an old Norfolk name, and Mulbarton is a village in East Norfolk, so there may be some connection. Bernard was born in Hampstead in 1863. He married Margaret in 1899. She was 26 at the time, and had been born in Hanwell, Middlesex. Their son Bernard Eric was born in 1905 in Paddington. Margaret died in 1931 and is buried in St Mary’s churchyard in Crown Lane. Bernard must have moved away after his wife’s death, since there is no record of his death locally. Eric died in 1988, aged 83, in Ryedale in North Yorkshire.

In 1933 Harold Molins moved to Mulbarton Court with his wife, Cora. Harold was born in 1885 in Cuba, and was to become Chairman of Molins Machine Co Ltd, based in Deptford. More about him and his brother and the phenominally successful business they built can be found by clicking here. It was Cora and her bicycle to whom Jean Percy referred in her letter. The Molins were living in the house when it was damaged by bombs in October 1940.

Mulbarton Court and Barton

Taken from the south in the 1920s, this photograph shows Barton on the right

The damage was so bad that the house was abandoned, and the family moved to live in what is now Barton, which had avoided damage. Barton was an extension to the east side of the house, which it is said was originally a nursery. Harold and Cora were still living there in 1955, but had left by 1956, presumably when they sold Mulbarton Court for development. The present Mulbarton Court building, comprising 12 apartments, was finished in 1958, the year that Harold died, aged 73.

Barton has remained as a separate home to the present date. From 1959 it was occupied by Leonard and Marjorie Van Raalte. Marjorie was still in the house 30 years later.

Piermont, a new house at the northern end of the original grounds of Wyvelsfield, was built in 2004, and brings back to this end of Kemnal Road some of the grandeur of its heyday.

Mulbarton Cottage

LodgeMulbarton Cottage was the original lodge to Wyvelsfield, and was designed to reflect aspects of the main house, particularly the bowed rooms. For photographs of the lodge click here. It doubled as a lodge and house of the head gardener. Originally it was much smaller than it is now, and had only one bowed extending room. The second one at the rear was added in the 1960s, and the southern extension is a later addition, after 1974.

William Keep (37) was the gardener who lived at the lodge in 1881 with his wife Emily (34). He was from Streatham, and his wife was born in Greenwich.

By 1891 George Hicks, a gardener from Dover, then aged 38, had moved in with his wife Mary (30) from Worcestershire, and three children, all described as scholars: Charles (13) and Alice (9) who were both born in Penge, and Frederick (6), born in Chislehurst. Ten years later Benjamin Brown (55) was living here. A gardener, he was from Carshalton. His wife Clarissa (57) had been born in Lincolnshire. They had two grown-up daughters living with them, both described as dressmakers: Clara (27) and Emily (26). They had been born in Hackney. Benjamin stayed at the lodge until 1910, when William Eldridge and his wife Elizabeth moved in. They were to live at the lodge for 43 years until 1953.

The Lodge seems to have retentive powers; two later families have stayed for many years at the house. Leslie and Winifred Vaizey moved into the house in 1960, changed the name to Mulbarton Cottage, and stayed for 16 years. They were followed by the Skelsey family, Keith and Thelma, who were still at the Cottage in 1988.

Coachman’s Lodge

There was also a Coachman’s lodge in the south-east corner of the original grounds. The head of the household in 1881 was a coachman, Samuel Mason, then aged 38, originally from Tunstead, Norfolk. With him lived his wife, Mary Ann, aged 36, from Fordham, Norfolk, and their son Elvin Samuel, aged 4, born in Paddington. They were still there in 1891, by which time Elvin had become a messenger at the Post Office. By 1901 they had moved on. Samuel was now the landlord of the Royal Oak Inn in Westerham, while Elvin was a clerk to a chemical company. All three are buried in St Nicholas churchyard, together with a daughter, Mary, who died in infancy in 1890. Samuel died in March 1916, aged 73, his son died later that year aged only 39, while Mary lived March 1932, aged 87.

Louis Dean (53) from Middlesex was Samuel’s replacement as coachman. In 1901 he was 53 years old and lived here with his wife Susan (51) from Suffolk, and their three children, born in Middlesex: Annie (22) a dressmaker; Alfred (17); and Bertie (13) a grocer’s assistant. They stayed on until 1907, when we lose contact with them, and with the house, until 1918 when we find George and Beatrice Smith living here. They stayed on until the property ceases to be mentioned; it may have been demolished as part of the redevelopment that took place in 1930.

Domestic servants at Wyvelsfield

The size of the house is indicated by its staff of eight servants in 1881, including a footman, Frank Richards (22) from Lancashire, and a 12 year old schoolgirl, Jessie Newman. The other servants are Matilda Cook (40) from Tottenham, Elizabeth Marchant (30) from Bethnal Green, Susan Edwards (29) from Gloucester, Ellen Bailey (29) from Salisbury, Annie Chilver (19) from Norfolk, and Elizabeth Bayley (27) from Hampshire.
By 1891 a governess has been added to the household complement, with seven other servants, three of whom were with them a decade earlier: Elizabeth Craig (24) from Scotland is the children’s governess, Clara McKearn (54) from Cheltenham is the cook, Elizabeth Marchard (40) from Bethnal Green is Harriett’s ladies maid, Helena Cricland (24) from Fulham is the Nurse, Matilda Cook (52) from Tottenham, and Ellen Bailey (39) from Wiltshire are the housemaids, and Kate Martin (23) from Sussex is the kitchen-maid.
The Jones family kept a slightly reduced staff of servants, with only five shown in the 1901 census: Alice Larter (29) from Suffolk, Emma Savage (31) from Cambridgeshire, Florence Dickinson (24) from Kings Lynn in Norfolk, Ethel Palmer (18) from Kent, and Sarah Darling (50) from Surrey, who is described as a needlewoman.