I'Anson's Chalet on Headley Hill
a hidden house a hidden history
Hidden among the pine trees on Headley Hill there is a Swiss-style chalet. Who built it and why?
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Front cover: The Chalet with the Trollope
family in 1927
Paperback - 90 pages, illustrated
John Owen Smith; ISBN: 1-873855-48-6; October 2004
Associated titles: Headley's Past in Pictures by John Owen Smith; Grayshott by JH Smith
Back Cover . Inside Flap . Contents . List of Illustrations . Introduction . Acknowledgements
Hidden among the pine trees on Headley Hill there is a Swiss-style chalet.
Who built it and why?
The author investigates the history of her house and discovers a fascinating cast of characters associated with it.
Charlotte Vincent, the first resident in 1882, was a young widow with a small child who became a great benefactor to the village at the end of the Victorian era.
The Calvert sisters used it as a nursing home at the turn of the century before the mysterious and much-travelled Caroline, Countess de Champs I'Anson arrived to live in the house which had originally been built for her by her second husband, the architect Edward I'Anson.
After the 'Countess' came the Viscountess Trafalgar, followed by the Trollope family whose children remember happy days growing up in the house through the 1930s.
Despite being requisitioned during the Second World War as an Officers' Mess, and the subject of several redevelopment applications during the latter part of the 20th century, the house still retains its original Swiss chalet character and charm to this day.
For almost one hundred and thirty years, a house has perched hidden and secluded behind the trees on Headley Hill while enormous changes have taken place in the world.
During the nineteenth century the industrial revolution changed rural England forever. Two world wars in the first half of the next century shattered an old world order, as well as a social class structure which had existed in England for centuries.
Unimaginable strides in technology during the twentieth century brought life to an unrecognisable point from where it had been in the 1870s, when an architect named Edward I'Anson built a house he named The Chalet, the first house on Headley Hill.
Table of contents
Mrs Vincent: 1882-1897
The End of the Victorian Era
The Calvert Sisters: 1898-1911
A Next-door Neighbour - Pinehurst 1899
Caroline de Champs I'Anson: 1912-1923
The Viscountess Trafalgar: 1924-1926
The Trollopes: 1927-1939
World War Two: 1939-1945
Into the Twenty-first Century
List of Illustrations
The Chalet in 1927
The Huts at Hindhead, circa 1890
Crossways Road, Grayshott, 1901
Devil's Punch Bowl at the start of the 20th century
Royal Exchange, London, designed by Edward I'Anson
Edward I'Anson, 1811-1888
Ordnance Survey map of Headley Hill, 1895
Rev Wallis Hay Laverty, rector of Headley 1872-1928
Ordnance Survey map of Headley Hill, 1910
Ordnance Survey map of Headley Hill, 1937
The road to The Chalet, 1899
Interior of All Saints' Church, Headley in 1908
All Saints' Church, Headley 1901
Headley High Street in the 1890s
Edward Blakeway I'Anson, 1843-1912
Pinehurst, built on Headley Hill in 1899
The Hubbuck family at Pinehurst
The Hubbuck family with Wagonette
Rear view of Pinehurst
Cimitero Accatolico (Protestant Cemetery) in Rome
28 Clanricarde Gardens, London
Grave of Capt James Shepherd in Headley churchyard
Caroline I'Anson with her son Edward 'Ned' Shepherd
'Jack' Shepherd sitting on his WW1 aeroplane
Flowers on Montague Shepherd's new grave in Headley
Caroline I'Anson with 'Ned' and 'Jack' Shepherd
Children at Viva Trollope's tenth birthday party
Servants at 'Windridge', 4th September 1927
Viva, George and Patrick in back garden of Windridge
The 'big room' added to Windridge in 1936
The Trollopes' Rolls Royce
The tennis court at Windridge
One of the Trollopes' cars on Windridge front drive
Menu for Canadians' VE-Day meal at Windridge, 1945
Windridge in 2004
'Jack' Shepherd on his motorcycle, circa 1914
In March 2001 my family became the owners of a house in Headley, Hampshire. We had made the life-changing decision to leave London six months earlier, to leave modern urban living for a quieter, hopefully healthier and possibly simpler country life.
The house was originally called The Chalet, and was indeed built in the style of a Swiss chalet around 1880 by Edward I'Anson, a renowned architect, philanthropist and local landowner. For two or more decades no other property was developed around it, and it stood at that time entirely alone on Headley Hill, close to an area then known as "Little Switzerland".
My interest in the house's history began with the discoveries and questions arising during its refurbishment:- solid slate window sills found under decades of chipped and bubbled gloss paint, tiled hearthplaces suddenly exposed to daylight after decades in darkness and the original varnished Victorian wallpaper hidden underneath a century of layers of differing patterns and fashions.
All of this fired my curiosity, and once I had established who had built the house and when, I wanted to know the more intimate details about the its past. Who had lived here when it was new and modern? Who had climbed the staircase with a candle or oil lamp on their way to bed one hundred years ago?
I eventually found my cast of characters, not as ghostly shadows from the past but as vibrant and complex individuals who led truly fascinating and sometimes scandalous lives. It is these people who bring a house to life and permeate its atmosphere. The tiny and even mundane details of their day-to-day existence are often more fascinating than the broader social and economic history of the times, for this is what brings history into focus and give it shape.
I discovered that the people who lived here were predominantly women and, even more poignantly, women who had lived here on their own. For any woman to live alone in an area as rural as Headley in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century shows a certain courage, but also begs the question, why? They all seemed to have had one thing in common, a need to be alone in a secluded place, and all of them had suffered loss and disappointment in their lives. In some ways their stories resemble each other, and occasionally overlap.
Researching the history of one's home can become an absorbing passion because of the inevitable involvement with the characters who once lived in the house and with whom one is inexorably linked. It is impossible to anticipate just who we will meet during the course of our research, but whether we love them or loathe them, we will never be indifferent to them. Their lives are examined and scrutinised by us for clues to their character and habits, in an attempt to get to know and understand them and the era that they lived in.
Inhabiting a space - a house - once filled by another, no matter how long ago, seems to lend an intimacy and a perceived familiarity to the relationship. These people we seek to discover are not long-lost relatives, but neither are they creatures of fiction. They lived and breathed, laughed and cried, suffered and triumphed within the walls where we now do the same and continue the great cycle of life.
It is thanks to Mr Laverty, the Rector of All Saints' Church in Headley for some fifty-six years from 1872 to 1928, that I was able to discover so much about the early history of the house and its occupants.
Wallis Hay Laverty kept copious handwritten notes on his parishioners, their activities and events in Headley during his incumbency. His fragile leather-bound notebooks are now in the Surrey History Centre at Woking, and it was there that I first read about "The Chalet" and my story began to emerge.
The diaries of Harriette Hubbuck, written between 1898 and 1935 when she lived in Pinehurst, were also invaluable to me and provided a backdrop to early nineteenth century Headley village life.
Long before Mr Laverty and Harriette came to my aid, I had tracked down Patrick Trollope, now living in Suffolk, and he came to visit the house in September 2002 - over sixty years after he had left his childhood home. Patrick's personal recollections and photographs furnished me with rich detail about life at Windridge for a child between the 1920s and 30s.
My sincere thanks also to
The Royal Institute of British Architects and The British Architectural Library, Hampshire Record Office, Surrey History Centre, West Sussex Record Office, and Haslemere Museum Library with especial thanks to Greta Turner.
Mrs Sweeney, Vice Consul at the British Consular Section of the British Embassy in Rome.
Jeremy Whitaker, who helped me so much with the I'Anson history, entrusted me with his family photograph albums and allowed me to reproduce them in this book.
Rodney and Stephen Hubbuck, who very kindly allowed me unlimited access to their grandmother, Harriette Hubbuck's, diaries and to reproduce their family photographs.
I am grateful to John Owen Smith for his input, unwavering interest and support with this project, and also to Joyce Stevens, Mary and David Fawcett, Anthony Williams, Sue Golding, Bill Glover, Sue Allden, Mrs Marguerita Stapleton in Dorset and Philip Bergqvist for their help.
Finally, thanks to my family, especially my parents, my husband Jeremy and my children Max and Arabella.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share information on the topics covered by this book. See address details on Home Page