Discover Halton Village
Map of Halton Village
Lionel de Rothschild bought the Halton estate from the Dashwood-King family and bequeathed it to his son Alfred in 1879. What is now known as Bridle Manor was formerly known as Grange Yard Stables and was part of the Grange House estate which was part of the Dashwood estate. Grange House was known as Halton Cottage before the Dashwoods enlarged it. After the Dashwood family left Halton, Alfred de Rothschild expanded the Halton Estate from 1400 acres to 3250 acres which included the Grange House Estate. In so doing he demolished and largely rebuilt the village of Halton. Once under Rothschild ownership, the stables took on their present form as they were either extended and/or renovated. They were used to house the Halton fire engine and the horses which drew it, as well as the carriage and horses of Frederick Hubbard. The fire engine was called out by the ringing of a large bell, almost certainly the one removed by Healy the builder from the bell tower of 6 Bridle Manor.
Halton House Estate Agent Frederick Hubbard lived in Grange House when he worked for the often absent Alfred, before WW1. Bridle Manor residents have a copy of a photograph of him in his horse-drawn carriage outside what is now 6 Bridle Manor. George Budd, Alfred’s Head Coachman lived in what is now 5 Bridle Manor. In the 1940’s and 50’s Grange House was occupied by the Halton Camp Commanding 0fficer and then became the 2nd officer’s mess. It is now clear that Grange House was demolished sometime in the early 1970’s as local people who lived in the area as children remember playing in its ever crumbling remains. What was the Grange House site is now St Michaels Close and it is possible that any existing house deeds for the Close may shed light on its earlier history. Subsequently, in 1914, Alfred de Rothschild leased the Estate to the War Office and after his death in 1918, without issue, his nephew Lionel inherited the estate and sold it to the MOD for half its probate value in 1919.
A WW1 photo of Grange Yard stables [now Bridle Manor] with ancient jeep and soldiers, shows the long lost decorative gas lamp, 3 sentry boxes which stand outside what is now a bedroom window. At that time there was a walk through passageway leading to the toilet block at the back. The builder Healey was supposed to demolish it but never did. It stands today on the boundary of numbers 5 and 6. Clearly remembered by local residents who were children 1955-65 is that Jolly the Blacksmith had his forge in the courtyard. Some of the carriage houses [now 1, 2 and 3 Bridle Manor] had haylofts in frequent use.
Final occupant of Grange Yard stables was the Halton Camp Saddle Club who were certainly here until the 1960’s. (More information is needed). We still have the name of Dusty the horse scratched into the wall of our house and assume that was where he/she was tied up. We have a number of photographs of riders and horses. An original notice about the Saddle Club remains on the inside of the courtyard boundary wall. In 1972 MOD parcelled up 5.88 acres of land adjoining the churchyard, Grange Yard Stables, Grange House land and sold it to M.J. Shanley the builder. In 1977 the piece which became St Michaels Close was sold on to Eldee Builders and in 1977 Grange Yard Stables was bought by Mr P.C. Healy. He converted it into 7 private dwellings. Bridle Manor could just have easily been named Grange Mews! The name Bridle Manor was chosen by the Parish Council.
Once the conversion had taken place the seven households quickly formed a Bridle Manor Residents’ Association which meets every three months to discuss management of shared areas. For over 25 years they have held a summer lunch in the middle of the courtyard, rarely being forced indoors because of rain. Each Christmas they place a large Christmas tree in the centre of the courtyard, usually inviting local children to join them as the lights are switched on. Irene Short 6 Bridle Manor.
Ivy Cottage at one time was two semi-detached cottages which explain why there are two front gates – one going to the door in the middle of the cottages and one around the side. Built in the 1880’s it clearly shows the hallmarks of being a Rothschild dwelling. The cottages were not of equal size. The cottage on the right as you look at them had three rooms downstairs and three rooms upstairs, whilst the cottage on the left had two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs. With a fireplace in each room for heating, it is easy to see how Ivy Cottage has ten chimneys.
We believe the butler for Halton House – Mr Trodd lived in one side probably the right side and the estate carpenter in the left hand side.
Behind the house are the outbuildings which served as two laundry rooms, although the sinks have now been removed.
Decorative plaster etchings are a feature in the village, Ivy Cottage has two. One of which is under the dormer window in the large sloping roof, which is not particularly impressive. The other one started life on show to the world and then moved inside. Originally the cottage on the right had an open veranda under the large sloping roof with the side wall coming forward to support the roof. On that wall a very fine plaster etching was made of an original oil painting by Horace Vernet in 1819 called ‘The Wounded Trumpeteer’. The original is part of the Wallace Collection in London. When the house was extended the front wall was moved to the front of the veranda and the etching became part of the drawing room.
Currently, No 15, also known as ‘Dashwood’ is a family home situated beside the canal bridge in the centre of Halton Village. As can be seen from the photographs it is set well back from the road, with a lawn in front, although previously there were shrubs and gardens in this area.
The outward appearance suggests a house built by the Rothschilds towards the end of the 19th Century but closer inspection reveals beams in the centre of the house dating back to 1878. Evidence also suggests that the second floor had been used as a grain store and that the property was originally thatched. This was probably replaced with tiles when the house received the ‘Rothschild Treatment’ in the 1880s adding the black and white timber framing to the front, the two half timbered gables and the second floor dormer window in line with other houses on the Rothschild Buckinghamshire estates. At this time Alfred Rothschild owned the Halton estate.
At present the house is a single dwelling although maps and records show that at some point it was divided into accommodation for three separate families, and in the early 20th Century for two families.
The house formed part of the estate which was owned by Alfred’s nephew Lionel Rothschild, who sold the whole estate to the Secretary of State at the War Office in 1919. The property was at that time lived in by tenants who no doubt worked on the estate. The 1910 census records Edwin Norwood, a cattle man who died in 1911 after which his son Alfred, an engine driver working at the Power House in the village, with his wife Roseanne (Rose) and their daughter Doris living in the part of the house furthest from the canal. Doris later became Doris Iles and is recorded as living in the property until at least 1970. The section nearest the canal housed a Mr Sharp, farm worker. The family name of Sharp crops up in records of several houses in Halton and is, indeed, still part of a local family.
In 1978 the property was recorded as empty and in 1979 was sold by the MOD to private owners the Plumb family. The deeds produced at the sale show the plot with two houses, numbers 14 and 15. Planning consent was gained to add a driveway for cars and in the early 1980s the property was changed back again to be just one dwelling (No 15). The Plumbs sold the house to the Bowen family in the 1990s.
Throughout the early twentieth century many of the original features were covered and staircases removed. The house then remained with little alteration until 2004 when it was sold to the Pearce family who added a two storey extension at the back to join the two gables and made considerable changes to layout within the house. At this time the garage, wood store and work room above was built, being completed in 2012.
With acknowledgement to Cathy Soughton, BA (hons) Medieval & Modern History, Higher certificate of Genealogy, LHGS, PGC Architectural history University of Oxford. AGRA member
The village school and school house were built during Alfred Rothschild’s time so that all the children on his estate could receive a basic education. The front of the building is designed to include the signature gabled dormer windows found on many Rothschild properties around the locality. The older photograph shows the building in the early 1900s. The school entrance door and porch were on the side of the building facing towards the canal, opening into a vestibule. The school room was to the rear of the property where there is an ornate arched window. The front of the building at that time formed part of the adjoining house where the head teacher lived.
The school closed in 1926, after which it was used as the RAF nurses mess until it was converted to the Village Hall and a private house in the 1930s
Restoration of the John Dashwood Pond – Halton
The pond is shown in its present shape but without the island on the 1973 map of Halton Parish now in the County Records office.
It was probably a fish pond, filled by a spring at its south end.
The island and a fairly elaborate brick sluice were added while in the ownership of the Rothschild family, who subsequently sold the estate to the Royal Flying Corps during the first World War.
In 1972 the RAF sold the, by then derelict pond, and the adjacent house ‘Tree Tops’ to Mr and Mrs Farnsworth who decided to restore the pond.
The pond was cleared, cleaned and graded by John Atkinson of Brackley in 1993.
Having restored the sluice brickwork in its original style, the flow from the spring was found to be too slow to fill the pond behind a traditional ‘monk board’ or guillotine sluice gate, unless its stream side was solidly dammed with clay which does not comply with the emptying criterion of the Lakes and Rivers Act. A 9″ diameter water board gate-valve was therefore built into the manhole on the down stream side.
The footbridge had to be a simple structure appropriate to its rural setting, spanning the 51ft from the island without intermediate supports. It had to be wide enough for a loaded wheelbarrow to cross and strong enough to support a close paced load or people. Except for the occasional creosoting the bridge had to be reasonably maintenance free and the parapets comfortable for contemplation.
The bridge beam was sawn from a 90ft Douglas Fir tree chosen for a slight bend in its centre and felled on the Wentworth Estate, Virginia Water. This was too long to treat in a pressure tank and has a cambered top covered with a waterproof felt. All the small timbers have been pressure preserved and the joists between are designed to drain water.
Mr & Mrs Farnsworth stocked the pond with waterplants (all native species) supplied by Peter Carey of Shelspit Wildflowers, Thornborough, Buckinghamshire.
In 2007 the house and grounds were sold to Grace & Peter Dickson who have continued to maintain the pond and island. Fish are now present again in the pond and are monitored by specialists ensuring their health.
The school closed in 1926, after which it was used as the RAF nurses mess until it was converted to the Village Hall and a private house in the 1930s
Lionel Rothschild purchased the Halton estate from the Dashwood family in 1850. The estate compromised the old manor and the village of Halton, then a small village of 196 persons. Lionel bequeathed the estate to his son Alfred who built Halton house in 1883. Most of the core of the village seems to have been built or renovated in the 1870s prior to Lionel’s death. Talisman cottage was one of a number of farmhouses in the village built in the 17th century. Before it was extended it had served as an Estate office and also as a tavern. Lower Farm was extended by George Devey in 1876 to form the principal estate farm in the village and occupied by Alfred Rothschild’s assistant agent. Adaptations were made to Talisman cottage and a ‘wing’ was added forming the total structure we know today as Lower Farm. A variety of people lived at Lower Farm in the past. The Gambell family farmed in the village from 1813-1875. Frederick Joseph Hubbard lived in the house as Rothschild’s assistant agent. It was an Officers Mess at one time. Coates worked on administration for the estate and was responsible for the building of Tree Tops. Christopher Buckmaster lived and died in the house. His will of August 1983 left to his widow Annie Buckmaster the effects of £9501 14s 10d. Three generations of the Blundell family – Percy and Eve, Thomas and Thomas and Michael farmed at Lower Farm over many years. By 1933 three generations of the Blundell family plus the housekeeper, Ivy lived in Lower Farm. Michael recalls the late 1960s and 1970s when Lower Farm had 700 pigs, 100 cattle and 100 sheep. Michael and his father worked the farm with 5 hands. Many generations of people living at Lower Farm would have looked across to the Lacemaker’s cottage. Michael Blundell’s family lived there for twelve years before moving to Lower Farm in 1957. The Coopers family moved in next, followed by the Menzies family. It was demolished in 1976 to make way for Old School Close. Michael Blundell, farmer, bought Lower Farm from the RAF in 1980. In 1984 he built the bungalow and in 1986 a developer converted Lower Farm into a number of separate dwellings – Talisman cottage, the Kiln, the Buttery, Spirals and Cobbles. Farmer Michael recalls stories about the use of the farm buildings at Lower Farm. The Buttery had a floor built below ground level and was tiled. Butter churning stopped by the end of the war. The Buttery had slate shelves round the sides. Vegetables and milk were kept there as it was cool. Spirals had one resident in a room upstairs. The garage downstairs were previously used for coaches. Cobbles in 1946 had a German prisoner of war resident there for a while.
Canal Cottage is now one substantial 5 bedroom house with a large garden running along side the canal.. We believe that the house started out as at least 2 farm workers cottages. It dates back to the early 1700s, but may older. The dining room, the oldest part of the house was probably thatched, as reeds were found in the walls and that’s what they used locally.
Over the years the house has been divided up quite differently, there are 3 fireplaces in the sitting room, including a tall one that would have been for a dolly tub. There are two staircases each leading to a separate part of the first floor, and there is a second outside door in the dining room.
It is assumed that at times in the first half of the 20th century the camp commanding officer lived here as calling cards and a Harrods Easter egg brochure (some of the Easter eggs cost as much as 1/6d!) were found behind the fireplace. During the second world war the house was used by the University Flying Club
The RAF owned the house until the 1960s when it was sold to a private buyer. Since then it has only changed hands twice as two more families have made it their home.
Garden House was originally a small cottage, probably single story, with an upper floor added later, standing in the grounds of the Dashwood Estate and adjacent to the Manor House. The Manor house was situated on what eventually became the Rothschild orchard and vegetable gardens. In 1888 a side extension was added to the house to accommodate Alfred’s head gardener along with living quarters for his Butler.
Mr. Robert Sanders was appointed Head Gardener and was faced with the challenging task along with his team of fulfilling Lord Alfred’s orders, often at very short notice, of creating and maintaining his exotic gardens at the Manor House. The photographs of Garden House at the time show that his own garden was in itself a masterpiece. The grounds then included what is now The Orchard and Garden Close as additions to the Manor House and must have required a great deal of work.As recently as the early 1980s the greenhouses, potting and equipment buildings were in the field adjacent to the then Rothschild cricket club ( now Halton Tennis Club ). It was a sad day when we watched them being demolished, revealing a beautiful tiled mosaic floor. It could have been a property developer’s dream and preserved an interesting part of the garden history.
When the Rothschild estate was purchased by the Government for use by the RAF in 1918 the greenhouses were used for market gardening with Robert Sanders in charge of the project and raising much needed funds. During the 2nd World War Garden House was requisitioned by the Government and was occupied by the chief Education Officer. In 1972 Garden House was sold by The Secretary of State for Defence to Jeremy Harford since when the garden has undergone various changes as can be seen in the photographs.
Parish Church. 1813 by Henry Rhodes, restored and remodelled 1886-7.
Built from squared blocks of sarsen or greyweather stone, probably from near High Wycombe, the joints galletted with pieces of flint. Slateroofs. Simple lancet style, W. tower, with diagonal W. buttresses, small stair turret on S. side, door and 2-light window over on W. side, parapet with broken coping, nave and aisles. S. porch and short chancel. Interior: 4 bay nave, pointed arches with dogtooth ornament on high cylindrical piers with leaf ornament to capitals and square bases also ornamented. Chancel arch on carved corbel heads, hoodmoulds with circular label stops; roof with curved braces and pendants, cusped spandrels, on angel head corbels. Chancel roof coffered and painted with enriched cornice and 3 bosses. Small pointed arched niches each side of triple lancet E. window. Brass from former church reset on LH side of chancel. Organ in small W. gallery over 3 arched wood screen. C19 marble font has square fluted bowl on spiral stem and carved base.
ST MICHAELS LODGE/MACEWEN RIDE
The Lodge, as it was then known, is shown on the 1888 OS Map. The first occupant was Mr Dale, a retired policeman, who was the estate security manager. The Lodge had probably been completed in 1884 in time for Alfred de Rothschild’s grand opening party of Halton Mansion -now Halton House- in January of that year.
Following the sale of the Halton Estate to the War Office in September 1919, the Lodge, in common with other Victorian and earlier properties in the village, became an officers’ married quarter, and was initially occupied by Group Captain Mosigneur Harry Beauchamp MC CBE who had started his military career as a soldier in the trenches of WWI. Harry remained at St Michaels until 1939, devoting himself to the spiritual welfare of the RAF apprentices, In 1940 he was appointed head of the Catholic religion in the RAF in which capacity he took his ministry to every theatre of war and was decorated by several foreign governments. Harry Beauchamp probably named the Lodge, St Michaels, possibly after the village church, St Michaels and all Angels.
Local farmer Michael Blundel remembers his boyhood friend living in St Michaels Lodge during WWII, the son of an RAF Padre named Rogers. In 1949 when I arrived at Halton to start my RAF apprenticeship, Group Captain Barraclough, Head of the Apprentices’ technical school in Chestnut Avenue, lived in St Michaels Lodge until circa 1952/3 when, a Mr Doughery, estate manager for RAF Halton, resided here until the late 1950s.
The RAF married quarters build started at RAF Halton in 1950 and by the early 1960s there was sufficient to accommodate all married officers, and the Lodge was vacated and boarded up. Uncared for, it deteriorated and was in a sad state when sold at auction at the Bell Hotel, Aylesbury in 1971. Mr Kosiack, a former Polish soldier, bought it as an investment (he owned a house in Wendover at the time). We bought it directly from him in late 1973-just asked him across his garden fence to sell it to us- no agents. He doubled his money!! We extended the Kitchen and added another room on the lower floor of St Michaels in 1990.
Note of historical accuracy
MacEwen Ride was named after Air Vice-Marshal Sir Norman MacEwen CB CMG DSO who was commandant of RAF Halton, 1931-34. Most roads at RAF Halton are named after former Commandants of the Apprentice School. MacEwen, apparently, was often seen riding his horse past St Michaels Lodge along the road to Halton House. “MacEwen” should be spelt thus, as it was when the RAF had responsibility for producing the road signs. Not “McEwen”, as ADVC decided after St Michaels Lodge had been handed over to the council for rateable services in the mid 1970s. Or was it a computer that decided to change the spelling?
The farm outbuildings were present on local maps from 1796, 1840 and 1880 but the shape and positions have altered on each. The position of the large barn and the East range seem similar to today, the West range has a different arrangement of buildings although their position is similar. The farmhouse can be seen built parallel to the village road.
As already stated elsewhere the Halton estate was bought by the Rothschilds in 1850 and the farm and outbuildings became the principal estate farm extending from the present day airfield as far as the Village Gate public house by the Wendover boundary. The original 3 ranges of outbuildings were added to in the 1920’s by a fourth range immediately behind and parallel to the farmhouse forming the square of outbuildings which would in future form The Leys development. This newer range became milking sheds. The other three ranges were used as grain stores, lambing sheds and livestock housing. There were several additional buildings in the central courtyard and attached to the large barn.In 1992 the buildings were converted into 12 dwellings and were named The Leys by Michael Blundell, the farmer at Lower Farm. During conversion it was found that the large barn (now numbers 5 and 6, The Leys) had at one time been thatched as the old pegs holding the thatch were visible. The barn timbers are thought to be old ship timbers and the barn itself was not built originally in the area but had been moved to its present location possibly from Sussex.
At one time there was a bridge over the Wendover Arm canal behind number 5 The Leys which carried a road which ran from the first Halton House, built by the Dashwoods (in the Garden Close area) to the main village road, joining it near what is now a Rothschild house called The Kennels. Evidence of the bridge abutments can still be seen.
In 1840 the Tithe map shows a range of farm buildings where Lower Farm stands today. The main farmhouse (Talisman cottage today) was mostly rectangular in shape and thatched. To the right of the farmhouse (the Leys today) was l-shaped and to the left there were l-shaped buildings where the drive is today. The Gambells farmed Lower Farm and the Goodsons farmed the land on the other side of the road.
Parish records reveal that Thomas and Mary lived at Lower Farm with their child Peter who was born in 1813. By 1836 Peter had married Ellen and they had a child named Ellen. Between 1837 – 60 they had 10 further children. One of their children – William died in 1851 aged 1 year 8 months.At the time of the 1861 Census we can assume that the surrounding land is owned by the Dashwoods. Peter and Ellen are living at Lower Farm with their son, Thomas who is 21 years listed also as a farmer. Ann Cox, the dairymaid, George Hearne and Henry Syster are carters also living in the house.
At the time Lower Farm was extended the 1871 census reveals Peter Gambell employed 18 men and 14 boys on the farm. He farmed 400 acres. He was 50 years of age. At this time John, Elizabeth, Lucy, and Anne are living at home. Ann Reen is the house servant and John Abrams is a general servant. Other neighbours listed in the 1871 Census refer to grooms, lace makers, game keepers and straw plaiters. At the time of the addition to Lower Farm it can be assumed that Alfred Charles de Rothschild Esq. is lord of the manor and owner of the land. The soil is chalky and the subsoil is chalk, clay and gravel. The chief crops are wheat, barley, beans etc. The total estate of around 1,455 acres contains about 500 acres of beech wood. Rateable value at that time was £2,624. The Kelly’s Trade Directory for 1887 lists the population of Halton Village as being 195.