Hayes (Kent) History

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Hayes (Kent) History

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Situated opposite the church Hayes Place remained at the centre of the village. Its owner Everard Hambro maintained his friendship with King Edward VII and in 1908 was made a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order. He supported the church, paying for the recasting of the three oldest bells in 1900 to complement the three new bells he had given in 1882. He liked to modernise, was one of the first to have electricity in his home and he enjoyed the luxury of the new form of transport – the motor car – which was replacing horse drawn carriages.

Pickhurst Mead was leased to the motor racing driver Arthur Huntley-Walker. Unfortunately, a house fire in 1905 destroyed the library and another fire in 1909 saw substantial damage both to the house and to fourteen of Huntley Walker’s cars, which included a 90hp Darracq built for the 1909 Grand Prix. He left Hayes soon after this event.

Baston & Pickhurst Manors both saw changes with the death of Captain Alfred Torrens at Baston in 1903 and of widow Leonora Devas of Pickhurst Manor in 1909. Henry Norman of Gadsden died in 1905 and the property was bought by James Railton. Hawthorndene also changed hands after the death of widow Mrs McLennan in 1896. George Reader, a solicitor, was followed by Sir Steyning William Edgerley KCVO and in 1913 John Lee-Warner was in residence with his wife Blanche, a son and two daughters.

Henry Wellcome, co-founder of the pharmaceutical company Burroughs & Wellcome, came to the Oast House after his marriage to Syrie Barnardo in 1901. They moved into the Nest after the birth of their son in 1904 but separated in 1911 and moved away from the village.

With the increase in the number of people in Hayes there were more facilities. A large shed was converted into a building called the Gymnasium in which a variety of social activities such as dances were held and the Hayes Brass Band practised. It stood in the yard adjacent to Harrod’s, a grocer’s and general store, which was almost opposite the site of the Rosary Church today. The Hayes Village Club and the Hayes Church Social Club organised entertainments. The Hayes Cottage Gardeners’ Association (started in 1891) remained active. A Rifle Club was formed in September 1908 and the Rifle Range was situated on the northern boundary of the cricket field at Barnet Wood Road. The school remained under the headship of William Plant but after the Education Act of 1902 was supervised by the Education Committee of the Kent Education Authority. A branch of the Union of London & Smiths Bank opened one morning a week for 1½ hours, there was a post office in Baston Road, two post boxes in Hayes and a telegram office at the Railway Station.

The Great War 1914 – 1918

The start of the war in August 1914 and the encouragement for young men to fight for their country resulted in a rush to join up. By Christmas 1914 over half of the eligible men in Hayes had enlisted, in addition to those already serving in the forces. The total number of men to serve who had a Hayes connection whether by birth, employment or because their family lived in Hayes came to 196. Of these 47 are known to have been casualties. Some moved elsewhere after the war and their details have not yet been uncovered but in the front of the Great Bible in Hayes Church the names of 103 men are written who served during ‘the Great War and by God’s Providence returned home.’

Gallantry awards were received by:

  • Albert Batten MM
  • Walter Batten DCM
  • Geoffrey Charles Devas MC
  • Harry Granville Lee-Warner DSO and MM
  • William Mitchell DCM & MM
  • Lionel Norman MC
  • Arthur Valentine Taylor DCM

Some of the wounded from the battlefields were cared for in a number of local Red Cross hospitals:

  • Hayes Grove had room for 20 patients
  • Warren House provided 55 beds until the death of Sir Robert Laidlaw in 1916
  • Hast Hill made room for 7 patients and later it became an extension to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Bromley Park Hotel
  • 88 Hayes Road offered 4 beds

Many Hayes women and some men joined one of three Voluntary Auxiliary Detachments:

  • Kent 50, Bromley Common, Hayes and Keston
  • Kent 52, Bromley
  • Kent 82, West Wickham commanded by Gillian Lee-Warner who lived at Hawthorndene

Other women such as Winifred Morris, Elsie and Elizabeth Trevor nursed in military hospitals in France near the front lIne.

There were many different efforts in Hayes to help the war effort including:

  • Fundraising, concerts and fetes
  • Knitting socks, gloves, scarves, hats for the soldiers
  • Food parcels
  • Writing letters

In addition, women took over some of the men’s jobs on the land and in the shops and post office.

There were food shortages and rationing was introduced towards the end of the war. The schoolboys were encouraged to grow vegetables. In 1916 they harvested 280lb of potatoes and 200lb of onions.

Hayes became part of the East Sub-Command of the anti-aircraft defences set up to protect London. Only two bombs fell on Hayes, one in Station Road [Bourne Way] and another in woodland near Hartfield House.

Major C.E. Prince, who was involved in the development of ground to air and air to air communications lived at Five Elms towards the end of the war. A telephone pole was set up near his home and assisted with his work at Biggin Hill in the Wireless Experimental Establishment.

Finally, the war ended on 11 November 1918.

Almost £464 was raised by public subscription to set up a War Memorial on which were inscribed the names of 34 casualties. It was dedicated on 1st January 1921. The money left over was used for a bench to be placed nearby for all who wished to sit quietly and remember those who had sacrificed their lives.

Immediate effects of the War

Many of the large houses were empty or had changed hands by the end of 1921.

  • Baston Manor
  • Baston House (the farm)
  • Gadsden
  • Glebe House
  • Hartfield
  • Hawthorndene
  • Hayes Court
  • The Nest
  • Oast House
  • Pickhurst Manor
  • The Warren

The new owners had difficulties in finding staff and some owners would soon seek to realise the value of their estates by selling parts for housing development.

For the moment there was little change in the farms which concentrated on dairy rather than arable farming. About 300 acres was farmed by the Norman family who owned Hayes Street Farm, Baston Farm and Hayesford Farm. Hayes Place and its lands accounted for about 240 acres, Pickhurst Manor Farm comprised 31 acres, Pickhurst Dairy Farm was 41 acres and Fixted Farm 34 acres.

Canon George Clowes died in 1919 and was replaced by Henry Percy Thompson, Rural Dean of Sevenoaks. With his wife he was to become a key figure in Hayes in the 1920s. At the same time William Plant, who had been head of the village school for 45 years, retired and was replaced by Kate Burman. At Hayes Court an exclusive girls’ boarding school was set up by Miss Katherine Cox in 1919.

Life was changing but for the moment Hayes remained a small village community.

Notable people:
  • Mabel Winifred Knowles (May Wynne), author
  • Harry Granville Lee-Warner, distinguished army career
  • Major C E Prince, wireless telephony
  • Arthur Huntley-Walker, racing driver
  • Henry S Wellcome, founder of Burroughs-Wellcome

Apart from the newspaper records, directories, rate books and Council records held in Bromley Historic Collections the following are helpful:

  • Paul Cresswick, G Stanley Pond, P H Ashton, Kent’s Care for the Wounded 1915
  • National Archives of Canada, Canadian Army Convalescent Hospital Bromley 1916 War Diary
  • Christine Hellicar Ed., Home Front, Life in the towns & villages of Bromley in the Great War, 2014
  • A Rawlinson, The Defence of London 1915-1918
  • Joyce Walker, West Wickham and the Great War, 1988
  • J M Wilson, Hayes in World War I, Hayes 1989
  • J M Wilson, Hayes First World War Trail, 2014