DEVAS, Charles Frederick
5 April 1826 – 26 May 1896
Coppersmith, Justice of the Peace
Charles Frederick Devas took out the lease on Pickhurst Manor, Hayes, after Arthur Kinnaird left in 1871. He made some changes to the property before he moved to Pickhurst from Bromley Lodge with his six children, aged from 7 to 21 in about 1873.
He was a coppersmith but was greatly involved with local matters. From 1858 he was very concerned about sanitary affairs in Bromley and was elected chairman of the Bromley Local Board set up in 1867. There were protests about his re-election in 1868 and he resigned the next year when the Home Secretary rejected the Board’s proposals for the compulsory purchase of land for a sewage farm.
In July 1870 he paid £250 for the Board’s agreement to waive the rights of the parish to dig gravel on his Bromley Lodge property, a move that greatly enhanced the value of his land, many plots of which were then sold for development. This was the time when he moved to Hayes where he remained until his death in 1896
The south aisle was added to Hayes Church in 1878 and after the death of his mother, Louise Charlotte, in April 1879 he paid for a stained glass window showing the flight of Mary, Joseph and Jesus into Egypt to be installed in her memory.
The 1880s saw the marriages of daughter Leonora to Charles Simpson in Hayes Church and of his son Horace to Edith Campbell who moved to Hartfield, West Wickham. In 1891 Charles & Leonora were living at Pickhurst Manor with their invalid daughter Hester and youngest daughter Laura. They employed thirteen resident servants including two footmen and a butler.
Hester died in 1895 and their son Frederick in May 1896 in Western Australia. The following month Charles died and was buried in Hayes churchyard. His widow Leonora continued to live at Pickhurst Manor with her daughter Laura and nine servants until her death in May 1909. Her grandson, Walter Charles Simpson, remembered her sitting in the drawing room, where there was a writing desk, chintz-covered sofa and chairs and small tables on which were vases of flowers and photographs. She was ‘dressed in black, a white lace cap upon her head above the Victorian sweep of her parted hair, some white crochet work on her lap, and at her feet, his head resting on the folds of her dress, an old fox terrier with the undistinguished name of Jack.’
Charles, Leonora, Hester and Horace and his wife Edith were all buried in Hayes Churchyard.