1833 – 1934
Owner Charlotte Moysey
In 1833 Charles Kadwell described the very pretty rural residence in the Swiss Cottage style of architecture that Charlotte Moysey was building on seven acres of land to the south of Pickhurst Green. The architect was Robert Wallace of Westminster.
On its completion she moved from Hayes Grove, where she had lived with her father Abel who died in 1831, to Pickhurst Mead until her death in 1846. She left the property to the son of her elder brother Charles, Henry Gorges Moysey, who agreed that his uncle Frederick Moysey, a barrister, could live there for the rest of his life. When Frederick died in 1863 the estate was put up for sale, although the family kept some land.
House sale details 1863
By 1863 the house and land covered 24 acres and its estimated rental value was £350 a year. It was described as an exceedingly comfortable and well arranged substantial brick-built family residence. The house had four bedrooms on the second floor, three bedrooms with two dressing rooms and a bathroom with hot and cold water on the first floor, a large drawing room, dining room, library, housekeeper’s and butler’s rooms on the ground floor. Outside were farm buildings, a four-stall stable, a double coach house and two kitchen gardens. Worthy of note were the pretty ornamental porch at the front entrance and the ornamental lodge at the entrance gate. Ellen Hall recorded in her diary that, ‘Mr Moysey’s house at Pickhurst is to be sold … but the price is so ridiculously high that I don’t think anyone will buy it … they will sell at £12,000!’.
Jonathan Crocker, a merchant and wholesale dealer in cotton, silk and woollen manufacture, moved to Pickhurst Mead from his house in Camberwell and stayed seven years. He was followed by Samuel Herman de Zoete, a retired stockbroker and chairman of the Stock Exchange, who lived there with his wife Ellen, two daughters, four sons (also in the Stock Exchange or allied professions) and seven servants. Ten years later his son Charles and daughter Matilda were still unmarried and living with their parents at Pickhurst Mead.
Samuel de Zoete died in 1884 and a banker and army agent with Messrs Cox & Co, Arthur Hammersley, occupied the house from 1886 with his wife and young daughter. By 1891 they had two more daughters and 11 resident servants. He left in 1902. It is possible that Everard Hambro who had both family and banking connections with Arthur Hammersley may have purchased the house about this time.
Fires at Pickhurst Mead
Between 1902 and 1911 the house was leased from Everard Hambro by racing car driver Arthur Huntley Walker at £440 per annum. Several tragic events occurred.
His three-month-old daughter, Queenie, died and was buried in Hayes Churchyard in 1904 and the house suffered two serious fires. The first fire occurred on 25 June 1905 and damage was limited to the main wing but the loss was estimated at £15,000; the library was burnt out and the value of the books destroyed amounted to £5,000. Fortunately the family were able to get out through the servants’ staircase. This fire became known as the ‘Red Tape Fire’ and received extensive publicity in the newspapers, because Beckenham firemen refused to attend the fire as it was outside their district. Hayes Parish Council had previously declined to pay towards the maintenance of the Beckenham Brigade.
He continued his racing career and competed at the first Brooklands meeting in 1907 with a Darrack.
Mr Huntley-Walker’s second fire occurred early on 4 January 1909 when Pickhurst Mead suffered even more damage; estimated at £30,000. There were twelve people in the house at the time and the local police constable had to break open a door to rescue three women from a bedroom. Fortunately no one suffered any injuries.
Fourteen cars were destroyed in the fire including a new 90 hp. Darracq that had been specially built to compete in the 1909 Grand Prix, two Napier touring cars, two Mercedes cars, four Weigel cars and two 120hp Darracq racing cars, one which won the Vanderbilt Cup in 1906 and 1907, the other a winner of the Italian Grand Prix.
Apparently a gas explosion in the rebuilt library was the cause of the fire.
Charles Eric Hambro, owner 1909 – 1933
Sir Everard’s son, Charles Eric, was the owner by 1909 of the house, grounds and stables that covered 13 acres. The house was extensively repaired and he took up residence from 1913 until 1924. It was valued with its land at £9,300 and described as ‘a large detached house built of red brick, stone and tiles, old but recently overhauled and a considerable sum spent on improvements and decoration’. On the 2nd floor there were 7 bedrooms, a bathroom, W.C. & a lumber room, on the first floor 5 good bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 W.C.s, a day & night nursery, dressing room, housemaid’s parlour, butler’s room & linen room. On the ground floor were the drawing room, dining room, library, ‘boudoir’ room & smoke room, and in the grounds a cottage with 2 bedrooms, a one bedroom bothy and a garage for 2 motor cars with a cement floor
First World War
Charles Eric Hambro worked in the Central Intelligence Service during the First World War and was knighted for his services. An anti-aircraft gun was set up in the grounds of Pickhurst Mead and formed part of the outer defence of London. After his father Everard’s death in 1924 he moved to Hayes Place and his eldest son Charles Jocelyn occupied the house for a couple of years.
Edward Thomas John, tenant 1927 – 1931
The last tenant in 1927 was the Welsh nationalist Edward Thomas John and his family who leased the property for five years at a rent of £300 a year. He had followed his father into a steel works in South Wales and ultimately rose to become Managing Director of Linthorpe-Dinsdale Smelting Co Ltd. Sadly, on 16 February 1931 he committed suicide and is buried in Hayes churchyard
The end of Pickhurst Mead
Eric Hambro sold the house to William Agg-Large. The furniture and household effects were auctioned in April and the house in May 1931. The sale catalogue described 15 bed snd dressing rooms, three bath rooms, six to seven splendid ‘large and lofty entertaining rooms’. Sufficient land surrounded the house, including terraced gardens, a partly walled well stocked kitchen garden, a tennis court and parkland, to ensure privacy. Alternatively it was suggested that Pickhurst Mead could be used as a school, hotel, institution or its high healthy situation would make it ideal for a nursing home.
A bid was made of £6950 but It failed to reach the reserve price and was withdrawn. It was sold privately to the builders, Bleach and Skipper. Pickhurst Mead was demolished in March 1934 and nothing visible remains of the house or its lodge.