St Mary Cottages
12-30 Baston Road, Hayes
Grade II Listed
A fine terrace of ten Victorian cottages in Baston Road that were designed by George Devey (1820-1886) for Everard Alexander Hambro of Hayes Place. These cottages were built on the site of the former Poplar Cottages. Originally the numbers went from 1-10 St Mary Cottages, later they were renumbered in reverse order so that No 10 became 12 Baston Road and No 1 became 30 Baston Road.
The cottages were awarded a Grade II listing in 1994 because it ‘was an unusual example of the architect George Devey adhering to a formal composition’. James Williams supervised the building of the ten cottages for Everard Hambro, whose initials EAH and the stylised date 1888 can be seen on a plaque on the upper storey.
The end units, nos 12 and 30 project beyond the general line of the terrace and are subtly grander with large bay windows to the ground floor and timber pediments above. Each cottage is one bay wide and set in pairs with paired doors and rear wings. The ground floor is generally brick with rat-trap bond, a roughcast first floor and tile hangings to the side and rear. A tiled roof. Large stacks on cross walls and at ends. All the first-floor windows are timber casements with leaded panes of three lights on tiny wooden brackets, those to the end cottages with pediments. Four-light canted windows to ground floor. Panelled doors with two leaded lights, some replaced and that to No.12 moved. Rear windows also leaded casements with some under arched brick heads, some renewed.
These cottages were home to local villagers, many employed as gardeners, carpenters or bootmakers. In 1891 forty people lived there. Twenty years later there were 33 as some of the grown up children had moved away. After the death of Sir Everard Hambro St Mary Cottages were put up for auction on 29 May 1931. Only two of the cottages were sold. The rest did not reach the reserve price and were withdrawn but were later sold privately.
12 Baston Road
The northern end cottage (12 Baston Road) was built as a butcher’s shop with a small abattoir at the rear that survived into the 1970s. People still remember the cattle that used to be driven down Baston Road in the early hours of the morning to be slaughtered.
The first butcher to live there was Frederick Walker followed by Henry Greengrass to 1898. Miss Frances Sands ran the business from 1899 until it was taken over by Mr Walter Foat, a butcher from Biggin Hill in 1919.
In 1912 it was described as ‘a brick built and tile shop in good decoration and structural repair. Brick on edge. First floor 3 bedrooms. Brick built and tile stabling, 2 stalls in good order. Slaughter house in fair repair. Other galvanised with stabling and cart shed’.
It remained a butcher’s shop until sold in 1979. Attempts to keep it as a butcher’s shop failed and it became private accommodation. The former abattoir was briefly used for the repair of bakery equipment but was demolished and replaced with a private dwelling by the 1990s.
14 Baston Road
The next door property consisted of a sitting room, kitchen, scullery, larder and an outside earth closet in 1910. There were three bedrooms on the first floor in 1931.
One interesting occupant was the artist Thomas Morley. He married Alice Arnold, the eldest child of Jeffrey and Sarah Arnold. Jeffrey, a policeman, moved into the cottage when it was first built and remained there until his death in 1916. He had a large family of eight children but by 1916 Thomas Morley and Alice also lived there with their family. It remained the family home for the rest of their lives. Thomas died in 1931 and Alice in 1949. A retrospective exhibition of his paintings was held in Bromley Central Library in 1979 and revealed the quality of his work.
24 Baston Road (The Tuck Shop)
In the late 1930s a confectioner’s and newsagent’s opened in the ground floor of No 24 Baston Road. It became known as the Tuck Shop and for many years was run by Mrs Arthur. It was very popular, particularly with the schoolchildren whose numbers increased as the use of Gadsden as a school grew. It was later converted back to a home.
26 Baston Road
Sir Everard Hambro gave the ground floor of cottage No 3 (26 Baston Road) to the Church of St Mary the Virgin for use as a meeting room for all time, rent-free. The first floor rooms became part of the adjoining cottage. The house was extended between 1905 and 1912 when a report indicated that an additional £3,500 had been spent on it. The room has witnessed many activities. It was used by the Hayes Social Club from the 1900s until the 1920s and as the library from 1920 to 1946. The Society of Friends (Quakers) used it for worship on Sunday mornings in 1935. In the 1980s it was used by the Bromley Society for Mentally Handicapped Children. In 1986 it was allowed after a planning appeal to become a one bedroom flat.
Over the years a number of extensions have been allowed to individual cottages. In one instance a deep underground brick structure, possibly an original well, was found in the back garden.