Hayes (Kent) History

Hayes (Kent) History

Old Rectory/Hayes Library
57 Hayes Street
Grade II Listed

One of the oldest and most interesting buildings in Hayes is currently used as the local library. For almost  200 years it served as the Rectory and we are fortunate that documents survive that describe both the specification and the difficulties that occurred in 1757 in building this replacement for the original Rectory.

The building was nationally listed in 1973. 
18th Century. Two storeys and attics. Five windows. Two gabled dormers. Red brick and grey headers. Tiled roof. Glazing bars intact. Doorway in moulded architrave surround with projecting cornices and rectangular fanlight. Addition of one 19th century window bay at each end. Rear has a mansard roof with small dormer, the rest is hidden by later additions.

Building of the Rectory
Revd William Farquhar became Rector in 1755. He found the existing Rectory in disrepair and received agreement for it to be rebuilt. The specification was drawn up and provides the original plan.
To take down all the old Buildings quite to the ground, to lay a new foundation 36 foot long and 14 foot clear between the walls wide, the first storey 8 foot high and chamber storey 8 foot high, garrets six foot six inches high. 
It also included the details for the floors, staircases, door, windows, lath and plaster partitions and a new brewhouse.

In April 1757 Mr Man, a carpenter from Croydon, agreed to take on the job for £105, although he originally wanted £120. As the construction proceeded there were frequent disputes about the quality of the workmanship. Revd Farquhar complained that old timbers were being used and flints were put in the foundation walls rather than the specified bricks.The builders stopped work and would only return when the Rector agreed to stay away until the task was finished. On 30 August the surveyor’s report concluded that it had all been done ‘in a workmanlike manner according to the price given’. 

The case received considerable coverage and a cartoon entitled the ‘Macaroni Vicar of Bray’ shows Hayes Church and the Rectory with a ‘To Let’ notice on it.

Francis Fawkes, an acknowledged poet and Greek scholar, was the next occupant in 1774 but he was more interested in the planting of the garden and created an orchard in the grounds. He died in 1777 and an inventory was made of the house fixtures in each of the rooms in the Rectory:
Left hand Upper Chamber, Right hand upper chamber, 
Left hand front chamber, Left chamber on landing, Right hand chamber on landing
Study, Parlour
Small beer cellar, Pantry, Wash house, Ale cellar
Kitchen with range, pig iron jack and spit
Yard and stable

The value of the fittings was assessed at £60 which Revd John Till paid to his predecessor’s widow, Mrs Ann Fawkes. He remained in the Rectory for 50 years with a man and maid servant but made no noticeable alterations to the Rectory.  

Building of an Observatory
The first major change to the building occurred in the early 1830s after Thomas John Hussey was  appointed Rector in 1831. He was a keen astronomer and had an observatory with a copper dome of 13 feet diameter built in the grounds by a local craftsman, Gabriel Hutfield. Its position can be seen on the tithe map in 1841, although by this time Revd Hussey had sold his equipment to Durham University and the observatory was in use as a school room for his children.

Building of North Extension
As Hussey’s family grew he also maintained that the Rectory was not large enough and he arranged for a two storey extension to the north of the existing house to create a study and library for his many books and to provide a kitchen downstairs and bedrooms above. The cost was estimated at £400 and in 1835 the Rector mortgaged his living for that amount, which led to an enquiry by the Archbishop. The extension was built and can be seen in the drawing made in 1851. 

Building of the South Extension
Revd George Clowes became Rector in 1887 and made plans for an extension on the south side of the building with a bay window. He took out a mortgage with the Queen Anne’s Bounty for £442.

In 1910 the property with it stable and wood was valued at £2500  and described as ‘detached old fashioned house, red brick and part slate. Whole property of same style in good decorative order. Gas.  Accommodation Ist floor 6 bedrooms, WC no bath. 2nd floor attic. Stabling 2 stalls, brick built and tiled. Coach house. 4 cowshed’.

The diagram for the ground floor shows that the south extension ground floor room was used as the drawing room and the room to the north of the entrance hall was the dining room.

Sale of the Rectory
Revd E McClintock was appointed Rector in 1933. His daughter Rhoda later recalled that the place was in a bad state with very rickety stairs, particularly the back ones, and an incredible number of black beetles in the kitchen and store rooms that were below ground level. Beetle traps had to be set every night. He eventually persuaded the church authorities that a new Rectory should be built in the grounds and that the existing building should be sold. 

Conversion to a Library

After considerable discussion and controversy it was finally agreed that it would become a library. Edward Louis Longfield McClintock sold the Rectory to the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Bromley for £3000 in 1937.

Various plans were drawn up for its conversion to a library.

With the international system looking bleak in 1938, plans were made to use the Old Rectory in defence arrangements in the event of war. A Nissan Hut was put in the ground in April 1938 and later was designated as a gas cleansing station. In June gas masks were stored there and by December 1938 the Old Rectory had been designated a Damage and Casualty Control Centre, if required.

Discussions continued in the Council re the expense involved in setting up a branch library but finally in June 1939 Syme & Duncan’s tender for £1895 to provide library accommodation, changing rooms, lavatory accommodation and a groundsman’s flat at the Old Rectory was approved. 

The following month the Bromley Mercury detailed the changes that were happening to the rear of the building including the pulling down of the old Observatory and the reuse of the old bricks to form a low boundary wall to Hayes Street.  

The outbreak of the Second World War halted the changes. The Old Rectory was a key part in the defence arrangements and its grounds became allotments which were not returned until 1951. 

With the return of peace the new library opened in 1946 and has continued as a much used and appreciated branch library to the present day.