If you live on the west side of Ash Road between Chapel Wood Road and Parkfield, then the chances are (with a few exceptions) that you are living on part of Fairby Farm. But the 19th century farm is really an amalgam of more than one older holding.
Fairby Grange and the land between Castle Hill and Fairby Lane
Beginning with the central part of the holding between Fairby Lane and Castle Hill. We know that the owner was John Feerby in 1420 because he is mentioned as the plaintiff in court case where he was owed £7 (he was presumably still living here when made executor of the will of John Launce, rector of Southfleet in 1424). He was an important personage, for two years later we find him appointed to enquire into "all falsifiers and counterfeiters of weights in the county of Kent". Sometime later he moved to St Pauls Cray where he is buried in 1454. By the end of the c15th Fairby had come into the hands of the Overy family. William Overy of Horton Kirby left it in his will to his son John in 1482. His grandson John died in 1555, then Fairby was the classic mixed farm with wheat, barley, oats, cows, sheep, pigs and poultry. He also owned land at Fawkham and Ash, as well as Forge Cottage and the farms now called Woodins and Mintmakers in Hartley. Moving three generations on to 1604, the Hartley estate was owned by brothers John and Richard. They decided to partition the lands between them, John was allotted "Farbyes" and "St Peters" (Mintmakers). In 1648 Fairby passed out of the family and was bought by John Young, who hailed from Southfleet.
Around the mid c15th we know a John Paris was a landowner in Hartley. He appeared as a witness against the rector at a church court held at West Malling in 1438, where he said that the rector had celebrated mass in the presence of an excommunicated person. John died in 1451 and his will is one of the earliest surviving for Hartley. From his will we learn that he grew wheat and barley and kept sheep. He had three cloaks, one (his best) of russet. He left many gifts to the church, and on a more personal basis to Alice Brasyer "for looking after me in my illness". He had no sons, so he left his land to his daughter Rose Cotyer of Woodins. From place name evidence it seems likely that he owned 20 acres at the west end of St John's Lane (there was a later field which belonged to Fairby farm called Parrys Croft).
The Northern and Southern Part of the Farm
The remaining part of the later farm, that south of Fairby Lane and north of Castle Hill has a very different history, as it was associated with Pennis in Fawkham and Hartley Manor. Sometime about 1500 a London haberdasher, Elias Bingham, bought the southern part, together with lands in Fawkham and Ash from merchant taylor Laurence Harris. About the same time he had purchased Hartley Manor and Dawsland. He may have overextended himself for in 1515 he had to mortgage the estate and two years later this part of Fairby was purchased by the masters of the Savoy Hospital, which they sold on for £110 to one William Vertue. A few years later it had come to the White family. They eventually sold it to their long time tenant, Thomas Walter of Pennis in 1571, to add to the fields he already owned by 1541. He divided his Hartley lands between his sons in 1590, and thanks to this we get a detailed list of the "Fairby" fields given to son John. This of course is the John who set up the coats and gowns charity and whose effegy can be seen on the fine wall monument in Fawkham Church. By 1657 the estate was heavily indebted and the heir Bennett Walter was forced to sell to Thomas Young, not before fighting a legal challenge to her husband's will by her two sons. This sale thus created the Fairby estate that lasted up to a century ago.
The map below gives a tentative layout of the two halves of the farm in the early 17th century. As fields are renamed, split or merged overtime, and we only have the descriptions in the surviving deeds to go on, it can only be a tentative plan. For example the deeds do not give a precise location of Great and Little Nutfields, although we have a general idea where they must be.
Map showing two halves of Fairby in early 17th Century
The Youngs and After
It was Thomas who built the house we see today in 1685 and moved there. According to the English Heritage listing, there is an iron wall plaque with the initials "TY 1685".
He died in 1688 but his son and heir John (1643-1713) also had to fight a legal battle over the estate from his niece Anne. Anne unsuccessfully claimed that Thomas's will was invalid and therefore the estate should be divided equally by the Kentish custom of gavelkind. As heir of her deceased father, she would have stood to inherit half the estate.
John added to the Hartley estate by purchasing Hartley Cottage, Stocks Farm and Forge Cottage. When John died, his elder son Thomas inherited Fairby. Thomas only had 2 children, Newton (1718-35) and Mary (1721-98), so when he died in 1747 it was Mary who became Fairby's new owner. Mary had married Richard Treadwell three years previously. Richard (1711-1803) lived to the age of 92, and his son Francis (1758-1851) matched him for longevity. Thus Fairby had only 2 owners in over a century. Recently an 1825 mortgage of Fairby has come to light, itself mainly to pay off an earlier mortgage. It records that Francis Treadwell had made an exchange of land with the neighbouring owner.
The Treadwells parted with ownership soon after (the 1852 advert gives a detailed description of the farm). Judge William Talfourd bought it at auction for £6,500. Mr J T Smith became the owner a few years later. He employed Thomas Coulson as bailiff; Thomas was fined for letting a farm hand cattle along the highway in a foot and mouth outbreak in 1867. And on 7 March 1869 arsonists set fire to a wheat stack on the farm, in spite of the best efforts of the Dartford Fire Brigade, the stack was destroyed; the insurance company offered an enormous reward of £25 for information leading to an arrest. Edith Morton bought the house and 20 acres of land for £1,000 in 1906 and then spent £4,900 on the buildings and gardens. It was at this time the house came to be called Fairby Grange. She was succeeded by solicitor Robert Emmet in 1910.
Mr J T Smith sold it to James Timmins Chance, an glass industrialist from Smethwick. Then Thomas Morton bought the house and 20 acres of land for £1,000 in 1905 and then spent £4,900 on the buildings and gardens. It was at this time the house came to be called Fairby Grange. She was succeeded by Robert Emmet in 1910. The remainder of the estate was bought by Smallowners Limited and divided into smallholdings.
This was the time when people enjoyed taking long country walks for recreation. One such sightseer was Alfred Salter (1873-1945), a doctor and Christian Socialist from Bermondsey. He remembered seeing Fairby, and bought it when it came up for sale in 1917. He converted it into a convalescent home for poor women, consumptives and conscientous objectors (around 150 were able to stay here in WW1 (John W Graham - Conscription and Conscience, 1922) . One of those helped was George Dutch (1894-1983) who came here suffering from TB and other ailments. He wrote: "It was a glorious Spring and Summer and I remained there until October, working for the last few weeks in the gardens, orchards and hayfields. Thanks to good food and care and the fine Kentish air, I was completely cured. It is good to know that our world still produces good and clever men like Alfred Salter."
Mr Salter later gave it to the borough of Bermondsey as a home for mothers and children after childbirth and illness. In 1920 his wife Ada brought starving Austrian children here, who it is said, the village (but not the rector!) took to their hearts. In 1922 he gave the house to the borough of Bermondsey, and it then became a home for mothers and children after childbirth and illness. The children were known locally as "basket babies", from the distinctive wicker prams that became a familiar sight in Hartley's lanes. Fairby was also a plant nursery for the borough, as Ada and Alfred were keen to create a garden borough, and a municipal store sold its surplus vegetables. The Labour minister of health, John Wheatley, officially opened Fairby in 1924. In its first 3 years over 2,500 mothers and children came here, and infant mortality was slashed by a third. Ada and Alfred must have been effective political campaigners, for when they came to Bermondsey it was a Conservative borough with no Labour councillors, but by 1935 their oponents had lost every seat and had vitually withdrawn from the borough. No better valediction can be found than what he wrote when he knew he was near death: "I go with joy to my Master to start anew in His larger service. I ask my friends not to grieve over my death, but to rejoice that I was given great opportunities and that, by the Grace of God, I tried to utilize them in His Service and for the good of my fellow men, especially for them who are cast down and of low degree". The name of a house in Round Ash Way commemorates this remarkable man.
Pictures of Fairby as a Maternity Home
Bermondsey Borough sold the house in the 1950s and it reopened as a retirement home in about 1958. Many planning applications were made by interested parties for the 20 acre grounds, but in the end Ron Billings successfully applied to build Round Ash Way and the roads around it. It almost wasn't Round Ash Way, early plans show a verge instead of the green to satisfy the council's landscaping requirements. He offered part of the land to be the site of the new primary school, which the council accepted although their original plan was to build it where Billings Hill Shaw is today.
John Feerby - Calendar
of Patent Rolls
Henry V p 285 m 21 (3 July 1420, Westminster)
of outlawry to Geoffrey Salle of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, yeoman,
for not appearing to answer John Feerby of Hertle, Kent, esquire,
touching a debt of £7. London.
Henry V p 422, m 5d (11 February 1422, Westminster)
to the justices of the peace, the sheriff and the escheator and John
Drylond and John Ferby to enquire about all falsifiers and
counterfeiters of weights in the county of Kent, in accordance with
the ordinance in the last parliament.
St Pauls Cray Church in the upper end of the south aisle on a grave
stone is a brass plate, half torn off with this remaining inscription
in black letters:
iacet Johannes Feerby generosus qui ob...... Decembris anno Domini
the inscription were two circular plates of brass now lost and under
them were the effigies of him and his wife. The lower part of his is
town away and that of his wife quite gone. Under his figure are his
four sons and under the mark of her plate as his daughters. Beneath
them are the circular brass plates remaining, on each of which is an
eagle with it swings expanded holding a label in the beak on the left
hand with this inscription in black letters "Salvatorem Meum"
on the right hand Et in came mea videbo Deum".
of John Paris (1451)
identification with Fairby is tentative and largely based on place
name evidence. The 1604 partition deed mentions two fields belonging
to Fairby: Parrys Croft and Harrys Haw, names that do not have a
ready explanation otherwise.Mr Paris had no sons so this may
explain the fact that by 1482 Fairby belonged to the Overy family.
the name of God, Amen. 4 April in the year of the Lord 1451. I John
Parysse of Hertle in the diocese of Rochester, of sound mind, make my
will in this manner. Firstly, I leave my soul to Almighty God my
creator, and my body to be buried in the cemetery of the parish
Church of Hertle next to the tomb of my deceased wife. Item: I leave
to the high altar of the same church - 20d. Item: I leave for the
roofing of the church - 15d. Item: I leave to the light of blessed
Mary there - 3 ewes with their lambs, from the best of my flock.
Item: to the same light of the blessed Mary - half a quarter of
barley to be paid and raised from the barley growing on my lands, on
the feast day of All Saints. Item: I leave to Sir John Bonde my
curate - 12d. Item: I leave to the Carmelite Brothers of Aylysford -
5s to pray for my soul for the remission of my sins. Item: I leave
to each chaplain saying mass on the day of my burial, celebrating
mass from my soul together with the obsequies - 6d. Item: I leave to
Rose Cotyer, my daughter - my best cooking pot, with a tripod from
the best. Item: I leave to Joan, daughter of the said Rose - 4 of
the better sheep and one quarter of barley, one brazen pot, one pan
of medium quality and one posnet. Item: I leave to John Cotyer, my
godson - my better cloak of russet. Item: I leave to Thomas Cotyer,
eldest son of John Cotyer and the other boys of the same John - my
two cloaks [.......] to make clothes for them and each of them.
Item: I leave to Alice Brasyer, for looking after me in my illness -
6d in money with one bushel of wheat, from my growing corn. Item: I
leave to John Mabbis - 2 bushels of wheat from the corn as aforesaid.
Item: I leave for expenses laid out on the day of my burial - a half
quarter of wheat and one quarter of barley, and likewise on the day
of my trental - another half quarter of wheat with another quarter of
barley. And if it should happen that there is a remainder therefrom,
I will that it be distributed to the poor at the discretion of my
curate and supervisor. All other vessels especially of metal of
whatever quality, which shall not be bequeathed above, I give and
leave to Joan and John (sic), daughters of Thomas Cotyer, to be
divided equally between them at the discretion of the said curate, my
supervisor. The remainder of all goods not bequeathed above, after
my debts have been paid and legacies and funeral expenses have been
honourably settled and completed; I will that it be given to the poor
and distributed in pious ways, according to the discretion of my
supervisor, in whom I place especial trust for the remission of my
sins. I appoint, make and constitute Thomas Cotier as executor of my
will, and the said Sir John Bonde rector of the said Church
supervisor of the said Thomas and of the executorship, so that by
these presents the same Thomas can execute and complete faithfully
and speedily the present (?) will with the supervision of my said
supervisor. Given and Hertle on the day and year abovesaid.
addition I will that Roger Smyth, John Cotyer at le Hay and Stephen
Smyth, my feoffees for all my lands and tenements in Hertle or
elsewhere within the county of Kent, as appears more fully in a
certain deed of enfeoffment made therefore, immediately after my
death to enfeoff Rose Cotyer my daughter in all my lands and
tenements aforesaid. To have and to hold to the same Rose for the
full term of her life without impeachment of waste...... with the
duty of repairing, rebuilding and maintaining the houses and
buildings constructed on the same. And after the death of the said
Rose, I will that the said lands and tenements shall pass by
remainder to Joan and Joan, daughters of the said Rose aforesaid and
shall remain as one holding. To have and to hold all the said lands
and tenements to the said Joan and Joan, and to the heirs of their
bodies legitimately conceived in the first instance. And if the said
Joan and Joan die without heir of their bodies legitimately
conceived, then I will that all the said lands and tenements shall be
sold for the best price that can be obtained, and the money so
received therefrom shall bedisbursed thus: half of the said money
shall be given to the parish church of Hertle; and the other half of
the said money shall be disbursed on pious uses.
of William Overy (1482)
the name of God, Amen. The 26th day of May in the year of the Lord
1482. I William Overy of the parish of Horton next Frennyngham, of
sound mind, make my will in the following manner: First I leave my
soul to Almighty God and my body to be buried in the Churchyard of
the Blessed Mary of Horton. Item: for tithes forgot to the said
altar - 6d. Item: to the light of the Blessed Mary aforesaid - 4d.
Item to [......] - 8d. Item: I leave to Hertlee Church - one
[.......] ewe. Item: I leave to John the son of Richard Overey - one
ewe and one lamb. Item: to each of my godchildren - [.....]. Item:
to the high altar of Hertlee - 2s. Item: to the Rector of Hertlee -
2 lambs for tithe. Item: I leave to Blessed Mary of Walsyngham ? -
2d. Item: I leave to lord (? crofero) of H[......] - 2d. Item: to
King Henry VI - 1d. Item: I will that my six sons and daughters
shall have  acres of land for 6 marks (£4), if they or any of
them are able to (buy) it for the said 6 marks. Item: I will that
Richard Overey and John Overey, (my) sons, shall occupy my tenement
with all its appurtenances in the parish of Hertle [..........] when
John Overey my son shall be and reach the age of 20 years, and all
profits for the whole time aforesaid shall be divided equally between
the said Richard and John my sons. And when the said John is 20
years old, I will that then the said John my son shall have the said
tenement of mine with all its appurtenances being in Hertlee, for
himself and his heirs forever. And I will that the said John Overey
my son, shall give to each of his brothers 3s 4d [..................]
Item: that Joan my daughter shall have 40s at her marriage; and if
it happens that the said Joan dies before she is married, then I will
that her sister, my other daughter shall have 40s aforesaid on her
marriage. Item: I will that the said Joan shall have one featherbed
and one bolster, one brazen pot and one dish. Item: I will that
Richard Overey and John Overey my sons shall have between them one
brazen pot [.......]. Item: I will that Richard my son shall have 3s
4d. Item: I will that John Gens and Matilda Gens shall have 2 ewes
and 2 lambs. The remainder of all my moveable goods, after my debts
are paid, I give and will to my executors. And I make and appoint as
executors of this my present will - John Gens of Sowthflete and I
make John Newman senior of Kempsying supervisor; and to each of them
for their labour - [...]s 8d. Witnesses to these presents: Henry
Mabb, William Lese (?), William Smyth etc.
of John Overey (1509)
the name of God, Amen. The 13th day of April in the year of the Lord
1509. I John Overy of Hartly of sound mind, make my will in this
manner. Firstly: I leave my soul to God; my body to be buried in His
cemetery there. Item: I leave to the high altar there - 20d. Item:
I leave for the painting of one cloth to hang before the high beam of
the high cross - 8d. Item: I leave to the parish church there - one
cow worth 6s 8d. The remainder of all my goods, I leave and bequeath
to Alice my wife, whom I appoint as my executor; and I make Thomas
Brokhole my supervisor. With these witnesses: William Smyth and
is the last will of me the said Overey. First I will that Alice my
wife shall have all my lands and tenements as long as she is widow.
And if she die widow , I will that Robert my son have the foresaid
house and lands and tenements to him and his heirs lawfully begotten
after his death. And if she marry or else die widow, or the said
Robert come to lawful age, then I will that he occupieth the said
lands and rents, and shall keep (?) the said Robert till he come to
lawful age or [..........] to yield accounts of the profits of the
said lands to the use of the said Robert, when he cometh to lawful
age. And I will that when the said Robert cometh to his lands that
he give to every of his brethren 40s, which I will he pay to them at
the age of 24 years within one year next following at 2 payments,
that is to wit - 20s at each payment. And I will that the said
Robert give to every of his sisters - 20s at their marriage. And if
the said Robert die without heirs of his body lawfully begotten.
Then I will that John my son shall have the foresaid house and lands
and tenements, to him and to his heirs lawfully begotten. And if the
said John die without issue lawfully begotten, then I will that the
said lands and tenements remain to Thomas my son, and to his heirs of
his body lawfully begotten. And if the said Thomas decease without
heirs of his body lawfully begotten; then I will that the lands and
tenements remain to William my son, and to his heirs of his body
lawfully begotten. And if the said William decease without heirs of
his body lawfully begotten, then I will they remain to Richard my son
and to his heirs of his body lawfully begotten. And if the said
Richard decease without heirs lawful, then I will that the said lands
and tenements be sold and the money thereof to be spent in good use
in singing of masses, reparation of churches and in other meritorious
deeds for the souls of my father and mother and all Christian souls.
Provided alway that if it shall fortune any of my said sons to have
and enjoy the said lands and tenements as is above rehearsed, then I
will that he that so doth enjoy the said lands and tenements, pay to
his brethren and sisters the foresaid sum as the said Robert should
pay after the manner and form above expressed. And if the same
Robert or any of his said brethren to whom the said lands and
tenements shall come to pay not to the said brethren or sisters or
they depart the worth within the years above rehearsed the sum to
them bequeathed above, then I will that their part that so deceaseth
shall be equally deputed?
of Partition between Richard and John Overy 29 September 1604
indenture made the six and twentieth day of September in the year of
the reign of our sovereign lord James by the grace of God of England,
Scotland, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith etc. viz. of
England, France and Ireland the second, and of Scotland the eight and
thirtieth. Between John Overy of Hartly in the county of Kent,
yeoman, one of the sons of Abraham Overy late of Hartly aforesaid,
deceased, of the one part. And Richard Overy of Hartly aforesaid,
yeoman, one other of the sons of the said Abraham Overy, of the other
part. Witnesseth that whereas John Overy, late of Hartly deceased,
the great-grandfather of the said John and Richard Overy, being
seized in his demesne as of fee of and in four messuages or
tenements, four gardens, four orchards and 186 acres of arable lands,
pasture and wood more or less with the appurtenances in Hartly
aforesaid, by his will and testament in writing bearing date the 16th
day of July in the year of our Lord 1555 (amongst other things) did
devise the said messuages, lands and tenements with the appurtenances
unto Richard Overy his son for life and the reversion or remainder
thereof after his death to the said Abraham his son, and to the heirs
males of his body lawfully begotten. Which Abraham being seized of
the premises by force of the said gift and having issue male of his
body lawfully begotten, the said John Overy and Richard Overy,
parties to these presents, thereof afterwards died seized. After
whose death the same John and Richard Overy his sons entered into the
premises and occupied the same together in common and undivided until
now of late time, when by their mutual consent and agreement with the
advice and assistance of their friends, a perfect partition and
division, according to the laws of this realm was had and made
betwixt them of the said messuages, lands and tenements with the
appurtenances. And that in manner and form following: that is to
the said John Overy, one of the parties to these presents, should
have hold and enjoy to him and his heirs forever in severality of and
in full satisfaction of his part, purpart or moiety. All and
singular the messuages or tenements, houses, buildings, yards,
gardens, orchards, lands, tenements and parcels of ground, with the
appurtenances (parcel of the premises) hereafter immediately
expressed, that is to say. All that messuage or tenement called
Farbyeswith the appurtenances in Hartly aforesaid, and all
houses, buildings, barns, stables, yards, gardens, orchards,
thereunto belonging and those parcels of ground ensuing, namely
Greate Nutfeild, Little Nutfeild, Plotfeild and Plotfield Spring,
lying on the west side of the highway leading from Ashe to Dartford,
and containing in them by estimation 34 acres more or less, Harries
Hawe containing 7 acres more or less, the two Parrys Crofts and
Ballocks Land containing together by estimation 14 acres more or
less. And also one other messuage, tenement or cottage with the
appurtenances called St Peter and 2½ acres of ground more or
less thereunto belonging, now or late in the occupation of John
Comfort, with these parcels also of ground following, viz. Yewfeild,
containing 6 acres more or less, Care Hill containing 13 acres more
or less, Basedeane containing 4 acres more or less, and Greate
Huttocks and Little Huttock with the springs thereunto adjoining
containing together by estimation 10 acres more or less. Into which
premises last rented, assigned and allotted to the said John Overy
for his part purpart or moiety, he the same John hath entered and is
now seized thereof in severality according to the said partition.
that the said Richard Overy the other party to these presents should
have, hold and enjoy to him and his heirs forever in seveality for
and in full satisfaction of his part, purpart or moiety. All and
singular the messuages or tenements, houses, buildings, yards,
gardens, orchards, lands, tenements and parcels of ground with the
appurtenances (residue of the premises first before recited)
hereafter immediately expressed, that is to say. All that messuage
or tenement called Hayes House(Woodins) with the
appurtenances in Hartly aforesaid, and all houses, buildings, barns,
stables, yards, gardens and orchards thereto belonging. And those
parcels of ground ensuing, namely Welfeild containing 10 acres more
or less, a little croft adjoining to the east side of the said
messuage called Hayes containing 3 acres more or less. Poores Croft
containing 5 acres more or less, Morrells Croft containing also 5
acres more or less. And also one other messuage, tenement or cottage
called The Smyth's Forge(Forge Cottage) with the
houses, buildings, yards and garden together with 12 acres of ground
more or less thereunto belonging, now in the occupation of John
Warren or his assignees. And threescore acres of ground more or
less, lying together in several parcels to a green against the said
messuage called the Smyth's Forge towards the east, to the highway
leading from Ash to Dartford towards the west, to the lands of
William Sedley esquire towards the north, and to the lands of Thomas
Launce and of John Walter gent. towards the south. Into which
premises last recited, assigned and allotted to the said Richard
Overy for his part, purpart or moiety, he the same Richard hath
entered and is thereof now seized in severality according to the said
for the better corroboration and confirmation of the said partition
and division made, assented unto and agreed in manner and form
aforesaid. It is covenanted, granted and agreed by and betwixt the
said parties to these presents and either of them severally doth
covenant, grant and agree of himself and his heirs to and whichever
of them and his heirs severally by these presents to stand to and
agree to the said partition and division. And that either of them
the said parties to these presents and his heirs and assigns shall or
may without the loss, trouble or interruption after by the other of
them the said parties (his heirs or assigns) have hold and quietly
enjoy the said messuages, lands, tenements and parcels of ground to
him assigned and allotted for his part, purpart or moiety as is
aforesaid. And that also acquired and discharged or sufficiently
saved harmless of and from all incumbrances whatsoever had or
committed by the other of them the said parties. And further the
said Richard Overy, party to these presents, doth of him an his heirs
remise, release, and quitclaim by these presents unto the said John
Overy the other party to these presents, being now in full and
peaceable possession and seizin of the premises to him assigned and
allotted as is aforesaid, and to his heirs and assigns forever.
All the right, title and interest and demand which he the said
Richard now hath or late had or hereafter may have or claim of, in or
to the said messuages, lands, tenements and parcels of ground with
the appurtenances to him the said John Overy assigned and allotted
for his part, purpart or moiety, by force of the said partition or of
these presents or by any other ways or means whatsoever. And in like
manner the same John Overy, party to these presents doth further for
him and his heirs remise, release and quitclaim by these presents
unto the said Richard Overy his brother being now also in full and
peaceable possession and seizin of the premises to him the said
Richard assigned and allotted as is aforesaid and to his heirs and
assigns forever. All the right, title, estate, interest and demand
which he the said John Overy may have or late had or hereafter may
have or claim of, in or to the said messuages, lands, tenements and
parcels of ground with the appurtenances to him the said Richard
Overy assigned and allotted for his part, purpart or moiety by force
of the said partition or of these presents or by any other ways or
means whatsoever. And lastly it is covenanted and agreed by and
betwixt the said parties to these presents and either of them
severally for him and his heirs doth covenant, grant and agree to and
with the other of them, his heirs and assigns by these presents, that
either of them the said parties and his heirs shall yearly during the
life of Dorothy Comfort, his mother, pay or cause to be paid to her
the same Dorothy or her assigns, the son of 40s of lawful money of
England for and in lieu and discharge of one annuity or rentcharge of
£4 granted out of the premises or some part thereof to the said
Dorothy during her life by the said Abraham Overy her late husband
and that at such days and times and in such manner and form as the
same annuity is payable by force of the said grant. In witness
whereof the parties aforesaid have to these presents interchangeably
put their hands and seals the day and year first above written.
Conveyance by John Overy to Thomas Young, 1648
Reference: TNA C54/3394
Young was buried at Southfleet 24/2/1658.
indenture made the 11th day of May 1648 and in the four
and twentieth year of the reign of our sovereign lord, Charles by the
grace of England, Scotland and France, and Ireland king, defender of
the faith etc.
John Overy of Hartley in the county of Kent, yeoman, of the one part,
and John Younge of Southfleet in the said county, yeoman, Frances his
wife, and Thomas Younge, son of the said John Younge, and Margaret
the wife of the said Thomas of the other part.
that the said John Overy for and in consideration of the sum of 5
shillings of lawful English money to him in hand paid by the said
John Younge, Frances his wife, Thomas Younge and Margaret his wife,
at and before the sealing of these presents, the receipt whereof the
said John Overy doth hereby confess. Hath granted, bargained and
sold and by these presents doth grant, bargain and sell unto the said
John Younge, Frances his wife, Thomas Younge and Margaret his wife,
and to the heirs and assigns of the said Thomas and Margaret.
that his messuage, tenement or farm, commonly called and known by the
name of Farbyes also Varbyes, or by what other names soever the same
is called. Situate and being in the parish of Hartley aforesaid, and
now in the possession of the said John Overy. And all those his
several fields or closes of arable, meadow, pasture and woodland to
the said messuage, tenement of farm belonging, and being in the said
parish of Hartley and hereafter in these presents mentioned, viz The
Two Great Nuttfeilde with the little spring or coppice thereunto
adjoining on the west, The Little Nuttfeild, Harris Hay, The Two
Parris Croft, The Seven Acres, and another spring or coppice ground
of 3 acres or thereabouts. All which said parcels of land contain by
estimation 48 acres or thereabouts, be it more or less, and are now
in the possession of the said John Overy or his assigns. With all
and singular the appurtenances to the said messuage, tenement, farm
and premises belonging or appertaining or therewith now used,
occupied and enjoyed or accepted, reputed or take as part, parcel or
member thereof. And the reversion and reversions, remainder and
remainders of all and singular the premises and all the estate,
right, title, interest, claim and demand whatsoever of him the said
John Overy of, in and to the said bargained premises, or any part
have and to hold the said messuage, tenement, farm and all other the
premises hereinbefore mentioned to be bargained and sold unto the
said John Younge and Frances his wife, Thomas Younge and Margaret his
wife, and to the heirs and assigns of the said Thomas and Margaret
witness whereof the said parties have to these present indentures
interchangeably set their hands and seals, the day and year first
memorial that on the day and year abovewritten, John Overie came
before the said lord King in his Chancery, and acknowledged the said
indenture and all and singular contained and specified in it, in the
above form. Sworn the 11th day of May in the said year.
Northern and Southern Part of the Holding
of Partition between Thomas and John Walter dated 20 April 1590
Walter of Fawkham, yeoman
Walter of Grayes Inn, son
Thomas Walter has sons viz, said John Walter (eldest), Thomas Walter
(2nd) and Robert Walter (3rd), and is seised of lands in Hartley,
Fawkham and elsewhere. To avoid problems after his death he had
decided to partition his land.
Walter to get:
acres of land and wood in Hartley called Chantry in the occupation of
John Hadlowe. Abbutting the Ash to Longfield highway (west), lands
of Richard Overy (N and E), and lands of James Lance (S).
parcels adjoining in Hartley called Lymekills Grove (3 acres),
Lymekells Crofte (3a), 4 parcels called Netherfeilde Hylls (3a),
Shrimpling Grove (3a), Rye Crofte (12a), Chaulkenfeilde (10a),
Chaulkenfeild Woold (10a), Ellenden Gosse (10a), abutting the
foresaid premises (S and W), highway and lands of Richard Overy (E, W
and N), in the occupation of Thomas Walter his father, ? William Cano
or one of them.
parcels of land in Hartley called Westlands, Westlands Wooldes and
Harteley Holde, containing 26 acres. In the occupation of Thomas
Walter the father, William Cano or one of them. Bounded by highway
and lands of Richard Overy (S and E), land and wood of parsonage (N
and E), and the foresaid premises (W and S).
separate deeds were executed for the shares of the other two
Walter v Walter (1657)
The Walters were a substantial landowning family, who lived at Pennis House, Fawkham, but by the 1650s their landholdings had declined and John Walter has considerable debts. This case followed the death of John Walter in 1657. He made his will on 11 May 1657, died on the 16th and was buried at Fawkham on 18 May 1657. In his will he appointed his wife Bennett as executor and instructed her to sell his estate which he reckoned would fetch at least £1,900. Out of which she was to pay his debts of £1,000 and then £900 to be shared between their daughters Dorcas, Bennett and Alice. Any surplus was to be shared between his sons Thomas and Ambrose.
This will did not leave much to John's sons, and they were not happy about it. Thomas in particular claimed that his father had promised him land as part of a marriage settlement. They said "their said late father John Walter departed this life upon Saturday the 16th day of May last past, having by the extremity of the sickness whereof he then died, been deprived of his sense and memory for about a week before bis death." They claimed the will was published at midnight when John was not of "sound and disposing mind and memory". Bennett also claimed they had said the will wasn't properly witnessed.
It appears that Bennett prevailed because it is she who sold the Hartley and Ash lands for £665 on 17 August 1657 (although Thomas and Ambrose both admitted too that the estate would have to be sold). In Hartley these comprised about 2/3 of the Fairby Estate, but excluded the house itself and the land between Castle Hill and Fairby Lane, which the Walters had never owned. The will was proved in London on 10 June 1657 and there is no note to say that it had been invalidated in any way.
In most humble manner complaining doth shew you good lordships your daily orator Bennett Walter widow, the executrix and relict of John Walter, late of Fawkham in the county of Kent, esquire deceased. That whereas your orator [ ] late time. That is to say upon the 11th day of May last past lawfully sized in his demesne as of fee of diverse messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments, lying and being in Fawkham aforesaid and Farningham, Ash and Hartely and [ ] yearly value of £200 a year besides all reprisals. And in a likewise at the same time possessed of a personal estate amounting to £400 at the least. And being so thereof seized and possessed and [ .....] ordain, declare and appoint his last will and testament in writing in these words following:
"In the name of God, Amen. I John Walter of Fawkham in the county of Kent esq. being sick and weak of body but of sound and perfect memory for [ ] This 11th day of May in the year of the Lord etc., do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following. First and principally I give and bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it and my body to be [...] whence it was taken to be decently buried according to the discretion of my executrix hereafter named, in full assurance of the free pardon of all my sins in the blood of Christ, and of a joyful resurrection of soul and body at the day of the just. And for that [ ] pleased the Lord to bless me withal in this my pilgrimage here on earth, make disposition thereof in manner and form following: First I give and bequeath to Mr Edward Archbold, minister of the parish where I do now dwell, the sum of 20(?)s [....] paid unto him the day of my burial to preach my funeral sermon. Also I do give and bequeath unto my beloved good wife Bennet whom I make my sole executrix my funeral expenses and gift? and legacy being discharged all my goods, chattels of household stuff and personal estate whatsoever, my debts excepted, which I have within the county of Kent aforesaid or elsewhere within this Commonwealth of England. And as for touching and concerning my lands I make disposition thereof [...] form following: And first my will, intent and meaning is I do hereby give and bequeath unto my said wife, my sole executrix: All that my farm in the tenure or occupation of John Nicholas, lying and being in Fawkham aforesaid and in [....] in the said county of Kent. And all that wood and woodland containing by estimation 20 acres more or less, lying and being in Fawkham aforesaid now in the tenure of me the said John Walter. And all that my wood, woodland containing by estimation 20 acres more or less adjoining to him the said John Nicholas, commonly called or known by the name of Chokes Feild and Chokes Wood, in the tenure of me John Walter [ ] and being in Fawkham aforesaid. And also all those my two tenements or cottages lying and being in Fawkham aforesaid, in the tenure or occupation of John Gardiner and Edward Carryer, their assignees. And all that my farm [...] ground thereunto belonging, situate, lying and being in the parishes of Ash and Hartely in the said county of Kent, late mortgaged to Edmond Tooke esq. and now in the occupation of me the said John Walter and of Robert French [....]. And all those my lands, arable and woodland now in the tenure or occupation of John Dawlton, his assignee or assignees, lying and being in Ash and Hartely aforesaid.. And also all those my lands, lying and being in the parish of Hartely aforesaid and in the tenure or occupation of Edward Best, his assignee or assignees. And all those my three pieces or parcels of land with the appurtenances, lying and being in Hartely aforesaid, in the tenure or occupation of the widow Crowherst, her assignee or assignees. [And] all those my lands and woodground, lying and being in Hartely aforesaid, now in the tenure or occupation of Leonard Carryer, and of me the said John Walter, our assignee or assignees. To sell as soon as possibly she can to pay my debts in the first place befing...] near as I can remember about £1,000, and to raise the sum of £900 more, to be equally divided between my three daughters, Dorcas, Bennett and Alice, share and share alike, within one year after my decease [...] can possibly be sold so soon. And my will, intent and meaning is that all the profits of the lands aforesaid which shall arise until sale of them or any of them can be made as aforesaid, shall be accounted for by my said wife and shall go to the said [ ]. And that if my said wife shall depart this life before she have made sale of all or any of the lands and tenements aforesaid, appointed for payment of my debts and daughters' portions as aforesaid. That then the executor or administrator of [my] wife shall have the same power to bargain and sell all and singular the premises, which shall then be unsold, for the uses and purposes aforesaid, as fully and amply as my said wife might have done if she had been living [ Jfurther will, intent and meaning is that whereas I have appointed £100 a year as near as I can imagine to be sold as aforesaid for the payment of £1,000 debts and £900 portions for my said three daughters as aforesaid [....] the money upon sale of my said lands shall amount unto more than nineteen hundred pounds or to more than will pay my debts and my said legacies to my said three daughters. That then the overplus whatever it be, shall be equally divided [....] sons Thomas and Ambrose share and share alike. And whereas I receive about £300 owing to me by several persons abroad, my will, intent and meaning is that my said executrix as fast as she can recover or get in the same [...] about getting in the same, shall divide the same, share and share alike between my three daughters, their executors and administrators and assignees; and I do give the said debts to my said three daughters according to the further augmentation of the same [....] by me formerly given unto them. Also I do further give unto my said beloved wife Bennett in lieu and recompense of her dower, moiety and title of dower to any of the lands aforementioned to be sold as aforesaid and in further manifestation of the [....] love and affection which I do bear unto her, I do bear unto her, the remainder of all my messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments whatsoever for and during her natural life, not before disposed of to be sold as aforesaid and from and immediately after the date of [...] I give and bequeath all the said remainder of my said lands and tenements whatsoever not disposed of to be sold as aforesaid, unto my said sons and to their heirs, share and share alike equally to be divided between them and their heirs [....] renounce, revoke and make void all former wills by me made and do make and ordain this my last will and testament, containing 2 sheets of paper whereunto I have respectively set my hand and seal the day and year aforesaid John [Walter....]"
by the said will be ready to be produced it doth and may appear. And you said oratrix doth further shew unto your good lordships, that after the making of the said last will and testament of him the said John Walter. That is to say upon the [....] day of May last past, departed this life, leaving your said oratrix his sole executrix, having appointed diverse lands to be sold by your said oratrix for the payment of £1,000 being the proper debts of him your said oratrix's husband [ ] and for the payment of £900 for portions from his said three daughters, as in and by the said recited will is more particularly set forth. And your said oratrix well hoped quietly to have sold the said lands and to have according to the [ ] and discharged the said debts and ?mortgages, according to the trust reposed in her by her said deceased husband
But now so it is, may it please your good lordships, the said Thomas and Ambrose Walter, your said oratrix her sons, being coheirs [in] gavelkind, according to the custom of Kent, and perceiving their said father hath appointed £100 a year lands and tenements to see sold for payment of debts and paying of daughters' portions as aforesaid, as in the said will is particularly [....] hereby their estates will be far short of what they expected, do give out in speeches sometimes. That your said oratrix's husband did not make any such will and testament as is before expressed. And if any such will and testament were made, that the [....] was not of sound and disposing memory, when the same was made. And at other times that your oratrix hath no witnesses to prove the said will and that their said father never did read the same or heard the same read unto him. And therefore [....] and oppose the sale of the said lands and tenements, appointed to be sold for payment of debts and daughters' portions as aforesaid. Although they well know the said will was duly made and published by their said father as aforesaid. In tender consideration [of the] premises, and for that your oratrix hath no other way to prove the said will to enable your oratrix to sell the said lands for the uses aforesaid; nor to keep alive and preserve the testimony of [ ] invoking (?) and publishing of the said will, but before your honours in the High Court of Chancery. And to the end the said will may be established by decree of this court, and the witnesses to the same may be examined 'in perpetuam rei memoriam' [....] may be allowed at any trial, which shall be at the common law concerning the said will. And to the intent the said Thomas and Ambrose Walter may upon their several oaths, severally set forth whether their father was not seized and possessed as aforesaid [...] whether he did make the said recited will in manner and form as aforesaid, and if not the same what other will did he make. And whether he were of sound and disposing memory at the time of the making of the same. And why they or either of them do [ ] the performance of the same. And may likewise true answer make unto all and singular the parts of your said oratrix her bill. And your said oratrix may be therein relieved accordingly, as to your honours shall seem to stand with equity and good conscience]. May it please your good lordships, the premises considered, to grant unto your oratrix one or more writ or writs of subpoena to be directed to the....? said Thomas Walter and Ambrose Walter, commanding them and every one of them at a certain day and under a certain pain therein to be limited, personally to appear before you good lordships and further to stand to such order and decree, as to your good lordships shall seem to stand with equity and good conscience. And your said oratrix as in duty bounden shall humbly pray [.......]
The joint and several answers of Thomas Walter and Ambrose Walter gentlemen, defendants to the bill of complaint of Bennett Walter widow, complainant.
The said defendants, saving to themselves now and at all times hereafter all advantage and benefit of exception, to the uncertainties and other apparent defects and imperfections in the said bill of complaint, contained for answer unto so much thereof as doth in any wise materially concern them, these defendants or either of them to make answer unto, they do jointly and severally answer and say. That it may be true that John Walter deceased, in the said bill named, about the time in the said bill for that purpose mentioned, was seized in fee of the messuages, lands and tenements in the said bill particularly mentioned and expressed, being of such yearly value as is therein likewise mentioned, but subject to the payment of £30 pa to Mrs Dorothy Browne, widow, during her natural life, and to the payment of £12 pa for charitable uses, charged to be issuing out of the same by the last will of John Walter esq, deceased, late uncle of them these defendants, and subject to a recognisance or statute staple heretofore entered into by the said John Walter since deceased, unto John Robinson the elder of Gravesend in the county of Kent esquire, or unto some other for his use, or in trust for him of the penalty of £600 defeazanced for the payment of £300 with damages at a day yet to come, and some part of the said tenements was mortgaged unto and as these defendants believe was in the life time of the said John Walter forfeited by breach of the condition contained in the said indenture of mortgage unto Edmond Tooke esq, in the said bill also named. And it may be true that the said John Walter deceased, was at the time of his death possessed of a personal estate of the value of £600 or thereabouts, but that he made any such last will and testament, as in the said bill is set forth, or any other will they these defendants do not believe, or if such will as is at large set forth in and by the said bill were by their said late father John Walter, since deceased, assented unto, made or published, the same was assented unto, made and published at midnight and when he was not of sound and disposing mind and memory, for that he the said John Walter hath thereby made no provision at all for the maintenance of them these defendants, or either of them during the lifetime of their mother the complainant; neither hath he the said John Walter since deceased by the said pretended will made any provision for the indemnifying and saving harmless of this defendant Thomas Walter, against such bonds and engagements as he hath entered into by command of his said late father deceased, against which lands and engagements not above one week before the making of the said pretended will, he the said John Walter deceased faithfully promised him this defendant Thomas Walter, to defend and save him harmless; nor hath he the said John Walter deceased, thereby made any provision for, or directed the making of any present settlement of lands or tenements upon him this defendant, although not long before the making of the said pretended will, he had treated with several persons concerning a marriage for this defendant Thomas Walter, and had offered to settle lands of the clear yearly value of £130 upon him this defendant upon such marriage, by which way and means the debts and portions mentioned in the said pretended will might have been raised and paid, and this defendant might have had a subsistence of which he is now altogether left destitute; and this defendant would willingly take and accept [ ..] settlement of £100 pa. parcel of his said late father's estate, and pay his debts and secure the said portions to the sisters of this defendant, which to do, or to give him this defendant Thomas Walter any security against the bonds and engagements by him entered into on the behalf and at the command of his said late father, which engagements to amount unto £500 principal money, or to settle any certain allowance for this defendant's maintenance, or to acquaint him with the debts or estate of his said late father; the said complainant though in a civil and dutiful way and manner requested, hath and doth deny to the great grief of this defendant. And the said defendants do jointly and severally say. That true it is that their said late father John Walter departed this life upon Saturday the 16th day of May last past, having by the extremity of the sickness whereof he then died, been deprived of his sense and memory for about a week before bis death. And the said defendants do jointly and severally deny that they or either of them hath or have given it out in speeches that they will hinder or oppose the sale of the lands for payment of the debts, if such authority as is therein now pretended to by the said complainant were by their said late father committed to her, the said complainant, when he was of sound and disposing mind and memory; but if at the time of the making of such pretended will and granting such pretended authority for sale of lands, the said late father of these defendants were not of sound and disposing mind and memory (as they these defendants do verily believe he was not) they these defendants do conceive under the good favour of your lordships that they have good cause to oppose the same, they being thereby disinherited of their birthright and left altogether unprovided for during the life of the complainant their mother. And without that, that any other matter or thing in the said bill of complaint contained, material or effectual in the law for these defendants or either of them, to answer unto and not herein and hereby confessed and avoided, traversed or denied is to the knowledge of these defendants or either of them true. All which matters and things these defendants are ready to aver, maintain and prove as this honourable court shall award. And humbly pray to be dismissed the same with their reasonable costs and charges in this behalf most wrongfully sustained.
Conveyance by Bennett Walter to Thomas Young 17 August 1657
Bennett Walter of Fawkham, widow
Thomas Young of Southfleet
of estate under the will of John Walter for £665, of land in Ash and
Wood Field (4a): bounded by Chapelwood (S); Ash to Dartford highway
(E); lands of said John Walter (W); Lower Chapel Wood Field (N)
Chapel Wood Field (3a): bounded by Upper Chapel Wood Field (S); Ash
to Dartford highway (E); Limekillcroft and Spring (N); lands of John
(3a): bounded by Chapel Field (S); Highway (E); Limekillspring (W);
Neither Field (N)
Spring (3a): bounded by lands of John Walter and lower end of Chaple
Field (S); Lymekillcroft (E); Neither Field and The Valley (N)
Spring (2a): bounded by the highway (E & W); Neither Field (S);
Rye Croft (N).
by John Dawlton or his assignees.
Field (10a): bounded by the highway (W); Killcroft & Spring (S);
Rye Croft (N)
Other Neither Field (7a): bounded by Neither Field (E);
Lymekillspring (S); The Valley (W)
Hill (8a): bounded by Neither Field (S); lands of John Walter (W);
Pennis Valley Wood (N)
Valley (7a): bounded by Neither Field (E); Lymekillspring (S);
Northlands Wood (W); lands of John Walter (N)
Hartley and Fawkham, occupied by Edward Best or his assigns.
Croft (12a): bounded by highway (E); Shrimplings Spring (S);
Neitherfield Hill (W); lands of said Thomas Young (N)
(9a): bounded by lands of Thomas Edwards and Thomas Young (E);
Pinnace Valley Wood and Spring (S & W); Platfield Spring (N)
Piece (3a): bounded by Platfield Spring (E); Pinnace Valley Wood and
Chalken Field (S); highway from Fawkham to Hartley (N)
Hartley in the tenure of Widow Crowhurst
Old Downe (20a): bounded by Fawkham to Hartley road (S); land from
Fawkham to Greensted Greene (W); Old Downes (N)
Downs (12a): bounded by the said Fawkham to Hartley road (S);
Parsonage Croft belonging to Longfield (N)
Old Downs (4a): bounded by Upper Old Downs Wood (E); Hartley Laine
Hold (4a): bounded by Gleabeland Wood (N); Upper Old Downs Wood (E);
Lower Old Downs Wood (S)
Old Downe Wood (10a): bounded by Hartley to Fawkham road (S); Old
Downs Wood (W); Gleabeland Wood (N)
(7a): bounded by Ash to Dartford road (E); Great Old Downs Wood (W);
Morrice Croft (S); Gleabelands of Hartley (N)
Spring (1a): bounded by the foresaid field (N); Hartley Laine (E)
Fawkham and Hartley, in the occupation of Leonard Carrier.
Sale of Farm Stock at Fairby and New House Farms, 1852
This is an advert from the Times of 18 September 1852. It lists
the stock from Fairby Farm, Ash Road and New House Farm, Church Road
(where New Ash Green is now). Fairby is particularly detailed and shows
a farm mainly devoted to arable crops, which was commonplace then. But
later the effect of the repeal of the corn laws and agricultural
depression would alter the balance between arable and pasture.
Fairby Farm, Hartley, Kent - Valuable Live and Dead Farming
Stock, the produce of 45 acres of wheat, 40 acres of oats, 12 acres of
pease, 7 acres of tares, all the excellent household furniture, and
other effects - by Mr G MANDY, on Thursday, September 23, upon the
Premises, Hartley, Kent, by order of the executors of the late Mr Frank
The live stock comprises 8 young and active draught horses, gray
mare and foal, a chestnut colt, by mettle quiet to ride and drive, a 3
year old bay colt (unbroken), a 2 years gray cart colt, and 3 yearling
colts, 5 good milch cows in calf, fat calf, a handsome pony and donkey, 8
fat sheep, sow in pig, and a large quantity of poultry. The dead stock
consists of 2 very strong waggons, timber carriage, light bavin
carriage, 3 dung carts, 2 light chaise carts, pony cart and harness,
turn-rise and other ploughs, ox and small harrows, capital iron land
rollers, hop nidgots? bean and pea brakes, cleaning machines, sheep
troughs and coops, quantity of hurdle gates, chain, quoller? and plough
harness. A large quantity of seasoned oak and beech timber, felloes?
naves and sundry useful wheeler's stuff, 850 16 foot hop poles, quantity
of bavins and scares. All the useful household furniture, plate,
linen, glass, china etc, and numerous miscellaneous effects. The whole
will be inserted in catalogues, which may be obtained one week
previously to the sale at the inns in the neighbourhood; at Messrs Dray
& Co's agricultural implement depot, Old Swan-Lane, Upper Thames
Street; at Jewell's city luncheon rooms, 51 Gracechurch Street, London;
at the place of sale; and of the auctioneer and estate agent,
Farningham. The auctioneer begs most respectfully to call the attention
of his friends and the public generally to this sale, as the horses
were bred upon the premises. The sale to commence at 12 o'clock
punctually, on account of the number of lots.
New House Farm, Ash and Hartley, Kent - Valuable Live and Dead
Farming Stock and other effects - by Mr G MANDY, upon the premises, New
House Farm, Ash and Hartley, Kent by order of the executors of the late
Mr William Treadwell, deceased, on Friday, September 24; Comprising 6 young and active draught horses, 3 excellent milch
cows in calf, a handsome 2 year old Durham bull, a strong waggon, bavin
carriage, 2 good dung carts, turnrise ploughs, ox and small harrows,
scarifier? chain, quoller, and plough harnesses, cleaning machine,
ladders, cow cribs, quantity of hurdle gates, bavins and scares, and
other effects. The whole will be inserted in catalogues, which may be
obtained one week previously to the sale at the inns in the
neighbourhood; at Messrs Dray & Co's agricultural implement depot,
Old Swan-Lane, Upper Thames Street; at Jewell's city luncheon rooms, 51
Gracechurch Street, London; at the place of sale; and of the auctioneer
and estate agent, Farningham.
Daily Herald 17.9.1920
Little 8 year old Anton Marsidoechek had fallen intot he flower-be. How, nobody could exactly discover, although there was evidence that Anton Plattensteiner had pushed him in. As with the war, there wre dissentient opinions over causes, but concerning the consequetn material disaster there could be no argument. Five bright geraniums lay crushed and broken, and obviously it would be weeks before that side of he bed could regain its normal beauty. This Mr Rose, the gardener, sorrowfuly explained in words of which Anton understood the meaning. Tears of utter misery flowed over on to his cheeks. He took the gardener's big brown hand, and chokingly affirmed that he was sehr, sehr traurig. Mr Rose is a true and tender hearted man, and he remembers that it is for something more thn military victory that his own boy sleeps beneath the flowers in France.
Including the two Antons there are 20 Viennese children at Fairby Grange, where this incident occurred the other day. In age they range from 8 to 13, and they are now domiciled in England for a stay of at least 6 months, perhaps a year. All were memebers of the first installment of 500, brought to this country from the wreck of Austria by the Fight the Famine Council, and they are now being cared for under the general relief programme of the Society of Friends.
Fairby Grange itself, situated but 25 miles from London, is such a spot as one would like to see available to disinherited children the world over. 20 acres of garden, orchard, and pasture surround the old oak-timbered homestead. There is a fern-ringed pond where tadpoles and lizards lurk, and there is also a barn which is readily adaptable for theatrical purposes on rainy days. In the barnyards is found almost every type of domestic animal, while a croquet lawn is hidden in the heart of the garden. Further away from the house is a field, now marked out for football and sports, and more woods where wild flowers and many berries grow.
To this children's paradise came, ten weeks ago, the score of ragged little waifs who form its present happy tenants. Let it be said right away that they do not resemble the ghastly specimens of skin and bone one reads about and sees depicted as typical of Austria's youth today. Those who are chosen to come to England ar eall of pre-war birth, and are also, I believe, selected on the stern but perhaps merciful principle that only such as can be brought back to complete health are woth the trouble of saving. Now, after their regimen of wholesome food and country air, the children here would be a normal group were not several so pale and undersized.
The attitude of th eolders boys towards the war is interesting. All are lads of spirit, and of just that age when a childish patriotism might be expected to rule their thoughts on this subject. Furthermore, there is not one of them without close relatives on the long list of his country's killed. Yet one finds in these litte scions of a ruined empire a breath of viewpoint sometimes lacking in the victors. 'Austria didn't want the war,' they assert. 'Franz Joseph signed the mobilisation decree against his will. Aber Kaiser Wilhelm war blutduratig. He forced us in. He wanted Germany to rule the world.' And one boy added - 'Besides we had to fight because Serbia wanted to destroy our empire. Serbia was to us like Ireland is to England, you know.'
Of more present concern are the stories of the ghastly conditions in Vienna in the closing days of war and since. One boy tells of a street scene in front of his home a week before the armistice was signed. A military automobile knocked down and killed a mongrel dog. Passers-b6 fought for the possession of the carcass, literally tearing the animal to pieces in their anxiety to obtain 'fresh meat' for the family table. A girl lsot her Persian cat to the same end, and no pets, it seems, were safe from 'the men who went about the streets with sacks.' Every child at Fairby today is familar with the taste of horse and dog and cat.
One could dwell at length on details of the present reconstructive life these children. I would like to tell of the sweet old German songs they sing in chorus on their walks; of the painstaking picture of Fairby Grange Walter has drawn and painted in order that his mtoher may have an idea of his English home; of the zeal with which many apply themselves to learning English and French (which last half-a-dozen studied during the war and insist on continuing); of their interest in chess, which several play remarkably well, and football, in which they are also proficient; of the dainty theatre they have fitted up in the barn, where they improvise their own plays.
Just children - sometimes a little mischievous, a little tiresome, a little naughty, but always interesting and appealing - such must be one's final judgement on the quaint community now living on the charity of their conquerors at Fairby Grange. Just children, but also embryo directors of the fate of Europe, who will never forget the kindness shown the by the English during a crucial formative period of their lives. Aveerage little mortals they are, and concerning the like of them it was said nearly 2,000 years ago, that 'whosover shall receive this child in My name receiveth Me.'