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Over the generations many families have come and gone from our community and many have stayed. A wealth of memories and reminiscence comes with those who've lived here and these are just a few of those stories that make a village alive. If you have tales of experiences of village life over the years in Stanford and Westenhanger, we'd love to hear them. Please send an email and we'll post them here for others to enjoy.
Memories of Westenhanger
Lyveden Grange Westenhanger
My earliest memories are of living at Westenhanger with my parents two older sisters and a brother.
My parents, Sid and Vi Nickolls, bought Lyveden Grange, Westenhanger, in 1946 when I was 2 years old. It was a spacious unusual house which had seen better days, a place with a few acres of land. This account is not only a record of my memories and those of my family but also as much of the history of the house as I could discover.
The 1891 Census records that 63-year-old Augustus Frederick Clark was the occupant of “The Bungalow,” at Westenhanger at that time. He was a retired stockbroker living with his two daughters, 38 year old Elvina Florence and 30-year-old Mary Ann.
Augustus Frederick Clark was probably the man who had “The Bungalow” built in the 1880s while he was living in Cheriton. He had it built to a high standard with every modern convenience all of which were described when Messrs, Cobay Brothers advertised that the property was to be sold by auction at the Queen’s Hotel, Folkestone on Monday, August 13th
1894. It was a detached residence standing in about six acres of land which was half meadow and the rest was an orchard planted with 3000 young trees, and a garden.
The building contained a breakfast room, a dining room with large bay window, drawing room, five bedrooms (one being a small servant’s room), fitted bathroom, three W.C.s, two kitchens, wash-house, larder and store room. All rooms were 12 foot high and were fitted with cupboards. Above the rooms was a loft, measuring 80ft by 40ft, with enough height to allow for the addition of seven or more bedrooms if required. Naturally there was a cellar with storage space extending under the whole house, and the outside was no less well planned with its fowl-house, knife-house and coal-house. There were two wells and water was laid on to the house with two water tanks in the loft and well planned drainage.
In addition to the tennis lawn there were flower and kitchen gardens with a greenhouse which was heated with hot water, so there was every convenience. The property was built near a main road with easy access to London from nearby Westenhanger Railway Station.
The house was sold in 1894 and Augustus Frederick Clark resumed his retirement, living in Sandgate High Street where he died in 1910, aged 81.
After a local business man, Folkestone house furnisher and stationer Philip Clark Upton, became the next occupant the house was known as Lyveden Grange. He and his growing family moved from Tontine Street in Folkestone to Westenhanger. The Upton family had been established in Folkestone for many years. Philip Clark Upton was born on the 20 April 1853 and went into the grocery and coach building trades when a young man. He then joined the old firm of Lewis and Hyland and completed an apprenticeship in the drapery trade. Eventually he persuaded his father to close his old-fashioned shop which had survived from the days when Folkestone was little more than a fishing village and he opened one of the first dozen shops in Sandgate Road in the early 1870s. In 1876 he married Mary Cattermole
and they had six children, three sons and three daughters. Soon he was not only conducting the business of stationer and selling fancy goods in his Sandgate Road premises but he had also established a furniture shop in Tontine Street and had become one of the most successful business men in the town. In October 1908 Philip’s sons, ‘Upton Brothers’, announced the opening of a new business in recently acquired Alexandra House and adjoining property in Sandgate Road.
Philip and Mary Upton lived out of town at Westenhanger for some twenty-five years. By 1911 Philip had retired and his sons had taken over management of the Folkestone shops. However, the outbreak of WW1 brought tragedy. The youngest son, Roland Clark Upton, who was serving in the armoured car division of the R.N.A.S. was wounded in military operations in the Dardanelles and his older brother, Philip Charles, who had joined the Buffs
in September 1914 was reported missing and, on 13 June 1916, died. Sergeant Upton’s gallantry was recognised and he was awarded the D.C.M. but he left a wife and
two children in Folkestone to mourn their loss.
In 1919 Philip Clark Upton sold a very much extended and improved Lyveden Grange and retired to Folkestone. The twelve-room residence of the 1911 Census was eventually almost doubled in size with additional rooms on the first floor. There was also a separate coach house with two rooms over and stabling for two horses. Another addition was a substantial seven roomed gardener’s lodge which housed Mr Clark’s gardener and his family for many years. The gardener was Mr Charles Eagles who led a team of six gardeners on the estate and he specialised in growing and selling roses at “Lyveden Nursery”.
Mr F. Hawkings Esq., who was for some years a member of a well-known London firm of auctioneers bearing that name, became the next owner of Lyveden Grange and lived there in retirement until the mid-nineteen twenties. He may well have continued to modernise and improve the property as Mr Upton had done before him.
“Lyveden Nursery” became “Lyvedenhurst Egg Farm” in the early twenties and was run by a Mr. J.Charles Goodall. Mr Hawkins may well have sold the old gardener’s lodge separately to the estate at some time in the twenties.
A Spanish lady, Miss Gabrielle Beryl Maud Solano became the next owner of Lyveden Grange. She was born on 4 June 1882 to Enrique and Angelica, in Calcutta, Bengal, India and had previously been living with older brothers Enrique and Ernest in Kensington, London. She moved into Lyveden Grange with a small staff, including a trained personal nurse, Miss Caroline Macfareland Sinclair. There was also a chauffeur who occupied rooms over the old coach house. Miss Solano was said to have suffered with elephantiasis disease which was a severely disabling condition, a complaint causing gross enlargement of a limb or limbs, usually the legs. On the 12th of March 1939 Miss Solano died and on the 20 December
1939 Probate was granted to the nurse and a solicitor.
However, the world was in turmoil by then with the outbreak of WW2 in September 1939. The house was requisitioned and used by the military authorities for part or all of the war years. Adjacent Westenhanger Racecourse, later to be known as Folkestone Racecourse, was used by the R.A.F. as a decoy airfield with dummy aircraft and for practice operations with local army units.
At the end of the War Miss Solano’s estate had still not been sold and Lyveden Grange came onto the market again, empty and almost certainly rather neglected by this time.
It was in 1946 that my parents bought Lyveden Grange. I was only two years old, the youngest of four children. I remember a little of life at Westenhanger, lots of space, old fruit trees and buildings, and there was a stream and a pond. To us children it was an adventure but our parents, still in their thirties, needed to make an income to support us all. They both came from farming families and were used to hard physical work but there was not really enough land to farm profitably. However, they kept poultry and sold the eggs to a firm called Stonegate Eggs and they picked and sold fruit when it was in season, (successfully growing a bumper crop of tomatoes one year by the long garden wall). Fruit bushes and trees were planted but these needed time to become established before there could be any worthwhile
return on them. Father undertook casual work whenever it was available too. On the occasional race days at Westenhanger racegoers could park their cars at Lyveden for a fee and our produce was sold at the gate. On rare occasions stable lads lodged with us. The war caused a shortage of homes so some of the rooms in the Grange were let to three couples. Mr and Mrs F. Potts who were both over 70, Mr and Mrs W. Rees who were expecting their first baby and Mr and Mrs H. Gardiner who had a baby. Meanwhile my family could live partly in the house while sleeping in the rooms above the garage, in the old chauffeur’s flat, meanwhile plans were in hand to convert that substantial brick building into a family
It was not much more than a year after taking over Lyveden Grange that disaster struck. It was a February night, a terrible night, freezing cold and snowy with a north easterly gale blowing. The family was woken at around 3 a.m. because someone was throwing grit at the bedroom window. My brother, Robert, recalled “Father opened the window to find out what was happening”. Bill Rees was below very agitated and shouting “Fire, in next door”. The Grange was ablaze. Father and Bill, the two of them, armed with torches and fire extinguishers, went to see if they could do anything, but it was impossible. In the heat the paint was bubbling up on the door of the room where the seat of the fire was. Sid was later
to say “I found that fire had broken out in a living room used by Mr and Mrs Gardener. The smoke was so dense that I was unable to use my fire extinguishers, so I ran to the nearest call box and phoned the N.F.S.”. (The National Fire Service). There was a call box near the Royal Oak on the junction with the Hythe to Ashford Road. The fire soon got a hold so the upstairs rooms of the flat where we were sleeping had to be evacuated. The wind was blowing the flames nearer and the only door out was on the same side as the fire. A place of refuge was found with the next-door neighbour, Mrs Foot, who offered shelter in, Lyvedenhurst. Fortunately, no-one was injured. I was only four years old but remember that the whole
sky seemed to be lit up by the flames.
Fire brigades from Ashford, Folkestone and Lyminge, under the command of Column Officer F. Wain of Folkestone, soon arrived but for some unknown reason the nearest firemen, of Hythe Volunteer Brigade, did not respond. Perhaps they were already occupied elsewhere or a line was down? However, the attending firemen had considerable problems. The nearest fire hydrant could not be used because it was damaged so they had to go the best part of a mile across fields with their hoses which then froze as soon as they were connected, thus it took some time to get water to what soon became a raging inferno. The wind was blowing the flames across the alleyway which separated the garage and flat from the main house but they were saved by the determined efforts of the firemen. So fierce was the conflagration of the
largely timber house that Officer Wain afterwards said that the flames could be seen from Folkestone, some miles distant. Lyveden Grange was completely destroyed and on the morning of Friday the 20th of February 1948, eight hours after the alarm had been raised, firemen were still playing water onto smoking ruins. Only the tall brick chimney stacks remained standing. How did the fire start? Of course, open fires were the main source of heating at that time. It was bitterly cold that night so the tenants all had fires which they would have normally extinguished at night and relit on the following day. A spark from a dying fire may have ignited the mainly wooden building.
After the event my family were able to find temporary accommodation nearby in a rented house called Tin Chimneys while Father worked on converting the coach house. Life had become more difficult with no rooms to let and therefore a reduced income In fact rent had to be paid for the temporary home and money was spent on the new house conversion. Eventually there was a house to live in but very little income.
Throughout the rest of 1948 and into 1949 and 1950 the poultry, fruit and vegetables and some casual labour undertaken by my father provided some income. Everyone had to help. The children, especially the older ones did what they could, scaring birds off the cherries and picking fruit and vegetables when they were in season. There were daffodils growing along by the stream and they could be picked and sold. Mother made clothes for us children, made jam, salted beans, bottled fruit, preserved eggs in isinglass, always making sure the family was looked after. Someone must have suggested the potential of keeping ducks so Father began constructing a substantial block building for housing ducks and I remember there was also a pair of goats at one time, Midian and Gideon, and they produced two kids so
there was goat’s milk for a while. However, what had been in many ways an idyllic time for us children was soon to come to an end. Lyveden estate had given us wonderful freedom while our parents must have found their life had actually become quite a struggle.
A decision had been made to make a fresh start. At 3pm on Tuesday the 21st of November 1950 what was by then our home, the converted coach house known as Lyveden, and the land came under the auctioneer’s hammer in Ashford and was sold.
A very different and more conventional chapter of our family life was to begin. Sid’s dream of a life in farming, following in his father’s footsteps, had been cruelly ended. My parents bought a village coal business. On the 8th of December 1950 we moved into a very different home, a comparatively modern three bedroom bungalow in Canterbury Road, Densole. Sid Nickolls was the Hawkinge coal merchant for the next ten years. He worked long hours driving his lorry, weighing up sacks of coal and carrying the one hundredweight bags on his back in all weathers to deliver them to his customers. It was a hard life but at that time, in the nineteen fifties, everyone needed coal so there was no shortage of work and a regular
Memories of Stanford
Edward Fagg, Freda Fagg (nee Barham) and Jean Fagg outside 1 Railway Cottage
Note: The following information is provided by Stephen White who spent his summers staying with his grandparents in Stanford at Railway Cottages. The 4 terrace cottages were built by the Railway in 1847 to house railway staff and are still in use today but now privately owned.
Stephen tells me that his grandfather once worked as a gardener at the Old Rectory but his keenness memories are of the railway and Railway Cottages.
“My Mum and Dad (who was in the RAF) had a house in Frampton Rd, Hythe in the late 1940’s where my Grandfather’s Father Edward Fagg and his wife Eliza Shrubsole and had already moved to (No 7) having seemingly left the land. Eventually we moved away and around Britain following my Dad’s work and from 1965 till 1981 I lived in Lichfield, Staffs and it was in the late 60’s that I was “left” with my Grandad in Stanford during the summer holidays. In 1981 I emigrated but my mother never stopped missing Hythe and we returned her ashes to Kent when she died in 2015. I now find myself engrossed, if not totally submerged, in finding out about my history and who my ancestors were. It’s very much a work in progress and I am developing the picture every day so please forgive me if I have made a mistake somewhere below.
Unfortunately I so far have only sketchy records for my Grandad’s movements from 1911 through to when I knew him in the 60’s though I remember they may have lived in Zulu cottages in Sellindge and another old thatched house (I think it was Primrose cottage) which I am still trying to find out about. Anyway, after the great war and a period of low employment and poor opportunity, my Grandad secured a job on the railway, probably with the help of his father in law who already worked there. After many years moving around and living in various lovely villages such as Marden, Aldington and Stanford he eventually became a Ganger on the Sellindge to Sandling section. It was an important job because it was a fast stretch of line which carried the boat trains, the Blue train and the Golden Arrow. When he retired, or maybe even before he retired since, I am not clear on the date, the Railways apparently let him live in 1 Station Cottages with wife Freda and daughter Jean who lived with them. I think it was likely in the mid to late 40’s but I cannot find the 1939 census for him at this time. As I see how much Fagg history is in Stanford, I wonder whether that was luck or design, but knowing how things worked in those days and a bit about my Grandad’s character, I think it may have been design.
Those cottages did indeed have a communal outside block of toilets which were not a pleasant experience for an eight-year-old from the city I can assure you. There was a path that led down the side of the cottages over which the conservatory was later built and down that path at the bottom was the toilet block. You can imagine it was a long path in the dark for a young boy and it wasn’t a lot of fun when you got there either.
If you can imagine that path going all the way to the top of the garden to meet the road then you can imagine it separated a big garden from the houses. On that garden next to the path the cottages all had their sheds. My Grandfather’s shed was built from railway sleepers and it was a wonderland inside for a young boy, old tools and wonderful old things which all had a purpose I suppose, but the smell of wood, dust, vinegar, onions and wine stays with me till today. But the best thing was the shelves full of Piccalilli, beetroot, pickled onions and endless (it seemed) bottles of every type of wine. Parsnip, potato, rice, blackberry, plum ….. the list was endless too. Behind that shed was another small shed where the onions were hung up to dry. I remember there always seemed to be a rabbit or a pheasant in there hanging to cure, although I expect it was actually a rare occurrence. My Grandfather used to walk every day for miles with his Jack Russell Sally and I learnt so much from him about wildlife, flowers, birds and butterflies and many things that other kids didn’t even understand. He gave me a love of nature that lasts till today and I am sure I soaked up his unique personal style and way of interacting with people without even knowing it. I believe he would pick up the occasional pheasant as a casualty from the railway. In those days it was electrified but it was a “third rail” so I don’t know whether they were hit or electrocuted. The railway embankment behind the cottages was full of slow worms, lizards and mice and kept me amused for hours on end.
Behind the second shed was the vegetable garden and it must have been a 1/4 of an acre and full of every type of vegetable that you can imagine. Finally, at the bottom of the garden was the chicken shed full of birds which he used to call pullets and bantams whatever they were exactly I never really knew.
Same with the front garden, full of stuff you could eat as well as his prize roses. As if that was not enough garden, over the other side of the car parking next the bridge and railway, my grandfather had more vegetables, tomatoes, fruit trees, cherries, apples and plums in particular. If it sounds like a wonderland for a young boy, it’s because it was, and I loved it there.
You asked about a wash house but I don’t remember that although it may have been in the original layout. The washing was done in a small room next to the front door where there was a copper and a wringer that my Gran used to use. Inside the house, you are correct, as you went in there was a coal fire facing you (I can still hear the tick tock of the grandfather clock, the chirp of the budgies and also smell the camp coffee and baking) and turning immediately left, you went into the kitchen with a sink, table and a wood/coal fired range. Coal was likely free in the early days because you just picked it up or otherwise borrowed it from the railway. My Grandmother was an excellent baker as a I recall and the roast dinners were always good as were the salads and cake. The stairs to the first floor were steep and went up the front wall of the house (on your left) and under the stairs was a cool pantry full of more wonders; camp coffee, carnation milk, tins of biscuits, home-made cakes and multiple jars of preserves. I don’t recall there being a fridge at all. Upstairs on the left was my Aunt Jean’s bedroom where I slept and forward was into my grandparent’s bedroom. And that was it really.
My Grandfather used to tell a story about him pulling a pilot out of a crashed and burning Hurricane (?) in a field in Stanford or maybe Sellindge and I remember seeing a spitfire model supposedly carved from a piece of Perspex taken from the cockpit window. I understood that the Pilot died but do you have a record of that event? There was an article in the Kentish Express on September 27th 1963 with his picture where he said about the Channel tunnel something like “they have been talking about it ever since I can remember”. It’s a full-page article and well worth a read. I am actually thankful that he didn’t see what they did to his beautiful piece of Kent since it brought me to tears and would have broken his heart. I believe Ted Fagg was a bit of a local character and well known in the Drum although I never got to go there with him. I remember helping out with hay bailing on a farm which I seem to remember was over behind the castle and racecourse. Another lovely experience, when people worked together to get the job done although I don’t suppose I was much help. My Granddad used to talk about the Southern family a lot (Joe Sothern maybe) and, if I remember well, that may have been his farm. Another memory was attending the race day at the racecourse where Grandad had a job in the cloakroom and I got in free. What a lucky lad I was.
There was a little post office/grocery shop in the village with special smell and where we used to go quite often but there wasn’t much else to do except explore the country side although, as I mentioned before, the trips to tend the garden and see the family in the rectory is another rich memory. Behind the railway station on the other side of the railway was a cricket field where I got my first exposure to cricket with him and some other locals. In those days, the station still had a station master and a waiting room and had such a strong smell of wood and tobacco and just railways that it is with me still today. On the Folkstone side of the bridge and Stanford side of the line was a big signal box in those days. I have such a strong recollection of all the levers and workings inside that signal box and the larrikin way that my Grandad interacted with the signal man as the trains thundered past the window just inches away.
A wonderful man in a wonderful part of the World that left a lasting impression on me. How lucky I am.”
I've seen said the Stour compiled by Robert Spicer
This PDF document is the interesting insights of Robert Spicer, who lived for many years at both Belmont and latterly at Brook Place, Stone Street, putting together stories from old Stanford and Westenhanger from his unique standpoint.
Elizabeth II Jubilee Year from Clifford Holt, Hayton Farm