Tag Archives: William Coleman

Lee Manor Farm -‘Old’ Lee’s Last Farm

As regular readers will no doubt recall Running Past has covered many of the former farms of Lee – Lee Green Farm, College Farm, Melrose Farm, Horn Park Park and Burnt Ash Farm.

The land of Burnt Ash Farm had originally been farmed from a large house which was on the site of what is now Lee Manor House.  It was probably not an ideal location for the farm as its land was virtually all to the south – stretching away towards Grove Park.  The move to the junction of what is now St Mildred’s and Baring Roads happened in the mid-1720s (1).  The remains of the original Farm on Old Road were found underneath the library when some building work was undertaken in the early 1980s.

The shift in location to Burnt Ash was by Thomas Butler who came from Dagenham in, what was then, rural Essex (2).  Perhaps as early as 1739, and certainly after Butler’s death in 1751 (3), Burnt Ash Farm was split between two of his sons, Matthew who remained at Burnt Ash and farmed the land south of St Mildred’s Road; and James who was to farm what was to be called Lee Manor Farm.  The land was most of the area bordered by Burnt Ash Road, what is now St Mildred’s Road, the stream Hither Green Ditch until it joins the Quaggy, the river itself and Lee High Road.The initial site of the farmhouse was to the west of Pentland House (at one stage called Foclallt House) on what is now Manor Lane Terrace and included the site of Lochaber Hall (on the 1860s map above it is referred to as Manor Cottage).  It was a large three-storey house with extensive outbuildings (4).  The land was not owned by the Butlers and, as was covered in a post on the Manor House, was bought by William Coleman who sought to recreate the old Manor of Lee for his nephew Thomas Lucas – funded by the proceeds of slavery.  Lucas inherited the farms on his uncle’s death in 1771.

On James Butler’s death in 1762 it seems likely that the Farm was again managed by his brother, Matthew, from Burnt Ash (5). After Matthew’s death in 1784 the tenancy of the two farms were taken on by Baron Dacre of Dacre House, whose estates were relatively small.  (6) We will return to Dacre House at some point in the future.

Following the deaths of Lord Dacre in 1806 and Lady Dacre in 1808, there were some changes to Lee Manor Farm.  Part of the land bounding Lee High Road was sold to the new owner of The Firs, Christopher Godmond, who had bought the House after the death of David Papillon. (7)

The farm house had be let separately since the 1780s; so when Lee Manor Farm was again let and managed in its own right in 1808, a new farmhouse was needed for a new tenant.  The new farmhouse was built on what is now Manor Lane Terrace, between the current Northbrook and Kellerton Roads (it is shown on the map above).  The bend in Manor Lane Terrace is explained by the location of the farm.   The artists impression of the farm is by Lloyd Roberts (see credits below).

The new tenant was the butler of the new Lord of the Manor, Sir Francis Baring – Thomas Postans (8) – Postans was to stay there until 1816, when he moved on to manage the kitchen gardens of the Manor House to supply the officers mess at St James Palace.  Mr R E Brown was the tenant of the farm for this period but Postans returned to the Farm in the mid 1830s.

There is a fascinating map of the farm from towards the end of Thomas Postans tenure drawn with an east – west axis; Lee Green is in the bottom right hand corner with Burnt Ash Road providing the bottom boundary (the other side of Burnt Ash Road was Crown Estate land) and Lee High Road to the right of the map.  There is considerable overlap between the 1843 field pattern and the street pattern that emerged in the decades afterwards.

In 1845 a lease was granted to Mark Cordwell who hailed from Buckinghamshire; oddly he was listed as a seaman in the 1861 census with with his 20 year old son, Charles, born in Greenwich, noted as as the farmer.  Mark died in 1864.

By 1881, Charles had married Mary (née Peasnell) who was from Buckinghamshire, like his father, and had eight children and a servant living on the farm; the farm was listed at 150 acres in the census. They may have had a bailiff or manager running the farm for them for a while in the 1870s as three children were born in Shoreham in Kent.  In the 1871 census they were listed at Prestons Farm House  in Shoreham.

They were back in Lee in 1891; but by the 1901 Census, Charles was listed at 35 Medusa Road in Catford as a ‘retired farmer’ with his son and daughter in law.  He may have emigrated to the USA as the last record for him is sailing to New York on the Philadelphia in 1906.

While he may have moved to America, his name lives on in the 1970s council housing that was developed to replace the southern side of Northbrook Road and land behind Kellerton Road – Cordwell Road.

The end of the farm coincided with the gradual sale of of the Northbrook estate from the 1860s onwards.  One of the main builders from the mid 1890s were the family firm W J Scudamore.  Their developments included what they referred to as the Manor Park Estate (roads such as Kellerton Road, parts of Manor Lane Terrace, Redruth Road (now Manor Lane) and parts of Manor Park.  It seems that the old Manor Farm came as part of the lot; most developers would have probably demolished the buildings and built over it.  However, the Scudamores decided to retain the building as a family home – which it remained as until the 1960s – there is a little more on this in the post on W J Scudamore.

The last of the Scudamores to live in Manor Lane Terrace was Elizabeth (née Drane) who died in 1961 aged 90.  After her death, the house and the land around it were acquired for council housing – although all the homes appear to have been sold under Right to Buy.  The name Wolfram Close is presumably a reference to the last tenant of the Manor House – the slightly differently spelled Henry Wolffram.  

Notes

  1. Josephine Birchenough (1981) Some Farms and Fields in Lee p4
  2. ibid p5
  3. ibid p7
  4. ibid p7
  5. ibid p8
  6. ibid p9
  7. ibid p9
  8. ibid p10

Picture Credits

 

Slavery and the Manor House

The Manor House in Lee is an impressive building, rightly listed, but amidst the grandeur and beauty it has financial foundations that lie very firmly in slavery – it is a prime example of what has been referred to as ‘dark heritage’

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The House was built for Thomas Lucas around 1770, he had lived in Lee for a while, renting Lee Place (on the opposite side of Old Road) from the Boones – it is a ‘country house’ that Running Past ‘visited’ a while ago.

But to understand the history of the Manor House, we need to go back a generation.  It certainly wasn’t the first building on the site – John Roques map of 1746 (1) a quarter of a century before the Manor House was built shows a lot of properties around where it is now located.  It was probably the location of Lee Farm, although there is some uncertainty about this.  Lee Farm seems to have moved around 1745 to become Burnt Ash Farm and the vacated buildings were bought by William Coleman, Thomas Lucas’ uncle, who sought to re-create the old Manor of Lee for his nephew (2)  which had been broken up after the death of Brian Annesley – covered earlier in Running Past.

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Coleman was the agent for a number of Leeward Islands plantation owners, notably the Pinneys of Bristol who were who were at that time probably the wealthiest plantation owners in St. Kitts and Nevis. He also jointly owned a plantation in Antigua with his nephew – Roundhill which had 150 slaves.

Thomas Lucas was born around 1720, possibly in the West Country.  He was Treasurer (1764-74) and later President (1774-84) of Guys Hospital and has been described as ‘a wealthy merchant’, much of his wealth came from  joint ‘business interests’ with his uncle in St Kitts in the Leeward Islands, along with the Roundhill plantation with 150 slaves in Antigua.  In his own right, Lucas probably owned land at Barbados Bay in Tobago – which almost inevitably would have had direct or indirect links to slavery.

A Thomas Lucas of this era part owned a number of ships directly involved in taking slaves to the West Indies – while there  is nothing definitive linking him to Lee, there cannot have been many of that name, with sufficient wealth to own a share in a large ship, who had  links to the West Country and who were involved in the slave trade at that time.  One of these ships was the ‘Africa’, jointly owned by a Thomas Lucas and seven others.  It left Bristol in 1774 and its captain purchased slaves at New Calabar (in what is now Nigeria) and then proceeded to St Vincent for instructions on their sale in 1775.  The net proceeds were a staggering £5442, millions at today’s prices.

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Manor House was designed by Richard Jupp, a well-known 18th century architect and surveyor, employed for much of his career by the East India Company.  The Manor House is one of a trio of relatively well known south London properties that he designed – the others being the Sevendroog Castle and the entrance and wings to Guys Hospital (1774-77), presumably as a direct result of his work for Lucas  at the Manor House.

Lucas died in 1784 and what happened next in terms of ownership and occupancy is a little confused with some contradictory evidence, although some elements of this ‘confusion’  may relate to the author’s poor understanding of 18th and early 19th century legal jargon.  It seems that the former Lady Lucas let the house to the Call family, Sir John in 1792 on a 61 year lease.  However, he seems to have moved out before his death in Westminster in 1801 – there is an impressive pyramidical family tomb in the old St Margaret’s churchyard.

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Lucas wife, who later married John Julius Angerstein (someone else who had made money from slavery) and appears to have sold the estate in the 1790s; there is a report of a sale in August 1796 at Garraway’s Coffee-House.  However, to confuse matters there is also the granting of a lease to Sir Francis Baring by the executors of Thomas Lucas in 1797. There are also frequent reports of a sale by a Sir Joseph Paice of the Manor House to Sir Francis Baring for £20,000 in 1796.  This may be the same sale as that by former Elizabeth Lucas, in that the House might have been due to pass to him after her death – there is a mention of him as the reversionary legatee which might point to this. Whatever the chain of events was, the net result was that around the end of the 18th or early in 19th centuries the Manor House became the London home of the Barings – this was certainly by 1801 as John Baring, the 3rd son of Sir Thomas was born there.

Before moving onto the Barings, it is worth touching on Sir Joseph Paice.  He would certainly have known Thomas Lucas as Paice was also trustee at Guys.  While there were no direct links to slavery, the Paice family had ‘trading links’ with Jamaica for produce and crops inevitably produced by slave labour.  Paice was also a childhood friend of Francis Baring – growing up in the same part of Devon, and was to help with the setting up of Barings Bank.

Despite their purchase of Stratton Park in Hampshire in 1801, it seems that the Barings remained at the Manor House, using it as their London base.  Sir Francis died there in 1810 and Sir Thomas lived there for a few years after that, although the family was to own the House for almost another century.

The links of the Barings early wealth to slavery is relatively well known and well documented;  the whole family of that era and before seem to be imbued in the trade.    The graphics below come from the University College, London Legacies of Slave Ownership database – the maroon plaque from the Manor House.
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While Sir Francis is said to have made his fortune before the age of 16 based on slavery. While his son Thomas Baring is known to have eventually opposed slavery, unlike his near neighbour Benjamin Aislabie – whose murky past Running Past covered a while ago – his home and lifestyle at the Manor House and Stratton Park were under-pinned by past links to slavery.

Given this past it seems odd that it is a family deemed worthy of a Lewisham maroon plaque without mention of what the ‘merchant’ refers to.   Next week’s post will look at the latter years of the House in private ownership, when the Barings retained ownership but rented the House out.

If you are a current Lee, Hither Green or Lewisham resident, next time you use the park, the library or just walk or travel past and admire Richard Jupp’s fantastic architecture, please at least pause to remember the ‘dark heritage’, to remember the lives of those transported 5,000 miles from New Calabar to injustice and misery in the Leeward Islands, and to remember that it was the enforced and unpaid toil of slaves that largely paid for what you are looking at.  If you live somewhere else, something similar may well apply to your local ‘country house’ too.

Notes

  1. From information board at Lee Green
  2. Josephine Birchenough &  John King (1981)Some Farms and Fields in Lee p3