Hill House and its lands.

Hill House in Bowstridge Lane is a listed early 19th-century small country house. It is situated having an excellent view over the village and the Misbourne Valley. There have been agricultural buildings possibly called Oat Barn on the site for some hundreds of years and for most of its recorded history it had 25 acres of land. For much of the house's history it was leased out and so had a long series of separate occupiers some of whom were people of substance. The land was sold to Amersham RDC and the housing estate between Hill House and Dibden Hill was built in the 1950s.

Hill House today

The barn at Hill House

The very early history of this property remains very unclear in spite of much research. The ownership of the land may originally have been part of the Grove Manor but no deeds to the property have been found. This history will therefore start from when the land came into the ownership of Henry William Pomeroy around 1815 and it is he who most probably then built the house. The barn and cottage linked to the house on the south side are believed to be earlier, they have certainly been modified a number of times most recently to convert the barn to a garage.

Henry William Pomeroy was born Henry William Mason inherited considerable wealth and was the brother of Kender Mason the younger. They had jointly inherited Beel House in what is now Little Chalfont, from their father Kender Mason Senior. When he died in 1825 Henry Pomeroy was buried in St Lawrence, New Brentford Middlesex but there is a memorial, in the form of a hatchment of the Pomeroy arms, in the North aisle of Chalfont St Giles Church.

H W Pomeroy did not marry and had no children. He directed in his will that Hill House amongst other property, was to be sold and the proceeds to be shared amongst the children of his brother.

Hill House then came into the ownership of John Crossley a wealthy merchant from London. He had inherited a large amount of money from his brother Richard Crossley a well-known silversmith who died in Islington 1815. Under the terms of Richard's will the money had to be used to buy property. Richard and John's parents and Richard and his family were buried all in Wooburn near High Wycombe which may account for why property in Chalfont St Giles was chosen.

In the tythe apportionment of 1840 and also in the 1841 census John is shown living at Hill House with his wife Ann and 2 children Mary Ann aged 5 and Selena aged one.

John Crossley died in 1845 aged about 70 and he devised the property to his wife Ann Crossley nee Shipton. She fairly quickly moved away and in 1851 is living in Hayes Middlesex with her younger daughter Selina, her elder daughter Mary Ann is away at school in Kensington. Although Ann still owns Hill House and its lands at this time she leases it out to and we see from the 1851 census the occupier is a Thomas Wakeman who is described as a gentleman and a widower. In 1862 Ann is now leasing the property to the Rev C Lloyd, who had become rector of Chalfont St Giles in 1859. (Ref. Adams Clark 1961 page 58.) He is the first rector for some time to reside in the parish and so he renovated and extended the Rectory. This had become very dilapidated and for many years had been somewhere that curates could live. So leasing Hill house provided somewhere the Rev Lloyd live during the extension and repair of the rectory and could then be used to house the curates, who never stayed for long periods anyway. In the 1861 census Hill House is occupied by both Rev. Frederick Spearing and Rev. Edward Drake, both curates of Chalfont St Giles and also by Simeon Blackwell a coachman and his family. We can assume it was occupied by all the curates as they past through: certainly in 1871 Rev.Arthur J Richards was there and in 1881 Rev. E G Sellman was there. Rector Lloyd died in 1883 so his lease presumably came to an end. However other people continued to lease the house for many years.

The ownership of the house at this time is a little unclear. Ann Crossley, who died in 1877, had apparently passed ownership by 1864 (Parish Valuation (CBS Q/valuation/?2 1864 valuation Lists. Volume 2. Amersham Union.)) to her elder daughter who by this time had married her cousin William Crossley Irwin MD and who were living in Leicester. He died in 1883 and Hill House was then in the ownership of his trustees up until at least the 1915 valuation. At this time the House and 2a 2r 20p are in the occupation of "Lobb" and 20a 2r 18p of land are in the occupation of William Curtis of Church farm.

Returning to earlier occupiers, the Rev. P W Phipps reported in his diary that in July 1890 Hill House is occupied by the Hartopp Nash family but why this should be is curious as they have a house at Langely near Slough. (Paul Nash the artist was a nephew of the head of the family.) From the census for 1891 we see that in April of that year the house was unoccupied. We now start to see names being recorded in Kelly's directories. In 1895 a Miss Curtis is the occupier. Some time before 1901 Patrick Manson became resident since he is shown in the 1901 census with two daughters and a son, 2 other people and a servant. Sir Patrick Manson GCMG, FRS 1844 - 1922 was known as the Father of Tropical Medicine. He stayed at Hill House until some time between 1907 and 1911. It was used probably as a country residence since he had a town house at Welbeck St, Marylebone . In 1911 Eric St John Lobb, followed him at Hill House. He was a Stock Jobber aged 42, with his wife 2 children and 3 servants. In 1915 Drs Winifred and Ernest Warner were the occupiers but they moved to Gold Hill House Chalfont St Peter before 1920. They were both Physicians specializing in public health and ophthalmology. After them Mrs Rolte was in residence, then Roland Welch in 1931, and Richard Gretton in 1935.

After WW2 the house was renamed The Arlary and in 1978 was listed as a Historic Building grade 2. In 1982 the name reverted to Hill Cottage.

At present the occupants and owners in the second half of the 20th century have not been determined.

Clearly the land associated with the house in the 1915 valuation has remained with the house and barn but the 20 acres of arable land came into the ownership of the district council in order that an estate of council houses could be erected and a cemetery laid out. The details of this have yet to be uncovered.

------------------------------------------   May 2015

REFERENCES. Unless otherwise specified, all references given above refer to catalogue references at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies at Aylesbury. (County Record Office)

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John Dodd ©2015   www.chalfonthistory.co.uk