Working in various houses in Ham – by GS

You mentioned an antique shop, was that the antique shop on the Parade?  On the Ham Parade yes, the chap who had it after him, that’s another house that’s just come to mind that I worked in what was his name, that shop has only just closed, Glencorse, yes that’s the one, he took that shop on when John Manussis packed up and he lived on Ham Common on Church Road and I worked on that house once or twice for the chap (I can’t remember his name).  Yes, that was the name of the business Glencorse, and there was a lovely period style house along there I think it was virtually adjacent to Dave Allen’s house, and he was quite a nice man and as I say I did quite a few jobs for him and I think he’s died now.  He also owned a bungalow in Petersham along the Petersham Road he used to rent out and I also worked for him there on odd occasions. (GS)

I’m trying to think of Sandy Lane, I worked on one or two down there on Sandy Lane, mainly on the side, the newer side where you have individual plots which once again was sold off when I think Meadlands Road and Clifford Road was developed by a big contractor at the time called Buntings, they built the Petersham estate and I think those plots were sold off individually and they developed those private houses and I’ve worked in one or two of them from time to time, odds and ends, small jobs and things. (GS)

Stokes Hall, yes I think it was all in one then as far as I can remember, when I was a young lad I remember that being one big house and Dr Bagley was the owner of it, it was doctors Bagley, Savy and Woodhouse, the three doctors but Dr Bagley was the one who lived there and owned the place.  I just knew it as Stokes House, but it’s two houses now is it?

The other house I worked in a lot, a lovely little house is Flax Cottage along the Common there.  it’s a lovely old period interesting cottage, once again quite a few nooks and crannies in there.  And I also, next door to Flax Cottage that used to be the local solicitor’s house, Mr Lewis, he was one of the only solicitors around here at one time apart from the one on Ham Parade I think, but he was the old village solicitor that I knew.  Mr and Mrs Lewis.  It was a very similar house, two of a kind but they are quite old but then the big house on the corner opposite the cricket pitch there, Langham House?  I worked in there mainly when it was being renovated when it was having work done to it so I couldn’t say much about the owners at the time.

[The Manor House] the original owner when I was a very young lad was Major McGrath who used to sponsor the Ham boys amateur boxing club, he was something to do with, sponsor of it.  Major McGrath had it for many years and he used to hold garden fetes in there and different things and I mostly dealt in the end the last few jobs I did there I mostly dealt with a chap, there’s a cottage in the grounds there were the caretaker lived and I mostly dealt with him when I was doing work there towards the end but he died and the whole place as far as I know is empty now but it’s a very interesting old place to sort of look round you know.

The lovely old Tudor place [Whornes Place] next door where they’ve got the topiary in the garden there where they’ve got the [bushes] all cut into the shape of an elephant and the people who used to reside there was a singer, Marion and Barry Ryan do you remember them?  They resided in there for quite a number of years and Marion Ryan I think that was the mother and the son was Barry but they were both singers I think. It got transported, I was told it was Essex but it might have been Kent, it was either Essex or Kent, they’re right on the border adjacent to each other and it was in the 1920s wasn’t it?

I worked in there [Douglas House] for a chap called Bernhardt, who bought that house, he actually had a house, do you know the entrance to the avenues on Ham Common where you’ve got the lovely little cottages on one side and on the other side you have a similar cottage which is incorporated into the grounds of the house.  Well the one where the cottage is incorporated into the grounds of the big house that’s where Bernhardt lived and he sold that and moved to Douglas House.  I worked there when the renovation work, he had a lot of renovation work going on and I remember there was a lovely big staircase in there and I was doing a repair to the staircase at the time and he was a bit of a pompous sort of person and I remember his walking past and he looked down at me doing this and said “oh look at Chippendale at work there!”.  You know you could take that whichever way you wanted it!

And I worked in the adjacent cottages, which they called Boxall Cottages, I worked on them in the sixties when a chap called W H Vince, a builder from Richmond, he renovated all those cottages and a lady, my namesake, called Stevens I think her name was from Surbiton, I think she bought all those and kept the end one for herself and she sold the others off individually.  But when I was a lad they was just little small two up two down cottages you know, which they are basically today but they’ve incorporated bathrooms into them and things like that, but I mean I knew one or two families that lived in them in those days, a chap called, he used to be a night-watchman and when there was any work going on around the Manor, Mossy Hillman his name was, they used to call him Mossy or Moss, he was a village night-watchman whenever there was any work going on around here you would always see old Mossy was the night-watchman and there was another family called Cotty who I was friendly with.  There was Brian Cotty and Phil was the father and then there was Jilly who was friendly with my sister and Ronnie Cotty who I used to get around with at times. At the very end, the avenue end, was Mrs West and she had a son called Ted, Teddy West who I went to school with.  Today those cottages fetch a fortune, facing the Common there.