Baylins Farm

Oliver Heal, Obituary, 1949 – 2024

Furniture Makers Newsletter 31/1/2024

Oliver Heal sadly died at his home in Buckinghamshire on Tuesday 23 January 2024 after a battle with cancer.  He was the grandson of Sir Ambrose Heal (1872-1959) and followed his father, Anthony Heal into the family firm, becoming a director and the last family member to be chairman.  His later life was devoted to researching and publishing about Heal’s and racing his beloved 1927 Sunbeam motor car. Oliver was admitted as a liveryman of The Furniture Makers’ Company in May 1979. He was an active liveryman, giving a Frederick Parker lecture on Heal’s in 2016 and joining the Frederick Parker Committee in 2017; he compiled and edited the first Frederick Parker newsletters.

Oliver’s career at Heal’s began in the 1970s, working first in the bedding department and progressing through all the departments in turn.  He spent several years working with Heal’s furnishing fabrics in Germany and France.  He became a director of Heal & Son and succeeded his father, Anthony, as chairman for two years up to 1983, when the company was taken over by Storehouse. Anthony Heal (1907-1995) was one of the founders of The Furniture Makers Guild, formed in 1951; he was Master in 1959, before it became the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers in 1963.  His portrait hangs in the Hall.

See: Oliver Heal and the Heal family legacy

Oliver was driven to research the early history of the firm partly by his desire to know the date of his own Heal’s dining table!  The study of Heal’s became the subject of his doctoral thesis, from which he developed his seminal book, Sir Ambrose Heal and the Heal Cabinet Factory, 1897-1939, published by Oblong in 2014.  Drawing on the extensive Heal’s archive held by the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as family memories and private papers, this was the first comprehensive study of the early history of Heal’s.  It is scholarly, meticulously detailed and richly illustrated.

There were two other powerful influences on Oliver’s life.  He inherited Baylins Farm, a 15th century house in Buckinghamshire bought by his grandfather, restored in the Arts and Crafts style, and furnished with pieces by, amongst others, Sidney Barnsley.  And he shared his father’s passion for vintage motor cars, taking over from him the care of a 1927 Super Sports Sunbeam racing car, which he drove at many rallies and races.  He toured in his Sunbeam 20 all over Europe and, notably, in 2019 in north and south New Zealand with about 30 other Talbots and Sunbeams for a month.  He wrote a biography of the Frenchman responsible for the design of the early Sunbeam racers, Louis Coatalen, Engineering Impressario of Humber, Sunbeam Talbot, Darrecq, published in 2020.   Oliver was acknowledged as the leading expert on Sunbeam racers and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Transport Trust in 2023.  His wife Annik is Coatalen’s granddaughter and has published a book on her artist mother, Anna Coatalen, Art for Happiness et Bonheur in 2019.

Oliver will be fondly remembered for his unassuming, gentle and good-humoured nature.  He leaves his wife Annik, three stepdaughters and a son.

A website with details of Oliver’s funeral and links to support charities he cared for has been set up, which can be accessed here.

Furniture Makers Newsletter, 31/01/2024

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Baylins Farm, a Potted History

For over a century three Generations of the Heal family have lived at Baylins Farm, a lovely medieval hall house in Knotty Green which had earlier been owned by the Penn House Estate since 1593. Oliver Heal, a friend and colleague, who sadly died in January was the third generation to live there, and has written a history of the house which we discussed together on several occasions. He and his wife, Annik, asked me to take it forward and I set out below a very brief summary of his account of it’s early history.
Miles Green, January 2024

In 1332. ‘Belling’ appears in this first tax return as one of the half a dozen larger farms in Penn.

In 1450. The timber frame still at the core of the present building was constructed by Sir Thomas Scott, a rich draper, Lord of the Manor at Dorney, who was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1458. Interestingly, it was built in the same style and at very much the same time as Puttenham Place. This drawing of the house followed a detailed inspection and dendrochronological dating of its timbers

Artist’s impression based on archaeological survey of Baylins as it was in 15th century, timber-framed with daub and wattle infill. South facing, with the central hall, long cross wing at the east end and a smaller wing at the west end. John Bailey 2002

In 1505. Baylins was bought by Sir Andrew Windsor (later Lord Windsor) and it remained in their family for four generations. The first floor supported by massive ovolo-moulded beams was inserted into the hall, circa 1563, requiring changes to the staircase. The brick chimneys would have been constructed at the same time to replace the hearth in the centre of the hall with the smoke rising to a louvre in the roof.

In 1593.
John Penn, the Lord of the Manor of Penn, purchased Baylins described as ‘the manor of Beelinges otherwise Byllynges with appurtenances and of one messuage, one garden, one orchard, 200 acres of land, six acres of meadow, twenty acres of pasture, twenty
acres of wood, twenty acres of furze and heath, and 4/0 rent with appurtenances in Penne.’ Thus began over 300 years of ownership by the Penn/Curzon family. It is believed that John’s grandson, also John Penn, with his wife Sarah, lived in Baylins before he inherited the Penn estate from his father, as the house was modemised around the time of their marriage in 1626. The property was conveyed to John and Sarah by his father and they went on to have ten children. Sarah may have returned there for the further 40 years of her long widowhood. The building was clad in brick as was fashionable at the time and also provided better insulation. An extension was added on the east side. A snug room was lined out in oak panelling and a new wide staircase was installed. Two large oak doors are of interest because they show taper bum marks which are understood to be connected with Catholics continuing to practice within their homes when expelled from church around this period. The Penn family were known for their Catholic affiliations for over a century after Henry VIII’s Reformation. In the 18th and 19th centuries Baylins was occupied by tenant farmers and remained fundamentally unchanged during that time.

In 1920. Baylins Farmhouse along with 8 acres of land was acquired from Earl Howe (descendant of John Penn) by Sir Ambrose and Edith Heal. They worked with the Arts and Crafts architect, Edwin Forbes, to restore and sensitively modernize the house and Edith created around it wonderful gardens where previously had been muddy farmyard. Among the notable features within the house from that time is the brightly coloured painted decoration of the beams in the sitting room carried out by MacDonald Gill (architect-designer brother of Eric Gill). There are also three distinctive tiled fireplaces. In 1925 the architect Edward Maufe (later Sir Edward, famous for Guildford Cathedral) was commissioned to design an extension for a study with bedroom above.

Baylins Farm from South Side 2009

In 2000. At the beginning ofthe 21st century the house underwent extensive restoration – a new entrance was created on the east side, a re-tiled and insulated roof, re-wired, gas-fired central heating – supervised by the architect Jane Duncan. Secondary glazing fitted subsequently throughout. The barn was converted to a ballet studio, the stables to self-catering accommodation. A swimming pool was installed in the garden and the pond re-lined.

Oliver Heal, (1949-2024) Published in Village Voice, Spring, 2024

See also, Beaconsfield Historical Society, Baylins Farm, Knotty Green

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Baylins Farm – Early History 1300-1600

The Name
Although the house now known as Baylins Farm was built in the 15th century, a homestead undoubtedly existed on the site more than a century before that. The name, which must be even older, has evolved (with variations) from Belynges to Byllynges to Bellings to Bealings only settling to Baylins in the 19th century. How the name originated is not clear. Consulting the Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names provides a few straws such as Baylham, near Ipswich, of which the first element is thought to be from the Old English word for a bend.  Or there is Bealings (village in Suffolk) of which the first element is thought, like Belaugh, to stem from Old Norse for an interval and ‘might naturally have been used of a glade in a forest’. The second part of the name ‘Lynge’ seems to come from Old English ‘hlenc’ for a hill or rising ground. So, one could conjecture that Belynges indicated the bend in the road at Knotty Green where the house was tucked in a glade in the beech woods as the road from Beaconsfield to Penn begins to climb quite steeply. However, according to renowned place name expert, Margaret Gelling, ‘the name may simply refer to the bell-shaped edge of the common land which used to lie outside the farm and which is still to be seen outlined by the two tracks off Penn Road which meet at the foot of the ‘handle’ leading up to Baylins’.[1]

Earliest References
The earliest known references to Baylins occur in 1325 when Richard Dreu of Penn granted all the lands and tenements he had of the feoffment (grant of ownership) of John de Belynge in Beaconsfield to Ralf de Wedon, knight. In the same year Johannes Belynges, presumably the same man, was a member of the jury that held an inquisition on the death of John Segrave.  Segrave’s manor was most probably the manor to which Baylins belonged at that period and Johannes would have been a tenant. The Manor Court Rolls show that Segrave Manor covered the southern quarter of Penn taking in Knotty Green, Forty Green, Drews Green, Witheridge Lane and Clay Street.[2] When an assessment was carried out in 1332 for King Edward III by Richard Dreu and Robert ate Oke for the purposes of taxation, ‘John Belling had 1 farm horse at 5/- and 1 cow at 6/- and 11 ewes at 11/- and 6 geese at 3/- and 1 qr. Of mixed grain at 3/4d and 4 qrs. Of oats at 6/8d’. Total 35/- on which he owed 2/4d. It sounds like a small farm at this period but, as a comparison, John de la Penne, the highest tax payer, had just 4 horses, 2 cows and 15 ewes, etc.[3] In 1345 Bartholomew de Bourne appointed John de la Penne as his attorney to receive seisin from John Belynges of all his lands and tenements in la Penne.[4]

In the fourteenth century a major tile-making industry flourished at Penn supplying many thousands of floor and roof tiles for such prestigious buildings as Windsor Castle and Westminster Palace. The clay was dug, the tiles were formed, fired and decorated locally. Simon Billyng, perhaps the son of John Belynges, is recorded in 1351 as Famulus (assistant) to Elie the paver who laid 258,000 of the 4 ½ inch square floor tiles, made in Penn, at Windsor Castle.[5]

Figure 1 Map of Burnham Hundred showing elongated parish boundaries of Taplow, Hitcham, Burnham and Farnham Royal. Note detached parts of Taplow and Dorney further north.

The history of Penn at this period is inextricably linked with parishes by the river Thames and in particular Taplow some 8 miles due south. Taplow is renowned for its 7th century burial mound indicating it had been a Saxon centre of civilization. Penn, with a 5 hide manor and some 600 acres under plough, was subsequently part of King Alfred’s royal estate. But the Domesday Book which surveyed much of England in 1086, makes no mention of Penn or Beaconsfield as geld was then paid through the manor at Taplow even though Penn was nearly fully developed agriculturally with 1500 acres of arable.[6]  These links between settlements by the Thames and places higher up in the Chiltern Hills are thought to reflect the tradition of transhumance where sheep would be driven from lowland to upland pastures and back again later in the year. This in turn came to be reflected in elongated parish boundaries as shown in the map of the Burnham Hundreds.[7] At the turn of the C13th William Penn was ‘bound to carry his lord’s hay from Taplow to Penn’.[8] Further links become evident when King Henry VI set up Eton College in 1440 and endowed it with sufficient land, rights and other benefits to finance the education of 70 poor boys. This endowment included properties in Penn. Similarly, the lands of Dorney Manor between Taplow and Eton, which lies about 70ft above sea-level, had a substantial detached outlier indicated on the map and it must have also retained grazing rights around Knotty Green about 400ft above sea level.

Sir Thomas Scott, DraperDorney Manor in particular is of interest because its owner in the fifteenth century was Thomas Scott, whom we believe was responsible for constructing the timber frame hall house that survives as Baylins Farm today. In 1086 Dorney had been assessed at three hides when it was among the lands of Miles Crispin who also held Hitchham. Ownership went through various hands over the next two centuries before Thomas Scott, a draper from London, acquired it in 1430. His father, Robert Scott was from Dorney which explains his connection to the area. He held the manor until his death in 1470 when he left it to his wife Edith. She in turn left it to their son John Scott when she died in 1475, and he held it until 1505.[9]

Figure 2. from Buck’s View of London 1749 showing Dowgate Stairs (72) and Steel Yard Stairs (76). The Steelyard was the main trading base in London of the Hanseatic League during 15th and 16th centuries. The aspect of the shoreline had probably changed little since Scott’s time.Figure 3. John Roque’s 1746 Map of London (engraved by John Pine) illustrates the position of Dowgate Wharf leading up to Wallbrook and Scott’s Yard off Bush Lane which led up to St. Swithins Lane.

Figure 4 Thomas Scott, Alderman, 1446

Thomas Scott was a successful draper in the City of London. He was a member of the Drapers’ Livery Company, one of the twelve Great City Livery Companies, which had been granted its first charter in 1364 by Edward III and enjoyed the monopoly of trade allied to the cloth industry. High quality English wool cloth was much in demand across Europe at the time and most of it was exported from London. Along the banks of the Thames near the only bridge in London across the river, the drapers had industrial buildings containing dyehouses and other activities concerned with the finishing of cloth. By the time Scott was coming to prominence as a liveryman, the Drapers’ Company had built their/its own hall in St Swithin’s Lane in the 1420s. He is recorded as subscribing to the cost of building the Hall in 1425 and served as Warden in 1434-5.[10] In 1438 the Company received a Charter of Incorporation making it a legal corporate fraternity. They also acquired their own coat of arms. However, Scott was not just an astute businessman as he went on to rise as a leader in the City as a whole.

On 29 April 1446, Thomas Scott was elected Alderman for Dowgate Ward a position he held until 1451. The southern boundary of Dowgate was the river bank where much of the draper’s activity took place and it was also one of the richest wards in the city. In 1447-8 Scott was also Sherriff. From 1451 to 1463 he transferred to become Alderman for Walbrook Ward, at the heart of the City and would have attended the weekly meetings of the Court of Aldermen responsible for running the City’s business. During that time he was Auditor from 1452 to 1454, but the pinnacle of his achievements came with his election as Lord Mayor in 1458 when he became Sir Thomas Scott. Five years later he was exonerated from duty as Alderman on 8 June 1463 on account of infirmity and died in November 1470 having made his will at the end of October.  He was buried at the church in Dorney. A John Scott, gent, (presumably his son), was admitted to the Drapers Livery in 1486 by redemption.[11]  The period between the end of the war with France in 1453 and the accession to the throne of King Henry VII in 1485, was a time when the wool trade flourished and wool merchants had money to spare.

Scott’s Yard off Bush Lane backed onto an important aristocratic city residence known as ‘The Erber’ which was arranged around a number of open courtyards and also had a beautiful enclosed garden hidden behind service accommodation. To the north of the yard was St Mary Bothaw’s church. After Scott’s time, the Draper’s Company acquired ‘The Erber’ including Scott’s Yard in 1543 and from the surviving (1596) plan it is evident that Scott’s Yard contained a row of warehouses from which he would have traded or sub-let to other traders. There was a wide yard suitable for receiving the delivery of goods.  The whole area, including The Erber and the church, was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666 and the buildings were not reconstructed, but the name Scott’s Yard survived on the road map until the 20th century even after Cannon Street Station had been constructed over it.  One of the reasons given for Livery Companies acquiring such properties was in order to provide accommodation for members, who, despite their wealth, were not keen to invest in urban housing but ploughed back their profits into business ‘or into the acquisition of country estates.’[12]

Construction of the Baylins Farm c. 1450

Scott must have been successful in the drapery trade well before coming to prominence in the City because he had acquired Dorney Manor in 1430 and one of the prerequisites to becoming an Alderman was substantial wealth. He would have become more affluent as time went on. From analysis of timber samples by dendrochronology we know that Baylins Farm was built after 1448, around 1450, but until the discovery of Scott’s story there was no obvious explanation for why it was built then. Now we can begin to imagine that Scott wanted a house in the country that reflected his success and he therefore had a solid and impressive, timber-framed house built in the fashion of the time featuring a central high hall with two-storey wings at either end. At the lower end of the hall were the two service rooms while at the high end a solar would have provided a private space for the owners. This solar no longer exists and there is some speculation whether it really would have been built given the fact that the wing at the other end is so long. What remains is the three-frame, south facing, hall with a five-frame wing across the east end. The oak frames were infilled with wattle and daub. The first floor gable of the wing jettied out.

Figure 5. Baylins Farm as it probably looked when newly constructed c. 1450. (John Bailey)

One of the puzzles identified by John Bailey, who researched the history of the building through a detailed examination of the timber frame from which the measured drawings used here as illustrations were produced, was the lack of window openings in the northern part of the first floor of the wing. He suggested that this probably indicated it was used for storage and not as living space. In view of Scott’s business, it is tempting to speculate that it was used to store wool or finished woven cloth. This would provide an explanation for the extra length of this wing.

Figure 6. Ground floor plan of the timber frame of Baylins Farm showing the central hearth in the hall and the long east wing.

John Scott inherited his father’s lands following the death of his mother in 1475. We know from the Calendar of Inquisitions Henry VII, that among the properties he owned (at his death in 1505?) there was ‘a messuage in Penn called Bealynges and divers other lands in Penne’.[13] Could it be that Thomas Scott constructed a house at some distance from Dorney for his son John when John married Katherine? In April 1505 John sold most of his lands in Penn, as well as Saunderton Saint Mary, West Wycombe, Huchenden, Chepyngwycombe, to Sir Andrew Wyndesore. Excluded was a messuage in Penne called Whytes with a garden adjacent and certain lands held by copy of court roll of the manor of Segraves as well as  Haldiffes in Penne and other lands there called Bailifes otherwise called Holmere  [14] (Separately the reversionary interest in Dorney Manor was sold to Richard Restwold who in turn transferred it to Thomas Lytton). John Scott’s wife Katherine had already died and his son, also John, had died without issue, so John senior had to make these arrangements towards the end of his own life. His will, dated 20 August 1505, makes it clear he wanted to be buried at Dorney Church and he left money for a new steeple to be built. His daughter Isabell was a nun in the Abbey of Berkyng.[15]  Andrew Windsor, the purchaser of the properties, undertook to found two chauntries and find two priests to pray for Scott’s family and Windsor’s family living and departed.

Lord Windsor & family
After John Scott sold Baylins to Andrew Windsor it became one of the Windsor family’s properties for four generations. Having said that, it seems unlikely that they made any personal use of the house during their ownership as they had plenty of grander houses available. The Windsors were descended from William Fitzother who had the Manor of Stanwell at the time of the Domesday Book. Andrew’s father Thomas Windsor was made Constable of the castle by Richard III. Andrew, aged 18, as the eldest surviving son inherited lands in Berks, Bucks, Hants, Middx, and Surrey upon his father’s death in 1485. He proved himself an able player in the power and wealth politics of the day, considerably augmenting the family’s wealth. During the reign of Henry VII he was appointed keeper of the wardrobe, a commissioner for subsidies in Middlesex and Berkshire and a JP. In 1509, a few years after he had purchased Baylins Farm, he was invested as Knight of the Bath at the  coronation of Henry VIII. Closely involved with the King’s military expedition to France in 1513, he accompanied Henry’s sister Mary for her marriage to Louis XII the year after. In 1520 he attended Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold and he was one of the commanders in the army sent to France in 1523. In 1529 he was admitted to the House of Lords as Baron Windsor of Bradenham and would share in some of the spoils from the dissolution of the monasteries. But in 1542 when Henry VIII came to stay at Stanwell the King obliged Andrew to surrender his traditional family home to the Crown. Andrew 1st Lord Windsor died the following year. In his Will he stated ‘that the issues of my manors of Bradnam, Weston Turvyle called Mullen’s manor, Weston Turvyle called butler’s manor and Belynges in Penne, with their appurtenances, in co. Buckingham, shall be taken by my executors for the performance of my will and payment of my debts which I owe the King’s highness for lands which I late bought of his Majesty, and other my debts, for the term of 17 years ensuing my decease.’

His son Sir William Windsor inherited the title becoming the 2nd Lord Windsor but he died in 1558, the year that Elizabeth I came to the throne.  His will  states that the income from ‘Bealinges’ and certain other manors be reserved for ‘Dorothee, Ladye Wyndesore late wife of Sr Thomas Wyndesore, knt for and during the space of 20 years.’ (Thomas was his youngest brother).

William was succeeded in turn by his son Edward born in 1532. Edward, 3rd Lord Windsor, is of interest as he was well travelled, well educated, and a cultured patron of the arts. His house in Bradenham, unusually for the period had rooms given over exclusively to the display of paintings and maps. Edward had been knighted by the Earl of Arundel following the accession of Mary to the throne (1553)  and had fought at the battle of St. Quentin (1557) for which he was rewarded by the queen with a chain of gold set with rubies. The Windsors were steadfastly Catholic and loyal Tudors. Edward duly pledged himself to Elizabeth I but as time went on he found it increasingly difficult to reconcile the two loyalties. When Elizabeth went to visit Oxford University in 1566, Lord Windsor was in attendance on her and subsequently Elizabeth stayed at Bradenham from 7th to 9th September where she was entertained in great splendour. But in spring 1568 Edward departed for extensive travels in Europe, ostensibly for his health, which took him away for nearly two years. On his return ‘the reprisals towards Catholics in the parliaments of 1571 and 1572 appear to have convinced him that the remainder of his life should be spent abroad. In December 1572 he made his will, setting his affairs in order’ before setting out again to the continent. He spent the last year of his life in Venice and died there in February 1575 where his tomb can still be seen at the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo.[16]

Figure 7.  Portrait of the family of Edward Windsor, 3rd Baron Windsor, 1568. Bute Collection at Mount Stuart. Photo Keith Hunter. Edward Windsor (1532-1575), his wife Katherine de Vere (1543-1600), his four sons, Frederick, Henry, Edward jnr, Andrew, and an unidentified 61 year old woman. Painted by The Master of the Countess of Warwick (perhaps Arnold Derickson).

Edward Windsor’s lifetime coincided with huge swings in religious practice and tolerance. In 1540 when King Henry VIII was established as head of the Church of England, the Litany and the Bible were to be in English but Protestants who would not hear mass were burned as heretics, while Roman Catholics still loyal to the Pope were executed as traitors. Under the reign of King Edward VI new prayer books were introduced that were carefully worded so both Catholics and Protestants could use them and heretics were no longer burnt alive although zealous reformers pulled down altars, statues of saints and blotted out wall paintings. King Edward was succeeded by Queen Mary in 1553 who believed it her sacred duty to bring back the old faith. She persuaded Parliament to restore Latin Mass and she revived the law by which heretics would be burnt. When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 it was decreed that the English Prayer Book should be used again and everyone should attend Church. For the first ten years of her reign most English Catholics were loyal to Elizabeth; they paid their fines for not attending church and held their own services privately. But in 1570 the Pope excommunicated Elizabeth so to Roman Catholics she was no longer lawful Queen.  Ten years later new stricter laws against Roman Catholics were introduced with a penalty of £135 and one year in prison for holding a Catholic service. The fine for recusancy went up from 12d per week to £20 per month. To be an open Catholic meant ruin and imprisonment. Edward Windsor must have sensed the way things were going and got out in time although he was not to enjoy his life on the Continent for very long as he was 42 years old when he died.

Edward’s successor was his son Frederick as  4th Baron Windsor but the Fredrick died ten years later in 1585 and the title then passed to Frederick’s brother Henry (1562-1605) who thus became 5th Baron Windsor. It is known that the family’s finances were not good as, by the time Henry died, he had considerable debts. However Edward had bequeathed Billinges in his will dated 20 December 1572 to his youngest son Andrew and it was Andrew who actually sold Baylins Farm in 1593 to John Penn.

From documents in the Penn House Estate Archives we know that Andrew Windsor described himself as of Staplehurst, Kent and he did a deal in January 1593 whereby he ‘bargained and sold unto Jon Pen and his heirs all that messuage tenement and farm with appurtenances called or known by the name of Bealing in the parish of Pen co. Bucks and all other lands etc in Pen or elsewhere now in the tenure or occupation of one Richard Ognell for the sum of £900.’ In the four agreements relating to this sale the name of the property is variously: Bealing, Byllings, Billinges, Beelinges, Byllynges. Although the first document refers to Jon Pen he is after consistently John Penne.

Richard Ognell’s remaining lease was for 16 years from May 1593 for which he was to pay £34 yearly to John Penne. Ognell’s mother Anne, a widow, died in 1594 and was buried in the church at Penn. Amongst her legacies she left sums of money to her four daughters and one of her three sons, Laurence “if he demand it. The above legacies to be paid within one year after my decease, if same can be got out of the hands of my son George”. She also left a bullock plus 10 shillings to one grandson and two sheep and 20 shillings to his sister. Both were the children of Margaret Bingham. The residue of her estate went to Richard Ognell her son and he was to be her executor. The witnesses were John Pen and John Balam.

There remains one piece of the jigsaw puzzle concerning the Windsor’s ownership of Baylins Farm that is difficult to allocate. We know from dendrochronology that 1563 is the likely date for the installation of a first floor in the main hall of the house. The standard of the work with huge ovolo-moulded beams and joists was not simply functional but designed to impress but so far there is no information about who was living in the house at the time that would justify such works. Other alterations such as the installation of a circular staircase and the building of the two large chimney stacks would have been done at the same time. The octagonal newel post dates from c. 1557. Is it too far-fetched to imagine that somehow this was related to the passage of the Queen’s progress nearby in 1566? After leaving Bradenham, Elizabeth 1st dined with John Goodwin at Wooburn Manor, really close by.

[1] Miles Green, Penn Parish Council Annual Report 1995/96.
[2] Miles Green, Penn Parish Council Annual Report 1995/96.
[3] J. Gilbert Jenkins, A History of the Parish of Penn, St. Catherine Press, 1935.
[4] Eton College Collections on line, ECR 36 009.
[5] Miles Green, Medieval Penn Floor Tiles, 2003.
[6] Miles Green, Our Royal Connections, 2012.
[7] See also Simon Townley, Upland and Lowland in South Oxforshire Chilterns,
[8] J. Gilbert Jenkins, A History of the Parish of Penn, p. 8.
[9] Information from ‘Parishes: Dorney’, A History of the County of Buckingham: Vol. 3 (1925) pp. 221-225. Accessed via: 27.04.2010. The present Dorney Court was built about 1510.
[10] Information from Penny Fussell, The Drapers’ Company archivist 11.02.2022.
[11] Boyd’s Roll, Past Master Percival Boyd’s register of the Drapers’ Company history.
[12] Sarah A. Milne, The Erber: Tracing Global Trade through a London Building, published online Cambridge University Press, 2020.
[13] Calendar of Inquisitions Henry VII Voll III, Bodleian Library. Information provided by Miles Green. It confirms that ‘the lands in Penne, worth 40s are held of Thomas earl of Derby, as of his manor of Segrave in Penne’.
[14] Eton College Collections Online, Ref. ECR 36 023. 1st April 1505. Sale by John Scotte of Dorney to Andrew Wyndesore … all appurtenances in … Pennes except messuage called Whytes with a garden adjacent in Penne.
[15] Will of John Scott of Dorney, 20.08.1505, proved 21.10.1505. National Archives. Records of Prerogative Court of Canterbury. PROB 11/14/726.[16] Information about the family portrait and Edward Lord Windsor’s life is taken from Edward Town’s study of the portrait and the man.

Oliver Heal, January 2024

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Baylins Farm 1600 – 1920

Part of the Penn/Curzon Estate

The documents concerning the sale of Baylins Farm by Andrew Windsor to John Penn in 1593 give detail of the scope of the farm at that period. It was described as ‘the manor of Beelinges otherwise Byllynges with appurtenances and of one messuage, one garden, one orchard, 200 acres of land, six acres of meadow, twenty acres of pasture, twenty acres of wood, twenty acres of furze and heath, and 4/0 rent with appurtenances in Penne.’ This was the property that would form part of the Penn/Curzon/Howe Estate for the next 400 years.[1]

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John and Ursula Penn memorial brass

Just three years later John Penn died in 1596 and was buried in the chancel at Penn Church on 12 October. His widow Ursula survived him until May 1610 when she in turn was buried in the church and they are both commemorated with a brass memorial. The Penns had clearly remained Catholic in their sympathies as in 1584 they were listed as absentees at a time of compulsory church attendance and the following year Ursula agreed to pay a fixed annual fine towards providing horses for the Queen’s service in return for exemption from penalties to which they were liable for their recusancy. Their links to the Royal family may have protected them from more unpleasant consequences. John’s mother Sybil Penn had been foster mother to Queen Elizabeth’s younger brother who became Edward VI. Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth all gave Sybil Penn gifts, land and an annuity. This contrasts with the treatment of the Lord of Segraves Manor in Penn who was imprisoned in 1587 for aiding and sheltering catholic priests.

John himself had been appointed Elizabeth’s Escheator for Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1574. This seems to have been a lucrative function as he was able to buy other properties besides Baylins in the last quarter of the C16th.

John Penn’s eldest son was William (1567-1638) who, having grown up in a Catholic household, married Martha Poulton who was also catholic. He was 29 years old when he inherited the enlarged estate and became Lord of the Manor. In later life he was sufficiently well thought of to be appointed Sheriff of the County in 1624. William and Martha had one son, John, and two daughters, Sybil and Katharine.

John and Sarah Penn memorial brass

This latest John Penn was born c. 1595 not long before the time of his grandfather’s death. He married Sarah, daughter of Sir Henry Drurey of Hedgerley, and they had ten children, five boys and five girls. They must have married c. 1626 as their first daughter was born in 1627 and it seems reasonable to speculate that Baylins Farm became their family home at this time. His mother and father occupied Penn House and the young couple would have needed a sizeable home although three of the ten children are known to have died young.

We know that Richard Ognell, who occupied Baylins Farm when it was purchased by John Penn senior in 1593, died in 1618 and that William Penn was his sole executor. He had no children.  David and George Grove witnessed the will. Apart from legacies to various family members he left £5 to the poor of Penn and £3 to the poor of Beaconsfield. He had four servants (3 men, 1 woman) to whom he left 40 shillings each[2]

The same year, 1618, William Penn paid 20 shillings to King James for the grant of all the timber and free fishing for ever ‘in his manor or lordship of Penne lying and being in the towns and parishes of Penne, Woodburne and Wicombe in our county of Buckingham, and his manor of Seygraves lying and being in Penne, and in his manor or farm commonly called Beelings lying and being in Penne, and in his farm commonly called Le Parsonage in Penne.”  Also included in the grant was Beamont manor and Affricks farm in Little Missenden as well as a farm in Nether Orton, Oxfordshire.[3]

In 1627 William agreed to convey “by fine or feoffment” the “manor, capital messuage, tenement and farm with the appurtenances being within the parish of Pen called Bealings” to Trustees subject to an annuity of £200 to be paid his son Jon Penn and his wife Sarah during his lifetime. Following his death it would pass to John and Sarah and their descendants.[4]

It is known that much work was carried out at the house around this period. The exterior was clad in brick to hide the timber frame and the daub-and-wattle in-fill panels. An extension was built to provide a room on the east side that became a larder and a new wide staircase was installed for access to the first floor.

A room downstairs was panelled with oak wainscot to provide a snug drawing room. Two large oak doors which have been dated by their ledged planks and strap hinges to between 1590 and 1640 were evidently installed at the same time and are particularly interesting because they have taper burn marks on them which are understood to be connected with Catholics continuing to practice within their homes when expelled from the church. Similarly the salt niches in the fireplace are likely to have been used to display significant spiritual objects ‘as a personal badge of affiliation to Catholicism’.[5] In view of the Penn family’s catholic tendencies at the time this serves to reinforce the view that the house was modified around 1626/7 to provide a comfortable home for the newly married John and Sarah Penn.

The application of taper burns to beams within the house is however evidence of an older tradition that must pre-date Penn family ownership and the installation of these two doors. Burn marks can be found on the original timber frame of the house in twelve different locations and in many instances were applied repeatedly. The absence of burn marks in the first floor above the hall, in contrast to all the other rooms on the first floor, implies that it was a ritual that was practiced prior to 1563 (the installation date of the hall ceiling) and thus probably part of an older tradition of apotropaic signs that might protect against lightning, fire or ward off evil spirits.

John’s father William Penn died in 1638 and John only survived him by four years until 1641. In his will he bequeathed the manor of Bealings to his wife Sarah as dower. His son and heir William Penn was only 12 years old so was a ward of the Crown until he was 21 so all profits from the estate were payable to the Crown. The inquisition post mortem recorded that “the said manor of Bealings was held of the King as of his Duchy of Lancaster in free and common socage and is worth by the year in all issues beyond reprises £5. 5. 0.”[6]

William Penn (1628-1693) married Sara Shallcross circa 1651 and it was their daughter Sarah Penn who married Sir Nathaniel Curzon (1640-1719) around 1700.

No information has yet emerged as to who occupied Baylins Farm in the latter part of the 17th century but it seems likely that by around 1700 the Penn family had installed tenant farmers to run the farm. We know that in 1754 George Salter paid a Poor Rate for Bailings and in the same year a Mrs Salter of Bealings was buried as was Hannah Ranger,widow, of Bealings, and also that on 10 September 1759, Joseph, son of George Salter of Bealings, died. These mentions are the earliest positive links between the Salter family and Baylins. The Salters were an old Penn family with records of their births, marriages and deaths appearing in the Penn Church Registers in the last quarter of the 16th century. Edmond Salter was overseer for the poor in 1627 and churchwarden from 1631 to 1633. A George Salter was churchwarden in 1715 when the clock was installed.[7] He and his wife Martha were the parents of the George Salter, (later described as Yeoman of Bailings, Penn), baptized 4 August 1711, who died in 1788 aged 77 years and was buried at Penn Church. In his will he gave and bequeathed ‘unto my dear wife Sarah Salter all the bed bedding and also two pair of my best sheets draws chairs and all other furniture except one pair of chest of draws in the yellow papered room wherein I now usually lie’. He also referred to ‘my copyhold messuage…in the manor of Seagraves…now in the occupation of Miss Isham.[8] Sarah ‘relict of George Salter of Baylins’ lived on until 1808.

Confusingly we know that in 1718 Thomas Winter, who was described as a yeoman of Beelings in the parish of Penn, apprenticed his youngest son John to Alexander Daniel, surgeon of Beaconsfield, for seven years for 10 guineas to learn ‘the art of surgery and all the practice in … setting bones, bleeding, tooth drawing, dressing of wounds, imputacons’ etc.[9] His children were baptized in Penn between 1680 and 1699 but when Thomas died in 1722 he was then a ‘yeoman of little Missenden’ having remarried there in 1718 and so no longer from Baylins.

The next references we have are the Posse Comitatus, which shows William Winter at Baylins in 1798, and the following year when his widowed daughter Mary Allen (née Winter) married Thomas B. Bovingdon of Glory Farm.[10] This William was a son of John the surgeon

By 1810 John Boucher was the farmer and Bailings was assessed at £78 15s for the Poor Rate Book. After Boucher the Langston family became tenants. In 1836 Thomas Langston, farmer of ‘Beylings Farm’, Penn, made his will stating he was ‘weak in body but of sound mind’ and left everything to his brother David Langston ‘now of Baylins Farm’.[11] At the 1841 census David Langston, by then 60 years old, and his two elder brothers, Thomas and Richard, were in occupation. David, his wife and three servants were living there at the 1851 census and he stayed until he died in 1855 leaving everything to his wife Sarah and then to his brother William.[12]

From 1838 we have the details of the Tithe Award Map which recorded the names and acreage of the fields that David Langston was farming at that time. This came to a total of 147 acres, most of which was arable with only 20 acres described as Meadow, pasture and orchard. It excludes any woodland which presumably made up the difference to the amount of land acquire by John Penn in 1593. The farm stretched from Saucy Corner in the North down to the Forty Green Road in the South and went Westwards to Saunderswood.[13]

The field names are fascinating such as Great & Little Wopses and Golden Field.
See also Baylins Farm Field Names   Click on Image to enlarge to screen width …

Baylins Entry in 1838 Penn Tithe and Map

Click on Image to enlarge to screen width …

The next tenant was William Redding who, with his wife, 1 daughter and 4 sons, was  at Baylins Farm when the 1861 census was taken (he was Church Warden at Penn in 1859). He was then aged 35 years and managed 140 acres. Ten years later he was still there and had 2 daughters and 5 sons. The farm had 160 acres, employed 3 labourers and 2 boys as well as a live-in servant Joseph Allen who was 14 years old. Redding’s tenancy terminated on 29 September 1875 and he was succeeded by William and John Priest. But there was no mention of John Priest at the time of the 1881 census but we know that a John Priest was buried at Penn in 1882 with his wife Susannah who had died in 1876. The census records William Priest (38) with wife Eliza (40) and 3 sons (aged 4,3 and 2 yrs) and a 1 year old daughter. They were still farming 160 acres with 3 men and a boy and had three young indoor servants. However there was also a brother of William called John Priest who farmed in Little Missenden where he died in 1899.

Also recorded under Baylins Farm in the 1881 census were Arthur Tapping, Thomas Bryant, John James, William Carter, all agricultural labourers, and all of whom were living with their own wives and families. There was also John Lane retired gamekeeper and Edward Tilbury a brick layer, with their families. One has to assume they lived in cottages around the farm and not in the farmhouse.[14]

In 1896 when the tenancy was renewed again it was in the name of William Henry Priest alone who stayed on with his wife, Eliza, a member of the Salter family, and five children. William continued to run the farm until he died in October 1917. His wife and family were allowed to stay on until the end of September 1919.[15] Their eldest son, William George Priest, who was born at Baylins Farm in 1876, grew up to be a farmer at Farnham Royal but later emigrated to Kyogle in New South Wales, Australia, where his family lived in a house named Baylins. Another son, Ernest Arthur (1878-1942) married Alice Louisa Redding.

[1] Feet of Fines. Bucks, Easter. 35 Elizabeth. Extract copied by Richard Holworthy 1924.
[2] Bucks wills vol. for 1618/19 folio 92. Transcribed by Richard Holworthy 1924. Viewed at County Records Office by OSH, 19.01.2001. ref We27125, Wf22287. Noted ‘brass pot bought off my sister Elizabeth.’
[3] Patent Roll 2171. No. 3. 16 James 1. Part 7. Transcribed by Richard Holworthy, 1924.
[4] Chancery Inquisition post mortem. Series II. Vol. 602. No. 63. Transcribed by Richard Holworthy, 1924.
[5] Information from Dr Jonathan Duck 23.11.2021. who has researched the subject and spotted the burn mark from a photograph. See his articles How to Protect your Home from Evil,  Listed Heritage Magazine, March/April and May/June 2022.
[6] Chancery Inquisition post mortem. Series II. Vol. 613. No. 67. Transcribed by Richard Holworthy, 1924.
[7] Notes taken from the Penn Registers by Ambrose and Edith Heal in 1920. From a 1748 document acquired by Ambrose Heal which gave details of General Fuller’s estate at Gregorys, Beaconsfield, we know that ‘Davenies Farm, consisting of a farmhouse and about 144 acres of land & meadow ground’ was in the tenure of George Salter and the rent was £75.00 p.a.
[8] George Salter, Bailings, Penn, Yeoman. Will dated 26.05.1787, proved 22.08.1788. County Records Office D/A/We/112/47 D/A/Wp/104/2350.
[9] Apprenticeship Indenture 26 March 1718. Ref: D209/137 (via Susan Cooper).
[10] Miles Green  and Susan Cooper letters 2007.
[11] County records Office D/A We/147/2. D/A/Wf/122/125. Although dated 9 May 1836 the will was not proved until 4 Jan 1851.
[12] County Records Office D/A/We/148/45. D/A Wf//123/89. Will 24.08.1853, proved 11.04.1855.
[13] Information kindly supplied by Miles Green.
[14] My thanks to Debbie Marsden for the information in the censuses
[15] Dates of tenancies provided by Mr Widdowson to Ambrose Heal.

Oliver Heal, January 2024

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Baylins Farm, Field Names

The earliest easily available source for Penn field names is the 1838 Penn Tithe Map which is a detailed and pretty accurate map of all the field boundaries in the parish with an accompanying Award showing the name of the field, whether it was arable, pasture or meadow, who owned and who occupied it, and its size.  Size was measured in acres, roods (1/4 acre) and perches (40 to a rood).  Woods were not charged a tithe, but their size and name was recorded in the Award.  You can compare with a modern map to discover old hedge lines.

Click on image to enlarge to screen width

Then there is the fun of trying to decide why the field was so-called.  There are field name dictionaries to help with this and common sense doesn’t always work.  For instance, I thought ‘Wopses’ might mean ‘very large’, as in ‘what a whopper’, but according to John Field’s, English Field names, A Dictionary (1972), it derives from Old English wœps meaning ‘overgrown, scrubby’Names can last for many centuries depending on stability of ownership and how much the name was used.  Pond and road names are the strongest survivors, but many field names are centuries old.

The Tithe map extract shows the fields which used to belong to Baylins Farm, which is in Knotty Green, on the right as you drive into Beaconsfield from Penn with fields running up to Saucy Corner.   Oliver Heal, the owner of the farm, has added the names of the fields which used to belong to the farm including several variants of ‘Wopses’.  The fields grouped around the farm house, marked in green, are described by the Tithe Award as ‘meadow’.  All the rest is arable.   Over the years, some of the field boundaries have changed, but many have survived.

‘Drews Meadow’ and, I suspect mistakenly transcribed ‘Great Drews’ and ‘Little Drews’, were named after and perhaps once part of what is shown on the Penn 1852 Inclosure Award as Drews Green, a small common on both sides of the main road below Clay Street which you see now as a wide roadside verge on one side only.  The name could be from an old personal name, Dru, Dreu or Drogo.

‘Cole Hearth Wood’ records one or more charcoal hearths – typically a circular level platform about 10m in diameter on which the hearth made of wooden faggots was built. Also look for dark soil and dust.

Miles Green and Oliver Heal, July 2022

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Baylins 1900 – 2020

The arrival of the Great Western & Great Central Joint Railway at Beaconsfield in 1906 brought huge changes that effected the whole area. Beaconsfield New Town grew up from almost nothing to cater for commuters traveling to and from London’s Marylebone Station. The railway had come as far as Slough in 1838, and a branch ran from Maidenhead to High Wycombe from 1854, so the line through Beaconsfield was a relatively late addition to the network.  The prospect of a forthcoming rail link enticed landowners to offer land for speculative development. The 4th Earl Howe, Richard George Penn Curzon (1864-1929), who had been MP for Wycombe until 1900 before becoming a member of the House of Lords upon his father’s death, began to offer building plots from his estate along Ledborough Lane in 1903. In 1906 a further 105 acres of land were released on either side of the Penn Road. The area North of Knotty Green was zoned for ‘superior country residences’ with a minimum value of £750 on land that had previously been farmed by the tenants at Baylins Farm.

Among the houses that sprang up close to Baylins before the First World War were Whichert (now Jevington), Witheridge, West Witheridge (possibly inter-war), Davidge and Drews. This would have significantly reduced the size of the farm. The man who appears to have been behind much of this development was Henry Dixon-Davis who was the solicitor to the railway with an address at Marylebone Station. The architect for Whichert House built in 1906, was Charles Biddulph-Pinchard FRIBA who also built himself a house off the Forty Green Road.

Even if reduced in size, Baylins Farm was still an active farm operated by William Priest in the years before World War One. We have a fairly detailed record of the condition of the buildings at that time from the survey published in 1912 by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. It is worth reproducing in full for the detail it provides.

Royal Commission on Historical Monuments,
Buckinghamshire (South) – 1912


Baylins Farm, 1 mile S.E. of the church, is a house of two storeys, and timber-framed with brick fillings; the roofs are tiled. It was built probably early in the 16th century, on an L-shaped plan, with wings extending towards the N. and W.; in the 17th century a room was added on the E. side; in the 18th century the building was much restored, and further additions were made in the 19th century. The S. front retains a little original timber framing, and some 17th-century brick, but has been much rebuilt with 18th-century brick; the doorway has an original four-centred head, with sunk spandrels. On the E. side the N. end has original timber-framing with filling of thin bricks, and at the S. end the lower storey is of 17th-century brick, and there is a projecting chimney stack of very thin bricks, probably original. The W. side is modern, except the gable at the end of the W. wing, which is of thin bricks, with an original two light window, now blocked. The N. side of the W. wing also has a gable of thin bricks, restored at the top and covered with plaster.  Interior: – On the ground floor the dining room, in the W. wing, has large intersecting moulded beams and joists in the ceiling, all now covered with whitewash; the fireplace is partly blocked. The drawing room is lined with panelling of various dates, chiefly of the 17th century, all painted. Three doors, in four-centred openings, are original, of wide battens with strap hinges. The staircase has, on each side, a handrail on brackets, probably of the 17th century. On the first floor the roof-timbers are visible, the trusses have curved struts and wind-braces.

The walls surrounding the garden on the S. side of the house are built of flint and thin bricks, probably of the 17th century; and the E. wall has buttresses of 18th century brick, and a small building at the S. end is modern; the W. wall now forms the side of a barn. In the wall adjoining the house are two small niches with arches of thin bricks.

Condition – Of house, fairly good, some parts poor; of garden walls, poor.

William Priest who had been the tenant farmer since 1875, died in October 1917. His wife and family continued to live at Baylins Farm until 1919 but Lord Howe decided to sell the house and about eight acres of surrounding paddocks. The remaining farmland was then worked from other farms on the Howe estate.

Ambrose & Edith Heal

Ambrose and Edith Heal who had moved from Pinner in 1917 and were living at “Little Bekkons” in Westfield Road, Beaconsfield, were attracted by the possibilities offered by the rather run-down yet historic Baylins Farm.

Ambrose was much influenced by the design ideas of William Morris; he was a member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (S.P.A.B.) set up by Morris in 1877 as a reaction against insensitive and extensive renovations that had become fashionable in the Victorian era.  He was also a member of the Art Workers’ Guild where many of the leading  architects and designers of the day would meet as part of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and for whom the study of old English vernacular buildings was a crucial part of their training. Already renowned for designing simple unadorned oak furniture, Ambrose saw that Baylins could provide the perfect setting to demonstrate the timelessness and appropriateness of his work, as well as an attractive family home.

Ambrose’s wife, Edith Heal, was the daughter of the Irish poet and playwright, John Todhunter. Born in London she had trained at the Slade School of Art in London before marrying Ambrose and starting a family. Once they had moved to Baylins Farm she appears to have devoted herself to creating wonderful Arts & Crafts gardens around the house where previously had been a rather derelict and muddy farmyard.

The architects engaged to restore and modernize the house and also to produce a plan for the gardens were Edwin Forbes and Duncan Tate whose office was in Jermyn Street, London. However Forbes & Tate had designed a number of houses in Buckinghamshire before the First World War which had been featured in The Studio so they were familiar with the area and Ambrose would have been well aware of their work. They were beginning to work on plans and costings for Baylins in the summer of 1919, but the Priest family were still in residence and even though negotiations with the Howe estate to buy the house were progressing, Edwin Forbes wrote to Ambrose Heal on 11th September 1919 that “The Priests have flatly refused to allow us inside Baylins Farm” to carry out a survey. However they had already measured up the size and layout of the rooms in June which were sufficient for design purposes. By mid-November things had advanced sufficiently for Rust & Ratcliffe to be appointed as builders for the job and the Priest’s must have left by the end of that month as work started on site in December.

The Gardens

A working farm had very little space devoted to garden. The area around the house was mostly a sloping muddy farmyard with hayricks or paddocks for grazing cows. The creation of a large structured garden in an Arts & Crafts style was one of the most significant changes the Heals made to the property when they arrived. It was largely the work of Edith and it became her life’s work to maintain and develop the garden. The outline concept of four, levelled, descending terraced areas stemmed from Forbes & Tate but it seems that Edith was responsible for softening the design and she was certainly the person behind the selection of plants and detail planning area by area.

In the early years of the century much thought had been given to garden layouts and their relationship to the houses they surrounded. The best known garden designer of those times was Gertrude Jekyll and much of her work had been featured in Country Life. In 1912 she published with Sir Lawrence Weaver her hugely influential book Gardens for Small Country Houses and Ambrose and Edith owned a copy of it. The garden at Baylins was planned to incorporate many of the features that Jekyll used in her gardens; stone paved walks, grass walks, gravel paths, yew hedges to enclose and create different rooms, a pergola, a pond, herbaceous borders, pleached limes, brick and flint walls, curved brick steps. It also incorporated a tennis court, a fives court and probably a bowling alley, beyond which were apple and cherry orchards, as well as vegetable gardens.

Among the unique features at Baylins was the cobbled courtyard with its geometric pattern of knapped flints. From that a few gentle steps led down to the oval grass lawn with herbaceous borders that cleverly disguised the asymmetric shape of the quadrilateral space in which it was placed. The transition from interior to exterior rooms was linked by the verandah – a raised open room from which to appreciate the garden sheltered from sun or rain. The “outdoor rooms” were conceived to include a Winter Garden and a Spring & Autumn Garden. The granary which had stood near the position of the new verandah was moved on rollers to its position overlooking the valley, in what was henceforth known as the Granary Field, where it was remounted on its staddle stones and used as a summer house.

The House

Work on the house itself was done sympathetically. What had previously been the cart shed was linked to the main house through the construction of servant’s quarters at the North East corner. The cart shed itself with windows installed facing south provided a children’s playroom heated by a specially imported Swedish ceramic stove, and the main entrance hall along with cloakroom. Although there were massive oak double entrance doors these were discreetly tucked under a low roof line, making for a very unpretentious opening in an Arts & Crafts manner. From the quarry-tiled hall passageway led to the parlour which had been opened up by removing partitioning and re-floored with wide oak boards. The parlour housed two of the most distinctive new features – the ceiling beams were decorated by the architect and map designer MacDonald Gill and his two assistants . The fireplace surround consisted of hand painted tiles showing the signs of the zodiac and the four winds. The concept for the fireplace design stemmed from Ambrose and he consulted various “experts” to ensure the layout was correct. The Poole pottery tiles used were decorated by Minnie McLeish who is better known as a textile designer. The bathrooms upstairs also featured decorative tiling. The floor in the  spare bedroom sloped severely reflecting an ancient structural problem and so it was fitted with a unique set of built-in bedroom furniture constructed of pinewood with a comb-painting finish, a technique that had recently been developed to decorate less expensive timbers. Externally the most noticeable feature was the installation of mostly standardized metal frame Crittall windows.

For more details and interior photographs, see: Ambrose Heal at Home: a glimpse into the private collection of the famed furniture designer

Anthony & Theodora Heal

Following the death of Edith Heal in 1947, Anthony and his wife Theodora along with their five year-old son, Ambrose, moved to Baylins to look after his ageing father, Sir Ambrose.  Anthony Heal Obituary:
Also: Racing Drivers of Penn: Anthony Heal

The Gardens

In that post-war period of austerity it was not feasible to keep up the gardens as they had been in Edith’s lifetime. Theo did not share Edith’s passion for gardening but instead sought to use the fields for livestock and gradually the size of the formal gardens were reduced somewhat. Baylins was registered officially as a smallholding. At different times there were pigs, a redpoll cow for milk, and then a couple of Aberdeen Angus cows that raised calves to be sold for meat. Most memorable perhaps were the donkeys. Lucy was a pregnant mare who came from the Ada Cole Memorial Stables who subsequently gave birth to Sammy at Baylins Farm. They were joined by another mare Clarissa (also from Ada Cole) and later by two dark brown donkeys, Duke and Duchess, who came from Lord Montagu’s estate at Beaulieu in the New Forest.

Baylins from the South, 2009

Oliver Heal, January 2024

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