Spring House

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Spring House' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Spring House' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Spring House' page

High Street: A strong medical association

By Dick Lovejoy




The property, presently known as “Spring House” is Grade II listed and the listing text describes it as:

"House. C16 or earlier core. Mid C19 brick casing, now painted. Plain tile hipped roof. 2 storeys. Core of house on W shows a C17 red brick stack behind front roof. The front has 2 recessed sash windows, those of ground floor with 8/8-panes and stuccoed lintels. E side has 2 further sashes with later glazing bars; door on left. Rear range with 2 flush sash windows in plastered wall. Internally the W half shows C16 construction. Cross wing bay nearest road. Probably a hall in centre. Formerly Springhead Hall. “Fair View” on Provisional List."

The first written reference believed to be relating to the property, is in The Country Chronicle of the 9th April 1816, Page 3

"Valuable Freehold Estate, Ashwell, Herts.; Landtax redeemed – By Mr Newton, at the White Horse Inn, Baldock, Herts., on Friday 19th instant at One (unless an acceptable offer is made by Private Contract, of which due notice will be given)."

A Desirable Freehold Estate, comprising a comfortable Dwelling House, and Close of Pasture Land, advantageously situated opposite the Well Head in the Parish of Ashwell, Herts. The house contains a dining room, and three bed chambers with suitable closets, a large paved hall, parlour, two small rooms, a large kitchen, scullery, paved, paved wine-beer cellar, coal shed, and various domestic offices, which are abundantly supplied with good water. The land is attached, and arranged in the following order: - a small kitchen garden, grass plot, and pleasure or flower garden, together with a large productive orchard, well stocked with about a hundred thriving fruit trees; at the extremity of which is a newly erected modern summer-house, with an agreeable sitting room, beautifully situated on a gentle rising ground, commanding an extensive and uninterrupted prospect of all the surrounding country (in all about 3 acres, be the same more or less). The above is advantageously situated opposite the Well Head, in the Parish of Ashwell, in the County of Herts., and is only 3 miles from the market own of Baldock, and 40 from London, on the great North road. The whole of the estate is in hand consequently immediate possession may be had. The purchaser to take a few fixtures by fair appraisement, in the usual way. – May be viewed any time prior to the sale, by application to Mr Thomas Wharboys, at Ashwell, near the Church, who will shew the premises, and particulars may be had of Messrs Hindley and Roe, solicitors, Baldock; at The 3 tons, Ashwell; at the place of sale, and the several Inns in Baldock and Royston; at the Auction Mart; and of the auctioneer, Church-street, Minories, London.

However, in a document of Surrender between E A Thompson and Edward Tindale relating to 3 roods of copyhold land dated 17th March 1849 it is stated:

“…….being the same premises as are contained in the administration of the said William Thompson deceased dated the 13th March 1815 under the description of ”All that …….piece or parcel of ground upon which a cottage lately stood and now used as a farm yard situate lying and being in Ashwell in the County of Hertford within and holden of the said Manor and containing thereon or therein a stable a coach house pigstye hen house cart house and pump And also All that close of sward land adjoining to the said yard together with the fruit trees now standing and growing thereon containing by estimation one acre or thereabouts more or less and held by the yearly rent of two shillings”

There is also reference to a William Thompson of Ashwell in the Sun Fire Office policy register of January 1816, held in the National Archives.

Although the above two references are prior to the date of the Chronicle publication it would certainly seem that William Thompson was in Ashwell and likely to have been living in the premises that are now known as Spring House. 

Some 25 years later at the time of the 1841 Census the property was occupied by William Thompson, shown to be of Independent Means, his wife Jane and a Sarah Waldock.

A map of Ashwell extracted from the Tithe Map of 1841 shows the extent and situation of the property within the village.

William died on the 19th December 1844 having made his last Will on the 19th November of that year. In his Will he bequeathed the property and related lands (3 roods) to Jane Clissold Simpson and Sarah Walduck (sic) equally for as long as they shall live and thereafter to his nephew Edwin Andreas Thompson. It is likely that he made the new Will, drafted as it was, as a result of the death of his wife earlier in the year (Q1 1844 Vol. 6 Page 465)

By a lease dated 17th January 1845 Jane Clissold Simpson and Sarah Walduck granted a 21 year lease to Edward Tindale with effect from the 6th January 1845. By 1849 it was agreed between the three of them to sell the property to Edward Tindale. Consequently, by a conveyance dated 17th March 1849 the freehold property together with the copyhold interest was sold to Edward Tindale for the sum of £100, £90 for the former divided between Simpson and Walduck and £10 to Thompson. Within that document the property was described:

“that Freehold Messuage Tenement or Dwellinghouse with the outbuilding Yard Garden Pleasure Grounds and Orchard thereto belonging containing one acre and three roods be the same more or less with their appurtenances situate in Ashwell ……….sometimes called and known by the name Spring Head Hall and are bounded on the front or North side by the High Street or way of Ashwell aforesaid on the East by the Copyhold land hereinafter described and covenanted to be surrendered (and which runs in a parallel line from North to South having on the East side thereof a close of land and property belonging to Pembroke College Cambridge) on the South by a road or way and on the West by a close of pasture and buildings now or late belonging to and in the occupation John Lees……..”

It is interesting to note that Edward Tindale and his wife Emily (nee Bowman) were already living elsewhere in High Street, Ashwell at the time of the 1841 Census but his move to Spring Head Hall in 1845 saw the start of a succession of medical practitioners there.

According to the “leather-covered book” purchased in 1801 and kept by Edward Bacon wherein he recorded, inter alia, “…using the book as a diary cum account book”

“1850, 2nd Febry. Saty night. Our great fire commenced at Mr. John Westropes Farm, Mr T Chapmans all the way to Mr Tindales destroying Maltings Barns and farm cottages to the amount of £30,000”

The Census of 1851 shows Edward with the qualifications of MRCS, LSA and in general practice. He and Emily had a son, also named Edward (11) and a daughter also named Emily (4). They enjoyed the support of Susan Hales as a general domestic servant and Thomas Gentle as a Groom.

By the time of the 1861 Census the children had apparently left or were away from home, Edward still described as a surgeon but it was not clear whether or not he remained as a general practitioner in or to the village. They had one domestic servant Phoeby Parnell who was born in Ashwell.

The Census of 1871 confirms that Edward remained as a general practitioner. The daughter Emily, presumably following a period of education away had returned home and the servant changed to Mary Bonfield. 

Sadly, Edwards wife Emily died in 1874 (Q1 1874 Vol. 3a Page 204 recorded as Tyndale) for in the second quarter of that year daughter Emily married William Drewry Locke, in Wandsworth (London). Edward wrote a new Will on the 1st May 1880 appointing William Locke and a James Inskip as Executors and Trustees.

Edward certainly continued as GP in the village and involved in its affairs for “At a meeting of the Ashwell Vestry held on March 1875 it was proposed by Mr Tyndale and seconded by the Rev. Millsom that the trustees of the Ashwell Charities be empowered to treat with John Lawes for the purchase of the coprolite…….the land appertaining thereto” (Hertfordshire Countryside Vol 21 No 88 August 1966) 

Following the death of his wife and before the 1881 Census Edward moved to live with William and Emily in Camberwell (London). At that time William appears to be unemployed but they nevertheless have sons Edwards (4) and Robert (1) as well as a general servant, Elizabeth Rowland, who presumably Edward brought with him as she was born in Guilden Morden.

Either Edward on his retirement/departure from the Spring House granted a lease or it was granted later by his trustees, for the 1881 Census shows Spring House being occupied by a new doctor to the village, George Swinson, his wife Lucy and their five children.

Edward died on the 15th February 1883. As Executors and Trustees, together with the consent of his daughter Emily, William (now a qualified doctor) and James entered into a sale contract on the 11th August 1887 for the sum of £550 to a William Gallimore Hayden who in 1881 was a general practitioner in Wycombe. In the sale contract the property that was conveyed to Dr Hayden was described as:

“All that messuage tenement or dwellinghouse with the outbuildings and garden pleasure grounds and orchard thereto belonging containing by estimation one acre and three roods (be the same more or less) situate and being in Ashwell in the County of Hertford and sometimes called and known by the name of “Spring Head Hall” and bounded on the point or north side by the High Street or Way in Ashwell aforesaid on the East by Copyhold land herein before recited to have been surrendered at aforesaid (and which runs in a parallel line from north to south having on the side thereof a close of land and property now or formerly belonging to Pembroke College Cambridge) on the south by a Road or way and on the west by a Close of pasture and buildings now or formerly in the occupation of John Lees”

Whilst work was being undertaken in “Spring House” during the 1970’s it was found that the wall in the main bedroom that sided the staircase was formed of multiple layers of The Lancet and perhaps other medical journals, covered in a plain paper and painted. 

Four years later at the time of the Census of 1891 Dr Hayden was in practice from the house where he lived with his family, wife Elizabeth Matilda (42), daughters Florence (18), Constance (9) and his sons George (11) and Francis (2).

Four years later at the time of the Census of 1891 Dr Hayden was in practice from the house where he lived with his family, wife Elizabeth Matilda (42), daughters Florence (18), Constance (9) and his sons George (11) and Francis (2).

On the 24th May 1892 Dr Hayden sold the property to his wife for £800. In that conveyance document the property was described exactly as previously. Some two years later on the 31st October 1894 Mrs Hayden mortgaged the land and premises to the Misses M A & R E Randall of Great Missenden, Bucks. for a loan of £300 at 5% per annum until the 30th April 1895. 

It is not known when Dr Hayden left the house but documentary evidence shows that a Dr George Oscar Jacobsen rented the property after he and his family had left. The Medical Register of 1895 supports this.

It is interesting to note that Dr James George Robertson is also recorded at “Fairview” in that same register, and he remained there, certainly until 1899 but Dr Jacobsen had moved on to Radnorshire. 

The Census of 1901 shows that the property was occupied by Dr Robert Woodforde and his wife Mary.

On the 5th December 1907 Mrs Hayden leased the “Dwellinghouse and premises “Fairview” Ashwell Herts.” to Dr Robert E H Woodforde (Surgeon) for a term of 5 years from the 25th December 1907 for an annual rent of £40.10s.0d per cent per annum. Within the lease document the property is described as:

“ALL THAT Messuage or dwellinghouse called or known by the name of “Fair View” situate and being in Ashwell aforesaid with the yard garden Greenhouse and outbuildings thereto belonging and the Orchard and Close of land containing Two Acres and Two Roods or thereabouts adjoining or near thereto formerly in the occupation of the Lessor then of George Oscar Jacobson and now of the Lessee……..” 

This postcard of the Springs was sent during Dr Woodforde’s occupation 14th August 1911 and says 

“I thought you would like the “source of the Cam”. This is a splendid photo. Sat by the Springs all day Sunday morning. The weather seems to get hotter. Yesterday seemed unbearable here…….” 

Given the circumstances and without further information it is difficult to understand that Mrs Hayden should have defaulted on the mortgage to the Misses Randall. Nevertheless title to the property reverted to them as mortgagees in possession and on the 12th October 1912 they sold the property to Mr Frederick William Ablett (Brewer’s Clerk) for £430.

Frederick died during the second quarter of 1921 and presumably his wife Gertrude inherited the property for on the 13th August 1929 she sold the property still then known as “Fairview” to Charles Hope Carlton FRCS, of 37 Harley Street, London for the sum of £815. At the time the property was described as:

“…..dwellinghouse with the outbuildings yard garden grounds and orchard thereto ……..containing one acre and six perches bounded towards the east by property now or late of Robert Edmond Heighes Woodforde on or towards the south by a road known as Ashwell Street Way on or towards the west by property now or late of Drusilla Sale and on or towards the front or north by High Street……

Mr Carlton charged the property to John Grundy Thompson, Frederick William Thompson and Barry Cort Thompson of Grantham (Solicitors) on the 31st August 1929 for an advance of £1,000. It was agreed by that charge that the sum would be repaid on the 28th February 1930 with interest calculated at 5% per annum. Should the capital sum outstand thereafter interest at the agreed rate would be paid half yearly. In the event John Thompson died on the 26th September 1932 and Frederick on the 7th December 1938, only Barry remained to be able to acknowledge that on the 5th April 1940 the £300 paid by Mr Carlton fully repaid the debt. At the time, Charles Carlton also had the London address of No 86 Brook Street, Grosvenor Square.

Whether the Carlton’s remained in “Fairview” throughout the war years is unclear, for, found under the floorboards during the 1970’s was the remains of a letter addressed to a “Mrs M S…” from the London County Council regarding child evacuation billeting charges.

It was on the 2nd October 1945 that Charles Carlton sold “Fairview” to Mrs Florence Mary Bainbridge, wife of Richard Fraser Bainbridge of Wing Cottage, Cogenhoe, Northampton for the sum of £2,290. From documents it would appear that in the early 1950’s the property was renamed as “The Springs”.

The 18th December 1957 saw the sale of “Spring House” to Mr Michael Forrest and his wife Margaret Forrest of 32 Millington Road, Cambridge. It was during their ownership of the property that it was agreed to sell a portion of the land to Wrights (Langford) Ltd. The sale was concluded on the 12th January 1967. The piece of land was said to front Ashwell Street for 67 feet or thereabouts and an average depth of 350 feet or thereabouts. That piece of land now forms part of the development known as Woodforde Close.

On the 22nd September 1967 Mr and Mrs Forrest sold “Spring House” to Charles Ferrens of The Presbytery, Hainton, Lincolnshire. Mr Ferrens remained in “Spring House” with his wife and daughters until the 6th October 1975 when Richard (Dick) Lovejoy and his wife Mavis acquired the house. The ownership and history of “Spring House” continued with its sale to Mr and Mrs Malcolm Davies.

The subsequent history of “Spring House” remains to be recorded by the more recent occupants or owners.

This page was added on 26/03/2017.

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