Save Broom and Lees
... the Field's History

The following information has been carefully researched for the Save Broom and Lees Campaign
by a number of local residents from documents, deeds, histories, census returns and Wills that are in the public domain.
It is presented in chronological order.
Any further relevant material will be very welcome.

Compulsory registration of the title to land in Surrey was introduced in about the 1950s, with the result that any property which has changed hands since the relevant date would have a registered title, setting out any covenants, rights or easements affecting it. The area in question has never been registered, which is consistent with the fact that it has not changed hands for very many years.

  • A large area of land originally formed part of the Lessington House Estate. The trustees of James Arnold sold two pieces of this, to the north of Hurtmore Road known as Broom Field and Lees Field, to Thomas Strudwick (a farmer) in 1862 (Surrey Records Office, Woking ref. no. 6568/1-43).

    Thomas Strudwick farmed at Unstead Farm, Shalford where he died on 12 Nov 1877. His widow Harriet then moved to Lessington House, which was next to the new school's buildings, with two of her daughters, Fanny and Ellen[1].
  • Charterhouse School had the opportunity to buy Broom and Lees in 1897, when they bought Lessington, but the Pavilion Committee[2]had come to the end of its resources”. The Governing Body thought the natural boundary was Northbrook (Hurtmore) Road and "the land they had already acquired was sufficient for the school's requirements"[3].
From two large boxes of copy legal documents relating to this land held by the Surrey History Centre Research. Incidentally, these were not photocopies but typed precis copies made by solicitors dealing with sales in earlier years, known as abstracts of title. As is usual with legal documents, there is never any explanation as to the background to a particular transaction, nor is there anything about the identity of the parties, other than a brief description such as farmer.
  • The earliest conveyance in the first bundle, dated the 26th May 1898, is of the whole of "Broomfield and Lees", comprising 16 acres 2 roods and 24 perches[4], from Ellen Strudwick to Fanny Strudwick at a price of £4,500. This sale did not impose any restrictive covenants.

  • The following day, Fanny Strudwick mortgaged the same area to Henry Gray Brydone, solicitor of Petworth, and she subsequently entered into a succession of further loans secured on the land but it appears that the interest payments were not maintained. This resulted in an Order in Chancery in 1905, which effectively transferred the land into the ownership of H G Brydone's Executor, being his son Reginald Marr Brydone.

  • Fanny Strudwick, of Lessington House, passed away on 6 May 1904. Her sister, Ellen, was her executor[1].

  • By a conveyance dated 2nd June 1906, R M Brydone sold part of the field to Charles Clement Cotterrill of Combe [Coombe] Field, Godalming, for £925. This land was the northern portion of Broom and Lees, comprising 8 acres 2 roods and 39 perches, together with a right of way 15 feet wide across the retained portion leading to Hurtmore Lane, now Hurtmore Road. Both parties covenanted with the other "not to use the land or any building erected thereon for any offensive, noisy or dangerous trade, business pursuit or occupation". In other words, these restrictions affected the whole of the land.

  • Then, by a deed dated 1st October 1906 made between R M Brydone and C C Cotterrill, the two parties agreed to cancel the covenants mentioned above and instead covenanted with each other "not to erect any hospital, asylum or sanitorium of any kind" on the whole of the land. No reason is given for this alteration but it is possible that there was a feeling at the time that this type of institution was unwelcome in what was becoming a residential area.

  • The following day, R M Brydone sold the southern portion of Broom and Lees to Rev. Gerald Henry Rendall (Headmaster), Frederick Kennedy Wilson Girdlestone, John Edward Judson, Thomas Ethelbert Page, Rev. James Andrew Arnan Tait and Alexander Hay Tod for the price of £29,050, subject to the covenant entered into the previous day[5].

  • There was a subsequent sale of the remaining portion of Broom and Lees by C C Cotterrill to the same parties, subject to the same covenant[6].

  • In a separate bundle was a copy of a lease dated the 21st July 1914 for a term of 99 years made between Rev. G H Rendall and the other five individuals as landlords and Edward Trevor Hardman (being the School Secretary) as tenant of a triangular piece of Broom and Lees, having a frontage of 193 feet to Hurtmore Lane and a depth of 300 feet. The accompanying plan merely showed that the area in question lay on the other side of the road from "North Lodge" but did not include any other details to show its position in relation to the remainder of the field. The lease included a covenant to build only one detached dwelling on the land. It appears that a house was subsequently built there and thus the area in question no longer forms part of Broom and Lees as it now stands. The documents also record the fact that the school conveyed the freehold to Andrew Leicester Irvine in 1925, when the house was known as Lordsmeade[7].
  • After the purchase of Broom and Lees all football, apart from school matches, was played on B&L or Lessington. In 1914 a further parcel of land, taking the estate to the northern end of the plateau, was bought by the Pavilion Committee. It was used to grow potatoes and oats, and the land also included a large larch plantation. If they had not bought this land Broom and Lees may have had to be used for food production in 1916[3].
  • The field was by this time the main junior football and hockey ground[8].
  • Broom and Lees was described as a public open space when Surrey County Council and County Planning Authority refused permission to develop the field in 1976. Local children would play games here when the field was not being used by the school and adults would walk or run round to for exercise. Unfortunately, a fatality necessitated the erection of the wooden footbridge over the road, so that pupils did not have to cross the highway to reach the field. Security concerns led the school to erect high fencing around the perimeter in or about 1996 so it can no longer be described as a public open space. Locals protested at the time, but to no avail.

Footnotes and references:

[1] From census returns and probate records.

[2] The Pavilion Committee was formed in 1874, managed by several masters, to deal with the school tuck shop. It made a healthy profit - £400 p.a. before WW1 - and was able to make a significant number of purchases, including Lessington. This from Tod (details below).

[3] Tod, A. H., M.A. (2nd Ed., Revised) (1919) "Charterhouse". Handbook to the Great Public Schools. London : George Bell and Sons Portugal St. Lincoln's Inn W.C. Cambridge: Deighton, Bell & Co New York : The MacMillan Co Bombay : A. H. Wheeler & Co.

[4] A rood is a quarter of an acre and there were 40 perches in a rood.

[5] Although there is no explanation as to why the land was acquired by the six named individuals it is quite clear that they were intending to increase the extent of the school's landholdings. New property legislation introduced in 1925 restricted the number of landowners in a particular conveyance to four, so that it is most unusual to see six names as joint purchasers in a deed. After 1925, it was necessary either to form a company, a charity or a trust if a greater number of individuals wished to acquire land jointly.

[6] The date of the sale or the consideration involved was not recorded.

[7] These bundles of old papers are all listed by the History Centre under the name of the latter property and it is assumed that they were lodged with the centre by solicitors who dealt with the purchase of Lordsmeade at some later date.

[8] Jameson, E. M. (1937) "Charterhouse". Blackie & Son Limited, London and Glasgow.