THE STONEHOUSE, GATTON ROAD, REIGATE

 

Three Frith’s un-numbered postcards of The Stonehouse, Reigate, have been collected by me one at a time over the past few years. They show a way of life long past. One is un-posted, one was posted in Harrow in 1915, and the third was posted in Reigate but as the frank mark is not fully on the card the year is unreadable. This last card was sent to Miss Thorpe at Polesden Lacy, Dorking.

          The house is huge, no doubt requiring considerable upkeep and the home of someone of equally considerable means. I looked in the 1899 street directory and found the house listed as being in Gatton Road with the occupant being Augustus Mordan. A little more research beckoned.

          Augustus Mordan was a principle of the luxury gold and silver goods manufacturing company of S.Mordan & Co. With his brother, Sampson Junior he inherited the thriving company from his father, Sampson Senior, in 1843. .In the first quarter of the 1800s Sampson Senior, who was born in 1790, had patented a propelling pencil which contributed greatly to the prosperity of the business. The company became noted for gold and silver pens and propelling pencils as well as other high class novelty items, such as, inkstands, smelling bottles, letter balances, toilets, locks, cedar drawing pencils, penholders, portable quill pens; all kinds of glass and leather inkstands, medicine chests; copying and seal presses and fire proof cash and deed boxes, many also in silver and gold which they supplied to top retailers of the time.

By the 1860s Augustus was living with his wife Anne and their children in Finchley New Road, Hampstead but by the 1870s they had moved to 68 Gatton Road, Reigate. Employed there was a governess, a parlour maid, a page aged 15, a cook, a general servant, a coachman who lived in with his wife and two gardeners. Whether the large house seen in the postcards existed then is unknown but by the 1880s The Stonehouse was their address in Gatton Road. Looking at the house on the postcard it is possible that the original building was much extended. Employed there at this time were four female servants, a groom and a coachman and his wife.

It was in 1881 that Augustus’s brother, Sampson Junior, died in Paris where he had retired and his share of the business passed to Augustus.

          In 1891 they were at Marine Parade, Watling, West Sussex. This was probably their summer residence at the coast. Here they restricted themselves to simply a housekeeper, a ladies maid and a parlour maid. Perhaps a local woman came in to cook.

By 1901 Augustus has died and his wife, Anne, is a 73 year-old widow still living at The Stonehouse. Her daughter Kathleen is also there as is a nurse, three housemaids plus the usual a parlour maid and cook. Who the woman and children in the postcards are is unknown. The same lady with two children appears in each photo, although the boy is dressed differently in one.

          There are at least two other postcards of The Stonehouse that I don’t have. One shows it much more covered in ivy and without any people, another shows the view from The Stonehouse. Anne Mordan died in 1907 and this marks the extent of my research and my knowledge. Perhaps her daughter Kathleen or another member of the family lived there from then on. No doubt the house has gone and others are built in its place but there is much more to know about and the people who lived there. If any reader has more information I would love to hear from them.

Such is the power of the simple pictorial postcard.

The Stonehouse frontal view. Perhaps the original house is the centre portion.
Side view of The Stonehouse. A later postcard shows it much more covered in ivy. The picture is not as wide as the others as part of the postcard was left blank.
The pond at The Stonehouse. The woman and two children appear as in the other two postcards. Were they occupants or figures added by the photographer?
  
 
 

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