Lady Charlotte's Walk Click on image for map
A walk around Gerrard Cross,
Compiled by Julian Hunt
This walk takes about an hour and a half and requires no special footwear. It roughly follows the boundary of the Orchehill Estate, on which much of modern Gerrards Cross was built in the period 1906-1914.
(1) The Bull Hotel: The walk begins outside the Bull Hotel, once a famous coaching inn on the Oxford Road. Here stage coaches stopped for fresh horses on their way to Oxford, Worcester and Aberystwyth. Lady Charlotte, daughter of the Duke of Somerset, used to walk up the drive from Bulstrode Park to watch the mail coaches passing by. In 1839, she astonished the locals, and the English aristocracy, by marrying William Blount, the Duke’s agent on the Bulstrode Estate. In 1842, the Blounts moved to Orchehill House, a large farmhouse with 200 acres of farmland to the north of Gerrards Cross Common.
(2) The Lodge: Cross the Oxford Road and walk westwards, towards its junction with Bull Lane. On the corner of Bulstrode Way is a lodge, built of stone and flint. This was one of the new lodges to Orchehill House, built about 1846 to impress visitors to William and Lady Charlotte’s new house. A gatekeeper or gardener would live here, ready to open the gate at any time of the day or night.
(3) Bulstrode Way: Turn into Bulstrode Way and walk eastwards towards Layters Way. The first part of Bulstrode Way follows the line of the old carriage drive to Orchehill House. This driveway was laid out about 1846, when a large area of common arable land called Latchmoor Field was divided amongst the neighbouring farmers and landowners. William Blount was allotted the biggest share. The carriage drive survived until 1906, when the new railway cut across it. The Orchehill Estate land south of the railway was sold to developers led by George Hampton, who divided it into building plots. Farleigh, 56 Bulstrode Way, designed by the architect Charles Davis in 1913, is typical of the Arts and Crafts houses built in Gerrards Cross at this time. Wyke House and Bulstrode House, 50-52 Bulstrode Way, were designed by Sidney Prevost.
(4) Layters Way: Turn into Layters Way. On the left are two unusual houses, Layters Cottage (1908) and Cranford (1909), both designed by the architects Fair & Myer of Henley on Thames. On the right is The Old Tiled House, designed by Kemp & How in 1910 and looking like on old cottage in the woods. When the railway was opened in 1906, it cut the old carriage drive to Orchehill House in two. Bear right along a footpath to the footbridge over the railway. This bridge links Layters Way with Orchehill Avenue and enables us to follow the rough line of the carriage drive to Orchehill House.
(5) Orchehill Avenue: Turn right into Orchehill Avenue. We are now in the Latchmoor Estate, laid out by J.C. Richards & Co., a building firm from Paddington, who opened a builder’s yard in Station Road, Gerrards Cross in 1906. Pebworth, the large house with a circular window on the corner of Latchmoor Grove, was built by J.C. Richards & Co. in 1908. It was owned by J.C. Hamley, owner of the famous London toy shop. Some of the houses in Orchehill Avenue were designed by Sidney Prevost, originally a partner of John Clement Richards. He designed Wisteria Cottage, 53 Orchehill Avenue in 1910.
(6) Oval Way: Continue eastwards along Orchehill Avenue. On your left is Oval Way, laid out in 1906 by the Beaconsfield surveyor Legender Myers, a partner in the firm of Kerkham, Burgess and Myers. The building plots either side of the ornamental spinney were developed by Raffety & Co of High Wycombe. The Pollards, 3 Oval Way, was designed in 1907 by the well-known London architects, Forbes & Tate, and occupied by Harold Raffety himself.
(7) Packhorse Road: Continue along Orchehill Avenue and turn left into Packhorse Road. Ahead is The Priory, an old farmhouse which was acquired by William Blount of Orchehill House in 1846. The Priory was originally on the west side of the road, but William Blount had the length of Packhorse Road from Ethorpe to Austenwood Common diverted in a loop to the west, in order to increase the size of the front garden to Orchehill House. In 1911, The Priory was the home of William Weston, estate agent, whose offices were on Packhorse Road. He was one of the early developers of Gerrards Cross.
(8) St. Mary’s School: Continue north along Packhorse Road to St. Mary’s School. This is on the site of a farmhouse which is mentioned in Chalfont St. Peter Court Rolls as early as 1333. It has had many names over the centuries including Deedsworth Farm, Gascoyne’s Farm, Kiln Farm and Orchard Hill Farm. In 1842, Orchard Hill was purchased by William Blount, the former agent on the Bulstrode Estate, who had recently married Lady Charlotte, daughter of the Duke of Somerset. The house was greatly enlarged and altered, with gothic windows and tall chimneys. Inside, the drawing room was enhanced with a highly ornate raised ceiling. In 1905, the Blount family sold Orchehill House to James and William Gurney, two estate agents from Chalfont St. Giles. They divided the estate into over 200 building plots and were the main developers of Gerrards Cross north of the railway. Since 1942, Orchehill House has been the home of St. Mary’s School.
(9) North Park: Continue north along Packhorse Road and turn right into North Park. This part of Gerrards Cross was laid out by the Gurneys in large building plots for very expensive houses. Many of these were built by Henry Brown, a builder from Stoke Newington, who came to live in Gerrards Cross in 1907. He lived at the house now called Barton Grange, on the left side of the road. Henry Brown also built the row of six shops on Station Parade, Packhorse Road.
(10) South Park Drive: Bear right and continue along North Park until it joins South Park Drive. On your left is the former East Lodge belonging to Orchehill House. Turn right into South Park Drive. South Park was also laid out by the Gurneys for large detached houses. On your right at the top of the hill is an unusual hose with two brick gables. This was the stable block of Orchehill House. It was converted into a private house in 1912 by Percy Hopkins, the architect of the shops in Oak End Way. His client was Miss de Candt. On the left hand side of the road is South Park House, built by Y.J. Lovell & Co. for W. Clement Windover in 1908. The architect was John Graham Johnson, who designed about 50 houses in Gerrards Cross. He later moved to British Columbia and was the chief architect for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
(11) South Park Crescent: Continue along South Park Drive and bear left into South Park Crescent. Many of the large houses built between 1906 and 1914 have been demolished and replaced with flats. Several significant houses remain however. On the left is The Dormers, designed by John Myers in 1912 for Ernest Saunders. Next is The Tudors, designed in 1920 by the famous Arts and Crafts architect Baillie Scott. His client was Harold Sanderson, a wallpaper manufacturer. The Tudors is based on a type of large house built in Kent in the 15th and 16th centuries, called ‘Wealden Houses’ by architectural historians. Opposite is Lynbury, designed in 1909 by John Graham Johnson. It featured in a 1910 advert for the local builders, Y.J. Lovell & Son. Grit Howe was designed in 1907 by C.C. Makins for Harold Moreland, who later became Chairman of Gerrards Cross Parish Council.
(12) Station Parade: At the end of the road, turn right into South Park and walk up to Packhorse Road. Ahead is Ethorpe, an old country house which became a hotel in 1923. Turn left into Packhorse Road. The row of six shops with the oriel window on the corner of Oak End Way was built by Henry Brown in 1907. The architects were Kerkham, Burgess & Myers. Leonard Kerkham lived at Austenwood Common and designed many of the houses on The Firs Estate. Julian Burgess was the founder of the firm of Burgess Holden & Watson, architects, Beaconsfield. Legender Myers was the surveyor who laid out the roads on the Orchehill Estate. Kerkham, Burgess & Myers had their offices at Orchehill Chambers, the next building along Station Parade.
(13) The Highway: The land attached to Ethorpe did not come on the market until 1923. The shops called The Highway were built in the former gardens of Ethorpe between 1924 and 1926. The architect was John Stanley Beard, who lived in Gerrards Cross and was a leading theatre and cinema designer. He designed the Playhouse cinema in Ethorpe Crescent. Another architect involved in the development of the Ethorpe Estate was Robert Muir. He designed the flats built behind the hotel in 1929 and built his own house, Broadeaves, Ethorpe Crescent, in 1926.
(14) Station Road: Turn left into Station Road. On the left are four shops designed by Kerkham, Burgess and Myers in1906. These were the first shops to be erected after the opening of the railway. They were built by J.C. Richards & Co. of Paddington, who opened a branch builder’s yard here in 1906. Several other builders had their yards in Station Road. Y.J. Lovell & Co, who built about 200 houses in Gerrards Cross, were originally based in Marlow. They set up their yard on the corner of Station Road and Marsham Lane in 1906. The modern office block on this corner was built by the firm in 1969 and replaced a small house and office called Marlow Cottage.
(15) Marsham Lane: Turn right into Marsham Lane and cross the railway bridge. On your right is Marsham Way where some of the first commuter houses were built on building plots laid out by Hampton & Sons. The earliest were a pair of semi-detached houses now called Charnwood and Eastgrove. Cross Marsham Way and continue along Marsham Lane. On you right is Marsham Manor, formerly Marsham Farm, altered and extended in 1907 by the celebrated architect Stanley Hamp. Further along on the same side is Abbotsmead, also designed by Stanley Hamp in 1907. This is a very elegant country house in the arts and crafts style. Stanley Hamp designed several of the flat-roofed houses on Windsor Road, built in the 1930s.
(16) The Memorial Centre: Turn left into East Common and walk towards the Oxford Road. On your left is the first of two lodges, once serving a large country house called Walter’s Croft. In the 1840s this house was occupied by John Chantry, whose fine hunting horses were auctioned here in 1843. By 1876, the house belonged to Miss Louisa Reid. She gave the house as a new vicarage to the Rev. William Addington Bathurst, then vicar of St. James’s Church, taking the old vicarage by Latchmoor Pond in exchange. The house became the Gerrards Cross Memorial Centre in 1947.
(17) (i) Berkeley Cottage: Continue along East common, past Mill Lane. On the corner is Berkeley Cottage, built in 1818 for Thomas Oldacre, the famous Huntsman of the Old Berkeley Hunt, which used to meet at Gerrards Cross Common. The kennels were next to the Packhorse Inn, where there was once a date stone inscribed ‘Huntsman’s Hall 1796’.
(18) The French Horn: Cross the Oxford Road to the French Horn. This was and old inn belonging to the Bulstrode Estate. It catered not for the coaching trade, but for the numerous carriers who stopped their carts overnight on their slow journeys to and from London. The building was completely rebuilt in 1946 to the designs of the local architect, Robert Muir.
(19) St James Church: Walk west along the Oxford Road towards St. James’s Church. The Church was built in 1859 on land taken out of Fulmer Common by the Duke of Somerset. He was persuaded to donate the land by two spinsters, Anna Maria and Louisa Reid, who wished to build a church as a memorial to their brother, Colonel George Alexander Reid. Colonel Reid (no relation of Captain Mayne Reid) was M.P. for Windsor and lived for part of each year at Bulstrode Park, which he leased from the Duke of Somerset. Colonel Reid died in 1852. The Misses Reid not only wanted to celebrate their brother’s life, but also thought that the addition of a church would improve the neighbourhood of Gerrards Cross and attract a better class of resident. St. James’s Church was designed by the architect William Tite, a friend of the Reids, who used the then unusual Byzantine style. The boundaries of the new ecclesiastical parish of Gerrards Cross followed straight lines, linking three big houses: Bulstrode, Orchehill and Alderbourne Manor. These arbitrary boundaries were adopted for the new Gerrards Cross Parish Council, created in 1895. They were adjusted to take account of certain property boundaries in 1934.(20) Continue along the Oxford Road towards your starting point at the Bull Inn. On your right is Gerrards Cross Common, once called Chalfont Heath. The Heath was originally a large summer pasture shared between five parishes, Chalfont St. Peter, Iver, Langley Marish, Fulmer and Upton cum Chalvey. The part of the Heath to the south west of the Oxford Road was called Fulmer Heath and was enclosed in 1865. The portion on the north east side of the Oxford Road was in Chalfont St. Peter parish and was never enclosed. It was the common which attracted genteel families to live at Gerrards Cross, and, well before the building of the railway, the place became known as “The Brighton of Bucks”.