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Rickford Families - The Burches

We are indebted to Geoff Burch for all this wonderfully detailed information about his family and their connections to Rickford, together with some superb family heirloom photographs.

The Burch family has strong ties to Worplesdon and to Rickford, and boasts a long history of family members who worked as gardeners or market gardeners.  Although the spelling does vary a bit in the earlier years (principally “Birch”, instead of “Burch”), the family can be traced back to the early 1700’s, at which time they were living in Pirbright.  At some stage they moved to Normandy, and we will pick up the story with John Burch, who was the third successive John Burch in the family line.


  • 1805:  Born probably at Wyke.

  • 1834:  Married Sarah Ellis.

  • 1835-42:  Gardener, living at Westwood (presumably either on the Westwood Lodge estate or at Westwood Farm), with Sarah and their family.

  • 1848-52:  Gardener at Westwood Lodge, living on Glazier’s Lane, Flexford with Sarah and their 7 children.

  • 1861:  Gardener, living on Glazier’s Lane, Flexford with Sarah and 2 of their youngest children, 1 of whom was Samuel.  Despite being aged only 13, the census recorded that he did “Work in garden”.  He became known (many years later) as “Great Uncle Samuel”.

  • 1862:  John died and is buried at the (then) recently-built St Mark’s,Wyke.

  • 1871:  Sarah and “Great Uncle” Samuel living at Glaziers Lane.  Samuel was a Gardener and Domestic servant.

  • 1874:  Sarah died and is buried at St Mark’s,Wyke.

2 of their children, William and Great Uncle Samuel, have an impact on Rickford’s history, and so we will look at both of them and certain members of their families.  First, William.

  • 1839-51:  Born at Westwood, then lived with his parents.

  • 1861:  A brewer’s servant, lodging at Guildford St in Lambeth.

  • 1865:  Married Charlotte Cooper (from Suffolk).

  • 1871:  A labourer, living at Lambeth with Charlotte and their 2 young children.

  • 1881:  A publican at No 207, Brick Lane, Spitalfields (The Frying Pan pub) with Charlotte and 2 of their elder children.  2 other (younger) children were living with their Uncle Samuel 10 miles away at Chigwell.  Perhaps a Brick Lane pub was deemed an unsuitable place for young children?  Perhaps Charlotte was unwell (she died the following year)?  Also living at the pub was one Sarah Matilda Brook, a 35 year-old unmarried barmaid from Suffolk...

  • 1882:  Charlotte died, aged only 39, of Phthisis ( a form of TB).

  • 1885:  Married Matilda Brook (that same unmarried barmaid in the 1881 census) at Canonbury, Islington.  He was now living about 3 miles north of the Brick Lane pub he had been managing.

  • 1888:  Jack the Ripper was committing his atrocities in the area where William had recently been working, some of them very close to the pub he had been managing in 1881.  We’ve included a separate section (click on the button below) discussing whether there are any direct or indirect links between William and Jack.

1921:  William died at Perry Hill House, aged 81.

A photo of William, Charlotte and some of their children is reproduced below.  2 photos of William’s tankard from his Brick Lane days are also shown.  The words “Brick Lane” can be clearly seen on the hallmark.  The other words are indistinct, but could refer to the Black Eagle Brewery in Brick Lane.  This was the Trumans brewery – very large in its day – which was in Brick Lane, and owned the pubs in which William worked.  

William & Charlotte Burch and family.jpg
William Burch tankard with initials WNB.
William Burch tankard Brick Lane

What caused William to return to Worplesdon in the early 1900’s after a 50-year absence?  And what did Matilda make of it?  I suspect their decision may have been influenced by his brother Samuel, who was a staunch member of the local community, centred around the Chapel.  But perhaps Matilda was unwell, and needed to escape from the hurly-burly of East London to something quieter (she died soon afterwards).

William and Charlotte had 6 children, of whom we will look at one, Alfred John, later.  William and Matilda had no children.  Now, we’ll look at William’s brother, Samuel (“Great Uncle Samuel”).


  • 1848:  Born at Westwood.

  • 1848-71:  Living at Flexford with his parents, and then his widowed mother.

  • 1876:  Married Ann Terry (daughter of George and Naomi Terry, scion of the Worplesdon Terry family which is detailed here).  The marriage took place in the Guildford area, but I can’t find any trace of it in local parish records (it is not in the Worplesdon parish register, for example).  Aged 39, Ann was 11 years older than Samuel.

  • 1881:  Gardener, living at Chigwell with his wife Ann, and the 2 youngest children of his brother William.  Perhaps he had been encouraged by his brother William to seek his fortune in London, and was returning the favour by caring for 2 of William’s children while William lived at a pub in Brick Lane.

  • 1888:  Samuel and Ann had returned to Worplesdon and were living at Perry Hill House on The Green, which had been owned by Ann’s grandfather, James, and her father, George.  Presumably it passed to Ann directly from her father George on his death in 1888, and it could well have been this that prompted their return to Worplesdon after 10 years’ absence.

  • 1890:  Samuel and Ann gave permission for a hall to be erected in the grounds of Perry Hill House for use by the Congregational Chapel, later named Hope Hall.  It served this purpose until 1918.

  • 1891:  As in 1881, they were caring for (the same) 2 children of William, and 3 of Ann’s relatives.  Samuel was a market gardener.

  • 1901:  Market gardener, living at Perry Hill House with Ann and 2 of her relatives.

  • 1911:  Samuel (now retired) and Ann were living at Perry Hill House, but now with none of Ann’s relatives.

  • 1914:  Ann died.

  • 1916:  Samuel married Louisa Margaret (Maggie) Heather (nee Birkett), who was 17 years his junior.  Maggie had previously been married to James Heather (1849-16), and they had been living in Nightingale Cottage since their marriage in 1890.  Samuel moved into Nightingale Cottage with Maggie in 1916 after James’s death, and spent the rest of his days there. 

  • 1927:  Samuel died at Nightingale Cottage.

  • 1927-49:  After Samuel’s death, Maggie remained at Nightingale Cottage, and continued her and Samuel’s links to the Chapel by being the Sunday School secretary.  She was also on the committee of the Worplesdon WI, and died at Nightingale Cottage in 1949, having lived there for 59 years.1927-49:  After Samuel’s death, Maggie remained at Nightingale Cottage, and continued her and Samuel’s links to the Chapel by being the Sunday School secretary.


Samuel was a strong supporter of the Congregational Chapel between the time of his return to Worplesdon (1888) and his death (1927).  As well as being Church Treasurer and Sunday School Superintendent, he presided over meetings during vacancies in the office of minister.  As mentioned above, he authorised Hope Hall to be built in the grounds of his house in 1890.  I wonder how many other people have had a church building constructed in their back garden.  Plaques were erected in the Chapel in honour of Samuel and Ann (reproduced below). Also shown is a photo of Samuel and Maggie relaxing, possibly in the back garden of Nightingale Cottage. 

Ann Burch plaque.jpg
Samuel Burch plaque.jpg
Samuel and Louisa Margaret Burch.jpg

Samuel gets a mention in Albert Enever’s recollections:  “He (Great Uncle Samuel) ran a Temperance group called ‘The Band of Hope’. He always read the Bible lesson from the Book of Proverbs, as follows:  “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, down with the drink.” But some naughty young fellows would call out “Down with every drop you can get hold of.””  Perhaps that explains why there are no Burches among the caricatures made by Sydney Sime in the New Inn.  
Samuel was a member (and at some time, the chairman) of the Worplesdon Parish Council.  He had no children, either with Ann or Maggie.

Finally we’ll look at one of William’s children – Alfred John.  


  • 1872:  Born in Lambeth.  His birth was registered by his parents in the Non-Conformist register (rather than the more usual parish register).

  • c1882:  Moved to Worplesdon with his parents.

  • 1898 Married Bessie Freeman at Bradfield, Berkshire.  Bessie was born in Bucklebury, Berkshire c1868.  “C Farris” was one of the witnesses.

  • 1901:  Market gardener, living At Hillcot (which his father, Samuel, had just built next door to Perry Hill House) with Bessie and their 1 year-old daughter, Dorothy.  3 photos of Hillcot are shown below - before, during, and after, a recent demolition and rebuild.

  • 1910:  Bessie died.

  • 1911:  Market gardener and dairyman, living at Hillcot with Dorothy.

  • 1912:  Married Mabel Cobbett (born at Wandsworth in 1885) at Ascot, which is where her parents were living.  In the 1911 census she had been living at Sudpre Farm, Worplesdon, working as a housemaid.

  • 1916-18:  Sons John (1916), Samuel and Charles (twins, 1918) were born.  Samuel was later referred to as “Uncle Samuel” to distinguish him from “Great Uncle Samuel”.  A much lesser matter in 1916 was that Alfred was fined 10 shillings for allowing 8 of his cows to stray onto the highway...

  • 1922:  Dorothy (“Dorry”) married Fred Tickner, and they moved into Hillcot.  Alfred and Mabel lived nearby at Perry HIll   

  • 1935:  Alfred and Mabel moved into Perry Hill House.

  • 1944:  Alfred died at Warren Road Hospital (later St Luke’s), Guildford.  

  • 1961:  Mabel died while living at Hillcot.

Hillcot_Aunt Dorrie copy.jpg

Alfred was a strong man, being the only person in the village who could lift an anvil over his head.  He was also a keen gardener, and a photo of him with the results of some of his labour is shown below right.  He was a deacon at the Chapel for 52 years, where he would have worked closely with his uncle Samuel (who we known as Great Uncle Samuel!).  He was also on the Parish Charity Committee, and a school manager.  Photos of him on both of his wedding days are reproduced below.  

Alfred John and Bessie Burch Wedding.jpg
Alfred John &Mabel Burch-Wedding day cop
Grandad (Alfre John) Burch with prize ca

Dorry and Fred Tickner produced 7 children whilst living at Hillcot, one of whom, Stella Harris, wrote down her memories of the Chapel, which we have referred to on the Chapel page.  Another child, Eric, appears on a photo of the St Mary’s choir, shown on the Chapel page.  After her death in 1986, Dorry was honoured by a plaque in the Chapel, as was Stella after her death in 2016 (both shown here).  


The 3 boys, John (“Jack”), Samuel and Charles lived to ripe old ages.   Photos of the 3 boys in their youth (c1924) and at Charles's Golden Wedding anniversary at the old ‘Hope Hall’ at the rear of the Chapel in 1988 are shown below.   Charles was deacon of the Congregational Chapel, and secretary there for 25 years.  A plaque honouring his years of service hung on the wall of the Chapel, and is shown below.  John, Samuel and Charles and their respective wives (Kathleen, Rose and Ethel respectively) produced 9 children, followed by numerous grandchildren between them.  Many of them are now spread around the country, but there are still Burch families in Worplesdon and Pirbright after nearly 300 years (and quite possibly longer).

CWB Memorial Plaque.jpg

Perry Hill House has cropped up in our narrative a few times, having been owned by the Terry and Burch families for some 130 years.  It isn’t in Rickford per se, but it’s such an impressive house that we’ve described it (briefy) below.  

Perry Hill House

One of the most imposing buildings in Worplesdon, Perry Hill House is a Grade II Listed Building.  The listing particulars are as follows:

House. C17 to rear, refronted in 1728. Timber framed with red brick infill, exposed to right hand return front. Tile hung on first floor of left hand return front with red brick cladding across front. Plain tiled roofs. L shaped plan with wing to rear left. 2 storeys and attics in outer gables on plinth with plat band over ground and first floors, brick on edge coping. End stack to left, large pudding stone stack with brick quoins to rear right. Leaded casement fenestration with 3 windows across the first floor, 3 below, all under gauged brick heads. Central 6 panel door under transome light with flat roof porch on braces over.
Interior: square panelled framing on walls, some ceiling frames surviving. Deep brick fireplace to rear right with chamfered edge. Much of the interior framing altered.

We pick up the story c1792, when it appears on John Creuze’s map, and formed part of his estate, along with Blanket Mill and Brook Farms.  c1820, Mr Creuze sold his property to George Watts, who left it to his daughter, Anne.  It thus came into the ownership of Anne and her husband, James Terry, whose life is chronicled on the Terry Family page.

James Terry and, after his death in 1859, his son George Terry, lived in the house until George died in 1888.  It then passed to Ann Burch (nee Terry, George’s daughter), who had married Samuel Burch (Great Uncle Samuel) in 1888.  They had recently returned to Worplesdon from London, possibly lured by the attraction of living in Perry Hill House.

Samuel and Ann lived there until Ann’s death in 1914.  They had no children, and so, when in 1916 Samuel moved into Nightingale Cottage with his second wife, Maggie, his brother, William, moved into Perry Hill House.  

William died in 1921.  It is not clear who lived in Perry Hill House during the next 15 years.  Presumably Samuel has inherited it from his wife, and perhaps he let it out until his death in 1927.  After that, perhaps the Burch family decided to keep letting the house for a few years.

In 1936, Alfred and Mabel, who had been living at next-door Hillcot (Alfred had lived there for 35 years) moved into Perry Hill House.  This was done in order to allow their newly married daughter, Dorrie to live in Hillcot with her new husband, Fred.  

During World War II, 2 of Alfred’s sons, Samuel and Charles, were called up, whilst Jack remained at Perry Hill House to farm the land and produce much-needed food (as a Reserved Occupation).  Alfred died in 1944, and Charles was given compassionate leave to return to the UK to help Jack run the farm.  

After the war, Mabel continued to live at Perry Hill House with Charles and his young family for a couple of years, and then they all moved into Rose Cottage (off Coombe Lane), which they had just built.  Meanwhile Jack and his family moved into Perry Hill House.  The property at that time had the prestigious phone number of Worplesdon 7, and when Jack moved out to live in Rickford Hill (c1955, when it was sold – see below), he acquired the equally prestigious number of Worplesdon 123.  Mabel lived at Hillcot until her death in 1961, at which point Jack and his family moved into Hillcot.

During the first half of the 20th century, Perry Hill House had a reputation for being haunted.  The ghost even had a name:  Great Aunt Anne (Cobbett).  Cobbett is a common surname in the area, but I’m not sure who Anne Cobbett was, when she had visited or lived in Perry Hill House, and why she should have been making ghostly appearances there.  Any answers to these questions would be gratefully received....

In the mid 1950’s Perry Hill House was sold after 130 years of Terry-Burch occupation to Mrs Christina Beldam, third wife and widow of George William Beldam (who had died in 1937, aged 69).  This George Beldam was a most interesting character: 


  • He was a first class cricketer between 1900 and 1907, scoring 9 centuries and taking 5 wickets in an innings 4 times.  He played with WG Grace amongst others, and shared a century stand with him.

  • He collaborated with arguably England’s finest ever all-round sportsman, CB Fry, on 2 cricketing books.  (Fry represented England at football and cricket, equalled the world record for the long jump, and played rugby for Oxford University.  His party trick was to leap from a stationary position on the floor backwards onto a mantelpiece.)  A photo of George with CB Fry is shown below.

  • He was the first action photographer of sport in Britain, specialising in cricket and golf.

  • He took possibly the most famous cricket photograph of all time (Victor Trumper, shown below right).

3 pictures of George with WG Grace are also shown.

CB Fry & Beldam.jpg
Victor Trumper.jpg
WG and Beldam.jpg
WG & Beldam golfing.jpg
WG, Beldam, Ranji.jpg

Christina lived at Perry Hill House with her son, George (junior), and her grandchildren (on her daughter’s side) until her death in 1969, at which point George junior became the owner.  

George junior wrote a large tome, “Third Man In”, covering the work of his father, and the cricketers of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The book is a great read for those interested in cricketing history, and full of magnificent early cricketing photographs (the photos above are copied from the book, with gratitude).

George junior married a Swiss lady, Lia Tanner, a model who played a memorable role in the 1980 film “The Shining”.  Sadly, George died as he was finishing his book in 1996, aged 66.  He had been very worried about the manuscripts being lost when the book was being printed in China, and this may well have contributed to his death.  After George’s death, Lia left the area and settled in the West Country with her second husband, Frank.

2 photos of Perry Hill House, taken in different eras, are reproduced below.

Perry Hill House -Hillcot and Horse and
Geese&Perry Hill House.jpg
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