The Guildford – Bagshot Road

Houses now line the western side of the Guildford – Bagshot Road, east of Nortons Farm.  Most of these houses originate from 1900 onwards, but Perry Hill Chapel dates back to the early 19th century, and Old Rickford and Nightingale Cottage are considerably older. 

Identifying specific houses before 1920 from the records is difficult, as addresses were usually recorded just as “Rickford”, rather than house names or numbers, so some deductions have had to be made (any corrections are welcome).  The houses mentioned on these pages are as follows (from the mill end):

  • Selwood

  • Ellesmere House

  • Rickford Bungalow

  • Holly Bank

  • Manesty

  • Old Rickford

  • Fairview

  • Fernside Cottage

  • 2, Waltham Cottages

  • 1, Waltham Cottages

  • Perry Hill Chapel – this has its own menu page

  • Dunstans

  • Pine Hanger

  • Old Forge

  • St Breward

  • Nightingale Cottage

  • The Elms

  • Kelvin Cottage 2

  • Kelvin Cottage 1

  • Deepdene

  • The Limes

  • Woodlands

  • Takara

Until 1900, the pace of housing development in Rickford was very slow.  However there was a spurt of house building between 1900 and 1910, which continued (at a reduced level) until 1940.  Below is the story of how these houses were built:

Around 1900 one Henry Freeman Farris managed to obtain land immediately to the north of the Congregational Chapel and erected two semi-detached cottages, initially called Farris’s Cottages.  At the time Henry was a 28 year-old bachelor running a bookshop in North St, Guildford, which raises questions as to how he managed to acquire the land, and how he could afford to buy the land and build houses on it. 

The answer probably lies in the Bank of Mum & Dad:  His father, William Farris, scion of a Guildford family, had been the minister of the Congregational Church next door to this plot since 1890.  By 1911 William was living at Highclere, a 10-room house just across the road and so was presumably reasonably well off.  Perhaps he helped with finance and arranging the deal.  The land on which these 2 houses were built had been part of the Old Rickford plot, which at that time was occupied by Thomas Walker, and was owned either by him or by Catherine Terry, as explained elsewhere on these pages.

Whatever the background, the 2 houses (now called Waltham Cottages) were built and occupied in the early 1900’s.  2 more houses (now called Fernside and Fairview) quickly followed next door to Waltham Cottages. These 4 dwellings were built in a matching style, and were known as Farris’s Cottages until the First World War. 

The old photo below left, courtesy of David Rose, shows the Congregational Church and to the right, the 4 houses (at that time probably less than 15 years old).  The photo gives a wonderful impression of what life was like in those days.  Note how narrow the road is, and how open the easterly side (in the foreground) of the road is – today it is thickly wooded.  The buildings are (from right to left):  Fairview/Fernside, Waltham Cottages, Perry Hill Chapel, The Old Forge and The Elms.  It makes it easy to understand why The Elms was originally called Heath View (a name which would be very misleading today!)  Alongside is a recent estate agent’s photo from a similar angle, which shows that the buildings have changed remarkably little (on the outside) from 120 years previously.  

Guildford - Bagshot Road.jpg
Rickford early postcard.jpg
Fairview 2020.jpg

One of the recent arrivals in the area was Henry Rance and his family, who lived at Holly Bank.  Henry was a housebuilder, and it seems likely that he was responsible for much, perhaps all, of this housebuilding activity.  Henry Rance’s story is covered under each of the houses he lived in, notably Holly Bank and Selwood.  I have not been inside any of the 4 Farris’s Cottages, but, from the outside, they seem to have lasted pretty well – a tribute to Mr Rance’s skills.

As to the Farris’s, it seems that the Farris family was on good terms with the occupants of these houses.  Henry Farris was the Chapel secretary at one time, and Henry's wife, Ethel, was among the mourners at the funeral of Selina Reid, one of the occupiers of Waltham Cottages, in 1933.  She also played the organ at Enid Rance’s wedding in 1940.  Henry Farris died in 1940, and Ethel (who was known as Bunny) married Samuel Burch, whose family is described on the Burch Family page, a year later.  Before the war, Samuel had been the captain of the Worplesdon Badminton Club, and Ethel its financial secretary, and so they would have known each other well.

It is noticeable how a few families occupied this small group of houses for many years in the first 70 years of the 20th century, notably the Rances, Enevers, Wallises, Criddles, Woodmans and Chuters.  This suggests a close-knit community, perhaps with a common interest based around the Chapel.  But to my knowledge, no members of these families live in these houses today.