This is the first of three parts of the story of the Friern Manor Farm Estate, in East Dulwich, from the late 18th Century leading up to its development for house building in the last quarter of the 19th Century. The Estate covered some 221 acres, 89.5 hectares. It was bounded approximately by what is now Barry Road to the north, Lordship Lane to the west and a more indented eastern boundary reflecting historic field patterns flanking Peckham Rye and stretched south as far as the present Horniman Museum buildings. St Clement and St Peter Church was built on the site of the Friern Manor farmhouse, the main farm of the Estate.

For most of this period the owners lived elsewhere and used the Estate as a source of rental income and subsequently as an asset against which to secure loans. There is no evidence that the owners themselves had involvement in slavery but they did have close family ties with owners of slaves in the West Indies and a business associate who acted for slave owning families.

Ownership: The Jones Family and the Cartwrights

The history of the ownership of the Estate from the late 1700’s to the purchase of the major part by the British Land Company in 1865 is detailed in an extensive extract of the Sale Agreement, which is held by the Southwark History Library on Borough High Street

The history starts with the purchase in March 1773, by Henry Jones of some 118 acres of land which included Friern Court Farm with its two barns, stables, a granary, outhouses, orchards, together with 10 fields of varying acreages. One of fields was called Ladlands, a name maintained as a block of flats at Dawson Heights. Recently, an orchard has been re-established on the site of the farmhouse, where volunteers have planted a community orchard behind the hall of St Clement and St Peter Church.

In October 1796, Henry Jones acquired from Joseph Ruse and Richard Turner a further 84 acres to the south, including Nodlings Farmhouse on Lordship Lane with 19 fields. He separately purchased a further 3 fields covering 18 acres. The total area from all three purchases forms the Friern Manor Farm Estate, which was under common ownership, but which was occupied by various tenants.

In the period from the 1770’s to 1805, Henry Jones and his son, also named Henry, appear in local records. Henry Jones senior used his ownership as an investment and a source of income from rentals. His son, Henry Jones junior did spend some time at the farmhouse, then called Friern Manor Court, but on his death his heir, his daughter, Mary Anne Jones, lived elsewhere both before and after her marriage to William Cartwright.

In 1780, Henry senior is on the list of Peckham Freeholders qualified for Jury Service, although living at 52 Frith Street, Soho. The Sales document shows that he was building up a portfolio of land holdings, including in the Peckham/East Dulwich area for some time. He was selling annuities and seems to have used the money to purchase land to secure rental income to pay the interest on the annuities.

Henry Jones senior then aged 33 had married Harriet Thomas, the daughter of a City of London Alderman at Bridewell Chapel in February 1777. Henry and Harriet’s eldest son, Henry Thomas Jones was born in December of that year. They had three more children, Harriet Mary born in 1779, Inigo in 1781 and Ann Maria in 1781. In 1793, both Henry junior and Inigo Jones were listed as pupils at Eton who subsequently attended Christchurch College.

On his death at Turnham Green, on 13th September 1801, Henry Jones senior owned land at Plumstead, Turnham Green and in Oxfordshire, as well as the Friern Manor Farm Estate. At the time of his death, he was finalising a deal with the Duke of Bedford for land in St Pancras and Rotherhithe. His sons completed this deal.

Although Henry Jones senior died without having his final will formally registered, his sons agreed not to dispute his final wishes. The major landholdings were divided between them with Henry junior inheriting Friern Manor Farm and land in Rotherhithe while Inigo inherited the Oxfordshire holdings.

In 1801, Henry Jones junior married Mary Ann Thomas and in 1802 their daughter was born, also called Mary Anne. Henry was listed as a Camberwell freeholder, who was qualified for jury service, appearing on the 1803 list with an address of Friern Court Farm. However, land tax records of the same date list the actual occupiers of the Friern Manor Farm Estate as being Edward Edson and John Butcher. In 1805, Henry junior died. His death was reported in The Sun on 10th September 1805, “On Sunday last, at Friern Court Farm, Peckham Rye, Henry Thomas Jones Esq. of Gower Street, Bedford Square.” At this time, the farm was called Friern Court farm. In his will, he left the contents and tools of the farm plus the proceeds of any crops to his wife, but not the farm itself. Inigo became a clergyman and died in 1809. In 1810, Mary Ann, the widow of Henry Jones junior, remarried to a Nicholas Willard. But she died in 1812 leaving her and Henry Jones junior’s daughter, Mary Anne Jones an orphan. She was made a Ward of Chancery under the protection of her Aunt Harriet Tierney. Her inheritance including the Friern Manor Farm Estate was held in Trust for her. Her aunts had both married well, Harriet to Matthew Tierney in 1808 and Anna to his younger brother, Edward Tierney in 1811. Mathew Tierney was a surgeon and became the personal physician to the Prince Regent. In 1818, he was granted the title of Baron. Edward Tierney, a prominent solicitor, became the Crown Solicitor for Ulster. So, Mary Anne Jones grew up in a household with good social connections in Regency England. Her aunt’s husband’s duties meant that they spent a lot of time in Brighton attending social events.

Through their husbands, the two aunts owned slaves on the Douglas Estate on St Kitts. There is no evidence that either Henry Jones senior or junior owned slaves or of Mary inheriting any ownership of slaves. However, while living with her aunt, the household would have been in part financed by slave ownership.

Mary Anne Jones’ future husband, William Cartwright was a member of a well-connected Northamptonshire family. He was born on 24th February 1797 and baptised at Bath on 1st April 1797. He was the second son of William Ralph and Mary Maud Cartwright of Aynho, where his family had owned Aynho House since 1616. His mother was the daughter of Viscount Hawarden. He was educated at Eton, like Mary Anne’s father Henry Jones junior.

As the second son he followed the tradition of a career in the army. He trained at Royal Military College at Sandhurst before, in July 1812, joining the 61st South Gloucestershire Regiment of Foot as an ensign. The regiment was involved in the final actions of the Peninsula War. In January 1814, William obtained a commission as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Dragoons and fought at the Battle of Toulouse on 10th April 1814. The battle took place four days after Napoleon’s surrender of the French Empire to the allied nations of the Sixth Coalition. But the ensuing peace was short lived when on 26th February 1815, Napoleon escaped from exile on Elba and took back power in France and raised a new army.

William Cartwright now held a commission of lieutenant in the 10th Hussars, known as the Prince of Wales Hussars. They formed part of the Duke of Wellington’s army and played an important role at Waterloo where the 10th Hussars were stationed on the left flank. They were unleashed on the French in the final rout of Napoleon’s troops. In total their casualties at Waterloo were killed and missing 2 officers and 237 rank and file plus wounded 46 of all ranks and 127 horses killed, wounded, or missing. So, William was fortunate to have survived unwounded.

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, he continued to serve in the 10th Prince of Wales Hussars being promoted to Captain in 1821 and Major unattached in 1825.

It is likely that Captain William Cartwright met Mary Anne Jones at a ball in Brighton. However, they met, they were married on 6th August 1822, at the fashionable church of St George’s, Hanover Square.

Mary Anne Jones now aged 20 was still a minor. She had to obtain authority from the Court of Chancery and permission from her guardian, her aunt. Her inheritance, including the Friern Manor Farm Estate, was vested in a new Trust, with conditions to provide her with an income of £1000 per year and to protect against forfeiture should her husband become bankrupt. Also, it allowed for the Trust to be used for the benefit of her children.

The newlyweds settled in William Cartwright’s family home of Aynho. Their first son, Fairfax William was born in 1823 and their second son, Aubrey Agar in 1825. They soon moved from Aynho to the other side of the county to Flore House and William settled into civilian and family life and took on civic duties.

In the middle of the Friern Manor Farm Estate were four smaller fields totalling some 13 acres, which belonged to Sir Edward Bowyer Smyth, a major local hereditary landowner. In 1848, William Cartwright bought these fields from Sir Edward for £1100 completing the land ownership.

Management and Tenancy of the Estate

In April 1823, the Friern Manor Farm Estate, was leased to William Le Blanc, a solicitor, longstanding friend, and associate of the Jones family, since at least 1799. He was present at William Cartwright and MaryAnne Jones’s wedding. He was a partner in Shawe, Le Blanc, Shawe. The first Shawe was Richard Shawe of Casino House, Dulwich and the other Shawe, his brother Robert. Both brothers had died by 1823. The Shawe’s were involved with slavery and so was William Le Blanc. He acted as a trustee for slave owning families and handled the sale of slave plantations. William Le Blanc himself died in 1824 and the estate management was passed on to his son, William Elliott Le Blanc. In 1829, management was handed back to the Trustees.

In the 1796 Land Tax Returns, the main occupiers of the land are Edward Mace and John Baylie and by 1800, Edward Edson and John Butcher. Based on the assessed taxable values, Baylie and Butcher farmed the greater acreages.

In 1823, Thomas Sturley was listed as the tenant of Friern Farm and a Mr Lewis of Nodlings Farm.

Thomas Sturley died in 1834. It is likely that Mr Lewis, is Daniel Lewis, who is listed as the occupier of Nodlings Farm of some 84 acres on the 1838 Tithe Map produced for the Parish of St Giles, Camberwell. He also rented some 25 acres from Thomas Bailey and 7 acres from Richard Edmonds. The land he rented was mostly classed as grass with some arable. He was from a local Camberwell family.

He was born in 1778, the son of Daniel and Frances Mary Lewis, who was related to the Baylie family. Daniel Lewis senior was a blacksmith. On his death in 1791, he left a moderate estate including not only his blacksmith premises but also a butcher’s shop, which was rented out and a stock of ironmongery.

In the 1831 Southwark rate books, Daniel Lewis junior is listed as farming over 130 acres in East Dulwich. In February 1827, Daniel Lewis is reported, along with a Mr Brown, as one of the local farmers whose sheep were being attacked by a large feral dog. The dog was tracked to its lair in the Dulwich Woods but the first man on the scene had to climb a tree to escape injury.

In the 1841 census, he was living at Prospect Place with his cousin, Mary Baylie. Prospect Place which still stands on the west side of Peckham Rye. Daniel Lewis died in 1844, and John Joseph Brown was one of his executors along with Mary Baylie. Mary died a year later in 1845. In “An Old Resident Remembers,” an article in the South London Press of 16th June 1877, Daniel Lewis was described as one of the most successful farmers, who was known as an eccentric though kind-hearted man.

On the 1838, a tithe map, William Blackmore Noble and John Mee are listed as the joint tenants of the Friern Manor farm and are leasing some 118 acres described as 90 acres of grass and 28 acres of arable. Their story will be covered in Part 2.

George Hazeldine was the tenant of the remaining 18 acres of the Estate, south of Wood Lane, now Woodvale. Born in Tunbridge Wells in 1800, he was a partner in the firm of Hazeldine and Matts coach and van works at 5 Lant Street, Southwark.

In 1838, there were additionally a few cottages occupying smaller leases, in the northeast corner of the Estate.

In the 1841, the local historian, Douglas Allport, described the view from the northern slope of Ladlands Hill, “To the westward, the country, though generally open, was still darkened by fine timber trees. Full before me, rose the heights of Champion and Grove Hills, now studded with delightful villas. To the right, the thousand spires of the metropolis were dimly seen, whilst farther to the eastward, the country lay exposed, as to render visible the entire reach of the Greenwich Railway, until interrupted by the rising ground of Nunhead and Plow Garlic Hills. Almost the whole middle was occupied by one perfect and unbroken level, nearly in the centre of which stood Friern Manor House, with its white walls and over-hanging foliage, a conspicuous and picturesque object.”

Go to top