East & West Molesey

A Dictionary of Local History

Rowland G. M. Baker, 1972

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About the year 1780 the owners of the gunpowder mills (see under mills) became lords of the manors and ceased to use the mills for powder manufacture. The mills were demolished, and the mill house, which was probably built in the middle of the seventeenth century and was at that time the largest house in East Molesey, was turned into a country residence. All the pieces of land between the river Mole and Walton Road from Bell Road to where the Europa Inn now stands, were purchased and the whole was turned into a park. Horace Walpole visited the park in 1795 and wrote of it in his letters, "The situation seems handsome, the house extremely pretty, there is a lovely little gallery painted in treillage". From 1821 to 1835 it was owned by Joseph Todd, a haberdasher from London. In true fairytale fashion he started life as an apprentice in a shop and when he retired in 1821 to live the life of a country gentleman at East Molesey he not only owned the shop but, as a contemporary account puts it, also had "a princely fortune of nearly one million sterling". The descendants of Joseph Todd sold the estate about 1850 to the Dowager Lady Clinton, on whose death in 1876 the house was demolished and the park developed as a high class residential estate. Lady Clinton lived in East Molesey for twenty-five years and has left her mark in the names of the roads which were laid out on the estate. She was born Isabella Poyntz, married Lord Clinton, and after his death married Sir Horace Beauchamp Seymour. Her sister was Lady Spencer. The site of the house itself is now occupied by East Molesey Court, a red brick house in the Jacobean style, built about 1880. In 1927 the Molesey Council proposed to acquire the property and adapt the house for offices and the grounds for public recreation. This would have cost 12,000. The idea was turned down after a local inquiry by the Ministry of Health into the council's application for loan sanction for the money. Two years later the house, together with the grounds on the other side of the river Mole to which it was connected by a bridge, were turned into a sports club for the Distillers Company. In 1968 it was taken over by the sports club of the Trollope and Colls group of companies.

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