The history of Bourne Hall, Ewell: II
Thomas Hercey Barritt, who bought the property from Philip Rowden’s executors in 1796, came from Jamaica. He was descended from a Cornish family whose lands were confiscated by Oliver Cromwell. In 1655 Lieutenant Hersey Barrett went to Jamaica with the invading force when the Spaniards were ejected and the island became a British Colony. Starting with a grant of land by King Charles II in 1662, the Barretts built up considerable estates in the island. There seem to have been family quarrels, as a result of which Samuel, the younger son of Hersey Barrett, moved to the north side of the island, where he became a prominent landowner. (Among his descendants was Elizabeth Moulton Barrett, who in 1846 eloped from her father’s house in Wimpole Street to marry the poet Robert Browning).
Hersey Barrett’s elder son, also called Hersey, apparently disgruntled by the favour shown to Samuel, changed the spelling of his name to Hearcey Barritt, and it is to this branch of the family that Thomas Hercey Barritt of Ewell belonged.
During the ownership of Barritt the mansion took on a new look. He added pavilions or conservatories at each end of the house, and pulled down neighbouring houses to extend the gardens. He built a barn, brewhouse and dairy near the horse pond, on the site of a house he had bought from Henry Kitchen. The dairy, in the Gothick style, was designed by Henry Kitchen junior, the architect of Ewell Castle, and is the building later known as the Turrets, which was demolished in 1967. It was in Barritt’s time that the boundary wall was built, with elegant clairvoies of ironwork, and the monumental gateway ornamented with a coat of arms and heraldic beasts. The arms incorporate those of Barritt and of Garbrand (also of Jamaica), the families having intermarried, and the house now became known as Garbrand Hall. The talbot which crowns the gateway is part of the Barritt arms, and is said to portray a particular hound which saved a member of the family from drowning. The figure has undergone some restoration and on one occasion, when the tail was damaged, a cow’s horn was supplied by Mr. Cracknell the butcher (whose shop was nearby) to be used in its place.
Thomas Hercey Barritt died in 1871, and after the death of his wife in 1841 the house was sold to Henry Batson who in 1859 sold it to George Torr. A plan of the property at this date shows stables, coach house and yard situated to the south of the mansion (opposite Chessington House) and an ice house in the adjacent shrubbery, near the present entrance to the car park. The lodge near the Dog Gate does not appear on the plan and seems to be a later addition.
George Torr was an engineer by profession, resident in Greenwich, and carried on business as a manufacturer of animal charcoal in Deptford and Whitechapel. The opening of Ewell railway station in 1857 may well have influenced his choice of a country residence. A few years later he made a grant of some land to Ewell Vestry for the widening and improving of the road leading to the station. Before this he had laid proposals before the vestry for widening the road near his mansion by building a new bridge and partially enclosing the horse pond, but the Vestry considered that enclosing the horse pond was outside its powers, and declined to act in the matter. Mr. Torr was a great benefactor to the parish, contributing handsomely to the new school and to the upkeep of St. Mary’s Church. In 1867 he presented the church, in memory of his son George, with the Willis organ which, built originally for the sum of £800 and subsequently improved at the expense of his widow, gave good service until it was destroyed by the fire which damaged the north aisle in 1973.