Hitchin before Caldicott

The Hitchin Building Before Caldicott

The land on which the building now stands was originally part of William Wilshere's land. His will dated 26/3/1824 and proved in 11/11/1824 left the land in trust for his adopted nephew and his sons who were his executors. William Wilshere died on 2/9/1824. The following names appear as beneficiaries/owners:

Rev Joseph Parsons - died 1/2/1829
Thomas Lord Dacre - died 2/3/1851
William Hale - died 21/2/52
Sir Francis Willes - died 30/10/1857

On an unknown date Thomas Trevor who became Lord Dacre sold his part of land to James Hack Tuke whose life was written by Sir Edward -afterwards Lord, Fry" - James Hack Tuke, a Memoire, MacMillan 1899".

A rough sketch of land at that time

James Hack Tuke was a Quaker and a partner in a banking firm, Sharples, Tuke, Lucas and Seebohm. He bought and lived in the Old Woolstaplers Hall in Bancroft - bought because swifts nested there every year. Pioneered the first college for women - Benslow College, Hitchin - which later moved to Cambridge and became known as Girton College. Mr Tuke died in 1895. (See Hitchin Worthies by P Hine).

James Hack Tuke sold part of the land to Charles Archibald Bartlett, part to Richard Johnson and part to the Rev G Gainsford who built Woodside House, now Woodside car park although when he died he left his estate to Hitchin as a bird sanctuary); there is an underground tunnel from the top of Hermitage Road to the Priory and in 1880 Mr Seebohm arranged for another tunnel under Walsworth Road from his garden in Hermitage Road to the plantation opposite, which was called The Dell.

On the land sold to Charles Archibald Bartlett Caldicott School was built as a private house in 1866 called Hillside.

Charles Archibald Bartlett was a Wholesaler and Exporter of Books and his business offices were at Stationers Hall Court, Paternoster Row, London. Although the deeds of "Hillside" are reputed to say that he decreed "no woman who shall be his widow should be entitled to dower out of said land" his last Will and Testament does not seem to bear this out.

Charles Archibald Bartlett erected the Plait Hall at the corner of St Andrews Road in 1874 - he sold it in 1899 for £350 and it became St Andrew's Mission Church which was pulled down in 1928 at the time of the slum clearance.

1875 - Hillside was mortgaged by Bartlett to DL Scrutton, a stockbroker, for £500. Charles Archibald Bartlett died on 25 April 1879 at Hillside - personal estate was under £3000. No leaseholds. His executors were 'His Beloved Wife' Lucy Bartlett, his cousin Alexander James Scrutton of 81 Old Broad St, London, Stockbroker; and William Arnold Hepburn of Bird in Hand Court, Cheapside, London, Gentleman. (Solicitors James Hepburn and Ernest Hepburn, Bird in Hand Court).

Scrutton and Hepburn received each the sum of £25 free of legacy duty and Lucy received £100 to be paid to her within one calendar month of his death. He devised all his real estate (except where otherwise stipulated) to the use of Lucy Bartlett, Alexander James Scrutton and William Arnold Hepburn, to sell (or let, the let not to exceed 7 years) either together or in parcels either by public auction or by private contract. All personal estate except 'chattels real' to the executors to call in, sell and convert into money and out of that pay funeral expenses, testamentary expenses and debts, and the legacies other than specifically mentioned - the residue to be invested in the names of the 3 executors in any of public stocks or funds or Government securities of the United Kingdom or shares and stocks or securities of any railway company in England but in no other investment and to pay the income thereof half yearly to his wife or to empower her to receive the same for her life. Provision was made for the distribution of money after the death of his wife to various members of his family.

His wife was left all household furniture and other effects to enjoy for her life. His business at 12 Stationers Hall Court, Paternoster Bow, London run under the name of CA Bartlett and Co could be acquired by his clerks John Prior and John Waterson - they would have the option within 12 calendar months, if employed by him at the time of his death, to purchase on their Bond or Bonds for payment of capital in the said business and interest and £5 per cent per annum to be paid as an annuity to his wife. Power to appoint any new trustees was given to his wife during her lifetime.

Charles Archibald Bartlett died at the age of 62 and he is buried in Hitchin cemetery. His wife lived to the age of 91 and is buried with him. Hillside appears on the large horizontal tombstone.

Hillside and all its land was sold by Scrutton to Richard Johnson on 22 March 1880.

Richard Johnson, born Spalding, Lincs 1828 died 1924. He was an ardent General Baptist and was appointed as Chief Engineer to the Great Northern Railway in 1861. He was living in Hitchin for some time before he bought Hillside. There was no General Baptist Church in Hitchin, so he and his wife joined the Church in Tilehouse Street which was a Particular Baptist cause. Being concerned for the spiritual welfare of railwaymen and others in what is now the Walsworth Road area he founded a Mission Hall on Walsworth Road in 1867 on his own land and at his own expense erected an iron building known as the Iron Chapel which was later replaced with a permanent building in 1876. (The Iron Chapel was moved to Stotfold, and I believe is now used as the Liberal Club).

Richard Johnson married Annie ? - born 1833 in March, Cambridgeshire, she died in 1899: they had 6 children:

Tom. R Civil Engineer, born Boston, Lincs, 1858
Annie E, born Peterborough, Northants, 1859
James H, Architect, Born Hitchin 1863
Henry E, born Hitchin 1869
Arthur F, born Hitchin 1871
Alfred O, born Middx, London 1875.

The Johnson family moved to Crouch End, London - but Richard and Annie are buried in the Hitchin cemetery.

Hillside was sold to Joseph Bettinson on 11 July 1882. The house was renamed Brockton House after Joseph Bettinson's Grandmother Ann Brockton.

Joseph Bettinson born 1817 - died in 1902 without issue. Married Fanny Francis (1873)
In early life he was a miller, living at Flintham, near Newark, where Grandfather
Joseph had built a house and bakery; later moving to Thurlby, near Bourne, Lincs.

(Grandfather Joseph Bettinson born 1745 died 1815 -- married Sarah Cartwright who died in 1778 - he later married Ann Brockton (born 1757 died 1833) and they had 6 children one of which was Joseph who bought Hillside; his sister Eleanor who was born in 1814 married John Young who died in 1860 and she later married a Mr Wilkinson).

The Bettinson family retained property near Hertford which was called Broad Oak End. Joseph Bettinson's estate in 1902 included 258 acres of farmland in Bourne Fen, his residence with 2 acres of land at Hitchin and other farmland, cottages and houses in Hitchin and Hertford. (Photos of family in file). Joseph Bettinson's will was signed on 18 December 1897, and witnessed by J Herbert Gatward, 34 Bedford Road, Hitchin, and Thomas Cosslett, 16 Bancroft, Hitchin - Trustee and Exector with wife and George Alfred Bettinson and two of George's other brothers, each receiving a legacy of £100. Contents of will: Total estate about £63,000 - '4 executors receiving legacy of £100. Estate included 258 acres farmland in Bourne Fen, his residence and 2 acres of land in Hitchin, other farmland, cottages, houses in Hitchin and Hertford and remainder being in various securities and loans to his relatives. His wife Fanny Francis was left £7,000, a life interest in Brockton House, interest from sum of £12,000. With her approval, trustees could sell Brockton House and receive the income from investment of proceeds of sale for her life.

Brockton House was put up for auction by Messrs George Jackson on 31 March 1903. It did not reach the reserve price and was bought back in by the auctioneers for £3,400.