A Guest at Hall Place in 1859

The article was written by Lawrence Biddle for Leigh Parish Magazine October 1983

There has recently come into my possession a copy of a diary kept by John Wildash who was a regular guest of Thomas Farmer Baily at Hall Place.  As a diarist, Wildash was no Pepys and on many days his only entry is a mere record of where he was staying but as he stayed at Hall Place for 145 days in the year and at the Baily London House in Champion Park for a further 37 days, the diary does give some insight into how the Bailys lived.

Shooting took place occasionally but not regularly, on the first January they shot 21 pheasants and 8 hares, on 1 September there was partridge shooting but no indication of the bag and on 8 October 5 guns shot 29 pheasants, 6 partridge and one hare.

The train journey to London was from Penshurst station (or occasionally from Edenbridge) and was via Rdhill as the direct line through Sevenoaks had not then been built.  When the Baily’s Brougham went up to London the journey was four hours.

Wildash also stayed at Chipstead Place on five occasions during the year and it was clear that there was a close association between Hall Place and Chipstead Place as on 6 September there was a grand cricket match in the park at Hall Place between Hall Place and Chipstead Place and when Wildash, presumably with Thomas F Baily went abroad for a holiday, the break took the Hall Place servants up to Chipstead Place.  The close association is accounted for by the fact that Frederick Perkins who owned Chipstead Place was a cousin of Thomas Farmer Baily.

Who was John Wildash?  I think he must have been a relation as he not only stayed at Hall Place but also at Chipstead and he dined with William Baily, a more remote cousin and attended the wedding in December of Susan Baily who was probably a granddaughter of William.

By an odd coincidence I was checking some documents returned to the church by Mrs Hawkins and found a bill dated 1860 against the parish signed by John Wildash in respect of three bottles of Communion Wine supplied at 5/- each (today 25p), so he had some connection with the wine trade.

Lawrence Biddle (Oct 1983)