The black and white house by East Lodge, now known as “Porcupine House”, was called “The Gate House” from 1900-1980 and belonged to the Hall Place Estate. In 1951 Hilary and Rosemary Magnus rented it. In this note Rosemary Magnus recalls the Leigh that they knew over the following 28 years.
On their first Sunday at St Mary’s they were ushered by the Verger, Charlie Ingram, into The Gate House pew, the third from the front on the right hand side, behind Lord Kindersley’s family from Ramhurst. Mr Magnus later became the Vicar’s Warden under both the Rev. John Eyre-Walker and the Rev. John Bounds.
He was a barrister and later a judge and was also on the Tonbridge bench as a magistrate. Each morning he would drive to the station where there were only six or seven cars parked. He and his first class companions got to know and greatly appreciate the station staff there.
The Remembrance Day Parade was always important, with the British Legion forming up outside The Gate House ready to march to the Legion Hall. Former officers took it in turns to be the C.O. for the day. “They had to march a quick step when Hilary’s turn came as he had ended up a Lieutenant Colonel in the Rifle Brigade!”
Another annual event was the visit of the bellringers, headed by Geoffrey Evans, who were given mince pies and hot punch when they had finished the midnight ringing–in of the New Year. However, this stopped the year the Magnus’s daughter, Caroline, caught measles and “the ringers declined to come into the house for fear of infection!”
Each summer there were traction engine rallies and caravan rallies in Hall Place, both using the East Lodge gate. Mrs Magnus recalls how surprising it was each time when “an instant village appeared on our doorstep”.
Also in the Hall Place Park were the sixty deer. “The trouble was they kept escaping. Once, one of them jumped right over my Mini”.
“We got to know the Hollenden family well. Hilary had a gun in the Hall Place shoots and our children grew up together, along with the Biddles, the Kindersleys, the Gamons at Applegarth, the Davis’s at The Shoe House and the Finlayson’s from Court Lodge. In the winter, Lord Hollenden used to allow us all to go skating on the Hall Place Lake – which froze most years – but only once Dick Wood had formally declared that the ice was thick enough. It always seemed thickest by the boathouse.”
“Lord Hollenden allowed us to buy the house in 1959 – one of the first estate houses to be sold. We lived there until 1979 and then sold it to the Barrows, who changed the name back to what it had been in the 18th and 19th centuries – Porcupine House.
Parish Magazine Article: Feb 2005: by Chris Rowley