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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
Peperharow House & Park, near Godalming, early 1900s

Surrey ... is the home of majestic trees. ... Who has not heard of the chestnuts of Bargate, "their enormous trunks twisted and contorted like so many struggling giants", of the cedars of Peperharow ...magnificent (1871).[1]

Peperharow had a long association with the Brodrick family, lasting until the death of the 9th Viscount Midleton in 1942. It was requisitioned by the Canadians during the Second World War but the house was subsequently sold. In more recent times it became a highly regarded specialist centre for children but was severely damaged by fire and the school never re-opened. It has now been converted into private residences.

The house was built by Sir William Chambers, the architect to George III who also designed Somerset House, and the grounds were landscaped by "Capability" Brown. Both images here show the house before the addition of a third floor in 1913. The entrance porch, an out of proportion early Victorian addition to the classic Georgian building, was also altered by extending it upwards to first floor level. The pediment at roof level, an attractive architectural feature, was removed.

Note the Midleton Coat of Arms in the centre of the balustrade above the second floor windows

The 5th Viscount had no heirs and the 6th only had daughters, so the descent of the Midletons was not a direct line, and not all of them had happy lives. George Brodrick, 5th Viscount Midleton, was found dead in a small empty room in the house on 1 November 1848 with his head resting on a pillow. There was a small brazier next to the body, ostensibly used to dry out the damp peeling paper in the room, and his death was said to have been caused by the fumes of charcoal. An inquest found that he had committed suicide. Apparently "the whole neighbourhoods of Peperharow and Godalming [were] in consternation. The unfortunate deceased ... had for some time been rather eccentric in his manner, arising it was understood, from family matters. He had latterly resided almost alone in the superbly decorated mansion"[2]. In 1851 several of his valuable collection of Italian, Dutch and Flemish pictures and engravings were sold by Christie and Manson of St. James' Square, London. They included "Mars and Venus, a grand composition by Garofalo, Rembrandt, by himself" and works by Rubens (The Queen of Cyprus), Ostade, Terburg, Wouvermans [sic] (The March of an Army), W. V. de Velde, Murillo (Head of the Virgin) and Poussin, amongst others[3]. This would have been a major art sale.

Later Viscounts were prominent in public life. William Brodrick, 8th Viscount Midleton, who was born at Castle Rising in Norfolk in 1830, was as a Peer of the Realm, Lord Lieutenant of Surrey and Barrister at Law M.A.[4] According to Who Was Who he owned about 9,600 acres[5] He died on 18 Apr 1907 and his funeral on 23rd April at Peperharow churchyard was attended by a large number of Surrey magistrates, political organisations, his tenantry and employees. His coffin carried by "aged retainers wearing white smocks" and the Deputy Lieutenants and military representatives at the service were in uniform[6].

The final member of the family to live at Peperharow was William St John Fremantle Brodrick, the 9th Viscount Midleton. He served as Secretary of State for War (1900-03) and for India (1903-05)[7]. He owned 5,000 acres[7], so somewhat less land than his father. He passed away at Peperharow on 13 February 1942, aged 86,[8] and at the annual parish meeting a month later the clerk, W. Debenham, paid tribute to him; he had given his services to both the parish and the country for more than 60 years. He had been chairman of the parish council for 35 years and it was recorded how much he would be missed ... "by all classes who in the past have benefited by his generous help"[9].

During his tenure a black flint of the Pleistocene period was found by a workman in the park, 100 yards south of the deer bridge[10].

1. "Peper Harow Park". Published by F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate, No.27605A [no date found]. Not posted. Note on reverse: Home for Canadian Airforce during war.
2. "Peper Harrow". Published by F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate. No.53590. First published in 1905. Not used.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Page researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "The Graphic", 9 September 1871.

[2] "Cambridge Independent Press", 11 November 1848 [widely reported]. Suicide of Lord Middleton.--Godalming, Saturday. The "Staffordshire Advertiser", 11 November 1848 carried the story of the charcoal brazier. "Hampshire Advertiser", 11 November 1848 - report of inquest.

[3] "Morning Post", 16 and 21 July 1851. Pictures and engravings of the late Lord Midleton. Not all the items for sale could be read.

[4] 1901 census, Peperharow Park.

[5] Who was Who states that he contested East Surrey for the Conservatives in 1865; was MP for Mid Surrey, 1868-70; served on Noxious Vapours Commission, 1875; Commission on Sale and Exchange of Livings, 1877; late President National Protestant Church Union; President of Surrey Archaeological Society; Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, 1896-1905.

[6] "Dundee Courier", 24 April 1907, Funeral of Viscount Midleton.

[7] Also extracted from Who was Who. He became and 1st Earl of Midleton in 1920.

[8] "Yorkshire Evening Post", 14 February 1942. Earl Midleton dead.

[9] "Surrey Advertiser", 21 March 1942.

[10] "The Times", 20 Oct, 1928. A Flint Of Pleistocene Period.

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