Pink Pages     MyLocalHero 2022     Advertise with us     


HISTORY HOUSE: A look back at the owners of Chorleywood House

 Published on: 22nd February 2024   |   By: Bryn Holmes   |   Category: Uncategorized

Chorleywood House Estate has been a jewel in the village’s crown since the early 19th century.

Despite the building having been converted into private apartments, the grounds remain open for public use and include a community orchard and football pitch.

The existing house was constructed in 1822, with the site previously playing host to two farms, Chorleywood Farm and Meeting House Farm. The house was built for John Barnes, who went on to marry the daughter of a partner in a London banking firm.

Having become extremely wealthy whilst working at the family firm, John lived in the house with his wife Sarah and their 11 children, one of whom, Orson, would go on to become an officer in the Indian Army.

In 1870, John passed away at the age of 75, and his sons put the house up for sale.

The next owner was Howard Gilliat, cousin of the Lord of the Manor of Rickmansworth. He lived there for three years before renting it out.

The next resident was a London solicitor named George Robinson, who lived there until 1887 when the house was sold again.

The third owner of the house was Harding Cox, who at the tender age of 15 had inherited a large fortune after the death of his father. An accomplished amateur sportsman, he was married to the well-known actress Hebe Barlow, and they lived there with their three children until 1892.

The next owner of Chorleywood House was perhaps its most notable: Lady Ela Russell, daughter of Duke of Bedford Francis Russell. She bought the house after the death of her father in 1891 and began an extensive refurbishment of the building.

It was under her ownership that the house was enlarged to its current size, and she had cottages built on the estate behind the main building for her chauffeur and gardener. She also made the site self-sufficient, cultivating farmland and a market garden, and introduced electricity with a generator.

For many years, Lady Russell lived with her sister Lady Ermyntrude Malet. In his autobiography, her nephew, 13th Duke of Bedford Ian Russell, remembered the pair.

He wrote: “They were just as eccentric as my family is supposed to be. The one at Bexhill was called Lady Ermyntrude Malet and she had peppered the estate with ruins, towers and follies. I have very warm memories of her as she used to give me 10 shillings a day pocket money. Her sister Lady Ela Russell was an old maid who lived alone with her horde of servants. The Chorleywood House had been built to her own design.”

Lady Ermyntrude passed away in 1927. Lady Russell continued to manage the estate alone until her death in 1936. She left the house and grounds to her first cousin, Lady Romona Russell.

Lady Romona was the fifth and final owner of Chorleywood House as a mansion. She lived in the building for six months, before selling it to Chorleywood Urban District Council (CUDC) in 1940.

CUDC used the mansion as a home for London evacuees during the Second World War, with army troops and German prisoners of war kept in huts on the grounds. Once the war was over, the building became CUDC’s offices, with council flats in the upper storeys and a public library on the ground floor.

When CUDC was devolved to become Three Rivers District Council in 1974, the mansion was sold once more and redeveloped into apartments.

Sign up to get weekly local news updates & offers:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Leave a comment



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.