Friday, 26 April 2019

(373) Barham of Snape House and Hole Park

Barham of Hole Park
The Barham family were copyhold tenants of lands at Wadhurst by 1441 if not earlier and they probably rose in social status during the 16th century, when they became ironmasters at Wadhurst and elsewhere in the Sussex Weald. The most notable of these early Barhams was Nicholas Barham (c.1525-77), a lawyer who became Queen's Serjeant-at-Law and conducted the prosecution of the Duke of Norfolk for treason in 1571. Nicholas Barham had two uncles, from whom descended separate branches of the Barham family. The descendants of John Barham (d. 1555) of Shoosmiths in Wadhurst ended with another John Barham, who was High Sheriff of Sussex in 1701, and we are concerned here with the descendants of William Barham (d. by 1548), who moved several times over the succeeding generations between villages in the Sussex and Kentish Weald, where they were yeomen farmers and ironmasters. After eight generations, the representative of this branch of the family was Robert Barham of Battle (Sussex), dairy farmer, who was born in 1767 and died in 1842. His youngest son, also Robert Barham (1807-88), with whom the genealogy below begins, moved to London, where he seems to have worked in the licensed trade until, sometime in the 1830s, he opened a retail dairy in the Strand. This Robert had two sons who survived to maturity. The elder, yet another Robert Barham (1830-85), went to sea, and worked as a ship's mate in the mercantile marine, although in his later years he seems to have taken over the management of the Strand dairy business from his father, where he was living over the shop at the time of the 1881 census. He predeceased his father, and rather curiously was almost penniless at the time of his death, although when his father died three years later he was comfortably off. The other son, later Sir George Barham (1836-1913), kt., was apprenticed to a cabinet maker but spent his evenings doing milk deliveries for his father's shop. He seems to have been of an entrepreneurial cast of mind, and at the tender age of 22 established his own dairy business, which developed into the firm Express Dairies Ltd. In the days before refrigeration, milk went off very quickly, and was normally transported only a few miles. George recognised the potential of the railway network to bring milk quickly over much longer distances if the transport to the railhead and the distribution in London could be organised efficiently. To help with the first, he invented a standardised milk churn, which farmers could easily deliver to their local station. He negotiated cheap rates for transport with the rail companies, using spare capacity on early morning trains (hence the 'milk train' mentioned so much in early 20th century novels). And in London he worked with the railway companies to build dedicated sidings and sheds where the milk could be quality controlled and packaged for delivery through a network of local deliverymen.
Sudbury Lodge, Wembley: the home of George T. Barham
The business flourished and made Sir George and his sons wealthy men, and in due course the firm was divided, with the elder son, George Titus Barham (1860-1937) taking on the retail side of the business, Express Dairies Ltd., and the younger son, Col. Arthur Saxby Barham (1869-1952), taking on the wholesale side as the Dairy Supply Co., which in 1915 he merged with other firms to form United Dairies. The family moved out of the city to the fashionable suburb of Hampstead, and in the 1880s Sir George acquired a mid 19th century villa called Sudbury Lodge at Wembley, which became the home of G.T. Barham. In his last years, as a wealthy businessman with no children to provide for, G.T. Barham gifted the house and its grounds to the new Wembley Borough Council, on the condition that they took care of it. Unfortunately, the Second World War intervened, the grounds were used as a training ground for the territorial army, and the untenanted house decayed. By the mid-1950s it was estimated that it would cost £18,000 to restore the house, and the council decided simply to demolish it: it was finally pulled down in 1957, and the grounds are now Barham Park.

In 1885, Sir George Barham (as he became in 1904) bought the Snape estate at Wadhurst which had once belonged to his family, and between 1893 and 1902 he built a comfortable if somewhat frenetically asymmetrical new house there, where he lived until his death in 1913. It then passed to his younger son, Col. A.S. Barham, but since he had already bought the considerably larger Hole Park at Rolvenden (Kent) for himself, he did not need Snape. He accordingly let it to short-term tenants who mostly occupied it for a year or two. The most romantic of the tenants was perhaps Natalie Sergeyevna, Countess Brasova, the widow of Grand Duke Michael of Russia, who lived here in 1919-20, not long after her husband was murdered by the Soviet government in 1917. After the First World War, Col. Barham applied himself to the creation of a fine garden at Hole Park, which he first opened to the public in 1927, and which it is said has been open every year since on one basis or another.

When Col. Barham died in 1952 he left both Hole Park and Snape to his grandson, David Barham (b. 1926). After ten years in which limited repairs and maintenance had been possible, both houses were in poor repair, and the decision was made to sell Snape and to use the proceeds to pay for the reduction of Hole Park to a more manageable size. In the end the wings and top storey added in about 1830 were removed, and the centre of the house was returned to something like its original Georgian appearance. In about 2003 the house and estate were handed over to David's son, Edward Barham (b. 1962), who continues to manage the estate and open the gardens to the public.

Snape House, Wadhurst, Sussex

Snape House: the south front in 2019.
Snape is first mentioned in about 1200, when it was given to Battle Abbey, which held it until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. After that it passed to the Barham family of ironmasters, and David Barham is said to have built a new house here in 1617. It passed out of Barham ownership in 1721 and was in other hands until in 1885 it was bought back by Sir George Barham. He kept the old farmhouse as service accommodation, and attached it to a new house,  built in two phases between 1893 and 1902 to the designs of Robert Whellock of London. The main front to the south is an irregular and rather chaotic composition that has a stone porch tower with a pyramidal roof near the left hand end, and an array of gables with tile-hanging and obviously fake half-timbering. The interiors contain a great deal of contemporary wood panelling, but also a surprisingly delicate and convincing Adam-style plaster ceiling in the former morning room. 

Alongside his development of the house, Barham restored and altered a large 15th or 16th century barn close to the house, which he made into his baronial hall, and built a new stable block and coach house with a turret clock dated 1905. To complement the hall, he laid out a sunken garden enclosed by walls that incorporate the original cast iron railings made in the early 18th century for St. Paul's Cathedral by the Gloucester Furnace near Lamberhurst (Sussex), which he bought from the Cathedral in 1896 for £10. Gates from the same source were installed between the gatepiers at the end of the drive. The barn was converted by the architect Bernard Frankland Dark into a house for his own use in 1959 and remains in separate ownership.

Descent: sold 1885 to Sir George Barham (1836-1913), kt.; to son, Col. Arthur Saxby Barham (1869-1952) of Hole Park, who let it in the 1920s and 1930s to tenants including Natalie Sergeyevna, Countess Brasova, the widow of Grand Duke Michael of Russia...sold 1955...sold 1965 to Barry Hamblin; to son, Bryce Hamblin, who sold 2005 to Anthony Joseph Williams (b. 1950); for sale again 2019.

Hole Park, Rolvenden, Kent

A brick houseprobably built for Phillips Gybbon MP (1678-1762), who inherited in 1719. It is a low building of two storeys and nine bays, with the facade stepping forward twice to the centre bay; the central five bays are unusually narrow and closely spaced. Before 1838, Thomas Gybbon Monypenny made large additions comprising wings to either side, tall Tudor-style chimneys, and a gabled extra storey; the identity of his architect is unknown.

Hole Park, Rolvenden: an engraving of 1838, showing the house soon after enlargement, but without the semi-timbering in the gables that was added later in the 19th century.

Hole Park in 1908, with the semi-timbering added by Frank Morrison in place.

Monypenny ran out of funds in the 1840s, and sold the estate in 1849 to the millionaire financier, James Morrison (1789-1857), who gave it to his son, Frank Morrison (1824-1904). Morrison must have been responsible for building the Arts & Crafts style stable and cottage block close to the house, adding the Victorian timber-framing to the gables of the house, and for building the late cottage ornĂ© lodge at the end of the drive; once again no architect is known. Morrison died without issue and left the estate to trustees, who sold it in 1911 to Col. Arthur Saxby Barham (1869-1952), who laid out elaborate gardens around the house in the 1920s. These have been open to the public every year since 1927, and have been further developed by subsequent generations. In 1959, 
when David Barham decided to live here, he removed the 19th century additions to the house, making it a great deal smaller and more manageable; he also restored the Georgian part of the house and gave it a new hipped roof. 

Hole Park in 2018, after the removal of the 19th century additions in 1959.
Descent: Maj. John Gybbon (d. 1707); to brother, Robert Gybbon (d. 1719); to son, Phillips Gybbon MP (1678-1762); to daughter, Catherine (d. 1775), wife of Philip Jodrell; to her friend, Mary Jefferson (d. 1804), later the wife of John Beardsworth; to Sylvestra Hutton; to nephew, Thomas Gybbon Monypenny (d. 1865); sold 1849 to James Morrison (1789-1857); to son, Frank Morrison (1824-1904)... sold 1911 to Col. Arthur Saxby Barham (1869-1952); to grandson, David George Wilfrid Barham (b. 1926); to son, Edward George Barham (b. 1962).

Barham family of Snape House and Hole Park

Barham, Robert (1807-88). Youngest son of Robert Barham (1767-1842) of Battle (Sussex), dairy farmer, and his wife Mary (d. 1842), daughter of Richard Mepham of Battle, born 13 July 1807. In the 1820s and 1830s he seems to have worked as a licensed victualler in the city of London, but in about 1830 he also established a retail dairy business at 272 Strand, London. He married, 22 March 1830 at St Edmund King & Martyr, Lombard St., London, Altezeera Henrietta (1812-86), daughter of George Davey, and had issue:
(1) Robert Barham (1830-85), born 14 September and baptised at Shoreditch (Middx), 18 November 1830; an officer in the mercantile marine (mate) and later dairyman; married 28 November 1859 at St. Kilda, Melbourne (Australia), Janet (d. 1881), daughter of Allan Ferguson of Stairdam, Perth (Scotland), and had issue one son and two daughters; died 19 October 1885; will proved 19 November 1885 (effects £53);
(2) Eliza Ann Barham (b. 1832), born 14 July and baptised at St Stephen, Coleman St., London, 7 October 1832; died in infancy;
(3) George Barham (1835-36), baptised at St Dunstan-in-the-West, London, 28 June 1835; died in infancy;
(4) Sir George Barham (1836-1913), kt. (q.v.).
He died 10 December 1888; his will was proved 4 May 1889 (effects £7,892). His wife died 5 April 1886.

Sir George Barham (1836-1913), kt.
Barham, Sir George (1836-1913), kt. Younger surviving son of Robert Barham (1807-88) and his wife Altazeera Henrietta, daughter of George Davey of Bletchley (Bucks), born 22 November 1836 and baptised at St Dunstan-in-the-West, London, 4 June 1837. As a young man, he was apprenticed to a London cabinet maker, but delivered milk for his parents in the evenings, and in 1858 he founded the Express Dairy Co., which 'saved London from a milk famine' in 1865 when cattle plague was decimating local supplies; he began importing milk by rail from outside London and used a network of local deliverymen to take it to customers. The business grew so rapidly that specialist facilities were established by the railway companies for handling milk in bulk; the large scale of operation also led him to invent standardised metal churns for the transport of milk which were a familiar sight in the countryside until comparatively recently. Barham traded on the purity and cleanliness of his milk and cream and in 1868 opened College Farm, Finsbury as a showplace for his livestock and equipment and a training venue for his staff. By the late 19th century, the firm was much the largest dairy retailer in London, and it was subsequently divided into two firms, each headed by one of his surviving sons: the Dairy Supply Company, which took over the wholesaling business and manufactured dairy machinery, and the retail business, which retained the Express name. For over half a century Sir George endeavoured to raise public awareness of the importance of cleanliness in food processing. He was a member of the Government's Milk Standards Committee from 1900, and supported those working to improve drainage and purify the water supply. He was President of the International Dairy Congress in Copenhagen (Denmark), 1897, and was knighted in 1904. County Councillor for East Sussex, 1904-10; Mayor of Hampstead (Middx), 1905-06; High Sheriff of Middlesex, 1907-08. In 1895 he stood unsuccessfully for parliament as a Unionist candidate in the West Islington constituency. He married, 22 June 1859 at Spilsby (Lincs), Margaret (d. 1906), daughter of Jarvis Rainey of Spilsby, and had issue:
(1) George Titus Barham (1860-1937) (q.v.);
(2) Herbert Rainey Barham (1862-78), born 31 December 1862 and baptised at St Andrew, Holborn (Middx), 12 April 1863; died young in Rome, 28 April 1878;
(3) Ernest Edward Barham (1864-67), born 13 August and baptised at St Andrew, Holborn, 25 September 1864; died young, 15 April 1867;
(4) Frank Handbury Barham (1866-68), born 27 December 1866 and baptised at St Andrew, Holborn, 31 March 1867; died in infancy, 26 April and was buried at Nunbury Cemetery, London, 30 April 1868;
(5) Col. Arthur Saxby Barham (1869-1952) (q.v.).
He lived at Danehurst, Hampstead and Sudbury Lodge, Wembley. In 1885 he purchased Snape House, Wadhurst, which he largely rebuilt between 1893 and 1902.
He died 16 November 1913; his will was proved 1 January 1914 (estate £259,222). His wife died 14 April 1906; administration of her goods was granted to her husband, 14 May 1906 (estate £965).

G.T. Barham (1860-1937)
Barham, George Titus (1860-1937). Eldest son of Sir George Barham (1836-1913), kt. and his wife Margaret, daughter of Jarvis Rainey of Spilsby (Lincs), born 22 March 1860. Educated at University College School. He succeeded his father as Chairman of the Express Dairy Co. in 1913. He expanded the business greatly, continuing his father's work to make it a leader in hygienic milk production, with a chain of collecting and cooling stations across the country. Through the firm he also owned seven dairy farms, and was a breeder of Guernsey cows and a judge at the chief agricultural shows. In 1884 he was one of the founder members of the Guernsey Cattle Society, and served as its Treasurer until his death; he was also President in 1918 and 1934; he also served as President of the British Kerry Cattle Society, the Dexter Society, the Dairy Trade Protection Society, and, in 1933-34, of the British Dairy Farmers Association. He was a collector in several different fields and had a large private museum in his house at Sudbury Lodge, Wembley, which he presented with its grounds to Wembley Borough Council subject to a life tenancy. He was a Freemason and served as Master of Hampstead Lodge; he was also a keen horseman and reserved some time every morning for riding before going to work. He married, 29 April 1897, Florence Elizabeth (1875-1953), daughter of William Peter Vosper of Plympton (Devon), but had no issue.
He inherited Sudbury Park, Wembley (Middx) and substantially improved the house, which he bequeathed to Wembley Borough Council, with instructions to look after it carefully: after becoming derelict during and after the Second World War they demolished it in 1957. The site is now Barham Park.
He died 8 July 1937; his will was proved 17 September 1937 and 6 January 1938 (estate £523,536). His widow died 1 April 1953; her will was proved 23 May 1953 (estate £16,121).

Barham, Col. Arthur Saxby (1869-1952). Youngest son of Sir George Barham (1836-1913), kt. and his wife Margaret, daughter of Jarvis Rainey of Spilsby (Lincs), born 17 July 1869. Educated at University College School. Managing Director of Dairy Supply Co., which in 1915 amalgamated with other businesses to form United Dairies Ltd; was involved actively in the management of this firm until 1923 and remained a director until his death. Lt-Col. (hon. Col.) of the 19th Middlesex Rifle Volunteers, and Col. commanding 12th Battn, London Regiment; served in the First World War, 1914-17; appointed CMG, 1918. JP for Kent from 1922, and a County Councillor and later County Alderman for Kent, 1925-27 and 1938-49; Chairman of the Governors of Cranbrook School. He married 1st, 5 July 1893, Annie Gertrude (1867-1939), daughter of Edward Henry Edwards of Hampstead (Middx) and 2nd, 6 February 1940 at St Paul's Cathedral, London, Anna Marie (c.1887-1941), nurse, daughter of Conrad Schaufelberger of Zurich (Switzerland), and had issue:
(1.1) Capt. Wilfrid Saxby Barham (1894-1915), born 14 November 1894 and baptised at Christ Church, Hampstead, 2 February 1895; educated at Malvern College and Clare College, Cambridge; an officer in 3rd battn, East Kent Regiment (Capt.); died of wounds received in heavy shelling at Ypres, 10 October 1915, and was buried at Poperinghe New Military Cemetery (Belgium); will proved 19 February 1916 (estate £4,361);
(1.2) Harold Arthur Barham (1898-1978) (q.v.).
He purchased Hole Park, Rolvenden in 1911 and laid out elaborate gardens there in the 1920s. He inherited Snape House from his father but leased it out.
He died 16 July 1952; administration of his goods was granted to his son, 17 January 1953 (estate £46,897). His first wife died 1 May 1939 and was buried at Rolvenden; her will was proved September 1939 (estate £2,724). His second wife died 18 August 1941; her will was proved 2 January 1942 (estate £3,612).

Barham, Harold Arthur (1898-1978). Younger but only surviving son of Col. Arthur Saxby Barham (1869-1952) and his first wife, Annie Gertrude, daughter of Edward Henry Edwards of Hampstead (Middx), born 24 May 1898. Educated at Malvern College and Clare College, Cambridge (BA 1920). County Councillor for Kent, 1937. He married 1st, 25 August 1920 at Rolvenden (div. 1934), Edith Dulcie (1900-89), daughter of Lt-Col. Robert James Frederick Taylor CBE, and 2nd, 27 February 1935, Patricia Elizabeth (k/a Peggy) (1906-92), daughter of Capt. Valentine Edmund Garrett of Aldeburgh (Suffk), and had issue:
(1.1) Ruth Dulcie Barham (b. 1921), born 26 July 1921; served in Second World War with WRNS; married, 3 April 1945 at the Church of the Redemption, New Delhi (India), John Litton Skinner (c.1920-2015) of St. John (Jersey), banker and formerly an officer in the Royal Navy (Lt-Cmdr.), son of Lt-Col. Thomas Burrel Skinner, and had issue one son and three daughters;
(1.2) Daphne Margaret Barham (1923-2018), born 16 March 1923; married, 17 September 1949 at Rolvenden, Jeffrey Maurice Browning (1922-2016) of Nut Tree Hall, Plaxtol (Kent), son of (William) Maurice Browning of Olivers Hill, Frankston, Victoria (Australia), and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 25 June 2018; will proved 30 January 2019;
(1.3) David George Wilfrid Barham (b. 1926) (q.v.);
(2.1) John Nicholas Barham (1937-55), born 24 July 1937; died as a result of a motor accident, 24 August 1955; administration of goods granted to his father, 8 March 1957 (estate £1,443); an historic windmill at Rolvenden was restored in his memory in 1956;
(2.2) Patricia Barham (b. 1940), born 5 March 1940; married, 11 June 1960, David Talbot Henry Davenport, elder son of Ormus Neville Talbot Davenport and had issue one son and two daughters;
(2.3) Elizabeth Ann Barham (b. 1943), born 17 July 1943; married, 8 July 1967, John Hurley Marshall (1934-94) of Little Mynthurst Farm, Norwood Hill (Surrey), twin son of J.H. Marshall of Brockenhurst (Hants), but had no issue.
He lived at Under Ridge, Bourne End (Bucks) and later at The Mint House, Rye (Sussex) and Lansdell House, Rolvenden. 
He died 17 May 1978; his will was proved 8 August 1978 (estate £508,963). His first wife married second, 1941, Eustace Kingsmill Brown (1880-1974) and died 4 April 1989; her will was proved 18 July 1989 (estate £83,349). His widow died 9 April 1992; her will was proved 20 November 1992 (estate £772,361).

Barham, David George Wilfrid (b. 1926). Only son of Harold Arthur Barham (1898-1978) and his first wife, Edith Dulcie, daughter of Lt-Col. Robert James Frederick Taylor CBE, born 6 October 1926. Educated at Malvern College. He was an officer in the Royal Horse Guards (2nd Lt., 1946). JP (from 1961) for Kent and County Councillor for Kent, 1959-70; High Sheriff of Kent, 1974-75. He married, 28 October 1955, (Catherine) Margaret (b. 1936), daughter of Lt.-Col. Rixon Bucknall MBE of Mayfield (Sussex), and had issue:
(1) Jennifer Catherine Barham (b. 1957), born 8 January 1957; married 1st, 1977 (div. 1986), Simon Francis Mann (b. 1952), son of Maj. Francis George Mann, and had issue two sons and one daughter; married 2nd, 1986, Richard Douglas Schuster (b. 1953) of The Grange, Over Worton (Oxon), adopted son of Maj. John Schuster, but had no further issue;
(2) William David Charles Barham (b. 1958), born 30 March 1958; insurance broker and company director; married, February 1993, Zena (b. 1953), daughter of Cmdr. Peter Barton RN of Monks Eleigh (Suffk) and formerly wife of James T. Pearson, but had no issue;
(3) Edward George Barham (b. 1962) (q.v.);
(4) Robert Saxby Barham (b. 1965), born 22 February 1965; solicitor (admitted 1990), in practice in London; married, October 1993, Louise M., daughter of George Carter of the Old Rectory, Elmley Lovett (Worcs), and had issue three daughters.
He inherited Snape House and Hole Park from his grandfather in 1952. He sold Snape House in 1955 and invested the proceeds in remodelling Hole Park in 1959. He handed on Hole Park to his second son in 2003.
Now living. His wife's date of death is unknown. 

Barham, Edward George (b. 1962). Second son of David George Wilfrid Barham (b. 1926) and his wife Margaret, daughter of Lt-Col. Rixon Bucknall MBE of Mayfield (Sussex), born 27 November 1962. Farmer and forester. An officer in the Territorial Army (2nd Lt., 1986). Director of Hole Park Developments Ltd. since 2006. Chairman of the Historic Houses Association (SE Region). He married, 27 October 1990 at Bowness-on-Windermere (Westmld), Clare Catherine (b. 1966), daughter of Oliver Turnbull of Cleabarrow, Windermere, and had issue:
(1) Emily Catherine Barham (b. 1993), born 3 March 1993; married, 23 March 2019 at Rolvenden, Max James Hilton Bigley, son of Robert Hilton Bigley of Whixley (Yorks NR);
(2) George Wilfrid Barham (b. 1994), born December 1994; educated at Stowe School and Exeter University (BSc 2017);
(3) Helena Jane Barham (b. 1997), born 31 May 1997.
He took over the management of the Hole Park estate from his father in 2003.
Now living.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1972, pp. 42-43; ; Wadhurst History Society newsletter, no. 2, March 2004; J. Newman, The buildings of England: Kent - West and the Weald, 3rd edn., 2012, p. 508; N. Antram & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Sussex - East, with Brighton & Hove, 2013, p. 650;

Location of archives

Barham family of Snape House and Hole Park: no significant archive is known, but it is likely that papers remain with the family at Hole Park.
Express Dairy Ltd: minutes and papers relating to the early history of the company, 1880-1953 [Museum of English Rural Life, Reading University: TR EXP 5]

Coat of arms

Argent, on a fesse gules between three bears passant sable, muzzled gules, a fleur-de-lys between two martlets, all gules.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide additional information about the 20th and 21st century ownership of Snape House?
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 26 April 2019 and updated 27 April 2019 and 24 May 2022. I am grateful to Dr Andrew Macdonald-Brown for a correction.


  1. Dr Andrew Macdonald-Brown23 May 2022 at 20:06

    Snape House - para 2. The cast iron railings referred to were originally made at the Gloucester Furnace near Lamberhurst in what was then Sussex. The furnace was so named following a visit by Queen Anne and her eldest son, Duke of Gloucester. The railings were cast for the new St Paul's Cathedral between 1709 and 1741. More details in "Frant, the storey of a Wealden Parish" by Patricia Wright. ISBN 978-0-9561768-1-3

    1. Many thanks for the correction, which I will incorporate above.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.