|Geoffrey Harris House||Croydon|
Geoffrey Harris House was formerly called Coombe House, built after 1761 on the site of an older house. An C18th ice-house remains in the grounds. The property went through a number of owners and from 1833 it was let to various tenants. During the tenancy of Mr Hankley in c.1844 the upper lawn was converted from rough commonland to gardens and shrubberies. The next owner was Edward Lloyd (d.1863); his son Frank who later lived here from1892-1927 was an important local benefactor. Remnants of the former ornamental gardens and mature trees are visible today. The house has been put to different uses, including a convalescent home, school and now a residential care home, renamed in 1988 after a consultant at St Lawrence's Hospital in Caterham.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2008
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
Coombe is first recorded in 1221 when the land belonged to Richard of Coombe; in the C15th it was called the Borough of Coombe and by Elizabeth I's reign it was known as Broad Coombe. In the C17th the estate was owned by Matthew and Daniel Harvey, brothers of William Harvey who demonstrated the circulation of blood. William frequently stayed at Coombe and had caves made in the grounds in order to gratify his habit of meditating in the dark. A deep well of some 145 feet in the grounds, known as the Pilgrims' Well, was said to have been used by pilgrims travelling to Canterbury via the Archbishop's Croydon Palace. A red brick C18th ice-house is also in the grounds to the rear of the house, although partly covered with brambles today. The remnants of the gardens are C19th in character with lawns, specimen trees that include two large cedars, Sequoiadendron and a yew shrubbery. Beneath the lawn are foundations, possibly of a medieval building. From 1577 various people appear to have held the Coombe Estate; in 1761 it was sold by James Mathias to James Bourdieu Senior and in 1807 it passed to his son James Henry, a merchant in London, who in 1811 sold to Beeston Long (d.1820), a Director of the Bank of England. The house was then purchased by George Enderby and in 1830 J W Sutherland bought the property and made substantial alterations to the house. After 1833 it was let to various tenants, and it was during the tenancy of Mr Hankley in c.1844 that the upper lawn was converted from rough commonland to gardens and shrubberies. In c.1869 the servants hall and gate lodge were added.
Mr Hankley was followed by Edward Lloyd (d.1863), founder of the Lloyd News, later known as The Sunday News, and also the Daily Chronicle. The OS map of 1910 indicates that there were 3 enclosed kitchen gardens with greenhouses. From 1892 Coombe House was owned by his son Frank Lloyd, who lived here until his death in 1927, when just over 9.3 hectares adjoining the property were given for a public park by his family as a memorial, and named Lloyd Park (q.v.). The 1892 sale particulars state that the Pleasure Grounds were 'well matured and attractively laid out in lawns and gardens, and well-timbered with fine Specimens of the Cedar of Lebanon, Chestnut, Oak, and other Forest Trees'. The drive was bordered with 'Rhododendrons and ornamental timber'. Later sale particulars record that within the grounds were mature trees of cedar of Lebanon, blue fir, beech, lime, oak, monkey puzzle, horse chestnut, redwood and rhododendrons. In 1897 Frank Lloyd resurrected the 'Pilgrims' Well', adding a stone and iron tap. A visit by Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society in 1914 recorded 'Fine Cedars & Weymouth Pines. borders with columbines, lychnis, geum etc. .. collection of British orchids made by Mr Mills'.
By 1937 the house had become a convalescent home for army officers, and later, between 1946 -1985, it was used as St Margaret's School for handicapped children. During the 1950s two extensions were added to the house; a Headmaster's House was built in the grounds in 1967 and a bungalow for the Deputy Headmaster in 1972. The house has since become a residential care home for those with mental health and learning difficulties within Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It was renamed in 1988 after Dr Geoffrey Harris, who was a consultant for St Lawrence's Hospital for the mentally handicapped in Caterham, and who died in 1987. Excavations were carried out by the Oxford Archaeological Unit when the New Addington branch of the Croydon Tramlink was being constructed in 1997, and the trench excavated in the grounds of Geoffrey Harris House uncovered flint and brick wall foundations of a C16th - C18th building.
Messrs Chadwick, Sale Particulars for the Coombe House Estate, 1892; Transactions of the Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society 1915-16: 'Mr W.H. Mills on The Hamlet of Coombe'. Pp45-52, and 'Visit to Mr Frank Lloyd's Garden on 18 June 1914', vol 8, ppxxii-xxiii; Knight Frank & Rutley, Sale Particulars for the Coombe House (SHC 3334/3); Coombe, Shirley & Addington Living History, Lakeside Printing Ltd 1974; Surrey Archaeological Collections, 2001, vol 88, p251; The Book of Addiscombe, Cannings, Clyde Road Residents Association & Friends, vol.II, p55; Surrey Archaeological Collections Vol 88; The Advertiser Friday 19 1988; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008.
LPGT Volunteer Research by Patricia Birch, 2007