The Charmandean Estate - the house, grounds, and it's history

This page details some of the history of the Charmandean Estate, including the house itself, the outbuildings, and features such as the swimming pool, the Lodge, the Yew Walk, the Gateposts and the 'stately timbered park' as it was described in the 1914 sales particulars for the Estate.


Charman Dean House

The obvious place to start a story about Charmandean`s history is the earliest records of the estate. The name Charmandean appears to originally stem from the family of Charman, when, in 1521 there was reference to land called Charemanys, in the parish of Broadwater.

The house stood in the centre of the estate, to the East side, and is said to 'have commanded extensive and superb panoramic views of the English Channel and the picturesque and varied scenery of the surrounding country'.

Over the next 200 years the land continued to exist as a farmstead, occupied by yeoman farmers, and referred to on maps as sometimes 'Charming Dean' or 'Charman Dean'; 'Dean' being olde english, an old 'residence' name meaning 'from the valley'. 

Charmandean - references from Harold Tribe, in 'Old Broadwater'

The beauty and charm of Charmandean was excellently described by Harold Tribe, in his 'Old Broadwater' reference (we believe from a transcript from a talk he held in 1972), being:

"and we go along onto the upper road where there is yet another even more beautiful estate, that of Charmandean.  I wish it were possible that those days could have had films or cinema films where you could have taken some of the beauty of this place because it was magnificent in its structure, in its position, in all its development.  

Of course they had plenty of servants, plenty of gardeners and things like that.  But it was really really a magnificent estate.  Of all the estates that surrounded Broadwater I always think this was, as the name suggests, the most charming.  It was called Charming Dean first before because the people who occupied it earlier were named Charmers.  Even before then, this is a very very old estate which goes back to the date, the year 1521  

But in short I think if I was to try to describe it to you I think the best I could find to describe it was to say it was a kind of miniature Crystal Palace.  It was a beautiful house, surrounded by lovely lawns, all beautifully developed, topiary trees and trees of every type surrounded by cages of beautiful exotic birds, long drives right up to the house.  The house was elevated again.  

If you stood back by Broadwater Church itself near to the village you could look across the corn fields and see this beautiful house and trees and lawns.  And no uncommon sight to see the ladies playing croquet on the lawns and such things as that.  It’s not many many years ago that it was finally done away with but it gradually dilapidated, got spoilt and they had to clear it away.  

But of course the whole thing was redeveloped in the year 1926.  But there is one thing which must be mentioned was those glorious gates to the two drives.  

This whole estate was surrounded by high iron railings, the two drives left and right, the gates were even more magnificent than the gates that are at Buckingham Palace.  Now that’s saying something!  And I often wondered what happened when the war came and they came and took all these railings down and the gates disappeared.  But they were really really magnificent entrance which as one looks at the present state I try often to visualize and sometimes can see in my mind’s eye their grandeur and their beauty.  It was most elegant.

Apart from the Charmers there was a Mrs Thwaites lived there and the last occupants that was as a residential house was the Rev Dyer Edwards.  Then in the year 1926 the place began to be split up and sold and, whereas it had just been the dwelling place of one or two families, it now had to make room for a new generation of new modern houses.  And I think one can quietly say it has been very well developed as the years go.  That indeed was Charmandean Estate and as I mentioned before, you see there were no houses then in Forest Road and all the houses were clustered round the village.  Many many a time I have watched and seen an artist, especially at the corn time with the poppies out, sitting on the outskirts painting the lovely picture, across the cornfields, of this wonderful estate.  "


In the early 19th century (we think 1806)  a Georgian style house was built by John Penfold, a yeoman farmer, who worked on the South Farm (South Farm Road originates from this) which was then part of the Offington Estate.

This small Georgian house was then expanded over the following years.

Charmandean House, 'Charmandean in 1842'

Citation: Notable Houses of Worthing No.2, Henfrey Smail


 In the early 1840`s, the new owner, a Mrs Thwaytes, made many improvements to the property until her death in 1866. There is a lot of information documented about this period, as this is when the house really 'took its shape', and best to read extracts from Notable Houses of Worthing No.2 by Henfrey Smail, published by Aldridge Bros in 1950:-

Admin note: The above reference in the book about the West Entrance gates being taken as part of the war effort, we believe is incorrect, as the Lodge was demolished as part of the 1927 A27 Upper Brighton Road widening scheme, and as the Gateposts were South of the lodge, they too would have been demolished.
This photo above shows the East and West wings added by Mrs Thwaites, and the conservatory. Note in the far right, the 'Tower' which was demolished during the war.
The same East entrance gates 40 years earlier, in c.1910, during the time when Charmandean was owned by Alfred King.

 The Entrance gateposts prior to being demolished in 2013:

There have been articles we have found in our research about the 'window' at Charmandean, and some writers actually thought it was a ruin from an old building. It's location has only been referred to as 'in the woods at Charmandean', and as there were so many woods on the Charmandean estate, we have been unable to pinpoint where it would have stood. 

Wonder what happened to it when the house was demolished...? I think we all know the answer, but it would be great if a Charmandean resident had it still standing in their garden, as it is from an ancient Broadwater Church after all!

The stained glass window (above), showing the date of 1628, is of unknown origin, and may or may not have been removed from Broadwater Church, (only the 14th Century stone mullion window was), but the new location of this stained glass window was in the North wall of the Chapel, which was the downstairs room on the East side of Charmandean. 
It can be seen in photos on this site and is referenced.

Further information is below in the extract from Henfrey Smail's book:

Citation:, grid reference: 

The above photo shows the many additions made by Mrs Thwaytes, including the conservatory, the East and West wings, the verandas, porch, and behind all this on the South side, the house had rear additions.
The Chapel, which was located on the ground floor in one of the East Wings added by Mrs Thwaytes, had an open fireplace with dog stove and tiled hearth; the walls were painted with scriptural subjects and the window was fitted with an additional pair of casements with Cathedral glass panels.

The Worthing Sentinal reported in May 2008 that George Wedd, 'owner of Charmandean (or Charman Dean), a grand country house, now demolished, since 1871, died at the age of 78 in 1898. Three weeks earlier he returned from a trip to Bournemouth and told his servants "I shall never leave this place again", words which proved prophetic. He was buried on a very wet and boisterious November day.'

Citation: Sentinal, May 2008 

 The Worthing Sentinal also reported that in 1891 'more than 50 servants and their guests were invited to a ball at Charmandean organised by Mr Page, butler to Mr & Mrs Wedd..'

Citation: Sentinal

Admin note: In the 'People' pages, there is the newspaper article about this ball.

Our research has found that the purchase by Mr Alfred King, in 1900, was that on 11th July 1900, he purchased 'the tenemant known as Charman Dean, with the stables, coach houses, vineries, hot houses, observatory, buildings, farm yards, gardens and pleasure grounds.. in 72 acres', for £10,400. Must have been a lot in those days!

The estate and lands are also described as '72 acres or thereabouts and were bounded on the South by the High Road from Arundel to Shoreham on the East by a lane there called Charman Dean Lane, on the North by prems known as Tenants Hill Barn  and other lands and on west in part by land of the Worthing Corporation.'

'and in other part by other lands and were lately in the occupation of the sd (said) George Wedd and were deliniated on the plan thereto annexed and were thereon coloured pink'

For more information and to view the 'photo album' of the house at the time, see the 'Charmandean - Photo Album' page, and to find out more information on Mr Alfred King, see the 'People' page.

We believe the said pink annex is show below, on a Conveyance dated July 1900:-

The estate and sale also included 'together with the Pew and three sittings in the Parish Church of Broadwater', reiterating Charmandean House's long standing history of it's relationship with Broadwater Church over the centuries.

Mr Alfred King died at Charmandean on 16th May 1913, with probate granted 1st July 1913 however his widow, Fanny Louisa King, also passed away a few months later on 26th November 1913.


Opon the death of Mr & Mrs King, the estate was briefly purchased by a Mr William Ellis, described as 'of the Woodlands Reigate in the Coy of Surrey Gentlemen' .

The purchase price is shown to be £7,000, which is a £3,400 drop over 15 years!

Then, on 30th October 1917, Charman Dean was sold to Mr Thomas Dyer-Edwards for £10,000, however, with a Stamp Duty payment of £100 (1%).

Mr Thomas and Mrs Clementina Dyer-Edwards  - a Brief History

The Charman Dean House purchaser in 1917, was no stranger to grand houses. Mr Thomas Edwards was from a high circle family, who owned many houses including Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire, and in 1895 he was the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire.

Thomas and Clementina married in 1978, and on Christmas Day 1978, Lucy Noel Martha was born.

Lucy Noel Martha Leslie (nee Dyer-Edwards), Countess of Rothes 

Lucy Noel Martha Leslie (nee Dyer-Edwards) is best known as a survivor of RMS Titanic; her parents disembarked at Cherbourg, while Lucy-Noel, her Cousin and mail continued on their journey.

Thomas and Clementina had 2 grandchildren, the Hon. John Wayland Leslie (1909-1991) and Hon. Malcolm George Dyer-Edwards Leslie, the latter being named by his grandfather as executor and trustee of his estate.

When Thomas died in Naples 2nd Febuary 1926, the executors broke up Charmandean Estate as it was then known and sold off the lower lands, to form First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Avenues.

This sale took place on 1st Febuary 1927, to the partnership of Frank Sandell and Sons building contractors, for the princely sum of £15,650.

Tea Parties and Memories from School Pupils

Although there is a separate page for Charmandean's life as a school, we have kept this article here as it describes the house and grounds very well.

The following was written by Paul Holden (now the editor of The Worthing Journal) and part of The Argus Worthing Supplement, 18/12/00, but is fascinating and worth mentioning in this collection of history.

Paul writes:

'But one of the greatest losses was Charmandean School, an elegant Georgian mansion set in 33 acres or rural woodland, 150 ft above sea level, to the north of the A27.

Margaret Neal-Smith, of Lancing, is a former pupil of the school, and has fond memories of being taught there.

She recalled 'there were two separate buildings connected by a path. The Schoolhouse consisted of classrooms, the piano room, the domestic science room and three common rooms.

The house contained all the dormitories, sick room, matron room, bathrooms, dining room, refectory, chapel, and the headmistress' own apartments not forgetting the magnificent entrance hall and staircase.

The extensive grounds consisted of a walled garden, and several playing fields for netball, hockety, and lacross, 2 hard tennis courts, and to the back of the fields woodland.

To the front of the house was the famous yew tree walk, and various gardens on the Charmandean Estate contain parts of this.

The added 'It is said that an underground tunnel existed between the house and Broadwater church.

This many be true because some of the girls found a tunnel in the basement cloakroom and tried to get down it, but it was blocked half way.

At the school's side entrance into Charmandean Lane, there were a pair of beautiful wrought iron gates.

Mrs Neal-Smith recalls with affection some of the pranks pupils got up to, including midnight feasts and midnight swims in the nude."

The title deeds annex (green) from 1st Feb 1927:-  

Points of interest on the map above - 
  • Charmandean Lodge on the bottom right (this was demolished in 1927 as part of the A27 widening)
  • The tree line set northwards just opposite Forest Road (used to be known as Butchers Lane)

Sentinel reports: "1929: 'The Reverend W Talbot Hindley was headmaster of Charmandean School, which offered ample playing fields, swimming lake, private chapel, gymnasium and carpentry shop.'"

Citation: Worthing Sentinel

Photos of Charmandean House:

The entrance hall was 28' x 16', with a finely carved oak panelled dado, mantelpiece and well-proportioned Corinthian columns. There was an open fireplace with dog stove, tiled hearth, and marble curb fender.

The Refectory as it's stated above, was called the 'dining room' in the 1914 Sales particulars for the estate. The dining room measured c. 28'x16', and had a finely plastered ceiling and frieze. It faced North-east and was lighed by a spacious bay window with casement doors. 

There was a large open fireplace with dog stove, tiled hearth, and carved stone arch over with elaborately carved oak chimneypiece of Elizabethan character. The oak dado rail was panelled and a sideboard recess and door to the servants' rooms.

The Charmandean Lawns

Although the below photos are described by Henfrey Smail in his book as 'East Lawn' and 'West Lawn', they were in reality North and South of the Yew Walk.

The West Lawn (North of the Yew Walk) was referred to in the 1914 Sales Particulars as 'spacious front lawn', and the East Lawn (south of the Yew Walk) as 'Tennis Lawn and rose garden' (also been referred to over time as 'old English garden') (this is not where the tennis courts were during the mansion's life as a school though; they were located North of the mansion)

We have indicated this below on a map from 1954:
Parts of the West (North) and East (South) lawns are now in the rear gardens of houses on the South side of Longlands Spinney.
On the left side of the photo below, looking East, you can see the Yews of the Yew Walk. On the other side of the hedge on the right would be the rear gardens of Fourth Avenue. This would be the 'South lawn'

Note the Yews are now c.15-20 feet high, and untrimmed, unlike those displayed in the photos from the 1914 photo album.

The trees in the background would be bordering Charmandean Lane.

The set of steps in the centre of the photo is one of a set of three, these being on the eastern end of the Yew Walk, being more in relation of being south from the mansion's position. (which would have been on the left)
Although this is entitled the 'West Lawn', this photo is still looking East, but North of the Yew Walk, with the Yews being on the right side of the photo.
The statues in the centre can be seen in other photos on this site including 'Dancing on the lawn' when the mansion was being used a school.
Considering this photo is c.1950, it's 40 years since other related photos were taken and the trees and foliage had grown, reiterating newspaper references of a 'wooded estate'.

The above is we believe a rare aerial photo of Charmandean House, with Charmandean Lane visibile in the lower right with the flint boundary wall which parts of which are still standing today, as below:

Above is one of the only remaining sections of the original boundary wall of Charmandean House.


Below is another photo of the original West Entrance gates, as they were before being demolished in 2013.

The Sale of Charmandean House, 1914

 A book of illustrated Particulars was produced prior to the sale by auction of Charmandean House  in 1914, when it was being sold by the executors of the owner, Mr Alfred King. 

Also see 'Charmandean - a Photo Album', as thanks to the King family we have copies of Mr Alfred King's album of photos of Charmandean during his time as owner, between 1900 and 1914.

Some extracts of the Sale particulars from 1914 below:

Charmandean - The Yew Walk

In the grounds of Charmandean House, there was a special place known as the 'Yew Walk'.

The Worthing Herald, Sat 5th Jan 1929, reports:

'The school moved to Charmandean with its spacious fields, its wonderfully wooded grounds, its glorious views and unsurpassed position. The ‘Yew Walk’ alone, where well-founded tradition says, the monks who served the ancient Broadwater Church, used to meditate, could not fail to add dignity to the place and leaves its mark on all those who come and go'.

The 'Yew Walk' seems to have been planted in the late 1800's, possibly by Mrs Thwaytes, and this is a great photo taken looking down the Yew Walk about 1910.

These yews are in the rear gardens of Longlands Spinney, and some are still present today.

Ann Thwaites (owner, mid-1800's) made many modifications to the estate, including building the East and West Entrance Gateposts, and also at the end of the Yew Walk,  the 'garden seat', referred to over the years as many names including the 'Folly' or 'Italianate Summer House'. 

The map below, (right), shows the Yew Walk running East to West from the driveway (by Charmandean Lane) to the 'Garden Seat'.


The 'garden seat' clearly shows the intricate designs which Mrs Thwaites incorporated during her renovations of the estate.
It shared the same design of corner mouldings and grape / vines as the East Entrance gateposts. 

Another photo of the Yew Walk, c.1950, as mentioned above. This shows in detail one of the sets of three steps from the Yew Walk stepping down to the South Lawns. 

These were described as 'at a lower level and approached by a flight of steps is the 'tennis lawn and rose garden which are separated from the park by a ha-ha fence.'

The view inside the Yew Walk (approx 250 yards long), looking East towards Charmandean Lane

The below is from Henfrey Smail's book, stating Charmandean House, c.1940 'from an early colour print', however we believe this drawing is actually a lot earlier as even in 1914, the surrounding trees and shrubbery would have grown up to not be able to see the whole width of the house.

Citation for the print: Notable Houses of Worthing No.2, Henfrey Smail

The Story of Charmandean's ancient church remains

Some of the articles above reference the 14th century mullioned stone window removed from Broadwater Church during the 1866 restorations; during Mrs Thwaytes' time as owner of Charman Dean, this was carried piece by piece up to Charman Dean and rebuilt in the woods.

The below article from 27th Aug 1932 - Worthing Gazette tells the story:

Story of " Charmandean Church." Nestling a wooded slope in the north of Worthing, within the beautiful grounds of " Charmandean,' rises an ancient pile, apparently that of a derelict church. Strolling through the grounds ot "Charmandean" the other evening, when at first display of the Acton-Bond summer school of Euchorics, I suddenly became aware the presence of this “church amid the trees." 

On coming closer I discovered that although what I had seen was Indeed hundreds years old, the ancient structure was built upon comparatively modern-looking bricks which displayed their incongruous appearance quite clearly when a few yards away.

'Ancient monastery'

"I at once enquired about the history of these 'remains' of whose existence I had been quite unaware, but was unable to glean any information beyond a statement from my companion that he believed there had been a 'very ancient monastery' there at one time.
My curiosity was throughly roused by this time, however, and I determined to pursue inquiry further. As there must be a great number of Worthing people who do not know the story of how Charmandean's 'church' came to be erected it may be of interest if I give here a brief account of what I was able to trace.

My inquiries, then , eventually led me to Broadwater Rectory, where I spoke to the Rev. B. C. Mowll on the matter.
Rector on the 'remains'

The Rector explained that when during his predecessor's tenure of the living of Broadwater, it was decided to restore Worthing's mother church, a portion of St Mary's was removed and re-erected in the grounds of 'Charmandean'.
Mr Mowll said that the headmaster of Charmandean, the Rev. W. Talbot Hindley, once showed him some beautiful old panelling which, he stated, had also been removed from Broadwater Church.

'In those days people had a very different attitude towards such things' continued Mr Mowll. Had I been rector then I should have strongly opposed the removal of such articles from the church.
At the same time the Jacobean pulpit of Broadwater was removed and placed in the Holy Trinity Church, a stone one being substituted at Broadwater.

'The Twaites Affair' (note spelling of Twaites, also Thwaytes or Thwaites)
It appears that when in 1859-60 Broadwater Church was restored, Mrs Twaites of the famous Twaites will dispute, who is now buried in the churchyard, was owner of 'Charmandean' and the removals took place at that time.
Mr T. R. Hyde, the veteran architect and surveyor, who is an authority on old Worthing, and whose father's cousin, Mr Charles Hyde, of Hyde and Patching, carried out the restoration, told me that he well remembered how when a small boy he lay ill in bed and watched the builders carrying their materials too and fro.

A lot of interest was taken at the time, but most people have forgotten all about the affair by now."

The Charmandean Pool

The swimming pool at Charmandean has featured during its life as a school, but also it was shared for the use by Worthing Swimming club, as featured in the article from 7th July 1943

A postcard from 1944 of the swimming pool:

Demise of Charmandean House

In August 1954, the school which had used the house had moved to Buckinghamshire, and with no viable purchasers to take it over and operate it as a school, it was sold to a collective of existing Charmandean residents from the Avenues (developed from 1927). 

They re-sold to a developer, however now having placed strict covenants on the sale and land to ensure the quality of housing to be erected. 

Between 1954 and 1963, when the house was demolished, it was allowed by the developers to fall into disrepair.

There have been many stories and articles about exactly how Charmandean House fell into disrepair, and some tragedies where people died; we believe intentions were to turn the mansion into flats however the large, empty, secluded mansion resulted in theft, fires, and trespassing. These incidents no doubt resulted in the decision to demolish the house itself, which laid the path for complete redevelopment.

The below article featured in the West Sussex Gazette & South of England Advertiser, 20th November 1958, showing a lovely pen and ink drawing of the house at the time:

A derelict Charmandean House in 1959, four years before it was demolished in 1963.

The photo below you can see the pillars either side of the front porch.  It is those which were relocated to a house in Broadwater and saved when Charmandean House was demolished. Click here for the article.

We have been contacted by one of the residents who still has a copy of the Worthing Herald from  22nd April 1960, reporting an article on a fire which further contributed to it`s demise.

Charmandean House featured in this article from 17th September 1954:

We understand that in 1959 or 1960 a group of teenagers were playing in the house, and one of them fell through the roof and was killed; it is believed this contributed towards it being demolished to prevent any further tragic accidents.

Thank you to a reader for contacting us about this.

The tragedy featured in a newspaper article, from the West Sussex Gazette:

Charmandean - East and West Entrance Gateposts

The Charmandean School Gateposts, as mentioned previously,  have been the subject of many historical articles over the years, and the East pair survived until 2013 when they were demolished.

The following is an extract passed to us from the Worthing Review, 2/06/1990, written by Nicholas Thornton.


The West Entrance Gateposts

Until we were contacted by the great-great niece of a previous owner of Charmandean Estate, we didn`t know nor find any information on the design or look of the pair of Gateposts at the West entrance, to the South, bordering the Upper Brighton Road.
In contrast to the East Entrance, the West entrance posts seemed to be more plain and certainly not so ornate. Strange, considering the East pair were up an unmarked lane, however in the late 1800's, Upper Brighton Road wouldn`t have been much more than a track itself.

The West Entrance gateposts (looking south):

From research, we know that Charmandean Lodge, which stood at the West side of the driveway, shown above, was demolished c.1927, as part of widening of the Upper Brighton Road, when the Borough Council purchased a strip of land from the owners of Charmandean Estate (at this time, being Sandell and Sons building firm) to widen the road.

As the lodge was North of the Gateposts, we can surmise the gateposts would have been demolished at the same time. However, we should note this doesn`t fit with Henfrey Smail's notes in his book that the West entrance pair (above) where taken for scrap as part of the war effort betwen 1939-45. Hence, a bit of a mystery.

For more on the Lodge, and the West Entrance drive and Gateposts, see 'Development of the Avenues'

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