the hurstThis is Hurst Park Avenue not long after the road opened. The Victorian house, Hurst, can be seen on the left and it is one of the few pictures available to us.  At this stage in its life it was a doctor’s surgery (Cambridgeshire Collection, Cambridge Central Library).

Other than the windmill and its cottage, there were no substantial buildings on the land now known as the Hurst Park Estate until the house later known as Hurst was built in the late 1840s. John Jones bought the copyhold part of Thomas Riddel’s allotment in 1848 (see our description of the 1839 enclosure in our section on Chesterton before 1927).

The Joneses were a notable family of dentists. Cameron Hawke-Smith, sometime curator of the Cambridge and County Folk Museum (now the Museum of Cambridge), wrote an article about them called The Jones Dental Dynasty (2003) and another entitled That thief of a Mr Jones: Romilly’s dentist and his daughter, Elizabeth Jones (Cambridge Local History Review, September 2003).

Sales particulars for Hurst from the 1885 reveal that there was a contract of sale for the land dated August 24th 1847, then copyhold from the Manor of Chesterton, between Jones and John and James Riddel (or Riddle). Hawke-Smith (That Thief article 2003) tells us that he bought it the following year and commissioned the house, which was then called Ely Villa. The 1851 census shows that he, Mary Ann Jones (wife), Elizabeth Jones (daughter) and Elizabeth Barker (general servant) were living there. They moved from Trumpington Street where Jones had his well-established dental practice at number 63 and where some of his children continued to live. What we know as Milton Road was then called Ely Road or the Ely Turnpike: it remained a turnpike until 1874 (British History Online).

Family historians Margaret E MacCulloch and David J Hall have undertaken considerable work on the Jones family and details can be found on their website.

John Jones was so well established as a dentist that he advertised as being “By Special Appointment to Her Majesty and Royal Family”. According to the same advert in the Cambridge Chronicle and Journal (January 14, 1860) they made artificial teeth out of vulcanised Indian rubber.  His son Alfred is also mentioned in this advertisement.

Jones advert snipped

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, January 14, 1860.

His eldest daughter, Elizabeth (known as Bessie), is described in the 1851 census as “deaf, dumb and blind”. Born in 1820, she died in 1904; there is a memorial stained glass window to her in St Paul’s Church in Hills Road, Cambridge. Bessie’s life is recorded by Dr Simon Brook, St Paul’s Church Archivist.“The window includes a painting that has become one of the most noteworthy Pre-Raphaelite paintings in all Christendom – Holman Hunt’s  ‘The Light of the world’, with scenes of Jesus healing the deaf, dumb and blind on either side.” Later censuses show Bessie living in Panton Street and then Lyndewode Road, both close to St Paul’s.

The 1861 and 1871 censuses show the Jones family living in the same house and they seem to have remained there until John Jones’s death in 1878.

John Jones’s signature from an 1865 conveyance when he bought the land adjacent to Hurst, now occupied by 95 to 99 Milton Road, the dental surgery and, roughly, 2 to 18 Hurst Park Avenue

The 1881 census shows a new family have moved in: Mark Ives Whibley, Frances Whibley and numerous children. The name has changed to “Hurst House” though most sources simply call it Hurst. The Whibleys’ purchase is recorded in the diary of accountant Josiah Chater. This diary, Victorian Cambridge: Josiah Chater’s Diaries in its abridged published form, edited by Enid Porter (1975), is to be found in manuscript at the Museum of Cambridge. Hurst Park resident Christine Gibbons transcribed the relevant part of the manuscript in 2006-7 and she tells us that on May 29, 1878 Chater made a survey of the house but experienced a conflict of interest:

This afternoon went to Jones’ house and took a good survey of it. Whibley and Mrs [Frances] and Herbert [son] were there he means to buy it  and unfortunately I am engaged for a client who wants it and wants me to give him my opinion of its value. I cannot bear to oppose Whibley but I must serve my client faithfully and not tell W who it is, it is a very nice place in good condition about 6 acres and a decent house capital garden and all necessary appointments.

It seems that Chater overcame the difficulty. Later diary entries make it clear that the Whibleys made the purchase and commissioned quite a lot of building and landscaping before they moved into Hurst the following summer. The 1885 sales particulars refer to “the New Wing” and also tell us that the land was enfranchised at some time in 1879: that is to say, Whibley would have paid a sum to the Manor of Chesterton and the copyhold land thus became freehold.

On Sunday October 13th Chater records “Chapel morning and I walked with Ernest and [?] to Hurst, Whibley’s new home” and seven weeks later on Friday November 22 he “called at Hurst just in time to stop the men from spoiling all the shrubs …”. Then the diary makes it clear that the Whibleys did not move in until the following year because there was work to be done:

Whibley’s architect Mr Kennard came down and I went with them to Hurst. He agrees with father’s plan of the garden and also the front door if it is to be altered (February 27, 1879).

That and our next extract remind us that Chater’s father, William, born 1802, was well known in Saffron Walden and beyond as a nurseryman, landscape gardener and breeder of hollyhocks.

Father came over this morning and we went up to Hurst. He looked over the work and gave me full instructions on several little matters in which I was a little in doubt. I think I see it now all correct. The men have levelled the croquet lawn and are nearly ready to lay down grass (April 23).

… at half past eight to Hurst with Whibley then round to the brickyard and to inspect all his works found things very satisfactory (May 6).

Sunday called at Hurst (May 11).

Went up to Hurst. Mr Whibley expects to get in in a fortnight (June 28).

Friday At 8.30 walked up to Hurst and had supper with Whibley. They are all up there … slept there last night for the first time … it is a nice place (July 11).

It seems likely that Frances Whibley was responsible for the change in name of the house. Her obituary in the Cambridge Independent Press, March 12, 1915, says  “The late Mrs Whibley was the daughter of Mr William Pullen of Hurst Farm, on the Chilham Castle Estate, near Canterbury”. Hurst Farm House in Kent is still there and is a listed building. In 2011 it was available to rent.

Mark Whibley, left, like other owners of Hurst, was a local businessman, and prominent in Chesterton and Cambridge society. He had a profitable grocery, soap and candle manufacturing business as well as being a Liberal Councillor. Frances Whibley was the founder of the Castle End Mission: her story is told by local historian Sara Payne in volume III of her Down Your Street series (Dalegarth Press, 2014) as well as by the Friends of Histon Road Cemetery here.

In 1885 we get our first glimpse of the house itself by virtue of some fulsome sales particulars found in the Map Room at the University Library, Cambridge.  Hurst commanded “pleasant views of the surrounding country.” The house was to be at auction on May 30th, 1885, under auctioneer Mr J Carter Jonas at the Red Lion Hotel. The sales document includes a plan of all the buildings in the sale as well as land around it. The land extended to 6 acres, all of which remained with the house until the sale to Cambridge Estates in 1927, after which most of it was built on.


This 1885 plan gives a good idea of the layout of the house, gardens, outbuildings and farmland at Hurst. Hurst Park Avenue was cut straight from Milton Road in 1928 on a line that took it through the vinery and farmery and bent slightly right across the corner of the windmill plot. It then heads straight again up the middle of the kitchen garden / arable area and on into Besters Farm (Cambridge University Library).

The plan shows that the two-acre, two-rood eight-pole freehold pasture opposite was held by John Jones’s trustees but rented by “the vendor” – who, at this date, we must presume was Whibley. Jones had bought the pasture in 1865 (see our section on the windmill where we relate how Arthur Rose bought it from Jones’s trustees). The vendor then must have been Mr French, who only needed the mill on less than half an acre of the three acres he had bought in 1862.

PR-MAPS-PSQ-00018-00599-000-00002 - Copy.jpg

The 1885 sale particulars for Hurst (Cambridge University Library).

The 1885 “sale” is puzzling as we have no source to show that it actually happened. The land title documents we have available show that the Whibleys sold Hurst to local brewer James McCallan Preston on December 29, 1891. We can, however, suggest a plausible explanation: that Hurst was let to Joshua Taylor instead of being sold and that the Taylor family were still there in 1891 and perhaps for a short time after. A well-known tailor and clothier / Alderman of the Borough of Cambridge, Taylor was known to many Cambridge residents as the owner of the department store at 57-60 Sydney Street, Cambridge, where Monsoon is now.

We know from a report of a riot—”disgraceful proceedings”—by Conservative supporters outside his house on General Election night, November 24, 1885, that Whibley was then living in Huntingdon Road (Cambridge Independent Press, November 28, 1885). In the 1891 census, he and Frances are listed at Westfield House in Huntingdon Road. Joshua Taylor is in Milton Road in Spalding’s 1887 directory at an address called Hurstfield, adjacent to the mill in the list. We are confident that is a typographical error as in 1891 Spalding has him at the right address.

We also know that Mark Whibley had left Cambridge by October 1891. He went to look after his youngest daughter Ruth, who was ill and living in Landsdowne Road, Bournemouth in another house called Hurst. On October 15th he wrote from there to resign his position as Guardian of the Poor for Chesterton Parish (Cambridge Independent Press, October 24th, 1891). Ruth died in Bournemouth, aged 22, on January 10th, 1893 (Cambridge Independent Press, January 14th, 1893).

In the 1891 census the occupiers of Hurst were: Taylor; Mary Taylor, wife; Elizabeth Ann, daughter; Mary Ann Ground Taylor, daughter; Joshua Taylor, son; Sarah Ann Papworth, Housemaid; and Fanny Ashman, cook. Kelly’s Directory of 1892 shows Preston at Spring Cottage in Chesterton Road.

the mill circa 1900

Circa 1900 view from Milton Road. Hurst, set back from the road, can be seen just above the horse’s head (Cambridgeshire Collection, Cambridge Central Library)

From some point before the 1901 census until their deaths in 1927 the house was occupied by James McCallan Preston and Florence Preston.  The Prestons had two daughters, Blanche and Ivy, though the 1911 census reveals that they had a child who had died. Florence Preston was 40 when she had Blanche Preston and 41 when she had Ivy.

The Spring corrected

Getting ready to roll: the Cambridge and County Cycling Club outside the Spring (now the Boat House), with the Spring Brewery on the left (Cambridgeshire Collection, Cambridge Central Library)

Preston (sometimes appearing in censuses as Callan Preston) is less well known to Cambridge residents, but he was the owner of the long-standing Spring Brewery in Chesterton Road, where the Tivoli cinema is being redeveloped. Preston sold it to the Yarmouth brewer E Lacon in 1898 for £38,000 (a little under £5 million in 2019, according to the Bank of England inflation calculator). The picture above shows the pub next door, also known as the Spring, now the Boat House, with a cycling group outside, but if you look at the top left-hand corner you can see a barrel weather vane on the next-door brewery roof. The cycle shop between pub and brewery is that of Mr Ison who had other premises not far away where Townsend’s shop is now at the corner of Ferry Path. The name of Ison will crop up again in our section on the development of the Hurst Park Estate.

Preston considered selling Hurst in 1899, but obviously changed his mind and stayed another 28 years. Here is his agent’s preliminary advertisement:

(Cambridge Daily News, May 11, 1899)

After Callan’s and Florence’s deaths, within a few months of each other in 1927, the house and land were bought by Cambridge Estates Ltd at the same time as another piece of land became available at an owner’s death: Laundry Farm, north and east of Hurst, shown on the 1885 sale plan as “Besters land”. So, the Hurst Park Estate development began.

The land marked in pink was bought from James MacCallan Preston’s executors by Cambridge Estates Limited for £2,750 on September 22, 1927 (Dalegarth document bundle)

Hurst scanned plan from archive - Copy

Plan of Hurst in February 1930, when permission was sought for building alterations (Cambridgeshire Archives, Ref: CB/2/SE/3/9/7719)

Hurst survived for a further 35 years as it was bought by Dr George Oakden on May 14, 1929 and became not only a home but also a doctor’s surgery—one that a number of local residents remember. Oakden sold it on to his son Dr Edward Oakden and his wife Winifred on December 29, 1959, for £6,000.

In the 1950s, the Dalegarth land documents tell us, the older Oakden applied for planning permission to build, first a bungalow and then a house in the remaining grounds of Hurst. These are numbers 5 and 7 Hurst Park Avenue. We believe that Oakden senior must have bought that land from Cambridge Estates (it is plots 3, 4, and 5 on their plan) in or around 1929. He certainly sold it with planning permission in 1955. The houses built under Cambridge Estates’ supervision begin with number 9.

The younger Oakdens sold on to R & H Wale Limited for £12,500 on July 1, 1964. At some point around that time the medical practice moved across the road to new premises built on part of the garden of 95 Milton Road, which had been truncated when that house changed hands in September 1961. R & H Wale built Dalegarth, where the earliest lease in the document bundle is from August 1966.

We are indebted to Ross Lincolne of Hobart, Tasmania, great-great-great-grandson of Mark and Frances Whibley, for the photograph of M I Whibley.