East Horsley, nr Ockham, Surrey

Ada Lovelace's husband, William King, Earl of Lovelace, was originally Baron Ockham and had his family seat at Ockham Park, but they acquired East Horsley Park, in East Horsley, a few miles to the south, in 1840 [D. L. Moore, pp.64 & 206]. Lord Lovelace spent thirty years transforming the building into a Rhenish Gothic castle. It was renamed Horsley Towers after he added an extraordinary tower in 1858. The building still stands at the south end of Ockham Road South and is now (1999) the Horsley Management Centre and Towers, a conference centre. Lovelace pioneered the use of wood formed after being steamed - he reported this to the Institution of Civil Engineers and Isambard Kingdom Brunel expressed approval of Lovelace's Great Hall built in 1847 using bent beams (photo on p.10 of Beach, see below). He had excellent bricks made and won the medal for brickmaking at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Lovelace was Lord Lieutenant of Surrey in 1840, FRS in 1841 and FICE. Beach [p.16] says there is a memorial tablet to Ada in the Chapel, but I didn't notice it. Lovelace rebuilt a number of buildings in the village and elsewhere in his characteristic style. He also built a number of characteristic horseshoe shaped bridges for transporting timber. [Derek Palmer, Surrey Rambles Ten country walks around Surrey, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire, 1987, pp.32-36] gives a walk which passes under two of these bridges, but says most of them are disappearing. Lovelace attended nearby St. Martin's Church, where he is buried in a mausoleum he had built some 20 years previously in the NE corner of the churchyard. In 1919-1926, Horsley Towers was bought by T. O. M. Sopwith, the yacht and aircraft designer. [Lucinda Lambton, An Album of Curious Houses, Chatto & Windus, 1988, pp.140-143; Peter Beach, The History of Horsley Towers, PB Publishing, Woking, 1998; Pam Bowley, A Little Guide to St. Martin's Church East Horsley Surrey, East Horsley Parochial Council, 1986.]

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