Isle-of-Thanet-L Archives

Archiver > Isle-of-Thanet > 2006-02 > 1140552464

From: "suzannah.foad" <>
Subject: Friends Park and Northdown House/Estate Margate
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 20:07:44 -0000
References: <>

Dearest Norma,

Well, where do you want me to start on Friends park, Northdown House and
James Taddy Friend who owned the Northdown Estate etc?

Northdown House had 40 rooms and was built roughly 1770-90. Until the 1980's
had become just another derelict country house, I went Ghost hunting in
there in the late 1980's when it was derelict, with my big sisters who were
supposed to be baby sitting me.
It was in a very bad state of vandalism, but luckily councilor Frank
Matthews had a preservation order slapped on it and now its Grade II Listed.
The Thanet Council have looked after it quite well.

The house's most well known occupants were of course the FRIEND family of
the Victorian era, who descendants still live in the area. They were well
connected within Thanet and asserted a great deal of influence throughout
the area. All in all, they had thirty eight acres of good, fertile farming
land and had practiced innovatory methods connected with dairy produce and
crop growing. In order to trace their connection with Northdown house it is
necessary to refer to the TOMLIN family.

The TOMLIN family have lived in Thanet for many generations and as Pat
Kendell said, there is a Friends Avenue and also a Tomlin Dive on the
Millmead Estate.
The 1860 edition of Walford's "Country Families' described them as the
oldest family in the area, their estates having been handed down from 1372.
All the land at Northdown had belonged to the Tomlin family with the
exception of Northdown House, as a small Georgian Country house with a small

In 1815 Northdown House was occupied by a young army officer and his wife.
The officer was mortally wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, and when he was
dying he gave his gold watch to his soldier servant and asked him when he
returned home to take it to his widow and tell her how he died. The servant
did this, and after a while he married the widow. She took his name of WHALE
or WALE and they had two daughters. The house was also occupied for a time
by a gentleman called BAKER, although it is not known whether he lived at
the house before or after the WHALE occupation. He had thirteen children
and unfortunately drowned himself in a well inside the cellar. This may be
the same well where Cobb took his water for the Northdown Ale.
The Wheatsheaf Public House nearby dates to the lat 1700's and may have sold
the Northdown Ale which Samuel Pepys was so fond of and he mentioned it in
his diary (27th August 1660). He also commented on the September
when he gave a bottle to his clerk which 'made the man almost drunk' and his
entry for 26th October states that ' my father and Doctor Thomas Pepys dined
at my house, the last of whom I did fox with Margate ale'.

Back to the FRIEND family. Ann TOMLIN, daughter of Robert and Sarah CRAMP
set out for France on 12th August 1823, in the company of her sister Jane
and "Mr FRIEND'. The was presumably George FRIEND of Clapham, born in 1790
and a descendant of a well to do Birchington family. The Friend's in fact
wealthy land owner whose farming connections with Thanet have extended over
six centuries, so the marriage between Ann TOMLIN and George FRIEND was well
They married 20th may 1821 and had one child James Taddy FRIEND, born 24th
November 1827. Unfortunately, George FRIEND was tragically killed when
trying out a new Phaeton (Carriage); the horse bolted and he, and his groom
FASHAM, were thrown out.

Ann FRIEND left London following her husbands death and went to live near
her father who lived at East Northdown House. She lived opposite her father
with her four year old son in East Northdown Farmhouse. (Have picture) On
coming of age, James Taddy FRIEND inherited money from his father so he and
his mother purchased Northdown House.

The Road from Kingsgate the went through where the back gate of Northdown
Park is now, and re-appeared approximately near the top of what is now known
as Queen Elizabeth Avenue, a dual carriageway which runs the length of
Northdown Park. Ann FRIEND and her son wished to enlarge the house and
garden and granted permission to make a new road, the one which now exists,
they drew the old Road into the garden and the surrounds of Northdown House.

Also, James Taddy FRIEND 1827-1909's second marriage in October 1878 was to
May Stewart IRVINE and there is also a Irvine Drive, again on the Millmead
Estate near Northdown.
His first marriage was childless but with May had four boys and two girls
between 1879-1886.

Ann FRIEND's father, Robert TOMLIN, died 10th October 1850. He left some of
his lands at East Northdown to his daughter and she put these lands into
Northdown. In 1850, James Taddy had a flint wall built round Northdown Park
and although there is evidence of this today, most of it has been pulled
down to widen the Roads. Of the part there is left, there is a foundation
like stone with the Initials A.F and J.T.F 1851 built into the flint wall.

Other parts of the Northdown Estate were,

The Diary Cottage. The sole survivor of farm buildings, the rest being
demolished for Queen Elizabeth Avenue. Built around 1850 it may be of
slightly earlier origin.

East Northdown Farmhouse (as mentioned above.)
Situated on the South East side of Northdown Park Road. It was built in the
18th Century.

East Northdown House (as mentioned above.)
Situated on the North Side of Northdown Park Road, also 18th Century with
two 19th Century bays added to the ground and first floor windows. There is
a cottage adjoining the house, dated 1731 or 21, (can't think!), called East
Northdown Cottage which has a two-storey stable to the left.

West Northdown Farmhouse and Stable Cottage adjoining Omer Farm
A lovely flint house dated 1652, having two storeys and an attic. The stable
cottage is one storey of flint and red brick. Both still standing.

West Northdown Cottage, (Omer Farm)
This was built 1933 from old materials in a 17th Century style.

I went to a families 70th Birthday at Northdown House last October and the
rooms known in the FRIEND's occupation as the drawing and the dining room is
used as exhibition and meeting rooms, the library and Mrs FRIEND's room
which are now the red and gold rooms, the dining rooms is the present public
service room, two first floor bedrooms have been knocked into one, now known
as the Green Suite and the ballroom is now the Blue Room. Part of the
remaining kitchen area is now in use as a children's day nursery and public

The Library was said to have walnut bookcases and the Adams fireplace in Mrs
FRIEND's room (Gold room) is still in evidence today. There is an original
Italian mosaic floor in the main hall

I have The FRIEND family tree back to Daniel c.1590

After World War Two the Northdown Estate fell into the hands of the Margate
Corporation who opened it as a Public Park. I do know that it was a custom
in the family, that for every child that was born, a tree should be planted.
The main variety of trees that were grown were beech trees and a special
rare variety called "The Northdown Clawnut". The existence of this tree can
be traced back to Ann FRIEND, who had a childhood connection to Dane Court.
One night when only three to four years of age with an alarming threat of
invasion from Napoleon, she was taken there for safety. Later considering
this adventure, she grew a lot of walnut trees from walnuts, hoping these
would provide timber ships for the navy. An avenue of these trees still in
fact existed at Northdown until early 1900's, it was a superior brand and
cuttings were often taken for the Queen's nursery.

James Taddy FRIEND also had St Mary's Church built in 1893, for the sole use
of his family, their servants and the cottagers. It suffered bomb damage in
when a bomb fell in the grounds of Northdown House. In 1959 St Mary's was
incorporated into the new Holy Trinity Church, which was bombed in 1943, as
the north chapel. I have lots on James Taddy FRIEND and his tobacco and
Snuff Empire.

Talking of servants, a Victorian Country House could hardly function without
a moderate number of indoor staff. At Northdown there is believed to have
been around 14 indoor staff; two housemaids, two ladies maids, a butler (who
also provided services for the gentlemen) a cook and a bootboy as well as
seven indoor gardeners. Seven outdoor gardeners were employed, many farm
labourers and managers, laundresses, bakers and coachmen. Most of their
employees worked for pittance taking just four days holiday a year after the
harvest in October. The work was very hard and long and naturally employees
resented the fat that they should be submissive to their rich employees.

1871 Census lists many servants

Name Estimated Birth Year Birthplace Relationship Civil Parish County/Island
James J Friend abt 1828 London, England Head Margate St John Kent
Fanny Friend abt 1832 Ireland Wife Margate St John Kent
Ann Friend abt 1801 Margate, Kent, England Mother Margate St John Kent
James Abernethy abt 1845 Aberdeenshire, Scotland Visitor Margate St John
Sarah F Geddes abt 1839 Jamaica Visitor Margate St John Kent
Ann Andrews abt 1853 Canterbury, Kent, England Servant Margate St John
Alice Hogbin abt 1849 Folkestone, Kent, England Servant Margate St John
Jane A Renhear abt 1812 London, England Cook Margate St John Kent
John Sewell abt 1840 Erces, Prettlewell Servant Margate St John Kent
Elizabeth Watson abt 1851 Margate, Kent, England Servant Margate St John
George Watson abt 1854 Margate, Kent, England Servant Margate St John
Martha Weeks abt 1846 Hampshire, England Servant Margate St John Kent


> PS Don't suppose your family knew NORTHDOWN PARK as FRIEND'S PARK ? I
> now that it is because of the FRIEND family, but my Nan always said it
> because " I meet all my FRIEND'S there."
> Don't know anyone else who knows it as FRIEND'S PARK, not even our lovely


No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.375 / Virus Database: 268.0.0/266 - Release Date: 2/21/06

This thread: