A newcomer moves to Wilstone

In 1953 Chapel Farmhouse and the orchard in front of it had were sold by the Gregory family to Dorothea Measom. On her death in 1956, the property was inherited by Herbert Samuel Stevens living in Chelsea, known as Jan Stevens, and reported to have been a close friend of Dorothea.

He moved into the farmhouse which had been little modernised since Victorian times. Mr Stevens was not a person to alter a building of such history and made only a few alterations.

Jan Stevens was a theatre critic for the Times newspapers, He was a keen horticulturalist and, although he made few changes to the house, he did stock the walled garden with a variety of interesting specimen plants and trees from around the world. He also arranged through his many acquaintances in the Arts and theatre world for well-known personalities to open Wilstone Horticultural Society’s Annual Fetes and Flower Shows, including Donald Sinden, Wilfrid Brambell and Norman Rossington.

This flashback originates from some hitherto unpublished research by John Painter. John cited extracts from the work of Dick Gomm, fellow writer and researcher of Wilstone history, as part of this and many other house histories.

We would be interested to hear from any one who remembers Jan Stevens and his acquaintances in the theatre world.

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