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6th September 1879 Luton Times

Garden Party at Hart Hill – On Monday last, a garden party was held at Hart Hill, the beautiful residence of Mr A.P. Welch, in aid of St. Matthews Church and Vicarage fund.  It will be remembered that arrangements had been made to hold an out-door gathering of the kind last Wednesday week, but that, of the unfavourable weather, the promoters were compelled to substitute a bazaar and entertainment at the Waller Street Plait Hall.  They were more fortunate in the selection of Monday, when the weather, in hackneyed phrase, was all that could be desired, the sun shining brilliantly while the heat was tempered by a cooling breeze.  Under the circumstances, a great number of persons embraced the opportunity so kindly offered of inspecting the house and grounds which present so charming an appearance from the valley beneath.  The gates were opened at three o’clock and visitors poured in during the afternoon until about five o’clock, the grounds were crowded with an assemblage representing all classes in the town.  The ladies and gentlemen who took a prominent part in the conduct of the party were the same as those mentioned last week, while the articles exposed for sale in different parts of the garden were those left over from the bazaar: but it need scarcely be said that the scene was much more attractive, that there were many additional objects of interest to visitors, that the toilettes of the ladies appeared much more brilliant and that the open-air gathering possessed a greater charm than any appertaining to an in-door entertainment.  In opening his gates to the public, Mr Welch very generously did so without any reserve, visitors were allowed to wander through the shrubberies and along the well-kept terraces at will, and many must have been impressed with the beauty of the view from the lawn in front of the house.  All Luton lies at the feet of the spectator, the course of the Lea valley can be traced for a long way in both directions, and the picture is completed, in the direction of Dunstable, by the rounded outline of the chalk hills.  Not less agreeable than this panoramic glimpse of the immediate neighbourhood was a walk along the paths with the gaily-dressed company.  By a leafy avenue to the right of the house from the road was a large meadow where refreshments tents had been erected, and the band of the Rifle Volunteers, under band-master Bryer, discoursed a good selection of music, while children (mostly those of a larger growth) literally made hay while the sun shone, and seemed mightily to enjoy the exercise.  Here were swings and other amusements, and a show of donkeys, most of them in excellent condition, under the auspices of the Animals’ Friend Society, the members of which would scarcely have approved of the vigorous way in which sticks were sometimes adopted to the hides of unfortunate quadrupeds.  In the summer-houses and in shady nooks under the trees stalls were kept for the sale of fancy articles and baskets of fruit.  Mrs Welch conducted sales in a large summer-house, built of inlaid pine, which was inspected with a good deal of curiosity.  Miss Welch kept a fancy stall on the lawn, assisted by Miss Constance Welch, of Herne Hill, who was charmingly attired as a Spanish flower girl.  One of the Misses Kershaw, a little girl, sold dolls in the character of the “old woman who lived in a shoe”, and Miss Parkins, whose assistance on these occasions is invaluable, had taken possession of a snug little summer-house, where, attired as a gipsy she had a most amusing account of these wanderers, her remarks being illustrated by a group of figures and materials representing a gipsy encampment.  From the front of the house, a number of balloons were successfully sent up, and altogether a very pleasant afternoon and evening were spent, the company not separating until dark.  Amongst those present were :- The Rev. J. Wood, Mr and Mrs Sworder, Dr and Mrs Horace Sworder, Mr and Mrs J.C. Minet, Mr J.J. Kershaw, the Misses Kershaw, Miss Jaffrey, Mr R.S. Tomson, the Rev. J. Finch-Smith, the Rev. R. Fisher, Mrs H. Wright, Mrs Cumberland, Miss Cumberland, Mr Hugh Cumberland, Mrs Simons and the Misses Simons, Mr and Mrs Halse, Mrs and Miss Bailey, Mrs Marshall, Mrs J.W. Green, Mrs Charles Austin, Miss Agnes Austin, Mr T. M. Hodgkinson, Mrs C. Cowsill, Miss Duberly, Mr James Higgins and family, Mr W.H. Higgins and the Misses Higgins, Mr and Mrs Middlemiss, the Misses Inwards, Miss Grace, Mr and Mrs J. Gladwell, Mr and Mrs Spratley, Mrs D. Cain, Mr Eli Hucklesby, Mrs Hucklesby, Mr and Mrs Barford, Mr J. Horton, Mrs Lambie, Mrs Lane, Miss Gunn, Mrs Taylor, the Misses Seymour, Miss Barrett, Mr Schubert, Mrs Cawdell, Mrs F. Cook, Mr and Mrs Bingham, Miss Green, Miss Kidman, Mr Bond, Mr Shackleton, Miss Cox, Miss Banks, Mr Inward, Miss Goodman, Miss Worboys, Mr Barton, Mr Bennett, Mr and Mrs Johnson, Miss Kennedy, and the Masters Scargill, Miss Vyse, Mrs E.O. Williams, Miss Edwards, Miss Pearman, Mrs Gudgeon, Mrs Davis, Mrs E.H. Lowe, Miss Twidell, Mr and Mrs E. Taylor, Mrs Ham etc.  The gross receipts at the Plait Halls, and at the gardens at Hart Hill amounted to £107 2s 8d., and the sum of £100 has been paid into the bank towards the debt on St. Matthews Church and vicarage. 

27th February 1880 Luton Times

Hart Hill Estate – We understand that Hart Hill estate, on the rising ground beyond Midland railway, and extending from Crawley Green-road to Hitchin-road, has been purchased by Messrs J.R. Brown and Humphreys, architects, Luton, and that a portion of it will be at once laid out for building plots on a plan embracing the whole area.  The estate has a south-westerly aspect, and is shielded from the north by the range of hills above it.  No pleasanter spot can be desired, and when it is dotted all over with villa residences, each with a fair portion of pleasure ground attached, the appearance of Luton will be greatly enhanced.  As it exists the estate is fairly wooded, so that persons building there will secure a park like aspect which it would take 20 years to cultivate in a place not so naturally favoured.  We heartily commend the enterprise of Messrs J.R. Brown and Humphreys, and regard it as offering a highly advantageous extension of the town in a direction that cannot but be most acceptable.  

From the Luton Reporter newspaper of 17 March 1880

For sale on the Midland Main Line and G.N. and N.W. Branches, near the stations, the freehold residence, Hart Hill House beautifully situated on the hill side, with a southern aspect, over-looking the improving town of Luton.  30 miles from London, with two acres of ground consisting of terraced gardens and lawns, tastefully laid out and well shrubbed, excellent conservatory, potting and apple houses, picturesque summer house, coachman’s cottage and stabling for four horses.  The residence contains eight bedrooms, three dressing rooms, three reception room, cloak rooms, domestic offices etc.  Apply J.R. Brown and Humphreys, Architects, Luton.  

Luton Times 4th June 1880

Hart Hill House – As our readers are aware Hart Hill estate has been recently purchased by Messrs J.R. Brown and Humphreys and laid out for the erection of villa residences.  On his removal to London, Mr A.P. Welch, J.P., is about to leave Hart Hill house, and it was offered by auction on Wednesday at the George hotel, by Mr Cumberland.  Detailed and elaborate plans and particulars were issued, containing besides the usual coloured lithographs, a pair of chromos showing the house and terraces from two aspects.  A numerous company assembled, considerable local interest being taken in the sale, although it was hardly expected  there would be local purchaser.  Mr Cumberland said he had the honour of submitting one of the most charming residences in Luton.  Hart Hill House was unique – there was nothing to match it in Luton or the county, from the beauty of its position and surroundings.  It had been occupied for some years by Mr Welch, who had expended upon it a large sum to bring it to its present state of perfection.  It was one of the most perfect places that could be found both internally and externally.  From its elevated situation there were extensive and pretty views, and yet it was within an easy distance of both railway stations.  It was sheltered from the east and north-east winds.  The fittings of the house were of the completest description, and on taking possession of it there would nothing required to be done.  Such a house was not offered above once in a lifetime.  A number of things were amongst the fixtures beyond those ordinarily included, the value of which would be several hundred pounds.  The property was divided into four lots, the sale of the other three being contingent on the first being disposed of, as the purchaser of that lot would have the other offered him at a very moderate fixed price.  Various roads and paths were laid out on the estate, and with a view to their maintenance, and that they might be kept private, there were special covenants to be entered into.  These he asked Mr W. Austin representing F.C. Scargill, Esq., to read and explain, which was being done, Mr Cumberland read the particulars and expatiated upon them.  At the end a bidding was asked.  £1,000 was suggested, but the auctioneer said it was no use to begin so unreasonable low and named £1,500.  From this point to £2,000 the biddings slowly rose by hundreds, after which twenties were taken to £2,400, and then tens to £2,450 when it was bought in, the reserve not being reached.  It was stated that the house had cost considerably over £3,000, exclusive of the land and outbuildings, and the expenditure on grounds etc.  

Luton Times 9th July 1880

Garden Party at Hart Hill.  All who attended the garden party at Hart Hill last year will be glad of an opportunity of assembling in that lovely spot again, and those who have not been there may take our word that the prettiness of the place, its pleasant linches and romantic groves, to say nothing of the feeling that you are untold feet higher than in ordinary life walking in the valley of the Lea, make it well worth a visit.  Instrumental music, singing, hand-bell performances, a flower show, and games are specially provided, and, if the weather be favourable – as we hope it may be – the party will no doubt be highly enjoyable.  Everybody is invited, and we hope will attend “with his cousins and aunts”.  

Luton Times 16th July 1880

The profits of Hart Hill garden entertainment on behalf of St. Matthew’s vicarage building fund was £42 7s 9d.