Fringe Box



Mystery House Location Solved

Published on: 28 Feb, 2012
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2012

edited by David Rose, with story by Mike Bennett

This website’s popular weekly section titled Can You Identify These Locations? offered up a picture of mystery house a while ago. The image is from a picture postcard that I have had in my collection for some years. It’s not unique, as I know of several other collectors who also have a copy of it.

But until now no one has come up with a credible location for the house. However, Mike Bennett has kindly spent some time investigating and now supplies a likely answer.


The postcard that features a mystery house.

Here is his account:

In my spare time, I have tried to identify the source of the postcard you showed in quiz 18. I see that no-one has been able to identify it so far, so I give you my thoughts.

Firstly, is the writer of the card a resident of the house shown on the front? Well, probably. This was the era of rapid post and short notes and houses were often featured, so let’s assume so.

The wording on the back of the postcard has helped to identify the house.

Secondly, the card was sent to: Mr/Mrs E Davis, Norfolk Villa, Walton Road, Woking.

The message as follows:

Fernery House, Guildford

Dear E,
If you come to Guildford tomorrow Wednesday would you kindly bring your violin as we have a few friends to entertain.
Louisa.  RSVP.

I looked up and down Harvey Road using Google and was convinced that the house was in Charlotteville, my first guess, because of its style. Harvey Road and its feeder roads contain many similar houses – but nothing with the exact layout in the photo.

The big breakthrough came by making the assumption that the writer was still there in 1911, the census year, and by searching for all addresses in Guildford that had a house name of something ending in ‘ry house’, the only part of the house name that was clear. Eventually I found it and it was in Harvey Road!

From the census, the residents in 1911 were the Pullock family: Moses, a retired Job Master; wife Anna Maria; an unmarried daughter Emily Louisa and a widowed son William Henry. In December 1908, Emily Louisa was probably 45 years of age. She apparently used her second name to sign the card.

I have not been able to locate the person or house that the card is addressed to in Woking. There are many villas in Walton Road listed in 1901 and 1911 censuses, but I cannot find Norfolk Villa. I also cannot pin down the Davis person, after much searching. The only remotely similar person in Woking in 1911 is a 73-year-old widower Mrs Eliza Davis, in Holy Villa, Boundary Road, Woking.  I leave it to someone with local knowledge.


The likely site of the house in Harvey Road near the junction with Warren Road. Note the flint wall – it looks the same as in the old postcard picture.

Back to Charlotteville, the census tells us that the neighbouring houses to Fenery were called Dane Tree on one side and Hills Lea on the other.  Unfortunately, they do not seem to be around now, either.

A good hunt through the Lasham’s and Kelley’s directories of this period confirms that these houses were all early and probably the larger style of houses in Harvey Road, as it was built up from the 1860s onwards by Sells and Peak.

In the earliest guide, 1878, Fernery House is listed down from Claude Villa, that can be identified from early maps as being on the corner of Harvey Road and Cooper Road (later renamed  in 1879 as Addison Road).

Mrs Gee is the occupant of Fernery House for many years. By 1883, we have Hills Lea on one side of Fernery House. By 1887, Fernery House is listed as being just uphill of Union Lane (now known as Warren Road) and this is true up to 1891.

In 1905, Fernery House is listed before the three roads Warren Road, Epsom Road, Hunter Road and this suggests that it was at the bottom of the hill in Harvey Road. Dane Tree is next and it may be (or may have been) on the other side as the list then runs up to Jenner Road). It is listed up to the 1908 almanac.

A look at the modern buildings at the bottom and middle of Harvey Road show that many houses of this era have been knocked down. This seems to be true around and below Mount Alvernia Hospital and further down where Fernery House seems to have stood.

There are not many houses there on the 1873 map but there is one on the corner of Harvey Road and Union Road and this could well have been Fernery House, although its not clear that it fronted on to Harvey Road. If so, it would have looked towards the corner occupied by the Sanford Arms pub (now Rogues bar).

On that house plot now is the end of a block of modern flats.

Going back to the old postcard view, it’s not obvious what was being built in the background, though. I leave that to others to work on.

In summary, I think Fernery House probably stood on what is now the corner plot of Harvey Road and Warren Road.

David Rose adds: Assuming this is the correct location, the steel girders seen in the background of the old picture postcard would be the start of the building of what was the Alexandra Laundry. It too has gone and also replaced with flats.

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Responses to Mystery House Location Solved

  1. Graham Clarke

    July 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Well, what a surprise to come across this, the house I spent my childhood in! Your detective work is very impressive – Fernery House was indeed on the corner of Harvey and Warren Roads: our actual address was 66 Harvey Rd. I was born in Mount Alvernia in July 1946 and lived, with my parents and younger brother, in the ground-floor flat of Fernery House until 1958, when we moved to Pewley Way. My parents rented our flat (there was another on the first floor) from the owner Mr. Burns, of Burns Laundry which was behind our house, on Warren Rd., next to the Alexandra Laundry, as mentioned in the article, which stood on the corner of Warren Rd. and Cooper Rd. Fernery House had a lovely rambling garden, skirted by the very flint wall in your photo, which reached right to the corner of Baillie Rd., with an orchard and a massive walnut tree. There was a conservatory (just visible at the far right in the postcard) as well as cellars under the house, with a coal-chute accessed from a manhole in Warren Rd. Sadly, Fernery House was demolished in 1958/9 but my memories of it remain vivid! Incidentally, the ‘Pullock’ family mentioned in your feature are actually the Puttocks: Moses Puttock’s death is mentioned in the London Gazette for 29/1/28 (see link here –