One of the more formidable characters who resided at West Horsley Place was Henry Currie.  He did not own the house and estate, it was leased to him by the Reverend Charles Weston, who, in 1835 became Lord of the Manor as well as Rector of the Parish. He had made many improvements to the Old Rectory and preferred to remain there. Henry Currie lived in West Horsley Place until his death in 1873.  It is quite possible, that when Henry MacGregor Weston inherited the estate in 1863 he would have preferred to live in the manor house, but ‘Tsar’ Henry Currie was in residence and whatever the lease agreement Henry MacGregor decided to build Cranmore House, (now Cranmore School) and leave well alone.  In some historic sources, Currie is credited with owning the Manor, such was the power of his personality!

He confidently assumed the role of ‘Lord of the Manor,’ and it is said that there was considerable trepidation of the part of the villagers if they encountered him in one of his fierce moods; but he certainly discharged his ‘lordly’ duties and was generous to church and village.


Henry Currie was born on the 15th October 1799 and baptised in St. Martins, East Horsley. He was the son of the banker William Currie of Horsley Manor (now Horsley Towers) and his wife Percy Gore, also from a banking family. Henry attended Eton College, and then entered the family banking company, Mason, Currie, James and Yallowbey (later affiliated with Glyn Mills) which was based in Cornhill, London. Henry Currie also had a London address – Park Street, Grosvenor Square.

On the 18th October 1825 he married Emma Knox of Marylebone, London.  Their first child, Henry William was born in East Horsley in 1826 but sadly died within two months. (1) In 1828 a second son, also christened Henry William, was born.  It was not unusual for parents to choose the same name for a surviving child. A daughter named Emily was born in 1828 and it is through her recollections that insight is gained into the character of her father and his Horsley – and Surrey – legacy.  A second daughter, Mary, was born in 1831.


As a child of the Horsleys, born in East Horsley Manor, Currie must have been familiar with the villages and other families such as the Westons, living in the neighbouring manor house of West Horsley. When he took over the lease – and proxy lordship – of West Horsley Manor it was very apparent that he meant to take his role seriously.  Emily writes: ‘The approach to the house was from the Guildford and Epsom Road, through a lodge built by my father.’ She also describes: ‘two brick dog kennels put up by my father, most people think they are the same date as the house.’ (2) These impressive kennels are now Grade II listed; they were the homes of two fine deer hounds: Dersey and Dermid.

Currie employed a large staff of servants; there are between fifteen and twenty persons listed in the Census Returns for 1861 and 1871.  There were also grandchildren staying in the house. Emily Currie had married Charles Henry Wyndham A'Court Repington in 1854, and her son Charles described the chilly house in winter as ’simply awful.’ Emily writes of her father as ‘impervious to cold … he would never allow a fire to be lit in his room and wished his grandsons to be as hard as he was.’ (3)

Around the same time that Henry Currie took up residence in West Horsley Manor, he also took a ten year lease on the Church House next to St. Mary’s Parish Church.  He added two closets and two hog pounds. The Rector kept a right of way through the grounds so that he could stable his horse while he was leading the Sunday Service.

In 1840, East Horsley Manor, Currie’s childhood home, was sold by his elder brother to William King, Baron Ockham, later, Lord Lovelace.  Henry was not best pleased as he wanted the estate to remain in the Currie family.

 The Tithe Map of 1842 gives ownership of Pebble Hill Farm, at the top of Shere Road to Currie.  A later Census names John Crouch as residing there and running the farm. He was listed in the 1841 Census as living in the locality when he may have been managing the farm for Currie.  In the 1850s Currie built a Victorian style cottage opposite the farm, which he used as a pied-a-terre.  He named his cottage ‘Pebble Hill Farm.’

In 1847 Henry Currie became Member of Parliament for Guildford, he sat in the House of Commons for five years.  He was also a powerful J.P. depicted as the ‘terror of evildoers and loved most a poaching affray.’

In both 1861 and 1872 Census Returns, Currie is listed as a banker and farmer.  He employed fifteen men and six boys on the land.  His livestock was much admired and included a fine herd of Alderney cows, Berkshire pigs, South Downs sheep and splendid shire horses.  He was passionately opposed to the railway and did everything possible to prevent its development in the villages. There is an apocryphal story describing him threatening railway surveyors near ‘his’ land with a horsewhip. Curiously, Parliamentary records list him as investing £3,125 in a Railway Subscription Contract in 1846. (4)

In 1847 Currie’s lease on the Church House was extended with the proviso that the premises could be temporarily let to the Parish Clerk.


Fearsome though he could be there was another side to Henry Currie: he was a kind and generous man and the village benefited from this. As a banker he obtained advantageous deals for village projects. In 1854 he advanced £200 – interest free – to be used for the construction of a new Church cottage and outbuildings in East Lane where the Reverend Henry Cerjat resided when he was curate of St. Mary’s. In the same year Currie made £103 available for the re-shingling of the church spire and he contributed to St. Mary’s School which was built by Henry Cerjat in 1861, after he became Rector of the Parish. Cerjat bought land in The Street for the building and an orchard where the children played.  The first school, in a wooden building, had been set up earlier by the Rev. Weston Fullerton.  Henry Currie  was also a prime mover in the restoration of St. Martha-on-the-hill Chapel.  On a personal level, Ada Lovelace turned to him for help with money:

To Henry Currie

1st May, 1848                                                                          19 Cumberland Street.

Dear Mr. Currie,

I have received £500 safely, and sincerely thank you for this very kind assistance. In order to prevent the possibility of future misunderstanding I will repeat the terms we have agreed upon:

1st: I am to pay 5 per cent interest per annum during the period that the loan shall continue:-

2nd: I am to repay you £100 of the Capital (May 1st, 1849) and £100 every six months subsequently

Thus the whole loan will have been paid off this day three years hence (May 1st, 1851).

My present embarrassments originate in a very small sum (considering my inheritance and position) which was settled upon me upon marriage. This sum has been totally insufficient to meet the expenses incident to my position as Lord Lovelace’s wife.

Very heavy expenses which are at the moment entailed on Lord L. by his building and some other circumstances, have made me feel that I should be wrong if I adopted your suggestion of applying to him (at present) for so considerable sum as that for which I am now indebted to yourself.  But I have the fullest ground for expecting from him henceforward those increased means which would preclude difficulties in future.

I believe you are fully aware that I have applied to you on two special grounds: 1st my conviction of your highly honourable character and generous feelings: 2nd It appeared to me very fitting to make such an application to a Banker and in every way most proper and natural.

            Very faithfully yrs.                   Augusta Ada Lovelace   (5.)


The Currie household consistently supported those in the village who were in need: hot soup was provided to those who could walk over the fields to the manor kitchen, those who were elderly and infirm were visited by the Currie ladies with baskets of fruit and vegetables, puddings and victuals.  Firewood from the estate was always made available in the village.

As Henry aged, he mellowed, and often spent time in his little Pebble Hill Farm cottage. There is a record of a visit by Captain, later Lieutenant Colonel Charles Lennox Tredcroft, who was on a visit to his Lovelace relatives at Horsley Towers. He and his wife Harriette, with Lady Lovelace, had gone to West Horsley for a meet of the Surrey Union Hounds. They decided to walk up to Pebble Hill Farm where they were entertained by ‘old Mr. Currie,’ in 'his pretty cottage in the woods.’ he insisted upon giving them cherry brandy. (6.)


There is no mention of Emma, Henry’s wife, after the birth of their children, and it has always been assumed that she died young. But the 1871 Census shows a ‘Mary Currie, aged 50’ as the wife of Henry Currie. Research reveals that she was Mary Margaret Sullivan, daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Sullivan of Thames Ditton. The marriage took place in London, on 20th February 1869, just four years before Currie’s death.  Intriguingly, the bride was the older sister of Sir Edward Sullivan, who had married Henry Currie’s daughter Mary in 1859. Further research discovered an Emma Currie nee Knox living in Marylebone, where she had resided before her marriage to Henry Currie.  She died in July, 1868.

Henry Currie died on the 26th May 1873 and is buried at St, Martha’s Chapel. He was a regular churchgoer at St. Mary’s West Horsley and there is a stained glass memorial to him in the South Aisle of the church.  The window shows scenes from the life of St. Andrew, a suitable reference to Henry Currie’s Scottish ancestry.

June Davey



  1. https://
  3. Bowley, Pam, West Horsley Place, Alton: Image Print 2001 Ltd, p. 67
  4. Contracts deposited in the Private Bill Office in Sess. 1846. Parliamentary Papers Vol. 38 https://books/
  5. A_Life_and__a__Legacy, p.204/205
  6. Bowley, Pam, ibid
  7. Sullivan. London and Surrey, England. Marriage Bonds & Allegations, 1592-1921
  8. https://www.ssp/


Bowley, Pam, Woodcote: The Story of an Ancient Hamlet in Horsley, Bowley: The Horsley Countryside Preservation Society, Woking: Print-Line

Bowley, Pam, Old West Horsley, Alton: Rodek Printing, 2000

Bowley, Pam, West Horsley Place, Alton: Image Print 2000 Ltd. 2007

Gascoigne, Bamber, West Horsley Place: A New Start, 2018