Bassetts is a large house in Starts Hill Road, connecting Farnborough with Locksbottom. The house has an interesting and eventful history. It is listed by the London Borough of Bromley as a building deemed to have architectural interest.

Richard Healey, a former resident of Farnborough who now lives in one of the appartments in the original building has researched the history which he writes about below.

These Ordnance Survey maps dated 1910 and 1938 show the location before and after the house was built click to enlarge.

OS 6 inch map 1908 OS 6 inch map 1931
Modern Google view of Bassetts House, Click for interactive enlargement

The site where Bassetts House now stands was originally a farm. It was called Starts Hill Farm, and in 1886 it was owned by John Locke Lovibond of the Lovibond Brewing Company, Greenwich. In 1880 -1890 Henry and Caroline Dodd were tenant farmers.

When Bassetts House started to be built in 1911 there were some farm buildings and orchards on the site. The house was built for Arthur Neville Lubbock, nephew of Sir John Lubbock of High Elms. Sir John was a banker and politician, and friend of Charles Darwin who lived in Downe. Arthur Neville Lubbock was born in 1869 and married in 1895 to Alice Ellen Tiarks, one of many daughters of Henry F Tiarks of Foxbury, Chislehurst.

The Lubbocks and the Tiarks were both prominent landowning families at the beginning of the 20th century. Miss Agnes Tiarks, sister of Alice Ellen Lubbock, (née Tiarks) although very old was still living in Chislehurst until fairly recently.

The Lubbocks lived in Bassetts House for 25 years. The motto above the front door, ‘Auctor Pretisa Facit’, means ‘The Author Makes Precious’, or ‘The Giver Makes the Gift Precious’. The architect was mainly Maurice Everett Webb, son of Sir Aston Webb from London. Sir Aston Webb (knighted in 1904) also helped design the Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Admiralty Arch, Queen Victoria Memorial and the East front of Buckingham Palace.

Bassetts House was built by Higgs and Hill, contractors. In 1933 the Westfield Boys Boarding School transferred from Orpington High Street to Bassetts House and stayed there until war broke out in 1939 at which time the boy’s school was evacuated to Devon. The headmaster was E M Lawford.

In 1939 the building was taken over by Kent County Council for a Nurses Home and as such was used by Farnborough Hospital. The nearby houses in Bassetts Way and Starts Hill were being built at this time.

In 1994 the house became an administration block overseeing a complex of sheltered accommodation houses in the grounds, known as Bassetts Campus.

The house was empty for a number of years, then a Residential Developer, London Square, purchased it for £15 million in 2015. The house has been refurbished on the outside in keeping with its listed status and 13 apartments made internally. The other houses on the 6.3 acre site were demolished and a further 90 properties consisting of one and two bedroom apartments and three and four bedroom houses have been built. There is a large pond and mature trees in the grounds. Ecologists monitor the crested newts, bats and badgers on the site annually.

Richard Healey
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