Foxhills

Coloured engraving of “Foxhills”, the seat of John Ivatt Briscoe, by Thomas Allom 1840.
Engraved for Brayleys “History of Surrey”

The area known today as Foxhills was, up until the early 19th century, part of the Botleys estate. It was named Fox Hill or Fox’s Hill at the time when Botleys was owned by Sir Joseph Mawbey, a close friend of Charles James Fox, the prominent Whig politician. On the death of Mawbey in 1817, the estate was broken up with Sir Joseph’s son-in-law, John Ivatt-Briscoe, a successful lawyer and local MP, buying the area known as Fox’s Hill and France Farm.

In 1840 Ivatt-Briscoe built a new mansion using Bath stone and Suffolk brick in an imitation Tudor style, designed by the then fashionable architect George Basevi, cousin of Benjamin Disraeli. In a contemporary description of the house, E.W. Brayley wrote that “It is one of the best mansions that has been built in Surrey during the last forty or fifty years”. Although in 1962 Nikolaus Pevsner had this to say about it: “House…in loveless and mean stock brick. Tudor without a single redeeming feature. Basevi, like Decimus Burton, must have been completely indifferent to Gothic architecture. Interiors mainly gutted and replaced in 1923 by clever imitation 18th century work, hard to distinguish even at a close look”.

In the 1870s the estate passed to a distant relative of Ivatt-Briscoe, General Hutton, a veteran of the Zulu and Boer wars. Hutton was an active member of local parish life. The house served as a convalescent home for wounded officers during the First World War, after which it was sold to the Borthwicks, a successful merchant family. They ran the estate in the traditional manor with many house and estate staff. During the Second World War the family turned the farm over to the Dig for Victory campaign.

By the 1960s the estate had fallen into decline, and it was sold to Aer Lingus, the National airline of Ireland. The airline opened two golf courses in 1975, although it was not the immediate success the company had hoped for. As a result, Foxhills was sold for £1.4 million in 1983 to businessman Ian Hayton. He modernised the club and put an emphasis on families, giving equal status to women which was quite unusual for a golf club in the early 1980s! Foxhills is still a private health/country club and is now called Foxhills Club and Resort.

References:

www.foxhills.co.uk/about-us/our-history.aspx?css=1
Cannon, Sarah B., ‘The Church District of Botleys and Lyne between 1848 and 1918’