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The developer: George Ferguson

View in 1932 to the north of Ladies Mile Road, with The White House in the distance. In the foreground is the Drove Barn of Place Farm, later converted to a Methodist Church.Click on photo to open a large version in a new window
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Developer from Scotland

Mr and Mrs Ferguson, the original owners of the land, were from Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, and the roads were named after places in their beloved native land. Mrs. Ferguson’s maiden name was Mackie, and the couple first  met in 23 Sanyhils Road. Sanyhils appears to be Scottish for sandy hills. The Fergusons were members of the Plymouth Brethren, and the Mackie Hall,  a meeting hall between the bottom of Sanyhils Avenue and Heston Avenue, since demolished, had strict covenants about the activities which could go on there, eg no alcohol to be served. The Brethren were unhappy about the Ladies Mile Hotel, because it was actually a public house, but this does not seem to have affected its use. The pub, costing £9000 to build, applied for its licence in 1934, and stated that there were 1,347 houses within a half mile radius.

The Plymouth Brethren

The Brethren were a conservative, low church, nonconformist, Evangelical Christian movement, whose history can be traced to Dublin, Ireland, in the late 1820s, originating from Anglicanism, who maintained that Mr Ferguson was not a real gentleman, only a money made man. Originally Mr. Ferguson had a business partner from the Brethren, a Mr. Thorpe, but the partnership broke up over differences of opinion. George Ferguson was a very hard worker; his day started at 6am and he only knocked off at 8pm. After Patcham he built another estate at Hassocks; He died in Goring, aged 79, in about 1960.

The White House

Mr Ferguson lived in The White House halfway up Ladies Mile Road (now the Dharma School) and had his offices at the back of the building. It is said he used this high point on the hill to monitor everything that was happening; and could see if  anyone was slacking/misbehaving? Clerk of the works was Mr. C. H. Wardroper, and another of Mr. Ferguson’s right hand men was Alexander Craig, who with his wife Frances, moved into a house in Ladies Mile Road, next door to the Clock Tower shops, in 1935.

Comments about this page

  • I live in Hassocks in one of the show houses that was built by George Fergusson in 1936. When I worked in a local nursing home one of the residents worked for George and helped to build my house.

    By Jenny Jeal (01/11/2015)

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