Charles Forster Hayward
by Susan Quelch and the RH7 History Group

Charles Hayward was a successful architect, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). His plans, drawings and sketches show his skill as a draughtsman. Several of his plans and drawings of the Cottages at North Street in Lingfield have recently been discovered in a hidden drawer and add to our understanding of Hayward’s importance as both an architect and a preserver of local historical buildings.

Charles Forster Hayward. Author’s own image.

Hayward’s diaries reveal much about his architectural work but also situate his own life into its broader social contexts. In 1859, for example, fear of a French invasion seized the country. In a wave of patriotic enthusiasm numerous rifle volunteer units were raised and o 8th June 1859 Charles Hayward joined the Victoria Rifles. From June to December that year Charles drilled, paraded and trained with the Victoria Rifles. On one occasion 200 riflemen mustered at Apsley House, the home of the Duke of Wellington.

The Hayward Collections, held in Lingfield Library, also hold wonderful glimpses of Hayward’s working practice. Hayward frequently made sketches, wherever he went and on whatever paper was to hand. The collection includes a sketch on the back of a concert programme of his plan for the new Stable (now the garage of Barn Cottage), which was built to house his pony and trap. We also know that whilst rummaging in an old chest in the undercroft of St Peter & St Paul Church in Lingfield Charles Hayward discovered fragments of medieval (c.1440) glass. According to the medieval historian Prof. Nigel Saul the fragments came from a window in the south wall of the chancel. Charles Hayward was responsible for fixing the fragments back in the south wall of the chancel in 1899.

Hayward bought the row of cottages (see image below) in 1896 and in the following two years he restored the 15th-century building, which is believed to have been the Guest House belonging to Lingfield College. Samples from several timbers in the medieval frame were recently ‘dendro-dated’ by the Domestic Buildings Research Group. Analysis showed that the timbers were probably felled in the winter of 1473/74. Building would have started shortly after felling, probably in the opinion of the experts in 1475.

The Guest House. Author’s own image.

During the restoration a large double-height 15th-century window was revealed behind the plasterwork in the front (east) elevation. The window had been hidden and thankfully not destroyed by the many conversions over its lifetime. The window was fully restored by Hayward. The building had once been an ale-house called the ‘French Horn’ before conversion to cottages. The Guest House now houses the Lingfield Library and the Hayward History Centre archive collection. Charles Forster Hayward’s initials are included in the decorative ironwork in the gate to the Guest House.

Decorative gate to the Guest House. Author’s own image.

In 2012 the V & A Museum were very interested to hear of Hayward’s drawings and diary held by the Hayward History Centre, as they already held and substantial amount of his work. They subsequently borrowed the items and these were used in a publication the following year.

His first wife Lucy Emilia, the mother of his four children, died in 1891 aged 49. He married Charlotte (called ‘Carrie’) in 1898. He died in July 1905 and the Guest House was left to his wife for her lifetime.

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