Albert Chewett and family

Rossin-House

During the nineteenth century the Chewett family was one of the most prominent and influential in Toronto, Canada. In 1798 they purchased a large plot of land in downtown Toronto that they developed in 1835 by building Toronto's first business block, the Chewett building, comprising apartments, offices and stores. In 1855, Charles and Marcus Rossin purchased the site and built a luxury hotel, the Rossin House hotel, although interestingly, the Rossins carried out the acquisition with a mortgage raised from the Chewetts. Initially a success, the hotel attracted prestigious clients such as the Prince of Wales. Running the hotel proved expensive, and debts mounted. In 1883, after a series of events possibly orchestrated by the Chewett family, all stock of the Rossin House Hotel company ended up in the hands of five members of the Chewett family. They further developed the hotel but by the early 20th century all the Chewetts had moved to England. The property and land was finally sold by the Chewetts in 1946. 

Albert Ranney Chewett, the youngest of a family of six, came to the England in 1898 as a student of the Herkomer Art School in Bushey. He then studied for several years on the continent before coming to live permanently in Bushey Heath. Mrs Maria Susan Chewett, his widowed mother, rented Reveley Lodge in 1910 and lived there until her death in 1918 with Albert and her unmarried daughter, Ethel. One of the final AGMs of the Rossin House Hotel Company is recorded as being held at Reveley Lodge!

Chewett family
Conservatory 1920

In 1917, Albert’s elder brother, James Chewett, a frequent visitor to Reveley Lodge, died suddenly. Albert became guardian of his three daughters, Phyllida, Jocelyn and Gwenydd, and when their mother died in 1924, the three girls came to live at Reveley Lodge.

Gwenydd married Hamilton Beatty, whom she met at London University, and they lived in Ohio, USA. Jocelyn became a sculptress and spent most of her life in France with her husband, the artist, Stephen Gilbert. Both couples made regular visits to Reveley Lodge. Phyllida remained single and lived at Reveley Lodge until her death in 1987.

Maria Chewett painting

Maria Chewett in the drawing room

Library Window

The billiard room

In 1931 Albert Chewett, now aged 53, married Violet Georgina Eila Hamilton-Baillie, known as Eila. She was the daughter of a clergyman, who had died when she was five, and a distant relation of the Earl of Haddington. She was educated at St Margaret’s School in Bushey. The marriage took place quietly at Leavesden Parish Church in the presence of a few close friends on Eila’s nineteenth birthday.

Because of Albert's inherited wealth, he did not have to work. Initially a keen artist following his training at the Herkomer school, he later dabbled in photography. He did not sell any of his paintings and they were discovered in 1985 in the hayloft over the stables. A number of the paintings feature Reveley Lodge and the Chewett family and some are now displayed in the billiard room at Reveley Lodge.

When Albert died in 1965, Eila qualified as a medical secretary and worked for many years for Lester Warner Lowe, the orthopaedic surgeon, in Harley Street. Following the tradition of the Chewetts of Reveley Lodge, Eila did voluntary work for the Red Cross, taught First Aid courses and became a Red Cross welfare officer. She became the first president of the Bushey Museum when it opened in 1993 and bequeathed Reveley Lodge to the museum on her death in 2003.

© Bushey Museum Property Trust 2017