Landowners, military men and press barons

The main structure was built between 1842 and 1845 by John Titsel as a small country house, a 'gentleman's cottage'. The property included a chaise house, stable and other buildings. The house was purchased by Mrs Ann Reveley, widow of a lawyer and landowner in 1845 and additional grounds were acquired shortly after. On her death in 1852, the property passed to her eldest son, William Austin Reveley who in turn passed it in 1854 to his brother George Johnson Reveley who further extended the property. For many years the Reveley family also retained their London home at 17 Queen Square, Bloomsbury. George Reveley died in 1877 and bequeathed a substantial sum for the Reveley Almshouses, built in Bushey village in 1883. 

 

Otway Towers

Otway Towers

Reveley Lodge was then purchased by Captain William John Marjoribanks Loftus Otway a retired cavalry officer of the 5th Dragoon Guards. Although Captain Otway's main home was 13 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, where he employed 14 servants, he had also lived in Bushey as in 1860 he built an extravagant country house, named Otway Towers, now Immanuel College. He sold this and moved across the road to the more modest Reveley Lodge. In 1894, the Captain was succeeded by his son, Lieutenant Colonel Jocelyn Tufton Farrant Otway of 7 Park Lane, Mayfair. He commissioned the architect A E Hubert to extend the building, adding new servants quarters to the eastern end and an enlarged drawing room, large billiard room and conservatory to the western end.

 

Leicester Harmsworth

The new owner in 1898 was Robert Leicester Harmsworth of Marlborough Gate, Hyde Park, MP for Caithness and Sutherland. He, together with his wife and five of his seven children, used Reveley Lodge as a country home for four years and expanded the estate by the addition of several cottages. Leicester Harmsworth, as he was known, was a partner in the great publishing business bearing his name. He was one of four brothers who were all created Barons (the Harmsworth Barons) one of which was the newspaper magnate, Lord Northcliffe, owner of the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. Sir Leicester Harmsworth, 1st Baronet, died in 1937 a noted bibliophile whose collection of early English books was acquired by the Folger Library in Washington DC.

 

In 1902 the house was purchased by Edmund Littler Johnson, an established tin plate merchant and the son of a Lancashire coal proprietor and iron master. He also used Reveley Lodge as a country house with his London residence being in Hampstead. He enjoyed the country air with his wife Marian and his three children. When he left the house in 1909, he auctioned the furniture but retained ownership of the house and Mrs Maria Susan Chewett became its tenant in 1909. An Inland Revenue survey of 1910 shows the house to be extensive, with eight bedrooms on the first floor, presumably enlarged from the thirteen bedrooms advertised in 1901. Outside there was a covered washing yard, coal store, garage with space for three cars, stables for three horses, a loose box and harness room, a greenhouse, potting shed, tennis lawn and pig sties.

 

Maria Chewett

Maria Chewett

Mrs Chewett arrived in England from Canada in 1898. With her were her daughters and youngest son, Albert Ranney Chewett. The son joined the Herkomer Art School and was active in music and painting before turning to photography. His mother and sisters were skilled in wood-working, metal work, lace making and book-binding.  Albert bought the estate in 1921 and in 1931 married Violet Georgiana Eila Chewett. She had a talent for music and dancing. The billiard room was converted into a dance studio where Eila taught well into the 1950s. Albert died in 1965 and Eila qualified and practiced as a medical secretary until she was 75. On her death in 2003 Reveley Lodge passed to the Bushey Museum Property Trust. 

© Bushey Museum Property Trust 2017