Meadowleigh - Aucote - Finnart House


The house was originally known as Meadowleigh and is clearly shown on the 1883 Ordnance Survey map as being a substantial property with obviously ladscaped grounds.If this is where the modern day "Meadows Leigh" gets its name then somebody within the council should get their knuckles rapped...

It hasn't proved possible to positively identify the property in the 1861 census, but according to "The Elmbridge Hundred" the house was built by Major Albert Vaillant (after whom Vaillant Road is named) in about 1860. He is certainly there in the 1871 census, with his wife, two sons and four servants (cook, parlourmaid, housemaid and a nurse for the boys).

Major Vaillant died in November 1878 and the house is likely to have been sold after probate was granted in 1879.


By the time of the 1881 census, the house had very clearly changed hands, and changed its name - it was now named "Aucote" and was owned by Francis Burdet Money Coutts, and he was there with his wife Edith , two daughters (Clara and Eleanor), one son (Hugh) and nine servants,

F B Money-CouttsF B Money Coutts (as he is usually referred to) was to become the 5th Baron Latymer (hence the modern Latymer Close) in1913 when he was granted the title (which had been "in abeyance" since 1577 - i.e.336 years) by King George V.

He was born as Francis Burdett Thomas Money and the "Coutts" was aquired in 1881 when his mother (the daughter of Thomas Coutts - of the banking empire) and he addopted the name as part of a challenge against his aunt Angela, who had violated the terms of the will that had made her the sole heir to the Coutts fortune. A settlement was reached, and Angela received two-fifths of the income until her death in 1906, at which time Francis became the sole beneficiary.

It is unclear when he moved from Oatlands - Aucote is uninhabited in the 1891 census, so it must have been some time between 1885 and 1891 but there is, so far, no real clue to enable us to narrow down the date.

The Times of Thursday, Nov 24, 1904; printed the following on page 1:

"I, FRANCIS BURDETT THOMAS MONEY COUTTS, of Whites Club St. James-street, London, Esquire do hereby give notice that I have ASSUMED, and intend upon all occasions and at all times to sign and use and be called and known by the NAME of FRANCIS COUTTS.... dated this 23rd day of November 1904".

He was a significant character in the history of the Village, and his most visible contribution to the village of Oatlands was his dontation of the land for the Working Men's Club in St Mary's Road, ehich was founded in 1885 and of which, we believe, he was the first President. Noted as a poet and author (using the pen-mane of "Mountjoy,") he wrote and published at least 23 works between 1896 and his death on the 8th of June 1923.

Finnart House

We haven't yet fully trascribed the 1901 census but we do know that the property, now renamed "Finnart House", appears in the 1911 census with John Lyle and his family in residence - there were two sons, three daughters and twelve servants. He was listed as a widower, his wife Margaret having died at the Grand Hotel in Northumberland Avenue, London on the 12th of February 1907. John Lyle'e occupation is stated as "Sugar Refiner" - he was in the family of Lyles that was famous for its "Lyle's Golden Syrup" before becoming Tate & Lyle in 1921.

John Lyle's great legacy was to Weybridge, rather than to Oatlands, for he donated the land for Weybridge Recreation Ground to Weybridge Council on the understanding that the council would have a duty "to preserve it in perpetuity as an open space, for the benefit of the public, and to allow no buildings of any kind to be erected thereon". In 1949, the council decided that part of the land would be better used as a car park and the neccessary access road.

John Lyle died on the 5th of July 1914, leaving "effects to the value pf £452,035 10s 3d.

We are currently unsure what heppened to Finnart House next. John Lyle doesn't seem to appear in the telephone directories there after 1911 and we are unsure who purchased the property after his death - it doesn't seem to have remained as a residence for any of the children - but we do know it became a school in 1937.

In 1901, the Hayes Certified Industrial School for Jewish Boys, had opened as a specifically Jewish institution for the education and training of abandoned or problematic boys. .The school was originall certified by the Secretary of State to receive 60 boys, and by 1918 the school held 128 boys, following the construction of an extension..
From 1920 onwards, although the school enjoyed considerable educational successl, the number of pupils began to decrease. This decline was due to the fact that fewer Jewish boys were committed to the school by the courts, which was in part a consequence of legislative changes brought about by the Criminal Justice Act (1925) and the Children and Young Persons Act (1933).