Finnart House School

Finnart HouseFinnart House was something of an 'oddity' as far as the local schools were concerned...Before we get to its role as a school, it's worth outlining a little of its history as it relates storngly to the Oatlands of today. in terms of road names which, for many people, may not be obvious as to their origins - and to Weybridge.

Meadowleigh-1883The 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. This is where we assume the modern day "Meadows Leigh Close" gets its name, despite the change in spelling.

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. Certainly 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, who was to become a significant character in the history of the Village, 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 Clara (the daughter of Thomas Coutts - of the banking empire) addopted the name as part of her challenge against her sister Angela, who had violated the terms of the will making 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.

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, which was founded in 1885 and of which he was the first elected 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.

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 was his wife, two sons, two daughters and twelve servants. 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 access road...

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 success, the number of pupils began to fall as less Jewish boys were committed to the school by the courts, in part as a result of legislative changes brought about by the Criminal Justice Act (1925) and the Children and Young Persons Act (1933).

By the middle of the 1830s,  the property at Hayes was becoming too large for their needs, and a decision was made to move entirely from what was becoming a very industrialised area, In 1937 the former Hayes School was reopened at Finnart House.

Despite the move, the school numbers continued to decline, and it was no longer thought to be reasonable for public funds to support a specifically Jewish Approved Junior School. As a result, a decision was made at the end of the 1930s to admit Church of England boys along side any Jewish boys still referred to the school.
Throughout the entire life of Finnart House School, it was run by Harry Cohen as Headmaster with his wife Myra as Matron.

The school finally closed in the 1970s, when the running of such institutions was passed into the hands of Local Authorities. and was later demolished to make way for the housing development that includes Valiilanr Road, Latymer Close,Southerland Close, Finnart Close and Meadows Leigh Close.


Finnart Lodge remains from when the property was named Aucote, at least one house dates from the phase  that followed F B Money Coutts but, as we are currently unclear on dates, we can't say whether this was as Aucote or Finnart House and the rest of the older buildings date from the time of Finnart House School.

F B Money Coutt's brother, Walter Baptist Money was Rector of Weybridge and another brother, Granville Erskine Money, was Rector of Byfleet.

The records from the Hayes School and Finnart House School, comprising a series of annual reports covering the years 1902 to 1938 (with gaps) and minute books from 1939 to 1973 are at the London Metropolitan Archives. The minute books, contain personal information relating to pupils and are subject to a 65 year closure period. The annual reports are available as open access items.

"The Elmbridge Hundred" is available online here (opens in a new window)