Margate's Lost Mansion House

Featured in the October 2010 handbook.

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Mansion Street- how many folk ever wonder at how this little alley from the bottom of Fort Hill past the ‘Northern Belle’ pub to Fort Road got its name? It speaks very grand house which once stood there. Previous writers have stated that this was the house of ‘John Glover, gentleman’, as stated in his will of 1681, who claimed that he, “had built this capital messuage and dwelt therein. However, researches by Alf Beeching and myself into Captain John Glover, to give him his proper title, show that although he held high official status here as Postmaster, Customs Officer and Searcher during the time of the Commonwealth under Cromwell, there is a peculiar letter of January, 1660, in the State Papers from the Council of State to the Commissioners of Customs.

This recommends that Glover be removed from his roles as Customs Officer and Searcher, as he was reckoned to be, “very intimate with disaffected persons - whereby if he continued in that employment danger may have ensued”. The letter went on to recommend his replacement with a Mr. Hooke, whom the Commissioners had already installed as Postmaster in Glover’s place, Glover was obviously playing a dangerous game to be displaying Royalist sympathies.

His will lists the following:- two gardens, a courtyard, an orchard and a dove-house, all set in grounds of around an acre. Also listed were a brew house and mill house, the latter almost certainly a malt mill - both of which would have been required copious amounts of fresh water, which makes Mansion Street, previously known as Pump Lane due to the ‘Great Pump’ which stood next to the ‘Great Gate’ the ideal location.

The 1713 will of Glover’s widow tells us a bit more about the house in that it had fifteen rooms to go along with the numerous outbuildings. But it appears that Glover may have been ‘shooting a line’ with his claim to have built it, because the will of Roger Morris who died in 1615 also lists his Mansion House and brew house, and the paved way leading into his property from the Great Gate, and I believe from personal experience whilst digging there thirty years ago that the house was of red Tudor brick.

So what do we know of Roger Morris, who is buried at St. Johns Church with a brass to mark that occasion. Well his brass, now much battered be time, says it all. Under a depiction of a warship modelled, I believe on the GOLDEN LION is a plate which states the following:- “Here lyeth interred the body of Roger Morris, sometime one of the 6 Principal Masters of Attendance of His Majesties Navye Royall, who departed this life the 13th of October, 1615” A Principal Master of Attendance was the post responsible for running the Nayal side of a Royal Dockyard, and that would have necessitated direct contact with the King himself. The will of Roger Morris bequeaths the Mansion House and three other messuages, or dwelling houses, on the site to his sons, so you see, there was a Mansion House in situ on the site long before the time of Captain Glover.

It is necessary to bear in mind that at that period Margate Roads served the same purpose as a fleet anchorage for the ‘Navye Royall’ this side of the North foreland as the Downs did in the Channel, and there would naturally be a requirement for the presence of a good, trusted and reliable King’s man here to not only keep a weather eye on events, but also to furnish lodgings to high ranking travellers on the King’s business, and Roger Morris fitted the bill perfectly and his house was well placed too.

In 1792 the Mansion House was purchased by the well-known Margate publican John Mitchener of the New inn, and in 1803 it passed into the hands of the Mummery family, the joint owners being Stephen and Matthias, Matthias was a coach master, and it would seem that it was the extensive site which was of interest and not the house, because it was demolished and the site developed with stables and a coach house.

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