Tubbendence was the name of a large house that stood in 170 acres of land at the far end of Tubbenden Lane from Farnborough Village, just near where the railway bridge by Orpington station was built.  It was therefore just within the parish of Farnborough, the boundary of which today runs along Tubbenden Lane as far as the railway. However the house pre-dated the railway by at least two centuries.   A small part of its land was taken when the railway was built, and the high embankment must have presented a somewhat unwelcome intrusion into the views from the house to the east.

Former view from under railway bridge Milestone and former drive location

The house was present on Ordnance Survey maps of 1948, but gone by 1960.  The estate may have been sold off in two phases, as the houses at the back of the former lands, now the location for Maxwell Gardens, are older than those at the front alongside Tubbenden Lane where now lies Shelley Close. Both of these names recall former owners of the house.

Confusingly, while Tubbendence was the correct spelling, on Ordnance Survey maps it was called Tubbenden (see map below), and some other sources have it different again, for example Tubbendens and Tubbendean.  As shown later there was an earlier house on the same site, so the house gave its name to the road, rather than the reverse.

The map below shows Tubbendence alongside the newly built railway line, also the Maxwell public house, situated just the other side of the bridge by Orpington railway station.  The railway opened in 1868. There is some uncertainty when the Maxwell Arms was built, some sources state 1887, although the Ordnance Survey map of 1871 shows it alongside the new railway and the census of 1871 lists a publican and other residents.  

Shown above is an early photograph of the Maxwell Arms, taken in the late nineteenth century, click to enlarge.  It is situated at the junction of Crofton Road and Tubbenden Lane, opposite the approach to Orpington station.

A Historical Account

This account appears in Chapter X111 of 'Village London' Vol 2, published by The Alderman Press March 1984 but first published 1883-4 by Cassell & Co Ltd., under the title 'Greater London'. 

Tubbendens is another ancient seat in this district, the demesnes of which lie partly in this parish and partly in that of Orpington. In the twenty-first year of Edward I it was possessed by owners of the same name, as it appears that ”Gilbert  Saundre of Orpington, demised several parcels of land to John de Tubbendens, of Ferneborough, and his sons.” According to Hasted, “in 1660 W. Gee conveyed it to Thomas Brome, serjeant-at-law. His arms are in one of the windows of Gray’s Inn Hall. He resided at Tubbendens and died in 1673, and was buried in Farnborough Church. He was succeeded by his son, William Brome, barrister-at-law, whose son, Colonel John Brome succeeded him. Both were buried in Farnborough Church.” Colonel John Brome married Elizabeth, only child of the Rev. George Berkeley, Prebendary of Westminster, second son of George, first Earl of Berkeley. Their daughter Maria married a Mr John Hammond, of Chatham, who in right of his wife, became the owner of Tubbendens, of which he died possessed in 1774, leaving two daughters, one of whom, Anna Maria, married James Primrose Maxwell, whose grandson, Colonel George Shirley Maxwell, now owns the estate. It will thus be seen that Tubbendens has passed from one generation to another, either in male or female descent, for upwards of 200 years. From an old book, entitled “Stemmata Chicheleyana” it appears that through the Bromes and Berkeleys the present owner of Tubbendens is descended from the father of Archbishop Chicheley, who died in the year 1400.

The present house dates from the seventeenth century, but has of late years been partially rebuilt and modernised. The estate, comprising about 170 acres, has this much of interest attached to it: that it has remained the same in extent for centuries past, except when a small portion was taken by the South Eastern Railway to construct the chalk embankment on which stands the Orpington Station. At the entrance gate of Tubbendens is a milestone over a century old, marking fifteen miles from London Bridge.  

This account almost certainly indicates that the house referred to was not the first on that site, but instead that it replaced an earlier one, as Edward 1st was on the throne in the thirteenth century.

Below left is a larger scale map of Tubbenden Lane showing the house and its surrounding buildings, click to enlarge.

Many former owners or residents are buried at St. Giles, Farnborough, either in the graveyard or in the church itself, and some also have memorial plaques fixed to the church walls.   Here are some of them:  

George Dalton

George Dalton, a benefactor, was buried on 11th January 1566. In his Will he left ten shillings to be paid for a sermon to be preached at Farnborough parish church, annually, and 3s 4d to be given to the poor of the parish for ever. The register does not say how he died, but there is a legend that he used to arrive at his house at ‘Tubbendence’ drunk.  One night his wife refused to admit him. He wandered off. fell into a lake and was drowned . In my opinion, this sensational event in the village would have meant some comment in the register if true.

Fred Whyler, part of ‘Farnborough Parish Registers 1538 – 1652’,
from the magazine of the  Bromley Borough Local History Society , June 1997

And this is from the St. Giles church website, taken from the original St. Giles Guidebook:

On the South wall of the nave next to the gallery, is the painted board commemorating the Benefaction of George Dalton to the parish in 1566. To this day, the "Rush Sermon" is still preached on the appropriate day, the floor of the nave being strewn with cut flags (wild Iris), leaves and other herbs

Tubbenden Lane George Dalton plaque Thomas Brome plaque

Thomas Brome

Thomas Brome was made a sergeant-at-law in the year 1660, - his arms are in one of the windows of Grays- Inn Hall.  He died in 1673 and is commemorated by this tablet.

This is a large architectural tablet surmounted by a pediment and crest. It was sculptured by Jasper Latham, one of Sir Christopher Wren’s principal masons working on St. Paul's Cathedral. His grandson, Col. John Brome, who also resided here, married Elizabeth, daughter and only child of George Berkeley, Prebendary of Westminster, second son of George Earl of Berkeley, and had by her several children.

The Maxwells

On the South wall of the Chancel in St. Giles church is a plaque commemorating James Primrose Maxwell, and his wife Anna Maria.  She died in 1832, aged 60, and her husband 7 years later aged 76.  James was recorded as ‘Gentleman’, and his address as Harley Street, London. The wording on the plaque implies that the remains of both were deposited in the church, presumably under the floor.  Neither is recorded in the documentation for the graveyard, although their dates of death were before Farnborough became a full parish and also before the ‘new’ graveyard was laid out.  Documentation for the original graveyard round the church is known to be incomplete.  

It would seem from the historical account earlier that the house passed to James Primrose Maxwell through marriage.  Not much is known about James Primrose Maxwell, although as his main address is given as Harley Street in London it can probably be assumed that he had a medical background. 

James and Anna Maria had three children   Eliza Maxwell 1785 – 1853; Captain George Berkeley Maxwell, 1791 – 1854, and Emily, whose details are not recorded, so may have died in childhood.

George had a distinguished naval career, but did not retain a local connection, so will not be discussed further, however Eliza Maxwell married Thomas Young and they in turn became the owners of Tubbendence.  

James Primrose Maxwell Thomas Young

Thomas Young

Eliza Maxwell married Thomas Young, of whom a great deal is known.  There is a further plaque commemorating Thomas and Eliza in St. Giles church.  There are many biographical accounts of the life and achievements of Thomas Young available online, such as the Wikipedia extract reproduced below, but firstly the following is taken from a short article from before the internet age, published in the magazine of the Bromley Borough Local History Society, January. 1976.  

Thomas Young was described as a man eminent in almost every department of human learning and he  was  regarded  as  the  most  learned man of his generation. He was born at Milverton, Somerset, on  13 June,  1773;  the eldest son of Thomas Young,  by  his wife  Sarah,  the  eldest  daughter  of  Robert  Davies  of Minehead. On 14 June 1804, when he was 31 years of age, Thomas Young married Eliza, who was then 19, and was the second daughter of James Penrose Maxwell, who had a residence at Tubbendens near Farnborough.  This was a branch of the family of Sir William Maxwell of Calderwood Castle Lanarkshire.    

  Thomas Young has a  memorial  in  Westminster Abbey, where he is described as being endowed with the faculty of intuitive perception, and bringing an equal  mastery to the most  abstruse  investigations  of  letters  and  science.  His theory of the wave motion of light influenced  the  current thought  of mathematical  physics  during  the  whole of the 19th century. He helped in the preparation of early editions of the  Encyclopaedia  Britannica,  and  the then editor said '/'  ’J  the  work  was  largely  indebted  in  almost  every respect  which  it  embraced,  to  his  profound  and accurate  knowledge,  rare  erudition  and  other  various attainments.

Young was a Fellow and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society and a member of the National Institute of France. He set his ingenious mind to solve the riddle of the Rosetta stone.  He  was  convinced  that  the  three  sets  of hieroglyphics on the stone contained the same message, and after four years study he determined nearly one hundred of the  characters  and  thus  helped  his  French  friend Champollion to determine twice as many more, so solving the great riddle of the  stone  and  the  obscurity  which  for centuries had veiled the writings of the ancient Egyptians.

Thomas Young's marriage was a particularly happy one and he attached himself to his wife's family with great affection. His wife had three sisters, Maria Emily and Caroline, and the Maxwell family were described as being accomplished and agreeable. Young and his wife spent much of their time with the family at Tubbendens. He died at his home at Park Square. London, on 10 May 1829 about a month  before his 56th  birthday.  He left no issue. His wife lived a further 30 years and died in 1859.   

This is part of his Entry in Wikipedia

Thomas Young died in his 56th year in London on 10 May 1829, his body was buried in the graveyard of St. Giles Church at Farnborough, in the county of Kent. Westminster Abbey houses a white marble tablet in memory of Young, bearing an epitaph by Hudson Gurney:

Sacred to the memory of Thomas Young, M.D., Fellow and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society Member of the National Institute of France; a man alike eminent in almost every department of human learning. Patient of unintermitted labour, endowed with the faculty of intuitive perception, who, bringing an equal mastery to the most abstruse investigations of letters and of science, first established the undulatory theory of light, and first penetrated the obscurity which had veiled for ages the hieroglyphs of Egypt. Endeared to his friends by his domestic virtues, honoured by the World for his unrivalled acquirements, he died in the hopes of the Resurrection of the just. — Born at Milverton, in Somersetshire, 13 June 1773 died in Park Square, London, 10 May 1829, in the 56th year of his age.

Young was highly regarded by his friends and colleagues. He was said never to impose his knowledge, but if asked was able to answer even the most difficult scientific question with ease. Although very learned he had a reputation for sometimes having difficulty in communicating his knowledge. It was said by one of his contemporaries that, "His words were not those in familiar use, and the arrangement of his ideas seldom the same as those he conversed with. He was therefore worse calculated than any man I ever knew for the communication of knowledge."

Later scholars and scientists have praised Young's work although they may know him only through achievements he made in their fields. His contemporary Sir John Herschel called him a "truly original genius". Albert Einstein praised him in the 1931 foreword to an edition of Isaac Newton's Opticks. Other admirers include physicist Lord Rayleigh and Nobel laureate Philip Anderson.

Thomas Young's name has been adopted as the name of the London-based Thomas Young Centre, an alliance of academic research groups engaged in the theory and simulation of materials. Young Sound in Greenland was named in his honour by William Scoresby (1789 – 1857).  

Nick Reynolds    

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