Silverlands is a large country house in Chertsey, Surrey, R. Porter, Esq. a local brewer, first purchased the land in 1805 from Fan Grove estate and built the original mansion, an estate has existed here under the name of ‘Silverlond’ since at least 1420 according to town records. First owned by Vice-Admiral the Rt. Honourable Sir Henry Hotham KCB GCMG (born 19 February 1777 – died 19 April 1833) He joined the Navy in 1790 (aged 13), a hero of the Napoleonic wars(1803-1815) in the early 19th Century. Silverlands was used as the Hotham family home until approximately 1887. Another notable owner was the (MP)
Frederick Alers Hankey (born 29 March 1833 – died 15 February 1892) who was an English banker and Conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1892. He also played first class cricket for Marylebone Cricket Club in 1852 and 1853. In 1885 Hankey was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Chertsey. In 1887 he acquired the Silverlands estate.
The Actors’ Orphanage was started in 1896 by Kittie Carson at Croydon and was established as the Actors’ Orphanage Fund in 1912. In 1915 the Orphanage moved to Langley Hall at Langley (was in Buckinghamshire – now in Berkshire). The orphanage was both a home and a school to approximately 60 children.
The home and school was moved to Silverlands at Chertsey, Surrey in 1938 where it remained until 1940. In September 1940 the Orphanage was evacuated to the USA where the children were housed in New York City at the Edwin Gould Foundation.
After the war ended the Fund established a home (once again at Silverlands, Chertsey). This arrangement ended in 1958 and the Actors’ Orphanage ceased to exist.
Over the years many from the theatrical profession have given time and money to the running of the orphanage including some who became presidents of the orphanage among whom are Sir Gerald du Maurier, Noël Coward, Laurence Olivier and the last president Lord Attenborough.
It’s recent history is more controversial, after having served as an orphanage and a nurses training college for much of the latter 20th Century, in 2001 plans were made to relocate patients from Wolvercote Clinic for convicted paedophiles.
With 23 schools located within 2.5 miles of the Silverlands estate, one primary school just 5 minutes down the road, this caused a local outrage, on Oct 26th of that year the first of many candlelight vigils were held outside Silverlands by protestors, these were repeated weekly between 17:00 and 19:00 for several months. During these events the buildings went under intense refurbishment and maintenance, the ultimate bill for this and the required security arrangements almost hit £5’000’000. After a lot of debating and protests on 4th July, 2002, it was confirmed by the Home Office Minister that Silverlands will not become the home of the Wolvercote paedophile clinic.
The Security arrangements in place today I imagine might remain from that time period (2002), As well as the irregular patrols which after my explore (by luck) i only just missed meeting one guard with his van parked at the end of the drive on my way back from the tip across the road. Had i triggered this visit i wonder?
I had read that it is surrounded by jagged metal topped fencing with cameras around the gate & driveway area, the building itself has a fair amount of cameras, PIR sensors & loudspeakers located at strategic points. Knowing all this & after reading reports of the Securities quick call-out response times from those that got busted, i was half expecting to get caught also. So after making my entry i remembered some advice i had read, that would give me the most time possible inside before being asked to leave & so i made my way up the internal stairwell to the roof, then i began my top down explore. As i thought time was probably going to be short inside i began working my way quickly downwards. Having seen many many photo’s of the building before my visit, it was really quite sad to see it’s current condition for myself, the interior in places is not looking so great anymore, mostly damage from water leaking through the roof & many of the more ornate & beautiful rooms on the ground floor have collapsing ceilings & damaged floors, surprisingly the electricity still works throughout the building however, my apologies for a few blurred photo’s & the lack of video footage.
“Long Note Two” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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