Heybridge was bought by Samuel Philips in about 1813. Samuel, a bachelor, was living in St James Square in Manchester and was a brother and shareholder in the J & N Philips textile business empire whos headquarters in the city were in Church Street. The Philips families lived at that time in a house called The Dales at Stand near
Whitefield, Manchester (now a golf club) and at Heath House at Upper Tean, Staffordshire - the senior family seat. Samuel's elder brother John was living at Heath House and he wanted to retire and move nearer to him so he purchased the estate. At that time the house was little more than a stone built, east facing, double fronted farmstead. He set about extending the property by building a south facing wing with two new reception rooms. Samuel lived out his retirement in comfort and died in 1824. He left the estate to his nephew Robert Philips - son of John of Heath House.
Robert married the following year Laetitia Hibbert and built on a small dining and drawing room with a hallway and a recessed front entrance on the east side. In 1845 he had the rooms extended forming a new east wing from plans drawn up by Johnson and Trubshaw builders and architects at Lichfield who had also designed and built the textile mills in Upper Tean a mile away. He added a pretty Regency canopy to the south aspect of the old part of the house. Florence Nightingale stayed as a guest with her parents in 1840 having visited the John Philips' at their newly completed Heath House whos guest rooms were unfurnished at that time. Robert died in 1853 and left the estate to his eldest son John William Philips.
John William had married in 1852 Adelaide Manningham-Buller and lived for a year at The Bank House (the dower house) on the estate which they had extended for their use. William had a conservatory built at the west end of the south front almost immediately and very soon after added large household quarters at its rear, linking up with the back of the original house. In 1900 he added a fine ballroom measuring 30ft by 24ft to the west end of the south facade, removing the conservatory to the east formal gardens. He added further servants hall, housekeepers suite and water tower crowned with a stone balustrade. William died in 1914 having been married three times, widowed twice. His widow moved to live in St Albans and his son William Morton Philips.
William Morton Philips had married Caroline Anne Kate Stopford in 1882 and had lived at Heybridge between marriages of his father and renting other houses in Manchester and Stafford during his second and third marriages. They were very happy to settle at last at Heybridge and Morton decided to turn the much unused ballroom into a new front entrance and hall using stone pillars for a porch salvaged from the Georgian Heath House when it was demolished and replaced with a Victorian tudor/gothic mansion. He also built a single story billiard room between the dining room and servants hall. Morton died in 1940 and his widow Kate moved with her spinster daughter Kitty to a large Sloane Square mansion appartment, never to return to live at Heybridge or the Dower House. She died in London in 1955 aged 99. Heybridge was left to their younger surviving son Humphrey Burgoyne Philips and his wife Peggy.
Humphrey had married Violet Margaret (Peggy) Dawson-Greene in 1921 and came to live in the house for the duration of the Second World War and shortly after the War they separated. Humphrey was unable to live alone at Heybridge and went to live with his sister in Ware, Hertfordshire and for a short time his elder son Mark Henry Philips and his wife lived in the house until Humphrey died in 1951.
Death duties and upkeep forced the Philips' to put the estate up for sale. Heybridge boasted 35 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms and the house was sold to the recently newly created NHS for use as a maternity hospital. However, when inspectors came to see the place they realised the upstairs was so impractical as there were so many steps between the extensions that had been built on that nursing was impossible. The NHS resold the house to a scrap dealer who stripped the house of anything that could be sold - fireplaces, doors, panelling, windows, lead, staircases, wooden floors, windows etc. Heybridge, in its reduced state of magnificence was then bulldozed with the exception of part of the 1870's household quarters at the back of the west end of the house. This was later turned into a dwelling and 4 bungalows were built in the east formal gardens. In 1996 the south front lawns and the ground floor east end of Heybridge were built on. Nine properties now occupy the site which has been called Nightingale Close in memory of the lady who stayed at Heybridge so many years before.
This entry was kindly written by, and is copyright to, Neil Hatfield.