THE MORNING POST MARCH 21 1913
LADY WHITE’S HOUSE AT EGHAM BURNED DOWN
AN INEXPLICABLE OUTRAGE
“Trevethan,” a house at Englefield Green, Edgam, belonging to Lady White, widow of Field-Marshal Sir George White, V.C., the defender of Ladysmith, and at the time of his death Governor of Chelsea Hospital, was destroyed by fire yesterday morning. Messages left in a small rockery not far from the house point to the destruction being the work of militant Suffragists. An envelope bore the words “Votes for Women”; a half sheet of paper had the phrase “By kind permission of Mr. Hobhouse,” and there was a full sheet of note paper with the message, written in a bold hand, “Stop torturing our comrades in prison.
The house, which stands in its own grounds of about two acres, about two miles from Edham Station, is prettily situated on rising ground, and was at one time the home of Lady White’s father, the Venerable Joseph Baly, Archdeacon of Calcutta. Sir George White was in the habit of using it as a country house. It was a roomy comfortable residence, containing about eleven bed-rooms, and some time ago had a small wing added to it. It was however, kept in excellent order by a caretaker and gardener named Kemble. Latterly it has been offered for rent or sale.
The house was locked up on the previous night by the gardener. There are other houses at no great distance, but “Trevethan” is surrounded by a high and close-set hedge, and only the upper part could be seen from the road. There is a gap in the hedge at the back leading into a lane and there is no doubt in the minds of the police that it was this entrance to the grounds which was used by the incendiaries. A police-constable named Alexander, who had been in the habit of giving special attention to the empty house, was in its neighbourhood about half past twelve. At the gate he met one of his comrades, who told him that he had been in the grounds and had tried the doors, and the house was all right. They talked for a few minutes, and then proceeded to their several beats.
FIRE BRIGADE BUT NO WATER
The alarm that the house was on fire was given at ten minutes past one by a young man named Herman Brauer, living at Myrtle Cottage Crimp-hill, Old Windsor. He said he had passed the house about ten minutes before and that it was on fire. He told Police-constable Alexander, who jumped on his bicycle and rode back to the house, getting there at 1.23. By that time the villa was fully alight. Flames were issuing from the upper windows, and the lower part was also involved. The wind was high but the night was beautifully clear. The two top storeys were soon a mass of flames. He could do nothing, as there were no fire appliances, but a little later the Egham Fire Brigade arrived. They could get practically no water, and had to stand there, the constable said, watching the place burn itself out. Only the outer walls remained, and they were in many cases so damaged, especially on the north side, that they were dangerous, and when seen by a Morning Post representative later in the day a chimney was actually swaying in the wind and threatening to crash down and destroy the remaining walls of that wing.
There is no doubt that admission to the house was obtained by the use of keys, though an effort was made to cut an opening in the window of the servant’s hall at the back of the premises, for there is a great square marked out on it with a glazier’s diamond. It is known that the doors and windows were all fastened on the previous evening. To show with what ingenuity the incendiaries set about their work it may be stated that they had opened a number of the window so as to create a more thorough draught. An examination of the wreckage has not been possible owing to the dangerous condition of the walls and the fact that the fire was still smouldering late yesterday afternoon. But it is considered that some highly inflammable substance must have been used to have ensured the destruction of the house in such a short space of time. The estimated cost of the damage is between £4,000 and £5,000.