The Dial House, Chesham Bois by Martin Pounce
The Dial House was one of the early Arts and Crafts houses built in Amersham-on-the Hill around 1910. It is not yet known who the architect was, but it has fine Arts and Crafts details including steep roofs, an asymmetrical design and an unusual lychgate. Set in a large garden The Dial House is on the boundary of Chesham Bois, opposite the common on the corner of Chestnut Lane, though the address is now Sycamore Road. William Monk (1863-1937), a well-known artist, mainly known for his London drawings and etchings, moved here in 1910 from The Gables in High Street, Old Amersham and probably had the house built.
At this time the village of Chesham Bois and the new town of Amersham-on-the-Hill were expanding rapidly due to the arrival of the railway. By December 1911 there were enough residents in the new area to propose the creation of a bowls club. This was opened the following June on land just behind the garden of The Dial House.
William Monk lived here with his wife Jenny and young sons, William (who later became an actor) and Jules. The family moved back to London in 1915, following the tragic death of 11-year-old Jules. For a short time The Dial House was occupied by Ernest W Poole. He is listed at the address in the 1915 edition of Kelly’s Directory.
From 1921 to 1930 the house was occupied by The Oclee family (with the exception of 1926 when Charles W and Christiana Hobson are listed on the Electoral Register).
How Henry Oclee made his money is something of a mystery. He was worth £18,164 7s 6d when he died on 15 March 1925 on the French Riviera. His father, William, was described as a coachman in 1861 and 1871 censuses. At age 21, Henry was listed boarding in Marylebone working as a ‘Warehouseman’ in the 1881 census. In 1891 he was described as a ‘Warehouseman Draper’ living in Ealing. He was married to Elizabeth Martha (née Flowers) aged 28 but by the 1901 census he was a widower, again working as a Warehouseman ‘Worker’ living in Uxbridge. In 1907, Henry, now aged 48 married again to Georgina Maud (née Bolton) who was half his age. By the time of the 1911 census, the couple had a two-year old son, Henry Denis and another child of one month as yet unnamed but probably George Derrick. There were three nurses living in. Henry described himself as a ‘Wholesale Warehouse Hosiery Buyer’. They were living in a large house with 8 rooms in 50 Mapesbury Road, Cricklewood.
It is possible that Georgina brought money into Henry Oclee’s family. Georgina’s father was a ‘Draper (master employing 5 assistants and 14 dressmakers)’ in 1881 and was described as a ‘Silk Mercer and Draper’ in 1891. When he died in April 1896, his effects were valued at £13,001 10s 11d.
Henry Oclee died in the Villa Les Lucioles and Imberley, in the Riviera resort of Menton on 15 March 1925. His widow, Georgina Maud continued to be on the electoral register at the Dial House until 1930 apart from in 1926, when presumably she rented the house to Charles W and Christiana Hobson.
In 1930 her son, Henry Denis joined her on the electoral register having attained the age of 21. At this point Georgina and her sons left The Dial House and moved to Willesden where they can be found on the electoral registers from 1933-35. By 1937 she was on the electoral register at Raglan House, Tirley, Gloucestershire.
Henry Denis maintained his link with Amersham. In the 1938-39 season he is listed as playing for Amersham and Chiltern Rugby Club. Major Henry Denis Oclee, 1st Battalion, The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) was killed in action in Tunisia on 23 April 1943. He is remembered with honour at the Massicault War Cemetery, Tunisia.
By then he was married to Olga Marion (née Coates) of Shepherds Gate, Loudwater, Hertfordshire. They had a two-year old son George and a baby Georgina was born posthumously on 9 November 1943.
Elizabeth Shaw and Marjory Turk appear on the electoral register from 1931 and are listed as residents of The Dial House in the 1939 Registry.
Elizabeth Shaw was born on 24 July 1852 and died in Oct-Dec 1939. She was still married to George Rainger Shaw a builder employer who died in 1943. In 1911 they were living in 8 Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square with three of their four children: Dorothy 23, George Reginald 21 and Margery, 17 a dancing teacher. It was this Margery born 6 December 1893 who became Margery Turk following her marriage to Charles Vere Turk on 11 August 1915. In the 1939 registration she is recorded as divorced but she remarried in early 1941 to Donald S. Richardson.
The next resident we know of is Stanley Comben, Bucks County Councillor and an architect and director of the building firm Comben and Wakeling. With his wife, Stella, he moved here from Ruislip some time during the 1940s, possibly as a result of the Blitz in 1941. From this time The Dial House became the family home where they brought up their children, David and Mary. Mary was head girl at Heatherton House when it was also a secondary school. The Combens were committed Methodists and often held events and garden parties at The Dial House to raise funds for the new Amersham Methodist Church on Woodside Road. The Dial House was sold in 1970 when Stanley retired, and they moved to the Moor Park Estate.