The Dicker before Bede's

Bottomley 2 Opening 1 Opening 2

Horatio Bottomley (top left) and Bede's first Headmaster Roger Perrin with family (top right) and at the opening of the Senior School (bottom right).

In 1889, politician, journalist and founder of the Financial Times Horatio Bottomley purchased Crossways House, a diminutive cottage in the Sussex village of Upper Dicker, and knocked it down.

He built in, its place, a palatial country residence which he later named "The Dicker."

Having made his fortune in a series of fraudulent bond schemes, and with an income bolstered by the sale and ownership of a number of jingoistic newspapers, Bottomley bred race horses at The Dicker, entertaining local residents and regularly welcoming guests from London.

For his convenience, in fact, Bottomley negotiated for Berwick Station to be constructed just down the road - then known as "The Dicker Halt."

By 1912, Bottomley's extravagant tastes saw him filing for bankruptcy for a second time. In the interim he had transformed the Manor House to include spacious guest accommodation, a library with ivory-inlaid panelling and a billiards room.

Aside from introducing electricity and hot and cold running water, Bottomley's domestic offices at the Manor House also included a kitchen with double-range oven, larder and butler's pantry, cellar and stillroom.

Take a Virtual Tour of The Manor House as it is today:

The gardens had also been dramatically enhanced; now known as The Park, they then included the ornamental lake (still in situ) with a tea-room on the island at its centre, a heated conservatory and tennis courts, all of which required six gardeners to maintain.

Before Bottomley was ultimately imprisoned for fraud in May 1922 he had passed the ownership of The Dicker onto his son-in-law, Thomas Routeledge. Routelege managed the house in his absence, continuing Bottomley's campaign of house building and constructing what is now known as Knights House and Crossways Cottage.

When he was later released from prison, and the deed to The Dicker returned to him, Bottomley lost ownership of his estate in a libel suit and The Dicker estate went through a number of owners subsequently, including an Admiral Ronald Oldham.

It was requisitioned by Canadian signallers during the war and was then owned by the Downs and Weald Society, a local arts charity before, in 1978, the Manor House and its immediate grounds were then purchased by St Bede's School Trust.

Learn more about the Manor House >

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