The story of Walnut Tree House (The Halsey Centre)

There is reason to believe that the house was built as a family home in the mid-1700s. Certainly there is evidence that a Commander J H Sanders (or Saunders) RN; (born 10th December1784) who served on HMS Swiftsure at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), lived in Walnut Tree House ( memorial plaque in St Mary’s church)

In 1871 the house was owned by Nicholl Evans a General Practitioner. He lived there with his wife Bertha, 4 children and 3 servants. By 1881 the family had increased to 7 children, albeit one of the original 4 had died in the interim, a lodger and 5 servants. Nicholl Evans was now also a Surgeon and a Magistrate. (Details of the servants are interesting - the youngest was 14 and the oldest 67, and whilst most were local, two came from as far afield as Suffolk and Lincoln. Evidence of the upstairs/downstairs lifestyle of the time can still be identified in the old house, (back stairs, servant’s quarters, tradesman's entrance etc.)

In 1891 the house was occupied by Alfred Symes, a Stockbroker, born in Stoke Newington, who had purchased the property from one William Stobart. The Symes household comprised Alfred Symes, his wife Annie, 4 children under the age of nine and 5 servants. In 1894 the property was sold to Richard Cobley who farmed at Bury Green Farm, Cheshunt and who lived there with his family until his death in 1929.

Meanwhile in 1923 a committee made up of members of several local Masonic lodges was formed with the objective of creating a permanent Masonic Centre. In January 1926 a Limited Liability Company - Halsey Masonic Hall (Waltham Cross) Ltd. - was formed and land was purchased on the corner of Crossbrook and Theobalds Grove. However after the death of Richard Cobley, Walnut Tree House came on the market for the sum of £3,500. The Company purchased the property, including three cottages, two and half acres of land, ornamental gardens and lawns for the sum of £3,150. The building has been a Masonic Centre ever since.

On 29th August 1939, fearing the imminent outbreak of war, the whole of the premises were requisitioned by the Government and a large first aid post was established in the newly erected dining room extension. During the course of the war many injured were treated at the first aid post, the most notable occasion being 2nd January 1945 when a V2 rocket landed on the Acorn Brush factory at Waltham Cross - one person died and ninety injured were treated at Halsey Hall.

Over the years the premises have been much extended and developed and now include a splendid chandeliered banqueting suite which can accommodate up to 130 diners, more for a buffet, with its own private bar with very reasonable prices. We also offer plentiful free parking.

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