Pembury History

Houses -      Dower House,    Brackenston,  Strathbogie

The house, situated on the Tonbridge Road, was originally called Brackenston, then Strathbogie, then The Dower House. It finally became engulfed as a part of a hotel, but much of its original structure is still visible.
This page contains notes, articles and illustrative material from many contributors.

The first few maps show it’s location.  It does not appear on the 1897 Ordnance Survey map, but does appear on the 1909 edition.

Above   1909  showing Brackenston in Tonbridge Road.


Above  1946  showing Strathbogie


Above,   21st century location, embedded into the hotel



The map above clarifies the locations of some of the buildings mentioned in various writings.
There has been a bit of confusion in the interpretation of certain descriptions.
Many thanks to David Doré and Wendy Mew for helping with this information.

Notes assembled 2014 – 2015


A few findings from the Kelly’s Directories in Tonbridge –  These four gents occupied ‘Strathbogie’

Henry James Newcombe 1927
Jas. Hy. Newcombe 1934
Frederick Beech 1937
Maj Henry Noel Winter 1938

There were no entries for Strathbogie or Dower House in the years 1940, 1950, 1959
I will let you know the results of pre-1927 searches when I get to other libraries. Each library has only a selection of the whole span.
If the house was used for war activities or was housing military staff it may have been removed from directory listings, and not restored after the war in 1945.


The following data pieces together some of the residents of Strathbogie / Brackenston.

Revd R.W. Molesworth,………… The Lodge 1899
Miss Molesworth,……………… Brackenston 1911, 1912, 1913
(Woodside) 1915
Joseph Gurney Fowler,………. Brackenhurst 1915, 1916, 1917
Mrs Fowler,…………………….. Brackenhurst 1919
Mrs Gordon Hamilton,……….. Strathbogie 1922, 1923
Henry James Newcombe,….. Strathbogie 1927
Albert Henry Cavie,………….. Strathbogie Lodge 1929
Jas. Hy Newcombe,………….. Strathbogie 1933, 1934
Frederick Newcombe,………. Brackenhurst, Lower Green Rd 1933, 1934

The last entry suggests F. Newcombe took the old house name with him to Lower Green.

It is assumed that the variation of ‘Brackenhurst’ is a directory listing error, and we are dealing with the same house.

The building seems to have adopted the name ‘Dower House’ during its use as council offices, prior to becoming a hotel.

Clare Norman’s 2014 research notes on the History of the Dower House

Richard Snow has an article in the Pembury Village News, Issue 168 Winter 2016 – See PVN Archive.


July 2017 email from Russell Riley, Australia –

Hi Tony, this information may not be anything new but you may get something out of it. I’ve pieced it together from the 1911 census which was a bit hard to follow.
The head of the house is Bertha Molesworth but she is listed as sister of the head of the house. [The Rev R W Molesworth is not mentioned]
Samuel Standen 82 Gardener
Ann Harris 51 Housekeeper
It appears that they were not living at the main house. Their living quarters consisted of 4 rooms.
Edith Isabella Todd 38 Parlour Maid
James Taylor 23 Under Gardener
And my 5th cousin Emily Austen 18 Parlour Maid
The building contained 17 rooms
I also found a listing for Spring Stables but I don’t know if they were connected with Brackenston.
Russell Riley
Brisbane Australia



Peter Lush made contact in February 2018 with a valuable volume of memories.
He spent many years of his youth living at the Dower House from 1956 to 1966 – the army occupation period.

Follow this hyperlink to the full article –   Dower House by Peter Lush

Dower House  1956 – 1966                        Donated by Peter Lush

The Pembury Facing side – the asymmetric side with the bay window to the left.
Note the two dormer windows missing from the architects plan below and missing from the postcard view below.


Architect Details

From Architectural Review 1905 – Donated by Edward Gilbert
Please ignore the upper plan of the Yorkshire Penny Bank.      Detail of Brackenston Plan
For easy orientation note that the front profile(Drawing Room & Kitchen) is mainly symmetrical and the rear profile(Dining Room) is asymmetrical.


Above, architect’s model of Brackenston.      Donated by Edward Gilbert

Note the plans and model show the front bay window at the right of the building.
Further pictures on this page will refer to viewing this house as Tonbridge facing, road facing or Pembury facing.
The view above shows the road facing side with the bay window and the Pembury facing side to its right.
The single storey roof projecting from the corner of the house is a clear indicator of the Pembury side.

Edward Gilbert is a local history researcher and lives in Thunder Bay, Canada.  He has family connections with this part of Kent and had his own history web site where he published his results.  In recent years we have not heard from Ed and his web site has vanished.



A chromo-lithographic print of 1907 “House at Pembury, Tunbridge Wells.  C.E. Mallows & Grocock, Architects.”
Some features have changed from the model shown above.
Viewed from the modern hotel’s main car park, facing the reception area.  Approach drive and Tonbridge Road to the right – Tonbridge facing.
This print was spotted on eBay in 2016 by Ed Gilbert and purchased by Tony Nicholls.

Above an advertisement found by Ed Gilbert.   The house for sale in 1935.

Note the  Formerly the home of a President of the Horticultural Societies
This may be fanciful advertising. This is not RHS as none of their past Presidents match our list of residents.



Postcard of Brackenston from B. Molesworth –  assumed to be the ‘Miss Molesworth‘  1911-1913
Date of card is uncertain as stamp and postmark were removed.
Spotted on eBay by Ed Gilbert and purchased by Tony Nicholls  Aug 2016
The shape of the roof (minus dormer windows), profile of the main windows and asymmetric gable suggests this view is from the rear – The Dinning Room side as shown in the architect’s plan – Pembury facing.


Dower House in winter                       Donated by Melvyn Cole


Dower House and neighbourhood  – Aerial photo c1972       Donated by David Doré.

Taken from the west of Tonbridge Road.  Dower House in top-left of image, noticeable by its distinctive window pattern.
The house in the foreground is The Lodge, and behind that 6a & 6b, the converted stable buildings.   See map 606a.
The modern hotel footprint covers the two car parks to the right of the Dower House back to the industrial shed and vehicles.
These are assumed to be the storage yards and vehicles belonging to the municipal council.


Below is a selection of photographs taken of the Dower House building (as a part of the hotel) in March 2016

Dower House
Pembury History

IMPORTANT !!!     This needs your help.  All contributions will be credited.  If you have any further information or corrections please contact me –
Tony Nicholls      email: