The house and grounds of The Elms were beautifully described in the early 1920s as follows. The house was constructed of stuccoed stone and brick with a tiled roof. On the top floor were three servant's bedrooms. On the first floor was a landing, five bed and dressing rooms one of which had a balcony around three sides. There were also an anteroom, bathroom and a house maids pantry. The ground floor had a tiled outer hall, an inner hall, a double drawing room with glazed doors that led out to a tiled and heated conservatory. There was also a large dining room, a smoking room and a study. The 'domestic offices' were cut off by a baize-covered door and consisted of a kitchen, china pantry, WC, pump house, servants hall, scullery with servants bedroom over this and a larder. Under the house was an extensive cellar. Outside was an enclosed tiled yard with brick-built and slated stabling, also a coach house or garage, a harness room, one loose box and two stalls with a loft over them. There was also a wood house, a kennel and close by a man servant closet. The grounds of over an acre consisted of a pretty well 'timbered pleasure ground', a tennis lawn, flower parterres, shrubbery, a large walled fruit and vegetable garden with tomato and forcing houses. There were also two stuccoed and slate cottages.
The Alphington Tithe Map shows the owner of The Elms was Captain Truscott and the occupier was Joseph Buckley, gentleman. Records show a Francis Truscott, Captain Royal Navy of Alphington born in the village on the 22nd December 1781, he died on the 29th December 1827. His son was George Frederick Truscott born on the 6th May 1817 in Exeter, he was described as a gentleman of the Devon Rifle Volunteers. We can safely assume this was the family that owned The Elms. In 1841 the occupiers were recorded as Jean Buckley aged 40 living on her own means and her four daughters. There were three members of staff resident in the house.
By 1851 Jean was living in Alphington Cottage with her husband Joseph a gentleman. A marriage record dated 13th August 1857 stated '. . . at Heavitree Chas Terrell Lewis Esq. of The Elms Alphington to Sophia eldest daughter of the Rev. Henry George Salter of Heavitree'.
In 1861 the residents of The Elms were recorded as Martha Lewis, Harriett Bidwell and Francis Lewis, all annuitants. There were also a cook and a housemaid residing there.
In 1871 the house was uninhabited but in 1878 William Cotton Esq. was recorded at the house.
In 1881 Henry Lovelace Houlditch aged 79 a clergyman without cure of souls was recorded as the resident. With him lived his son Henry, a retired captain; his daughter-in-law, Frances and his grandson Francis. Two of Henry Senior's other sons were visiting and they were Hugh William a wine merchant and Edward Holroyd a solicitor. The staff members were a cook, two house maids, a footman and a stable boy. Three gardeners were listed as living in three cottages within the grounds. Henry Lovelace Houlditch was born in 1803 and was the vicar at Holcombe Burnell from the 19th January 1835 until 1879. Henry died at The Elms on the 20th June 1885. His son Edward Holroyd Houlditch and his wife were recorded at The Elms in 1891. The staff members in residence were a house maid, a cook, a groom and one gardener.
In 1901 Edward was still resident at the house with his wife along with a cook, a parlour maid and a coachman. In 1911 Edward was continuing his work as a solicitor and resided at the house, members of staff were listed as a coachman, a cook, a parlour maid and a house maid. The three cottages were let to widows one of which can be confirmed as the widow of one of the past gardeners at The Elms and I would assume the other two ladies were also the widows of past gardeners.
In 1922 The executors of the late Mr E. H. Houlditch were handling the affairs of The Elms.
In 1925 Mr Edward Sydeham Fursden was resident at the Elms and he remained there until 1930. Other recorded residents were: 1946 Mrs Kerswell and in 1964 and 1965 Christopher J. Goodridge.
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick