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Southlands Arts Centre
A Brief History of Southlands
In the 16th Century a Tudor farm house stood on the site of the present rear portion of Southlands. Little is known of it's present early history, but by the end of the 17th century it was occupied by a yeoman farmer, George Cowdery, whose family had lived in West Drayton for at least a hundred years.

George Cowdery farmed most of the land in that part of West Drayton around Southlands. He had a large family, which was probably the reason why he enlarged his farmhouse by erecting on the front of it, to make it the fine Queen Anne exterior it is today. The dining room contains a painted alcove, in which the words "Mr Cowdery, West Drayton" appear.

Three of Cowdery's children died in infancy. Two daughters Katherine and Ann survived. In his middle age Cowdery had a son who was baptised George in August in 1727.

In 1743 Cowdery insured his property with the Sun Insurance Office, the company's firemark may still be seen on the front of the house. The house was insured for £500, the out buildings comprising a stable, granary, barn, outhouses and carthouse for £240, and a dutch barn and granary for £60. The inclosure Map of 1828 shows the full range of farm buildings, and from this it is obvious that Cowdery was farming on a very large scale.

On 26 February 1745 Cowdery made a will, leaving his property outside the parish to his married daughters, Katherine Hatchett and Ann Woodman. To his young son George, he left the West Drayton property - subject to an annual charge of £1 on Mill Close (Now St Martins Road) to provide bread for the poor. Cowdery died in 1747, when his son was just 19.
The younger Cowdery life was short and died just before his 32nd birthday. He married Marther Honnor, and by her had 3 sons, George, William and John. Two years before his death he had made his will, which suggest his health was not good and he anticipated an early death. Southlands was left to his wife, and then to his eldest son. By 1828 Southlands was in the possession of John Hatchett, a descendent of Katherine Hatchett. On John Hatchetts death the copyhold passed to his daughter, Mary, who married George Classon, a builder. In 1864, the tudor part of the house was replaced with the present rear portion and most of the outbuildings were were demolished. In 1877 the Classons purchased the freehold.

On the death of George Classon, Southlands passed to his daughter, Mary Rose Classon, who lived at Swains House, Swan Road. In the early part of the Century,she leased Southlands to Cosmo Hamilton, The novelist of the time, and his actress wife, Beryl Faber.

Southlands Arts Centre
Heritage picture

While at Southlands, Hamilton wrote "The Blindness of Virtue", which was based on life in West Drayton at that time. A copy can be seen online here, digitised by google for future presevation.

When Cosmo Hamilton left Southlands in 1911 it was leased to the Davey Family, who purchased the freehold in in 1930.

In 1963 the property was acquired by Yiewsley and West Drayton Urban District Council. Les Nind, a local self taught artist, set up Yiewsley and West Drayton Arts Council, he became the Chairman, and wrote the constitution for the Arts Council. He then invited Sir Allen Lane to be the president, which he accepted. In December 1964 it was agreed by then by Yiewsley and West Drayton Urban and District Council, to lease Southlands as an Art Centre for a seven year lease at a peppercorn rent.

Les Nind until recently has always been passionately involved in the general running of the art centre. Since then we have become known as Southlands Arts, and we hold exhibitions (painting and photography), we stage local productions in the gardens, hold annual Craft fayres, Victorian fayres and music events and more.
© Southlands Arts 2014