Original Sri Lanka
Tea Planters House
Note the simulatory in design.
Aerial View of Planters
Set amongst a picturesque garden
of 2.5acres, Planters is an authentic Ceylonese
In 1897, Charles Thomas Scowen a local Bures man retired at the
age of 45yrs after working In Ceylon.
Although the local Census describes him as a Tea Planter, his main
occupation was photography.
Charles born 1852 in Middlesex
Charles Scowen arrived in Ceylon around 1873 and was initially an
assistant to R. Edley, the Commission Agent in Kandy before opening
a photographic studio around 1876.
By 1885 his photography firm had studios in Colombo and Kandy.
In the early 1890s the firm was being run by Mortimer Scowen, brother
By about 1894 the firms stock of negatives had been acquired
by the Colombo Apothecaries Co Ltd.
death registered in Sudbury 1935, but no record of him being at
After retiring possibly in the early
1890`s, Charles then spent the next 4 years constructing Planters
using authentic materials.
The house is of a pitch pine timber framed construction, clad painted
in heavy duty corrugated iron.
The property features a covered verandah on the ground floor and
a loggia balcony on the first floor.
Charles occupied the property until
his death in 1948 aged 96yrs
This London Gazette Nov 1948 entry
Charles Thomas Scowen, died
24th November 1948. Charles was a respected Sri Lanka photographer
Address given as "Hill View" St Edmunds Lane, Bures.
As you can see, the property was
then known as Hill View and not Planters as we know it today.
Charles probate record, also confirmed that his address was Hill
View, St Edmunds Lane.
This 1900 OS map clearly
indicates a vacant plot of land where Charles built his
However, the 1911 Census records Charles living at
"The Bungalow, St Edmunds Lane".
So where was that ?
Probably a name Charles had given to the property while
it was under construction
Prospect Cottage, appears
to be what we see today
as St Edmunds House
After Charles Scowans death,
the property was left to his executors, Agnes Diggins and
Mabel Wilson who were both his housekeepers.
Essex Records Office holds
a catalogue by "Strutt and Parker" for the sale
of the Planters in 1966.
This is most probably the time when Mabel Wilson (Executor)
sold the property to a Michael Fox
It is known that when Mabel lived in the property it was
called High View, but it appears the name was changed to
"Planters" when it was put up
I can only speculate that Strutt and Parker who were the
Estate Agents considered a change of name would attract
more potential buyers.
Consequently, we know for
certain during 1966 it underwent this name change.
Michael Fox subsequently
sold the property to the Howlett family, who are the current
It remains to be known as Planters to the present day.
Additional information on Charles
at one time either of both lived in a row of cottage adjacent to
Today, they have been converted in one large property. known at
"St Edmunds House"
Planters is located to the left of the property.
In the 1901 Census Agnes is
listed as Servant, age 15 at the Swan Inn, bures
In 1939 the Census records
Agnes Diggins as Housekeeper and her husband Charles living at High View,
However from a local source, we know that the Diggens later lived in a
row of cottages adjacent to High View.
( needs further investigation, may have been after Charles died)
Agnes husband was Charles Diggins a signalman at Bures Station
Mabel's mother and Charles' wife were sisters
Possible surname "Gane"
I was very interested to
read about Planters and its owner Charles Thomas Scowen.
I had never heard of him but his housekeeper Mabel Wilson, who was actually
his niece, was a great friend of my grandparents' family in Stoke Newington
/ Hackney, where Charles also grew up.
She was about the same age as two of my great aunts. I think Mabel came
from a 'business' family but her father's stationer's business seems to
have been largely unsuccessful as he left the grand sum of £5 to
his widow when he died aged 45 in 1893. This left Mabel to fend for herself.
Mabel was living with my great-grandfather's family on the 1939 census
(officially as housekeeper). As a child I remember hearing that she had
been left a house in Bures by a relative, I thought, and I have been able
to confirm this in my family research. I grew up in Cambridge and we visited
Mabel (or Auntie Mog, as we knew her!) once in Bures in the late 1950s/early
I can still picture the vast exotic-looking house inhabited by one tiny
old lady. The garden was, I think, completly overgrown and it was difficult
to drive up to the house at all.
Just like the Sleeping Beauty come true! Mabel died in 1970 aged 89 so
it is very likely that she sold the house a few years before she moved
into a care home. I can confirm that the house was called Hill View while
she lived there, as I remember writing numerous thankyou letters for birthday
presents to her at that address.
I have just checked the
electoral registers and can confirm that Mabel was living with my great-grandparents
(as housekeeper?) from 1934 to 1949.
On the 1911 census she was with her widowed mother and younger siblings
in Tottenham. Was she housekeeper to Charles in between, I wonder (sometime
Cant find any evidence of that at present.
Hopefully this information
will be of interest to someone.
Kind regards from Germany
Property Image courtesy of Strutt and Parker
Updated 24/01/2016 with the Greg Scowen
updated 30/1/2016 with grave photo
updated 02/02/2016 Charles Time Line
update with new photos and revised text 25/02/2015
updated Mortimer facts 20/06/2016
update name changed to Planters 04/07/2018