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Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet


Planters, St Edmunds Lane




This property, built in the style of an Ceylonese Plantation house
is located along St Edmunds Lane in Bures.
There is no public access to this property, although it can clearly be seen from various vantage points.

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 Plantation house.
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
see Wikipedia entry

Charles Scowen Early Life:-
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.

Between 1870 and the 1890`s "Charles Scowen and Co" had photographic studios in Colombo and Kandy.
By 1891 the firm was being run by Mortimer Scowen, brother Charles Scowen and a Tea Planter.
By about 1894 the firm’s stock of negatives had been acquired by the ‘Colombo Apothecaries Co Ltd’.

During the late 1800`s the company was taken over by "Plate Limited Columbo" which is currently still trading.

(Mortimer b1863, death registered in Sudbury 1935, but no record of him being at Bures)

After retiring possibly in the early 1890`s, Charles returned to England and by the ealy 1900`s he 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 floo

Charles occupied the property until his death in 1948 aged 96yrs

This London Gazette Nov 1948 entry reads:-
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 property.

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.
But this date is incorrect which requires further research

Mabel Wilson, Charles housekeeper sold the property to Mr & Mrs Richard Hill in 1964 who occupied the property until 1969

It is known that when Mabel lived in the property it was called High View,

It appears the name was changed to "Planters" when it was put up For Sale in 1969.

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 the time of the Sale it underwent this name change.
It remains to be known as Planters to the present day.


Additional information on Charles two housekeepers

at one time either of both lived in a row of cottage adjacent to High View
Today, they have been converted in one large property. known at "St Edmunds House"
Planters is located to the left of the property.

Agnes Diggins

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
However from a local source, we know that the Diggens lived in a row of cottages adjacent to High View, now called St Edmunds House.
( needs further investigation, may have been after Charles died)
Agnes husband was Charles Diggins a signalman at Bures Station

Mabel Wilson

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 1960s.

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 between 1911-1934)?
Can’t find any evidence of that at present.

Hopefully this information will be of interest to someone.

Kind regards from Germany
Liz Sparks

Property Image courtesy of Strutt and Parker sale brochure

Updated 24/01/2016 with the Greg Scowen Information
updated 29/01/2016

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