Object of the Week : G is for The Grange

Monday 15 February 2021

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : G is for The Grange

The Museum not only holds a large photo archive and collection of objects relating to Elstree and Borehamwood, but we also have a database of shops past and present, notable people and information about buildings in the area.  One such is The Grange.  This was a large house which stood on the corner of Deacons Hill Road and Allum Lane, in Elstree.  It had been built for Frank May, who held the position of Chief Cashier to the Bank of England between 1873 and 1893.  As such, his signature appears on the £5 note of that era.

In 1893, Mr May was asked to resign following serious irregularities.  He allowed an overdraft with no authority and involved himself in serious difficulties by speculating on the stock exchange.  The huge sum of £250,000 was set aside by the Bank to meet all possible contingencies, such was the seriousness of the case.

Mr May, however, vanished from the scene and lived in ‘kindly seclusion’ in the obscure village of Batcombe in the Mendip Hills until his death in 1897.

To give an idea of the value of £5 in those days, the annual wages of staff working at houses such as The Grange would be: £15 for a Kitchen Maid, Cook £20, Housekeeper in charge of all the female staff £50 and a Butler £60.

Here can be seen a £5 note from the period with Frank May’s signature together with photos of The Grange.

After World War I, a devoutly Catholic Armenian family called the Caramans moved into The Grange, where they established a Chapel for fifty worshippers which flourished until the mid thirties.

During World War II The Grange was used for troop training before D-Day, in particular the Coldstream Guards, and in the 1950s, the land on which The Grange once stood was developed into housing estates now known as Grange Road, Bishops Avenue and Lodge Avenue.

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