A flashback story which relates the history of the Old Moat House on Drummond Road Skegness.
The house, which was previously known as Skegness House, was demolished in 1883.
Source: Skegness Standard 12th February 1930
The following information was sent in by Alexander Barton, a descendant of Edward Walls.
The land was granted on a 99 year lease to the family from Lord Scarbrough and amounted to around 12 acres. On the land the family built the Skegness house and the New Inn which became the Hildreds Hotel. Rev. Walls’s daughter was Mary Walls and when she died, the house was left to her sister Sophia Rawnsley – her husband (Rev. Rawnsley was the guardian of Lord Alfred Tennyson and apparently he also stayed at the Skegness house). In the 1870s, Lord Scarbrough’s agents demolished the house which I guess was at the end of the 99 year lease. I attach a copy of the painting of Skegness (Moat) house.
I have another painting of it finished 10 years earlier which only shows 2 dormer windows at the top so I don’t know if the ones in the middle were added in the 10 years after that or if one or other of the artists was using artistic licence! Neither are very well painted but as you will see from the description given below by Henry John Cheales, the grandchild of Rev Walls, it seems very accurate.
The house was the first built to command a view of the sand and sea, looking over the Roman bank – and Syne Hill just in front – that bank was of green turf and along it ran a footpath to the Vine and thence along the Syne hills to Gibraltar Point. I must try to describe the house which was unlike any other in England. It was of plain red brick rather long and narrow, heavy thatched roof in which were Dormer windows to light good sized attic bedrooms, on the second story were two sitting rooms and the best bedroom, the ground floor kitchen and scullery, servants’ bedroom, nursery and also a door with quaint old porch of woodwork alterable so as to suit the wind – this was at the back and west side – the front door serving for the second story faced the sea – that is eastwards – it was about mid way between the ground and wall plate of the roof, it was a curiosity – a sort of wing containing cellars, larger, dairy, ice with strong buttresses, slits for windows. This was flat roofed and covered with large paving stones about 20ft long 1 ft broad making a sloping descent towards the Roman bank in front of its end, the interval between it and the bank was spanned over by a wooden plank. Bridge with rails like a gangway to a ship supported by two strong wooden posts, ideal contrivance for a boy’s climbing and gymnastics – moreover, in later days, for a grand long jump from the end of the slabs on either side of the wooden bridge twelve feet more or less.
The newspaper article states that the Moat House was owned by W G Walls, and occupied by a family member. This is somewhat confusing as local history books, as well as a 1793 map of Skegness, document the owner as Rev Edward Walls. It is possible, of course, that W G Walls owned the house sometime after Edward’s death. The decendant of Edward Walls, Alexander Barton confirms that it was originally owned by Rev Edward Walls and occupied by his daughter, Mary.
Edward Walls (1739-1815) was born by the name of Edward Codd, to George Codd and Elizabeth Wilson, changing his name to Walls, as a result of his cousin’s (Joseph Walls) will. His first three children, Richard, Mary and Elizabeth (1778-1822), were all born by the name Codd. The two youngest children, Joseph (1779-1857) and Sophia, took the new family name of Walls. Edward Codd’s marriage (1773) to Mary Booth took place in Spilsby, as did the baptisms of all their offspring.
The family have memorial plaques erected in Welton Church: