South Croydon RMBI Home - Founded in 1850

A brief history of James Terry Court.


Until 1869/1870, Haling Park was an area of natural parkland, a heavily wooded 300ft hill to the South of the town of Croydon.

The park was owned by the Watney family, although in the far past it had been part of the estate of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Prior to 1869 there was a Residence in the Park, with grounds of some 18 acres: it is recorded as being occupied by Jas Watney Esq; there was also a Lodge occupied by one Mr Richard Chandler.

It would appear that Jas Watney‘s house was replaced by a new house started there in 1870. Records (1873) list several people living there; a year later in 1874 a Mr William Dickerson (corrected to Dickinson in subsequent references) was the resident.

Warham Road was being developed in the 1870s; prior to that references are under Haling Park. However, from 1870 five other houses running down Warham Road from "ours" are named in order: Chesham House, Fairleigh (or Farleigh) Lodge, Parkside, Summerfield and Sweet Hill, with one more unnamed before reaching the junction with Nottingham Road. No name is listed for JT Court, other than being the residence of Mr Dickinson.

Along with the rest of the houses on Warham Road, it was given a number in 1905, No 17. Renumbering in 1930 resulted in the current No 51.

Mr Dickinson was succeeded in 1880 by his son, a Fellow of the Geological Society, who lived there until 1908. The house was then unoccupied until 1912, when a Henry W. Falkenburg moved in.

He was a German who, in 1916 at the height of the War, anglicised his name to Faulkner. Mrs Faulkner continued to live at 51 after the death of her husband in 1927 and sold it in 1931 when it became Warham Grange Residential Hotel, which no doubt was also used by passengers awaiting flights from the newly-developed Croydon International Airport half-a-mile away.

The sale in 1931 was connected with considerable development of Haling Park. The recently built Whitgift School took up much that was not included in the 18-acre grounds of No 51, these last enclosing a substantial gardener's cottage, a swimming pool and a walled kitchen garden.

The house, with the current two acres plot, was sold for £17,450 to the hotel, the other 16 Acres being taken for the building of up to 70 houses, now Whitgift Avenue.

The description of the house and grounds at the time of the 1931 sale lists six bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor, reached by a secondary staircase, so these were probably all for the house servants.

On the first floor there were five principal bedrooms and two bathrooms, the lesser of which appears to have contained the only WC on this floor. The main bathroom, communicating with the master bedroom, contained among other items, a "roll-top porcelain enamel bath and a sitz-bath", this latter being a German-design bath for sitting in.

A "noble" entrance hall, morning room, drawing room, conservatory (heated) and dining room were on the ground floor, together with a "magnificent paneled oak billiard or ballroom" described as "one of the finest rooms in the Borough, equipped with a special heating installation". Our Oak Lounge was well thought of even then.

In 1949 the Grange Hotel sold out to a consortium of the Food & Tobacco Trades, and the Licensed Victuallers Benevolent Associations as residential accommodation for the benefit of their retired members.

In 1962 they added the West Wing, providing additional rooms. The RMBI purchased it in January 1977, obtained planning permission for major changes in December 1977, and changed the name in May 1979.

The former Residents were told they could remain for as long as they needed, the last going in April 1988.


After World War II it became clear to the RMBI that the South Croydon Home (founded in 1850 for 32 RMBI Annuitants) was inadequate for the numbers needing accommodation.

It was decided to build on a larger scale, and in 1952 the first wing of a new Home for 96 Annuitants was completed. Those still in East Croydon were moved there and the original Home in Freemason's Road was closed.

This new Home, at Hove in Sussex, is called Harewood Court after the then Grand Master. In the early 'sixties the Management Committee realised the need to support a further big potential clientele, whose income did not qualify them for an RMBI annuity and thus for residence at Harewood Court, but who nevertheless were in need of care and assistance.

It was decided to build a new type of Home for those who could afford to contribute towards their maintenance. The first of these - at Oadby near Leicester - was opened by H.M. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1966, followed shortly afterwards by Homes in Cramlington in Northumberland, Chislehurst in Kent, and in York. There are now 18 such Homes spread across England and Wales.

When the RMBI purchased Warham Grange in 1977, Mrs Braun, an RMBI Relief Deputy Matron took over from the former Matron, who left; Miss Byrne then arrived to assist Mrs Braun until Miss Carrick, the Matron of Connaught Court, York was moved to James Terry Court and it was she, assisted by Miss Byrne (as her Deputy) and Mrs Braun (as a visiting Relief Deputy Matron), who organised the smooth changeover to RMBI standards.

James Terry Court was officially opened as an RMBI Home on 23 July 1980 by The Rt. Hon. the Earl Cadogan, with eight existing Residents and ten more from the RMBI.

The previous Home Manager Mrs Warburton, came as a Deputy in April 1981 and was promoted a year later when Miss Carrick moved on to open an even newer Home at Bournemouth.

Mrs Khalighi, was Deputy, until 1998 when Mrs. Warburton moved to Barford Court the RMBI Home at Hove, Mrs Khalighi was promoted to Home Manager. When Mrs Khalighi moved to another RMBI home in 2004, Mrs Collins took over. The current Home Manager is Mrs Michele Belch.

The Home Manager’s job is like that of the General Manager of a busy company, responsible for everything that happens on a day-to-day basis: administration of departments for nursing. Residents comfort, maintenance staff, budgeting, day-to-day accounting and purchasing, satisfying an annual audit, even "marketing" in that she is the first contact prospective Residents have with the Home.

New legislation, the changing needs of Residents, the increasing cost for new facilities; all these mean continual evolution. Construction on a new £10.2million Home began in March 2010.


When it came to naming the new Residential Home in South Croydon, it was decided to honour that borne by three generations of RMBI officers who between them covered the whole story of the Masonic Homes.

The name James Terry Court recognises this history. James A. Terry is the third generation of his family to be active in the RMBI; between them they have provided an unbroken 116 years of service to the Institution: Grandfather James Terry joined the staff of the RMBI in 1864 and was Secretary from 1872 to 1902, dying in 1909; as a Grand Officer he consecrated some 70 new Lodges and 30 Chapters.

As a Founder of one, the Clerkenwell Lodge, he arranged as its first initiate his son James E Terry. Many of these Lodges have recently passed their centenary, and several have invited James A to this function and have offered him Honorary Membership.

Father (James E Terry) followed Grandfather on to the Management Committee in 1909 and was eventually elected Chairman, a position he held until his death in 1937.

James A, born 1904, was first involved with Freemasonry in January 1923 when, as his father's Lewis, he attended the New Year feast given annually by the Lodge of Tranquillity to the thirty-two Residents in the original RMBI residential home in East Croydon.

He recalls that his job at that luncheon was to serve the brussels sprouts at table. He was initiated into Apollo University Lodge No 357 in October 1923 by dispensation, being below the age of 21 and as an undergraduate at Oxford University.

James was invited to join the House Committee in South Croydon in 1937, to fill his father's vacant place, and in 1947 the Chairman, W. Bro W F Blay invited him to be Deputy Chairman of the RMBI Management Committee. In 1951, following Bro Blay's death, James was elected Chairman of the RMBI Committee of Management at the AGM.

Having been Chairman of the RMBI during a period unsurpassed both for changes in working and success in the policies pursued, James retired in 1980, serving twenty-nine years as Chairman, just one less than his Grandfather James as Secretary.

His continuing interest both in Freemasonry in general and the RMBI in particular, was recognised by his promotion to Past Junior Grand Warden in 1965 and his appointment to the Grand Master's Order of Service to Masonry (OSM) in 1980.

Sadly James passed away at the RMBI. Home at Windlesham aged 92, on the 21st. March 1996 where he had been a resident for past 2½ years.

Read more about the history of the RMBI

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