The first stop on our tour is Lullebrook Manor, built primarily in the 18th Century with many later additions, such as the bow windows which were added in 1802. The site has been occupied since at least the 12th Century and the name Lullebrook is thought to have derived from the Middle English phrase ‘singing stream’.
In the mid 18th Century, the manor was owned by James Burrows, a leather manufacturer. Whilst living here, he developed a thriving boot making industry using local boot makers and cottage industry workers. He used his industry contacts to buy leather in bulk and distribute this amongst the workers who would then deliver the boots to the manor for lining and hand finishing by local women working in the buildings that now house the club’s kitchens. At its height, Burrows employed approximately 1200 workers but the advent of the sewing machine led to a move towards production in factories and a decline in business. Burrow’s son continued the business into the 19th Century still employing around 300 people.
Moving into the early 20th century, Colonel Ricardo, made Lullebrook Manor his home renting it from the Burrows family. Widely believed to be the inspiration behind Mr Toad in The Wind in the Willows, Colonel Ricardo was the first person in Cookham to own a car and could be seen driving around the village in his yellow Rolls Royce. The Colonel was a community-spirited character, and resided in the Manor until his death in 1924. His time here was not without tragedy as a fire struck in 1907, engulfing the west wing in flames.
After Colonel Ricardo’s death, the Burrows family sold Lullebrook Manor to John Spedan Lewis to add to the land he had recently purchased to create The Odney Club for his Partners. Spedan had big plans for the Manor and the gardens in front, planning to build vast dormitory blocks containing ensuite bathrooms and sports facilities as you can see in the plans below. The death of John Lewis senior, meant that these plans never came to fruition as Spedan’s focus turned towards managing the business and forming the Partnership.