The Norwood Society


It may be of interest to members of The Norwood Society to learn of a large house, demolished sixty years ago, which occupied the site on which now stands Highland Court, in Highland Road, Upper Norwood. Of all the books written about the area it would seem that the house known as ‘Saxaweald’ remains almost forgotten.

The family who lived there comprised of Mr. & Mrs. L von Sachs, their two daughters, Feodora and Mavis, and a son whose name escapes me since I do not remember ever seeing him. ‘Saxaweald’ had elegance and grandeur and was a solid piece of Victorian architecture on four floors. Both the interior and exterior exhibited elaborate decoration in the marble fireplaces and plaster mouldings about the ceiling in the morning rooms, and the cornices and balustrades on the outside of the house.

My memories of ‘Saxaweald’ go back to the 1920’s when I was taken there as an infant by my mother who was cook to the household – so consequently, and up to the age of ten, I spent a lot of my time below stairs and in the garden.

Other staff employed there were a housekeeper, butler, maid, gardener and a coachman. The garden, which was terraced, had a circular covering lawn, flower beds, trees (one of which has only recently been felled), a small orchard and soft fruit bushes. There was a coachhouse and stables, and the driveway can still be seen today.

The family worshipped at Christ Church. Gipsy Hill.

In February each year the family went to the very fashionable thirties resort of Mentone on the French Riviera. During the summer they stayed in a Georgian house – 8 Arundel Terrace – which they owned at Black Rock on the Brighton seafront, and my mother and I went with them. I have a very vivid memory as a very young child of lying awake in my bedroom and being able to hear the roar of the sea on the shingle.

As a result of the Wall Street crash and the Great Depression I believe that the family lost much of their money, and when Mr. von Sachs died in the early 1930’s the house and grounds were sold and its contents auctioned in 880 lots over a three-day period in 1935 by Messrs. Dyer, Son & Creasey of Blackheath. I have in my possession a copy of the Auctioneer’s catalogue and some of the items were quite exceptional:

Lot 209 – An Emu egg on solid silver stand with cornucopia and figure in relief

Lot 232 – An antique finely carved Reliquary 46in. by 17in.

Lot 250 – A large coral branch in glazed case and a piece of the original “Herne the Hunter’s Oak” in glazed case.

Other items, so very ordinary today but quite out of the ordinary sixty years ago included:

Lot 876 – An electric toaster, a ditto coffee heater and three ditto boilers.

When Mr. Sachs was a young man I believe that he travelled extensively and had collected many artifacts from all parts of the world, particularly Australia. Even though I was only a small child I remember so vividly all the wonderful and exotic things that I saw in the house which seemed through my young eyes quite of another world.

Edward Perridge

The Norwood Review Edition #138.