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Family revisit the past to see ancestral home

PUBLISHED: 16:28 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 11:22 12 August 2010

RETURN: The Teichman Derville family – Claire and her mum and dad Angela and Mike.

RETURN: The Teichman Derville family – Claire and her mum and dad Angela and Mike.

A FAMILY stepped back in time when they visited a mansion in which their ancestors used to live in. The seven-bedroom Chislehurst house,

A FAMILY stepped back in time when they visited a mansion in which their ancestors used to live in.

The seven-bedroom Chislehurst house, named Sitka, was built in 1883 by renowned architect Ernest Newton on one of his first ever commissions for businessman Emil Teichmann, who made his fortune in the Alaskan fur trade.

It has now been restored and converted into seven flats by developers who invited Mr Teichmann's relatives to visit for the first time in 70 years and see it in its former glory.

Mr Teichmann's youngest descendent, Claire Teichman Derville, from Petts Wood, was told many stories about Sitka and her wealthy ancestors as she was growing up.

She said: "In its heyday, Sitka had a large pond at the lower end of the Victorian gardens, surrounded by the dense woodland that is still there today.

"I can just imagine the Teichmann family and friends rowing on the water with the ladies holding parasols and the gentlemen wearing blazers and boater hats. It is a typical scene from upper class Victorian society.

"My parents always told the tale of when Emil's mischievous son, Oskar, etched his name into a window in the servants' quarters on the top floor of the house. On our recent visit, I was delighted to see that the window was removed for the duration of the works and will be replaced again for posterity.

"Oskar went on to graduate from Cambridge before joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. He later became a well-respected writer and wrote a number of books about our family.

"I hope now that the house is being redeveloped, it will be brought back to life and once again enjoyed by the new families that will live in it. It has been an amazing experience visiting the old house and retracing our family tree to find such interesting ancestors and exciting stories."

Emil and his wife Lydia, from Mottingham, had six children. There were a number of estate buildings to service the main house, including a coach house and gardener's cottage. There were also eight household staff were supervised by the main housekeeper

The windows on the top floor of the house have uninterrupted views across the countryside towards St Nicholas Church, where Emil and Lydia were married.

The house, which stood empty for some time but was later used as offices, was acquired by developers St James Homes in 2006 who turned the mansion and surrounding land in to Kingswood Chase.

The former coach house and gardener's cottage will be transformed into three and four-bedroom detached family homes.

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