1899 – 1929
Under his will, Rev King left everything to his elder son John Rooper King, which was proved on 31 August 1899. On 2 November 1899, the Fir Hill copyhold was duly transferred to John Rooper King. On 1 December 1899, he entered into two agreements relating to the land his father had owned.
The first was with John Scott Westbrook of Droxford, and was an agreement for sale of the copyhold of Fir Hill and the fields between the house, Mill Lane and the River Meon for £2,300 (£212,000/ £1,330,000/£2,060,000). This included a cottage later known as Parker's Cottage and inhabited by Mr Parker, head gardener for Capt Mackenzie-Grieve and Major Hulbert.
The second was with John Westbrook's younger brother, Richard, and was a conveyance of the freehold for an unknown amount of the two fields to the north of Fir Hill on which Uplands House would later be built.
On 15 February 1900, John Rooper King entered into a deed of enfranchisement with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners under which he paid £75 7 shillings (£6,960/£43,600/£67,600) to convert the copyhold of FIr Hill into a freehold. And two weeks later, on 1 March 1900, John Rooper King sold by conveyance the Fir Hill freehold to Capt Mackenzie-Grieve for the sum previously agreed with John Westbrook of £2,300 with John Westbrook assigning the benefit of his 1899 contract to Capt Mackenzie-Grieve for £600 (£55,400/ £347,000/£539,000).
It seems likely that the Westbrooks were not intending to hold either of these properties for any period of time but rather saw an opportunity to make some money.
The Westbrooks were a long-established Droxford family, having lived in the village since the 1820s and are still in Droxford today. In 1881, John Westbrook, who described himself as a commercial traveller, had been living in Islington and purchased another substantial house in Droxford for £225 (£18,600/£162,000/£294,000) (HRO: 28A01/19). This must have been Meon House, then called Sunnyside, since John Westbrook died there in 1921 (HRO: 5M62/41 page 529).
Richard Westbrook owned Northend Farm opposite Fir Hill on the other side of Garrison Hill. On 19 February 1901 he sold the Uplands fields to Captain Mackenzie-Grieve for £750 (£66,800/£422,000/ £644,000).
This same Richard Westbrook bought Droxford Mill as a going concern in 1905 but sold it a few years later when he could not make it pay. He was a keen supporter of the local drag hounds and apparently kept 12 horses so that he could change horses every six miles.
Mill at Droxford, Hampshire. Watercolour by William Evans
(1798 – 1877). Source: Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Droxford: View of the Mill on the Meon River, 1902 by Wilfred Bell
Original in Hampshire Cultural Trust archives.