The War Years and After

Lieutenant-Colonel John Mardon of New Court, Topsham bought the Manor from Mrs Mitchell in 1938 and the family lived there until his death in 1958. It could be said that Halsway played its part in World War II as all but one end of the house was taken over by the Ministry of Health for nursery evacuees from Bristol. Up to thirty babies under two years old were accommodated, children of mothers working in the factories and fathers in the armed forces. At the age of two the children went to Chapel Cleeve Manor which was run as an Anglo-American nursery home. This must have been one of the liveliest periods in Halsway’s history to date, because apart from the daily routine of a large nursery and the coming and going of mothers and babies, parties with local British and American servicemen were held regularly in the Great Hall.

Miss Betty Mardon looked after her father following his wife’s death in 1950. On her father’s death she took a small cottage in Crowcombe. She led a full life and had a long association with the British Red Cross Society. She was awarded Life Membership in recognition of thirty years service to the society and on her retirement was made an Honorary Vice President of the County.

She had a great affection for the manor and held her birthday party there more than once in her later years. On its 25th anniversary she presented the Halsway Manor Society with a sundial. She had many interesting tales to tell and from her effects the society received several photographs of the house and her life there. She died in 1991.

In 1959 the Manor was sold to a property company and the estate was broken up, the land going to a local farmer, the nursery to a Mr Tom Bushen and other houses to the sitting tenants. The house, mews building and some acreage was bought by Mr Harold Johns. He wished to develop the property by building holiday chalets but planning permission was refused on two occasions and eventually, in 1962, Halsway was sold to Miss Francis Gair Wilkinson.

Next Ghostly Interlude