HUTTON, Charles William Cookworthy 1823-1903. Manufacturer. From 1859 to 1891 Hutton was the tenant of Belair. Born in 1823, he was apprenticed to his father’s silk and worsted manufacturing business in Newgate Street, at the age of 15 and was admitted to the Weavers’ Company (with which he was to be associated for nearly sixty years) in 1845. Hutton’s connection with Dulwich dates from 1848, when he married Elizabeth, the daughter of John Winder of Grove Lane, Camberwell. The young couple first settled in East Dulwich, where six of their twelve children were born before 1858, the others being born at Belair.

By the mid-1870s Hutton was at the apogee of his career. His extensive alterations and additions to Belair (including the range of greenhouses) was complete, he had been elected Sheriff of London and Middlesex for 1868-69, appointed a JP in 1872, and was Upper Bailiff of the Weavers’ Company in 1874-5. His father’s business, which he had taken over in 1856, was now devoted to the manufacture and sale of ‘Berlin wool’, a dyed, garish, fine wool, similar to worsted, used for embroidering firescreens, samplers, etc. However, its popularity among Victorian ladies started to decline at about this time, and so did Hutton’s fortunes, no doubt strained by the need to provide for a large family and supporting staff, and to maintain the existing and additional buildings at Belair, which were becoming increasingly dilapidated.

Between 1886 and 1891 (when the Estates Governors instituted possession proceedings for non-payment of rent) Hutton embarked on various attempts at disposing of his lease or developing Belair, none of which came to anything, and in May 1891 he and his family quit Dulwich and moved to Penywern Road, Earl’s Court, having surrendered his lease on condition that no action was taken against him in respect of the dilapidations. He died in 1903, aged 80, and whatever unpleasantness he may have experienced in business and in Dulwich, Hutton’s friends remained true. When he died, his colleagues in the Weavers’ Company paid tribute to ‘the integrity of his character, the liberality of his views and kindness of his heart’.

Hilary Rosser