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The Fernhurst Society

Tales from the Archives - 28

The Professorís Telescope

A well-known resident of Kingsley Green in the early years of the 20th century was Professor Tobias Matthay.  He lived at High Marley, a Lutyens-inspired house built by Herbert Hutchinson, which was apparently designed round the professor’s two grand pianos.  Many famous pianists, such as Dame Myra Hess would visit to play there.

Apart from music, the professor also took a keen interest in the local landscape and had a telescope set up in the attic.  On a clear day he could focus this through a gap in the South Downs as far as the English Channel. 

During the First World War suspicions abounded and it was rumoured that Professor Matthay, he with an unfortunately unusual surname, was able to keep in touch enemy signalling from the sea.

These stories got spread around and one afternoon, when the good professor was innocently taking the air on his lawn, a platoon of British soldiers appeared from the bushes and surrounded him.  Luckily he was able to prove his innocence but he was officially instructed to remove his telescope!

If you would like to know more about this story, or research other local topics, the Archive is open on Tuesdays, 2.30-5pm in the Village Hall. Other times by arrangement.

Christine Maynard
Fernhurst Archive

One of a series of short articles bringing you some of the incidents from our rich village history. Collated by Christine Maynard, based on documents preserved at the Fernhurst Archives, these originally were published in the monthly Fernhurst News.

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