THE wonderful thing about Maldon’s older architecture is that it is so eclectic.

Different styles and built features have appeared down the centuries that still have the power to raise curiosity and to have an impact on modern-day observers.

One such building is 37 Beeleigh Road.

Some people refer to it as Heygate House, but its real (original) name is The Hutt. Timber-framed and weather-boarded, it somehow seems to float above the natural slope of the land, with a raised entrance accessed by attractive timber steps up to a long integral balcony.

There is an overhanging zinc roof, brick chimney stacks and what I think of as a large belvedere (but I am told is technically a clerestorey).

It has been described as “one of Maldon’s most interesting buildings” and the town’s “best kept secret”, but in appearance it looks more suited to one of the colonies of our Victorian empire than to this English riverside town.

So what is its story – how old is it, who designed it and who first lived in it?

There is definitely a hint of Arts and Craft about it (including some of the inside fixtures) that has doubtless contributed to it being granted well-deserved Grade II Listed status.

The official Historic England entry for that listing suggests that it was built in 1906, but I don’t think that can be right.

Buried deep in the archives at the Essex Record Office is a building plan for a property with the address West Chase, Beeleigh Road.

The plan is in poor condition, but appears to relate to The Hutt, which does, indeed, sit on the corner of West Chase.

The document is dated, not 1906, but two years later in 1908 and the owner of the plot is given as R Orttewell.

A quick search of the births, deaths and marriages for Maldon reveals that Richard Orttewell married a Julia Marjorie Wilson at All Saints’ Church on September 16, 1908.

The building plan, that unusual surname and the all important date of 1908 seem to indicate that the house was actually built as a family home for those newly-weds.

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Something even more revealing is Julia’s stated place of birth - Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand (now a suburb of Auckland).

A quick search of the bungalow style of the surviving older properties in New Zealand reveals a striking similarity to the design of The Hutt, in Beeleigh Road. (There is even a ‘Hutt Valley’ just outside of Wellington).

It must have cost a lot of money and skill to replicate that same sort of house some 11,000 miles distant.

It has been suggested that the man Richard Orttewell engaged to manage the project was the renowned progressive English architect, Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (1851-1942).

Co-founder of the Century Guild of Artists, pioneer of the Modern Style and the Art Nouveau movement, Mackmurdo lived not far away at Great Totham and would have been ideal for the job. Richard certainly had the financial means as he came from a rich family of ironmongers.

Richard was born in Chelmsford in 1856, the son of Frank and Mary Orttewell, and the family seem to have migrated to Maldon sometime in the 1860s.

Their shop was successively located at 53 High Street (destroyed by a fire in 1892 and now the site of Santander), 35 High Street (up until 1902 and currently the Oakhouse) and then 47 High Street (until 1917, now a Turkish barbers), whilst they actually lived at Oakwood House, at 2 High Street.

Richard joined his father in the family firm and took on all the trappings of a successful businessman.

He was a Freeman of the City of London, Livery member of the Worshipful Guild of Tin Plate Workers and a Freemason (a Past Master of number 1024, the Lodge of St Peter, Maldon).

Following his marriage to Julia (who preferred to be called Marjorie), the couple honeymooned in Portugal and, on their return, lived at Oakwood House until The Hutt was ready for them.

By the time of the 1911 census they were resident in Beeleigh Road – but sadly just the two of them as their first daughter, Frances, had died aged only one.

A second daughter, Richenda, came along in 1912, a son Frank in 1917 and another daughter, Katharine, in 1918.

Aged 65, in 1921, Richard sold 37 Beeleigh Road (the name ‘The Hutt’ seems to have been dropped by then) to his solicitor friend, Horace John Freeman, and that branch of the Orttewells left Maldon to live in Dorset.

Despite the passing of a hundred years, 37 Beeleigh Road continues to be a testament to them – to both Richard and Julia (Marjorie) and to their former High Street business(es).

It also carries on as a well-loved private home and represents a surprising and most remarkable ancestral and architectural link with New Zealand.