TQ2550 : The Barons, Church Street, Reigate

taken 10 years ago, near to Reigate, Surrey, Great Britain

The Barons, Church Street, Reigate
The Barons, Church Street, Reigate
Grade II* listed building, built in 1721 by Richard Devon.

It was named after Francis Maseres, Cursitor Baron of the Exchequer, who lived there from 1774-1824, and was commonly known as Baron Meseres. He was an eccentric character who was born in 1731 and apparently throughout his life continued to wear the costume of that period, complete with three-cornered hat, tie, wig, and ruffles. The role of Cursitor Baron to the Exchequer appears to be that of taking the oaths of Sheriffs - it was largely a ceremonial role, as opposed to the other four Barons of the Court of Exchequer (established by William I to regulate and enforce payment of the king's debts and duties) who held judicial duties. Prior to taking on that post in 1773 (he held it until his death in 1824), he had been a lawyer (qualifying in 1758) and was Attorney General for Quebec from 1766 until 1769. He was also deputy recorder of London from 1779 until he resigned in 1783. He was elected senior judge in the Sheriff's Court of the City of London in 1780, a position he held until 1822 when he was 91 years old.

He was also a mathematician (he graduated with a first in Classics and Mathematics from Clare College, Cambridge, in 1752, where he was ranked as fourth Wrangler, i.e. the fourth best graduate in maths that year). Over the years he wrote various mathematics papers, including "A dissertation on the use of the negative sign in algebra" (1758), in which he rejected the use of the - sign, even though by then it was becoming generally accepted as a concept. Others were "The elements of plane trigonometry" (1760) and "The principles of the doctrine of life annuities; explained in a familiar manner, and accompanied with a variety of new tables of the values of such annuities at several different rates of interest, both for single lives, accurately computed from observations" (1783). He also republished various mathematical works by others on subjects such as logarithms and statistical permutations and combinations, and was therefore credited with bringing maths to a wider audience.

After his death, a monument to Maseres was erected by the Rev Dr Robert Fellowes in St Mary's Churchyard (perhaps not unconnected to the fact that Maseres had left most of his estate (over 200,000 in 1820s values) to Fellowes). See TQ2650 : Maseres Monument for photo and further information on the monument.

The Barons was later used as a dower house by the Somers family when they owned Reigate Priory (see TQ2549 : Reigate Priory). Lady Henry Somerset (see TQ2548 : Foundation Stone for former South Park congregational church) lived there until her death in 1921, after she had given the Priory to her son.

In the 1970s The Barons was bought by Redlands, the tile and brick company, who restored it, including the removal of a Victorian extension. More recently it has housed a health clinic, and is now (late 2008) undergoing conversion to retail use.
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TQ2550, 864 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Sunday, 14 September, 2008   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 12 November, 2008
House   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 255 502 [100m precision]
WGS84: 51:14.2798N 0:12.1829W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 255 503
View Direction
South-southwest (about 202 degrees)
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