Denham Court – 745 Jervis Street

Sharp and Thompson were hired by Mrs. E E Bewes to design this $37,000 apartment building in 1912. It stood on the corner of Alberni and Jervis, and is seen here in a 1912 photo in the Vancouver Public Library collection

Mrs. Bewes didn’t live in Vancouver – or, apparently Canada. Mr. E E Bewes travelled from Liverpool to Quebec in 1912, but otherwise there’s no trace of a Canadian connection. The Pacific Builder and Engineer added a little more information in a 1912 entry (with typos). “Mrs E E Bewes, 615 Pender st, will build a 5-sto brick apt house at 748 Jervis st. The plans were prepared Sharpe & Thompson”. Clearly this is just a rework of the building permit, with the same error on ‘Sharp’, and an additional error in misreading 745 for 748. It does tell us that her address was 615 Pender. Unfortunately, that’s the Crown Building, an office full of lawyers, real estate brokers and other offices, so it doesn’t get us any further in identifying who she was.

Then we came across a list of planning applications from the Eton District Council, in Buckinghamshire in England. Mrs E E Bewes obtained permission to build a bungalow at Mopes Farm, Denham in 1920. As this was Denham Court, she seemed a very likely candidate to be our developer.

Her address was shown as The Marish, Denham. That’s a 17th century half-timbered Grade 2 listed building in Denham Green, and the resident was ‘W Austis Bewes’ in 1901. A county directory said “Mrs. Goodlake and Mrs. Bewes are the chief landowners. The soil is loam and gravel; subsoil, chalk. The chief crops are oats, barley, grass and wheat. The area is 3,880 acres of Iand and 59 of water; assesable value, £8,999; the population in 1901 was 1,146, including Denham New Town“.

Wyndham Anstis Bewes was a lawyer, born in Dublin in 1858, although he was christened three months later in Plymouth, and three years later his family were still living in Devon, where his mother, Mary was listed as an ‘officer’s wife’. He was sent to Repton School in Staffordshire, attended Cambridge to study law, but was forced to leave due to ill health. He completed his studies in London, and was called to the bar, and became a lawyer. He became an authority on the laws of Spanish-speaking countries, and translated into English the codes of commerce of various South American countries.

He married in South Kensington in 1890 to Ellen Elizabeth Muller, who was aged 50, seventeen years older than he was. In the 1891 census they were living in Kensington, where Wyndham was a barrister, and had an instant family with Alicia and Charlotte Wyld, his step-daughters, aged 14 and 15 living at home.

Ellen was shown born in ‘Chili British Subject’, (Chile) and her death record shows that she was the daughter of William Christian Muller of Hillside, Shenley in Hertfordshire, and the widow of Edward Wyld of The Tile House, Denham in Buckinghamshire. She married Edward Wyld, a Scotsman, in Marylebone in 1869, when she was 29, and he was 45. They had 10 children in 13 years, and the youngest, also Edward was only aged 4 when his father died in 1887. His father had been a wine merchant, and the family lived at Tolbooth Wynd in Leith. In the 1881 census, Edward Wyld was shown as an ‘Australian Merchant’, and he was shown as a merchant (living in Shropshire) twenty years earlier. He worked for Brown & Co of Moorgate and Sydney, (wine merchants) and was also made a board member of the British Bank of South Africa in 1876. As well as her two daughters at home in 1891, Ellen also had younger children who were perhaps away at boarding school.

We hadn’t found any reason that Ellen Bewes would have invested in an apartment building in Vancouver, but we found a reference on the Social Page of the Province: “Mr. and Mrs. Wyndham Bewes of “The Marish,” Bucks. England, are the guests of Mr. and Mrs. C. Tweedale. They expect to return home in three weeks“. In 1913 the Sun reported that ‘W Bewes and wife’ were staying in Revelstoke. Quite how Cyril Tweedale came to know the Bewes family remains a mystery, but his influence appears to have been considerable. The block developed by Ellen Bewes in 1912 looks very similar to a West End apartment that Cyril developed, also designed by Sharp & Thompson in 1912, and also no longer standing today.

There was a fire at Denham Court that caused $3,000 of damage in 1914, and advertisements for suites that year were run with those of Gilford Court, Cyril Tweedale’s building. The residents were mostly professional, and sometimes were shown by the social pages receiving guests in their suite. In 1920 there was an unwanted guest in one suite “Gaining entrance through a rear window that faced on an air shaft in the Denham Court apartments, 725 Jervis street, last night, thieves ransacked the suite of Victor A. McLean, taking Jewelry, expensive lace and wearing apparel which, according to the police report, is valued at more than $3,000.” In 1927 Mrs. Armitage, mistaking the accelerator pedal for the brake, drove at full speed into the front of the building. Although rendered unconscious, she was taken home. The building was apparently unhurt.

Ellen Bewes died in 1928, and her husband, Wyndham, in Cambridgeshire in 1942. In 1929 Cyril Tweedale brokered the sale of the building to a local investor for $40,000, cash. It changed hands again in 1941, and in 1949 D Nemetz sold it to W H Miller of Kamloops for $50,000. Apartments continued to be offered through the 1950s, always stating ‘adults only’. By 1962 it was even more restricted, becoming Denham Court Men’s Residence. In 1974 it gained a new lease of life – albeit only for a short while, when a company owned by Derek Adams acquired it. The Sun reported “In two, three, five years it will come down,” Adams says ruefully. “A 12-apartment three storey building in that area isn’t economically feasible. But we’ve rehabilitated it, and we’ll keep it going as long as possible.” Opened in 1913, Denham Court was a West End landmark, an imposing example of elegance and good taste, a fashionable address tenanted by well-known names.”

The site of Ellen’s investment was redeveloped in 1990 with a 31 storey condo building designed by Eng & Wright, called Emerald West.

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Posted 7 July 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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