Mintmakers was once the centre of a scattered farm of about 50 acres, which comprised land at Cherry Trees, Merton Avenue and the Wellfield Estate. Mintmakers is quite a modern name, and few places have undergone more changes of name. In its time it has been called "Bassedene", "St Peters", "Blue House Farm", "Armstrongs Farm" and "Willow Lodge". However the current owners (to whom I am indebted for much of the information here), assure me that they are not changing the name again!
The house is brick built and mid-Victorian in date, being originally two cottages. It is said that some of the window glass once belonged to the earlier house on the site. Originally it was two semi-detached cottages, which were converted into one building by Messrs Orpins in 1958. At this time the number of chimney pots was reduced from four to just one.
Our earliest reference to the farm is in 1495, when it was a mixed arable and pasture holding called "Bassedene" (after the field where Cherry Trees shops are now - perhaps the original house was here too?). It apparently belonged to the Cotyer family, but was then being purchased with Woodins by John Sedley of Southfleet from executors. Like Woodins this too had come into the hands of the Overy family of Fairby house by the mid 16th century. When the estate was partitioned between the brothers John and Richard Overy in 1604, it was John who received the cottage called "St Peters" in the occupation of John Comfort, and the other lands which made up the farm.
As is so common in the history of Hartley, we now have a break in our knowledge of the ownership, but we know that by 1668 it had come into the hands of one Henry Stacey, gentleman (apparently not the rector of Hartley of the same name). In that year he sold Mintmakers, together with land at Gravesend and Milton and ferry rights across the Thames to Lawrence Holker of Gravesend. His family was to own Mintmakers until the 19th century. Lawrence died in 1708 and in his will he left "my two several messuages or tenements with barns, stables, outhouses, lands, woodlands and appurtenances... in Hartley... in the several tenures or occupations of William Wigzall and Jeremiah Pead". Lawrence's home in Gravesend still exists; once called the Two Brewers, it is now the New Inn in Milton Road. His grandson Dr Laurence Holker, a physician, added to the family estates by this marriage to the heiress Katharine Allen. In 1734 Dr Holker had distinguished visitors at his Gravesend house - none other than the Prince of Orange and his new wife Anne, the daughter of George II, while they were waiting for better weather to sail to Holland. The Universal Journal reported that Gravesend had never known crowds like it before, to greet the royal couple.
After the death of another Lawrence Holker, who was an attorney in London, in 1794, Mintmakers descended to his two nieces Catherine Megginson and Ethel Potts. They were the daughters of John Thorpe of Bourne House, Bexley, who had married Lawrence's sister Catherine. John Thorpe was the famous antiquarian who compiled the records of Rochester Diocese in 1769, Lawrence acting as an agent for the book (Kentish Gazette 1.3.1769). It was probably on his return from Mr Thorpe's house in 1786 that Lawrence's coachman had the lamp shot out of his hand by an unknown assailant (Kentish Gazette 14.3.1786). Ethel Potts had two children, one of whom Laurence Holker Potts (1789 - 1850) is famous for patenting a mechanical process of sinking foundations by compressed air, still used today.
Mintmakers was purchased, together with Brickend in Church Road (which had also come into the hands of the Holker family at some point), by the then lessee, John Swaisland of Idleigh in 1815. Around 1840 he leased the farm to William Armstrong, after whom the farm was named for a time. Although he too sublet the house. For many years the Longhurst family lived here, and at the time of the 1891 Census one of the occupants was PC Walter Humphrey and his family.
James Swaisland was the owner, when he died in 1851. He left it to his nephews and niece William Wingfield Armstrong, James Armstrong of Southfleet, Mary Ann Armstrong. James bought out the others the following year. By conveyance dated 8 April 1863 he sold nearly all the estate to James Thomas Smith for £3,500, who purchased a large estate in Hartley, which he sold to James Timmins Chance in 1899. JT Chance died in 1902 and his beneficiaries sold the Hartley estate to Thomas Morton on 10 October 1905, just weeks later he had sold 122 acres of that to Payne Trapps & Co.
From the Parish Rating Book which survives from 1744, the tenants of the farm were: Edward Thorpe (1744-1779), Edward Thorpe (1780-1781), Richard Treadwell (1781-1798), John Swaisland (1798-1836), William Armstrong (1839-1852), James Armstrong (1855-1863).
The original house burnt down on the morning of Friday 3rd October 1851 and the present building constructed in its stead. According to the South Eastern Gazette "A fire of a very destructive character broke out on Friday morning, the 3rd inst., upon the farm of Mr Armstrong, of Hartley. The Gravesend engine was in attendance, but nearly all the property upon the farm was consumed. It is believed to be the work of an incendiary. The property is insured in the Norwich and Kent Fire Offices."
The "Wellfield" part of the estate was bought by Payne Trapps & Co on 1 November 1905, while Smallowners Ltd acquired the Church Road lands. The latter lands became "Cherry Orchard Farm", a mixed poultry and fruit holding owned by the Campkin brothers. The last vestiges of the farm attached to the house vanished in 1929, when the then owner Miss Davies-Cooke sold the 1½ acre orchard at the back to the Campkins.
In the early part of this century Mintmakers was known as "Willow Lodge", in the 1930s it was almost hidden from the road by trees and there was a pond in the front garden. It has changed hands a number of times, and has been owned or occupied by a number of well known Hartley families, including Tom Tate, Frank Crouch and Thomas Hockley. Mr Hockley was living there in 1933 when he witnessed the getaway car of a burglary at Spinney Corner (now Preet Niwas) opposite, his information enabled the police to catch the robbers. From 1960 to 1965 Mr and Mrs Luboff lived here; he worked for the Bank of England, and this no doubt explains the change to its current name, although an alternative explanation claims it was so called after he had spent a mint on it!
Map of Mintmakers in 1844