The name 'Birtley' was originally 'Berkeley' from the old English 'beorc leah' - 'a clearing in the Birch wood'.
Records of the Birtley House Estate go back to the 12th century, but it was during the late-Victorian era when Birtley House as the care home we recognise today was built. Ownership remained within the Street family until the late 19th Century when it was bought by the Cubitt family.
Although the Cubitt family owned Birtley House until the end of the War in 1945, it was let or leased for much of this time and a succession of occupants included the establishment of a girls' school in the 1930s and an evacuated firm of electrical engineers during the Second World War.
In 1945 Birtley House and its 48 acres was bought by Eyhurst Court Ltd., a nursing home company established in 1932 and run by Dr Lloyd Driver, his wife Joan Driver and various members of their family. A surgeon during the First World War, Dr Driver’s business specialised in mental health patients for a time though this was ceased after moving to Birtley House so as to concentrate on care for the elderly, hence Birtley House Nursing Home was born.
Their daughter, June, married Dick Whalley, a Canadian stationed at Dunsfold Aerodrome during the Second World War and June and Dick went on to raise their family at Birtley House. Always a family business, the earliest brochure records four members of the family as Directors. Although these changed over the years as the family grew and some moved away, new generations have come on to the Board and there are still four family Directors actively involved in the day to day running of the care home today.
Simon Whalley, the current owner and Birtley House Chairman wrote, 'A Brief History of Birtley House & the Nursing Home' which is available to download here: