Gardeners Phil Jacobs and Dick Whitewood

 By the turn of the 20th century there were seven full-time gardeners employed in Brook. Some worked for local folk who couldn’t manage their own gardens, but mostly they were employed at Brooke House, Brook Hill House and Mottistone Manor.


The first mention of a gardener in Brook is Henry Taylor on the 1851 census. By 1861 he was 64 and living at Brook Lodge, probably helped by his son, William Taylor who is listed as a garden labourer.



By 1871 the Seelys were focused on landscaping the grounds of Brooke House and there was plenty of gardening work to be had. The census shows George Hendy, Isaac Morey and William Hall as local gardeners, and Adam Gray and his son Albert, who had come from Aberdeen and Luton and whose family was living in Rose Cottage.


In the 1891 census we see gardeners with now familiar local names: Frank Cassell, just 14, and James Jacobs. Isaac Morey was gardener at The Rectory. William Tribbick was head gardener at Brooke House for nearly half a century from approximately 1870 to 1920. He was a very knowledgeable and respected man, a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and author of several published papers on the growing of fruit and vegetables. Working as under-gardeners to him were Augustus Blake, Frank Newbery and James Ford.


Brooke House


In William Tribbick’s obituary on 3rd January 1927, The Isle of Wight County Press reported:

William was a very skilful gardener especially at indoor cultivation, he was ever ready to impart his fruits of experience to others and sometimes he would do this in a novel way. His houses at Brook - gardens were pictures of orderliness and cleanliness.




By 1901 Brook lifeboatman William Jacobs (better known as Phil), Frank Newbery and labourer Percy Downer are listed as gardeners. In 1911, the year of George V’s coronation and when there were great festivities in Brook, there must have been a great deal of gardening work as we see eight men and boys working on gardens: John Hookey, Benjamin Cassell, William (Phil) Jacobs and William Tribbick, Frederick Morris, Henry George (Jasper) Morris and Alfred and Frederick Newbery.




Alf NewberryAlf Newbery took over as the Brooke Estate’s head gardener after Mr Tribbick died aged 70 in 1927. He was assisted by his wife Daisy and Jasper Morris. Daisy specialised in fruit-growing, especially the famous Brooke House vines. Daisy grew up at Hanover and remembered how she:  always loved to be in the open air so I suppose it was not surprising that when I grew up I became a gardener.  For twenty to thirty years I worked in the garden and the greenhouses of the Seely family at Brooke House. My work was mostly with peach and nectarine trees and grapes grown in large glass houses.  Once, when I was working, General Seely brought Queen Mary around and introduced me to her. The Queen was very kind and asked how my shoulder was (it had been giving some trouble). I managed to get my sweetheart (Alfred Newbery) a job as gardener on the Seely estate too and later we were married.  When our three daughters were born we called them after much loved local plants which were in flower at the time of their births: Erica, Myrtle and Rosemary.




Daisy and Alf’s daughter, Myrtle, remembers as a child: We used to enjoy going up into the muscat house where my mother would get up on the staging to thin out the grapes. It had a wonderful smell in there. They grew figs, white grapes as well as the black ones, peaches, nectarines and many other soft fruits as well as vegetables, flowers etc.



Joe Morris was gardener at Brook Rectory for many years. He kept the walled garden neat and tidy and produced some fine fruit and vegetables for the Rectory table. Mr and Mrs Joe Morris lived in Rectory Cottage (now Badgers) which had a gate through into the walled garden. As children Janet and Susan Stone remember it as: Our secret garden - full of succulent strawberries, raspberries and fruits of all kinds. We would seek out the toad that was always around somewhere, keeping the slugs and snails at bay. Grandad would give us a ride in the wooden wheelbarrow along the long grass pathways which were very neatly trimmed and went between the various plots of vegetables.