Appleton v Appleton

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
JudgeThe Master of the Rolls,Lord Justice Davies
Judgment Date13 Nov 1964
Judgment citation (vLex)[1964] EWCA Civ J1113-3

[1964] EWCA Civ J1113-3

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

On Appeal from Mr District Registrar Thorne, Sitting at the District Registry, Reading, Berks


The Master of the Rolls,

Lord Justice Pearson and

Lord Justice Davies

In the Matter of the Married Women's Property Act 1882

Grace Mary Appleton
(Petitioner) (Respondent)
Frederick Thomas Charles Appleton
(Respondent) (Appellant)

THE APPELLANT appeared in Person.

MR CHRISTOPHER LEA (instructed by Messrs. Pitman & Bazett, of Reading) appeared for the Respondent (Petitioner).

The Master of the Rolls

Mr and Mrs Appleton were married on the 3rd August 1931 at the Baptist Tabernacle at West Ham, when he was 23 and she was 22. They lived together at various houses until) on the 24th August 1962 - that is, after 31 years of marriage - the wife left the husband, who was then in the matrimonial home at Ivy Cottage, The Street, Wood ham Ferrers, Chelmsford. She left a note on the table "Dog at kennels Chelmsford". On the 16th April of the following year, 1963, she took proceedings for divorce against him, alleging that he had been cruel to her. He put in an Answer denying cruelty, and seeking restitution of conjugal rights. He said that he desired that she should return to him and was willing to render her conjugal rights. Those proceedings are still pending and have not yet come for hearing.


Against that background there is a dispute as to the occupation and possession of the matrimonial home. The Divorce Registrar has ordered the house to be sold and the proceeds to be applied entirely for the wife's benefit. Mr Appleton appeals in person to this court.


The husband himself has not much money. He is a woodcarver - a craftsman - who does work, as he told us, such as carving coats of arms. He makes his money in that way, working at home. In 1958 the wife, Mrs Appleton, bought a house at 13, Lawrence Road, Upton Manor, London. That house was bought by the wife out of the proceeds of monies left to her by her mother in a will. It was undoubtedly the wife's house. It was put in her name, for the good reason, amongst other things, that the husband had been bankrupt for some time before and had not been discharged. It was intended to be hers in any event.


In that house the husband did a great deal of work byway of renovating it. So did the wife and the young son of 14 or 15. After three years the wife wanted to move to thecountry. So she sold that house and, with the proceeds, she bought a cottage, Ivy Cottage, The Street, Wood ham Ferrers. It was an old cottage, some 300 years old and in a bad condition. The family - again the husband, the wife and the young son - did a great deal of work in renovating it. While the family were still living there, the wife on the 24th August 1962, left. Then, pending the divorce proceedings which I have mentioned, she took but this application under section 17 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1882, asking that certain items of furniture be declared her property - and the husband agrees that they are her property - but further asking that the property Ivy Cottage be sold. The Registrar has made an order for the sale of the property forthwith and for the whole of the proceeds to be paid to the wife.


Mr Appleton claims, in the first place, that some portion of the proceeds at least should be his because of all the work he did at both houses; and he asks also that the house should not be sold forthwith. There is a shed in the garden where he does his work upon which he is dependant for his livelihood. He says that he is ready to pay rent for his occupation.


I will first deal with the question whether, if the house is sold, Mr Appleton is entitled to any part of the proceeds The Registrar held he was not entitled to any part. I think the Registrar misdirected himself in point of law on this matter. He said: "Although I found that the Respondent" - that is the husband - "undertook between one-third and one-half of the work of renovating each of the two houses previously referred to it would not, in my opinion, have assisted him in his case to have demonstrated that he had performed the greater part of the tasks. It seemed quite clear to me that the Respondent had voluntarily improved his wife's property and such an action in the absence of evidence of any bargain or expressed intention to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
50 cases
  • Pettitt v Pettitt
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 23 April 1969
    ...that she should pay him £300. The Court of Appeal reluctantly dismissed her appeal holding that they were bound by the decision in Appleton v. Appleton [1965] 1 W.L.R. 25. They gave leave to 2For the last twenty years the law regarding what are sometimes called family assets has been in an......
  • Pettitt v Pettitt
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 29 January 1968
    ...or is the proceeds of its sale, was quite without substance. Our attention has, however, been called to the decision of this court in Appleton v. Appleton, (1935) I Weekly Law Reports 25, a case which is admitted by counsel for the wife to be indistinguishable on its facts from the present ......
  • Button v Button
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 30 January 1968
    ...question is whether in point of law and in fact the Registrar's finding is justified. we have been through all the cases once more. In Appleton v. Appleton, 1965, 1 W.L.R. p. 25, the husband did work on his wife's house. He was a skilled craftsman who did work of an exceptional nature alto......
  • National Provincial Bank Ltd v Ainsworth (A.P.).
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 13 May 1965
    ...of section 17 than it should have in my opinion, I would not myself regard the recent cases of Hine v. Hine [1962] 1 W.L.R. 1124 and Appleton v. Appleton [1965] 1 W.L.R. 25 as correctly decided. In the former case the intention of the parties was clear assuming the learned County Court ju......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT