By Chris Humby
(from a talk first presented in October 2013)
Longmead House was built in 1866, vacated in 1927 on the death of its owner, Mrs Charlotte Gubbins. It was demolished in 1939. It was by far the grandest house in Bishopstoke. Designed in the gothic style by the most prominent architect in England. Today there is little record of those who lived and worked on the estate. Longmead House was a prominent house of the Victorian era. Many of the pictures that you will see today have not been published elsewhere. This picture is of the main entrance to the house, which faced north, and has been colourised from an original sepia photograph.
Longmead House stood near to where Bishopstoke Methodist Church is in Sedgwick Road, and you can see how West Drive was formed following the original sweeping tree lined approach to the house. Many thanks to Chris Smart who created this overlay.
When built in 1866, the Estate comprised 147 acres and stretched from Fair Oak Road in the south, to the copse, behind what we now know as Edward Avenue to the north. The western boundary was formed by Spring Lane and Church Road and Stoke Park Woods formed the boundary to the east.
The Architect appointed to design and build Longmead House was George Edmund Street. Considered by many to be one of the greatest gothic architects of his generation, he undertook considerable commissions abroad, including the building of churches in Rome, Constantinople, and Geneva. George Edmund Street was an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1866, the year that Longmead House was built, and became a Fellow of the Royal Academy in 1871. At the time of his death, he was Professor of Architecture to the Royal Academy. He was also president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Perhaps George Edmund Street’s most recognisable building is the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London. Sadly, he died before it was completed, highly revered, he was awarded the rare posthumous honour of being buried in Westminster Abbey.
Construction of Longmead House commenced in May 1866. The house comprised: twenty-three bedrooms, one bathroom, (which was innovative for its day), four large reception rooms, and a lounge hall. There were also offices, a chapel and extensive stabling. Today, we would look on this house as a fine example of Victorian Gothic Architecture and, without doubt, consider it to be one of the finest houses in Hampshire. George Edmund Street was clearly proud of his design for Longmead, and he presented his designs of the house at a Royal Academy Exhibition in London. An extract from The Pall Mall Gazette, London dated Saturday the 11th of May 1867 states: – “Amongst the architectural designs, Mr, Street’s “Longmead” is a bold attempt at producing a Gothic house, free from all the staple forms and ornaments with which everybody is familiar. The public will perhaps pronounce it ugly; the connoisseur will call it very good.”
As the railway rose in prominence in the area, more land was required to house the workers. Slowly parts of the Longmead Estate were eroded to provide housing. The financial crash at the end of the 1920s resulted in many wealthy families losing their ability to maintain a lavish lifestyle and estates like Longmead, which were hugely expensive to maintain, were destined to be bought by property developers as speculative investments.
In 1939, when workmen were demolishing Longmead House, various artefacts were found in sealed glass containers. These bottles had been deliberately secreted in the Gothic arch over the main staircase and had been sealed with wax. The whereabouts of these items are now unknown. These images of a lady and gentleman are believed to be Mr and Mrs Barton from a copy from “The Times” of September 1867, that was reproduced in a local newspaper when the items were found. The Barton Coat of Arms was built into a wall of Longmead House and is pictured in the centre.
Alfred Barton was born in Beaumaris, Anglesey, in 1824. His father was a wealthy merchant and calico printer from Lancashire. Alfred was a partner in the Strines Printing Company which had been founded in 1792. The Barton’s had inherited a significant number of shares from one of the founding partners through marriage and several members of the Barton family were partners in Strines, the last being Alfred who left the company in 1874. What brought the Barton’s to Bishopstoke is not known, although at the time, Bishopstoke was an up-and-coming desirable location for the rich and wealthy, with the added benefit of attractive scenery, select fishing, and proximity to a Railway Station at Bishopstoke Junction.
The land that formed the Longmead Estate was bought from the Rector, Dr Thomas Garnier by Alfred Barton. The famed Rectory gardens were later acquired by Alfred Barton and converted into a kitchen garden to serve the new estate with a footbridge constructed across Spring Lane to give direct access from Longmead House. This footbridge was popular with photographers and these are a selection of some of the photographs of the bridge that Bishopstoke History Society have in their collection. This bridge was subject to a demolition order in the sale of the Longmead Estate in 1928 and the bridge was required to be demolished within six months of purchase as a condition of sale.
Alfred Barton held a commission in the Hampshire Yeomanry, with the rank of Captain. The following picture shows the Band of the Hampshire Carabinier Yeomanry at Droxford in 1904. My grandfather, Frederick Humby, is sat to the left of the bass drum holding a clarinet.
In the census of 1871, Alfred Barton is listed as living at Longmead House, Bishopstoke, with his wife Ellen and seven servants. His occupation is listed as landowner and his age is recorded as 45. Alfred and Ellen Barton appear to have led a quiet and respectable life at Bishopstoke, and like many landowners and philanthropists of their time, indulged in supporting worthy causes. It is recorded that Alfred Barton sat on the committee managing the “Winchester Diocesan Indian Missionary Bishopric Fund” in 1875.
To arrive at Longmead House, carriages had to travel either up Back Lane (Spring Lane as we know it today), or via High Street (now Church Road). Back Lane was sporadically lined with cottages for working families, some of which were employed by the Longmead Estate. Access via Riverside and High Street passed through a select residential area, sparsely populated with fine houses. Whichever route was used, all who visited Longmead House had to pass the Lodge, which stood at the entrance to the estate and was located at the north side of the junction of what we know today as Spring Lane and West Drive. Demolished in the 1960s, it has been replaced by a non-descript block of flats. This small cottage was built at the same time as the main house. The Lodge was designed in keeping with Longmead House, and probably was designed by George Edmund Street. It was a little gem. I remember that just past the house there was a gate that closed the approach to what is today West Drive. This lime tree avenue was the carriageway approach to Longmead House.
The Hampshire Advertiser in March 1872 reported that Alfred Barton had been appointed Chairman of the Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Horticultural Society, at which time he was also described as a J.P. Being elected Chairman of the Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Horticultural Society came with obligations. Newspaper records show that the grounds of Longmead were made available on a number of occasions to host Horticulture Society shows. These shows were enthusiastically reported in the local press. The Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Horticultural Society committee was comprised of all the prominent gentlemen in the district. The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Winchester was Patron, Thomas Chamberlayne, Esq. (who owned most of the land in Eastleigh) was President and twenty-six further prominent residents, were Vice Presidents. The list was a veritable who’s who of local dignitaries.
Newspapers, in 1872, advertised that a Grand Exhibition of flowers, fruits, plants and vegetables was to be held at Longmead. There would be three hundred and forty-four prizes to be won and entertainment for the day would be provided by 35 members of the Band of the Royal Marines, who would play throughout the day and a Mr Waterman, of Shirley, was to display the whole of his splendid flags in the grounds. (clearly a treat not to be missed). A further enticement was that the Oak Walk and Arboretum, late the property of the Very Rev. the Dean of Winchester, would also be open to the public. Whilst entry for competition was open to people from all walks of life, and each category was very keenly contested, rubbing shoulders with the ranks of the rich and privileged comes at a price in Victorian times.
Admission charges were to be as follows:
from 1.00pm to 3.00pm 2s 6d (half a week’s wages for a working man)
from 3.00pm to 5.00pm 1s 0d
after 5.00pm 0s 6d
Not all activities at Longmead were so harmonious and enjoyable as Horticultural Society shows. An extract from The Hampshire Advertiser, dated 4th of March 1874, titled “Coal at Bishopstoke” related to “William Ulyett and John Ulyett who were indicted for stealing 4 cwt and 6 cwt of coal, the property of Captain A. Barton, at Bishopstoke, in January 1874. The accused, “William Ulyett was a respected coal merchant and his son assisted him, their place of business being not far from the railway station. (On the corner of Romsey Road and Twyford Road, where Eastleigh Civic Offices stand today). Captain Barton of Longmead had ordered three trucks of coals, at Christmas, to be sent from Guildford to Bishopstoke and he employed the elder prisoner to cart the coal to his mansion. When the coals arrived, they were set apart in the Railway Station’s premises on a siding where there were no other coals… It was alleged that there was an organised system of fraud as to the delivery of these coals, which had to be carted to Mr Barton’s at the elder prisoner’s convenience. The coals were loaded loose into carts, on the top of them being placed sacks full of coals. On leaving the station the carts would pass the prisoner’s store and, on passing it, these coals in sacks were allegedly left at the store…Coals were duly delivered on Monday, but there was no trace of any delivery on the Tuesday. The charge of theft consisted in this leaving of the sacks of coal at the prisoner’s store, the profit of which would accrue only to the elder prisoner.” The article goes on to record the testimony of witnesses who recalled seeing the sacks of coal being placed into a shed by William Ulyett and his son.
John Ulyett (son) replied to the charge that he did take some coals off because the road was slippery, and the horse could not get up the hill. He had brought some (coal) out two or three times and it had all been loaded up and delivered. It is clear from this picture of Back Lane taken some thirty plus years later that the road was of poor condition and the entrance to the Longmead Estate was just over the brow of the hill, where the road is at its steepest.
“Captain Barton’s head gardener, Slark, declared that on the 2nd of January no coal at all was delivered from 9.30am till 5.30pm… John Rogers, on duty from 9.30 to 5.00pm at Mr Barton’s saw no coals delivered that day…Warne, the dairyman, whose hours are from 6.00am, remembered the 2nd of January and he saw no coals delivered by anyone”. When cross examined, he replied “he know’d what he know’d” which, reportedly, caused laughter within the courtroom. Captain Barton stated that he never had the delivery weighed or measured. “It was believed that about half a ton was missing, but he could not say it was so… He never applied for any search warrant to examine prisoner’s premises” and this was corroborated in evidence by Sergeant Mintram. In summing up for the defence, the defence counsel “urged that the story told by the younger prisoner was true – all sacks of coal were delivered – but those removed from the cart in sacks were so moved to lighten the load, as the coals were to be delivered at the prisoner’s own convenience. Was it likely that a man so respected as Mr Ulyett, would thus act, to take coals, too in the presence of the porters and other persons? There was not one fragment of evidence to prove that any of the coals at all were stolen”. It was reported that “Both prisoners were acquitted,” albeit, at the time, amidst suppressed applause from members of the public in the courtroom.
According to a newspaper report in 1939, the Barton’s had left Longmead in 1879, although the Morning Post, London, dated Tuesday 13th of February 1883, may suggest that they did not relinquished ownership of Longmead House. The newspaper details read as follows: “A gentleman wishes to recommend his coachman for county situation, who has been with him 14 years; a very careful driver and a thoroughly honest, sober and steady man. Unmarried. Address – Longmead, Bishopstoke, Hants.” The earliest indication as to who next lived at Longmead, is an advertisement in The Morning Post of December 1886. A “Mrs G.”, of Longmead is advertising for the services of a maid, and they are required immediately. There are further vacancies advertised, a little later, for a “useful French maid; good dressmaker; wages £20, and all found”, and again, “Mrs G” of Longmead also requires “a thoroughly useful maid; must be a first-rate plain needlewoman; to take charge of linens; with taste for managing flowers; wages £20.” These wages are, of course, per year. Alfred Barton had not relinquished ownership of the Longmead Estate he had created at Bishopstoke, instead the house was let to the Gubbins family, who became tenants.
In 1881, Alfred Barton’s brother Richard, whose residence was Caldy Manor, on the Wirral, Cheshire, passed away and Alfred was bequeathed money and shares in the Great Western Railway. On the death of Richards widow, Elizabeth, in 1890, Alfred inherited the Caldy Manor Estate, the family ancestral home and Caldy Manor then became his principal residence. Alfred Barton had commissioned arguably the leading architect in the country to design and create Longmead House, yet he used Longmead as his main residence for no more than 13 years. What legacy remains of the Barton era? The house and grounds are long gone. The lime tree avenue, now known as West Drive, no longer leads to the grand mansion with magnificent views over the meadows and Itchen valley, yet there are still reminders of the Barton era in Bishopstoke. The most significant and important being the current St. Mary’s Church, which owes its very existence to Alfred Barton.
The old St. Mary’s Church had been built by Dean Garnier in 1825, on the site of an older Saxon church. This church was located near the river by the bend in the road where Riverside and Church Road conjoin. The old church had been subject to safety concerns relating to the bell tower, although there were other issues which had been brought about by changes in the structure of local society. The old church had been built with faculty pews and these were allocated to wealthy landowners and prominent members of surrounding villages. These pews were reserved solely for the use of the families to whom they had been allocated and ordinary villagers only had a very small area within the church that they could use to worship. If any of the family pews were unoccupied during service, they had to remain so, and therefore the church did not have the capacity to accommodate all who wished to attend worship. The arrival of the railway and the beginnings of industrialisation in the area also led to an increase in population. Schooling for the masses and franchise for working men to vote created a society that demanded to be more socially equal.
Although Alfred Barton, by the late 1880s, was no longer living in Bishopstoke, he was still the owner of the Longmead Estate and kept in touch with issues affecting the village. As the largest landowner in the parish, he wielded considerable influence, even in his absence.
The minutes of a vestry meeting, held on the 5th of April 1888, recorded that Mr Barton offered to donate a site for a new church and burial ground on his land, and give £1000 towards the building of a new church on condition that all the seats were free and that he was allowed to nominate the architect. Surprisingly, this proposal was not immediately approved. A meeting of parishioners held 4 months later, on the 20th of August 1888, agreed to Mr Barton’s proposal. However, it was not until three months after that, on the 29th of November 1888, and seven months after the original proposal, that the minutes of the vestry meeting were signed by Rev. Nash to ratify this generous commitment. There may have been time needed to establish what additional funding may be needed to build a new church, although the most likely cause of delay in approving the proposal were the conditions attached to the design. Captain Barton was adamant that the new church would be constructed without faculty pews. It is recorded that this proposal was not well received by many other influential landowners, who wished to retain their position of rank and privilege.
Whilst the new church was built in 1891, it did not have sufficient funding to construct a bell tower. This was not completed until 1909. The bickering and feuding regarding the old church continued until, probably because of exasperation, the Bishop of Winchester ordered the body of the old church to be demolished in 1910. In defiance, the bell tower of the old church, originally condemned as unsafe in the early 1880s, stood unsupported until the mid- 1960s when it was destroyed by a fire.
The east window in the new St. Mary’s Church was erected in memory of Alfred Barton. The inscription reads: “to the Glory of God, in memory of Alfred Barton who died 11th May 1893 and in praise of Heavenly Jerusalem, this window is dedicated as willed by his widow, Ellen Barton who died 14th May 1894”. Clearly the Barton’s had fond memories of their time in Bishopstoke. In 1892 the Longmead Estate had been sold to a Colonel Henry Best Hans Hamilton, who lived in Yorkshire.
The Gubbins family, whilst only the second occupants of Longmead House, were also the last. In 1892, they remained as tenants of Longmead House after the estate was sold to Colonel Hamilton.
Lt. General James Gubbins was born on 18th December 1828 at Belmont Lodge, a mansion lying just north of Bedhampton, Hampshire and was educated at Twyford School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and in the 85th Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. He was Brigade-Major and afterwards Assistant Adjutant-General at Malta. He served in the Crimean Campaign, being present at the battles of ‘Alma’, ‘Sebastopol’ and ‘Inkerman’. General Gubbins was severely wounded, at Inkerman, on the 5th of November 1854. In 1866, he married Charlotte Cosby, second daughter of Sydney Cosby, of Stradbally Hall, Queens County, Ireland.
This picture of the Cosby family shows General Gubbins and his wife Charlotte (seated). Their daughter, Emily Mabel, is standing to the right of her father. I am most grateful to Adrian Cosby, of Stradbally Hall, who has provided pictures and family background to assist with our research for this project. Emily is Adrian Cosby’s grandmother. Adrian Cosby’s great grandfather, Colonel Robert Cosby, Charlotte’s brother, is seated centre front.
Unlike some prominent residents in Bishopstoke, who had gained wealth through entrepreneurial good fortune, General Gubbins and his wife were descended from respectable families of high social standing. James Gubbins was born into a family of successful military officers. His brother, Richard Shard Gubbins became Rector of the Church of the Blessed Mary at Upham and married an Ellen Rolls. One of Ellen’s nephews was to later form a company with some chap called Royce to make automobiles. (One of those silly ideas that was never going to be successful).
The family of Cosby is of Saxon origin and they have lived at Stradbally Hall since Queen Elizabeth I granted them title in 1562. This postcard was found in a drawer when clearing our old family house in Spring Lane. It must have been given to my father by Charlotte Gubbins when he was a young boy.
This charming picture depicts Emily Mabel Gubbins, the only child of James and Charlotte Gubbins. Emily was born in 1867.
In 1894, the report of the death and funeral of Lt. General James Gubbins appeared in “The Hampshire Advertiser” on 14th March. “It is with regret that we announce the death of General J.Gubbins. C.B. which took place at his residence “Longmead” Bishopstoke, early on Sunday morning. The gallant General has for a long time resided in the village, where his genial presence and ready support of the place has rendered him decidedly popular and will make his loss much regretted by very many. Although in bad health for some time General Gubbins was only confined to his bed about a week ago and though everything was done that possibly could be done to effect a recovery, he expired from Diabetes on Sunday morning at half past three, at the age of 65 years, leaving a widow and a daughter to mourn their loss. We understand that the funeral will take place tomorrow (Thursday) morning at Upham Church.” It may appear a little strange that a respected and leading resident of Bishopstoke should be buried in Upham, a village a few miles away. It is, perhaps easier to understand when remembering that the Revd. Richard Shard Gubbins, his brother, was the Rector of the parish church of “The Blessed Mary” in Upham.
Emily Mabel Gubbins married her first cousin, Dudley Sydney Ashworth Cosby in 1895. They lived at “Westcliffe Lodge” in Bournemouth and had three sons and two daughters. Emily died in 1918. The young lady who, for a time lived in Longmead House, has direct descendants now living in Australia, South Africa, and England as well as the family home, Stradbally Hall, in County Laois, Ireland. Her husband, Captain Dudley Cosby led a military career and was the last Deputy Lieutenant of Queens County, Ireland. He became well known as a writer to newspapers and magazines on numerous social and public affairs. According to “The Irish Times” in 2008, the Cosby family home of Stradbally Hall, had “traditionally been a place for hosting the Laois Hunt Ball and Christmas parties” and I would like to share with you a small extract from a letter written to me in support of our research, by Adrian Cosby, Emily’s grandson. In his letter Adrian Cosby apologises for being so slow in answering my original letter requesting help with research. “My daughter-in-law organised a Christmas fair in this house and 1,600 people attended it. I went to the sea in Wexford to escape”. (Top Man, I would have done too).
The arrival of the railway and decision to construct the Carriage and Wagon Works for the London and South Western Railway at Bishopstoke in 1890 created employment and began to change the nature of the area from agricultural to industrial. The lower part of the village, then known as “New Bishopstoke”, was created to house the workers and families that arrived to take advantage of the employment available. The County of Hampshire Land and Building Society acquired ten acres of land to the south of the Longmead Estate from Colonel Henry Best Hans Hamilton, the then owner. Hamilton Road, shown in the picture, was named after him. Cottages for industrial workers were built in Hamilton Road, Spring Lane, Portal Road, Montague Road, and Scotter Road, whilst houses in Guest Road, were built to house supervisors and members of the “professional” classes.
Today change is endemic and we question the need for housing development and what effects such development will have on the community. The Victorians were no different and one village resident, known for his many letters of angst, on a number of subjects, was the Rector Canon Francis J. Ashmall M.A. Writing in 1896, Reverend Ashmall, who lived in the old Rectory with a retinue of servants did not appear to support the changes that were impacting on the village. The village was home to grand houses and wealthy occupants from the higher echelons of society, of which Revd. Ashmall was a member. Bishopstoke, by the sale of land on the south of the Longmead Estate, was now to became home to industrial workers from the railway and this would change the social structure of the community.
He wrote in the Parish Magazine: “The eyes of the newcomers from London were set upon the hill the other side of the water meadows… at first land was not easily procured for building sites, but the lure of profit undermined every other consideration”. This is probably a direct slight on the absentee owner of the Longmead Estate, Colonel Henry Hans Hamilton.
Reverend Ashmall may have been right to be concerned about housing development in the village for, in 1898, more land belonging to the Longmead Estate, north of Stoke Park Road, came under the ownership of the County of Hampshire Land and Building Society, which had developed the Hamilton Road area in the mid-1890s. The emerging town of Eastleigh was beginning to expand and land north of Stoke Park Road was earmarked for housing. The land was divided into plots and the “Society” arranged for these to be distributed amongst its members. This map is from the sales literature of 1898 and shows the original layout plan for 79 plots.
Five years later, the fate of Longmead House and the immediate surrounding estate was not clear. Writing once again in the parish magazine during October 1903, Reverend Ashmall reported that: “There is one change threatening which, if it comes to pass, will be the source of profound regret to us all, and that is the loss of Mrs Gubbins… Longmead has had so many owners these last few years, and if all we hear be true, it has changed hands again… I hear on the best authority that it is to pass to one of those societies of French nuns… (clearly considered to be a worse fate than being owned by a Colonel from Yorkshire). “What this may mean to us as a Parish it is difficult to say. (Nothing like a bit of malicious gossip to stoke the fires of discontent and whip up attendance at Sunday service). The Rector’s fears were not fulfilled and the following month he wrote, with relief: “Mrs Gubbins has bought Longmead and saved the village from a great deal that could have been trying”.
The part of the Longmead Estate bought by Mrs Gubbins in 1904 is shown coloured pink on the plan. Hamilton Road is shown to be developed as far as just east of Guest Road. The proposal to develop the area north of Stoke Park Road was made in anticipation of the imminent move of the L. & S.W.Railway to relocate their Engineering Works from Nine Elms in London. Much of the housing needed for this relocation took place in Eastleigh and work in Bishopstoke did not progress so rapidly, although some terraced houses were built in St. Mary’s Road and Nelson Road.
This picture taken in 1907 shows that the housing development north of Stoke Park Road was slow to proceed. Although a house was built on the corner of Stoke Park Road and Church Road, there were no more houses built between this house and the church for some time, probably not until the bell tower had been added in 1909.
A few houses had been built in Stoke Park Road, but as you can see from this picture, not many.
It is not immediately obvious, but when this picture was taken, Nelson Road was a cul-de-sac. There is a field at the far end of the road, where there were brickworks, and houses had been built on one side of the road only.
Further land, next to Stoke Park Road, was advertised for sale by auction on the 29th of July 1912. It was advertised as 27 acres, 3 rods and 32 perches of valuable freehold grassland, fully ripe for immediate development into building sites for ARTIZANS’ DWELLINGS, which are greatly in demand in the neighbourhood. (You don’t see estate agents describing property as artizans’ dwellings much nowadays). As a separate lot there was also an old Farm House for sale with frontage to Church Road and Stoke Park Road.
Within the sales details from 1912 it was noted that “The Brick Earth and white Silver Sand underlying this Estate are believed to be most valuable. The 3 Brick Kilns, 2 Mess Houses, and a Sand shed will be included in the sale. Brickyards are recorded on this part of what had been the Longmead Estate from the early 1900s.
Longmead Brickworks supplied bricks for many of the houses in Bishopstoke. Houses in Longmead Avenue, Edward Avenue and Drake Road were built from bricks made on the old Longmead Estate. As the clay was worked out and houses built, the brickworks were moved eastwards to the next area. Brickworks existed here until the 1940s and what we know to-day as Rogers Road was not built until the late 1950s.
Longmead Brick Works were located behind St Mary’s Church. In this picture taken in 1908 you can see some of the buildings and kiln used for brick making. The houses on the right are terraced cottages in St Mary’s Road. Access to the brick works was by a track which ran just north of the boundary of St Mary’s Church.
Accompanying the sales literature from 1912 was a layout showing a proposal for how the brickworks site could be developed. In essence the layout is very similar to that shown in 1898, although more detailed. The accompanying literature explains that: “if developed as shown by plan, this valuable freehold land would give accommodation for 450 Artizans’ Dwellings, which are so needed in this district owing to the works of the L. & S. W. Railway being about one mile distant”. This is not what was built.
Mrs Gubbins, living alone in Longmead House and still surrounded by 46 acres of land, was relatively isolated from the developments taking place. The 1911 census lists Charlotte Gubbins living at Longmead with five retainers, including a housekeeper. There is a section on the 1911 census which asks for the number of rooms in each dwelling. Instructions state that you are required to count the kitchen as a room, but not the scullery, landing, lobby, closet, bathroom, nor warehouse, office, or shop. Most dwellings in Bishopstoke would have entered four. Mrs Gubbins conservatively entered thirty-six. We know what the house looked like from the outside, but what the style and decoration of the interior was like, we do not know for certain. We do, however, have a very comprehensive list of the contents of the house from the sales catalogue of 1928. Rather than go into detail of the items listed, it would be better to try and illustrate how the interior of Longmead House may have appeared.
This is Spring Grove, which stood in Church Road opposite the Rectory and was once home to Admiral Cummings. The best way to illustrate what the interior of Longmead may have looked like is to make comparison with another grand house in Bishopstoke, from the same period.
This is a picture of the Drawing Room at Spring Grove, taken from the book, Bygone Bishopstoke, by Dorothy Escombe. The picture is thought to date from the early 1900s.
I am indebted to Steve and Jane Unwin of Unwin Books, Shaftsbury, Dorset, who found these pictures of Spring Grove inside a copy of Bygone Bishopstoke, by Dorothy Escombe, and kindly let me have a copy. These pictures display fashions and styles similar to those at Longmead during occupation by the Gubbins family. Both houses were occupied by military gentlemen of high rank and there are certainly many items on display that would hint of military campaigns and travels overseas.
A lady named Georgina Griffin recalled some years ago that there was a marble staircase in Longmead House, which was rather impressive, and that it was cleaned with milk! According to the Victoria and Albert Museum, in the 19th century a traditional method of polishing marble was to use milk. It may not be a surprise to learn that this method of treating marble is no longer recommended because residues are acidic, attract mould growth and dirt. (Don’t suppose it smelled too good either). Flowers, ornaments, artefacts, and pictures adorn every wall and ledge in these pictures.
This was a period when clean lines and a minimalist approach to internal design were irrelevant and far different to the style we prefer today. Today we may have the benefit of technology to help us. In Victorian and Edwardian times, grand households did not have the same consideration. These details were managed by the housekeeper and the staff that were employed for the purpose.
This is a picture of staff at Longmead house taken outside the main entrance. The date is not known, but as a guess, it could be early 1910s. The census of 1911 listed 5 servants living at Longmead, clearly from this picture, the household retinue was considerably larger.
The 1911 census lists Charlotte Gubbins aged 67, head of household, living on private means; Emily Boulding, aged 50, housekeeper and spinster; Rose Lawson, aged 32, servant and widow; Clara Mullins, aged 19, servant and spinster; Lily Burd, aged 23, servant and spinster; and John Cousins, aged 21, servant and single. We do not have names for the other members of staff pictured. It is believed that Miss Emily Boulding, who had been housekeeper at Longmead for many years, is the elder lady seated in the centre of the group. Rose Lawson is probably the lady, dressed in black to her left. The two maids standing behind Miss Boulding are likely to be Clara and Lily, whilst John Cousins may be the young man to the right of the picture wearing the straw boater. The gentleman next to Emilly Boulding is Rowland Hill, butler to the Longmead Estate and accompanied in the picture with his three children. Edith, stood by Miss Boulding, Lillie, sat on her father’s knee and his son, Edward, stood behind his father. To run an estate the size of Longmead, even though reduced to 46 acres, was still a major undertaking and some of the workers on the estate, like Rowland Hill, lived in tied cottages, so would not have featured on the census return for Longmead House.
Another picture of Longmead staff, this time taken in the stable area.
These pictures show Miss Emily Boulding, Housekeeper and Rowland Hill, Butler at Longmead. Miss Boulding is standing outside the side door, or servant’s entrance. She has a stern look of authority and does not give the impression that she was a lady disposed to frivolity. Rowland Hill stands in front of the majestic main door. It is believed that these pictures were taken in the 1920s.
Rowland Frederick Hill, as butler at Longmead and a married man with a family had the privilege of living in “The Lodge” at 72 Spring Lane. In 1911 he lived here with his wife and three children. Unlike Longmead House their accommodation comprised just four rooms: two bedrooms, a living room, and a scullery.
There are still buildings in Bishopstoke that have connections with the Longmead Estate and one of the most obvious is “Longmead Farmhouse”, in Church Road. As a farmhouse it probably pre-dates Longmead house, although we do not know for certain. It would have been an important part of the estate, particularly in Captain Barton’s time as with 147 acres the farm would have generated a good income. The sales particulars of 1912 relate to this part of the estate being sold for housing development, describing it as “An old fashioned farm house, brick built and tiled, situated in a prominent position in the Village of Bishopstoke and close to the church. At the rear of the house, the sales particulars describe “a brick built and tiled roof cow pen for 13, bull pen, fowl houses, and open cart shed. The importance of this lot cannot be overestimated, it is partly pasture and arable land (all freehold), having a main road frontage of about 340 ft. to Church Road and a return frontage of about 190 ft. to Stoke Park Road, which is plenty of room for 12 superior cottage residences, which are so greatly in demand in the neighbourhood”.
The open cart shed described earlier can be seen on top of the earth bank, to the left of the picture on the corner of Spring Lane and Church Road.
These charming, thatched cottages, on the corner of Spring Lane and Church Road, still stand today thanks to the determination of Mrs Gubbins. When parts of the Longmead Estate were sold in 1912, Mrs Gubbins owned some cottages in Spring Lane, including these. As the wind of change swept through the village, proposals were made to demolish some of the older houses to make way for more modern accommodation. Mrs Gubbins steadfastly refused to allow these old cottages to be demolished and, thanks to her intervention, we can still admire its presence in the village today.
My ex-family home was built as two cottages in the early 1800s and predates Longmead House. It was eventually owned by the Longmead Estate and used to house estate servants. The house was approached from Spring Lane by a set of narrow steps abutting a retaining wall about ten feet high. Built into the retaining wall, to one side of the steps past the work yard where horses could be tethered, was a blacksmith’s workshop. To the left-hand side of the steps, where there is now a driveway, was a stable which incorporated a wheelwrights carpentry workshop. In the 1880s, the front cottage was occupied by Mr Boyes, the blacksmith. 1883 was not a good year for Mr Boyes, in August, Mr Thomas Boyes, blacksmith of Bishopstoke, was summoned before Southampton County Bench by the police for furious driving in Leigh Road. The police sergeant said that the man was driving at 12 mph and would not stop when he called out to him. Witnesses, in court, said he was not driving at more than 8 or 9 miles an hour. Thomas Boyes was found guilty and fined 10 shillings. These two cottages were auctioned with Longmead House as part of the Longmead Estate in 1928. In the auction particulars it is recorded that one cottage is let to Mr Humby at four shillings per week, the other cottage is occupied by an estate servant, rent free.
Next door, on the corner of Spring Lane and “The Carriage Drive” was another cottage now known as “The Old Bakery”. This cottage is also believed to have been built before Longmead. Behind this cottage there is a large outbuilding, not the stable and barn pictured. The detached building at the rear of this house was at one time used as the laundry for the Longmead Estate, and probably provided a laundry service for the other grand houses in Bishopstoke. It was not until later that it was used as a bakery by the Snelgrove family. This house was not part of the estate in 1904, when Mrs Gubbins bought Longmead. By then it had been bought by Admiral Cummings, who lived a short distance away at Spring Grove, in Church Road. This picture was taken in 1948 during an extensive survey of Bishopstoke.
This picture of Spring Lane, at its junction with Hamilton Road, shows the cottages that once stood here which had been built in the 1890s. The two cottages, on the left, in the far distance were also owned by Mrs Gubbins.
These two cottages in Spring Lane were roughly opposite the junction with Malden Close. The site is now occupied by a detached house and bungalows built in the 1930s. When the estate was sold in 1928 these cottages were sold as two lots. One of the cottages was occupied by Mr A. Brockhurst, an estate servant, on a service tenancy, rent one shilling”. With large plots and limited accommodation, it is perhaps understandable why these cottages were re-developed.
The gentleman pictured also appears in the servants group picture at Longmead House. It is believed that this picture was taken at 55 Spring Lane which would lead us to believe that it is a picture of the Brockhurst family. Arthur Brockhurst was recorded in the 1911 census as working as a coachman and was employed by Mrs Gubbins.
There is little written about the Barton or Gubbins families during their time in Bishopstoke. Both families appear to have valued their privacy and were rarely mentioned in newspaper articles.
A year after her father’s death in 1894, Emily Gubbins married and moved to Bournemouth. Charlotte Gubbins was left to live alone in the extensive house, grounds, and gardens of Longmead. The footbridge over Spring Lane that was mentioned earlier can be seen in the picture, above. This bridge approached the walled kitchen garden for the Estate. Some of these walls remain and form the boundary between the back gardens of houses in Spring Lane and the gardens of St. Martins, which is a property accessed by a driveway off Church Road.
Some events were held at Longmead House as this picture of Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Fire Brigade clearly demonstrates. We do not know when this picture was taken or what event was taking place. It may have been a training exercise for which Mrs Gubbins had given permission.
This does not appear to be a public demonstration as only a small gathering of children, probably children of estate workers are witnessing the event. The man with the hose is clearly too fast for the camera exposure of the day. Notice the maid watching from the upstairs window. Perhaps, firemen in uniform were just as popular with young girls then as they are supposed to be to-day.
Memories of Charlotte Gubbins have faded amongst the residents of Bishopstoke. Records that remain refer to a lady who, in her later years, had become somewhat of a recluse, particularly after the death of her daughter in 1918. Mrs Gubbins passed away in September 1927 at the age of 88. The sale of furniture and effects commenced in April 1928 and took three days to complete. Items of a musical interest included: a Broadwood grand piano; a Hagspiel boudoir grand piano; a cottage piano by Chappell & Son; an American organ and a fine guitar by Louis Panormo. Many fine items of furniture were listed.
The contents of the stables included ten carriages, traps, carts, etc. comprising:
2 Governess Cars.
2 Victoria Carriages.
a Station Bus.
a Landau Carriage
a Brougham Carriage
and for Estate duties a Dog Cart, a Donkey Tip Cart, and a Farm Cart. These pictures are pictorial representation only. Strangely for 1928 and for such a grand house, there is no mention of any automobiles. It is probable that Mrs Gubbins had not adopted such “modern” means of transport.
Although the Longmead Estate did not own any motorised vehicles, it is believed that this picture of the Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Ambulance was taken at Longmead House.
This is a copy of the sales map of the estate from 1928.The area coloured pink to the east of Spring Lane was the main lot. The area west of Spring Lane, coloured blue, yellow and pink were sold as individual building plots.
The buildings in the village, linked to the estate, that we discussed earlier have been highlighted. This shows how the estate workers accommodation was clustered around the entrance to the estate in Spring Lane. The estate was bequeathed to Eric James Dudley Cosby, one of Charlotte’s grandchildren. It is believed that a substantial portion of his inheritance was lost in the 1929 stock market crash. The sale of land north of Stoke Park Road in the early 1900s and the consequence of the mineral excavations and brickworks that had been established on that part of the estate had clearly caused nuisance in the neighbourhood. It was stipulated as part of the sale that “no stone, gravel or other materials should at any time be excavated or removed from or dumped on the property… except for building and that no bricks should be burnt thereon.” By 1937, the estate had been purchased by Basil George Underwood, a Southampton builder.
During WWII, land of the Longmead Estate was farmed, but by 1948 local authorities throughout the country were developing plans for housing development. Whilst in some cases new communities were formed, Bishopstoke, with the availability of a large parcel of land was perfectly positioned for expansion. In less than 90 years the grand Longmead Estate all but disappeared. The new houses were urgently needed, the standard of accommodation provided was far superior to existing housing, and the employment to build the houses was an important step in re-building the country’s economy. To the village, much like the early development around 1900, the large influx of people accelerated change in the area. These pictures were taken during the survey in 1948. The top picture was taken near the bottom of Sedgwick Road. The houses in the background are in Malden Close. The next picture was taken north of Guest Road, somewhere in the area near Escombe Road. The next picture was taken about 500 metres south of the junction of Colchester Avenue and Drake Road, whilst the last picture was taken about 400 metres south of Stoke Park Road.
This view of the Longmead Estate was taken from the back garden of a house in Fair Oak Road and is looking north across the fields towards Stoke Park Road which is on the brow of the hill. Stoke Park Woods can just be glimpsed to the right beyond the foliage in the foreground.
The view was transformed when this picture was taken in the late 1950s. The Longmead housing estate was developed by Eastleigh Borough Council during the mid 1950s and little remained of the old estate other than part of the stables, which were relegated to a life in the back alley between East Drive and Underwood Road. These too have now been demolished. Underwood Road was named after the Underwood family, who were the last owners of the estate. When it was first built, this housing estate was referred to as “the Longmead Estate”, although nowadays this name is rarely used. Stoke Park Junior School at the bottom of Underwood Road has schoolhouses called Sedgwick, Escombe, Elkins and Longmead, yet I wonder what knowledge the children, or even their parents, have about the relevance of these names.
Longmead House no longer stands in magnificent parkland and the grand mansion is no longer part of village life. In fact, Bishopstoke can no longer be considered a village. The development of the Longmead Estate, in the 1890s, 1930s and 1950s was followed by housing on Whales Farm (Whalesmead), Itchen Vale and since the introduction of a new road to Fair Oak (Alan Drayton Way) most of the available land between Fair Oak and Bishopstoke has been developed and further development has taken place to the north of the village. Today, as ordinary people, we live longer, we are better educated, and we enjoy a far higher standard of living than our predecessors. This has come at a cost and we lead a far more hectic lifestyle than when grand mansions once graced the village. Although it is a shame that Longmead House has been demolished, at least it has been saved the ignominy of being turned into flats.
When Longmead House was being demolished in 1939, it was reported in the Daily Echo that “the Rector, Oswald de Blogue, was given items from the house as gifts for the community.
Three beautifully coloured Flemish windows from Longmead House were used to create a bookcase. To be better appreciated the stained-glass windows need to be viewed with sunlight behind them, as they would have been originally.
Reverend de Blogue was also gifted seventeen tiles which he had installed in the floor, under the East window of St Mary’s Church, where they reside out of view under the communion table.
These tiles carry biblical, cultural and travel themes and date from between 1710 and 1850. They were made by Delft. The tiles can be dated by the style of the corner motif, and probably formed the decoration around a fireplace in the grand old house. Longmead House was built in 1866, so they were not new when the house was built. These tiles are an early example of architectural salvage and recycling. One of these eighteen tiles is not part of the collection in St Mary’s. It has been discovered in the private collection of an old Bishopstoke family.
When the estate was developed for housing in the 1950s it was unusual that no shops or pubs were incorporated. If you consider other housing developments from this period and on this scale, then you will generally find that shops, church, and a public house formed the centre for the new community. Whilst the Methodist Church in Sedgwick Road is built on the site close to where Longmead House once stood, there were no pubs or shops included in the development, and the only shops created around this time were outside the boundary of the estate. The reason for this may lay in the title deeds from 1904 which, when bought by Mrs Gubbins, stipulated by restrictive covenant, that no premises were to be: “used as a brewery, distillery, inn, ale house, beer house, or beer shop, or for the sale thereon for the consumption on the premises of any wines, spirits, ale, beer, porter, cider or other fermented spirituous or intoxicating liquors”. There was one other restriction, which insisted that premises were not to be used as: “a house of ill fame or brothel”. These covenants still apply and are written into the title deeds of any property built on the old estate. What prompted such restriction to be put in place is not clear, although it is believed that parts of the estate were, at one time, the property of the Ecclesiastical Commission. Perhaps it was feared that Bishopstoke, with a large influx of the working classes, was destined to become a den of iniquity of biblical proportion.
This is a delightful picture of the Gubbins Landau waiting outside the main entrance to Longmead House. The horses are immaculately groomed, and the coachman (Mr Brockhurst) and his assistant are dressed in their finest livery. In such a scene as this, it is not difficult to imagine General and Mrs Gubbins entering their stylish carriage to be transported, via the tree lined drive for a social soiree.
The Railway, the very thing that made Bishopstoke attractive to those from high society, ultimately led to industrialisation and erosion of the area as a popular residence for the social elite. Those that wished not to live alongside the working classes simply moved away. The Longmead Estate lives on in the village. St. Mary’s Church owes its very existence to Alfred Barton, the man who commissioned Longmead House to be built. The Church is adorned with a memorial window of the highest quality, dedicated to his memory and the church contains items that were once part of the grand mansion. West Drive and its avenue of lime trees is the carriageway to where the old house once stood, and the cottages that still exist in the village which once were home to estate workers have been highlighted. Hamilton Road and Underwood Road are named in honour of past owners of the estate. Charlotte Gubbins was the last lady of Longmead and she had lived in the grand house for forty five years. Her husband had been buried in the Church at Upham, where his brother had been rector.
If you visit the Church of the Blessed Mary at Upham, it appears that this church stands as a shrine to the Gubbins family.
Charlotte Gubbins donated these two fine stained-glass windows to the church. These north wall windows both contain the inscription “In ever loving memory of Lt. General James Gubbins C.B. who died March 11th 1894. This window is erected by his widow.”
This Church also has memorials to her daughter Emily and her Son-in Law, Dudley Cosby, poignantly placed, by Mrs Gubbins, between the memorial windows dedicated to her husband.
The main west stained-glass window in the church is dedicated “In loving memory of the Reverend Richard Shard Gubbins MA, who died in 1884. (Brother of James Gubbins).
Richard Gubbins wife Ellen, who died in 1902, has a stained-glass memorial window in the south wall provided by their children.
This window carries the inscription:
If you visit the Church of The Blessed Mary, it appears that this church stands as a shrine to the Gubbins family.
Charlotte Emily Gubbins, who in her later years appears to have led the life of a recluse, died on Monday 26th September 1927. According to The Eastleigh Weekly, “the coffin was removed from Longmead on Wednesday evening to St. Mary’s Church, Bishopstoke, where it remained till the service at noon on Thursday. There was a good number of parishioners and friends present.” The funeral service of Charlotte Emily Gubbins took place at St. Mary’s Church, Bishopstoke. The officiating clergy were the Reverend Canon Ashmall (a former Rector) and the Reverend Bernard Hancock. Canon Ashmall read the lesson. After the service “the cortege proceeded to Upham churchyard for the internment.” Charlotte was laid to rest alongside her husband.
Their memorial still stands today in the churchyard of the Blessed Mary at Upham and is shown in the left foreground of this picture, marked with a Celtic cross. Of Lt. General James Gubbins and his wife Charlotte, who lay together for eternity, there is sadly nothing in Bishopstoke but this story to remember them.
Escombe, F.D. (1935) Bygone Bishoptoke, The Wykeham Press, Winchester.
Adrian Cosby Esq. Stradbally Hall, County Laois, Ireland.
Rosemary Taylor – www.strines.co.uk.
Burkes Peerage Ltd.
Unwin Books, Shaftsbury, Dorset.
Allen Guille, Graham Rogers, Stan Roberts, Malcolm Dale, Joan Simmonds, Bob Winkworth, Chris Smart.