by Chris Humby
(from a talk first presented in October 2012)
This illustration of “The Mount”, Bishopstoke shows the house in its most recent form, after it was bought and rebuilt by Thomas Atkinson Cotton in 1891. The Mount was subject to rebuilding on two occasions. The original construction of 1844 was demolished and rebuilt around 1870 and rebuilt or modified again in 1891, after only 21 years. There is no doubt that Bishopstoke in the mid-1800s, with the arrival of the railway and a station, presented an opportunity for those who owned land to develop accommodation for wealthy families to enjoy a rural retreat in Hampshire on the bank of the River Itchen, populated by select members of society.
This copy of a tithe map of Bishopstoke from 1840 and shows that the land where “The Mount” is built, was owned by Walter Twynam. Some of the adjoining land that was later used for developing The Mount Estate, was owned by the Rector and Dean of Winchester, Dr Thomas Garnier. The Twynam family had been landowners in Bishopstoke since 1680 and resided at Quobleigh, Fair Oak. Henry Twynam, in 1834, established a charity to perpetuate the family name and provide fuel and clothes to be distributed to the poor of the parish on 21st December each year. This charity still exists. It is clear from the tithe map that all the prime land for development was owned by either the Twynam family or by Dean Garnier, on behalf of the Bishop of Winchester. Many fine country houses were built in the village between 1840 and 1880. The first house, to be built on the site we know today as The Mount”, is believed to have been constructed in 1844 by Walter Twynam. It was, what we would call today, a speculative development and it is believed that the property was originally called “Stoke Hill Cottage.
The tithe map (left) and estate map (right) show the development of Stoke Hill Cottage from woodland and pasture. There are records that Dean Garnier, as a keen botanist, planted trees in this area. It is possible that some of the specimens still standing are due to his vision and husbandry. Edward Walter is the first recorded occupant from about 1844. He was a military gentleman who rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel with the Honourable East India Company. His eldest daughter was born in India in 1841, whilst four more of his children were born in Bishopstoke between 1845 and 1848. His youngest daughter was born in India in 1851. It is probable that he retained the estate for a period after returning to India, although by 1861, he had retired and was living with his family and seven servants on the Isle of Wight. He died in the mid-1860s. The next person known to own the estate, was Richard James Gilman who acquired it in 1858, carrying out alterations and extending and landscaping the grounds as shown in the map (right) above. The property now consisted of nine bedrooms, a bathroom with hot and cold supplies (well advanced for the period), an elegant drawing room opening to a large conservatory, convenient dining room, library, billiard room, study, and offices.
The grounds of the estate included fruit and kitchen gardens, vineries, an orchard house, a peach house, a greenhouse, stoves, forcing pits and a cottage for a gardener. As befitted a Victorian gentleman’s residence, there was also a range of stabling with coach houses, harness – rooms, poultry houses and a small farm. Richard James Gilman had been born in 1811 and was the fifth son of John Gilman, a merchant in the City of London. As a young man he entered the offices of Messrs Thompson, Tea and Produce Brokers, in the City of London and eventually travelled to China, becoming a “tea taster” with the Canton based firm of Dent & Co. After spending some years in their service, Richard, in 1847, founded the firm of Gilman & Co.
This was a period when British Colonialism was at its height and Gilman & Co became one of the most influential companies trading in Hong Kong. Richard Gillman was a very successful businessman who, according to an article written by his great great-great nephew, had also helped to found both the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. We know this organisation today as H.S.B.C. Having rapidly made his fortune by the age of 44, Gilman returned to England in 1855, retaining a large share as a senior partner in the firm. He married the widow of the Colonial Surgeon for Hong Kong in 1856 and purchased the estate at Bishopstoke, which by this time was known as “Stoke Mount”. It seems difficult to imagine that 150 years ago, one of the founders of such a massive multi-national organisation, was living within our community. Tea, in the mid-1800s, was a valuable commodity and literally worth its weight in gold. The most highly prized and expensive tea was the first crop of the season.
Whilst Richard Gilman was living in Bishopstoke, in 1866 an event which captured the imagination of the British public and became known as “The Great Tea Race” occurred. Four ships competed in the race. The clipper Fiery Cross left Foochow, China, on 29 May and Ariel, Taeping and Serica on the 30th. Taeping was carrying a cargo for Gilman & Co. Astonishingly, Aeriel, Serica & Taeping arrived in the Thames estuary on the same tide, after a voyage which had lasted 99 days and covered around 16,000 miles. Taeping drew less water and was able to tie up in the London docks twenty minutes ahead of Ariel, and about two hours ahead of Serica. Fiery Cross arrived two days later. Taeping was declared the winner and a street name in the London’s dockland district of E14 celebrates her victory.
Members of the Gilman family kindly provided pictures of Stoke Mount that had been used in the sales catalogue of 1870 to Joan Simmonds, a member of Bishopstoke History Society. These pictures were taken in the early days of photography and are remarkable for their clarity. I am grateful to be able to share these images with you.
The property consisted of 9 bedrooms. On the upper floor there were two bedrooms and a closet. Presumably, these would have been servants’ quarters. The first floor comprised “seven bedrooms, a dressing room with bath and water-service, a billiard room, lighted from the roof. A housemaid’s closet, and a W.C.” There were two staircases to the first floor. On the ground floor, there was “an entrance hall, a very elegant drawing room, with bay.” This room opened to a span roof conservatory.
The conservatory was heated by hot water pipes which also went into the house. This must have been an early example of what we would know today as central heating.
Also on the ground floor, there was “a dining room, a library and a small ante room. A bathroom with hot and cold, W.C., lavatory etc… There were also offices, fitted pantry, kitchen, a scullery, a larder and servants hall.” In the basement, there were good wine and beer cellars. Detached, but accessible from the house, were a cool dairy with marble shelves and a second larder.
A terrace, with ornamental colonnade extended from one side of the house and was covered with clematis, wisteria and other freely climbing plants. This colonnade formed a screen to the west side of the house and the beautifully landscaped grounds beyond.
The colonnade also connected to a Lodge by the entrance to the Estate. The Lodge provided accommodation for a gardener and corresponded in design to the house.
This picture of the rear of Stoke Mount is rich in detail. The veranda under the balcony faces west and would have offered magnificent views through the grounds of the estate and across the then undeveloped Itchen Valley. Loungers, not unlike modern garden furniture, are positioned to take advantage of the last remnants of evening light. The frame of the veranda is also fitted with blinds that could be deployed if the light or heat became too strong. In the centre, there is a bird cage with what appears to be a parrot enjoying some fresh air. To the right there is a lady seated in the shade. This picture was probably taken in the late 1860s. It is not known if the lady in the picture is Richard Gilman’s wife Charlotte. Richard and Charlotte did not have any children. In March 1869, Charlotte passed away, and in 1870, Richard Gilman went to live with his sister Miss Amy Leonora Gilman, at Bisham Grange in Buckinghamshire. The Mount was advertised for sale, by auction, on Tuesday, 26th July, 1870 and was described in the sale catalogue as a “freehold residential property in the healthy and highly esteemed Parish of Bishopstoke. Occupying, as its name denotes, an eminence on the eastern bank of the River Itchen… The neighbourhood contains so many family seats, that a Lady or Gentleman occupying this property may ensure Good Society.”
The sales catalogue of 1870 also described, in great detail, the grounds surrounding the house. “The gardens to the west of the house are relieved by slopes and terraces, borders and beds of flowers, groups of variegated hollies, and clumps of rhododendrons interspersed with perfect specimens of the best-known kinds of coniferous trees.
At one end of the gardens stood a grand oak. Beyond the oak, was an enclosure of grassland and an orchard. There were two fruit and kitchen gardens, a peach house, stove house, potting shed, a fine range of glass houses, including vinery, greenhouse and conservatory measuring together 123 feet in length. There was also an enclosed stable yard for six horses, a carriage house, harness room and three rooms for coachmen. Also, within the Estate, there were cow houses, and cart horse stalls, a cart shed, a poultry and pigeon house, an apple room, a boiling house and piggeries. In one of the paddocks, there was another cowshed.
In Victorian times, large estates like The Mount were run on a basis of self-sufficiency. This system of estate management, applied by landowners, harked back to the old “Manorial” days when communities worked as self-contained economies to survive. In all, when the estate was sold in 1870, it totalled just over 28 acres.
The Mount was bought by Thomas Hargreaves, or Captain Thomas Hargreaves, as he preferred to be known, for the sum of £7000. Born in Lancashire, in 1832, he was born into a position of wealth and privilege that today would seem unimaginable. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. Thomas Hargreaves was a J.P. for Buckinghamshire and was appointed High Sheriff for the county in 1867. He was an honouree Lieutenant in the Royal Navy reserve and permitted to retain the rank of Captain when he retired from the 3rd Royal Lancashire Militia. During his time at Bishopstoke, Captain Hargreaves became owner of ss. Ianira, a schooner yacht built in Lymington in 1874. The Ianira was 100 feet long, weighed 375 tons and carried a crew of 18. Captain Hargreaves travelled extensively during “the season” and was a member of 16 yacht clubs in England, France, and Italy.
In January 1855, Thomas Hargreaves married Sarah Jackson, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Sarah was the 5th daughter of Washington Jackson, a relative of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States of America. Her father, Washington Jackson, was principal owner of Jackson, Riddle and Co, merchants of Philadelphia and Liverpool. The company dealt in the sale of cotton, sugar, tobacco, sheet iron, nails, and coal.
John Hargreaves, Thomas Hargreaves’ father, lived at Hall Barn, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire (pictured left) and Broad Oak House in Accrington, Lancashire. His father was a calico printer, cotton spinner, manufacturer and merchant employing 716 men, 343 women 306 boys and 285 girls in Broad Oak Mill (pictured right), occupying 269 acres of land. Sarah Hargreaves, although born in America was, according to the Arborfield History Society connected to an old family of high social standing in Berkshire. Thomas Hargreaves by comparison, in social circles of high society, was apparently considered “trade.”
Thomas Hargreaves’ father bought Arborfield Hall, near Reading in 1855, possibly as a wedding present for his eldest son and new daughter-in-law. They had eight children, six of whom survived to maturity. All the surviving children married into wealthy and influential titled families. There is little mention of Thomas Hargreaves at Arborfield after the late 1860s, although his wife continued to live there until her death in 1918.
Why would Thomas Hargreaves have purchased a 28-acre estate at Bishopstoke when he had a family in the opulent surroundings of Arborfield Hall only 45 miles away? Why would he then wish to demolish and rebuild the property at Bishopstoke in the style that is illustrated in this sketch? There are a few clues that may guide us to establish a possible reason. In June 1870, a legal agreement (indenture) was established between Thomas Hargreaves, a Geraldine Bertha Warriner and a Dillon Lewis and contained the following caveat: “Out of regard and respect for Mrs. Geraldine Bertha Warriner, Thomas Hargreaves is desirous of settling during her life the interests, dividends and annual proceeds arising from the sum of £6,000 which he has paid to Dillon Lewis as a trustee… After her death these (monies) are to be paid to T. Hargreaves. She covenants that in respect of this trust she will not hereafter, in any way, wilfully interfere or communicate with the said T. Hargreaves”. Clearly, as a married man of substance, Captain Hargreaves wished to make a declaration of intent to the wider public, and possibly his wife, that he did not wish to be associated with this woman, although we can only surmise as to their relationship.
Whilst the original house was demolished and rebuilt sometime after 1870, it appears that the formal gardens were maintained in their original pristine condition. The sketch to the left was published in 1890, whilst the picture, to the right, is of the same location from the sales catalogue of 1870. I am sure that you can recognise the similarity. Captain Hargreaves bought The Mount in July 1870, only one month after his declaration to dissociate all connection with Mrs. Warriner. It is, therefore, even more surprising that in the census of April 1871, Mrs. Warriner is recorded as “head of household” at “The Mount” and Thomas Hargreaves listed as a “visitor”. Clearly, whilst Mrs. Warriner had made a public and legal commitment to have no communication with Thomas Hargreaves and, he had gone to some length to make this a public declaration, his motives were to distract from the reality that they were, to all intent, a couple in all but the legal sense. Mrs. Warriner, a widow with young children was grand daughter of John Ross, last Laird of Innermethrie. Captain Thomas Hargreaves, and Geraldine Bertha Warriner, despite their unconventional relationship, quickly established themselves as leading socialites in the village of Bishopstoke.
Whilst middle class Victorian society was normally constrained by a strict moral code, elite and wealthy members of society were, if they chose, free to conduct themselves in an entirely different manner. Not only did this couple defy convention of the time, but they were also wholeheartedly welcomed in the village and wider community. The privileged were not above the law, although there were occasions when the law was interpreted differently when it applied to those in high social position.
As an example: Captain Hargreaves, when in residence at The Mount, was a keen fisherman. The public had enjoyed the right to fish along the towpath of the Itchen Navigation until, in 1874, Mr. Chamberlayne, who owned most of the land in Eastleigh, put up notices saying that all fishing rights belonged to himself. On his return from a period of travelling abroad, in defence of what he considered to be long standing public rights, Captain Hargreaves fished the whole extent of the Itchen Navigation.
The charge of illegal fishing was brought before Southampton Magistrates Court, against Thomas Hargreaves, on the 8th of August 1874, by Mr. Chamberlayne, of Cranbury Park. His bailiff, George Diddams, had witnessed the offence.
The trial was twice adjourned, although eventually Captain Hargreaves (a very wealthy man) was found guilty and fined the sum of 1 shilling. It is by coincidence that in the same court, on the same day, John Alexander, a bricklayer (and, therefore, a relatively poor man), of St. Deny’s, Southampton, was fined 10 shillings, with costs of 18 shillings, for poaching from the River Itchen and given a week to pay the fine or face a custodial sentence.
The difference in severity applied to the two individuals is clear and easy to understand. One was a gentleman who, unselfishly, was testing a matter of legal principle, whilst the other, in the view of the court, was clearly a villain who was robbing the landowner of his rightful property. Captain Hargreaves instructed his solicitor to appeal the magistrate’s decision to fine him one shilling and, a year later, the case appeared before the Queen’s Bench and was reported in the Hampshire Advertiser on 12th June 1875. The crux of the appeal was that the river in question, where Captain Hargreaves had been fishing, was part of the Itchen Navigation. The public had been given access rights to the Navigation by Act of Parliament and, therefore, his defence was simply that no offence had been committed. The case was closely followed by many in the area, rich and poor, who had themselves fished (or poached) the river for many years before a change of policy by Mr. Chamberlayne. The court held the view that “whilst the Canals Act confirmed a right for barges to pass over the water, … it did not affect the rights of the riparian owners and, … the public did not have the right to fish in private water.” The fine levied by the magistrates’ court, against Thomas Hargreaves, was upheld.
The Reading Rooms, built in 1875 and funded by Captain Hargreaves so that the poor of the parish could retain the reading skills and further their knowledge, although no longer used for their original purpose, still stand as a testament to his philanthropic nature. On 20th October 1875, it was reported in the Hampshire Advertiser that children, teachers, and friends of the Horton Heath Bible Christian Union Chapel presented to Mrs. Warriner and Captain Hargreaves each “a very handsomely bound reference bible as a slight token of their gratitude… for their magnificent gift of the reading room and library.” Events such as these and the large number of functions that were hosted at The Mount, clearly reinforce that Captain Hargreaves and Mrs. Warriner were, very much, socially accepted by both villagers and “gentry” within the community. It would be interesting to know what would have been thought if the people of Bishopstoke had known that, at around the same time as Captain Hargreaves built the reading rooms here, his wife was doing the same for the village of Arborfield. Perhaps, the reading rooms were as much a gesture of rivalry, between husband and wife, due to his relationship with Mrs. Warriner, as they were to do with their philanthropic nature.
The Mount and, particularly, the grounds in the 1850s and 1860s had been the centre for many social gatherings in the village, hosted by the Gilman family. Captain Hargreaves and Mrs. Warriner continued to host events for various societies and organisations throughout the 1870s and 1880s. On many an occasion guests would be provided with food, entertainment, music and access to the gardens and the house to view the extensive collection of art that was on display. Usually, a cover charge applied, and monies raised would be given to support a worthy charitable cause.
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 was celebrated in grand style at The Mount. The Hampshire Advertiser reported that, “in honour of the celebration, Captain Hargreaves presented five shillings each to 77 aged and deserving persons which they received with gratitude.
Captain Hargreaves also awarded Jubilee medals to all day, and Sunday school scholars of Bishopstoke, Fair Oak and Horton Heath, also to servants, tenants and others.”
An example of many festivities held at The Mount and reported in the Hampshire Advertiser is the following. “A fete held to celebrate the Jubilee was held on Monday 6th August 1887, (a bank holiday), in aid of the County Hospital at Winchester and the Royal South Hants Infirmary at Southampton. The London and South Western Railway Company aided the objective in view by running cheap excursion trains. The handsome sum of £18 was devoted to the benefit of each of the institutions mentioned.”
(A local Temperance Society Band)
“The Lockerley Temperance Band was in attendance during the afternoon and played an excellent selection of music, which was thoroughly enjoyed, and terpsichorean votaries tripped it gaily on the green, on the “light fantastic toe”, to the strains of the land. The grounds were gaily decorated. In the evening, the grounds were most brilliantly illuminated, with the electric light, variegated lamps and Chinese lanterns, the men of Captain Hargreaves yacht assisting in this work.” The celebrations were brought to a close by a display of fireworks.
(A yacht similar to the one owned by Captain Hargreaves)
Captain Hargreaves yacht, Ianira, had earlier partaken in formal celebrations in Southampton Water and, it was reported in the Hampshire Advertiser on 15th June 1887, that “A Royal salute of fifty guns was fired from H.M.S. Invincible… and also by the schooner yacht Ianira, belonging to Captain T. Hargreaves, of The Mount, Bishopstoke.”
This picture was published in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News on December 13th, 1890 and is the only illustration to show what The Mount looked like during Captain Hargreaves’ tenure. We assume that the house was rebuilt soon after he purchased the estate. Clearly, the issues of trespass and fishing the Itchen Navigation had been resolved by this time, and Captain Hargreaves is described, in the article, as “always being to the fore in matters for the benefit of the river as well as the neighbourhood generally.” Diddams, the nemesis bailiff of Mr. Chamberlayne some years earlier, is described as Captain Hargreaves ally who wages warfare against the pike. The article refers to “a trout hatchery that had been built in the garden and that in 1889, his gardener, Foote, was able to put 6000 young trout into the water. The following year in 1890, 15,000 were turned out.” The article continues to explain that “yachting is Captain Hargreaves favourite diversion and that he had won medals with his yacht and launch at Nice and Mentone on the French Riviera, whilst at his residence in Bishopstoke he throws open his house and grounds for charitable undertakings and the attractions of the place are so great that these gatherings are always very successful.”
(Hargreaves Family Crest – “love of country conquers”)
The London and South Western Railway Servant’s Orphanage was a worthy cause that gained much support from Captain Hargreaves. Fetes to support this charity were held regularly at The Mount and there are newspaper records of these events for 1885, 1887 and 1891. The fete, in 1891, made arrangements for “special trains to run to Bishopstoke station and shops in Eastleigh were closed at 1.00pm to allow people to attend. At the station, upwards of 100 carriages were waiting to convey visitors to Bishopstoke. “6000 people attended and 2000 paid an extra fee to visit the picture gallery. Performers were engaged to sing and give recitals in the grounds and music was played by the band of the Oxford Light Infantry. The Hampshire constabulary was also present to see that no damage was done to the flowers in the gardens.” As in the Jubilee celebrations of 1887, “the electric light was provided to the grounds by a generator and around 1000 lamps illuminated points of vantage, while the many pathways and flower beds were marked out by variegated fairy lamps, thousands being used for the purpose. Chinese lanterns were also largely used, and the whole presented a pleasing and fairy like appearance. The event closed at 10.00pm and trains were provided for the guests return journey. In all the event raised £166 for the Orphanage.” This article in the Hampshire Advertiser made the fete seem a little like a scene from Alice in Wonderland. By coincidence, Alice Liddel who was reputedly the role model for this story, had married into the Hargreaves family.
Mrs. Warriner died in December 1885. In April 1887, Captain Hargreaves then aged 55, was called as witness in a libel trial at Marleybone, London. The trial centred on the content of a letter that had been written in October 1886, by a Florence Arthur to Captain Hargreaves whilst he had been yachting at Ramsgate. Unfortunately, the letter had been opened by her sister in error and its content was defamatory about her sister’s husband. Appearing for the defence of Florence Arthur, a married woman of 29, and whilst testifying under oath, Thomas Hargreaves was accused by counsel of being less than impartial in his relationship with this woman and, in the words of the defence counsel “has not my client Florence Arthur occupied the position of your wife, Captain Hargreaves?”. There was some denial by Captain Hargreaves, stating “that she was another man’s wife, and he considered that he was not obliged to answer these questions”. The counsel for the defence went on to explain that “if Florence Arthur was, in effect living as Captain Hargreaves’ wife, then letters between a man and his wife had been held to be privileged i.e., not admissible, and that it was his intention to show that the accused was occupying the position of wife when she wrote the letter to Captain Hargreaves on his yacht.” The court adjourned for luncheon and, on return, Florence Arthur made an apology and a statement of regret for her defamatory letter relating to her brother-in-law which he accepted, and the case was withdrawn.
By June 1891, Captain Hargreaves was, seriously ill with a heart condition and unable to attend the wedding of his eldest surviving son. His passion may have been sailing, yet he had clearly led life to the full and was a man who had enjoyed fine food, fine wine, and the company of fine women. Captain Hargreaves died on the 28th of September 1891 at his gentlemen’s club in Jermyn Street, London. He was buried in Arborfield. In his will, Captain Hargreaves bequeathed his estates, including The Mount to his son J.R. Hargreaves along with items of a personal nature. To his other son, Cecil Montague, he bequeathed personal effects including a picture of his mother, Mrs. Geraldine Bertha Warriner, which he was to receive immediately. Money was to be invested to provide an income of £600 per year. In 1885, Bertha Warriner, in her will, bequeathed her estate to be divided in equal part between her three legitimate children and Cecil Montague. It seems that the indenture of 1870, which was mentioned earlier, was provided to Mrs. Warriner so that she and Thomas Hargreaves, could support their illegitimate son. It therefore appears that The Mount was purchased so that Captain Hargreaves could provide a family home for his mistress and their offspring.
Understandably, John Hargreaves, who had inherited The Mount estate, had no desire to keep it and it was put up for sale by auction, in March 1892. The Morning Post of March 1892 described the house as follows: “A picturesque residence… three large and lofty reception rooms and conservatory, a suite of three grand entertaining rooms of noble proportions, thirteen bedrooms and dressing rooms, bathroom and offices. Stabling for eleven horses, coach houses, harness, and cleaning rooms, two cottages for coachmen, surmounted by a clock tower with carillon chimes playing fourteen tunes. Most productive kitchen gardens with long range of peach and nectarine houses, vineries, stove, and greenhouses. A bungalow fishing lodge, with small stabling, farmery, and rich park like pastures, the whole comprising an area of 66 acres, forming an almost unique residential estate.” Clearly, the estate had been extended since it was bought in 1870 with just 28 acres. The Times reported that the estate failed to sell at auction. The opening bid of £8000 rose to £9,500 before the auctioneer stated “this sum was not one fourth of what had been expended on this place, to say nothing of the freehold property. It could not be given away, and he would be glad to treat privately for it.”
(View of the Deer Park at The Mount, Bishopstoke)
As a country estate, The Mount was not particularly large, although Captain Hargreaves had been a considerable traveller and collector of fine art and antiques. Whilst many elite members of Victorian society did the “Grand Tour”, which generally consisted of visiting countries around the Mediterranean, Captain Hargreaves, with the benefit of his yacht Ianira, spent many months each year on the French and Italian Riviera and had the benefit that his purchases could be brought back relatively easily. His collection of fine art, statuary, china, mosaics, curios, silver, wines, books, furniture, and general effects was so extensive that the contents sale was advertised by Messrs. Hampton and Sons, Pall-Mall, London to take place in Bishopstoke over eight days commencing on Tuesday 29th March 1892.
The Mount was purchased by Thomas Atkinson Cotton by private treaty in 1892.
Newspaper articles of the time refer to Thomas Cotton re-building The Mount. However, the sketch published in1890, before the death of Captain Hargreaves and the picture of The Mount, from later in the 1890s, have been placed together so that you can observe the changes for yourself. The clock tower over the stable entrance is not altered. The lawns and, particularly, the shrubs in the foreground are similar. The aspect, or direction the house faces, is identical although, it is evident that there have been additions. The house has been extended with the conservatory replaced by a two-storey gabled construction. The tower rising from the house, whilst of slightly different appearance is in the same location relative to the rest of the original house. Either the architect was significantly lacking in imagination or the house was not completely re-built, but extensively altered.
According to Hampshire Contemporary Biographies, published in 1905, “Thomas Atkinson Cotton was born in Driffield, Yorkshire and educated privately. He was interested in ornithology and developed The Mount to create one of the finest natural history museums and aviaries in the county. Thomas Cotton was a Fellow of the Zoological Society; Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society; Fellow of the Linnaean Society (the Linnaean Society is the world’s oldest biological society and is the society to which Charles Darwin first presented his paper “Origin of the Species” in 1867). Thomas Cotton also became Justice of the Peace for Hampshire; Member of Hampshire County Council; a Governor of Hartley University, Southampton, (now known as the University of Southampton); Member of the County Education Committee; Chairman of the Bishopstoke School Managers; Member of the Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Urban District Council and was one of the representatives of the English Municipal Party to the St. Louis exposition of 1904.”
This layout from 1910 illustrates that Thomas Cotton has developed some parts of the estate to include aviaries to house his collection of wild birds and an eagle cage was constructed near to the house. There was also a large collection of stuffed birds which were on display in the house. Some of this collection are now held by Hampshire Museum Services at Chilcombe. Both Thomas Cotton and his wife followed an interest in ornithology and botany, and both are credited with finds and the cataloguing of rare species. The fountains, were probably added during Captain Hargreaves’ residency as there is reference to fountains in some descriptions of garden fetes held at The Mount prior to 1892. The steps, are probably an addition by Thomas Cotton, as is the formation of the water channel and island in Gully Copse, to the bottom of the picture. These features do not appear on plans of the Estate until the early 1900s.
Thomas Atkinson Cotton, unlike Thomas Hargreaves, was of humble origins. His father, Atkinson Cotton, in 1861, was employed as a railway porter on the North Eastern Railway. By 1871, his father had risen to the position of railway clerk and held this position until his retirement. Thomas Cotton, at the age of 15 was serving an apprenticeship and, in the census of 1881, whilst still living in the family home at the age of 30, his occupation is listed as coach trimmer. In 1885, he married Miss Charlotte Spence at the registry office in Holborne, London. Charlotte was also from Yorkshire and both were of the Quaker faith. Charlotte was eleven years his senior. They set up home in South Hornsey, London and Thomas Cotton listed “land surveyor” as his profession on their wedding certificate. On her marriage, Charlotte Cotton gifted, to her husband, a large number of shares in the Great Western Railway Company. Charlotte’s father was Joseph Spence, a chemist and druggist from York. Her father had also established the York Flint Glass Company, in 1835. A partner in the company, James Meek also had his own glass making company. Between them they were the largest employers in York, with factories burning more than a thousand tons of coal a year. Charlotte’s mother had died a year before their marriage and her father, some years before that. Charlotte was an only child and a wealthy woman. Before moving to Bishopstoke they had two children. Ida, pictured to the right and another child who died in infancy.
After the arrival of the Cottons and alteration to the house completed, The Mount once again continued to be the centre for social gatherings in the village. There were many fetes and events held over the years. This picture, of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations at The Mount in 1897, was clearly something special. To celebrate this event, 1,500 villagers were invited to the grounds of The Mount for afternoon tea between 4.00pm and 6.00pm.
Catering for the event was carried out by Mr. Stagg, the local baker in Church Road, who must have been delighted to receive the custom. Stagg’s bakery was at 25 Church Road and this picture shows Mr. Stagg, outside his shop, with two assistants. Like much of the old village, the shop has been demolished and the site now houses Open Sight, a charity formed to support the blind and partially sighted community of Hampshire. The row of terraced cottages to the right of the shop still exists.
Not surprisingly, it was reported that “almost all of the parishioners availed themselves of the liberality and enjoyed a stroll along picturesque terraces where choice flowers created a brilliant display. The London and South Western Railway Band played, and games and dancing went on until 8.30 p.m.” Three of the parishioners who were not present to witness the event were Mr. and Mrs. Cotton and their daughter Ida. They were on holiday in Switzerland, but they did send a communication that was read at the event, on their behalf.
There was a boat house in the grounds and clearly boating was a pastime enjoyed by the Cotton family who can be seen in this picture boating at the bottom of the ornate garden steps.
It is also evident from this picture that, whilst much of the estate consisted of woodland, features had been created to provide a more formal and attractive atmosphere. These tiered steps leading down to the river, flanked by pedestal urns, were a major feature of the landscaping. The addition of a fountain at the bottom of the steps, which can be seen spouting in the picture, also created a prominent feature. The gardens look impressive in this, not particularly good quality, black and white photograph. They look even more impressive in colour.
This picture shows more clearly the path that extended the length of the riverbank on the estate and how well the gardens were maintained. These paths were shown on the map that we saw earlier and provided extensive walkways linking the river, the woodland, and the more formal gardens closer to the house. As the map showed, these paths provided access to the aviaries, other fountains, water features with footbridges and fish ponds. We can only imagine how magnificent these gardens must have appeared to those in the village who lived in a more basic working-class environment.
Nor can we imagine the thrill that his cousin must have experienced when visiting The Mount as can be seen in this picture taken by Thomas Cotton.
Thomas Cotton obviously enjoyed the surroundings that The Mount provided and fully immersed himself and his family in the life of the community. He was active in politics as a Liberal and was a councillor at local and county levels. He was also involved with local organisations in both Bishopstoke and the emerging town of Eastleigh. As a non-conformist Quaker, it is unlikely that Thomas Cotton would have embraced the doctrines of the established church and this may have been a source of well documented conflict between Rector Ashmall and himself. The other source of conflict was politics as they were not aligned in their political beliefs. Their relationship was not improved when Thomas Cotton stood against Revd. Ashmall for his seat on Eastleigh Urban District Council and ousted him. Further dismay was forthcoming for Revd Ashmall when, it would appear as an act of revenge, he stood against Thomas Cotton for his seat on Hampshire County Council and lost by a large margin. Revd. Ashmall, writing in the parish magazine of 1904, disappointed with his political demise and referring to his defeat, stated “it is better to lose fighting fairly than to win by unfair means. Far be it from me to suggest that my opponent won in this way.” What else could he have been suggesting? It is probably just as well that Revd. Ashmall retired and left the village soon after making this statement.
Thomas Cotton was a staunch supporter of the Temperance movement and a strict teetotaller.
There is a clue in the title of this picture showing Mr. Cotton with a group of boys at The Mount in 1908. The letters I.O.R. stand for Independent Order of Rechabites. This was a Friendly Society, founded as part of the wider British temperance movement to promote total abstinence from alcoholic beverages. The name Rechabite comes from a biblical nomadic tribe who were commanded to drink no wine. Therefore, the founders took inspiration from the Bedouin nature of the Rechabites, and each branch of the society was referred to as a “Tent”. So, we have a picture of boys, on a social outing organised by a local Friendly Society, enjoying the hospitality afforded by Thomas Cotton, a supporter of the temperance movement, having their picture taken for posterity on 15th July 1908.
Ladies and girls were also present as shown in this photograph on the same occasion.
The Independent Order of Rechabites was affiliated with the Band of Hope Union and other members of the temperance league. At the centre of the Temperance movement was the Band of Hope Union which had been founded in Thomas Cotton’s home county of Yorkshire in 1847. In those days, hard liquor was viewed as a necessity of life, next only to food and water. In many parts of the country, the conditions for children were wretched and alcohol misuse was often implicated. The Band of Hope was adopted nationally by Christians of all faiths. Children’s hymn books, songs, booklets, and leaflets were produced. Meetings and events, like the ones we have seen pictured at The Mount were held regularly and must have been a welcome distraction for many children. They were entertained with magic lantern shows, food, drink, and tuition in the evils of alcohol. In 1897, Queen Victoria, in her jubilee year became patron and, at the height of their activity, the society had a membership of over three million. The certificate, pictured left, is an example that was awarded to those that “signed the pledge”. The certificate to the right was awarded, in Bishopstoke, to Frederick Humby, aged nine, for satisfactorily passing an exam in the understanding of “Alcohol and the Human Body”. The picture on the certificate depicts the boathouse at The Mount.
Thomas Cotton was a proud owner of one of the first cars in Bishopstoke. It was a matter of some debate about who owned the first car in the village. That distinction may belong to Thomas Cotton, the Rector Revd. Sedgwick, or Dr. Simmons who lived at Hazelmere, in Montague Road. This picture depicts Mr. Cotton, his wife and daughter, with Marriner the chauffeur, passing The Mount Lodge. The car is bedecked with flowers to lead a parade of the Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Band of Hope Union to a celebratory fete at The Mount. This picture was probably taken in 1912.
In this picture, The Mount car with the Cotton family can be seen leading the Band of Hope parade at Riverside. This was a well-attended affair. The procession, with many banners and participants, can be seen along the length of the river, past Spring Lane to the shops by the Mill. You may also notice from this picture that the road runs between the trees on the mound and the river, at what is now called “Bishopstoke Beach”. Dorothy Escombe, in Bygone Bishopstoke, who as a young girl lived at the Manor House opposite, recalled that “a memory that gave her a childish thrill was the sight of Captain Hargreaves, who then lived at The Mount, driving his four-in-hand.” she explains that “there was no widened road in those days… it can be easily imagined, by those who know this corner, how narrow was the road and to negotiate this bend with a four-in-hand required the skill of a good whip.”
Others in the village told the tale that coming down the hill one day, the good Captain failed to negotiate the bend at speed and horses, carriage, and Captain, in a rather agitated state, came to rest in the middle of the river. The road was altered so that such an unfortunate incident could not happen again. A similar rumour circulated regarding Thomas Cotton and, certainly, it is quite clear from this picture that the road ran close to the river in his day. What we do not know from the picture is if the road also ran the other side of the mound as it does now. Whether this story is true or whether it was Thomas Hargreaves or Thomas Cotton who had the misfortune to end up in the river we will never know, but it makes a nice story to contemplate when you next go to this spot to feed the ducks.
As a local councillor, Thomas Cotton presented commemoration mugs to the children of Eastleigh and Bishopstoke for the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, in 1902, and King George V and Queen Mary, in 1911. The mug on the left is from 1902, and the mug on the right, with a copy of the inscription on the back, is from 1911.
With many men from Bishopstoke and Eastleigh employed by the railway, fund raising for the London and South Western Railway Servant’s Orphanage had always been well supported in Bishopstoke. Captain Hargreaves had held the first fete for the orphanage at The Mount in 1885, the year the orphanage was founded, and fetes were held on a regular basis thereafter. An example of this continuing support was a parade in July 1907, which is pictured in Church Road, Bishopstoke and was part of a wider fund-raising event. This parade joined forces with a larger procession in Eastleigh, and the larger group marched through the town with the Eastleigh Works Band, the Eastleigh United Mission Band, the Test Valley Band from Romsey, members of local Friendly Societies with Banners and the Fire Brigade in uniform. They made their way to Eastleigh Parish Church where there was a service and, in all, £25 was raised for the Orphanage. The picture of this parade also captures the image of Church Road in 1907. The sign-post clearly states Stoke Park Road, yet there is only one house on the corner. No other houses have been built between Stoke Park Road and St. Mary’s church. This pictures of the parade show St. Mary’s Church before the bell tower was built. It is the only pictures that we know which show what the front of the church was like before the bell tower was constructed in 1909.
In 1907, the same year as the parade took place in Bishopstoke, land in Woking was purchased to expand the London and South Western Railway Servant’s Orphanage. This magnificent building was constructed in 1909 to replace homes which had been used in Clapham and Lambeth since 1885. No longer standing, this building was situated alongside the main railway line to Waterloo and was a major feature for all that travelled to London by rail.
The home opened in Clapham, in 1885, was originally only for girls, and catered for children who had no fathers and whose mothers found it difficult to care for them. By 1895, donations from a benefactor enabled a further home to be purchased and boys also became members of the Orphanage. It may have appeared, in today’s terms, miserly that the parade in Bishopstoke and Eastleigh, pictured earlier, only raised £25. When seven acres of land were bought at Woking in 1907, to provide a new home, it cost £2,900. £25 was a significant sum of money at the time. The charity was partly funded by donations from rank and file railway workers who donated a set sum from their pay packet each pay day. In the early days this was one penny per week, and they did this because there was great affection for the orphanage amongst those that worked on the railway, and particularly in railway communities like Bishopstoke and Eastleigh.
Pay day donations from railway employees were a major source of funding and fetes, like those at The Mount or street parades were regularly held in towns along the London and South Western Railway line from Waterloo to Weymouth. A unique and novel means of raising funds for the orphanage involved the use of dogs, as can be seen from this illustrated scene at Southampton. The dog is fitted with a collection box and trained to mingle with passengers waiting to board a train. The box identifies that the money collected will be donated to the London and South Western Railway Servant’s Orphanage and plays on the British public’s love for animals and the desire to protect vulnerable children. Dogs were trained to collect funds at all the major stations on the Weymouth to Waterloo line and were accompanied by a “handler” who would also walk them along the corridor of the railway carriages.
Some of these dogs became famous and were a popular sight on the station for many travellers.
So much so that a way was found for the most popular of them to carry on collecting money for the Orphanage after they had died. They were stuffed and mounted in a glass case, in a similar pose to the one displayed in this picture and placed prominently on railway station platforms with a collection box. A poor moth-eaten old mutt was still raising money for the orphanage on Southampton Central Railway Station in the 1950s. This is a picture of “Southampton West Jack”. These silver medals are in the archives at the National Railway Museum in York and were awarded to “Jack” between 1905 and 1909. The medals carry the legend “London & South Western Railway Servants Orphanage”, and each medal is engraved – “For Collecting £100”. There is a stuffed dog in the Railway Museum at York called “Laddie” who was retired after seven years’ service at Waterloo Station in 1956. He is still popular and is successfully collecting today for the friends of the National Railway Museum.
The Cottons were within living memory of some of Bishopstoke’s older residents in the 1980s and their recollections were published in a W.I. Publication – Bishopstoke – A Century of Change in 1999 by Joan Simmonds.
Charles Elkins, like many villagers, visited The Mount on a number of occasions,” but never set foot in the house.” All contact was with the estate servants. He did recall that “Mr. Cotton was short, and his wife was tall. She had all the money.” This confirms research about Thomas Cotton’s humble beginnings. Another Bishopstoke resident, Mrs. Holloway, remembered that Mr. Cotton “usually dressed in a Norfolk jacket with breaches and stockings.” and this is how he is dressed in the picture that we showed of him with his wife and daughter boating on the river. Mr. Honeybone described Mrs. Cotton as a very tall and stately lady. The Cottons sold The Mount in 1921 and moved to Stuart Lodge, Highcliff. Charlotte died on 11th April 1925 and Thomas died, a few days later on the 16th of April.
The Mount was bought by Hampshire County Council. The purchase price of £21,625 included The Mount and its 66 acres, Breach Farm, adjoining The Mount with 39 acres, and the nearby Highbridge Farm of 78 acres. The original plan, and the additional land, was to provide a Sanatorium to cater for 268 patients. This plan was considerably altered by the time The Mount opened as a tuberculosis Sanatorium to accommodate 60 male patients in 1925. Women and children were treated at another Sanatorium in Hursley. The farmland that had been purchased, was no longer required for the Sanatorium, so it was leased to tenant farmers. Today, we enjoy the legacy of this purchasing decision as much of the land is now in a conservation area that is managed sensitively and gives some public access. Conversion of The Mount from residential to hospital use was not a cheap option. Various costs for various schemes were projected and so many options were considered that it has been impossible to establish how much was finally spent. The ground floor and first floor of the house was converted for wards and the attic rooms for staff accommodation. More wards were built in the grounds and the decision to use brick construction for these buildings added considerably to the cost. Significant costs were also incurred to provide toilets, bathrooms, water supply and drainage, electric lighting, catering, dining, and recreation areas.
This layout from 1937 shows the greenhouses and kitchen gardens retained from the original estate. This area was used for the growing of vegetables for the hospital. One of the greenhouses was converted as a shelter where patients could rest and is shown below.
Wards had also been constructed in the grounds to the north east of the main building, which can be seen illustrated in the next picture.
This aerial view shows the kitchen garden, the old stables and clock tower, with the River Itchen meandering in the background. When patients were on the road to recovery, they were permitted to take walks in the grounds and encouraged to do light cleaning duties in the wards. Alan House, a patient at The Mount in 1939 and 1940, from the age of sixteen, recalled that “the grounds had been let go somewhat but patients enjoyed the increased freedom that walks in the gardens provided”. It was inevitable that the “walks became christened with names like Sputum Hill, Frenic Way and Thorax Grove”. Patients were encouraged to spit to clear their lungs, and this would explain how at least one of these names was arrived at. A local resident, when visiting her uncle at The Mount as a young girl, was given a warning not to enter the field behind The Mount, that backs onto St. Margaret’s Road, as it was where patients were encouraged to spit. Apparently, it was considered the field was of sufficient size that the disease was not a potential hazard for neighbouring residents nor apparently the adjacent school. As recovering patients gained strength, they could go to the dining room for meals, and carry out light gardening work. Alan found to his cost that too much youthful effort caused fluid to build up on his lung, which was a set back to his recovery.
The mortuary was in the stable area, located behind the building shown. Tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease and isolation, in hospitals and sanatoriums like The Mount, was paramount to try and prevent its spread amongst families living within deprived communities.
Tuberculosis, or consumption as it was sometimes known, is a lethal disease. It is spread through the air when people who have an active TB infection, cough, sneeze, or otherwise transmit their saliva through the air. Although in decline, T.B. is still one of the world’s major fatal diseases.
Fresh air, rest and good nutrition was, from the 1920s to 1950s, considered necessary for the treatment of T.B. The wards were, wherever possible, constructed with one side as open to the elements as possible, to give the maximum exposure to fresh air. Alan House described the conditions thus: “the windows of the ward were always open; fresh air was part of the treatment and it was necessary to have hot water bottles in our beds day and night to keep from freezing”. Considering that the winter of 1940 was one of the coldest on record, it is a wonder that the patients did not die from hypothermia.
Whilst extra costs had been incurred to provide brick-built wards, these wards were also supplemented by timber accommodation or, what today, we would call sheds. These were used by patients as day rooms and were intended to give a change of scenery and maximum exposure to fresh air. In warm summer months, patients would also stay in these sheds overnight. In the 1950s, there were also day wards in the grounds that could be rotated on wheels so that they faced the sun for most of the day. According to Alan, when patients were no longer considered contagious and were fit enough, they were allowed out of The Mount on Saturday afternoons. The main attraction for young lads, like Alan, was a young waitress at a café in Eastleigh that they called “Millie”. The lads were too shy to ask what her real name was.
Alan House recalled that during the time he was a patient at The Mount in 1939 and 1940 and recovered, many did not. There were usually two or three deaths a week. The sad reality was that for the men who entered The Mount Sanatorium the survival rate was not high. Joan Scott, who as a child lived above the hardware shop at No. 1 Riverside, recalled in Bishopstoke – A Century of Change that “The ambulance used to go by the shop every Wednesday and one felt very sorry for the patients. It was said no one ever came out, at least not alive.” St Mary’s Church in Church Road had only been built in 1891, yet by the mid-1950s, after only 60 years, the cemetery was full, and a new cemetery had to be provided at Stoke Common. The reason for St Mary’s cemetery becoming rapidly full was that The Mount catered for patients from a wide area of Hampshire. When patients died without means of support, they were interned in the nearest place available, which was the local St Mary’s churchyard.
Advancement in the treatment of tuberculosis was eventually deemed to have conquered the disease, at least in the UK, and The Mount became a geriatric hospital, a rehabilitation centre, a day hospital and physiotherapy centre. Mount industries was established as a training centre for handicapped and disabled adults in outbuildings on the site. Initially, in the 1950s, they produced toys. By the 1960s, they were producing school furniture.
Originally constructed in 1844, rebuilt around 1870 and extensively modified in 1892, imagination leads us to believe in the romance of gentrified Victorian and Edwardian society. The conditions provided for occupants of The Mount, since the 1920s, during life as a sanatorium and hospital, would have been in stark contrast to the elegant lifestyle that the early occupants enjoyed. This picture, celebrating a League of Friends fete, probably in the 1970s, illustrates that for most of its existence, The Mount, has been a centre for social celebration and fund raising within the village. From the 1850s, successive owners welcomed festivities in the grounds and as we have heard, also gave access to the house, so that the community could appreciate and admire its contents. From the early 1900s, Bishopstoke also held carnivals. The Mount festivals were usually held in late spring, the carnivals in September.
Subject to gradual decline under public ownership, the future of The Mount was reviewed by the National Health Service initially in the mid-1990s.
No investment had been made on the site for many years and the decision to close the hospital was inevitable, even though at the time, it evoked very strong local opinion that it should remain as a facility to support the local community. In 2004, patients were transferred to the Royal County Hospital in Winchester with very little notice and, although there was a brief period when the house itself was used as a day centre, windows were soon boarded up and the site enclosed by fencing. These pictures have been placed together so that comparisons can be made. We can witness the quality of The Mount during its Edwardian heyday and its dereliction at the end of its life under the National Health Service. Since closure, the site was subject to various proposals for development, mostly for housing. With economic uncertainty and a climate of recession, these schemes were not progressed. These delays led to vandalism, which hastened the process of degradation.
The site was acquired by Anchor Developments in 2012 to construct a care village. The grounds, although planned to be pleasantly landscaped, will not include the fountains, steps, ponds, and water features that once made the gardens spectacular, nor will walkways be extended down to the river. However, as part of planning conditions for development, permissive walkways for public access will be established within the grounds. The old house has been retained, refurbished, and remains a central part of the site. It is one of the few buildings to survive from Bishopstoke’s days of Victorian splendour.
Members of Bishopstoke History Society were approached by Anchor and asked for background information about the estate and the people that lived there. From a personal viewpoint I find this positive. It is nice to think that people planning the future want to maintain a link with the past. Names of previous owners of “The Mount”, Garnier, Twynam, Walter, Gilman, and Hargreaves, have been used for the new village areas, providing a link to the past. The name Cotton has already been used for a road name elsewhere in Bishopstoke.
Escombe, F.D. (1935) Bygone Bishoptoke, The Wykeham Press, Winchester.
Hampshire Library – 19th Century Newspapers online.
Gilman, James. Marco Polo’s Hong Kong Blues – an article in a Cathay Pacific in-flight magazine.
Bishopstoke – A Century of Change – W.I. Publication 1999.
Field, Marion (2010) A History of Woking Homes.
Simmonds, Joan. (1991) Eastleigh and District History Society Special Paper No 21.
House, Alan. (1988) Eastleigh and District History Society Occasional Paper No 34.
Hampshire Contemporary Biographies – 1905
Additional Material: Allen Guille, Roy Smith, Malcolm Dale, Joan Simmonds, Chris Smart