The development of Pokesdown as a whole did not commence until 1857, but there were some larger houses and some property dealing, some of which affected the later formation of the district. As has been seen, Stourfield House was leased to a number of tenants from about 1790. These included a Mr. Strong for a short period. He was followed by the Countess of Strathmore, a rather tragic figure whose second husband, a Mr. Bowes, tried to obtain possession of her property and money, and who eventually had to be put under restraint. Other tenants included Sir Henry Harper, Mr. J.C. Olive and finally Lieut. John Johnson of a Bengal Regiment. After Johnson left the house was empty for a period, until the house and the estate were sold to Captain William Popham in whose family it was to remain for almost the next fifty years.
William Popham was a son of Admiral Sir Home Popham, and he followed his father into the Navy in 1805. He had become a Captain by 1821, and then had a long wait until 1854 before promotion to Rear Admiral, and finally to Admiral in 1863. He was a Justice of the Peace for the County.
Deciding that Stourfield House was too large for his needs he demolished a part. Then believing the roof to be unsafe he had the pitched roof removed, and replaced it with a flat one. Later it was found that there had not been anything wrong with the roof, so that this change was not necessary. He also had the red brick exterior covered with stucco.
The Admiral's brother in law was Sir Julian Pauncefote, lawyer and diplomat. Called to the Bar in 1852 he served in a number of important legal offices in the Colonies, and was knighted in 1872. In April 1889 he was sent to the United States of America as a special envoy, and. on the establishment of full diplomatic status to the post, he was appointed as the first Ambassador to Washington where he died in office in 1902. One of the roads in the Boscombe Park Estate was named for him.
A guide book of 1856 described Stourfield House as being of plain design, built chiefly of red brick and having a cheerful aspect, whilst its situation was charming. There were luxuriant plantations of elm, sycamore, plane and other trees, with several handsome and well-grown cedars of Lebanon closely sheltering the house, while the undulating lawn on the slope of the hill blended with the cultivated valley below. This description would of course relate to the house before the alterations made by Admiral Popham.
By 1850 some other larger houses had been built in the locality. The most notable of these was that built originally in 1801 as Boscombe Cottage for Philip Norris, who became the owner of some one hundred and fifty five acres of land under the Inclosure Award, in addition to some forty-five or more acres which he already owned. The estate was bought by Robert Heathcote in 1811, and changed hands again in 1817, by which date it was known as Boscombe Lodge. The notice for the auction of the property on 28th June 1817 described the house as "an Elegant marine villa environed by park and upward of 200 acres of land.... fitted with much taste". The purchaser was James Draper, who held it until 1841 when Major Stephenson became the owner.
In 1849 the property was bought by Sir Percy Shelley, the son of the poet, who intended that it would be a home for his mother. On her death in 1851 it became a second home for Sir Percy and Lady Shelley. Sir Percy had the house enlarged under the direction of Christopher Crabbe Creeke, a local architect. The extension included a well-appointed theatre, in which private performances were given, the cast on occasions including well known members of the acting profession. Sir Percy altered the name to Boscombe Place.
The following advertisement which appeared in the Christchurch Times of 22nd August 1868, and in several succeeding issues, sets out in some detail the accommodation and amenities of the Shelley house at that date.
To be let, Sea Coast, in close proximity to the fashionable Watering-place Bournemouth, Furnished for a term of years as may be agreed. Family Mansion known as Boscombe Lodge with a small pleasure Farm adjoining suitable Farm Buildings and Residence for Bailiff, containing together about 175 acres. Mansion contains entrance hall, spacious Drawing Room communicating with an elegantly designed conservatory, dining room, library, cloak room, smoking room and theatre (considered to be the most perfect private theatre in England). There are fifteen principal and secondary bedrooms, three dressing rooms, school-room, bathroom, etc. and an abundant supply of water. The approach to the mansion is by an excellent carriage drive with lodge at entrance from the Christchurch Road, stabling for 6 horses, large coach house, saddle-room (with bedroom over), brewhouse. gas works (the house and offices being lighted with gas) and a walled garden of considerable extent.
A newcomer to the area in mid-century was Mr. Wadham Locke, who in a few years from 1849 bought a total of about four hundred and eighty five acres of land in Pokesdown and what was to become Southbourne. Wadham Locke was a member of a well known family of Seend, near Melksham in Wiltshire, and for a number of years prior to coming here he had been living in Codford St. Mary. He seems to have decided to set up home near the seaside and on part of the land he had bought he built a house, which he named Stourcliffe, where at the 1851 census he was living with his wife, Albinia, and two sons, Wadham and Ernest. Stourcliffe became the general name for his property, which included the whole of the sea front from the Shelley Estate to Cellar Farm near Hengistbury Head.
In 1850 Locke had purchased from Sir George Gervis the Award lots 93, 94 and 97, a total of two hundred and thirty four acres, an area of land which was to form the basis of part of the future development of Pokesdown. Towards the latter part of the 1850's Locke decided to return to Seend, where he had a mansion built called Cleeve Manor, and during the succeeding years he disposed of nearly all of his lands locally, retaining a property named "The Elms" at Tuckton as a home for his unmarried sons and daughters. Stourcliffe House with a considerable area of land was for sale in September 1857, the notice of sale stating the area was building and agricultural land. The house itself was again advertised in 1859, together with some ten acres of land.
Locke "s eldest daughter, Caroline, was married at Christchurch Priory on 15th April 1857 to Captain William Lamb, late of the 49th Regiment of Foot, and in 1861 the Lamb family were living in Stourcliffe House.
When Locke decided to sell his land, the two hundred and thirty four acres mentioned above were bought by David Tuck, a local builder, and his son Peter, at a price of four thousand pounds. For some reason Locke bought back about ten acres of this land. A scheme for the possible development of this considerable area of land was prepared for the Tucks by Christopher Creeke. This envisaged the building of twenty eight mansions each in a wooded site of several acres, and set around a long avenue to run from Christchurch Road to Southbourne. This was to be called the Stourcliffe Estate; nothing came of the scheme.
Before any practical plans for the development of the land were made David Tuck died in 1860, Because of the rather complicated terms of his will, and of the mortgages relating to the land, it was not until 1864 that his Trustees were able to sell the land. It was bought in three lots, the largest of which, amounting to one hundred and twenty five acres, was bought by the Rev. Henry Headley of Ashley Amewood in Hampshire at a price of five thousand five hundred pounds. A small piece of twenty acres was sold at £60 an acre to Captain George Lamb, and the remainder went to William Hunter for £50 an acre.
At about that date Stourwood House was built, with about eleven acres of grounds, and it was offered for sale in 1865. The house was stated to be substantially built, commanding delightful marine and land scenery, with excellent gardens and pleasure grounds. It was suggested that a large part of the adjoining land might be sold off for the erection of villas. Again in 1868 the house was on the market, this time to rent.
The detailed notice then read: To be Let. Furnished, with possession from 1st August, a convenient and tastefully erected marine residence, two and a half miles from Bournemouth and two and a half miles from Christchurch; delightfully situated within a few minutes walk of the beach, which offers advantages for sea bathing and the beautiful bay for yachting. The surrounding scenery being very charming renders it a spot rarely to be met with, and it is considered one of the healthiest on the South Coast. It is surrounded by the lawn, pleasure gardens and ten acres of thriving and ornamental shrubberies.
Twenty two acres of Woodlands may be added to this delightful residence if desired. There is a good and productive kitchen garden.
The House contains entrance hall, dining and drawing rooms and morning room, seven bedrooms, dressing room, butler's pantry, store room, principal and secondary staircases, scullery and larder, with the usual offices and out buildings. Also, a first class four-stalled stable, loose box, carriage house, saddle room and apartments for coachman.
The Rev. H. Headley died in 1866, and his widow, Mrs. Jane Headley, decided to sell the land which he had bought two years earlier. One part of the Headley land was purchased by Mr. James Baker, and the other part was sold to Mr. F. Moser, of Carbery.
Mr. Moser became a well known and important figure in the whole area. He had been bom in Southwark on 21st April 1823, and joined the family's ironmongery business in London. Retiring in 1862, he moved to Mudeford, living for a time in Avonmouth House. He interested himself in local affairs, becoming a member of the Christchurch Board of Guardians and a Trustee of Clingan's Charity. His first wife was Jane Taylor, of Andover, and there were four children of the marriage. Tragically, two of the boys, Leonard and Horace, were drowned at Mudeford in a bathing accident. Mrs Moser died in 1859, and Mr. Moser later married Frances Woodward, daughter of the Rev. John Woodward, co-pastor with the Rev. W. Fletcher, of the Christchurch Congregational Church.
When he moved to Carbery in about 1867, Mr. Moser continued his interest in the life of the community, giving generous support to several non-conformist churches, to the Boscombe Cottage Hospital, and to Boscombe British School. He was a life deacon of Pokesdown Congregational Church. The second Mrs. Moser died in 1892, whilst Mr. Moser lived until 10th July 1911.
The seventy acres of land which Mr. Baker had bought from Mrs. Headley were sold by him to the Hon. W. Portman, and formed part of the Portman Estate, which extended from Woodland Walk to Fisherman's Walk, and was bounded on the landward side by the Boscombe Park Estate. The Portman Estate boundary was marked by a high wall, extending from Christchurch Road and running alongside Woodland Walk, where it is still visible. It then continued along the boundary between Parkwood and Woodside Roads, and what later became Wentworth Avenue. Woodland Walk itself was part of the drive leading to Wentwoth Lodge, the house built by Lord Portman, and which now forms part of Wentworth Milton Mount School. The Portman Estate was sold for building development in about 1922.
Reproduced with permisson of the Author.
© J. A. Young