|HCC Site ID:||1748||Parish:||Gosport|
|Designations:||House and Lodge LB II||Area:|
|Access:||Access to School||Ownership:||Gosport Borough Council|
Location and Site
Bay House School is situated between Gomer Road and Stokes Bay Road. Soil is loam and clay.
A map of Gosport dated 1832 shows the large site on which Bay House was built previously old Ordnance Brickworks close to Stokes Bay, Alverstoke. It was built as a Summer residence for Alexander Baring, a wealthy financier created first Lord Ashburton, 1835, and designed by his friend Decimus Burton between 1838 and 1840 (there is a question over the exact year but the house is marked belonging to Lord Ashburton on the Tithe Map of the area, 1840).
His good friend John Croker was encouraged to purchase the adjoining plot to build a Summer residence for himself. The house, Alver House, was also shown on the Tithe map, 1840. Although Lord Ashburton already owned three other residences, including the largest, The Grange, Northington, the setting of Bay House must have been a great attraction as it stood at that time in large grounds effectively reaching down to the sea (Tithe map, 1840). Lord Ashburton was also a friend of Sir Joseph Paxton and it is believed that Paxton was responsible for the design and planting of what must have been an impressive Pinetum. There are many specimen trees in this area even today (2013), now part of Stanley Park.
Both the first Lord Ashburton and his wife died in 1848 and Alexander Baring’s son, William Bingham Baring and his wife Harriet continued to live at Bay House after their death. Harriet died in 1857. The deeds apparently state that the property was owned by the War Department in 1859 although White’s Directory of that year notes the Hon. Miss Baring as in residence.
The tithe map (21M65/F7/4/1 1840), with the accompanying Apportionment (1842), gives a good indication of the grounds with the house, small lodge and garden, further garden, brick kiln, Foxes field, paddock, plantations all indicated in the Tithe Apportionment (21M65/F7/4/2 1842).
The Times reported that the Admiralty was about to take a lease on Bay House (Times-on-line 20.03.1862). ‘We understand that the Admiralty are about to take a lease of Lord Ashburton’s mansion and grounds, on the shore of Stokes Bay, which have been recently purchased by the War Department. …to fit the mansion for a college…the lawn extends to within 50 yards of high-water mark. The approach to the house is by a handsome drive with Gothic lodges and entrance gates.’ The Illustrated London News, 1862, offers ‘Ashburton House’ for sale with 30 bedrooms, a large garden, which extends from the back of the house…amply to supply the establishment all the year round with fruit and vegetables, while a ten-acre field adjacent to the lawn would furnish a capital playground. Forty acres of land surround the house.’ A photograph reveals rather wild shrubs and trees close to the house.
It is not clear whether the Admiralty College ever materialised as the site was pronounced unsuitable in Blackwood’s Edinburgh magazine, July-December, 1864.
It appears to have been sold to Dr Burney of Burney’s Naval Academy by the War Department in 1878 but he is noted as living there in the 1871 census, presumably leasing the property.
In 1892, Burney’s daughter sold the house to Francis Sloane-Stanley (1841-1904). An advertisement in 1891 described the house as ‘A most charming residential and picturesque…with lovely grounds equally delightful in Summer and in Winter. It (the estate) is planted with numerous sub-tropical and other trees, a lodge and carriage drive …The whole is freehold and covers 23 acres’. Francis Sloane-Stanley died in 1904 leaving in residence his sister, who died in Gosport in 1938.
During WW2 Bay House as used for the testing of secret amphibious vehicles (DUKW) and in the run up to D-Day the 79th Armoured Division operated out of Bay House using the local area for trials and embarkation of swimming Sherman tanks. It was vacated in 1951 by the Amphibious Wing. Prior to the Normandy landings, troops sheltered in the woodland areas before embarkation.
In 1943, Francis-Sloane Stanley’s son, Lt-Col Ronald Francis Assheton Sloane-Stanley (1867-1948), offered to sell Bay House with 28 acres of land to Gosport Borough Council for £15,000. The Council sought approval to buy the house as a day and residential school for the physically disabled children on 5 acres of the land; the rest to be re-sold to Gosport Borough Council for Stokes Bay development. Sloane-Stanley also donated 17 acres of the parkland ‘for the people of Gosport’. The purchase was completed in 1944. When Bay House was derequisitioned, Gosport BC took on the parkland for the enjoyment of the people of Gosport, which in 1946 became Stanley Park, officially opened in March 1947. 3.75 acres of land to the West of Bay House was retained by the military despite it having been de-requisitioned in 1946.
In 1954, Bay House with 5 ¾ acres surrounding it, was transferred to Hampshire County Council (HCC), and 7.8 acres of the land donated to the public of Gosport were also sold to HCC to enlarge Gosport Grammar School by now at Bay House. A new boundary fence was created to the east of the house and west of the present Stanley Park woodland.
From September 1949 Bay House was Gosport County School, then a three-form Grammar School was opened in 1958 by Sir John Wolfenden. In 1972 reorganisation saw the Grammar School amalgamate with Privett County Secondary School to become Bay House School. In 1984 the house was badly damaged in a serious fire but was sympathetically restored. The house and entrance lodge are both Grade II listed.
Bay House School was reopened in 1987 following a fire and the historic house carefully restored. In 2012 the school became an Academy with a 12-form entry. Much of the remaining grounds of the original Bay House have been built upon as the school increased in size and Ashburton’s parkland now lies in adjoining Stanley Park.
A GrII Gothic-style house designed by Decimus Burton in 1838-40 for Alexander Baring as a Summer residence. Large woodland reputedly designed by Joseph Paxton in extensive grounds. 17 acres, including the woodland donated in 1944 to Gosport by Lt-Col Sloane Stanley to form Stanley Park. Bay House now a Gosport Academy, with grounds mainly built over.
HGT Research update; December 2013
Research by HGT, 1996
Times-on-Line, various dates 19th century
Hants Telegraph 19th century British Newspapers on-line, various dates
Gosport Borough Council information on Stanley Park
Tithe map and apportionment, 1840 and 1841 – Hampshire Record Office
Gosport’s Historic Houses, http://www.fortgilkicker.uk/Bayhouse
Photographs from 1960s-1996, Hampshire Gardens Trust