Kingscourt School (Catherington House)

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HCC Site ID: 1333 Parish: Horndean
Designations: House LB II Area: 19 C 65 acres (26.3 ha),
now 8.9 ha (22 acres)
Access: Access to School Ownership: Kings Court Private School

Location and Site

Catherington House, now King’s Court School,  is situated in the village of Catherington, which in turn lies north of Horndean and Portsmouth and just west of the A3M.  The village occupies a hilltop between 300 and 400 ft above sea level on the edge of the South Downs.  The house stands at the corner of Five Heads Road whose name derives from the Saxon system of land tax and refers to five hides.   The 1840 Sales Particulars describe part of the site as ‘The champagne Valley – full of luxuriance which is terminated in one direction by the sea and the Isle of Wight and in the opposite direction by Portsdown Hill.’

Historic Development

Captain Samuel Hood, later to become one of England’s most distinguished Sea  Lords, Admiral Samuel Viscount Hood of Whitley, by 1764 sought a house outside of Portsmouth but within easy reach of it.  He was granted a lease of a farmhouse by the 5th Duke of Beaufort, together with a lease of 36 acres of land on which to build a new house.  By 1771 with the aid of the Captain’s prize money and a third share by his father-in-law, Edward Linzee, the farmhouse had been rebuilt as Catherington House.  Linzee probably also lived with the Hood’s though he also had a house in Portsmouth (HRO 57M92/2; Linzee, 1917)).  In her book of 1942, a descendant of Captain Hood, Dorothy Hood described the grounds as having ‘….big North American trees that he (Hood) must have sent home as babies to be planted at the time he was so busy with the excitement at Boston.’ (Hood, 1942).  A few of these trees including fine specimens of magnolias, pines,  firs and a tulip tree and Araucaria. may have survived (Jones, 2006).
Henry, Hood’s son, also appears to have shared the house until 1796 when Samuel Hood was appointed Governor of Greenwich and moved away.  Henry was a socialite and continued to live in the house and in 1805 received a visit from HRH, the Princess of Wales, Caroline of Brunswick (Hants Telegraph).  In 1805 Lady Hood died and her title of Baroness Hood, granted in 1795 in her own right, passed to Henry.  In 1774, the leasehold land was bought by the Clarke-Jervoise estate from the Duke of Beaufort and in 1806, Henry finally acquired the freehold by a sale of fee simple of the house and certain land (HRO 6M59/B4/48).  This same year the house was advertised to let for 5, 7 or14 years (Hants Telegraph, 15 September, 1806).
A house appears on the Milne Map of 1791 and on the 1st ed OS map,  1810, it is named as Catherington House.  An enclosure map of 1816 (PRO, CHU41/5/5B/1) shows the Hood landholdings stretching from the corner of Catherington Lane and Five Heads Road, northwards along the eastern side of Catherington Lane to encompass the land to the north and east of the church.  Samuel, Viscount Hood, died in this year (Jones).
From 1807 the house was tenanted until 1823, when due to his mounting debts Henry put it up for sale ‘A mansion,  garden, orchard, pleasure grounds, farm, cottages with about 130 acres of meadow and arable land’ (Hants Telegraph,1823).  It seems that the grounds must have been developed considerably by Henry since 1796.    The property was bought by Henry Morgan, a retired Civil Judge (HRO, TOP61/1/4).  The property was again advertised for sale by Auction several times in the Hampshire Telegraph (from 5 October 1840) and described as ‘107 acres, prettily wooded park and luxuriant pleasure grounds – splendid conservatory and greenhouse…The Park itself forms a little belt,……The Champgane Valley, full of luxuriance’.   The grounds were also described as  not to everyone’s taste. The house did not sell and it is unclear why Morgan put in up for auction as he continued to live in it until 1852 when he died.  Morgan made substantial alterations to the house as he had 11 children, adding another dining room and a single-storey service wing to the east of the house.  He also made changes to the parkland and gardens, adding a walled vegetable and fruit garden (now gone) and a gardener’s cottage. (Jones).
The property was then leased to The Reverend William Pearse until 1862 when it was sold to Major George Briggs.  (Notice of Auction, Havant Museum and Sales Particulars, British Library).  From the description in the latter it would appear that the mid-19th century was the apogee for the grounds of Catherington House.  The 1st ed  25” OS map of 1868 shows most of the features noted in the 1862  Sales Particulars though by the 2nd edition, 1897, there are far less trees and the walled gardens have gone.  Major Briggs died in 1892 and the property was bought by Francis J Douglas who owned it for 15 years.  Henry Norton Sullivan bought in 1907 and ran a short-lived preparatory school until 1911, though no records for this period have been found. (Jones).
From 1911 through to the 1st World War, Somerville-Reid Livingstone-Learmouth returned the property to a family home (Jones).   Between 1916 and 1918 the house belonged to a Horndean builder and farmer, Ernest Albert Edney who eventually offered the house to the Reverend Canon Eric Southam as a refuge where the townspeople in need of rest could spend a quiet few days.  In 1927 it came under Portsmouth  Diocesan  control  (Jones).  The grounds in the main were maintained (OS 1932) though there was some building where the walled gardens had been.  During the 2nd World War it was used first by evacuees then by the Army and finally by the Navy.  The grounds were severely affected during this time (HRO TOP61/1/4).
The house was re-dedicated in 1949 and became The Retreat House for the next 48 years finally closing its doors in 1994.  A pamphlet of 1970 (HRO TOP61/1/1/4) notes that the garden was much improved.  In 1994 Retreat House was bought by Kings Court School by now with only 5 acres.  A further 17 acres were later bought back by the school (total 8.9 hectares).

Current Description

Currently 8.9 hectares (22 acres) with some old specimen trees such as Araucaria, Yew and Cedar of Lebanon remaining in the school gardens.  Flint edges of some old beech-lined paths of the former pleasure grounds can still be seen.  Though no longer in one ownership the layout of the whole  site is recognizable from the mid – 19th century.   Land outside the ownership of the school is farmland having escaped development.


Georgian farmhouse, rebuilt late eighteenth century for Captain Samuel Hood (later Admiral), North American trees planted; mid nineteenth century, new owner added walled gardens, developed grounds; now a school with grounds reduced, some specimen trees remain.
HGT Research : 2009, updated March 2010

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Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
HRO 57M92/2 and 6 Notes by Dr K S Southam on Clarke-Jervoise Estate Papers 1976-02
HRO 6M59.B4/48 and 69 Clarke-Jervoise Estate Papers
HRO TOP 61/1/4 Leaflet on Catherington Retreat House, 1970
Portsmouth Library CHU41/5/5B/1  Enclosure map 1816
Milne map, 1791, Old Hampshire mapped
OS 1” map, 1810, Old Hampshire mapped     “       “
1st ed OS map, 25” 1868 Hampshire County Council
2nd ed OS map, 25” 1897 Hampshire County Council
4th ed OS map, 25” 1939, Hampshire County Council
Linzee, John William, privately printed, Boston, Mass. 1917
Jones, Steve, unpublished work on Admiral Samuel Hood and Catherington House, 2008
Hood, Dorothy, The Admiral Hood, London, Hutchinson & Co, 1942
Other Sources
Sales Particulars 1862 in British Library. Also photocopy from Havant Museum (no reference no).
Electronic Sources
Hants and Sussex Telgraph on-line accessed through public library membership, Nov-Dec 2009
British Library, Sales Particulars 1862 including ‘sixth condiction’ (ref: possibly System no 004816921)
Old Hampshire Mapped h

Our address

Horndean Access to School Click for Disclaimer & copyright
50.92147142667561, -1.0140520334243774

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