Penton Lodge (prev St Benedicts Convent School)

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HCC Site ID: 1469 Parish: Penton Mewsey
Designations: LB II House, stable and two lodges Area: 2.83 ha (7 acres)
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Private

Location and Site

Penton Lodge was built in the 18th century on light soil with chalk under, probably a greenfield site. Situated in the village of Penton Mewsey it lies between the road to Andover and the road to Newbury.

Historic Development

In his will William Hutchins (1710-63) bequeathed his farm lands and ‘a new dwelling house (Penton Lodge), orchard, garden meadow and estates………’ (Isherwood and HRO44M49/70& 71). Tenanted by Mr Cruickshanks (Clutterbuck, RH, Parishes of Fyfield etc: Warren, 1898) then sold to Thomas Symmer Champneys (HRO 44M49/70. Champneys over-reached himself with many improvements to house and grounds and the previous owner, son of William Hutchins snr, loaned him money in return for a leaseback of the Lodge. In 1795 it was sold to George Nesbit Thompson former Private Secretary to Warren Hastings, described ‘…with a lawn,  shrubberies, plantations and stabling which formed a crescent of 94 feet in diameter, detached farm yard, barns etc and 130 acres of excellent land’ (HRO 44M49/70). Beset by financial problems, Thompson attempted to sell the house from 1806 to 1818 (HRO 2M30/750/751. John d’Oyley Hutchins eventually bought it in 1821, dying in 1824. A series of tenants followed, notably in 1826, Thomas Assheton Smith who Isherwood believes probably planted many of the trees. At this time, the alignment of the road to the north differs from the later 1st ed 25” OS map, 1873. In 1842 Penton Lodge was tenanted by William Felix Tollemache, known as Lord Huntingtower, (Times On-line 31/3/1843). A plan for the Sale in 1851/51 shows an orangery extending from the drawing room and flower beds on the lawn. (Isherwood). It also shows the distinctive crescent shaped coach house on the western edge of the site, with a farmyard to the side; the entrance avenue is still shown from the south.  The house was bought at this time with only 30 acres by Sir William Cubitt  who considerably enhanced and enlarged both the house and grounds particularly introducing a range of Cubitt built glasshouses on the northern perimeter of the site. At some point after 1851, the two lodges East and West, were built and the Newbury road straightened to the north. The entrance was also changed from the north façade to the west side and a portico erected and a bank appears where the original entrance used to be. Isherwood is of the opinion that the lodges and the portico were built by Cubitt but it is not clear whether it was Cubitt or his son-in-law who enlarged the house.

Cubitt died in 1863 and Penton Lodge passed to his son-in-law, Sir William Humphery who also made changes to the site. New stables dated 1865, were introduced on part of the kitchen garden area and the old stables together with the farmyard were demolished, shown on the 1st ed OS map, 25” (1873). There is now  also a large walled garden to the north of the Newbury Road. The subsequent OS maps 25” and 6” from 1873–1896, show a well-timbered site, as well as an Inn within the site’s perimeter. A tumulus is marked south of the house; on the southern boundary there is a stream with small bridges across. The parkland was fenced with Tasker railings, some still extant.
The Lodge was sold to William Moon, who by 1885 had become a declared bankrupt (Times On-line). The Estate was unsuccessfully put up for sale in 1881 (Times-Online) and again in 1885 when the property of 85 acres is (Times-Online). The White Hart Inn is also included (HRO 46M84/F99/5).
Bought by Captain Francis and Lady Evelyn  Sutton in 1885 and in 1995 handed to their son, Francis Sutton jnr and Lady Susan Sutton, daughter of the 4th Earl of Harewood, who brought her wealth to re-design the grounds.  Captain Sutton jnr, died in 1925 and Lady Sutton in 1926. The 1026 acre Estate reflecting the farms that Sutton had bought, pleasure grounds of 11 acres and a park of about 99 acres, was again up for sale (3rd ed OS map 6” 1911-12). a lime avenue from the north, as well as a Winter Garden, a Wild Garden and an ice house. (HRO44M70/E4/3)

Edward John Beaumont Nesbitt bought the site, living there until 1944 when it was again, offered for sale with only 31 acres in a series of Lots, which have continued to be sold off ever since (including the two lodges and the walled garden (HRO44M70E4/6). During WW2, the house was used as a Convalescent House for American officers and the grounds had seriously deteriorated
Bought in 1946 by the Benedictine Order of the Holy child, for a school, the stables were later converted to a chapel and two residential units. The house, the two lodges and the stables were separately listed Grade II in 1985. (AHBR)
Due to falling numbers the Convent closed in 2001 and nuns sold the freehold, though they were able to continue to run a pre-school department, which in turn closed abruptly in 2007. In 2007–2009, there were lengthy legal proceedings brought by the Diocese of Portsmouth; in 2009, the ruling went against the Diocese (Judgement Case no HC0603169) and the owner put Penton Lodge with approx. 7 acres and the stable up for sale in two Lots. (HRO165A06/168). Only the stable sold.

Current Description

The stables are now a pre-school and Penton Lodge has been renovated. The grounds of approx. 7 acres are predominantly woodland, with a grassed terrace. The parkland feel remains in the surrounding farmland with substantial stretches of the Tasker railings, witness to earlier industrial Hampshire life. Though this once important site is now very depleted in size and stature, the parkland nature is preserved both within the estate and outside it.

Summary

House and grounds late 18th century, enhanced mid-19th century by William Cubitt and then Sir William Humphery. Much of the parkland, the Cubitt greenhouses, large walled garden, various farms and a substantial timbered park have been lost; reduced to approx 7 acres. Some specimen trees remain, also Tasker railings and the two GR II listed entrance lodges and Gr II listed stable block (1865).
HGT Research: 2008, updated 2011

References

Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
44M70 71 Document of ownership, 1794
2M/30/750/751 MS Sale particulars and papers 1813-1831 and 1814-19
46M84/F99/5 Sales particulars, 1885, Barker Son Isherwood
44M70/E4/3 Sales particulars 1926
44M70/E4/6 Sales particulars 1944
165A06/168 Sales particulars 2009
Maps
Plan and sketches for Sale of 1851 by Frederick Ellen (Privately held, seen by J Isherwood)
Books
Clutterbuck, RH, Parishes of Fyfield etc Warren 1898
Other Sources
John Isherwood, script of a history of Penton Lodge, its owners and occupiers, 2011
Electronic Sources
Times On-line, 1843 and 1885
Archaeology and Historical Buildings Record (AHBR), Hantsweb


Our address

Address:
Penton Mewsey No Public Access Click for Disclaimer & copyright
GPS:
51.224700416648695, -1.5276930926484056

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