|HCC Site ID:||1427||Parish:||East Tytherley|
Location and Site
The site lies to the south-west of Broughton and east of East Tytherley.
Harmony Hall, the later Queenwood College stood in some 215ha of land originally part of the manor of East Tytherley of Tytherley and Lockerley, called Columbers in the 15th century. In 1654 the manor was sold to Francis Rolle and remained in the Rolle family until 1801. The park, including traces of a former deerpark, was landscaped by Denys Rolle (1746-1797) in the informal manner. In 1801 the estate was sold to William Steele Wakeford of Andover. A subsequent sale in 1822 to Francis Baily and Sir Isaac Goldsmid resulted in a division of the estate in 1833, Baily taking the Tytherley and Goldsmid the Lockerley side. In 1839 Goldsmid leased 215ha (533 acres) to the socialist reformer and philanthropist Robert Owen on a 99 year lease and for a low rent. The land was in the north of the Lockerley estate on the site of Queen Wood. Owen built a large H-shaped three-storey building of brick and flint to the west of the present Queenwood Farm in 1842 and named it Harmony Hall. It was to be a pioneering project in community living. The house, with 80 rooms and outbuildings, was designed to accommodate 700, but at its height the community barely reached 100. Almost 11 ha. (27 acres) were laid to garden and an innovative reservoir for storing liquid manure showed the pioneers were aware of the need to improve the thin chalky soil. Around the building were wide promenades and landscaped gardens. Owen may have been influenced by the landscaping of his previous successful experience in New Lanark, a model industrial village. An early visitor to the site, G.J.Holyoake, noted the survival dating from the previous century of a fine yew avenue and large established trees, including magnificent cedars. By 1845 the grandiose ideas for Harmony Hall, which included kitchens of London hotel standard, had bankrupted the pioneers.
The estate was then let to the Society of Friends who set up a Quaker school in 1847 under the headship of George Edmondson. The buildings were renamed Queenwood College. his also was a pioneering establishment, dedicated to science teaching, including the new school subject of physics. A laboratory was built in the grounds, for safety’s sake away from the main building. 12.14ha (30 acres) around the house were in use as pleasure grounds, playing fields, orchard and a kitchen garden of 3.64ha (9 acres). In its heyday up to 1855 the school had several notable scientists on its staff, including John Tyndall and Edward Frankland. After the death of Edmondson in 1863 the school continued under the headship of Charles Willmore. A prospectus of this time shows simple rose beds in the lawns. Willmore retired in 1896 and the then freehold owner, Captain Dalgety of Lockerley Hall, spent some £1000 on the property before it was leased to William Pauncefoot and Thomas Whittaker who jointly ran it as a poultry farm.
On June 9th 1902 a fire broke out and, despite the arrival of a fire engine from Lockerley Hall, the buildings were destroyed and Willmore killed. The buildings were completely demolished in 1904, and the site reverted to permanent agricultural use, Queenwood Farm, which had been converted from the original cottages for schoolmasters, surviving.
In 1983 two entrance gate pillars and short stretches of wall remained, though in poor condition. In 2008 these walls survive, though crumbling. The former masters’ quarters are still in residential use as Queenwood Cottages; the former chapel and the laundry are now converted into cottages. To the north of the site can be seen the walls of the of the kitchen garden and the remnants of the orchard.
Formerly the site of a grand building designed as the heart of a Utopian community, nothing now remains of the house. Some walls, notably of the kitchen garden, survive. Outbuildings have been converted into farm and residential use. Rolle’s yew avenue exists to the east, largely as a ride.
HGT Research: January 2008