Local history - College Road and Townshend House
This illustrated story is about some of the houses in College Road, Great Malvern, in Worcestershire and the people that lived there. The main sources we have used are Worcestershire by Brooks and Pevsner (ref 1), the England Census (ref 2) and the 1884 street map of Great Malvern held in Malvern Library.
We had been following the trail of the Victorian 'water cure' doctors in Abbey Road, and then visited College Road to look for 'Townshend House', where Doctor Ralph Barnes Grindrod (1811-1883) practised the 'water cure'.
Possibly the road was once named Radnor Road (ref 5) and became College Road when the famous Malvern College Public School opened in 1865 (ref 1), but so far we have not been able to confirm that.
Our short perambulation started at Main College and ended at the junction with Priory Road.
John Severn Burrow (1828 - 1916), a wine merchant and bottler of mineral water on Belle Vue Terrace, and 'water cure ' Doctor Leopold Stummes were influential in the forming of Malvern College which opened in 1865. The first headmaster was Reverend Arthur Faber, and there were six assistant masters and 24 boys. It is of note that John sent his son, who became a Barrister, to Harrow School.
The photo below shows the cathedral like main building to a design by C F Hansom.
The large chapel to the south, circa 1899, (not shown) is by Sir Arthur W Blomfield.
The photo below shows School House. In 1865 this was the headmaster's house, enlarged as a boarding house circa 1876 by Haddon Bros.
(Henry Haddon built Rockcliffe on the corner of Avenue Road and Church Street for himself circa 1872. Rockliffe was later used as a nurses' hostel.)
To the north of School House is Roslin House, a large Italianate lodging house, extended in 1909 to become a school Boarding House (see photo below).
A blue plaque on Roslin House reads,
In this house and college during World War II Dr A.P. Rowe CBE, Physicist, led British radar research.
Radar and the College
During WWII many military units were based in Malvern. One of these was the secret RAF Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) which began life at Bawdsey Manor in Suffolk, moved to Worth Matravers, near Swanage, following an unsuccessful move to Dundee, and finally moved to Malvern in 1942, taking over Malvern College School. Staff were billeted out in the town.
Albert Percival Rowe was the Chief Superintendant of TRE. After the war he moved to Australia, but later returned to Malvern where he died in 1976.
Radar at Pale Manor Farm
In 1942, radar developments at the 'sister' Army Air Defence Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) at Christchurch in Hampshire moved to Pale Manor Farm, which was later known as RRE North Site in Leigh Sinton Road where John Cockroft was a director. ADRDE was renamed RRDE in 1944 and merged with TRE to form RRE about 1953. In the 1970s North Site became home for the Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE) which moved from Christchurch, but there is no trace of the scientific developments which took place at Pale Manor Farm now, as the site was sold for a large housing development circa 2000.
Accounts of TRE have been published by a former scientist Dr Ernest Putley who died in 2009, a rather 'dry' account by A P Rowe, obtainable from Malvern Library, but a much more readable story is told by Michael Bragg in his book RDF 1 - The detection of aircraft by radio methods 1935-1945 (ref 4).
New Boarding House
Next to Roslin is new accommodation for Malvern College pupils built about 2009 in the extensive garden of Townshend House The yellow digger in the foreground is landscaping the grounds.
Across the road is a single story 'Tudor' building by Teulon 1851, with tall chimneys, named Royds Lodge. This was formerly the 'Bath House' of Dr Marsden's Hardwick House and Elmsdale water cure establishments higher up the hill in Abbey Road.
In 1861, Bath Attendant, Sarah Botteicher, a widow age 41 born Uxbridge, was in residence. In 1851 she had been living at Link Terrace with her husband Gustavus who was born in Prussia, Germany. He also was a Bath Attendant but died Great Malvern, 1859.
Later Sarah became a lodging house keeper in Bank Street.
Royds Lodge is now largely hidden behind shrubbery (see photo below),
The name 'Royds Lodge' came about through Freemasonry, not because it was a lodge at the entrance to a larger etablishment.
In 1867 a Great Malvern Lodge was consecrated at Townshend House at the NE end of College Road (see below). The Lodge was named after the Provincial Grand Master of Worcestershire at the time, Albert Hudson Royds, who in 1871 lived at Ellerslie in Abbey Road.
About 1875 both Dr Marsden and Dr Gully moved to London in pusuit of 'other interests' and the water cure began to wane. In 1879 the Masons leased 'Hardwicke Bath House' in College Road, which became the 'Masonic Hall' shown on the 1884 map of Great Malvern.
Sometime between 1900 and 1912 better premises were found on Belle Vue Terrace, and the old Masonic Hall became a private residence.
In 1901 Royds Lodge was occupied by William O'Donnell, Physician and Surgeon, aged 33 born Ireland.
Townshend House, built about 1850, still stands next to St Edmund's Hall near the NE corner of College Road. See photo below, which shows the large extension behind the house and a glimpse of St Edmund's Hall beyond. We think the building may have been so named because, when it was built, it was at the southern end of Great Malvern, indeed in some accounts it is referred to as Townsend House.
Townshend House, built about 1850, was from 1851 to about 1880 the home of water cure doctor Ralph Barnes Grindrod (1811 - 1883). Called the medical apostle of Temperance, Dr Grindrod spent a fortune on efforts to promote the Temperance movement. He is thought to have been the first medical man in England to sign the total abstinence pledge, in 1833.
About 1861-2 the house was extended by Edward C Allflatt, Architect and Surveyor, (1832-1890) of Leigh in Worcestershire. In 1861 Dr Grindrod can be found living at Dr Wilson's Hydropathic Establishment in Abbey Road (now Park View). The 1881 census records Dr Grindrod as a retired medical practitioner living at Monpelier House in Albert Road North.
In 1881 Townshend House was occupied by widow Mary Bramwell aged 86 born Penrith, Cumbria and two of her daughters. In 1861 she had been living at historic Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire with her husband Christopher Bramwell, a Wine Merchant and Magistrate. Also living at Townshend House in 1881 was George Nurse, a 'bill poster'.
Between 1888 and 1890 the building was briefly occupied by a boys' prep school run by Rev William Walker, named Connellan College after his wife's Irish ancestors. The name 'CONNELLAN' can still just be made out near the top of the left hand gatepost. Underneath the inscription 'ELLERSLIE' has been added, circa 2010, relating to the move of Ellerslie School in Abbey Road to Malvern College who now own the property.
The 1901 census recorded the building as Connellan.
About 1891 it became a small Roman Catholic monastery, which was associated with St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School in Newtown Road; when the monastry moved in 1918, Townshed House was acquired by Malvern College.
On the front of the house can be seen a green plaque, placed by Malvern Civic Society.
The inscription on the plaque reads,
Formerly Townshend House, where Dr Ralph Grindrod practised the Water Cure (1851-1880)
Townshend House is still owned by Malvern College and has lately been used as a Music School.
St Edmund's Hall
St Edmund's Hall situated on the corner of Priory Road and College Road, by Pugin, was built as a Roman Catholic church circa 1905. It closed in 1996 and is now owned by Malvern College and used as a concert hall and for other functions (see photo below).
Radnor Lodge, Tudor Gothic with fancy pierced barge-boards, is situated to the north of Royds Lodge. The 1884 map of Malvern shows Radnor Villa at about this position so it is likely Radnor Villa was renamed Radnor Lodge.
The 1861 census records Radnor Villa as the residence of Samuel March Phillipps (1780-1862), a legal author of note who has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Radnor House (see photo below, taken from the junction of Abbey Road and College Road) is a large stuccoed building lying to the south of Main College. We have not found it in either the 1851 or 1861 census, and it appears the property was built as a water cure establishment for Doctor Leopold Stummes in 1862 (ref 5). He was an assocate of Doctor James Wilson (of Park View) and the building was first named Priessnitz House.
Doctor Leopold Stummes was born Austria about 1809, and died Yorkshire 1883. The 1851 census records him staying at a hotel in Cheltenham, and in 1861 he was a lodger at Abbey Villa and a neighbour of the water cure Doctor James Loftus Marsden who was then living at North Abbotsfield, in Abbey Road, Great Malvern on the site now occupied by Croftdown Court.
Probably Dr Leopold Stummes tired of the venture or had problems with the water supply as the property was advertised for sale in 1867.
Between about 1867 and 1905 Radnor House was the home of banker Christopher Dove Barker (1829-1905) and his wife Alice Gray Elmslie (1835-1918) who had nine children.
Alice was the daughter of Adam Wallace Elmslie, a retired proprietor of the West Indies, and Sarah Loyd. The Elmslie family had inherited sugar cane plantations in Jamaica, which was probably the basis of their fortune.
Radnor House was altered, circa 1882, by Alice's cousin, the architect Edmund Wallace Elmslie who designed Great Malvern Railway Station and the Imperial Hotel, now Malvern St James School.
When Christopher Dove Barker died, Radnor House was acquired by Malvern College and much enlarged by Henman and Cooper about 1908 to become a College boarding house. Alice may then have gone to live at St Ronan's in Priory Road.
In 1887 Christopher and Alice's daughter Mabel Gray Barker, born at Radnor House, had married soldier Gustavus Albert Momber, who died in 1910. In 1916 Mabel married second, widower and surgeon Charles Harry Hanger East MD who was then living nearby at St Clare next to St Ronan's in Priory Road (ref 8).
Harry Hanger East MD was the nephew of noted painter Alfred Edward East, (1844 - 1913) who was elected President of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1906 and was knighted by King Edward VII in 1910.
Harry Hanger East's son, by his first wife Amy, Charles Frederick Terence East, attended a prep school in Malvern Wells, before going on to Winchester College; he became a medical man like his father and married first Muriel Stein and later her younger sister Zoe - their nephew is the well known TV chef and restauranteer 'Rick Stein' (ref 8).
Back at the north end of College Road opposite Townshend house lies Stonehaven, probably late 20th century infill.
Four gables and characterized by pierced barge-boards like Radnor Lodge; this is probably the house described as 'The Mythe' on the 1884 map of Malvern.
Sometime during the 1850s, Dr Leopold Stummes may have practised the 'water cure' at The Mythe, before moving to newly built Priessnitz (Radnor) House in 1862 (ref5).
Opposite in Priory Road
Looking north from Townshend House a good view is had of two Victorian Villas lying on the corner of Orchard Road and Priory Road (see photo below).
On the 1884 map of Great Malvern the house on the left of the photo is named Cleveland House, and the house on the right is the Vicarage.
In 1861 Revd George Fish Vicar of Malvern lived at the vicarage in Abbey Road where the Post Office now stands. Circa 1880 number 42 Priory Road, originally built about 1850, was converted by Haddon to become the Vicarage with grid like bay windows.
The vicarage has since moved to Clarence Road. Not far away on the corner of Tibberton Road and Barnards Green Road is the Old Vicarage built 1880, which seems once to have been a home for retired clergy and is now a care home for the elderly.
During WWII these properties may have been used by the government to house workers at TRE. In the 1950s the vicarage briefly became the Osborne Hotel. Nowadays these properties are divided into apartments.
Cleveland and the Vicarage
To the east of the Vicarage is a grand red brick Jacobean style house named Tibbington House on the 1884 map of Great Malvern (ref 3), now number 40 Priory Road (see photo below).
The house was probably built in the 1850s. Living there in 1861 was widow Prudence Phillips Bissell, born Staffordshire about 1800. Her husband Job Bissell, a land owner, had died at Great Malvern in 1859. Possibly the house was named Tibbington after an area of Tipton where they once lived.
The 1871 census records widow Grace Andrew in residence. She was the mother of Emma who married the first Rector of Guarlford, John Bateman Wathen. Her husband George Andrew made his fortune in the cotton industry. Grace died at Malvern on August 6th 1875 aged 83 years and is buried in Guarlford churchyard. Click to read more about Grace's son Charles and the Andrew family
In 1881 Thomas Pountney Chesshire was in residence, a retired wholesale grocer and tea dealer of Birmingham. He was born Kings Norton about 1816 and died in 1886 (ref 6). His brother Humphrey Pountney Chesshire, educated St Peter's College Cambridge, became a clergyman as did two nephews. Thomas and Humphrey's father, Barnabas, had been a Land Agent and Surveyor.
Nowadays, Tibbington House is divided into apartments.
We wondered if by 1911 the house had been renamed 'Priors Mount' - living at 'Priors Mount' in 1911 were clergyman Cecil Joseph Jones, born 1873, Nantwich Cheshire, his wife Ada, two children and eight servants. Cecil Joseph Jones was the nephew of John Joseph Jones of Abberley Hall who had inherited a fortune from his cousin, Oldham born Joseph Jones (1817-1880), a coal, cotton and banking magnate.
Rev Cecil Joseph Jones was educated at Malvern College and Brasenose, Oxford, and died at 'Franche', a house in Tibberton Road, in 1938.
('Franche' was once the home of Major General Murray Miller a veteran of the Crimean War who died in 1911.)
Subsequent research found that 'Priors Mount' was in fact a separate property situated on the other side of Priory Road below St Edmund's Hall.
'Priors Mount', 35 Priory Road, was an imposing mansion lying just below St Edmunds Hall, having a similar facade to Tibbington House.
Visiting in 1905 was Rev Arthur Durrant who was vicar of Leverstock Green, Hemel Hempstead; perhaps he was a friend of Rev Cecil Joseph Jones, mentioned above.
During WWII 'Priors Mount' (see photo below) was occupied by Royal Navy personnel (ref 7); it was then most probably used as an Officers' Mess for staff working at HMS Duke, a training establishment for Royal Navy stokers, built below St Andrews Road; premises later occupied by the Royal Radar Establishment (RRE) and now Qinetiq.
After the war 'Priory Mount' was occupied by Douglas House School, which was chiefly a day school for girls aged between 10 and 18 years, but there may also have been a boys' preparatory department. Do get in touch if you can tell us more about the history of Douglas House.
Douglas House School closed in 1970 and was acquired by Malvern College under whose ownership Priors Mount was demolished in order to build the Lindsay Arts Centre, named after former headmaster (1953-1971) Donald Dunrod Lindsay CBE, who was chairman of the Headmasters' Conference in 1968.
Below is a photo of 'Priors Mount' taken in the 1940s, a magnificent house set in large grounds, similar in style to Priory Park Mansion. Once there were tennis courts near where the photographer must have stood, and it is believed a small chapel was built in the grounds.
Most of the buildings in College Road and the grounds of Priors Mount are now owned by Malvern College.
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Last updated 8th December 2017