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The Winton House Story

by Ken Smallbone

Throughout its long history to date, Winton House – the large mansion house that occupies the south side of Winton Square in Basingstoke – had already undergone four distinct and utterly varied guises. It has been a family home, a school, a doctor’s surgery, and then commercial premises: currently, a business that services offices for individual firms.

This large mansion house was entered as a Grade II listed building on 3 May 1949, and was estimated at that time to have dated from the early nineteenth century. Actually, the original mansion house was a lot older than that. In 1729 it belonged to the Brocas family of Beaurepaire Park, Sherborne St John. On September 20 that year Thomas Brocas, esquire, demised a release of this property to Thomas Parr, labourer, for the term of 99 years. Then in 1832 Bernard Brocas sold the house and its considerable grounds and estate to George Paice (1785-1842), auctioneer, for the sum of £1,840. Mr Paice was a partner in the firm of Glover & Paice, auctioneers and appraisers, and also a councillor. He was a widower when he died testate in 1842, leaving three children as minors, and, as per his last wishes, the Winton House estate was sold off soon afterwards.

Winton House today

In 1840 the house was depicted in a large unnumbered plot on the Tithe Map for Basingstoke, bounded by Winchester Street to the north, Victoria Street to the east, and plots 61 and 63 to the south and west on that same map. Plot 61 was a pightle, [small enclosure] owned and occupied by George Paice himself, while Plot 63 was a pasture of just over 2¼ acres in the ownership of Richard Booth, esquire, and occupied by Mary Griffin of the Feathers Inn. At that particular time (16 June 1840) George Paice owned 216½ acres of land in Basingstoke, as part and parcel of the Winton House estate, in addition to the House itself and its garden and grounds (which appeared to measure about five acres). Following his death in 1842 the estate was partitioned and sold off in individual lots. Winton House itself was purchased by Frederick Charles Grimm Ritso, esquire (1818-1897), who had recently married, and was recorded as still living there in 1849.  In later years he became a promoter of the Franco-American Telegraph Company. He and his wife left Basingstoke in or about 1850.

Yet, for many years thereafter the house itself was used privately as a young ladies’ college. The school was initially established by the Dusautoy sisters (Ann, Susan and Ellen) in 1850, with an opening ceremony attended by the Bishop of Winchester. They were the daughters of John Abbott Dusautoy, who was the paper manufacturer at Portal’s Mill in Laverstoke. He died in 1846, and his son Charles Shenton Dusautoy became the manager of the paper mill. It was probably the latter’s money that had purchased Winton House for his sisters. Ann Dusautoy (1798-1886) was the eldest sister, born at Romsey, while Susan (1805- 1884) and Ellen (1808-1900) were both born at Ling, Norfolk. None of the sisters married, and they lived together for practically all their lives. There were 22 recorded boarders at the school in 1851, and 27 in 1861. On that latter census the school building was recorded as ‘Winton House’ for the first time, and the sisters were being ably assisted by Amalie Johanna Kurling, the German governess, and Marie Mauchin, who taught French.

By 1864 the Dusautoy sisters had retired and moved to Stoke, near Guildford, having sold the property at Winton House to Matthias Hare, LL.D. (1797-1867), who then continued with the young ladies’ college there with his wife Frances. Dr Hare, an Irishman and professor of music, had initially set up a college with his wife in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States, by 1850. They had returned to the United Kingdom soon after 1861, and thus purchased the school premises in Winton Square soon afterwards. However, the couple retired to Dublin, and enlisted Miss Cloake as their schoolmistress at Basingstoke in 1865. Dr Hare died in April 1867, and his death caused the natural sale of the house and school.

Charles James Rousby (1823-1905), whose income was from dividends, bought Winton House from Dr Hare’s widow, and the school there was taken over by his wife – Mrs Emma Rousby – who described herself as a “scholastic”. Only nine girls were recorded as boarders at the time of the census on the evening of Sunday 2 April 1871 (and two of those were French). Mrs Rousby’s resident employees at that time comprised a musical governess, a French teacher, an under-teacher and two servants. In 1875 her daughter, Emma Rousby, was one of her teachers.

Mr and Mrs Rousby then sold the property to Sir George Russell Clerk, KCB, GCSI (1800-1889), in or just before 1877, and it became a private house once more. Sir George also held Goldings Park to the east of the town. He was born at Worting House and joined the Indian Civil Service with the East India Company, being posted to Bengal in 1817. He became Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces in 1843, and then Governor of Bombay in 1846-48. After having returned to England for a while, where he helped to establish the Orange Free State in South Africa, he was back in India as Governor of Bombay again in 1860- 62, but this time employed by the British Government, which had taken control after the Indian Mutiny. He resigned through ill health, became a member of the Indian Council, and died in London in 1889

After the death of Sir George Russell Clark in 1889, Winton House was sold to Charles Henry JohnsonMRCS, LSA (1832-1911), general practitioner, and began its long association with the medical profession. Dr Johnson established his surgery there, after having moved it from Wote Street. Unfortunately, his wife died in 1901. He retired from the practice within the following year, and went to live at Richmond-upon-Thames. However, he still owned Winton House, and now rented it out to Ferdinand Richard Holmes Meyrick, MD (1869-1940). By 1907 Dr Meyrick had formed a partnership with Thomas Campbell Grey, FRCS, LRCP, and continued with his surgery at Winton House, while Mr Grey was resident at their joint practice in Church Street. The Meyrick & Grey partnership had apparently been dissolved by the time of Charles Henry Johnson’s death in 1911, for in that year Francis James Worth, MD, BS, MRCS, LRCP (1870-1916), was in residence at the surgery in Winton House, and it is quite likely that he purchased the building from Johnson’s estate.

Dr Worth was listed as the sole physician and surgeon at Winton House in 1911 and 1915. He joined the Royal Fusiliers in March 1915, but was discharged with neurasthenia in May that same year. He died at Johannesburg, South Africa, in February 1916. In 1920 it was recorded that the Worth & Moore partnership was operating at the surgery in Winton House, and it would appear that it must have been formed in or about 1915, after Dr Worth had left the Army. His partner was Alexander Matthew Moore, LSA, LRCS (1854-1924), and the partnership was still being advertised as such in 1923, even though Worth had been dead for the past seven years. Dr Moore died at Winton House on 23 March 1924, and his son Alexander George Hains Moore, MRCS, LRCP (1899-1959), succeeded him. He was still there in 1931, but by 1935 had been replaced by James Trethowan Rowe, MRCS, LRCP (1905-1965), who remained at that surgery for many years. By the end of the war, it had become a two-man practice after Dr Montgomery joined Rowe. The National Health Service came into being on 5 July 1948, and that same year Dr Rowe bought Dicker’s Farm, Hannington, in preparation of leaving Winton House. He formed a new practice with Doctors Montgomery and Burrell, and they took up residence in their new surgery at 14 Winchester Road. In the following year Winton House was declared a listed building.

From this point onwards Winton House changed status once again, going through yet another phase, as it began to be used for commercial purposes – with the Post Office telephone exchange based there during the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1965 the Ministry of Labour occupied the site, and in the 1970s it was used by the Department of Employment and Productivity. The Post Office Engineering Department was there between 1975 and 1983, followed by the Prudential Insurance Company. An IT company called Panacea set up business in 1987, and shared the premises with a firm of solicitors. Colin Davison then bought the house in 2007, and a serviced offices business is currently located there.

As for the origin of the name of the house, the following was stated in an article in a local newspaper back in August 2008: “The opening ceremony [for the school] saw dignitaries come from all over Hampshire, including the Bishop of Winchester. It was his enquiry as to what the building was to be called that led to his suggestion that it may be named after his official signature of “Winton”, which was an abbreviation of “Wintoniensis”, a Latin term used after his Christian name. Thus, Winton House became the name of the building and remains so today”.

The above comment in the newspaper was an absolute myth, unfortunately. Up until about 1861 – after several new houses had been built along it and thus it became more populated – the thoroughfare that we now call Winchester Road had been merely an extension of Winchester Street, running westwards from the Market Place. Winchester Road is now separated from Winchester Street by Winton Square, but in those days, there was no separation at all. The name of Winton Square does not even appear on any census before 1911, and was first known to be recorded in a directory of 1903. Until then Winton House – which was first named as such in a directory of 1849 (that is, before the abovementioned school was opened) – was recorded on the censuses as being in either Winchester Street or Winchester Road.

The name Winton House obviously comes from its location on Winchester Street alias Winchester Road, as Winton is merely an alternative name for Winchester, and has been for centuries. The Saxons named the city Wintanceaster (pronounced “Wintan-chaster”), which merely led, at times, to an abbreviated form – especially as the Normans had difficulties in pronouncing Saxon words – hence ‘Winton’. In the early days of their migration to this country the Saxons always settled fairly close to the old Roman sites, but never built on top of them because of their fear of ghosts, and the surviving Romano-Celtic population would have told them that Winchester’s Roman name had been Venta Belgarum. Despite the modern trend to Anglicise Latin words, sincere students of classical Latin will stress that a ‘v’ in that language is pronounced like our English ‘w’. The Romans very rarely innovated when it came to place names, but instead gave a Latin form of the name already being used by the natives. In this case, the Celts knew the place as Went (rendered as Ouénta in Ptolemy’s Geographia, a gazetteer from the 2nd century AD), which meant a “market place”. The Roman version would therefore mean “the market-place of the Belgæ” – the latter being a Celtic tribe who had settled in this part of the country in or around 55 BC, and gave their name to modern Belgium, from where they might have originated. Thus, Winton House merely reflects its location on Winchester Street/Road, and nothing more.

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