The Grange History

The Grange has been an important property in the Petersfield area from the very early days of the Borough. The building lies to the west of the road to Portsmouth and to the south of the stream, which forms the southern boundary of the Petersfield Borough; this places The Grange in the tithing of Weston and parish of Buriton for records before the 20th century. Robert, Earl of Gloucester founded the borough of Petersfield in the 1120s as a new town out of his larger manor of Mapledresham which now we know as Buriton.

The Grange, until the 1950s, was a farm of about 88 acres with a farm house, barn and other farm buildings. In 1444 a land deed describes Ermyte Way as a highway to the east of The Grange. The old route, which was leading southwards probably passed the hostelry called ‘The Hermitage’, curved round by The Grange and bordered by a hedge followed a route to the higher ground. By the later 16th century as Portsmouth harbour developed in importance and traffic increased, a straighter road was made across the difficult damp ground known to us today as The Causeway.

Among the records at Magdalen College Oxford are a very interesting collection of land deeds relating to the parishes of the Petersfield area. In the 15th century Bishop Waynfleete of Winchester decided to found Magdalen College, so that he could have some better educated clergy. To endow this new college he engaged with the wealthier members of his diocese either to give land or to make it available at a very favourable rate to the Bishop with the agreement that the souls of the donors would be perpetually prayed for in ‘Our Lady Mass’ at the College. In 1484 Richard Rede Esquire and his wife Alice, who was the widow and heir of Philip Squery, granted to St Mary Magdalen College several properties including ‘a messuage called Le Grange in the demesne of Mapledurham’. They requested that Richard, Alice and Philip be prayed for. From 1484, until the sale by the college of their Petersfield lands in 1922, the lands with The Grange farm were administered from Oxford with a local part-time agent.

The survey of 1676 of Grange Farm shows only one building, that being the north/south wing, the barn, which has a fine 16th century timbered roof. By the 1600s the tenants of Grange Farm were either gentry or prominent local lawyers who lived in the town, but held the tenancy of The Grange as a farm. Arthur Bold MP for the Borough 1661-67 was one such tenant, he was also a burgess of Portsmouth and Southampton and recorder of Portsmouth. His daughter and heiress Jane married Robert Michel MP for the Borough 1689-1705 and continued the tenancy. Robert Michel’s heiress was Catherine, a daughter from his third marriage. She married John Jolliffe in March 1731, a marriage that was sadly cut short when she died of smallpox on 24th June 1731. Catherine and John had made their home in the ancient building called the Stone House, near St Peter’s Church, that belonged to her family.

In the early 1730s John Jolliffe decided to have a modern house, the new Petersfield House, with a large garden and rural views. To achieve this, he pulled down the old Stone House and a number of properties he had inherited from his wife. This meant that Green Street (now Hylton Road) was blocked off, together with Port Street that led from the Market Place towards the Forebridge. 42 houses were removed from the north side of Green Street and Port Street. On the south side of Green Street there were tan-yards and dye-houses, which used the stream; these were also removed. The area was enclosed and landscaped to be the garden with two ornamental ponds alongside the stream. Quite apart from the disturbance caused by the displaced householders and tan-yard workers, the ornamental ponds upset the water meadow arrangements that the local farmers had enjoyed since the 1640s.

A new access was made for Petersfield House by taking land from the rear of the burgage plots on the south side of the High Street. This new road had an elegant circus for the approach to the house. Later in 1757 the statue of William III was erected in the circus and not moved to the Market Square until 1812 – today that would be in the road by the Police Station. The view southwards from the house was improved by rebuilding the farm house and adapting The Grange barn to comply with the new architecture of Petersfield House.

Unfortunately there are no surviving drawings of the house but the style of The Grange building was very similar to Trafalgar House at Standlynch near Salisbury, designed by the architect John James and built 1731-4. He was influenced by Inigo Jones working on the not too distant Wilton House.

The Grange (barn) was adapted to be the coach house and stables and accommodation for the stable staff. There was a matching L-shaped block, not so impressive, to the west which housed the dairy farm and laundry.

Politically all this development was advantageous as the houses removed were on ancient foundations and each had a vote, even the statue had a vote! These votes helped the Jolliffe family to control the parliamentary representation until the 1832 Reform Act – Petersfield was a Rotten Borough.

William Jolliffe, like his father, was MP for the Borough 1768-1802. In 1790 he had a house built at Merstham, nearer London and “did not have persistent local residents walking the Kings Highway in front of his windows” (on the line of the former Port Street). He removed the contents of Petersfield House to Merstham and then pulled the Petersfield House down in 1793 – less than 70 years after it was built. The garden returned to being a field – Green Street reappeared and became Hylton Road in 1850. A proper building for the St Peter’s School, founded in 1834, was built in 1856 next to the churchyard, now St Peter’s Court. Land was made available for the Police Station to be built in 1858 and the Elementary School, now Petersfield Infants School, was built in 1894. Port Street also made an official reappearance (but not by name) as an approved foot path from St Peter’s Road to Hylton Road.

The Grange continued as a farm owned by Magdalen College and run by tenants, Samuel Adams was there in the 1840s; his tomb is in Buriton churchyard. E J Baker lived over his butcher’s shop at 13 High Street but farmed at The Grange in the 1890s. Ernest Baker jnr. was listed as the farmer in 1920. His father was still in the High Street business until 1962. Magdalen College decided to sell its Petersfield estates in 1922. E J Baker purchased The Grange farm and house. The Grange was home to Brigadier-General Hubert Codrington and his three daughters (Joan ,Vicky and Margie) between 1923 and 1927. (Picture to the left shows the The Grange at this time, alas we no longer have the tennis lawn).  The house was occupied in 1932 by Mrs Hamilton Cox. During the 1939-45 war the barn was used for storage of emergency supplies. After 1945 the barn was converted for accommodation into flats. The school path was opened alongside the barn when Petersfield School was established in September 1957. The eastern end of the field, near the stream, was developed in the 1950s as an abattoir by Mr Allee for the Petersfield Meat Company. A fire badly damaged the building in the 1980s.   It was taken over by Swifts and the site closed down in the early 1990s.   When the site was acquired by Tescos the Grade II listed building was designated for ‘community’ use.  The building was gutted and completely renovated outside and, internally, was completely rebuilt as a surgery into which the then Spain Surgery moved in January 2002.

This has given us a surgery that enables us to provide a service in line with the needs of the 21st century.  We have two consulting rooms for our nurses; one of which is fully equipped for minor surgery.  We have four doctors’ consulting rooms and there is a stair lift available to assist patients to the first floor, if required.  We have disabled access to all ground floor consulting rooms.  We have ample parking space and  are well serviced by local buses.

The Grange History has been very kindly been supplied by Mrs Mary Ray, Petersfield Area Historical Society.