The present house (now 1-8 Orchard Place) is the latest in a series of houses on the site. It dates from the mid-1840s, recorded in 1846 on the 60 inch to a mile Ordnance Survey map of the town. An article on the architecture of Southampton (by A.E.R.) in the Architectural Review, February 1919 gives Thomas Sandon Hack as the architect. Built in the Italianate style, it complements the clubhouse of the Royal Southern Yacht Club opposite the pier head, built by Hack in 1846. The house was copyhold, the landowners being the Corporation of Southampton. It was held on terms of forty years. The garden was owned in part by the Corporation and in part by Queen's College, Oxford. The article by A.E.R. suggested that the house was built as a residence for the architect. There is, however, no evidence that Thomas Hack lived there.
The earliest occupier was probably Samuel Price Edwards, collector of HM Customs (later collector at Liverpool and a close friend of Edward Lear). A lease dated 4 November 1845 between Southampton Corporation and Edwards (referred to in Hampshire Record Office 4M92/F7/43) may indicate a rough date of build. His successor, Thomas Powell, was occupier until June 1853. Walter Perkins, later the developer of the Portswood House estate, occupied the house in the 1860s and 1870s.
Bowling Green House is a substantial three-storey white-brick residence. Descriptions are given in sales catalogues of 1853 and 1858. The ground floor comprised a well-proportioned bow window, dining room, butler's pantry, bedroom, kitchen, scullery, wine, coal and beer cellars, and a very convenient office. A flight of stone steps led to a cast-iron verandah. Enclosed by glass, this formed a conservatory overlooking the bowling green. The first floor itself comprised an entrance hall, handsome drawing room, with bow window, breakfast room, library and conveniently placed water closet. The second floor contained three excellent bedrooms and dressing room. Gas was laid to all the rooms. Close by was a two-stall stable. The house stood in spacious grounds. The gardens, laid out with flower beds and borders, included (in 1853) a large hot house heated by hot air. Later in the century, the grounds included a poultry yard with fowl house and boxes, two piggeries and a cow house.
The chief appeal of Bowling Green House was its location. The view over the river, with the New Forest and, distantly, the Isle of Wight behind, appealed to Victorian tastes. The property, near the docks and the railway terminus, lay in an area ripe for development; the 1853 sales catalogue was aimed at speculators as much as potential occupiers. With a frontage of about 140 feet, the gardens were ideal “for the erection of good houses now much in demand”. The challenge was not met.
- Bowling Green House, near the docks, Southampton - (Hampshire Independent 21/05/1853)
- Bowling Green House - (Hampshire Independent 22/05/1858)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p66-67. (HS/h)
'Architecture of Southampton', by A. E. R. in Architectural Review, February 1919, p35. (HS/i)
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