This building first appears on the Town Map of 1845-6 as Cranbury House, occupying the west angle between Rockstone Lane and Cranbury Place. However, for most of its existence as a residential house it was known as Cranbury Villa. Early maps show it standing in its own grounds with a coach house and numerous flowerbeds.
In December 1843 local architects Hinves and Bedborough advertised for builders for a new “detached dwelling house at Cranbury Place for Mr John Ewer.” He was a yeoman, of Great Eastley Farm, South Stoneham. Unfortunately, Mr Ewer died in January 1844. The first owner of the completed house was Mrs Elizabeth Instone, widow of a local ironmonger. She married Montgomery Dilly, a retired racehouse trainer, on the 19th December 1846 at St Katherine Cree in the City of London and Mr Dilly became the named householder. Montgomery was widowed in 1854, and died in 1868.
His brother William inherited the property, selling the contents in March 1871 “the property to be let on lease.” A Miss Hurdis is listed in the directories 1871-1876, and her niece Harriet is at home on the night of the 1871 census in April. Edwin Elliott Aldridge, brewer, and his family followed for a year or two, then Henry Pinhorn, a retired tailor. During Mr Pinhorn’s tenancy William Dilly died, and the house was put up for sale with other properties in August 1882.
The purchaser was Mr Emile Pouppeville, a successful potato merchant and French vice-consul to the port of Southampton. He died in 1892, and his widow “removed to a smaller residence” in 1899, advertising Cranbury Villa as “suitable for conversion into building sites, or a residential or family hotel.”
The property was not listed in the directories again until 1904, when Mr Edward Gayton, wine merchant, appears. He dropped the “villa” in the house’s name in about 1909, calling it simply “Cranbury.” Mr Gayton died in 1917, and his widow in late 1923.
Soon afterwards the house was acquired by the Y.M.C.A. and converted into a hostel. Two new wings were added by architect Herbert Collins in 1927. It was virtually destroyed during the Blitz in 1940 and subsequently closed down before being substantially rebuilt in the 1950s. The new building was officially opened by the Duke of Wellington in 1954. It is now (2017) known as George Williams House.

The house's street address has varied: originally listed as Cranbury Terrace, since World War II, it has been listed on Cranbury Place.

1. Cranbury Villa

Image Unavailable

Photograph, c.2000

2. Cranbury Villa

Image Unavailable

Photographed in 1941 after the house was damaged by bombing

Further reading:

Stories of Southampton Streets, by A. G. K. Leonard, p74 (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes 2nd Series, by ‘Townsman’, p74. (HS/h)


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