Bury Hall, standing in farmland to the west of what is today The Avenue and south of Bury Hall Lane, was bought by Captain John Brett Purvis, R.N. in 1815. The grounds of Bury Hall covered 70 acres of gardens and pasture . The house consisted of a lofty vestibule and entrance hall 35 ft. long and 16 ft. wide culminating in an inner hall and a spiral stone staircase. On the left of the hall the great dining room with bay windows opened out on to the colonnade and double doors leading into an equally large drawing room and ante-room. Near the stairs was a smaller room described as the gentlemen’s room, where the men could smoke their pipes.
On the right a further hall leading to the butler’s pantry, housekeeper’s room and a large kitchen with a servants’ hall in the basement and extensive cellarage for wines and stores. A back stairs led to the servants’ bedrooms and five secondary bedrooms. The main bedrooms were ranged around a circular balcony overlooking the hall and lit by a dome shaped skylight. The rooms facing south looked out on to trim lawns and parkland with a view of the Solent in the distance.
In the stables there was a double coach house and a granary with nine stones. Close by was a small farm with a cow house for seven animals, a piggery, fowl house and a gardener’s cottage. There was also a large walled-in kitchen garden and some glass houses 130 ft. in length. The estate included Bury Hall Farm in Alverstoke Village, and then continued along Stokes Bay to the boundaries of Alverbank House and Bay House, down what is now Gomer Lane to Privett and back to Bury Cross.
John Purvis came from a distinguished naval family. His grandfather had been Comptroller of the Navy, his uncles all held senior rank, and his father, who had served with Lord Howe, was a famous Admiral with a large estate at Boldre in the New Forest. The Purvis family were allied to many of the most notable families in Hampshire.
John’s wife, Renira, was a daughter of Commodore George Purvis, R.N. of Blackbrook Cottage, Fareham, better known today as Bishopswood, the home of the Bishops of Portsmouth. Her brother had married Mary Jane Austen, the daughter of Admiral Sir Francis Austen, K.C.B. of Portsdown Lodge and a niece of Jane Austen, the celebrated novelist.
Vice Admiral Purvis retired from the Navy and served as magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of the County. The estate had grown to 108 acres and encompassed the house now known as Alvira but then called Ryde View.
Vice Admiral J.B. Purvis R.N. Died 1st October 1857 as Vice Admiral Purvis aged 71. His widow Renira Charlotte Purvis died 211 October 1869.
They had two sons: George, who was gazetted a Lieutenant in the 78th Highlanders, died at his home at No. 11 The Crescent at the early age of 22 years in 1851.
Richard Purvis, the second son and also a distinguished Naval Officer of Flag rank, succeeded to the estate. He had been Flag Lieutenant to Admiral Sir Charles Hotham, and named his son Charles Hotham. Rear Admiral Richard Purvis died on Dec 3rd 1875 and for a very short while his son Charles Hotham Purvis lived at Bury Hall.
In 1878 the grounds and house were split into five separate lots for auction by the Trustees of the Rev R. Carter.
Lot 1 consisted of the Hall with a fair piece of grounds.
Lot 2 and Lot 3 were open farmland.
Lt 4 included Bury Hall Farm whilst Lot 5 was was Ryde View and its gardens. Bury Hall Lane was built, and marked the new northern boundary of the property.
The house and approximately 41 acres surrounding it then had a succession of tenants.
John Lane was living there in June 1888. It was reported that Mrs. Lane was a formidable lady who had the endearing habit at Christmas of presenting red flannel petticoats to the more virtuous of the village maidens.
In 1900 Mrs Vangham Kent was living in Bury Hall
In 1907 a Col. C.P. Newport was occupying it.
Major Charles Edward Grey Stalkartt M.D. R.A.M.C. returned from St. Helena to take charge of Haslar Military Station Hospital in 1905. He retired from the Army in 1911 taking up residence in Bury Hall. Major Stalkartt promptly sold off the farm but vastly improved the house by putting in the magnificent oak panelling on the ground floor. He returned to service in the Great War from 1914 to 1919. He lived at Bury Hall until he died in 1937 aged 72. After his death his two sons found that such a large house was too much for them to upkeep and Bury Hall was purchased a few years before World War 2 in 1936 by Mr G. V. Northcott, who broke up the estate for development. During the War Bury Hall became the headquarters of the Local Defence Volunteers (Dad’s Army), and the grounds were by the LDV for practical training throughout the war. War damage left the house in a ba d state and after the War it was badly vandalised.
Bury Hall became the headquarters of the Local Defence Volunteers, later to be called The Home Guard (Dad’s Army), and the grounds were the scene of much LDV activity throughout the war. H.T. Rogers was in charge of 2,000 men with only 13 rifles, and 39 rounds of ammunition until American supplies arrived. A newspaper advert in 1943 encouraged women between the ages of 18 and 65 to join the Women’s Home Guard at Bury Hall. The Hall provided a suitable headquarters with lecture rooms, offices, canteens, messes, guardrooms, while the grounds were littered with all the necessary training facilities – barbed wire, slit trenches, Nissen Ammunition Huts, etc. Throughout April and May 1941 bombs fell in and around the grounds, one just missing a corner of the building and severely damaging houses in The Avenue. On August 19th a stick of bombs fell across the drive exploding in the trees at the entrance and causing havoc in Bury Hall Lane, where there were a number of casualties and houses demolished. The structure of the old house was badly shaken. It was left empty after the cessation of hostilities, much of the Hall was vandalized. Lead was stripped from the roof and everything useful taken.
At the end of the first world war the people of Gosport had raised sufficient money to build a hospital at Bury Cross, Gosport Memorial Hospital. At a Public Meeting after WWII a decision was taken to build an Old Peoples’ Home with bungalows and a central block. With great generosity Mr. George Vernon Northcott offered Bury Hall for this purpose with 34 acres of land but believed that the Hall was not in a good enough condition to remain: ‘let’s have something worthwhile‘. The Hall was too badly damaged to be of use and it was completely demolished. Ten years later, on July 20th 1955, H.T. Rogers then Mayor of Gosport, invited Her Majesty The Queen Mother to open the new building on the site of Bury Hall.
Various newspaper articles from 1815 to 1952
Article by H.T. Rogers ‘Historic Houses No.7’ first published in Gosport Records No.7 September 1973
Maps from the collection of the author/webmaster.
Photos from The Imperial War Museum