Henry Seymour’s Build-to-Let house in Evesham Road

As lessee of the Pittville Pump Room from 1830 to 1841, Henry Seymour at first lived on the premises, so did not need his own house. This did not stop him from engaging in some speculative property development nearby, though not within the bounds of Pittville itself.

A bundle of deeds (GA D2202/3/78/46) for the house subsequently known as The Grange, on the crest of Evesham Road just north of the Pump Room, tells the story.

In July 1834 Robert Capper, late of Marle Hill, conveyed to Henry Seymour of Pittville Spa, gentleman, a defined section of the 9-acre field known as Crooked Hedge piece, Prestbury. (Capper had acquired the field from William Capel of Prestbury in 1817). The plot measured 387ft on the south side, 356ft on the north side, with 148ft frontage to the ‘lately made’ turnpike road to Evesham, tapering to 54ft at the west end. The consideration was £350, with a further £20 for the right to make and maintain a sewer there, connecting with one on neighbouring land owned by Henry Haines, a Cheltenham builder.

Composite image from Know Your Place West
Various covenants were applied, showing that the development was intended to be of ‘Pittville’ standards: only one house to be erected on the site, to be set well back from the road, with ornamental grounds in front; neat iron railings mounted on forest stone plinths to the road frontage, with iron gates; and no trade or manufacturing to be conducted. Seymour also undertook that ‘neither the present nor any future wife of him the said Henry Seymour’ should be entitled to dower out of any part of the property. It is possible that Haines was to be the builder of Seymour’s property.

Cheltenham Chronicle, Thursday 25 Dec. 1834
It seems likely that negotiation and planning for this purchase were under way earlier, for the day after the sale of the plot, Seymour secured a mortgage for £1500 on it, from Thomas Harper King of Cheltenham, esq, and (his brother?) William King of New Court, Old Bond Street, London, merchant. The money had come from their spinster niece, Sarah Amelia King of Fleet Street (late of Sittingbourne, Kent). The mortgage was conditional on the house being finished by 1 December the same year. £1000 was to be advanced as soon as the walls were finished and the roof covered in, and the remaining £500 would be paid over once the house was fully completed to the satisfaction of William Henry James, schoolmaster, who had agreed to rent the new property from Seymour for 21 years from 21 December 1834, at a rent in excess of £100 [last figures illegible]. The completion deadline was met, with Seymour acknowledging receipt of the last £500 on 14 October 1834.

In June 1837 T. H. and W. King appear to have repaid Amelia’s advance, and the mortgage was then in their names only.

Seymour’s association with the property appears to have ended in November 1838, when he formally conveyed it to (Colonel) Robert Newton Leaper Newton, formerly of Bath (1775-1846). A newspaper report of September 1838 suggests that it already had changed hands by that date. The property, still mortgaged to William King (Seymour probably had not repaid any capital, just the interest) is described as the ‘plot and house occupied by Revd Mr Arnold as tenant to Henry Seymour’, indicating that the William Henry James tenancy had not lasted long.

This is borne out by newspaper reports, which show that W H James MA (Pembroke College, Oxford), who had moved his ‘Classical & Mathematical Establishment’ from Gyde’s Terrace to ‘Marle Hill House’ on 25 December 1834 (which helps explain why he had wanted it ready by 21 Dec), was there only a short while.

Cheltenham Chronicle, Thursday 25 June 1835
In June 1835, just six months later, James moved his business to Park Place in London Road. By the following July, the Revd. Frederick Arnold (curate of Cheltenham, who had been offering tuition to day pupils in the town since 1831), had set up at the property, which he ran as the Marle-Hill School. It is just possible that Seymour always envisaged the property being used as a school, knowing that in theory such use was prohibited by the covenants on the Pittville Estate proper.

Cheltenham Chronicle, 23 July 1835
The house, initially called Marle Hill House (with potential for confusion with Marle Hill’s principal property), was later known as The Grange, Marle Hill. The main residence still survives, subdivided as 1-4 The Grange, Evesham Road. The general shape of the 1834 plot is still detectable on modern maps, although with modern infill occupying much of the western end of the original garden.

James Hodsdon
September 2017