Restoration is already well underway on many of of the historic houses which formed the officers’ accommodation in the early 19th century Royal Dockyard. The rebuilding of the naval base between 1813 and 1826 brought together some of the country’s most eminent engineers and architets of the time, Edward Holls and George Ledwell Taylor, architects, and John Rennie the Elder and Sir John Rennie the Younger, engineers. The entire scheme was built in one phase. It remained an important strategic naval base until the Royal Navy withdrew in 1960. After years of undercertainty, the historic residential quarters are to be preserved, following a campaign fought by the Spitalfields Historic Building Trust. With the support and enthusiasm of a number of private investors work is well underway and their poineering spirit and determination are already transforming the area.
The Boatswain’s House is an elegant symmetrical double fronted house with walled garden to the rear. The interior is a double-depth plan with a central hall and fine staircse. The decorative detail in the principal rooms is not elaborate but was designed to relfect the status and importance of its original occupant. The accommodation is arranged on lower ground, ground and two upper floors, the rooms, which include a double reception room, are well proportioned and although the restoration will require a future owner to plan a kitchen and bathrooms the house offers considerable scope with a total of about 3,016 sq.ft. Once the renovation is complete the property would potentially provide a hall, double reception room, dining room, study, 4 or 5 bedrooms, 2 or 3 bathrooms, large kitchen, 2 cloakrooms and 3 lower ground floor rooms. For further details, contact Jackson-Stops and Staff.
Although the late owner of the cottage believed it to date back to 1482, whilst writing this we have only been able to access public records dating back to the early 1800’s. A map of the Somerley Estate dated 1810, headed as in possession of Henry Baring, has what looks to be a small building on the edge of the estate. Sale particulars dated 23rd May 1811 include “Two handsome Entrance Lodgers from the Ringwood and Harbridge Roads”. Documents show Henry Bearing selling the Somerley Estate to the Normanton’s in the 1820’s when “The Lodge” and “Somerley Lodge” appear upon documents and is assumed to be Ashley Lodge.
Census records show a Charles Shave aged 3 living at “Somerley Lodge” in 1841with parents William and Martha Brown and William and Caroline Shave during 1881. The Cottage is known to some locals as “Shave’s Lodge” which is believed to originate from the name of these residents.
Numerous postcards illustrating the circular iconic lodge in the early 1900’s were produced by a local printing company who were located within the shop currently occupied by W H Smith. Heavy snow during April 1908 gave the printers an excellent opportunity of creating further picturesque postcards.
The late owner, Brian Spence inherited Ashley Lodge from his parents, Mr and Mrs Batstone, who are believed to have bought the lodge from Lord Normanton in 1962. Mr Batstone, an architect and army officer, extended the one bedroom cottage which is believed to have housed a lady with eight children who may have worked for the Somerley Estate. The property is now being sold, for the first time in 50 years on the open market by the family of the late Mr Brian Spence. No doubt further information relating to Ashley Lodge and its previous tenants will unfold. For further info, click here.