153-161 Lower Road
In the mid-19th century the site was known as Sidney House. The property was named after the 14th Earl of Pembroke, Sidney Herbert.
It appears that Sidney House was replaced by a larger property, built in the same grounds, which was named Riversfield House. This larger property was subsequently adapted to form three linked properties, while two further properties were built on the old tennis court.
Who Lived Here?
The first reference to Sidney House was in the 1851 census, which shows that three sisters - Mary, Jane and Elizabeth Lawes - lived here with a footman and a house servant. The sisters were of independent means and were still here in 1861.
By 1867 Admiral John Fulford had replaced the Lawes sisters. John lived in Sidney House with his wife Isabella and daughter Louisa, together with a lady's maid, a cook and a housemaid.
By 1871 the Fulfords were living in Riversfield House, which was the new name for their residence. The house took its name from the fields flanking the River Nadder opposite the property. For more details of Admiral Fulford see separate article.
John and Alice Powell and their family followed the Fulfords and lived here between 1880 and 1912. John was a Justice of the Peace. The house was then rented to Lady Holmes and her family, until they purchased Bemerton House a few years later. Relatives of the Holmes, the Rawlence family, purchased Riversfield before 1920 and members of the family were still here beyond the year 2000. Jennifer Jakel, whose mother was born in Riversfield, recalls a Roman connection:
"My mother was born in Riversfield in 1924. At that time the house was one complete dwelling. Her parents eventually turned the east and west ends into separate wings as rental properties. That is how I remember it when we would visit from America once every four years. My mother recalls that the big flagstone tiles in the scullery, just off the kitchen, were so worn with age that water would pool in the tile depressions when they washed the floor. The floor was replaced when my mother was a child. They understood that the very original part of the house (the kitchen) might have been a pub during Roman occupation. This property still has very special meaning for our family."
Of course, the Roman connection is impossible to prove, but we do know that a Roman road did indeed run through Riversfield's grounds.
153 Lower Road
Built on part of the old tennis court, and incorporating the original coach house, this house is named the Old Coach House. The property was built in the 1990s.
155 Lower Road
Built on part of the old tennis court and garden, this house is named Dovecote House, after the dovecote which was located in the garden. The property was built in the 1990s.
157 Lower Road
Forming part of the original Riversfield House, this house is known as East Wing.
159 Lower Road
Forming the central part of the original Riversfield House, this house is known as Riversfield. The garage at the front of this property has been converted into a self-contained cottage used by the family.
161 Lower Road
Forming part of the original Riversfield House, this property is now known as West Wing. Access to the house is now via Church Lane and the property takes the address 43 Church Lane.