Who lived at the west-end of Lower Road?
This bungalow was constructed in 1990 in what was part of the neighbouring garden. The name reflects the presence of the river opposite.
Designed by the first resident, Robin Russell, he and Margaret lived there for over 25 years. Robin was an accountant by profession and Margaret was a teacher. Robin had suffered from MS before they moved in, and he designed the house to meet his expected needs as his condition deteriorated.
Despite his illness, he and Margaret offered counselling to those with special needs for many years.
In 1861, the plot contained a building known as Nadder Cottage. The property was occupied by Martha Burt and her daughter Emma Burt. Martha, aged 63, was a fund holder, meaning she had investments and was a woman of independent means. Emma, aged 23, was a land holder.
By 1871, Marcus Murray and his wife Ada, together with their three young children, lived in the cottage. Marcus was a land surveyor and may have been instrumental in the development of the site.
Nadder Cottage was extended or replaced and renamed The Hermitage, which had a large garden and paddock. The paddock was sold off in the 1980s and is now occupied by the neighbouring property Waterside.
The first known occupant of The Hermitage was William Gillingham in 1880. In the early part of the 20th century Arthur Fisher and his wife resided here; Arthur, who had served in the Royal Hussars, was Chairman of the Bemerton Club in 1911.
John Hart occupied the house between 1931 and 1942. The house was then occupied until 1947 by Henry Hime, CB, DSO, MB, who was serving as a major general as Honorary Physician to The King and as Deputy-Director of Medical Services. Henry was based at HQ Southern Command, which was then located at Radnor House, Devizes Road, just up from St Paul's roundabout. The HQ later moved to Wilton House before moving to a permanent site on The Avenue in Wilton. It has since moved again to Andover. When he retired from the Army, the house was re-occupied by John Hart, who may have let the house to the Army during the war years.
Architect Samuel Clarke built this ‘model farm’ for the Dowager Countess of Pembroke in 1863. These early, experimental farms were designed to be beautiful as well as efficient.
The farm was later used as a dairy, known as Bemerton Dairy, and contained a separate dwelling known as the Tower House. Thomas and Alice Philipps ran Bemerton Dairy in 1901 and lived here with their three sons and a daughter. Thomas was a dairyman, his son Walter was a cattleman, and the other son Alfred was a domestic gardener.
In 1911 they were still running the dairy, but Walter was now a dairyman and was living at home with his new wife Fanny. Thomas and Alfred had left home and the youngest boy, Frederick, was employed as a motor mechanic.
In 1901 Fanny Kemble was widowed and lived in the Tower House with her adult daughter Edith. They were supported by a housekeeper, a cook and a housemaid.
By 1911 Edward and Edith Taunton and their two young boys had moved in. Edward was a farmer, employing two men, and the Taunton’s also employed a nurse and two domestic servants.
In 1915 Edward had replaced Arthur Fisher, who lived in The Hermitage, as Chairman of the Bemerton Club. Edward was still farming in 1920.
Thomas Cook was farming here in 1923 when the complex became known as Bemerton Farm although known locally as Cook’s Farm. His son Reggie continued the business until the 1970s.
In 2003 the farm’s listed buildings were converted into a retirement complex with self-contained cottages and individual houses. The estate has a large, attractive dovecote and a walled garden that runs alongside the River Nadder.