A HISTORY OF OUR NEW OFFICES IN OLD HYDE HOUSE WINCHESTER
7th June 2012
Early History: The Original House
Hyde House was built on part of the original Hyde Abbey Precinct, established in the northern suburb of city in the twelfth century. It's properties extended over a large area on the eastern side of Hyde Street. When the Abbey closed in 1538, most of the buildings were cleared and Thomas Wriothesley, the 1st Earl of Southampton and Lord Chancellor of England, was granted the village of Hyde. Wriothesey also set about rebuilding much of the parish church of St Bartholomew, using stones from the old Abbey to construct the tower.
A Mr Richard Bethell purchased the area from the Crown in 1546 and sometime during the mid-sixteenth century, he constructed the great 'Hyde House' that forms the basis of the remaining buildings on the site today. Bethell was an important merchant and citizen of Winchester, who later became the city Mayor.
Two detailed plans of the site from the beginning of the eighteenth century show the elevation of the House looking towards the Meadows. The images provide a clear impression of Bethell's grand, three storeyed Tudor mansion with its vast grounds, 'Herculus Garden' and banqueting houses. The main, formal part of building was constructed in stone salvaged from the abbey and the main approach was through the old 'Great Gate' opposite the church, which still survives today. The lower status, service buildings were constructed in brick adjacent to Hyde Street. The existing brick building with its prominent Dutch gable, is now the only surviving section of the original service wing.
Change & Demolition
The house passed to the Paulett family in the early 1600s and it is likely that the service wing was refaced in brick during this time. The house is shown on the 1736 'East prospect of the City of Winchester' by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, with large gardens reaching down to the river.
However, the status of Hyde was changing, with the area was becoming increasingly popular for hop farming and brewing. In the mid 1760s the main part of Hyde House was demolished and the current barn, then used as a malt house, was constructed on the site. The service range of the old house was retained next to the road. A lease of 1767 record the presence of a 'malthouse newly erected with 2 kilns and leaden cistern'. Again, materials were reused in the construction of the barn and elements from the abbey can still be seen within the building today. It is also likely that the elaborate Tudor door surround of the old mansion was salvaged and inserted into the wall adjoining the nearby Victoria Road.
The property was then sold to William Simmonds, a local brewer and the buildings remained in the same family until the end of the nineteenth century. The old service wing was gentrified, with the addition of new sash windows, shutters, and an elegant staircase.
The Twentieth century: New Uses
Circa 1900 the property came under the ownership of 'Chaplin's and Co', a depository undertaking furniture removals, storage and deliveries. Various photos and adverts survive from this period showing the premises busy with trade. Remnants of the company's signage can also still be seen on the front elevation of the barn. By the 1940s, the buildings were being used as a telephone exchange and continued in this use until the 1960s. A photos also survives showing the courtyard being used by the home guard during the wartime years.
In the early 1970s, plans were developed for the conversion of the property into a Youth centre. The stables and outbuildings within the grounds were demolished and the land was then used to make way for the modern Hyde Gate cul-de-sac development next door. In 1977 further plans were drawn up, and this time, implemented, for conversion to use as the Historic Resources Centre for Winchester City Council, containing archaeological material, local history information and other heritage archives.
The buildings are now entering an exciting new phase after careful restoration and extension by the Adam Architecture team. This new use will bring a long term, sustainable use to these important historic buildings, helping to ensure the survival of Old Hyde House into the future.