The History of Beaucroft House - Red Cross Hospital in the First World War

The History of Beaucroft House - Red Cross Hospital in the First World War

The house appears to have been situated at the junction with Beaucroft Road and Beaucroft Lane in Colehill. The address is now listed as 29 Beaucroft Lane. There is a large house down a small lane at this point which may be the original house but now divided up. The chimneys look similar to those in photos. The Coach House became a house called Beaucroft Mews, 25 Beaucroft Lane.


Information taken from The Village on the Hill: the story of Colehill in Dorset by George Sadler [Dorset Publishing Company, 1992]

The land was originally part of the Hanham Estate. In 1867 Thomas Rawlins purchased the fifteen acres bounded by Beaucroft and Northleigh Lanes from Camile Cailard and Alexander Copland, trustees of the will of Sir James Hanham. The top of the hill was wooded with pine trees as shown in the 1885 Ordnance Survey map and this was one of the main reasons for the wealthy to relocate to Colehill as it was considered very beneficial for ones health.

Beaucroft House, its lodge and coach house were built in 1876.
The estate was purchased by Mrs Bernarda Lees in 1881, who also bought the remaining Hanham land (amounting to 6 acres) in this part of Colehill in 1885 from Phelips Brooke Hanham who had inherited it from Sir James Hanham. She later bought the Pleasure House Plantation, a ten acre wood between North Leigh House and Beaucroft Lane. Apart from the Northleigh property, Mrs Lees had become the owner of all the land bounded by Wimborne Road, Northleigh Lane and Beaucroft Lane, together with a narrow strip of land beyond Beaucroft Lane. This formed the Beaucroft Estate.

Mrs Lees was born Bernarda Turnbull in Mexico. She married Thomas Lees who was the joint owner with his cousin of the Lees and Wrigley Cotton Mill in Oldham, Lancashire. She was widowed at the age of 37 in 1879 and brought her five daughters and a son to Dorset on account of the health of Eliot, her son, who suffered from asthma. He was created a Baronet in 1897 and lived at Lytchett Minster. According to the memoirs of Henry Habgood, a local horse and cart haulier (born in 1880), Mrs Lees and Mrs Paget of Park Homer House “ran the village”.

The Beaucroft Estate was broken up on the death of Mrs Lees in 1913. She left 200 books to the new Colehill Library. Her sons-in-law sold off the upper part of the land adjoining Wimborne Road in plots of various size. A large plot was bought by a man called Lamperd, a retired coal merchant. The remainder still covered 32 acres from Beaucroft Lane to Northleigh Lane.

In World War One, the house was converted into a Red Cross Hospital in the early months of 1917 to help deal with the wounded from the Front. Miss Carr Glyn was the Commandant and soldiers in their “Hospital Blue” were a familiar sight.

After the war it became the home of a retired Royal Navy Captain, George Steer, who farmed there until his death in 1928. The next owner was named Bullock and it then became the home of Sir Charles Rugge-Price and later Miss Marjorie Alderton and was then bought by a limited company, the Beaucroft Estate Ltd.

A photo on page 119 shows the house when owned by Rugge-Price circa 1935.

In World War Two United States troops were billeted at Beaucroft House and the grounds used as a park for American artillery. Their tanks were parked in Highland Road.

Beaucroft House was divided into 3 self-contained houses in 1953.

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