Sunday, 27 May 2012

Penstone House

Penstone House stood on the site that is now Lancing Library and the Health Centre.
It is famous for the fact the Harry Ricardo the motor engineer bought it and lived there.

Previously it had been the home of  William and Elizabeth Hall. I became aware of this upon finding the image below on a website with the text beneath it.
Ted White has kindly given me permission to use a copy of the image which shows:

" My grandparents were Edward and Lucy (Chandler) Merriott; the two children standing in the picture were my Aunt Helena and Uncle James. Sitting is my Uncle Albert and my Mum, Emma May, who was about 4 when the picture was taken (which makes it about 1900 ish). They lived next to the Alms Houses at 34 North Road in a thatched cottage which was knocked down in 1935."

Merriott family portrait
courtesy Ted White

 A group portrait of the Merriott family of Lancing (c1900). A cabinet format photograph produced by The Worthing Portrait Company of 4 Railway Approach, Worthing ( Miss Jennie Rewman : Principal ). The Merriott family lived at 34 North Road, Lancing.  Edward Merriott, a farm labourer engaged in market gardening, married Lucy Chandler in 1883. 
 Before her marriage to Edward Merriott, Lucy Chandler worked as a domestic servant for William and Elizabeth Hall at Penstone House in Lancing.  
Lucy was employed as a nurse, caring for the two youngest Hall children - Madeleine Ennis Hall (born 1875, Lancing) and Helena Invicta Hall (born 1873, Shoreham). This cabinet card was probably sent to the then grown up Helena Invicta Hall as a kind of Christmas Greetings card. Inscribed in ink on the reverse of the Merriott Family photograph is the message " With best wishes for a happy Xmas, from Old Nursie.

I have learned that the Hall family moved to live at Lindfield when the house was bought by Harry Ricardo as he had set up his engineering base at Shoreham
This is a quote from his memoires
"We bought a large, ugly, but very well built and comfortable country house called Penstone at Lancing, about three-quarters of a mile from the sea. The house had originally been built by a South African millionaire who had evidently spared no expense on its construction; its thick stone walls kept us warm in winter and cool in summer. It was equipped with central heating and electric light from its own power plant. In short, it had all the amenities, and during the years we lived there cost us almost nothing in repairs or maintenance. My father was shocked at its ugliness but thoroughly approved of its internal design and excellent workmanship."
Ricardo, Harry (1968) “Memories and Machines”

Subsequently Penstone House became the Basque Childrens Hostel in about 1937 for refugees of the Spanish civil war, meanwhile Harry Ricardo had transferred to Oxford.

This link describes the historical circumstances of how refugee children from the Spanish Civil war fled to England and at first lived in makeshift camps and then were found homes around the country including Penstone House

An article from the Argus: it tells the story of a refugee who returns to visit Beach House Worthing where she first stayed and talks about moving to Penstone House at Lancing

In this link 'bbc domesday reloaded ' Mrs Bonetti recalls Lancing from 1934 when she moved here and mentions Penstone House

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