Southcote House
Reading St. Mary, Berkshire

The present house called Southcote Lodge on the Burghfield Road in Western Reading is a mid-18th century house, but the first building on the site was erected shortly before 1611. It stands on what was the edge of old Southcote Park surrounding the medieval moated Southcote Manor (aka Southcote House) with which it should not be confused. Unfortunately, the manor is very occasionally recorded as Southcote Lodge. There was also another ‘Southcote Lodge’ in Southcote Road from the 1880s onwards.

In the late 16th century, the famous mathematician, John Blagrave, leased Southcote Manor from his brother. In his 1611 will, he refers to himself as ‘of Southcote Lodge’, while he describes Southcote Manor as “my old dwelling house at Southcote which was first builded”. It is assumed that his lodge home stood on the site of the present building of that name on the edge of the park. Stories of underground tunnels heading towards Reading could be references to the discovery of cellars from this early house. Traditionally, John built the Lodge for his nephew and heir, Daniel Blagrave, later to become one of the regicides. As a more comfortable recent construction, he probably favoured the Lodge in his early years on the estate. However, the moated Manor House that was pulled down in the 1920s, largely dated from the 1620s or 30s and it seems certain that Daniel moved back there when this building work was complete. Other members of the family may have lived at the Lodge; although it may simply have remained empty as there seems to have been a tradition that Charles I's children were sent there for safety during an outbreak of smallpox. Presumably this was after the King's capture, when he was imprisoned at Caversham Park. When Daniel fled the country at the Restoration, the estate reverted to the ownership of his cousins from Bulmershe Court. They rented out the Lodge which, in 1665, was probably the building occupied by Mervyn Tuchet, 4th Earl of Castlehaven (nephew of Lady Davies of Englefield House), when he was summoned to attend the Herald’s Visitation in Reading.

Sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century, the lease of Southcote Lodge was probably sold to the Noake family of Reading. Their origins are not known for certain, but they were probably a younger branch of the landed family of that name from Bray, Shottesbrooke & Priestwood. Robert Noake certainly held the house as his country estate by the time of his death in 1720, although he would have spent most of his time in Reading where he ran the Castle Brewery started by his father. Southcote Lodge probably became the residence of Robert’s son, William, next; although the exact descent through the family is not clear. He was Sheriff of Berkshire in 1729. 

After William Noake’s death in 1737, Southcote Lodge became the Reading home of his niece and chosen heiress, Anne May, and her husband, George Noyes. George was from an ancient landed family of Andover, where he often lived, but the couple had also inherited other estates at Basingstoke (from Anne’s father, Charles May) and Upper Basildon (from George’s mother, Sarah Buckeridge). Business interests kept George near the towns and so he made Southcote his second base. It may have been George who built the present Southcote Lodge; or it could have been put up by his son, Thomas Buckeridge Noyes, who inherited the property in 1752. The exact date of the house is unclear. TB Noyes certainly abandoned the family’s Andover house and made Southcote his permanent home. When he died in 1795, his two unmarried daughters inherited his estates, and he was buried under a prominent heraldic ledger stone in St. Mary’s Church in Reading. His hatchment also once graced the walls there but has now long gone. The Noyes girls later lived in London, so may have quickly sold Southcote. It was around this time that the house seems to have been known as Calvespit House, although this only lasted until about 1813.

By the 1820s, the Bockett family were living at the Lodge. John & Rebecca Bockett brought up thirteen children there. Two of his sons became clergyman, whilst one daughter married a distant cousin of the Noyeses, Lieut. Francis Hotchkin Buckeridge of Sonning. Perhaps they obtained the property through this connection. The eldest daughter, Julia Rebecca, remained a spinster all her life and became a prominent local historian, writing for a number of academic journals.

After Rebecca Bockett died in 1857, Southcote Lodge was rented out to numerous members of the local gentry, many of whom didn’t stay long (some dates are approximate):

  • 1857-1858 John Tuffnell Corbonelle (1806-1879)
  • 1858-1859 Thomas Comer (1814-1877)
  • 1859-1864 Henry Hughes (1816-1864)
  • circa 1864-1870 Maj. Gen. Joseph Edwin Thackwell (1813-1900) (probably)
  • 1870-1874 William Philpott
  • 1874-circa 1885 Gen. Lawrence Shadwell (1823-1887)
  • circa 1885-1897 Maj. Gen. Hon. Charles John Addington (1832-1903)
  • 1897-1898 G H Hopkinson (died 1898)
  • 1898-circa 1918 Geoffrey Cecil, Lord Saye & Sele (1858-1937)
  • 1918-1944 Stanley Howard Hodgkin (1860-1944)

Maj. Gen. Thackwell was Aide-de-Camp to his more famous uncle of the same name, who lost his arm at the Battle of Waterloo. He served with the Berkshire Militia. Both he and General Shadwell were heroes of the Crimean War. Maj. Gen. Hon. Charles John Addington was the grandson of the Prime Minister, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, who had lived at Woodley House and Erleigh Court. He too served in the Crimea, where he was severely wounded, and also in India during the 1857 Mutiny.

Col. Geoffrey Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was the 18th Baron Saye and Sele. Due to a “racing misadventure,” his father, the 17th Baron, had found himself obliged to rent out the family seat of Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire and had been living at the, much smaller, Sunbury House in Reading’s Southcote Road. Geoffrey, his eldest son, took on Southcote Lodge, not far away. He inherited his father’s title in 1907. He served in the Zulu War and was an Area Commandant in Flanders during WWI while the family were resident at the Lodge. He also served in the House of Lords under Asquith. He eventually moved back into Broughton Castle, probably in 1918, when the Blagraves, now of Calcot Park, finally auctioned off all their Southcote estates.

The last private owner of Southcote Lodge was Hilda Schroeder. After she left, a large modern extension was added to the house in the 1980s and it was converted into retirement flats, which it remains to this day. 

Southcote Lodge is now a series of private residences. This article first appeared as a post on our Royal Berkshire History + Face Book Page

      

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