Springfield, Springfield Mount Cliftonville
The house next to the entrance of A&E in Cliftonville is currently somewhat hidden by the ongoing building works of the new ward block opposite A&E. You could easily pass by without realising what a beautiful house and home it once was.
A few weeks ago I visited the Northamptonshire Health Charitable Fund in its new home situated at the back of the house, possibly once the stables/garage. The main part of the building is being used for Out of Hours Urgent Care.
After being given a guided tour of their offices and meeting rooms I was intrigued to find out about its history….
Built in the mid 1800’s, along with Sunnyside and Beaumont, the three imposing buildings are all Grade2 listed. It is described by historicengland.org.uk as a mid C19 stucco villa in Italianate style.
Whilst searching through 1861 census it became clear that the area was called Springfield Mount, named after the fact there were several springs in the area, and indeed, one of the reasons the Infirmary was built on this site. There are villas in this immediate area called Nine Springs and Spring Hill but all could appear as ‘Springfield’ in early documentation.
At one stage it was thought the first occupant could have been John Hensman, Town Clerk and solicitor, as he is entered as living in Springfield. Further research showed that in 1891 his widow was living at Springhill, the house on the corner opposite Springfield House.
However, in the 1861 census it is recorded that a wine merchant, William Thomas Portal, was residing in Springfield House.
The 1871 census indicates that William Adkins JP was now living here. Councillor Adkins was a coal merchant operating from Nunn Mills Wharf and was mayor of Northampton in 1869 and 1875
The Boot and Shoe Era
Between 1891-1915, documentation shows that Frederick Bostock was the owner of Springfield House. He lived here before his final move to Pitsford House, where he died in 1940, aged 80.
He left the family home in Sheep Street, moved to 66 Billing Road, then to Springfield, which seemed to be the pathway of several wealthy, upwardly mobile townsfolk, finishing up in the most desirable area of Cliftonville.
Frederick Bostock was a Boot and Shoe factory owner who had a factory in Victoria Street.
Taken from his obituary in the Mercury & Herald. ‘The Business was known as Bostock Ltd. and in 1919 the company merged with Edwin Bostock Ltd. of Staffordshire and became known as Lotus Ltd. Mr Bostock was chairman of the Northampton Gaslight Co., which he held since 1918, and under his chairmanship a sports ground for the use of employees was opened in 1928. He leaves a widow and two children, a son and daughter.’
Mr and Mrs Bostock originally had three sons and a daughter. Eric lost his life in WW1 (there is a stained glass window placed in the Memorial Chapel of Holy Sepulchre church in his memory), Lancelot died in WW2 leaving Neville to carry on the business. Their daughter Norah married Herbert Mobbs, brother of Edgar Mobbs.
We know he was a wealthy man, (leaving £79,374 net, worth around £4m today), and the 1911 census shows that although he and his family were away at the time, there were still five servants left in the house, a sewing maid, parlour maid, kitchen maid, cook and a housemaid.
Springfield had splendid views overlooking orchards and the Nene in the valley below. It had a large garden of approximately two acres and was home to a beautiful copper beech tree that is still there, situated in the car park behind the Nurses’ Home/ HR Dept.
In his will it shows that Mr Bostock was a keen gardener, leaving the Pitsford house and contents to his wife, ‘with the exception of his polyanthus plants, and seeds thereof’, which he left to his gardener in the hope he would place this newly cultivated strain on the market, and to be registered as ‘F.Bostock’. All his gardening books were left to Moulton Farm Institute.
By the 1931 census Springfield had been acquired by Northampton Borough Council for use of the Education Offices and before its sale in March 2017 it was used by ‘Children’s Services’.
The building was sold by Northampton County Council as part of the move to house all of their departments in their newly built offices, 1 Angel Square.
So, as you negotiate your way along the crowded path on leaving the hospital into Cliftonville, wary of building work, traffic and incoming ambulances, give a thought of what life would have been like in more genteel times.
Although we have no photo of Springfield in its early years here is one of the original three villas built on Springfield Mount. Beaumont House, once home to George Hawkins, Boot and Shoe manufacturer who paid for the Pathology Department to be built in 1920, and later home to the Barratt family who gave us the Barratt Maternity Home amongst other acts of generosity towards Northampton General Hospital.
Volunteer at NGH Historic Archive and Museum.