Many readers will remember this imposing building that stood in Beech Hurst park, which from 1947 was the main council offices for Andover and later Test Valley.

Set in extensive grounds that separate the Weyhill and Salisbury roads, the park is still largely as it was but the house was demolished in 1990 and a much larger modern building erected in its place.

First called Hillside, it was built in the early 1850s for Harry Footner who was a solicitor at what is now 16 Bridge Street, today still the solicitors’ offices of Talbot Walker.

Footner was born in Andover, the second generation of three who all served as town clerk for the borough between 1813 and 1885. A slightly earlier building called Hillside Cottage stood nearby on the site of the present Hillside Close.

After Harry Footner died in 1884, the house went up for sale the following year but it failed to meet its reserve price. The picture above dates from that period. But soon afterwards it was bought by Horace John Lloyd Farebrother, a dental surgeon who changed the name to Beech Hurst.

Farebrother later moved to Salisbury and by 1900, the occupier was Charles Alfred Swinburne. He was a retired London barrister and a prolific collector of watercolours; an extra wing to the east side may have been added to help house them. He produced a substantial catalogue of the works he owned which included works by JMW Turner, John Gilbert, D Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Pointer, some of which are still held at Beech Hurst, though not on public view. Swinburne produced a biography of Turner in 1902.

When Swinburne died in 1904, Beech Hurst came into the possession of his four executors who were almost certainly associates of Swinburne from his time in London. They had difficulty in selling the house; an auction five years later failed, apparently because of too high a reserve. By 1911 however, Henry Delves Broughton, a single man of private means, had purchased the house and he remained there until his death in 1930.

Delves Broughton was born in 1856 and the eldest son of a Cheshire 9th baronet but for reasons that are unclear his younger brother succeeded to the title. During the next ten years the house was occupied by a succession of military officers – Capt Rodney William Verelst, Lt Col Cynric Puleston Prescot and Capt Sir Douglas Winchester Scott, bart.

It was finally bought by Andover Borough Council in September 1947 for £8,000, amid an outcry from local ratepayers who objected to the cost. As the business of the council increased, especially after the formation of Test Valley Borough Council, an accumulation of temporary buildings was added to the site, until finally in 1990, the old building was demolished and a much larger edifice built by Hall and Tawse arose in its place, paid for by the sale of allotments on River Way. That site is now Tesco’s supermarket.