SITED between Rookwood School and White Lodge, in Weyhill Road, this photograph of Anton Lodge was taken in 1985 just before its demolition.

Even in this sorry state, its former grandness is there for all to see and, at the risk of repetition, we can only regret its destruction, rather than restoration.

Sadly, apart from today’s Rookwood building, all the large mid-19th century houses set in expansive grounds that were built along Weyhill Road by Andover worthies for their own occupation, have now gone.

This one was built as Cromwell House in about 1852 by John Preedy who was in the building business.

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Born in 1813, he had married Elizabeth Symonds in London sometime before 1841, before coming to Andover around 1851 or just after.

The census in March of that year shows the family at Wellington Road, Hackney but this house was retained for many years as the 1861 census also show the family there, though they had clearly moved to Andover long before; that same 1861 census shows the couple’s first three children, Elizabeth, John and Charles were all London-born, while the younger two, Kate and Harry, aged seven and five respectively, were born in Andover.

Evidently a nonconformist family, a report of 5 June 1852 reveals that John Preedy gave the use of his paddock for the Baptists’ annual Sunday school treat.

This paddock would have certainly been on the same land as the house but it is just possible that the house was yet to be built and it was still an open field.

The plot was described in the tithe survey apportionments of 1848 as ‘barn, paddock and plantation’, part of the holdings of the late William Henry Blatch, then held by his executors.

Blatch lived at Highfield (now Rookwood), which still retains the expanse of ground to the rear, but the equivalent stretch behind Cromwell House is now the site of St Hubert’s Road and may never have been part of the house itself.

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The next we learn of the Preedy family is that in January 1857, a fire almost destroyed the ‘recently erected villa’ while the family were away in London, all blamed on a maid who was busy lighting fires in readiness for the family’s return from Hackney.

Then at the end of 1858, the drama that was the murder of William Parsons touched the family when eleven-year-old John Preedy had to testify in court about his movements on the night of 22 November when the murder was committed.

Returning home from a Baptists’ meeting just before ten o’clock with two others, he saw the accused Thomas Alexander Banks, standing by the wall further up the road.

Much was made of the precise time and John had to go through the minutiae of where he was, when, and how long it would take to reach his father’s house.

The time was vital as the screams of the victim were heard as far away as Clatford and the moment of murder could be pinpointed exactly.

The evidence pivoted on whether it was possible for the accused and his wife to be at the scene of the murder in Salisbury Road and then to reach Weyhill Road at the time they were spotted there.

Banks was committed for trial at Winchester by the Andover magistrates but the subsequent case was thrown out before it started, because the judge considered the wholly circumstantial evidence of the case to be a waste of the court’s time.

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The Preedy family lived at Cromwell House for at least forty years.

Sadly, the two younger boys died prematurely: Charles drowned in the Severn in 1876, aged 27 and Harry died at Ventnor in 1884, aged 28.

Both parents died within a year of each other in 1888 and 1889, but the house remained occupied by their eldest daughter Elizabeth who had married a Welshman David Davies.

Another daughter Catherine remained a spinster and lived with them.

However, by 1901, the Davies’ had moved to Romsey while Catherine was to marry retired surgeon Charles Victor Helsdon in 1904, settling in Goodworth Clatford.

By then Cromwell House was owned by Miss Margaret Lamont Briggs, who had been born in Burma and it was probably she who renamed the house Anton Lodge.

She added a coachman’s cottage and new stabling.

By 1914, it was occupied by Col Henry Kilgour and then, in the 1920s, retired chemical engineer Ernest Scott bought it.

He added a billiard room and a conservatory, and remained at Anton Lodge until his death in 1946.

The following year it was sold to Miss Kathleen Tanner of Rookwood School who needed room for the increasing number of boarders for the rapidly expanding school, as well as accommodation for her, a matron and resident staff.

A few years later, she was also to buy the next house, White Lodge, as well. By the 1980s, Anton Lodge had evidently become surplus to requirements and may have needed too much for its upkeep.

It was demolished in 1985 and the Andover Nursing Home is now on the site.