26 February 2011

Tidworth and Tedworth

12 miles south of Marlborough in Wiltshire is Tidworth, and hard by the A338, its spire visible from the road amidst a surrounding small wood, is St Mary's. This was commissioned by Sir John Kelk, Victorian civil engineer and contractor, who built, amongst other landmarks, Victoria Station and the Albert Memorial. Designed by John Johnson, architect of Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally), the church was built 1879-80. It was declared redundant in 1972.

An avenue of lime trees leads to Tedworth House, acquired by Kelk in 1876 when, on becoming High Sheriff of Hampshire, he bought the Tedworth Estate. The house had been built in Palladian style by Thomas Assheton Smith III, between 1828 and 1830. Kelk extensively rebuilt and remodelled it between 1878 and 1880.

17 years later the Army acquired the whole estate for military training. Tedworth House is currently undergoing renovation by the Help for Heroes charity to provide a personnel assessment and recovery centre. There are extensive stables, some of which housed Smith's 50-odd horses; various military buildings, including Nissen huts; and, at present, woods full of snowdrops.

The grounds are home to Tidworth Combined Services Polo Club. The polo ground, second largest in the UK, is named after one General Sir Bertie Fisher, who oversaw it being made by the 2nd Cavalry Brigade when commanded by him in 1922. Recalled from a TV documentary in the 1980s, from the mouth of a d├ębutante: "Doesn't everyone meet their future husband at the polo club?"

1 comment:

abijsmith said...

Photos 2 and 4 are fabulous!