About Hook House

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The 31 July 1684 was a day of celebration in the village of Hook, for on that day Eustace Hooke, a local farmer, was to marry Elizabeth Bishop, the daughter of Richard Bishop, the Lord of the Manor of South Warnborough and the marriage was to take place at the parish church in South Warnborough. In the same year he built Hook House as a home for his new bride.

Eustace’s family farmed Hook Farm and were probably descended from William atte Hooke, who was recorded as settling in the parish of Hook in 1262.

In 1329 La Hoke in the manor of Newnham is recorded as the name given to an area of land bought by H. le Depenser, possibly the site of Hook Farm which is states as “being long the property of the Hookes of Hook”. La Hoke is thought to be an early form of Hook.

Eustace’s ancestors were an influential local family who held land over an area stretching from Hook down to Winchester as far east as Bramshott, in Surrey, and as far north as Bramshott, near Hartley Wintney. In fact, county records show many references to the family name from as far back as 1088 up to 1500 and members of the family were the earliest, “landed gentry”, to settle in America in 1588 and Australia in 1835, having received Land Grants from the government of the day.

By the seventeenth century the family was much less influential however, not all the family were involved in farming. Eustace Hooke was related to Robert Hook (1635 – 1703), probably the most illustrious member of the family.

Robert was a Philosopher, Physicist and Architect. He invented the balance spring of watches and designed his own air-pump. He was well known and respected amongst the scientific world of his day and was one of the first Microscopists, publishing his own “Micrographia” in 1665. He also drew up plans for rebuilding London after the destruction of the Great fire.

Whilst at Oxford Robert Hook eventually became research assistant to Robert Boyle, the great chemist. Hook had a gift for experimental science becoming the most important scientific figure of the post restoration period.

After a short marriage of just fifteen years Eustace Hooke died in 1699 and the house was sold to a Mr James Field of Odiham. Within a few years, however the house was to be rented by Mr Joseph Russell and the Lady Elizabeth Russell thus setting the pattern for centuries to come whereby the house was never occupied for more than a few short years by many different owners. In the eighteenth century we next find Hook House on the Tylney Estate Map, of 1774, and it was probably owned, therefore, at that time by the Estate and the house was afterwards purchased by the Bird family.

The next record of the house appears in the nineteenth century where the 1840 Tithe Map for the Parish of Newnham shows Hook House as land with house, garden and lawn owned and occupied by Mrs Elizabeth Bird. Mrs Bird farmed fifteen fields between the Reading Road and the London Road, Hook. The fields are names as follows: Scotch Close, the Park, Wagon House Meadow, Wagon House Field, Quince Tree, Hop Garden, Ley Field (a fallow field), Coppice Close, Four Acres, Pasture Orchard, Seven Acres, Lower Field, A Plantation, A Pasture, Upper Wheat Field, Pond Field, Large Field.

The field names give us a very interesting indication of the type of farming she was engaged in for example, can assume she had her own Hop Garden for making ale and her own Orchard? She also appears to have grown timber and wheat and kept stock.

The 1851 Census Return tells us Elizabeth was a widow of 67 years, a Landed Proprietor and Gentlewoman. She lived at Hook House with her son James (37), Henry (36), a farmer and attorney at law, and a granddaughter aged 8. It is interesting to speculate that her daughter-in-law may have died. They had three servants, living-in, to run the house, including a groom.

By 1861 the Census shows that Henry Bird, now 46 years old, is the head of the family, he is unmarried, a solicitor and farmer. Elizabeth has died, brother James and his daughter no longer live at Hook House. Instead, a John James, a widower of 50 years, retired farmer and tanner now lives with Henry. Who was John James, a friend? Also living with Henry are two nephews, John Cullam, 22 years old, unemployed, and Henry Samuel, aged 19 years old, a general clerk and one nice.

In 1871 Hook House is owned by John Bird, a widower of 60 years, with Henry J. Bird, aged 24 and Mary Ann, a daughter, aged 28 years living with him.

Sometime after 1871 the Bird family sold the house to a Mr Edmund Robertson, Landowner, Land Agent and Farmer.

In 1878 Hook House is again sold, this time by Auction, as advertised in The Times Newspaper of 27th July 1878. Mr Roberson is selling the house after only seven years.

In 1880 the Barker family are in residence. By 1890 Vincent Frederick Ruffnel is listed in a Trade Directory as owner and in 1885 Philip Francis Morton.

1899 sees the Playfair family buying the house. William Smoult Playfair and family are remembered for hosting the local school children’s Empire Day celebrations. Under the ownership of this family Hook House becomes involved in the lives of the residents of Hook. Villagers of the time have recorded how they remember Mr H.A. Grimes, Headmaster of Hook School, Hook Common, leading a long procession of school children, carrying flags, marching in to Hook through the village and on to Hook House where they were welcomed by the Playfair family. Everybody it seemed turned out to see the procession pass and join the singing and marching at Hook House.

By about 1903 the house is yet again sold to a new owner, a Mrs Close, and she is remembered for continuing the tradition of giving the village children entertainment, at Hook House, on Empire Day and Christmas Parties at the school. 1903 was an eventful year for Hook House…

The A.30 in those days was a narrow road, one night a chauffeur, Mr Winch, was driving along the road when he swerved out of control and crashed into the wall of the Crooked Billet. The Chauffeur at Borough Court, Fred Pain, was brought out to supervise the rescue of the two injured occupants and he had them taken into the Crooked billet, Public House. One of the occupants was so badly injured that local farm hands laid straw over the road, in front of the Crooked Billet, and over the bridge so that the noise of the carts going by wouldn’t distress the injured man. When she heard of the accident Mrs Close came to the Crooked Billet and immediately arranged to move the very badly injured man to Hook House, where she nursed him until he died.

In 1920 Mrs Close held her last tea party, to celebrate Empire Day at Hook House for the same year she was moved to Rookswood House. Rookswood House used to stand where Rookswood Close is built today.

Her place was taken by Lt. Colonel Henry M. Ferrar CBE and his wife, they attended the new village church where the Colonel often read the lesson. During the years of World War II, they allowed their house to be used as the Red Cross Headquarters for the area. While their stables were the ARP First Aid Post, staffed by Miss Heard, Miss Close and Miss Bettine Dalley. Colonel and Mrs Ferrar would dress for dinner and retire for the night at 10 o’ clock after which they would allow the ARP ladies to site in the house by their fire.

Long before the war, however, in 1925 the Hook Women’s Branch of the Conservative Association was formed, at Hook House, and Colonel and Mrs Ferrar held fetes to help raise funds for the party.

After Mrs Ferrar’s death the house was sold in 1948, to Air Vice Marshall Sir Norman and Lady MacEwen and again returned to its rather sad pattern of short-term ownership. The House being sold again in 1955 to Brigadier R.J.F. Todd CBE. The Todd’s are remembered for allowing their garden flowers to be used to decorate the local church.

Mr A.A. Brent succeeded the Todds in 1969. Mr Brent had the servants’ rooms converted to guest bedrooms, with bathrooms and a staff flat built over the stables / garage, no doubt a sign of the changing times in domestic service.

Mr & Mrs Sanders bought the house in 1984 but sold it to Mr and Mrs Bull in 1988 due, no doubt, to the high cost of upkeep of such a splendid old house.

A Planning Application was submitted by the Bulls to change the use of Hook House to a fourteen-bedroom hotel which was opened after considerable renovations as a commercial venture in 1990. This venture was discontinued sometime around 2014.

The Stewart family from South Africa purchased the Hotel from the Bulls in 2016 and reopened its’ doors to the public and once more into the lives of the Hook community in December of that year.

This lovely old Georgian house now has fifteen-bedrooms and extensive reception rooms available for all types of functions. A semi-permanent marquee was erected in the rear garden over ten years ago to augment the function facilities offered by the Hotel.

Contact Us To Discuss Your Function – We Look Forward To Hearing From You

What better way to celebrate a special occasion than with a private function at Hook House.

We specialise in events of all kinds, whether it’s a small intimate party or a celebration for 140 people, we can offer you the flexibility and freedom to create a unique and memorable event.

For more information please call 01256 760 232

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Lovely hotel with gorgeous grounds and a great terrace area with comfy chairs to catch the sun. The pizzas here are amazing!! Dog friendly too, which is a huge plus for us. Highly recommend
Jodie Sandford

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