Boscombe, situated between the somewhat older village of Pokesdown and the rapidly growing town of Bournemouth, did not really commence to develop until 1865; from thence forward to the end of the 19th century, and beyond, its growth was very rapid. Although it was fully incorporated into Bournemouth by 1884, it established itself with its own character and maintained its own identity. In his book "Dorset Place Names", A.D.Mills says there was reference as early as 1273 to "Boscumbe", and suggests that the name may well have derived from the Old English words meaning a 'valley overgrown with spiky plants' - if so , perhaps a reference to gorse. However that may be, reference to Boscombe is included in the survey made in 1574 of possible enemy landing places on the coast of Hampshire; this mentions... "Bournemouth within the west baye at Christchurch...We finde more a place called Bastowe within the said Baye". Saxton's map of 1575 shows a Copperas House at Bascomb, referring to the manufacture of copperas or ferrous sulphate which took place in the district, particularly in the last quarter of the 16th century.
The area upon which Boscombe is situated was part of the great heathland which covered much of western Hampshire, and extended well into eastern Dorset, intersected by several river valleys. At the beginning of the 19th century Boscombe was described as an extensive common covered with furze and heath, more the haunt of smugglers than anyone else.
Toward the end of the 19th century a modest sized house called Boscombe Cottage was built, standing in the grounds of some sixteen acres, the residence of Mr Phillip Norris. This property became the nucleus of the Boscombe Manor Estate.
The large estate owned by Mr Norris changed hands several times during the first half of the 19th century. After Norris's death it was acquired by Robert Heathcote, and on his death the estate was put up for auction The estate was purchased by James Dover, in whose possession it remained until 1841; then it was sold to Major Stephenson.
A guide book of 1842 noted 'about a mile from Bournemouth to the eastward of the road to Christchurch is Boscombe Lodge, the admired seat of Major Stephenson, he having purchased it from the executors of James Dover, who within the last few years made extensive improvements distinguished by the indications of a cultivated taste. A bye road a furlong in extent will conduct the visitor to Boscombe Chine, but this may better be visited from the beach'.
Stevenson sold the estate in 1849 to Sir Percy Shelly, the son of poet Percy Bysshe Shelly. They were a collateral branch of the ancient Shelly family of West Sussex. In 1806 Bysshe Shelly had been created a baronet, and he was succeeded in 1815 by his son Timothy, father of the poet. Shelly, the poet married his second wife, Mary Wollstonecroft Godwin, in 1816, and their son, the later Sir Percy was born in Florence in 1819. On Sir Timothy's death in 1844, Sir Percy Florence Shelly inherited the title.
Sir Percy had bought the Boscombe property mainly with the intention of it becoming a home for his mother, but she died in London on 1st February 1851, Sir Percy and his wife liked the place, and decided to make it their home, dividing their time between Boscombe and their London house at Chelsea. Thus began the long association of the Shelly's with Boscombe, ending only with their respective deaths.
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLY
The house at Boscombe was extensively rebuilt for Sir Percy, and also extended to the designs of Christopher Crabbe Creeke, who later became surveyor to the Bournemouth Improvement Commissioners and was responsible for both the layout of much of central Bournemouth,s roads, and for several local buildings. It may be noted that the name of the house was changed several times over the years, beginning as Boscombe Cottage, it was then for a time called Boscombe Alcove and then Boscombe Lodge. By Shelly's time it was Boscombe House, and they later renamed it Boscombe Manor. In the present century it was Groveley Manor for many years, taking the name of the school which then occupied it, but now it is known as Shelly Park.
SHELLY PARK (present day)
To supplement the existing plantations of pine trees on the estate, Sir Percy added a large number of deciduous trees. There was a drive to the house from the main Christchurch Road, which followed the line of the present Chessel Avenue, and there was a lodge at its entrance. A second entry was from Sea Road, along a roadway flanked with lime trees - the present Percy Road.
By the beginning of the 1860's Boscombe consisted of the Shelly estate and some cottages, one of which is known to have stood at the top of Boscombe Hill, near the present Drummond Road.
next chapter Boscombe Spa.
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