Harmony Hall later Queenwood College
Two unique educational establishments in East Tytherley
In 1839 Sir Francis GOLDSMID leased land at East Tytherley to socialist reformer Robert OWEN. His aim was to create a pioneering project in community living. The house he built could accommodate 700 but never reached this number. Harmony Hall was one of several similar places around the country. The project was never a success and went bankrupt in a few years.
Arrival of the Quakers
The estate was then leased to the Society of Friends in 1847 to enable a school to be established. George EDMONDSON was the head. The school was renamed Queenwood College after the old Queen Wood where it was built. The intention was to create a school that was dedicated to teaching science and physics. Part of this was the construction of a science laboratory. Among the teaching staff was scientist John TYNDALL who joined in 1847. Another scientist was Edward FRANKLAND who joined in 1847 but only stayed there for a year.
George EDMONDSON was born on 8 September 1797 to parents John and Jane in Lancaster. The entry is in the Quaker Birth Register for Lancaster. In 1861 he had a teaching staff of 5, 12 servants and 74 pupils. He died on 15 May 1863 with his will proved by his widow Anne on 9 July. His estate was under £5,000. After his death the new principal was Charles WILLMORE. He remained in charge until the college closed and he died in a fire there in 1902.
Charles WILLMORE was born on 10 January 1832 to parents Benjamin and Hannah in Leighton Buzzard BDF. Sister Sarah Elizabeth was born on 27 June 1829 in the same place. Both entries are in the Quaker Register in Buckingham. In 1871 Charles was a bachelor with his sister Sarah Elizabeth SPARKS as the housekeeper. Sarah was married to Henry who was the drawing and writing master. They had 10 month old daughter Hannah with them. Other masters were James BOTTOMLEY, George John RICHARDS and Thomas Edmund GRICE. There were 15 servants with 65 pupils.
The college continued until Charles WILLMORE retired in 1896. The owner Captain DALGETY spent money on adapting the property to become a poultry farm. William PAUNCEFOOT and Thomas WHITTAKER ran it together. In 1901 William DUNCOMBE was in residence and was an electrical engineer as well poultry farmer. After Charles WILLMORE retired he stayed in the house and in 1901 there were also 7 former pupils boarding in the house.
End of Queenwood
On 10 June 1902 a fire broke out in the building destroying it. All the occupants escaped apart from Charles WILLMORE who unfortunately died. Verdict at the inquest was death from smoke suffocation. Very detailed reports of the fire and inquest were printed in the Hampshire Telegraph 14 June 1902. The remains of the building were unsafe and were demolished in 1904.