This week I am returning to the trip through Camberley’s time and space that I left in June on a History of Camberley, when we had reached Tea Caddy Row and Sir Arthur Sullivan’s old home opposite.
Today, we start again at Agincourt House – which consists of two buildings, the original (much altered) house and a hall built next to it. According to Graham Barson (Camberley & Yorktown between the wars) it was built in the early part of the 19th century and an early owner was Dr Manders who was also a captain in a volunteer regiment. In 1851, just before the Sullivans moved into Albany Place next door, the house was occupied by William Davies, a GP, with his wife, children, servants and an assistant. He seems to have been in the area for some time, as his wife and children were all born in Frimley. He was still there 20 years later, by now a widower and describing himself as a ‘retired surgeon’.
During WW1 it was used as a billet for soldiers and then a furniture depository. By the late 1920s the house seems to have fallen into disrepair and the Agincourt Hall Company (first secretary Percy White) was set up to run both the original building and a new hall that was built on the side. The old house was re-designed, with a Masonic Hall at the centre, designed by local architects the Poulters, for Albert Edward Lodge. Currently, it seems to be home to two Masonic Lodges.
The Hall next door was available to hire from November 1929 – it had been built to provide funds for the Freemasons and provide a much needed venue for Camberley’s social life. The facilities included a buffet, lounges, dressing rooms, a dining hall and even a small indoor golf course.
By 1930 a Mr J C Langsdale was the letting agent and he also ran a bootmakers from nearby premises, so presumably, it was not a particularly time-consuming job.
By the early 1960s the lease came up for renewal and was bought by local entrepreneur Bob Potter – son of a Mytchett farmer, he was now in the music business. The venue hosted a large number of ‘famous names’ such as Dusty Springfield, the Rolling Stones and the Who – for a fuller list, see Bob Potter’s biography ‘One Man’s Dream’. Since then it has continued to be a music venue.
UPDATE – THANKS TO ANDY SUTER (ON FACEBOOK) FOR THIS ADDED INFORMATION:
In 1940 the hall was requisitioned for the military and it wasn’t until 1946 that the Masonic Lodges were able to return. Agincourt Hall Ltd was then bought by Albert Edward Lodge in 1960 and not long afterwards they also bought two bungalows that were behind it. It would seem that finances were still a problem and it was decided to lease the hall to a single entertainment organisation (presumably Bob Potter) instead of making an irregular income out of casual bookings). The tenant was allowed to refurbish the hall, inside and out but had to be in charge of bar and catering facilities.
Andy also believes that there are 4 Masonic Lodges using the hall, not two, as I said – Albert Edward, Bagshot, Agincourt and Camberley.
For more information on Albert Edward Lodge see http://albertedwardlodge1714.com/index.html
UPDATE – THANK TO NEIL PARKER (ON FACEBOOK)
In March 1830 there was an auction of the house ‘which is now in the possession of Major Browne’ (who is described as the tenant). At this time it was described as ‘A capital and well-built brick and slated dwelling-house ….with coach-house, stall stables and other suitable outbuildings and garden’.
Another auction notice appeared in September 1830, this time including the ‘genuine household furniture and effects, late the property of a Gentleman, deceased’. It appears the Major had died there and, since his effects were being auctioned, he had possibly been living alone and with no family around him.
Interestingly, catalogues were to be distributed ‘in due time’ to the neighbouring Inns – now that’s a new marketing idea?