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St Edward's School

St Edward's School, Melchet Court.





Melchet Park is situated on Plaitford’s northern boundary. At the time of the Domesday Survey, Melchet Wood belonged to the Abbess of Wilton with rights to take wood and feed hogs. From the early middle ages, the office of custodians of the park of Melchet belonged to the Manor of Plaitford when Melchet Forest formed part of the Royal Forest of Clarendon. 

In early 1941 the house was requisitioned again by the government and was taken over by The Ministry of Aircraft Production for the duration of the war. After the war, the house reverted to a school for children orphaned by the war. In 1954 it was taken over by Salesian Fathers as a Theological college. Since 1963 it has been the home of St Edward's Boys School. 

The Civil Parish before the county boundary changes in 1895, Plaitford and Melchet Park were in Wiltshire with Melchet Park being part of the parish of Whiteparish. After the Local Government Act of 1894 Melchet Park became a civil parish in its own right and this lasted until 1932. Following a government review in 1932, Plaitford joined with Melchet Park and they then became the Parish of Melchet Park and Plaitford.


Hindu temple at Melchet Park.

Throughout the thirteenth century large grants and sales were made from Melchet forest. As well as Clarendon, the priors of Mottisfont, Breamore and the Abbess of Romsey obtained timber from Melchet. Nothing is known of the Georgian mansion that stood in Melchet Park until the early 1860’s. 

Major John Osborne purchased the park in 1791 and is famous for erecting a Hindu Temple in the grounds dedicated to his friend Warren Hastings, Governor- General of Bengal, 1773-1775. Major Osborne died in 1821 and the park was purchased by Alexander Baring, head of Baring Brothers (Bankers) who in 1835 was created Lord Ashburton. 

St Edward's School 1867.

In 1862, his son, William, 2nd Lord Ashburton, demolished the old mansion and started building the Elizabethan style property that stands today. After William’s death in 1864, his wife, Louisa, Lady Ashburton, continued the building work which was completed in 1867. In August 1872 a fire destroyed parts of the house and restoration work was carried out between 1875 and 1879. Louisa, Lady Ashburton, died in 1903 and in 1911 the estate was purchased by Sir Alfred Mond a founder member of the chemical company ICI. Extensive alterations were made to the house between 1912 and 1914. During the First World War the house was turned into a 60 bed convalescent hospital for wounded servicemen. Sir Alfred Mond was created 1st Baron Melchet of Landford in 1928. Following his death in 1930, the estate was put up for auction in 1935. After conversion, the house opened as a school in 1939 but in the spring of 1940 it was requisitioned by the army and became the head quarters of Southern Command under the command of Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery. With the threat of invasion over the army left in Melchet Court c1915 September 1940. 

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