The history of Heywood House is an extensive one, spanning over 400 years, with an interesting array of previous owners, each with their own fascinating story to tell. In this article, we will be sharing with you about the Rosser Rees family and Heywood House throughout the school years…
After the First World War, once the house was no longer required to be used as an auxiliary hospital for wounded soldiers, the whole estate was put up for auction with sadly no buyers. The house and surrounding buildings then remained empty for 12 years with its survival in the balance. In 1934 the estate was saved by steam roller engineer, Mr Sydney Herbert Barnes, who carried out extensive restoration works on Heywood House and lived here until his death.
In 1964 the house was then purchased by Mr Edmund (or Eddie, as he preferred to be called) Rosser Rees who occupied the property with his wife, mother, and two children. For most of the time, Heywood House was a private family home with the Rosser Rees family occupying the ground and first floor of the Mansion house. The ground floor of the Mansion consisted of a kitchen, large pantry and fine China cabinet, an elegant dining room (Treasury, now one our meeting rooms), main hall with soft furnishings and ornate décor, a library/nursery in the Danby room (now our co-working area), and a drawing room located in the Marlborough room.
The family owned many animals including horses, cats, and dogs, with the stables being situated in the (now named) Coach Annexe building. There was a team of staff to help with the upkeep of the house and grounds including cooks, housekeepers, and gardeners. The Rosser Rees children had much fun growing up in and exploring the 30 acres of grounds with the two dells (now topiary and quad garden) and front lawn. Mrs Rosser Rees was a keen gardener and liked to spend time in the walled garden which at the time housed a large glass house.
During the summer months, Mr and Mrs Rosser Rees would open their home as a private school for 16/17 year-old male students from the Middle East. Along with Mr and Mrs Rosser Rees, there were four other members of teaching staff, student teachers from various locations; Kevin Stockley, Paul Rogers, John Box and Jon Bowie. The boys’ dormitory was located on the top floor of the Mansion, with the classrooms being situated in the Coach House building. Mr and Mrs Rosser Rees and the teachers ensured that a varied curriculum was delivered during the summer school including languages, sports, and music. The Ludlow office located on the Mansion ground floor was gymnasium, and a swimming pool was situated in the Conservatory – where the teachers would teach students to swim!
In 1982 the Rosser Rees family decided to move on and the house was then acquired by The National Trust who converted the buildings to house its financial and marketing functions.
We can’t begin to imagine how amazing it would have been to grow up in the Heywood House estate as a child. Can you imagine playing a game of hide and seek in the Mansion? You could get lost for days! And what an experience it must have been for the students from the Middle East to take up residence in such an idyllic location for the summer with a dedicated team of teachers to plan lessons and fun activities for the season.
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