No. 88 Milford Street

Mary Stephens


88 Milford Street taken from Troll Antiques by kind permission of Mary Smith

88 Milford Street taken from Troll Antiques by kind permission of Mary Smith

In 1479 a tenement next to the city rampart and Milford Bars was recorded as belonging to a tailor named William Marchy, and it is likely that the house on this spot which was demolished in 1972 was built by him.


It had undergone some changes since mediaeval times, notably the addition of a panel in the upper storey, probably done in 1914, when the adjoining buildings were demolished.  However, it retained many original features externally including most of its timbers and an original brick chimney stack.  It also had what was probably the last surviving mediaeval ridge tile finial in situ in Salisbury –  thought to have been made locally, in the Laverstock kilns. Inside there was a stone chimney piece and moulded fireplace and some fine beams on the ground floor, and a smaller fireplace on the first floor.


1972 was not the first time the house had been in danger of demolition.  The South Wilts Gazette of April 11 1913 reports the ‘happy decision’ by the promoters of the St Martin’s Men’s Bible Class, who had bought the site to build new premises, to preserve the house, with the help of subscribers from the town.  The accompanying picture shows the house in its pre-1914 form, without the extra gable.


Adjoining number 88 and up a path was a hall, St Martins or Milford Hall. The hall was used for all sorts of community events – dancing lessons, beetle drives, meetings, brownies, youth clubs, wedding receptions and the like:


Mrs M Tucker describes the buildings: “It was a wooden hall and it had a garden in front of it, and there was a garden to the side which..was a nice little sitting area. Sideways on to the hall was a …cottage and I think the caretaker lived in the cottage. The hall faced out to Milford Street, but the cottage was sideways onto it….All sorts of things went on there….they had the best Christmas bazar in the district…and then they would let it out – my daughter went there for ballet classes.”

” Aubrey Neate’s wife, and her sisters danced there during the second world war years, before they were married “..they decided they would tell their mother that they would have to go in early, and off they went….instead of going to the army hut to start work…they used to go up to St Martins Hall…and it was a dance hall”


Dance lessons taking place at Number 88 Milford Street- St Martin's Hall. Picture by kind permission of Marion and Will Tucker

Dance lessons taking place at Number 88 Milford Street- St Martin’s Hall. Picture by kind permission of Marion and Will Tucker

“I do remember going in there because it was used as more of a community centre as we call them today. I remember even as a child loving that building, there was just something about it, and the tragedy of when it was taken down. And I thought yes OK it’s got to come down because of the ring road but please put it somewhere else….” (Naomi Parkes)


It was also home to the Swan School from 1953 to 1964.  Miss Swanton, the Headmistress wrote that they ‘moved into St Martin’s Hall, Milford Street, recently vacated by the Church School. Four large rooms, each with folding doors to make a large Hall’.


A note from Headmistress Ms Swanton to parents regarding parking at Swan School, 88 Milford Street

A note from Headmistress Ms Swanton to parents regarding parking at Swan School, 88 Milford Street

Roger Stephens remembers attending the school: “And I can remember being at school, this was ..(the) …Swan School, and the Swan School was originally in Crane Street. My remembrances of the building are pretty hazy really, ….. but, I can remember going down at lunchtime in crocodile, down to the Gaumont, which is now the Odeon, for lunch, and then having to go back and I think this is every day as far as I can remember”.







What happened to number 88?

Local people were dismayed to see the house and hall purchased for demolition, but gained some solace when they heard that it was going to be re-erected at Lockeridge, near Marlborough, on an estate owned by Lord Kennet. Although this was what most people believed, and it has been repeated time and again in books, in fact this never happened.


Tenacious researcher Barbara Bayfield was determined to find out where the remains of no.88 ended up. In a stunning piece of lateral thinking she phoned the village pub in Lockeridge! Through information she gained there, she got in touch with film director Stephen Weeks, who had purchased the house. It appears that his intention was to use the timbers to renovate his castle – Penhow Castle in Wales – Lockeridge being a temporary storage place as he was friends with Lord Kennet.

Stephen Weeks finishes the story: “The building went to a site near Lockeridge. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, it was delivered simply scraped up by a bulldozer and was not at all salvageable. That included a mediaeval stone fireplace too. It was a great disappointment – and at that time I was not equipped to deal properly with the removal of buildings and to trying to get any care from demolition contractors. Lord Kennet (just died – Wayland Young), who lived in Lockeridge, found me a place to have the building delivered prior to (I hoped) sorting for re-use. This must have happened around 1972 or 1973. So the building never went to Wales.” (e-mail from Stephen Weeks, June 2009).

A sad end to a magnificent building.




Comments about this page

  • My time at Swan School was approx: 1952-58. This page brings back so many memories, too many to record here. Perhaps at first appearance like Miss Trunchball, Ms Swanton was a formidable, larger than life character, but she had a heart of gold and was fair, she clearly loved us all and, at the time, I think it true to say I loved her. Teddy Bare was a hilarious entertainment for us, his head popping up at different windows, out of the blue. I remember being taught English by Mrs Lynch and Mathematics by Mrs Golding, wife of author William Golding, who later taught me English in BWS. Other outstanding memories are the places we went for sports, Choristers Green, Greencroft, Cathedral School swimming pool, amongst others. The photo of demolition is so sad.

    By Steve Waters (28/06/2024)
  • Remember first day at Swan in 1953 complete with satchel, peaked cap and galoshes. Ms Swanton was an imposing figure and was introduced to her friend a Mr Edward Bare and known as Teddy. Weekly swimming at the Cathedral School swimming pool where we all marched along Rampart Rd and down St Anne’s St, crocodile fashion. sports activities in the long garden at the top of St Anne’s St which until recently was a doctors surgery. Sports day in the Cathedral Close gardens opposite to the tennis courts (now a car park) Remember the egg and spoon plus sack races. Still have a year School Photo (1958?) taken in a garden with all the teachers, some of which do not generate fond memories and then leaving at the age of 11 to attend the Modern school at the top of Kelsey hill. Wasn’t until much later when I realised that Ms Swanton was the sister of the cricket legend A.E.Swanton not that would have made much difference to my educational status at the time-

    By Peter Norton (24/01/2022)
  • Thanks for your great contribution Peter!

    By Clare Christopher (24/01/2022)
  • There is now a Facebook page for the original Swan School (1935-1996) before it joined up with La Retraite Girls School. If any ex-pupils from this period read this, please like and join the page. Ex-pupil Paul Dean, Swan from 1958 to 1963.

    By Paul Dean (10/06/2019)
  • Thanks Paul, we will add this to our Twitter feed too. Hope you get lots of ex-pupils joining up.

    By Clare Christopher (10/06/2019)
  • I also attended Swans School in 1949 at Crane Street and later Milford Street and remember only too well Miss Swanson. My famous report read “David appears to live in a world of his own, only leaving it to go to the toilet” – nothing changes!

    By David Ralph (03/02/2019)
  • I attended Swan School in Crane St. in about 1948 and remember Ms Swan – I think she was responsible for my appalling Maths results later in life as I used to be terror struck at learning my tables. I also remember with delight the Sports Days held in the Close. I have a Salisbury Journal picture picture of me winning the Egg and Spoon race ( I think I held the egg the whole way). Winning Dinky Toy prizes spurred me on to do well in the Sack race the following year..great start to my acedemic career.

    By Roger Green (14/03/2017)
  • This is absolutely heartbreaking. How come the building wasn’t listed? It certainly should have been although with the British lack of concern for its heritage, that wouldn’t have stopped demolition, I fear.

    By Kate Pearson (10/03/2017)
  • This is a super piece of local and social history and very well presented. Love it !

    By Brian FORD (11/12/2016)
  • Thanks for your comments John – it is always interesting to hear memories of these sadly vanished places.

    By John Palmer (05/10/2016)
  • Despite the previous comment about Miss Nancy Swanton, she did eventually marry a retired and very affable military gentleman, Edward (Teddy) Bare, and the two of them lived into old age in a delightful cottage in South Newton. I used to cut their grass for a few shillings, and a welcome beer.

    By John Greenstreet (05/10/2016)
  • I remember the Swan School, which I attended in 1955 before being sent away to boarding school. Miss Nancy Swanton and I kept in touch long after I left, and I still have 6 beautiful crystal beer mugs she gave me when I married. She used to wallop us when necessary with a ping pong bat! I remember the smell of the Gibbs Mew brewery and one of the Gibbs (Simon?) was also at the Swan. Squashed up at the back of her Bedford Dormobile for football matches …The scary Mrs Lynch … It’s a good memory and sadly lost now.

    By John Greenstreet (05/10/2016)
  • This excellent website definitely has all the info I needed concerning
    this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    By dammsugarebä (02/05/2016)
  • Its very disappointing to know that Milford Hall was never re-erected…I must be one of many who was led to believe that was the case. I started primary school there in Autumn 1962. I still remember the first day. Miss (very much Miss) Swanton was always very much in charge…I also remember he escapades with her infamous Comma Bedford van..jump starting in Kelsey Hill when the school re-located in 1963. I even recognise the handwriting from my school reports! Thanks for the info.

    By Howard Robson (20/12/2014)

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