1870 - 80’s - Social gatherings at The Mount
Thomas Hargreaves, who bought The Mount in 1870, was from Lancashire. His family were merchants and manufacturers employing 716 men, 343 women, 306 boys and 285 girls in their calico printing and cotton spinning business. He was an honorary Lieutenant in the Royal Navy reserve and permitted to retain the rank of Captain when he retired from the 3rd Royal Lancashire Militia.
During his time at Bishopstoke, Captain Hargreaves became owner of SS. Ianira, a schooner yacht built in Lymington in 1874. The Ianira was 100 feet long, weighed 375 tons and carried a crew of 18. Captain Hargreaves travelled extensively during “the season” and was a member of 16 yacht clubs in England, France and Italy.
The gardens of The Mount, in the1860s, had been the centre for many social gatherings in the village. Captain Hargreaves continued to host events for various societies throughout the 1870s and 1880s. On many an occasion, guests would be provided with food, entertainment, music and access to the gardens and the house to view the extensive collection of art that was on display.
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated in grand style in 1887. The Hampshire Advertiser reported that, “in honour of the celebration, Captain Hargreaves presented five shillings each to 77 aged and deserving persons which they received with gratitude. Captain Hargreaves also awarded Jubilee medals to all the day and Sunday school scholars of Bishopstoke, Fair Oak and Horton Heath”. Captain Hargreaves yacht, Ianira, took part in formal celebrations on Southampton Water and, it was reported in the Hampshire Advertiser that “a Royal salute of fifty guns was fired from H.M.S. Invincible and also by the schooner yacht Ianira, belonging to Captain T. Hargreaves”.
For another fete in 1891, “arrangements were made for special trains to run to Bishopstoke Station and shops in Eastleigh were closed at 1.00pm to allow people to attend. At the station, upwards of 100 horse-drawn carriages were waiting to convey visitors to The Mount, Bishopstoke”. It was recorded that 6000 people attended this event and 2000 paid an extra fee to visit the picture gallery.
By Chris Humby of the Bishopstoke History Society.