The Mount - the centre of social gatherings once again
Charlotte Cotton’s father was Joseph Spence, a chemist and druggist from York. Her father had established the York Flint Glass Company and his partner, James Meek, was thrice Lord Mayor of the City. In around 1825, the York Flint Glass Company was the largest employer in the City, with factories burning more than a thousand tons of coal a year. Charlotte was an only child and inherited the family fortune when her mother died in 1884.
After the arrival of the Cottons and their alteration of the house, The Mount once again became the centre for social gatherings in the village. There were many fetes and events held over the years and the marking of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee was something special. To celebrate the event, 1,500 villagers were invited to the grounds for afternoon tea between 4.00pm and 6.00pm. The catering for the event was carried out by Mr Stagg, the local baker in Church Road, who must have been delighted to receive the custom. Not surprisingly, it was reported that “almost all of the parishioners availed themselves of the liberality and enjoyed a stroll along picturesque terraces where choice flowers created a brilliant display. The London and South Western Railway Band played and games and dancing went on until 8.30 p.m”. Three of the parishioners who were not present to witness the event were Mr and Mrs Cotton and their daughter Ida. They were on holiday in Switzerland but they did send a communication that was read at the event on their behalf. Whilst they lived at The Mount, many worthy organisations enjoyed the hospitality afforded by the Cotton family to raise funds for charitable causes.
Thomas Cotton was the proud owner of one of the first cars in Bishopstoke. It is however, a matter of debate about who owned the first car in the village. That distinction may belong to Thomas Cotton, the rector, the Revd. Sedgwick or Dr Simmons. As a local councillor, Thomas Cotton presented commemoration mugs to the children of Eastleigh and Bishopstoke for the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902 and King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Many of these mugs survive to-day in the homes of old Bishopstoke families.
The Cottons sold The Mount in 1921 and moved to Stuart Lodge, Highcliff, near Bournemouth. The estate was bought by Hampshire County Council and the premises were converted for use as a sanatorium. This old house is one of the few houses to survive from Bishopstoke’s days of Victorian splendour.
By Chris Humby of the Bishopstoke History Society.