Tanbridge House is now in Tanbridge Park, located off the Worthing Road. Once a family home within its own estate, then a girls’ school, now divided into luxury apartments. The music rooms (originally the stables and later the gym) and even the former toilet block were converted at the same time.
It was the Oliver Family who built the current neo-Jacobean style house in 1887 and it was one of the first Horsham houses to be lit by electricity. Thomas Oliver had bought the former Tanbridge House, thought to be built by Richard Nye around 1627. The purchase was made from Mrs Mary Redford c1870, having moved in during the 1850s. An even older building was mentioned in 1427 and 1524, then known as Cadmans. Nye’s structure, situated between the current house and the Worthing Road, was demolished to make way for the new building although two 16th century fireplaces were saved and re-used in the new building.
The date above the door is 1887 and the inscription reads ‘AD FOEDERA CRESCO’. The motto translates to ‘I gain by treaty’ or ‘I grow for treaties’. The latter belongs to the Oliver family. The Oliver crest is a fist clenching an olive branch can be seen on the front of the building as can the entwined initials T, C & O representing Thomas and, his wife, Caroline Oliver, these being repeated on the left hand side. In 1968 the property was described as a ‘fine example of the revived Wealden tradition’. The building is assymmetric with minor features denying the exact symmetry demanded by the Elizabethans. However it has perhaps the finest groups of chimneys in all of Horsham.
After Oliver’s death in 1920 the property was sold to the County Council for £7000 [2006: £193,277.93]. In 1924 it became the Horsham High School for Girls before turning mixed and comprehensive in 1976, assuming the name Tanbridge House School. At that time it housed the top three years of the school, the lower years used the school on the current Sainsbury’s site.
The property was due to be demolished to make way for new flats and houses. In 1988 a campaign to save the house was launched by Audrey Robinson, a former teacher at the Horsham High School for Girls. The property ceased being a school in 1994 when the new, mixed, Tanbridge House School was opened on a nearby site adjacent to the A24. A modern school block behind and to the left of the featured building was removed as part of the redevelopment.
In 1995 the site began redevelopment with the building of houses and flats by Persimmon Homes working around the outside and Taywood working in the centre. The properties were built to the same group of designs but with the Persimmon homes more highly specified. Persimmons 1995 brochures are linked below. To the west of the Tanbridge House plot, on Worthing Road are the cottages built for the gardener and coachman. The left hand cottage was the subject of extensive renovation at the end of 2007.
The school picture features the twins Betty (now Kenton) and Joan Rice at the school in 1933. They are easily spotted on the second to back row on the right hand side, both sporting plaits. Betty is on the left. This photograph has been rolled up for the last 74 years before being scanned and e mailed from Sweden by the Penny, the daughter of the aforementioned Betty. Click on the picture for the full very large image. If you can identify yourself or anyone else please use the comments form below.
Tanbridge Park, the ‘back garden’of the school and house was sympathetically developed in 1994 – 1996. The 140 or so house are now sought after due to their location, low density and proximity to town.