The village of Stubbington, in which the Centre is located, itself goes back a long way; its parish church at Crofton being mentioned in the Doomsday Book. More recently, it was where Stubbington House School educated fee-paying boys from age 8 to 18 years. They were prepared for Oxford and Cambridge, public schools and the armed forces, primarily the Royal Navy. Indeed the school was well known as 'The cradle of the Navy'. Its school outfitters were in London and its boys were not allowed to mix with 'the locals'.
Apart from a few years during World War 2, the school spent 120 years in Stubbington, under the ownership of one family-the Fosters. Its fame and record are well documented elsewhere, and details would take up too much space here. However a few facts will give the reader an insight of its success:
5 VCs, 2 Albert Medals, 2 GCs and at least 156 DSOs, 91 MCs, 394 Mentions in Dispatches and 236 Foreign Orders won.
Prince Alexander Albert of Battenburg (Queen Victoria's Grandson)
Andrew Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, First Sea Lord
John H. D. Cunningham, First Sea Lord
Lionel Halsey, naval officer and courtier
David Renton, Baron Renton, British Conservative politician and government minister
Robert Falcon Scott, naval officer and Antarctic explorer
John Ellis Talbot, British Conservative politician
Henry Bradwardine Jackson, First Sea Lord
John Sandy Woodward, naval officer and Falklands Task Force Commander
Lord Charles Beresford, naval officer and member of parliament
Anthony Cecil Capel Miers, submariner and Victoria Cross winner
Robert Falcon Scott, naval officer and Antarctic explorer, an alumnus whose attendance between 1879 and 1881 is celebrated by a blue plaque near the centre entrance.
These are just a few. The list contains, inter alia, at least 2 Admirals of the Fleet, 70 Admirals, 42 Rear Admirals and 39 Vice Admirals. Then there are 47 Brigadier Generals to Generals, also 8 Air Commodores to Air Chief Marshals.
Originally a fine mansion, built in the early 1700s and set in an ample estate, Stubbington House became a school when acquired by William Foster in 1841. It went through periods of school contraction and expansion, during one of which, between 1871 and 1879, were added a number of buildings including a 2 story Jubilee wing (on the site of the present Crofton Hall), a 2 story Chapel wing (still standing as the Hammond wing of the Centre) and a gymnasium (on the site of the present Sports Hall). An Assembly hall (still standing as the scout hut) was added around 1905. In 1962, a combination of death duties demanded from the Foster family and high property maintenance costs forced the school to move away to Ascot.
Stubbington Village Hall
Although not a community centre in name, perhaps a few words about Stubbington's village hall are appropriate here. Built between 1870 and 1898 as one of a group of school buildings known as the Park House Flats, it served as a gym and assembly hall. It once stood on the site in Bells Lane, now occupied by Solent Courts, and was a large 2 story building with 'lean to' extensions.
In 1928, severe gales completely removed the galvanized iron roof and collapsed a wall. This injured a teacher and a number of girls from Gosport Road School, who were taking a class there at the time.
It entered the property market sometime after 1941. In 1943 it was bought by Isaac Hammond, a local landowner and market gardener, upon the occasion of his golden wedding anniversary. He and his wife, Augusta, presented the hall to Fareham Urban District Council in trust, in perpetuity for the benefit of the local community. Then re-titled the Hammond Memorial Hall, during the war it was used as a first aid and ARP post, for the issue of food ration books and for social events. Upstairs was a canteen for servicemen billeted in the village and, after the war, a 'lean to' extension housed the village library until 1974, when the books were moved to their present home in the village.
Between 1988 and 1991, there was much argument about the repair and upkeep of the Hammond Memorial Hall. Finally it was deemed too expensive to refurbish, at around £250,000 (to be raised locally), and was demolished in 1997.
In 2007-8, a plan to build a replacement Hammond Memorial Hall was considered, but eventually abandoned. Money granted by Fareham Borough Council in support of this plan was then diverted to refurbish and modernise the old Chapel wing of the community centre. This work took 5 months and, upon completion in 2009, the building was reopened and named the Hammond wing. The dedication plaque may be seen at the internal entrance to the wing.
The Community Centre
The Stubbington House School property was sold to Fareham District Council in 1962, for £97,000, and thereafter stood empty, locked up and vandalised. In the 1960s, many of the school buildings were demolished and in 1963 the remaining significant buildings were leased to the newly formed Crofton Community Association (CCA). These were the Jubilee and Chapel wings, the gym, a small theatre (in the area of the present enclosed garden) and a nearby pair of rooms used for Judo. There had been a more ambitious plan to lease Stubbington House as well, but this came to naught and it was demolished in 1967 (the site is now occupied by the community tennis courts).
The management of the CCA was based initially in the Jubilee wing, but transferred to the Chapel wing at some stage, probably because the Jubilee wing started to develop problems, such as dry rot and fungus. This led eventually to its demolition in 1981. Before then an outdoor swimming pool had been built (roughly in the present tarmac area between Crofton Hall and the Chapel wing). Some time after that, the remaining small theatre, a pair of fives courts, the old school carpenters shop and a classroom were pulled down. In 1987, a hurricane force wind swept along the South coast and, as well as causing great regional devastation, it damaged the roof of the old gym, which was subsequently pulled down and its rubble used to fill in the swimming pool. The gym was replaced in 1988, by a new Sports Hall complete with equipment store and two activity rooms, at a cost of £263,655. Around this time the sports ground changing rooms were constructed adjacent to it.
The site of the demolished Jubilee wing remained bare until 1995, when the Crofton Hall, linking corridors, a kitchen, toilets and CCA management offices between Crofton Hall and the old Chapel (now Hammond) wing were built. The Management then moved into its present quarters and this is the current situation.
In 2009 the enclosed garden of the centre was redesigned and dedicated to Helen Deakin. Helen was a local inhabitant who was passionate in her love of Stubbington. She devoted her later years to clearing rubbish from the village streets and tidying its open spaces. In return she was much loved by the local community; her funeral was attended by crowds and a fund raised in her memory.
So..... as you walk up to the entrance of the community centre, imagine that you are walking across the old school prefects garden, past the swimming pool on your left. Behind you are the school's earth closet toilets, on your right can be heard the voices of Matins from the Chapel upstairs, and in the background are the constant sounds of lots of boys at work and play!