Greenhill House is thought to have been built around the beginning of the 19th century. The 1784 map certainly shows some buildings on the later site of Greenhill House. In 1784 the proprietor in possession was Mrs Smith, but St John’s Hospital in Bath is described as The Lord of the Fee, a term that dates back to the feudal system. The land on which Greenhill House stands had from time immemorial formed part of the ancient possession of the hospital.
Mrs Mary Smith was in fact Mary Barnes Palmer who was part of the Samborne-Palmer family and the landed elite in Timsbury. She married Bartholomew Smith in 1769. Their grandson Bartholomew Smith was living in the house in 1839. The Smith family lived in the house for many years. In the 1851 census the property was described as a dwelling house and office, lawn and walled garden amounting to 3 acres, 1 rood and 27 perches.
A Bartholomew Smith (a descendant of the above) died in 1897. Until 1899 the house was occupied by Charles Adams Kemble. In that year the Charity Commissioners ordered the hospital to sell Greenhill House for at least £1000 plus £13 for the timber. So it was sold for £1013 to the lady who was by that time resident there, Eliza Burdett wife of Rev. William Jerome Burdett.
It remained in her possession until 1922 when it is recorded that Eliza Burdett (then a widow) of Exmouth sold the property to Ada Hart of Burnham in Somerset for £1600. Cecil Rhodes’ recollections provide an interesting account of Greenhill House at this time. At the time the property consisted of a dwelling house, gardens, stables and coach house, in all 2 acres, 2 roods and 19 perches. Ada Hart already owned the piece of land known as Greenhill. She had bought it from John Stukely Palmer Samborne in 1936.
In 1946 Ada Hart (living in Pulteney Street, Bath) sold it to Miss Joan Eshelby for £5000, but she appears to have only kept it for two months because in June of the same year she sold it to J C Plews. His profession was describes a ‘gentleman’ and whose addeess was in Wakefield. The price was £8750. This can be accounted for by the extent of the property at the time; a dwelling house, gardens, stables and outbuildings as well as the piece of land known as Greenhill to east of the property and the cottage then occupied by the Misses Ida and Alice Walters.
In 1948 Plews was about to move abroad and wanted to sell or lease Greenhill, so he left his solicitor power of attorney. In 1949 the cottage was sold to Constance Whitaker and the 6 acres of land known as Greenhill to Albert Nash.They were finally unable to maintain the house, due to restrictions in the money that could be taken out of their native America. In 1948 it was sold to Bristol Corporation and it was then used as a residential nursery for deprived children.
It was bought in 1960/1 by the Bath Round Table with money raised by them and other friends and presented to the Leonard Cheshire Foundation. Mrs Holbrook’s recollections describe the beginnings of the Cheshire Home.
Reproduced from ‘The Timsbury Book’ by kind permission of Timsbury Parish Council.