Elm Farm - Branson's House - Cosgrove Lodge

Ref: Date Occupant
Auction 1889 Frederick Dickens
Census 1891 Joseph Holt (The Elms Farm)
Wolverton Express 1898 G. F. Branson
Census 1901 F. Branson "The Elms" Retired Publican
Kelly's Directory 1903 -1910 Mrs. Stanley Bird
Census 1911 William Hurst , wife is the caretaker of Cosgrove Lodge
Riden 1914 Robert Penson - farming at the Elms in 1914
Kelly's Directory 1920 - 1940 Charles Reginald Whiting , farmer

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 11 April 1868

COSGROVE, near Stony Stratford.

55 ACRES of luxuriant GRASS for Mowing (the Hay to go off), and the GRASS KEEPING up to the 31st of December, 1868,

TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION,

By GEO. BENNETT,

On MONDAY, April 20,1868, direction of Mr. L. Osborn.

Credit given on the usual terms.
The Mowings are well known to produce heavy crops, and the Grazings are of first-rate quality. The company is requested to meet the Auctioneer, at the
Plough Inn, at Three o'clock in the Afternoon.


Northampton Mercury - Saturday 16 October 1869

PETTY SESSIONS OCTOBER 8TH present - Rev H J Barton chairman; Major Levi and C. G Percival Esq.

William Smith, a little boy, of Cosgrove, was summoned by Mr. Lewis Osborn for stealing a quantity of apple, from his orchard, at Cosgrove, on September 15th.

Mr. Osborn stated he did not wish to press the charge but only as an example to others, as he had frequently suffered by depredations committed in his orchard.

Joseph Atkinson, gamekeeper to J. C. Mansel, Esq., proved the case and the Chairman, after a suitable caution to both the boy and his mother (who was present), inflicted a fine of 1s., which, with the costs, amounted to 10s. 6d.


Northampton Mercury - Saturday 30 April 1870

COSGROVE, near Stony Stratford.

55 ACRES of GRASS for MOWING (the Hay to go off), and GRASS KEEPING, on fine old Pasture and rich Meadow Land,

BE SOLD BY AUCTION,

By GEO. BENNETT,

On Monday, May the 2nd, 1870, direction of Mr. L. Osborn, in the following Lots:—

Lot
A.
R.
P.
1. Home Close, to be mown, and the hay to go off    
8
1
0
2. New Piece, ditto   ditto 
17
1
0
3. The Whales, ditto ditto
6
3
4
4.   Trunk Meadow, to be grazed up to 31st Dec, 1870
6
1
23
5.   Ford Meadow, ditto ditto
9
0
0
6. New Meadow, ditto  ditto
6
2
0
The Lattermath Keeping as under, up to the 31st Dec, 1870.
7. Home Close  
8
1
8.  New Piece
17
1
9. The Whales
6
3

Credit on the usual terms. The Company is requested to meet the Auctioneer at The Plough Inn, Cosgrove, at Three o'clock in the afternoon, and proceed to Sale.

These fields are well Fenced and Watered, and are known to produce great Crops of Grass.

N.B.—The comfortable and convenient RESIDENCE, with Garden, Stable, and Coach-house, detached and pleasantly situate in the fields, near Cosgrove Village, TO LET with immediate possession.


Northampton Mercury - Saturday 27 September 1879

NORTHAMPTON CATTLE MARKET
W. J. PEIRCE
WILL SELL BY AUCTION

THIS DAY, Saturday, Sept. 27th, 1879, in the above Market, at Twelve o'clock, THE following HORSES,

The property of Mr. L. Osborne, Cosgrove. A Capital Black Cart Mare, eight years old, quiet, and a good worker, and believed to be sound.
Colt Foal, out of above, by Mr. Sander's black Horse, Active.
An excellent Bay Yearling Filly, by Active.


Northampton Mercury - Saturday 11 October 1879

FOR SALE a handsome Bay Yearling Cart FILLY, by Mr. Sanders' Black Horse Active, out of a good Mare. Active was highly commended at the Bedford Show.

Also, a useful Black Gelding Carriage HORSE, aged, quiet to ride and drive, and believed to be sound. For price and particulars, apply to Mr. Osborn, Cosgrove, near Stony Stratford.


Northampton Mercury - Saturday 17 January 1880

FOR SALE, handsome pure-bred down-calving Ayrshire COW, time up, second calf ; bought direct from Fowler's.—For particulars, Mr. Osborn, Cosgrove near Stony Stratford.


Northampton Mercury - Saturday 13 April 1889

THE ELMS FARM, COSGROVE,

Close to the Castlethorpe Station, on the L. and N. W. Railway.

Messrs. Durham, Gotto and Samuel,

are instructed by Mr. Lewis Osborn,

TO SELL BY AUCTION,

On Thursday, April 18th, 1889.

56 Acres of Excellent GRASS KEEPING,
Up to the 11th of October next, 39 Acres of which can
be mown (to go off) ;

Also part of a Rick of Well-gotten Meadow HAY;
A Stump of ditto;

And a Quantity of WILLOW POLES.

Credit will be given until August 1st, on payment of a deposit of 25 per cent., and giving approved security upon conditions which will be produced at the time of Sale. The company are requested to meet the Auctioneers at the Farm Buildings at Three o'clock precisely.

Catalogues may be had of Messrs. Durham, Gotto and Samuel, Auctioneers and Land Agents, 12, Guildhall Road, Northampton, Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell.


Northampton Mercury - Saturday 25 May 1889

COSGROVE, Northamptonshire,

Within a few minutes' walk of Castlethorpe Station, the L. and N.-W. Line, and two miles from the Market Town of Stony Stratford.

Messrs. Durham, Gotto, and Samuel
are instructed

TO SELL BY AUCTION,

At the Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford, on Thursday, JUNE 20TH, 1889, at Four for Five o'clock, the Highly desirable Freehold and Tithe-free

PLEASURE FARM,

known as " Elm Tree Farm," containing 56 acres of rich Accommodation Pasture Land, a portion being prettily timbered, with a comfortable and pleasantly-situated stone-built and slated Residence, (approached from the village through avenue of young and thriving Elm Trees), and the necessary farm buildings for the occupation of the land. The Farm has until recently and for several years been in the occupation of Mr. Frederick Dickens, at the annual rent of £110. The property is bounded on two sides by the Rivers Ouse and Tove, where excellent fishing can be had.

Particulars, with plan and conditions of Sale, may shortly be obtained of W. R. PARROTT, Esq., Solicitor, Stony Stratford; Or of Messrs. Durham, Gotto, and Samuel, Land Agents and Auctioneers, 12, Guild-hall-road, Northampton Stony Stratford ; and Newport Pagnell.


Northampton Mercury - Friday 15 May 1891

THE ELMS FARM, COSGROVE.

MESSRS. DURHAM, GOTTO, and SAMUEL

are instructed by Mr. Lewis Osborn

TO SELL BY AUCTION,

On Monday, May 25th, 1891,

56 Acres of Excellent GRASS KEEPING
Up to the 11th October next, 39 acres of which can
be mown (to go off),
Part of Rick of well-gotten MEADOW HAY,
Two well-bred Shorthorn BULLOCKS,
2½ years old, and
Four Milch COWS and CALVES, belonging to
Mr. JOSEPH HOLT..

Credit for the Keeping will be given until August 1st next on payment of a deposit of 25 per cent., and giving approved security upon conditions which will be produced time of sale.

The company are requested to meet the Auctioneers at the Farm Buildings at Three o'clock precisely.

Catalogues may be had of Messrs. Durham, Gotto, and Samuel, Auctioneers and Land Agents, Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell.


Northampton Mercury - Friday 25 August 1893

THE ELMS FARM, COSGROVE.

MESSRS. DURHAM, GOTTO, and SAMUEL

are instructed by Mr. Lewis Osborn

TO SELL BY AUCTION,

On Monday, September 1893,

56 Acres of Excellent GRASS KEEPING, from November 2nd next up to the 29th day of September, 1894, and which can be mown once or grazed.

Credit will given until the 24th of June, 1894, on payment of a deposit of 25 per cent., and giving approved security for the balance upon conditions that will be produced at the time of Sale. The company are requested to meet the Auctioneers at the Farm Buildings at Five o'clock precisely. Catalogues may be had of Messrs. Durham, Gotto, and Samuel, Auctioneers and Land Agents, Stony Stratford, Newport Pagnell, and Northampton.


Northampton Mercury - Friday 22 September 1911

COSGROVE. Northamptonshire

Two-and-a-half miles from Stony Stratford and
two miles from Castlethorpe Station L and N.-W. R. Main Line).

IMPORTANT SALE OF AN ATTRACTIVE
FREEHOLD RESIDENCE OR HUNTING BOX.

known as “COSGROVE LODGE”,

With STABLING. FARM PREMISES, and
About

67 ACRES of RICH PASTURE LAND AND
FOUR COTTAGES.

WOODS and CO.

Have received instructions from the Owner.

TO SELL BY AUCTION.

On MONDAY OCTOBER 2nd. 1911.

COCK HOTEL. STONY STRATFORD,
at Four o’clock precisely (unless previously
disposed of by Private Treaty), the following

VALUABLE FREEHOLD ESTATE,

and in Lots described;—

Lot 1. The MODERN STONE-BUILT
COUNTRY RESIDENCE.

Known as “COSGROVE LODGE”

In the Parish of COSGROVE, in the County of Northampton and containing: spacious Entrance Porch, largo Square Hall, Drawing-room leading into Conservatory. Dining-room, Morning-room. Kitchens, and the usual Domestic Offices, capital Bedrooms, Bathroom and Lavatories.

There is large and well-built Dairy.

The excellent Stable Accommodation is well built and conveniently arranged, it having accommodation for 12 horses and could extended if required; large Coach-house, Motor Garage, Harness room and Lofts.

The FARM BUILDINGS, which are newly built and compactly arranged, comprise two capital Yards, Bullock Hovels, Cart Shed, and Piggeries.

The Gardens, which are inexpensive to keep up, comprise well-stocked Kitchen Garden with two Greenhouses and a Tennis Lawn.

Also about 55 Acres of rich PASTURE and MEADOW LAND in eight convenient enclosures.

The House and Home Field are in the occupation of Mrs. Bird, on a lease expiring on September 29th at a yearly rental of £130 and the remaining Land is occupied by Mr Clarke, as yearly tenant, at an apportioned rental of £110.

The Residence stands on gravel soil, most substantially built of Bath stone, and has a southern aspect, and no expense has been spared in its building and decoration. It approached by a Carriage Drive, and there is ample land for the erection of a Lodge at the entrance. Hunting can be obtained with the Grafton, Bicester, and Whaddon Chase Hunts.

The Property stands within easy reach of two good Stations, and London can be reached in 1½ hours. The Farm Buildings are well built and arranged so as to make them suitable tor the maintenance of small herd and stud. The Land is of exceptional quality, well timbered and watered.

There is a Land Tax of about f£10 19s. 3d. on the Property and also an annual Fee Farm Rent of 3s 5d. The Timber and Tenants fixtures are included the sale.

Lot 2. All that Enclosure of Rich

PASTURE LAND, known as “Well Close”, containing 3a. 3r. 32p. or thereabouts and situate at the rear of Cosgrove Lodge, having considerable frontage to the road, and on which stands the well-known and never-failing Chalybeate Spring, known as “St. Vincent’s Well”. The Field is in the occupation of Mr. W. Clarke at an apportioned rent of £9 and there is a small land tax of about 16s thereon, in right of footway across the field.

Lot 3. The Close of Accommodation

PASTURE LAND, known “The Green.’ containing 8a. 1r. 12p or thereabouts in the occupation of Mr.  Clarke, at an apportioned rent of £16; land tax about 17s. 6d. There is a right of footway and carting when necessary over this lot from and to the public highway.

Lot 4. Three Stone-built and thatched

COTTAGES,

with Gardens in the occupation of Messrs. Moore and Valentine, at a gross rental of £16  18s

There is a land tax of about 13s. 9d on this Lot.

Lot 5.—A Stone-built and Slated

COTTAGE

containing Four Rooms, with Garden, in the occupation of Mr. Gascoine at a gross rental of £17  16s;  also the Land adjoining. There is a land tax of about on 6s on this lot.

To view Lots 2, 3, 4 and 5 apply to the Tenants,- and for Lot 1 apply to Mrs D Luck, Cosgrove.

Plan and Conditions of Sale and full particulars can be had of the Auctioneers. 2. Derngate, Northampton, and Park-street, Towcester or of

MESSRS BATCHELOR & COUSINS

2 Pancras Lane, Queen-street, London EC


Northampton Mercury 06 October 1911

An important sale of property was conducted Messrs. Woods and Co., Stony Stratford, on Monday, when they put for auction Cosgrove Lodge and about 55 acres of pasture and meadow land in one lot, also several other lots of posture and some cottages.
Cosgrove Lodge is a modern house built of Bath stone. The estate eminently suitable for anyone to enjoy the pastoral pursuits of dairying, shorthorn or horse breeding. The bidding reached £5,000, but the reserve was not reached, and the lot withdrawn.
The second lot, nearly four acres meadow land, known Well Close was withdrawn at £340, and over eight acres of similar land, known the Green, was withdrawn £650. £170 was offered for three stone-built cottages, but refused.
The fifth lot, a stone-built cottage in the occupation Mr. Gascoine rental £7 16s, was sold for £80.
Negotiations are it is understood, proceeding for the sale all the unsold lots. Mr. T. C. Woods conducted the sale, the solicitors being Messrs. Batchelor and Cousins.


Wolverton Express 6.10.1972

‘WHEN COSGROVE LODGE WAS BRANSON’S FOLLY’

Mackenzie Hill Ltd., who have bought Cosgrove Lodge for a reputed £250,000, may think  its 110 acre park has a future potentially rich in capital returns.

But a glance at its history reveals a past rich in colour and controversy.

Colour was in the form of one George Frederick Branson, a 19th century version of today’s football pools winner,  who came into a fortune by luck and allegedly lost it through luxury, leaving Cosgrove Lodge as his only lasting achievement.

Controversy has surrounded the estate for generations, from gossip mongers speculating the naughty goings-on at the Branson’s Folly as the Lodge was originally called, to the opening of the gravel pits and later the leisure park with thousands of day trippers pouring through the village with cars and caravans.

It all started, as some locals still recall, with “Squire” Branson’s arrival at Cosgrove at the end of the 19th century. This is how the “Express” recorded the story in 1961.

“Dover’s boy, potman, barman he might have been but when he came to this small Northants village in 1898 he had quite a sizeable fortune.

“He had won the money on a sweepstake in an out-post of the British Empire – some say Canada, others India, South Africa or even Australia. Anyhow this rotund, jovial man with a charming wife showed a sound business head.

“Before coming to Cosgrove he set part of his winnings to work, buying up public houses, improving them and selling them to breweries at a handsome profit.

“It is a fact that Branson built the Lodge on the site of the former farmhouse in 1898 – and he made sure people remembered him. His name was cut on a foundation stone near the front door. His initials stand boldly in stone over the porch, intertwined in the massive black iron gates and still be vaguely seen on some doorknobs.

“G.F.B. is carved over the fireplace and in the hall – but the Bransons did not need the initials. People still talk of his fabulous extravagance, his generosity, his drinking and his all-night parties.

“Branson had a house in London and many were his rich friends he entertained at The Lodge with parties that set the village talking. Some people envious of his apparent wealth and contemptuous of his extravagance prophesied: ‘He’ll die a pauper’.

They may well have been right. About 10 years after making his home at Cosgrove, Branson left – selling the house he had so splendidly built with all the best materials – and returned to London. Some say he died a poor man.

“That may be so. But his monument is at Cosgrove in his house and in the memories of his misguided generosity.”

On Branson’s abdication a Mrs. Bird made the 10 bedroomed manor house her home for a short while. It was then empty for eight years before Mr.  C. R. and Mrs. Whiting moved there in 1919. They stayed for 31 years.

In 1950 Mr. and Mrs. Betts and family took over the house for eight years, then Dowsett’s set up offices there while the M1 motorway was being built. For two years it remained empty until Mr. J. H. White of Barton Hartshorn Manor paid £7,300 for the house and land at a Northampton auction in May 1961.

It was at that sale that Cosgrove Sand and Gravel finally gave up the use of the vast gravel pits having exhausted supplies after many years of excavation.

Although Mr. White managed to get outline planning permission for a country club with sailing, fishing and sites for caravans, he did nothing to put this advantage to good use.

Two years later in July 1963 with the permissions the house and estate passed into the hands of the Clarke family for a reputed £35,000. With Mr. Harry Clarke, managing director of newly formed company Cosgrove Lodge Ltd., at helm and his son Peter as estate manager, the disused gravel pits were transformed in the following years into a huge leisure park and the Lodge into a hotel.



A view of the Lodge taken at the time of the sale in 1961. The initials "GFB" can been seen in the ironwork of the gates.