Caldecott House was on the north side of Caldecott Road and at the time of its demolition in 1972 was one of the largest houses in Abingdon (Fig. 1). But very little is known about its builders, and no formal record of it was made before or during its demolition. Yet is has been possible to put together a plausible history, from maps and documentary evidence. In particular a map commissioned by its owner in 1762 (Fig. 2) has been particularly useful in understanding not only what the house looked like at that time, but also the nature of the landscaped garden in which it stood.
It seems that the earliest part – to the left in Figure1 and a red square on the map – was built in 1738 as a datestone was recorded there and so the likely builder was John Saxton who was leasing the property from Christ’s Hospital at that time. It lay behind an earlier farmhouse, which was demolished by William Birch in the 1760s when he extended the house to the north. The palatial pile to the right of Figure 1, dwarfing Saxton’s house beside, was probably built by the Lintells, who bought Caldecott in 1829. The final gentrification to create a symmetrical east front carried out by Major-General Bailie in the 1890s.
Too big for a family home in the 1930s, it had a short period as an hotel but was requisitioned in 1940 by the Air Ministry for Bomber Command Accounts staff. From 1945 Caldecott House was a Dr Barnardo’s home until it closed on 31 August 1971. It was demolished the following year and there is now a housing estate on the former grounds. The only structures to survive are the lodge of 1870 on Caldecott Road and a stone archway from the Bailies’ garden.
A significant feature of the earlier garden was a double-moated feature called the Wilderness, which survives in part, though it is not easily datable – it could have medieval origins, though more likely was created as an orchard in the seventeenth century.
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