Stokes Bay



 Historic Houses of Stokes Bay







Alver (Alverbank)  House on a plan dated 1890 Alverbank in 2008


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Alverbank (some maps i.e. of 1870 incorrectly show the name as Alver House but others use Alverbank and one in 1965 uses Alverbank House) was built in 1840 for the Rt. Hon. John Wilson Croker (1780-1857), a close associate of the Duke of Wellington, Canning and Pitt, a friend of Lord Ashburton. Croker had been Secretary to the Admiralty from 1809 to 1830. The house was visited by Robert Peel, the Prime Minister and the Duke of Wellington.


Rt. Hon. John Wilson Croker


The 1851 census shows the following persons at Alverbank, Stokes Bay.

Henry E Bunbury 7th Baronet ret. Lt. Gn. R.L.B. (wikipedia)
Emily L A Bunbury 67
Cecilia C Napier 31 Daughter of General Sir G. Napier
Mary King 45
Mary Davy 37
Anne Coe 24
Mary A Thomas 24
Richard Sahned 46
James Steward 21
George Dodd 28
Elias Long 18

William Brown 48 Gardener
Elizabeth Brown 43


After the death of Croker in 1857, Prince Alfred Ernest, the future Duke of Edinburgh (from 1866) stayed at Alverbank from October 1857 to September 1858 whilst he studied under the Rev. Jolly and his tutor, Lieutenant Cowell R.E.

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. Supplement. (Sheffield, England), Saturday, November 28, 1857


Prince Alfred has lately been sojourning at Alverstoke in Hampshire. "An establishment named Alver Bank, a small but ample mansion, has been engaged, and in it the sailor (says a Southampton paper) Prince has for some little time past been domesticated. He has an ample retinue of servants and a talented staff of attendants, amongst whom we may name Lieutenant Cowell of the royal engineers, who was his Highness's companion and guide during his continental tour, Dr. Minter, surgeon; and the Rev, Jolly, as naval and general instructor. His little Princeship gives dinner parties, and may be frequently seen 'cutting' about this port."


The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle reported on December 19th 1857 that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales had been staying at Alver Bank with his brother Alfred.

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, left Alverbank on Tuesday afternoon, where he had been staying with his brother. The Prince rode to the Clarence Yard in an open top barouche, attended by his brother, Lieutenant Cowell, R.E. and an equerry, and embarked thence on board the Fairy, and proceeded to Osborne to join the Queen. It is currently reported that her Majesty purposes purchasing Alver-bank as a marine residence for Prince Alfred, and that a pier will be run out opposite his residence for the use of the royal family for embarking or disembarking from Osborne.


It is probable that this pier was not constructed for Her Majesty. She did not purchase Alverbank although she did visit her son there. An entry in her Journal on 10th December 1857 confirms this:

Already a month today that our beloved Victoria was taken from us, in that awfully sudden manner! cetainly thinking of her and longing to see her Alfred left directly after breakfast to visit forts. At 12 embarked in the 'Fairey' with the 2 girls , the Dss of Athlane and Gen Gray, landing in Gosport Dockyard and driving to Alverbank Cottage which took us 1/4 of and hour. It is very nice, very small, but very snug and ???. The dining room is very pretty , close the to seashore. there are four nice little rooms upstairs and a nice dining room in which we lunched. Good Affie as proud as a king met us in the Dockyard with...


The Court Circulars frequently reported the coming and going of Prince Alfred.

The Times Jan 30 1858 reported:

Prince Alfred attended by Lieutenant Cowell arrived at Buckingham Palace from Alverbank.

And on Feb 4th 1858:

Prince Alfred, attended by Lieutenant Cowell, left Buckingham Palace for Alverbank.


On March 5th 1858 The Times reported that:

His Royal Highness Prince Alfred frequently visits the Dockyard and ships at Portsmouth attended by his Tutor Lieutenant Cowell R.E. and Commander Bickford of The Victory, and shows much courtesy towards the senior officers of the port, whom he has entertained at his residence at Alverbank. His Highness is pursuing his studies, we are informed, with the view of passing the Royal Naval College at the approaching quarterly examination, and entering the service as a Naval Cadet. The Euryalus, 51, Captain Tarlton C.B. will take him on his first voyage.


Prince Alfred 1858 Prince Alfred 1863


Prince Alfred passed his examination to the Naval Service in September 1858 and two weeks later joined HMS Euryalus with Lieutenant Cowell as his Governor. This presumably ended the Prince's association with Alver Bank, as reported by the Court Journal Aug 17 1858:

Prince Alfred's establishment at Alverbank will be broken up in about a fortnight or three weeks and his Royal Highness will take his departure for Bonn. Professional matters connected with the young Prince's naval examination prevented his Royal Highness leaving this country with the queen, but we believe everything is now definitely arranged and Alverbank will be given up at the time we have specified.


Prince Alfred having finished his course of instruction, and passed the necessary examinations, prior to joining his ship as a Naval Cadet, his establishment at Alverbank will be immediately broken up. The residence, however, has been talken by one of the many fashionable families present at Anglesey, which, it is understood, with several other of the visitors, purpose staying in Anglesey through the Winter. (Hampshire Telegraph September 1858)


A local directory for 1859 states that Lord Dumfermline was living at Alverbank.


The Times on January 19 1860 reported:

On the sea face, from Fort Monckton, a plateau rises abruptly from the low ground beneath to a height averaging about 18 feet, and extending to Lord 'Ashburton's marine residence at the end of this position of the line near Fort Gomer. On this plateau stands .... Alver Bank, the late residence of his Royal Highness Prince Alfred, while studying on board Her Majesty's ship Britannia...


In 1869 John Edward Commerell (Capt. R.N. V.C.) was recorded in the London Gazette as living at Alverbank.


In 1907 Alverbank was occupied by Edward Darell and Mrs Darell-Blount. John Darell_Blount of Alverbank died on August 10 1909.


1912 the date of the extension to the house parva sed apta - Small but fit (convenient or perfect).
Date above the door at Alverbank

Latin inscription by the door:
'Small but convenient'.


Alverbank was sold in 1912 to Winfred Alured Comyn Platt, (later a Colonel), part of a marriage settlement between Platt and Louisa Maria Atherley. The Platt family built an extension to the house (dated 1912 above the doorway) The Platts did not move from London into Alverbank until 1915, to avoid the bombing raids, and returned to London in 1917, probably because of a change in family circumstances.

They then let Alverbank to Lt R Smith-Barry.


In 1917 and 1918 Robert Smith-Barry of the School of Special Flying, based at Grange Airfield, used Alverbank as a home and an Officers' Mess. Whilst there he experimented with and perfected his 'Gosport Tube' a voice tube that enabled a pilot to communicate with his pupil whilst flying.

Officers at Alverbank

Smith Barry with his wife Kitty and with Lieutenants Moore (left) and Parker (right) at Alverbank, Stokes Bay Gosport. Alverbank was used by Smith-Barry as an extension to the Officers’ Mess of Grange airfield. He conducted his experiments on the Gosport Tube at the house.


On April 9 2014 a plaque was unveiled to Smith-Barry by Gosport's Mayor before members of the Gosport Aviation Society and representatives from HMS Sultan and a member of the Smith-Barry family from France. It can be seen on the outside wall of Alverbank.


Plaque to Smith-Barrie


In the 1930s Alverbank was occupied by Winifred Platt.
In October 1943 Bay House was requisitioned by the the War Department to be used as an Officers' mess and accomodation for troops training at the Duplex Drive tank Salt Water Training School based at No.2 Battery Stokes Bay. Alverbank was used as suplementary accomodation.


In 1947 Gosport Borough Council made an offer of £7,500 for Alverbank with accompanying 7.5 acres of park land adjoining Stanley Park. The offer was refused so the Council issued a Compulsory Purchase Order. The offer of £9,000 was refused. The Home Office queried the CPO but in 1948 the house became the property of Gosport Borough Council. The intention was to provide refreshments on the ground floor and one first floor room, the rest to be let as self-contained flats. Between 1948 and 1950 Max Lock, a government appointed town planning consultant, occupied Alverbank. In 1951 a 3 year lease at £250 p.a. was given to Mrs Dawkins for sale of morning coffee and afternoon teas on the premises and lawn. Mrs Dawkins withdrew her agreement and on 1st October 1951 the lease was made to Mr French. In 1954 Mr French asked to renew the lease for five years if he could take paying guests. In 1955 H.N. French was still in occupation. In 1957 the rent was in arrears and in 1957 a tender to lease Alverbank was received from Misses Barton & Phelps for £175p.a. for 7 years. In 1958 improvements were made to Alverbank by putting in hot/cold washbasins in the eight bedrooms for let, with electric fires and meters. In 1959 the lessee applied for a liquor licence at Alverbank, for residents & guests, also nonresidents attending for meal or bona fide functions. In 1965 it was decided to renew the lease to Misses Barton & Phelps for 21 years for £500 to £550 p.a. In 1978 the lease was up for review at £3,000 p.a.

Alverbank is now the Alverbank Hotel and is next to Stanley Park, which once formed its grounds. The house is a GradeII listed building.
The original listing states:
One of the mansions near Alverstoke; built 1842 for J W Croker. Romantic Tudor style of 2-storeys, with dormers. Slate roof with decorative barge boards to gables. Hood moulds to mullioned windows. Extensions in keeping, including porch dated 1912. Original terrace boundary wall, overlooking moat, with corner abutments. Visitors to house included Peel and Wellington.


Alverbank in 2010 Alverbank  in 2010 Alverbank  in 2010
Alverbank in 2010    
Alverbank  in 2010 Alverbank Lodge Alverbank in 2012
Alverbank from the sea in 2012 Alverbank Lodge Alverbank
Alverbank 1965 Alverbank Postcard Alverbank Postcard
Alverbank 1965 Alverbank Postcard Alverbank Postcard
Alverbank Postcard Alverbank Solent View  
Alverbank Postcard Alverbank Solent View  




I am grateful to Gosport Historian, Philip Eley for the following information concerning the ownership of Alverbank:

ownership details from title deeds:-

March 1840 six acres of land conveyed from Board of Ordnance to the Right Honorable John Wilson Croker of West Molesey in Surry for £240; with right to a carriage road through Lord Alexander Ashburton's land (also bought from Ordnance) to Gomer Lane; also with right of way over the bridge leading from the western angle of the land over the rivulet to the Sea Beach.

February 1857 Croker conveyed the house and land to a trust set up on the marriage of John Croker Pennell esq and Harriet Follett; with power (after marriage) for the trustees (with consent of Croker and/or his wife Rosamund if still living) to sell or lease for up to 21 years
JW Croker died 10 August 1857; Rosamund Croker died 7 November 1880; JC Pennell married Harriet but there was no issue

January 1863 the trustees leased to Captain John Edmund Commerell VC of Alverbank for 21 years from 1 November 1862 at £150 per annum rent with covenants to keep in repair etc
August 1869 lease surrendered

July 1912 conveyance from trustees to Winfrid Alured Comyn Platt of Shanghai, China & Louisa Maria Platt his wife for £3500

October 1930 conveyed in trust to son Winfrid Atherley Platt once both parents had died
    WAC Platt died 5 April 1936; LM Platt died 21 July 1944

March 1948 conveyance from trustees (Edward Hamilton Comyn Platt of Sevenoaks, solcitor & Winfrid Atherley Platt, formerly of Alverbank, now of Kent, Army Colonel) to said WA Platt

Alverbank was then conveyed to Gosport Borough Council (no date!)



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