16. The Carriage House

13 Market Square

It began as a Northamptonshire Union Bank

The building now known as The Carriage House was initially a bank, part of the Northamptonshire Union Bank. The bank was established in 1836 and by the latter part of the nineteenth century had branches across the Midlands, including Higham Ferrers, Leicester and Rugby. George Newman (who endowed the Almshouses) was a shareholder. At one point the bank could issue its own bank notes, continuing a practice that had been followed by many early banks.

It would seem that the Union Bank started to reduce the number of premises it operated as banks, a practice since followed by banks in latter centuries, but in Higham kept the property and refurbished it as a home. The Bank advertised the property, now known as Campbell House, as “to let” in 1917.

To Let, pleasantly situated, the House known as CAMPBELL HOUSE, containing Spacious Entrance Hall, Dining-room, Breakfast-room, Drawing-room, 8 Bedrooms, 2 Dressing-rooms, Bath-room, 2 w.c’s., Kitchen and Scullery (two pumps for hard and soft water), Lavatory, China-closets, Wine Cellar, Larder. Coach-house, Harness-room, Stables, two loose Boxes, Hay and Straw Loft, and Covered Yard for washing carriages in. Garden, good Fruit Trees, Greenhouse. — To View the same, apply to Mr. Jas. Sargent, Plumber, Higham Ferrers; and for further particulars to the Manager Northamptonshire Union Bank (Limited), Wellingborough.

Mr James Sargent was the publican who ran The White Horse till at least 1914. He had previously run The White Hart which shut in the mid 1870’s. The Excise Office had been in The White Hart, and George Newman had been the Excise Officer.

Prospect House built for Mr Thomas Sanders shown below

Next a school ... Campbell House School

Miss Payne responded to the advert. She had been running a school in Rushden known as Prospect House School since 1912. Prospect House had stood at the top of Higham Hill and was originally built for Mr Thomas Sanders in the 1870’s. He was mayor of Higham in 1896. The fire, which had devasted The Swan in 1882, had also gutted his leather business, as his premises were next to The Swan.

Miss Payne was an experienced headmistress. She had previously run a school in Lowestoft prior to opening Prospect House School.

When Miss Clara Payne moved her Prospect House School to Higham, she changed the name of the school to Campbell House School. The school admitted both boys and girls as a day school, but only offered places as boarders for girls. The uniform for girls was a navy valour hat, navy blue gym slip, white blouse and blue blazer. The boys wore grey shorts, white shirts and the school tie.

Prospect House School—In January next, when Miss Payne will have moved to Campbell House, Higham Ferrers, a Branch School will be opened in Rushden. The Vestry Hall has been taken for this purpose. Particulars as to the date of the opening of this Junior School, the fees, etc., can be obtained from Miss Payne. (Rushden Echo 23rd November 1917.

The 1916 curriculum for the school advertised that it provided a “modern education” and only charged moderate fees. Amongst the offer were lessons in drawing, painting, music (including pianoforte, singing and violin), Languages (including German, Latin and Italian), and games. Notable absences were Mathematics, English and Science. 

Miss Payne seems to have continued to use stationery from her previous school as the fee invoice for Mr Knight’s daughter Lily, in December 1916, was printed on Lowestoft headed paper.

In 1918 the staff and pupils of the school provided entertainment for the soldiers who were recuperating from wounds sustained in World War 1. The soldiers were housed in the Parish Rooms, which was used as a hospital and run by the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

The Staff and Pupils of Campbell House School entertained the wounded soldiers at the V.A.D. Hospital on Wednesday, the programme being practically the same as that given at Rushden on Tuesday. Misses Lotinga were encored for the dance, and Miss Battersby for her recitation. Sergt. Baker expressed hearty thanks to Miss Payne, the teachers, and the pupils for their excellent entertainment, and the soldiers gave them three hearty cheers. The pupils of the school kindly supplied smokes for the wounded Tommies, and their gifts were greatly appreciated by the recipients.
(Rushden Echo April 1918)

Campbell House School, Higham Ferrers. Spring Term commences Monday, Jan. 21st, and at 67 Grove-road, Rushden.
(Rushden Echo 1924)

In 1929 there was a staff of six teachers these being:

The first two levels of the house were used as classrooms, the upper story as dormitories. There were two boarders (Joan and Millicent White) who came from New Zealand, but most pupils came from either Higham Ferrers, Rushden or nearby villages. 

Miss Payne was noted as being very strict and the children took care not to annoy her. Miss Payne retired in 1935. Mrs Bennett took over as headteacher for a few years. 

Campbell House was sold to Mr and Mrs Neville and made into a restaurant, just prior to World War II.

Image courtesy of Higham Chichele Society
L/Cpl A Neville, M.M. 17963Photograph taken on leave in May 1916

Then a restaurant ... The Campbell House Hotel

Arthur Neville had been in the first World War, volunteering in 1914 for the Northamptonshire Regiment. He was brave and resourceful. He took part in the Battle of Loos in April / May 1915.

“On April 8th, just after Northamptonshire had moved into the front line, our engineers exploded a camouflet (an artificial cavern created by an explosion) near the Seaforth crater and in the ensuing bombardment Second Lieut. C N Crawford was killed by a fragment of shell. Captain F G S Martin was wounded by a rifle grenade on the 10th. Next morning a party from “A” company bombed Seaforth crater and Private Neville subsequently received the Military Medal for a reconnaissance that he carried out on this occasion. He was the first man of the 48th to obtain this decoration”1

Arthur had volunteered before conscription was imposed and so also gained the 1914 /15 Star, a campaign medal of the British Empire which was awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served in any theatre of the First World War against the Central European Powers during 1914 and 1915.

Military medal Awarded for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire, for men below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land. Established 25th March 1916 but backdated to 1914

Following his return from the war he and his wife ran the Carriage House, at that time called The Campbell House Hotel. The hotel continued to provide food and accommodation throughout the succeeding decades. During WWII it was used as the John White Training School for girls from Ammanford, Wales.

In 1967, it was bought by Dewey Melton, who was previously based at Alconbury, where he served in the American Air-force. He retired from the armed services after marrying a local girl and began running the then named, ‘Campbell House’, as a hotel.

Considerable renovation was needed to accommodate nine bedrooms, with shared guest bathrooms on the upper floors.

At the time there was a front bar, with offices to the side beyond the entrance, a restaurant at the side and the kitchen at the back. He sold Campbell House to a partnership which some years later went on to open ‘The Texas Longhorn’, a take- away restaurant in nearby Rushden.

Dewey bought back the building a few years later, when his son and daughter-in-law ran very popular dinner dances.

The property has changed hands several times since then and at one point a carriage stood in one of the public rooms, hence the final change of name to The Carriage House. 

Further renovations have been carried out since the turn of the century to upgrade the facilities. It is now a very popular pub with an outdoor seating area and a restaurant on the first floor.


1 The Northamptonshire Regiment 1914/18