On 2nd June 1988, Flint House was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The Centre immediately began to provide facilities such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, stress counselling and health education to assist officers in quickly returning to full health.
A Brief History
The first Police Seaside Home Clarendon Villas, specifically for the benefit of police officers of all ranks who required rest and a change of air after sickness or injury, was established in 1890 by the late Miss Catherine Gurney OBE (President of the International Christian Police Association). She was ably assisted by her colleague, Miss Griffin.
Clarendon Villas rapidly proved too small and two years later the home was re-established at Portland Road Hove, where it remained until the 1960’s, when the purpose built Kingsway in Hove became the new Police Convalescent Home. As the scale of casualties in our police forces and the stresses to which they were being exposed to significantly increased, it became clear that the Kingsway home could not provide the level of treatment needed.
A new home was required and in 1985, Flint House, at Goring on Thames was purchased and developed to cater for the special requirements of injured and sick officers.
Flint House was designed and built in 1913 for Mr. F.N. Garrard by Ernest Newton R.A., a leading architect of country houses. Built of unknapped (unshaped) flints in the Tudor style, the building’s symmetrical elements result in a property of Georgian balance and substance.
In 1925 Flint House was sold to a C.H. Whittington for £25,000. The new owner completed the two terraces in front of the house but, from personal preference and rather than have formal gardens he left the woods intact. He also built for staff a bungalow and a house, which is sited just east of the house entrance.
During the 1930s the Whittington family undertook a good deal of entertaining. “A good time was had by all”… in a lifestyle that, whilst maybe not “Society”, was nonetheless typical of an upper middle class English family of that time.
House and Domestic staff comprised a butler, cook, gardener and under gardener, a chauffeur, one kitchen maid, two housemaids and a lady’s maid. The local Scouts were given permission to use the grounds and a fete held in the grounds raised the funds for a new Scout hut in Goring.
The War Years
In 1939 everything changed. The onset of war saw evacuated children from South London accommodated at Flint House. However, as the war progressed the demand for accommodation for wounded and sick servicemen led the Whittingtons to offer the house rent free to the Red Cross for use as a convalescence home. The Whittington’s retained a small suite of rooms and some paid staff. Numbers of patients varied, but up to 40 could be accommodated. The servicemen were expected to help out with the running of the establishment, farm and garden.
After the war the house returned to private occupation and the Whittington’s continued to live a quiet life with a reduced staff. During this time the woodlands, rather than the farm, provided them with a reasonable income.
Flint House in the 60s
In 1961 the house and estate was put up for sale, but the financial constraints of the times resulted in no buyers. An auction in May 1962 saw only two bidders, both speculators and the property sold for a knockdown £50,000 to a Mr. Simmons (not the Estate Agent). He immediately put it up for re-sale in lots.
From 1963 to 1966 the house was used as a small independent school by a Mr & Mrs Harold Tuyn, but sadly very little is known about the house during this period.
Eventually, Flint House was bought by the newly established ‘Water Industry Training Board’, who added a block of study/ bedrooms. When the board was dissolved the property defaulted to the ‘Thames Water Authority’ who, with no use for the property, let it stand empty.
When they briefly returned the property to use, the authority laid out an elaborate system of pipes. Students were supposed to locate and rectify leaks. In true British worker’s solidarity it became a point of honour for the members of each course to supply the exact locations of the “leaks” to those on successive courses!
Flint House in the 80s
Once training ceased the property quickly fell into disuse again. On April 20th 1985 the house and 14 acres of surrounding land were purchased by the Police Convalescent Home Management Committee. All necessary works to convert the building into a rehabilitation centre were carried out and the Centre opened on June 2nd 1988.
Since 1988, to accommodate the ever increasing demands of treating serving and retired police officers for illness and injury, the Centre has expanded. Several extensions have been added to the main house and in 2003 a completely new annexe, Flint Fold was opened