The Headley ‘House of Industry’ was built in 1795 at an estimated cost of some £1,500 for the parishes of Headley, Bramshott and Kingsley, to shelter their infirm, aged paupers, and orphan or illegitimate children.
On Tuesday 23rd November 1830, a mob of rioters, many from Selborne and estimated by some to be over 1,000 strong, sacked the house. For this and other ‘crimes’ committed during the day, seven men were sentenced to transportation. The historians J.L. & B. Hammond in their book ‘The Village Labourer 1760-1832,’ written in 1911, give it as their opinion that "if the rising of 1830 had succeeded, and won back for the labourer his lost livelihood, the day when the Headley workhouse was thrown down would be remembered by the poor as the day of the taking of the Bastille." But, they continue, "this rebellion failed." [See the full story ]
After the 1830 riot, the building was repaired, and in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses it is shown still being used as a workhouse.
It was sold in 1870 to a builder (Thomas Kemp Junior of Blackmoor) for £420, and he converted it into a private house, now known as Headley Grange.
In November 1872, Kemp resold the building to Mr Theophilus Sigismund Hahn for £490. Mrs Hahn died in 1898, but Mr Hahn lived on until 1907, aged 83.
Col Francis Frederic Perry bought it in 1908 – he was Professor of Surgery at the Medical Colleges of Calcutta and Lahore, and Honorary Surgeon to the Viceroy of India. He became chairman of Alton Rural District Council and Headley Parish Council. He died aged 85, the private funeral service being held at the house in 1939, followed by cremation.
After the Second World War, Lieut Col Michael Smith and his family moved in. He also was medical man belonging to the Indian Medical Service. Dr Smith died in 1961, and his widow decided to let the house, which became a temporary home for visiting Americans, and then a hostel for students from Farnham School of Art.
"Eventually various recording agencies such as Virgin Records* heard of the availability of Headley Grange, and so it came about that for five or six years it housed a variety of pop groups. Some of them came down to the quiet of the country where they could practise undisturbed to try to ‘get their act together’; others like Led Zeppelin and Genesis actually recorded in the Drawing Room, which they had discovered possessed perfect acoustic conditions." [‘Paupers to Pop’ by Arford WI]
There, early in 1971, "Out of the clear blue pool of creativity arose the eight-minute extravaganza which would become Led Zeppelin’s ultimate trademark, a song of shimmering and flourishing beauty, a supreme accomplishment which Robert Plant would later describe as ‘our single most important achievement’ … Stairway to Heaven." [‘Led Zeppelin, the definitive biography,’ by Ritchie Yorke]
* In fact it's most unlikely that it was Virgin Records, as they did not exist when the Grange was first used as a recording studio – although interestingly, Richard Branson's family does have local connections with Headley.
Other groups known to have used Headley Grange in the 1970s include: Genesis, Fleetwood Mac, Bad Company, The Pretty Things, Ozark Mountain Daredevils (1973), Ian Dury (1976), Elvis Costello (1976) and Clover (1977/8) - mostly with the engineering services of the Rolling Stone Mobile studio.
Today the house is no longer let, and remains a private residence but remains one of the pilgrimage sites of the modern era. The closely located but less musically significant house (Benifold) used by Fleetwod Mac is noted and part of the folklore of the band, but not quite in the same league of hallowed ground . The Crown public house in Arford was included in their Madison Blues album in the track 'Down at the Crown'
More recently in 2015, the Grange hosted a series of drum sessions with Roger Taylor (Queen), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Andy Gangadeen (session drummer for everyone else!).
These sessions :
- YouTube Link - NAMM Teaser for Headley Grange Drum Kit
- YouTube Link - Introducing the Grange Drum Library
- YouTube Link - Spitfire Press Launch 2015
- YouTube Link - Chad Smith at Headley Grange
- YouTube Link - Roger Taylor at Headley Grange
- YouTube Link - Andy Gangadeen at Headley Grange
Some other links