Leeson House Field Studies Centre

About Us - History

A brief historical background to Leeson House
Taken from "Leeson House - a brief history of the building" by Reg Saville 1997. Full copies of this booklet are available for £1 from the Leeson House shop.

There has probably been a dwelling on or near the site of the present building for at least 1500 yrs. The original Saxon name of this place was Lestington and thus dates it to the 5th or 6th centuries when the Saxon farms of Purbeck were established.

The oldest part of the present building dates from the time of the English Civil War when Henry Checkford built a stone farmhouse here. Remains of this can still be traced in the centre and west side of the house.

This farmhouse was incorporated into a "Mansion House" by the Reverend John Dampier in the early 1800's who then sold it to the merchant ship-owner George Garland in 1816. The Garland family continued to extend and add to the building and by 1875 it reached the size and layout which is largely still seen today.

The Garland family also inserted a quantity of fine 17th Century Italian and Flemish wood carvings into the ground floor of the house, much of which appears to be from dismantled pieces of furniture fixed onto contemporary panels.

In 1903 the house was purchased by Miss Amy Knight who then established a Boarding School for young ladies here. The pictures above date from this period.

This school closed in 1940 when the buildings were taken over by the Air Ministry to form an Experimental Radio Research Station and it was here, at Leeson, Worth and Swanage, where a major breakthrough in Radar development was made.

After the war the house reverted to a Boarding School but this time for boys. It remained as such until it was sold to Bournemouth Education Committee in 1966 for use as a Field Studies Centre and the first intake of pupils arrived on the 24th September 1966. The official opening took place on the 17th July 1967.

It has remained a Residential Field Studies Centre ever since.
Langton Matravers, Swanage, BH19 3EU
01929 422126
01929 427534