In 1828, the Lodge Hill estate was leased by the Bishop of Chichester on behalf of the Church Commissioners to Robert Watkins Esq. Fifty years later, in November 1878, the estate was sold to a London solicitor, who built the main house, and named it Watersfield Towers. He lived here for a number of years.
For the next 30 years, the property remained as a family home until a company known as the Lodge Hill Estate Limited was formed and Watersfield Towers opened its doors as a country hotel.
With the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939, the house, together with it's 32 acres of land, was requisitioned by West Sussex County Council due to it's outlook which extends over 40 miles. The hotel became the headquarters of the mobile A.R.P Reserve and served as such until 1945.
In 1946 the house and land were bought for £30,500 by the West Sussex County Council to provide a venue for educational opportunities especially for young people, thus fulfilling the Council's obligations under the 1945 Education Act. The centre was named 'The Lodge Hill Residential Centre' and remained under the County Council ownership until March 1999.
In 1999, the County Council was due to close the facility when Penny Hardwick OBE set about raising the necessary funds within a short period of time to save it for the future of young people across the county. Through public support, £1 million was raised enabling the newly formed Lodge Hill Trust to purchase a 125 year lease of the centre for £720,000 with enough money left to make an Endowment Fund to be used in cases of emergency. On 14th September 2005, West Sussex County Council sold the freehold of the centre to the Lodge Hill Trust for £1.
Penny Hardwick OBE remained as President of the Charity until her passing in April 2018. Col. Sir Brian Bartelott, Bt. OBE DL, who helped Penny raise the funds to save Lodge Hill in the late 1990’s, has taken up the reigns as our President.
Today, Lodge Hill welcomes visitors from all backgrounds, of all ages and all abilities to its 32 acre woodland site set within the heart of the South Downs National Park. We are very lucky to receive ongoing positive feedback from our visitors young and old.
Lodge Hill is a Registered Charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee
Lodge Hill changes lives and will continue to do so thanks to everything Penny Hardwick OBE did to save the centre.