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Southbourne is a popular suburb of Bournemouth. It is the most easterly part of the borough, between Boscombe and Christchurch, Dorset. The area was previously known as Stourfield.
In 1766, Edmund Bott had a Georgian mansion built to the east of Pokesdown village, commanding views of Christchurch Harbour and he named it Stourfield House. One of the most celebrated inhabitants of Stourfield House was Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Stourfield House later became a care home, looking after servicemen who had been injured in the Great War. Today only the front steps survive, leading to a block of flats in Douglas Mews, and marked by a Blue Plaque.
During 2010 a number of local centuries were celebrated in Southbourne. An omission was the death of the Russian author of War and Peace.
Leo Tolstoy is said to have stayed at Tuckton in 1894. He would have been the guest of Countess Tchertkov who was enjoying the health-giving properties of burgeoning Southbourne-on-Sea. Shortly after this, her son, Vladimir Tchertkov, expelled by the Russian regime, came to Tuckton. He was a disciple of Tolstoy’s philosophical teachings and brought with him manuscripts of banned publications. By 1901 he was joined by other exiles and they set up a commune at 61 Saxonbury Road. They bought the former pumping station in Iford Lane to house printing presses which ran off thousands of copies of Tolstoy’s works.
Apart from the pre-Norman Conquest villages along the southern banks of the Stour, what was to become the Borough of Bournemouth was desolate heathland. A track ran across linking Christchurch to Poole (now the busy Christchurch and Poole Roads). Bournemouth’s first dwelling house was actually built in Southbourne, close to this track.
Stourfield House was erected around 1766 by Edmund Bott in some 140 acres of grounds. It stood on the crest overlooking the Stour valley.
Around 1796 Lady Strathmore lived there for a few years before she died, after which there was a series of temporary eminent occupants until Admiral Popham bought it in 1844.