MANY houses claim to have history but often they are small beer compared with a spectacular property in the heart of Southsea.

Brankesmere, set in a walled garden beside Queens Crescent, has a past that includes brewing combined with the founding of Portsmouth Football Club, visits from the forerunner of the KGB, and time as a school as well as a headquarters from which the current Hampshire Constabulary was formed.

There are references to MI5 and the KVD meeting to discuss mysterious disappearance of former Royal Navy diver Buster Crabb at the Portsmouth Dockyard during the visit of Russian leader Nikita Khruschev in 1956.

Sir John Brickwood moved into the new house in 1896. The Brickwood family was the largest brewer and pub owner in the area from the mid-19th Century and Sir John was also chairman of Portsmouth Football Club when it was founded in 1898.

During World War I the house was a Red Cross relief hospital before, in 1923, becoming Byculla School. After use as the temporary headquarters of the police forces, Hampshire County Council Social Services moved in and remained until 2004.

At this stage the property was separated by a local architect to form three units, the primary being Brankesmere, which is now looking for its next owner and is on the market at a guide price of £1.95 million.

Colin Shairp, the director of Fine and Country Southern Hampshire who is charged with finding them, says it’s rare to discover a house that is both such a distinctive local landmark and has such a fabulous history.

“When it comes to Brankesmere there are features I have never seen during more than 35 years selling property in southern Hampshire despite handling the sale of many properties in the Conservation Area where this fascinating house is situated,” says Colin.

“The wealth of the original owners is evident in the magnificence of the many interior features but the house has kept pace with modern needs so luxurious bathrooms and a fantastic kitchen are part of the mix.

“Once seen, it’s impossible not to covet this house for the features it hides!”

The lower ground floor is home to a cinema, gym with shower room, games room, and fourth bedroom. A study opens off the magnificent sitting / dining room that dominates the ground floor with its two bay windows, from one of which steps descend to the property’s fresh water swimming lake overlooked by a summer house sheltered by mature trees.

On the second floor there is a master suite of impressive proportions with a most luxurious bathroom and south facing balcony looking across the garden. At the other end of this floor is the second bedroom and the third bedroom, along with a shower room.

For more information, call 023 93 277 277 or email