Swanwick Lodge is built in the grounds of a large country house known as Glen House. This flint and brick house was originally called Cotton Farm, owned by William Gates, who used the surrounding land to grow crops, including strawberries.
There is a story of one of the previous owners, Captain Spencer-Smith, whose daughter, it is reported had an affair with the poet Byron. Having brought disgrace to the family the daughter was locked in a bedroom and it is alleged that she died in that room of a broken heart. Some say she still walks the grounds today, maintaining the story of the ‘grey lady of Swanwick’
There is little written history of the house until 1943 when the house was used by American forces, with the officers staying in the house and the troops camping in the grounds. Later, having not been able to use the house for some time, the owner agreed to donate or sell the house to Portsmouth Social Services for the purpose of a borstal for boys, run along the lines of a boot camp.
There were various developments which resulted in a secure home being built on the site. With the original residential units for boys, part of their task was to maintain a market garden growing a range of produce. After this, the initial secure unit was opened in 1980 and was called Medina, which was in comparison to the facilities today very small, with one room being used as the lounge, dining room and school.