Ampfield House

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HCC Site ID. 1407 Parish: Ampfield
Designations: House LB II*, Stables & Kitchen Garden Wall LB II Area: u/k
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Hillier Nurseries

Location and Site

Ampfield House is situated on the main A3090 Winchester-Romsey road, between Hursley and Romsey. It stands close to the road behind a high wall. The soil is acid, clay and gravel.

Historical Development

There is a reference in the Hursley Papers (18M54), to a Richard Smith, yeoman, who lived in Ampfield. In 1716 Benjamin White, married Sarah Smith whose parents owned a house in Ampfield where the present house now stands, which brought the land into the White family (100M99). Benjamin died childless in 1755, leaving the land to his nephew Joseph White who had the present Ampfield House built, since extended and altered. It was noted that the house was set in fine parkland in 1755 (Pevsner and Lloyd).
Joseph died in 1776, unmarried, succeeded according to local custom by his elder brother, also Benjamin (2) His son, another Benjamin (3) inherited in 1779. He only one son, another Joseph (2) who was a minor when his father died in 1804.
The Milne map, 1791, shows a house and gardens with White named as the owner and the 1” OS map, 1810, notes a house with grounds. A drawn Estate map, undated but appearing to be close to the date of the Tithe map and apportionment (1839/1842) shows designed gardens behind the house with walled gardens to the west. Also shows parkland to the north of the house and parkland, calling it garden ground and orchards.
Joseph (2) died in 1854, leaving the copyhold of a mansion house with its gardens and outbuildings and all copyhold farms and estates – some 2500 acres – to his son John, who became the vicar of Timsbury. During John’s lifetime the house became freehold. Joseph’s wife, Ann, then  lived at Ampfield House until her death in 1866 after which the house was let.
1st ed OS map, 1865-67, 25” shows much of that from the drawn Estate Plan. The crescent-shaped entry with an area of trees to the west side with paths through to the stables and walled gardens are all noted. A pond is shown to the west of the rear of the house and also some terracing. To the north is a large area of parkland with the rectangular area of an orchard. From 1869-75, the house was tenanted but in 1881, The Revd John White returned to live at Ampfield House. He died in 1885 and his wife left the house, which was let to David Faber for 16 years. There was a dispute with Mrs White over the felling of some trees for a view to the north. In 1889, the house was enlarged with the courtyard at the west end filled in to make another room. A conservatory was added to the east end and by this time David Faber was renting four other farms.
The 2nd ed OS map, 25”, 1896 shows parkland to the north of the gardens which is divided into two with a pheasantry marked at the edge of a horizontal line of hedge. The orchard remains. In 1902, Faber purchased the Ampfield Estate and a large part of the village (39M83/PZ33); he cut down the disputed trees and two great cedars on the croquet lawn were felled. The 3rd ed OS map, 1909, indicates that the hedge in the parkland has been broken up, whilst the area of trees to the north has come into the parkland. The pheasantry has gone.

Ampfield House, Veteran tree. Image: October 2008

Ampfield House, Veteran tree. Image: October 2008

At this time there were four gardeners and the head gardener was Mr William Euston who served for 40 years. In Ampfield Through the Ages’ the estate is described as being self-supporting, with an ice-house in nearby Green Pond. The house and estate were offered for sale in 1907 with 1426 acres but it did not sell and David Faber continued to live there.
The 3rd ed OS map, 1909, indicates that the parkland has become less separate from the gardens. The Wessex Series, 1923, notes that the house is surrounded by finely timbered grounds of some 16 acres. Edward Thomas, the poet, described the ivy-clad house ‘…like two houses….with high blossoming fruit trees bounding the road’. The effect of having two houses was as a result of David Faber and his wife leading different lives and living in two ends of the house, with a hedge in the front delineating the divide. Faber died in 1931 and it was discovered that the Estate had been mortgaged and thus had to be sold. The Estate was advertised in 60 different Lots and the grounds described as having well-kept lawns, rose pergolas, flower gardens and herbaceous borders, shrub and ornamental trees. An exceptional kitchen garden with three separate sections is also described. One Lot describes two first-class enclosures of park and pasture, orchard and plantation. However, eventually the house and some grounds remained with Mrs Faber.
The 4th ed OS map, 1940, indicates that the orchard has gone. Mrs Faber died in 1941 and the house passed to a nephew, Captain F Faber but it was requisitioned for American troops until 1944-45 when Captain Faber regained possession. However, it was over a year before he and his family were able to move in because of repairs and redecoration. During his ownership the gardens were put back to some of its former glory, in particular a shrubbery named The Folly, with camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas.

Ampfield House garden

Ampfield House garden

Captain Faber died in 1954 and his widow exchanged houses with their son, Thomas.
Ampfield House ceased to be a family home in 1977 when it was sold with 3 cottages and a farm and about 229 acres to Messrs Hillier and Sons, Nurserymen. Hillier removed some of the gardens, park and folly after they took over and many old trees were removed. (Hallet B and Wood A )

Current Description

The ivy-clad house is used as offices, as are the stables and much of the walled garden is used for car parking. The crescent driveway remains and the high outer wall still separates it from the road.
The lawned terraces behind the house remain together with some specimen trees, including rhododendrons and azaleas from the mid-20th century. The parkland to the north is planted with nursery trees.

Summary and significance

A Georgian, family house and gardens now used as offices for Hillier Nurseries. The walled garden and stables remain with a few garden features. Its usage having changed so much, its significance lies in the position of the grounds in relation to the countryside which surrounds it, most of which has remained unchanged since the early 19th century

References

Hampshire Record Office
18M54 Heathcote of Hursley Papers
100M99 White family papers
139M83/pz33 Ampfield House, Faber J
Sales Details, 1932 100M99/D17
Estate map, no date 66M99/D16
Kelly’s Directory
Tithe map & apportionment 1M65/F7/124/1 & 2

Books
Hallett G and Wood A, Ampfield Through the Ages, pub E Hallett, 2000
Pevsner, N and Lloyd, D The Buildings of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1967
Electronic
Milne map, 1791
1” OS map, 1810
Greenwood map, 1826
Hampshire County Council
1st ed OS 25” 1865-67
2nd ed OS 25” 1897
3rd ed OS 25” 1909
4th ed OS 25” 1940
Aerial view 2013


Our address

Address:
Ampfield No Public Access Click for Disclaimer & copyright
GPS:
51.0072215, -1.432635800000071

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