|HCC Site ID:||1554||Parish:||New Alresford|
|Designations:||CA, SMR, All LB II-Toll House, Avenue & Boundary wall; SAC, SINC & SSSI – all adjacent River Arle Valley||Area:||c42.5 ha|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
Location and Site
The site lies on the B3047 road into New Arlesford, which section is known as The Avenue. This was the route of the 1753 toll road from Winchester. The ‘home park’ of the Arlebury estate (originally New Place) stretches from New Alresford’s town centre at The Dean, then west to Drove Lane. This is a slight east-west ridge, facing south and fronted by the flint boundary wall (noted as ‘an important wall feature’ in the conservation zone) and the iconic Avenue of (mainly) lime trees, dating from c.1840s. To the north, the site slopes down to the River Arle and water meadows. The soil is mixed, the river valley and water meadows being silty soil over chalk. Higher up the valley sides, more immediately around the main house, there is more chalk plus flinty soil, and occasional bands of clay. (Photo.1).
The original Georgian house (1774 – early 1780s) was created by William Harris, prominent local land owner and public figure. Marked with Wm. Harris’s name, the core estate is shown on the 1791 Milne map of Hampshire, the 1817 (?) Old Series Hampshire map and the Greenwood map of 1826. By 1817 it is called ‘New Place’, its original name. It is not clear who created the parkland setting and original, formal garden (west of the house). William Harris sold the property in 1812 to Richard Bailey, who swiftly sold in 1814 to John Rawlinson. The property is likely to have always had a kitchen garden of some sort but the first mention of ‘well planted grounds, having an important frontage upon the highroad, from which it is screened by ornamental plantations’, ‘melon ground, pleasure grounds, plantations and gardens’ and a description of the kitchen garden ‘… enclosed by Fruit Walls, with Melon-Ground, outer Slips, Horse-Paddock …’ appears in the auction papers dated 1846. Francis Marx bought the property following John Rawlinson’s death that year. Marx greatly extended the property, continuing the Georgian design by repeating the initial pediment and he (or his successor, H H Walford) added the distinctive Italianate Tower at its far eastern end, sometime after 1870 (by when the name appears as ‘Arle Bury’ on the OS map of that year). (Photo. 2).
At various times, the driveways approaching the house were significantly changed to add sweeping curves and probably in the 1890s two entrance lodges to east and west were built, allowing the grounds to unfold before visitors arrived at the house itself. The changing layouts are clearly shown on OS maps, 1870 and 1896. The final stages were probably the creation of Herbert Walford, who bought Arlebury in 1883 as his country residence. A formal garden to the western end of the house shown on the OS map, 1870 had disappeared by the time of the OS map, 1896. By then there was terracing along the rear of the house, whilst B&W photographs dating from the early 1900s suggest lawns and trees, with long views up to the chalk downlands. These views are still a key feature today. (Photo. 3).
The property became untenable as a single family residence after the two World Wars and the intervening Great Crash of 1929. When acquired by the Witchard family in 1944, following several failed sale attempts, eight large flats were created to make it pay its way. It is possible that the formal garden that exists today to the north of the house was created at this time as a communal area. (Photo. 4). Also in the 20th century, the Witchard and then the Martin families continued to farm here, albeit on a very much smaller acreage than in William Harris’s day when he reportedly owned ‘half the arable land in Alresford’. In the 1990s, four more flats were added to the basement of the house by developers M25, and Ashby-Guion converted the stables and nearby farm buildings to dwellings.
Surrounding fields are pasture (used mainly for grazing sheep) and the designed parkland immediately around the house contains many specimen trees, many over 150 years old, including Cedars of Lebanon, limes, chestnut and walnut. There is a small, yew-hedged private garden to the west of the house. This was the approximate site of the original, much larger parterre shown on the OS maps 1870 & 1880 but no longer there by the 1890s. The main garden now is north of the house, with a terrace running the entire length, with steps down to a sunken garden. Photographs from the early 1900s suggest the lower level may simply have been an area of lawn before large box balls, paved walkways and a 2m high sun dial were added, possibly in the mid-20th century. Whilst pleasing, the garden is modest in scale and planting. However, the site still greatly benefits from panoramic and unspoilt long views to the west and north, looking across the well-treed river Arle valley, up to the rising chalk downlands and trees on skyline beyond. (Photo. 4).
Summary & Significance
Situated close to the town of New Alresford, with a southern boundary running alongside the lime avenue entrance to the town, the Arlebury Park estate is an important landmark, which though significantly reduced in size retains surrounding parkland with long views out to the west and north and the remains of shrubberies and mid-19th century ornamental planting.
HGT Research: July 2019
Winchester City Council : New Alresford Conservation Area:
Winchester City Council Character Assessment 2004.
HRO 44M69/E22/1/2 : Estate of New Place: 1846 auction sale notice for the freehold property
HRO 200AO7/12 & 13 : 1944 sale of Arle Bury’.
Old Hampshire Mapped: 1791 Milne map, c.1817 Old Series Hampshire maps, 1826 Greenwood map. University of Portsmouth. http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap/hantsmap/hantsmap/hantsmap.htm
Ordnance Survey maps 1870, 1880, 1896: Ordnance Survey County Series/National Grid maps (all scales) available in Hampshire Record Office but not currently catalogued.
Further detailed references are contained in The Big House: The Arlebury Park House & Estate since the 1770s. New Alresford, Hampshire, England. ©The Alresford Society. Published Sarsen Press July 2019; ISBN 978-1-9164982-9-7
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