Basing House & Park (Historic England)

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HCC Site IDs: 1198 Parish: Old Basing
Designations: HE II, Dovecot LB II* Area: 4ha
Access: Public Access (Check Times – see below for link) Ownership: Hampshire County Council

Basing House – a Brief History

The site of Basing House has been in virtually continuous occupation since the Iron Age period. In 1066 the manor of Basing was given by William the Conqueror to Hugh de Port who built a motte and bailey castle some 1.5km to the north of the present site. By the end of the C12 the de Ports had changed their name to St John, moved to the site of Basing House, and built a new ringwork and bailey castle. This was inherited in 1428 by the Paulet family.

Sir William Paulet, later to become the first Marquis of Winchester, carried out extensive building works, erecting in 1531 the first of his two houses on the site. He received licence to crenellate what subsequently became known as the `Old House’ or Citadel the same year. Gardens and a dovecote formed part of these works. King Henry VIII & Queen Anne Boleyn visited Basing in 1535. Paulet became one of the members of the Protectorate on the death of Henry, an important position that enabled him to consolidate his power and estates and further enlarge them. About 1550 he commenced building a new and opulent house on a palatial scale to the northeast of the older Citadel. Queen Mary visited the ‘New House’ at Basing after her marriage to Philip of Spain in Winchester Cathedral and later Queen Elizabeth visited on a number of occasions.

During the Civil War and following a series of sieges, the Citadel and the New House were sacked and burned by Cromwell and his troops and the site became a source of local building materials. At the Restoration, the Paulets regained Basing but chose to build a new house nearby (close to the present Great Barn on the immediate north of The Street) using materials from the ruins. The ruins of Basing and its Tudor garden were repaired and improved by the sixth Marquis (ennobled as the first Duke of Bolton) for productive kitchen use as orchards and vineyards (Celia Fiennes visited and admired in 1690). The new house burned down and was demolished by 1740 and the Paulet family moved to their newly built house at Hackwood which had formed part of the hunting park of Basing and which was linked to it by chestnut avenues and park rides.

During the mid to late C18, the ruins and their setting were transformed into a picturesque landscape, the ruins landscaped with walled walks around the Keep and a picturesque Lodge built overlooking the orchard and Tudor gardens. The circuit walk around the citadel on the high, man-made earthwork banks gives views of the walled garden with its turrets and patterned brickwork walls and demonstrate the commanding nature of the site adjacent to the lower lying river valley. In the 1790s the Basingstoke canal was cut through the moat outside the garden walls and demolished what little was left of the New House. Having acquired the name Orde-Powlett and the Bolton baronetcy in 1797, the family maintained connections with Basing through their use of the lodge which became known as Basing House, driving over from Hackwood Park to picnic and enjoy their ruins.

Archaeological interest in the site began in the 1870s and was actively encouraged in the early C20 when Lord Bolton permitted systematic excavation of the site by Charles Peers and built a small museum to house the finds. The lodge was extended and lived in by the Orde-Powletts during the Second World War when the Tudor garden was used as a kitchen garden. The whole site was bought by Hampshire County Council between 1972 and 1974 and part of the `New House’ excavated in 1990.

In 1989-91, a new garden in early C17 style by Elizabeth Banks Associates was laid out within the Tudor walled garden. All household deeds had been destroyed by fire so there were no plans or accounts on which to base a design and the archaeology of the site had been compromised. The aim was to create a garden reflecting the height of the Paulet family’s power, influence and prestige under Sir William Paulet 1st marquis of Winchester (1485-1572), Sir William Paulet 3rd Marquis (1535-1598) and Sir John Paulet 5th Marquis (1598 – 1675) who was a courtier to Queen Henrietta–Maria. She visited Basing often and was influential in introducing French garden design to England through her patronage of Andre Mollet. The resulting design was described as a fusion of an early Renaissance garden and a French garden to create a Renaissance Garden reflecting the period 1560 – 1640. In the event only one-third of the design, a formal parterre, was executed.
Compiled from the HE site entry and various documents prepared in 1989 for the creation of the new garden. Updated 2018

Click here for HE site entry – Site ID: 1000138 Registered May 1984. Description written: April 1999 Amended: July 2001 Register Inspector: VCH Edited: January 2004.

The site remains in the ownership of the County Council and is managed by the Hampshire Cultural Trust. Click here for local listing and timings.

Basing House parterre

Basing House parterre

Basing House parterre

Basing House parterre

Our address

Old Basing Public Access (check times) Click for Disclaimer & copyright
51.269764971297455, -1.0525436524535507

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