|HCC Site ID:||1345||Parish:||Froxfield|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
SDNP; Various farm buildings including the dairy – all LB II, no longer part of the estate, converted to private dwellings
Location and Site
Basing Park is located to the east of the A32 (Alton to Fareham road) and to the north of the A272 (Winchester to Petersfield road), approximately 4 km. North east of the junction of the two roads. It lies on chalk downland.
The earliest record of a house and lands at Basings, owned by John Love, was in the Longhurst tithing of 1567. The Loves remained until Susannah, a daughter of Richard Love, a descendant of John, married Francis Beckford (VCH, 1911, 76). Around the house they established a well-defined area of parkland with belts of trees skirting the perimeter, as shown on Milne’s 1791 map. Their son, Francis Love Beckford, sold the estate, which was eventually acquired by Richard Norris in 1813, as confirmed by a survey of the same date, (HRO, 1813). The Pleasure Garden and Park, as they became known in the Victorian and early Edwardian periods, were further expanded between 1835 and 1863, by Joseph Martineau, a new owner, and his gardener, James Duncan (Prosser, 1833).
Prosser’s 1833 engraving, and articles from various gardening journals (G.C., 1854 & 1864) state that a 60 feet conservatory was attached to the west wing of the house. Three ornamental flower gardens with fountains were linked by a main terrace walk, which extended the length of the Mansion and conservatory. One of the gardens, which was to the east of the house, had a monument; another, immediately below the kitchen garden, became the rose and rock garden; and the third was slightly to the south and west. The water supply had initially been a problem for the house and the fountains, but this was rectified by John Braithwaite, an engineer, who sank the existing well 90 feet deeper. This well had a tunnel part way down which led to the stables. A horse was led along this tunnel to a treadmill where it was hitched up to take up the water from the well (Prosser, 1833). Over the years fine Rhododendrons, Camellias, choice shrubs and specimen trees were interplanted around the edges of the gardens (G.C, 1854).
The main walled kitchen garden, to the west of the house, was just over one acre, and had an arched trellis of trained fruit trees over the principal walk. On its northern wall and outside the southern wall, two lean-to greenhouses provided fresh fruit for the house. The whole of this area became a partly-walled enclosure and included another two greenhouses, one of which was used as a ‘Forcing House’ (G.C., 1864). This area was eventually sheltered on the north by a belt of fine tall beech trees and banks of Rhododendron bushes.
The evergreen garden, to the south and west of the Mansion, was separated from the main gardens by a driveway to Basing Farm and the house. At one time a bridge over this driveway connected the two gardens. The evergreen garden, or Pinetum, as it was referred to, contained a fine collection of conifers with the genera separated into specific areas. It included other evergreens such as Ilex, Buxus, Cotoneaster, and Mahonia. Mown grassy pathways provided walks through the garden, where the trees were underplanted with Laurel and Mahonia reptans (G.C., 1886, 274-5).
By 1813 two lodges had been built on the Gosport road, with a sweeping one and a half mile drive from the northerly entrance winding eastwards through parkland to the house (HRO, 1813). The 1842 tithe map showed a lodge had been constructed on Hempland Lane, just to the south of the main house, with another adjacent to the main Petersfield Road (A272). The main road was reached by a two mile drive that was quite steep at its southerly end. These two long carriageways were eventually partly lined with double avenues of Deodars, Araucarias and other ornamental trees (C.G., 1857).
William Nicholson purchased the property in 1863 and retained most of the above. His gardeners were William Smythe and T Down. The former became well known for his hybridisation of plants. In 1903 the railway provided an additional access to the Mansion, when a new drive, again lined with ornamental trees, was constructed from the station to the West of the house. In 1915, just to the north of the Evergreen Garden, a productive Orchard was planted and a brick and thatched fruit room built. At some stage a tennis court was laid on the western end of the lawn (HRO 1944 & 1945). A cricket pitch with pavilion was built beyond the eastern formal garden, extending to the access road for Coles Farm. At the time of the break-up of the estate, this land, the kitchen garden, and part of Beech Wood adjoining the south eastern corner of the estate, together with the northerly Park area were let to the tenant at Basing Home Farm. At the outbreak of war, many of the copses were felled, and the Mansion was requisitioned by the War Office in the 1940s. When the estate was sold in 1944-45, the Mansion, plus formal gardens, amounted to about 49.5 acres (20 ha). The evergreen garden was split into two sale lots and a number of trees in this area and the main garden were sold for felling.
In 1962, when the present owners bought the estate, the gardens were overgrown, the Mansion was in a very poor state and was demolished a couple of years later. In 1968, a smaller, though substantial house, was built on the same site. In the 1970s, the gardens were re-designed by Otho Nicholson, a relative of the earlier Nicholson’s, and the plan was executed by the Head Gardener from Exbury Gardens, Mr Winyard.
The avenue of trees to the old station at Privett remain, as do the lodges; the Pinetum now has 4 dwellings, with a good covering of trees, and the farm and outbuildings have been converted into dwellings. The parkland north of the house is farmed; the gardens and parkland between the minor road, Hempland Lane, to Privett give a fine view from the house with a ha ha separating the gardens from the park. However many of the trees, which were planted during the 19th century, are nearing the end of their life cycle, and a number fall after storms. Replanting is being carried out. The 1987 storm flattened two walls of the walled garden, which has been rebuilt to half its size with new ironwork gates made by a Petersfield firm. A swimming pool and tennis courts were built on the remaining space. The northern approach drive from the Mansion to the Gosport Road has been abandoned, while the southern route to the Petersfield Road is now a footpath.
Late 18th to early 20th parkland and renowned gardens with tree lined approach drives from the lodges to the mansion; fine specimen trees and shrubs in the gardens and park. Estate split up in the mid 1940s, the Mansion demolished in 1964 and a new house built on the same site with gardens and shrubberies redesigned, and park to the south remaining. Parkland to the north of the house is farmed.
HGT Research: July 1998, updated July 2008
Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
26A05/1 Survey of Basing Park Estate 1813
38M82/22 & 159M88/85 Initial sale details of estate and extracts from sale documents 1944 & 1945
46M66 Tracing of Basing House tithe map & some details of awards 1842
1791 Milne map Old Hampshire mapped – http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap /hantsmap [accessed 27/12/06] “
VCH Page, W., Victoria Country History of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1908,
Prosser G.F., Selected Illustrations of Hampshire 1833-34, London
GC The Gardeners’ Chronicle 1854, 663-64
The Gardeners’ Chronicle 1886 274-75 Lindley Library
CG The Cottage Gardener & Country Gentleman’s Companion 1857 Vol. 18, 275-77, Lindley Library
GC&AG The Gardeners’ Chronicle & Agricultural Gazette 1864, 103-04 Lindley Library
pers.com. Visit JH and JB July 2008