Berrydown Court

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HCC Site ID. 1252 Parish: Overton
Designations: House LB I Area: 10.4 ha
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Private, Multiple ownership

Location and site

Berrydown Court is a Grade 1 listed property situated one mile east of Overton, Hampshire on the A3044 Basingstoke road. The property is bounded on the west by Berrydown Lane. The site currently extends to about 10 hectares; slightly less than half is occupied by the house and gardens, the rest is pasture. The site is at the top of Overton Hill at a height of approximately 118 metres but slopes gently from east to west.

Historic development

Berrydown was built in 1897 by Edwin Lutyens for the MP Archibald Grove (Hussey 1950,151). The site was part of the Berrydown Farm on the Ashe Park Estate (OS 1872). Between 1904 and 1926 the property was owned by Mr Edward Cooper (HRO 46M843/F71/6); in 1919 he became Lord Mayor of London and in 1921 he enlarged the estate by buying Berrydown Farm (HRO 7M97/8). The house was extended in 1926, possibly also by Lutyens (OS 1932). After changing hands twice in the 1930s Berrydown Court was bought by Mr and Mrs Sacher, of the Marks and Spencer family, who owned the property until Mrs Sacher’s death in 1975 (Oram 2008). From 1976 until 2001 Berrydown was owned by the Tholsrup family who made some changes to the garden in order to accommodate a swimming pool (Tholstrup 2008). The house and grounds remained virtually unchanged during this period but the agricultural estate was greatly enlarged and the whole extended to nearly 1900 acres (800 hectares) when it was offered for sale in 2001 (Savills 2001). The house and grounds (26 acres (10.4 hectares)) were finally sold as a separate lot to the present owners (Tholstrup 2008). Renovation of the house and garden has recently been completed.
The Lutyens archives hold no description or plans for the gardens of Berrydown but letters between Lady Emily Lutyens and Edwin Lutyens suggest that the initial design was a problem and that, perhaps, William Robinson visited the site and he may have given advice (RIBA LuE/22/5/1-22; LuE/3/10/1-27; Brown 2008, 61). The house is approached from the Overton road through a pair of solid gates beneath a gatehouse set in a long rough-cast, tile-capped wall (Pevsner and Lloyd 1967,83). This sets an atmosphere of almost defensive seclusion which is perpetuated as the short drive passes through two walled courts to the front of the house which is plain and unadorned. During the ownership of the Coopers there were four poplar trees in the front courtyard and a large fig tree, which still survives, was trained against the walls (Campion 1922). Pollarded lime trees line the outer court as they did in the 1900s, although they have been recently replaced with younger specimens. Behind the right-hand (west) wall of the entrance courts lies the large kitchen garden. This is reached through two arched doorways and the garden is bisected by a long yew hedge. Glasshouses sit against the northern walls and rows of carefully-tended vegetables fill the southern side of the divide. A newly-constructed water feature occupies the site of what was probably a well or dipping pool in the Edwardian era.

Current description

The south-facing side of the house presents a contrasting character; a low sweeping roof-line and tile-hung walls give a rustic appearance to the house which is set in a broad expanse of terraced lawns. Towards the southern boundary are large shrubberies full of brilliantly coloured rhododendrons and azaleas set amongst native trees and a long yew alleé follows the horizontal, east-west axis of the garden, down steps and through an orchard. Part of this lower garden was originally designed with five enclosed square ‘rooms’ of grassy plats edged with herbaceous planting in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ style (Gifford 1926). This is the area of the garden which has most suffered from modern alterations. A large swimming pool and entertainment area now occupies the site of two of the squares but the enclosing yew hedges are still kept low and tightly clipped as Lutyens himself had specified at other gardens (Brown 2008). A deep stone terrace surrounds the south side of the house where a new ‘Lindsay’ garden, designed by Mary Keen and Pip Morrison and sensitively planted in soft blues and greys, lies beneath the main windows of the house; wide steps lead from the terrace up to the lawn. The view across the lawns to the farmland is now closed by a modern sculpture which is a focus of attention within the garden. A hard tennis court is sited away from the house and recent improvements have been made to the stables and service area on the north-east corner of the property, behind the wall along the Overton road.

Summary

Berrydown is a Grade I listed house designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1897, when he and his wife were frequent visitors to the house. The garden designer is not known for certain but William Robinson may have offered suggestions; the design is sympathetic to the ideals of both Robinson and Jekyll. There are no known garden plans. The garden which is dominated by a large walled kitchen garden close to the house is virtually unchanged since it was first designed but it has been given a more contemporary feel with sculpture and fresh planting. The terraced lawns lead to a walk of sentinel yews but some of the ‘garden rooms’ and herbaceous planting of an earlier design have been lost. Woodland areas are under-planted by rhododendrons. The garden is significant for the way in which it still resonates with the style of Lutyens’ early period and it is rare to find a garden so little changed in 110 years.
HGT Research: December 2008

References

Books
Brown, J. 1982 Gardens of a Golden Afternoon, Van Nostrand Rheinhold
Campion, P. 1922 The Wessex Series: A Recent History of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset, Poole
Gradidge, R., 1981 Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate,Allen, Unwin
Hussey, C. 1950 The Life of Sir Edwin Lutyens, Country Life
Pevsner, N. and Lloyd, D. 2002 The Buildings of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Yale University Press
Hampshire Record Office
7M97/8: Correspondence between E. Cooper and Percy Mortimer re sale of Berrydown Farm, 26 May 1921
10M57/SP14: Sale details of Ashe Park including Berrydown Farm, 1889
46M843/F71/6: Gifford sale details of Berrydown Court, 15 July 1926
RIBA Drawings Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum
The Lutyens Archive
LuE/22/5/1-22: 12 October 1898, letter from Lady Emily to Edwin refers to a ‘sketch of the 19th solution’
LuE /3/10/1-27: 6 August 1899, William Robinson invited to visit Berrydown
Other sources
Aynsley, A., Personal communication, December 2008. The author is grateful to Mr Aynsley for his assistance, helpful advice and access to the garden.
Brown, J. Personal communication, September 2008. Jane Brown had researched Berrydown for her book,
Gardens of a Golden Afternoon (op.cit.)
Gifford, 1926 Sales particulars for Berrydown Court, NMRC Swindon
Oram, J. Personal communication, September 2008. Mrs Oram worked for Mrs Sacher after the war.
Savills, F.P.D. 2001 Sales particulars for Berrydown Court
Tholstrup, H. Personal communication, 17 September 2008. Mrs Tholstrup lived in Berrydown from 1977 to 2001.
Photographs taken at Berrydown Court by VJ, 30 May 2008
Maps
Ordnance Survey: 1st edition 25” 1872 and 3rd edition 25” 1910 from HCC/HGT


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