Bishopstoke Rectory

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HCC Site ID: 1936 Parish: Fair Oak and Horton Heath
Designations: CA, TPO Area: Less than 1ha
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Private residential

Location and Site

Bishopstoke Rectory is situated in Church Lane in old Bishopstoke. The soil is mixed clay, loam and sand.

Historic Development

Offered the living of Bishopstoke in 1808, Thomas Garnier demolished the old parsonage and built a more spacious Regency house, which is now Grade II listed (Dale 1991, AHBR). The grounds, however, were small and to satisfy his ambitions to create a lovely garden, over the next few years Garnier enlarged the Rectory grounds by buying tracts of land with his own money and in his own name, including in 1826 110 acres from George Seymour to enlarge his landholding in the area . He acquired a turnip field to the east of the Rectory and a meadow to the south (Escombe, D)) and created a magnificent arboretum, scouring the country for rare plants, trees and shrubs. His brother-in-law, William Parry, a noted explorer of the N West Passage to China also brought back many specimen trees and plants (Dale, 1991). The tithe map and apportionment, 1840 indicate the size of his landholdings in Bishopstoke. In 1830 Garnier had become a prebendary at Winchester Cathedral and ten years later in 1840, Dean of Winchester. These appointments did not diminish his botanical amibitions and Dale writes that he travelled frequently to Kew to examine their latest acquisitions and to exchange ideas with his friend Sir William Hooker, Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens. In 1834, the Rectory was featured in Loudon’s Gardeners’ magazine, August 1834, Vol 10 pp124-130 giving a detailed description as well as a long list of its plants (HCC).  Trees in the Arboretum included: Pine from Mexico, Cedar from the Himalayas, an Escallonia from South America and over fifty varieties of magnolia, azalea and rhododendron from America and the East with a Pomegranate from Afghanistan and Chimomanthus Fragrans from China. A sixt-foot high magnolia would have attracted the attention of every visitor (Dale, 1991). The garden soon attracted a steady stream of visitors and later was said to rival Chiswick as a venue for aspiring gardeners (Dale, 1991). Visitors included Lord Palmerston then Liberal Prime Minister and eventually in 1851, Albert, Prince Consort. The may also have included William Cobbett, who also imported specimen trees and plants into Hampshire though he left the area in 1819. Dale describes the visit from Prince Albert as the ultimate accolade and acknowledgment of the degree of excellence attained by the Dean in making the grounds into a botanical wonderland of southern England. Garnier was a good friend of William Hooker, President of the Royal Horticultural Society and in 1856 wrote to him about ‘My auricaria imbricate (now 30 years old and 28 ft high) is throwing out a fine cone at the extremity of one of the top branches.’ Also ‘…my tree of Pinus Webbiana has more than 50 fine dark cones upon it (HRO 199M84/2). In 1865 Garnier accepting that he was getting old, sold the arboretum and other land he owned to Alfred Barton, who incorporated them into the adjoining Longmead Estate. The arboretum was included in the sale and was then incorporated into the Longmead estate and later reached by means of a bridge over Spring Lane. There are conflicting reminiscences on the Rectory garden after Dean Garnier (Escombe, D). The daughter of the incumbent who followed Garnier wrote that in 1870 the Rectory garden was less than an acre in extent bounded on one side by the road and on the other by a wall erected by Mr Barton between the arboretum and the Rectory garden. This conflicts a little with later reminiscences in the book (p70/71) which refer to the small field below the Rectory Garden ‘…was in my time the Orchard, containing chiefly a choice variety of apple trees, planted according to tradition by Dean Garnier. I remember well some wonderful crops and apples.’ The article also refers to a further kitchen garden ‘..across the road in the corner adjoining St John’s with a cow house, sheds and piggeries. Sales details of 1928, describe the kitchen garden as partly walled and well stocked. There is a lean-to green house, and a small heated green house. The Pleasure Grounds are well timbered and comprise sloping lawns with flower beds and a quantity of roses. An enclosure of meadow land which has an extensive frontage to the principal village road, relates to the ‘orchard’ described previously. The total area of the property extends to about 3 1/2 acres ( according to the 25″ OS map 3rd ed 1909 which is marked with the probable boundary (HCC). White’s Directory for 1851 notes extensive pleasure grounds and gardens, containing many rare and beautiful trees, plants, shrubs and flowers. In 1859, Garnier, now ageing, sold land to James Lavington (HRO 38M48/27).

Current description

The Rectory garden is now further reduced but its legacy from Dean Garnier remains in Bishopstoke. A small private garden it has old walls, formerly adjacent to Dean Garnier’s renowned arboretum which is  now a separate dwelling with some of the specimen trees remaining.

Summary

Created by Thomas Garnier, horticulturalist and Dean of Winchester Cathedral, in the early-mid 19th century; the gardens once had a renowned arboretum sold and incorporated into the Longmead Estate in 1865. Rectory now is a small, private garden with historical interest.

Partial HGT research: 2008

References

HRO Hampshire Record Office
21M65/F7/21/1 and 2 Tithe map
44M70 E12/2 Sales Details 1928
38M48/27 Land sale 1859
199M84/2 1856 Letter to Sir William Hooker
AHBR Archaeology and Historic Building Register
HCC Hampshire County Council
OS maps
Photocopy Gardeners’ Magazine, 10 August 1834 Vol 10 (Archived at the Lindley Library) pp124-130
Publications
Escombe, Dorothy  Bygone Bishopstoke The Wykeham Press
Dale, Malcolm A Paper, 1991


Our address

Address:
Fair Oak and Horton Heath No Public Access Click for Disclaimer & copyright
GPS:
50.973193367512344, -1.3379960059683071

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