|HCC Site ID:||1610||Parish:||Fareham|
|Designations:||LB II*||Area:||2.95 ha|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
Location and site
The house and garden currently known as Blackbrook Grove lies to the south of the former toll road from Fareham to Titchfield and to the west of Redlands Lane. It is privately owned. Much of the surrounding area is built up. To the west lies Fareham Technical College which owns part of the curtilage that formed a southerly aligned avenue. The whole of this area was part of the ancient Forest of Bere which belonged to the Bishops of Winchester. The earliest available maps dating from the eighteenth century show buildings in a rectangular curtilage. (Taylor 1759, Milne 1791)
A two-roomed cottage orné was on the site by 1811 and by 1826 the property was named Blackbrook Cottage (Greenwood 1826) belonging to Captain George Purvis who by his will of January this year left it to his son George Thomas Maitland Purvis (Hants Treasures). The house can be seen on the 1841 Tithe Map and the 1868-81 Ordinance Survey Map. The garden was in a picturesque style in harmony with both the building and the fashions of the period. This garden included inner and outer circuit walks within dense boundary planting and lawns dotted with shrubs, trees and flower beds. Shown is a large rectangular pond beside which there is alleged to be a weeping willow from a cutting from Napoleon’s grave on St Helena. Gate piers on the north entrance were said to have been ornamented with cannonballs from Sebastopol in the Crimea. Aligned on the curved south facing bay of the house looking down the vista into woodland a path leads out into a long avenue planted on both sides. This has at the end a raised platform that could have been used to view shipping in Fareham Creek, out into Portsmouth Harbour and out to the Solent all of which before obscured by housing, being less than four miles, could be easily seen with the naked eye never mind a naval telescope. A painting signed by T Way, dating from internal evidence to the middle of the 1870s’, shows the eastern part of the garden of lawn, walks, trees and shrubberies. It also clearly shows the cottage orné with painted and rendered elevations below a thatched roof brought forward and supported on full height rough tree trunks to form a veranda. This veranda lies to north and east of the house and a further veranda of wrought iron encircles the south facing bay from which the aforementioned vista could be viewed. Through this bay can be seen an attached glasshouse later called a fernery.
By 1895 the property had changed hands, the new owner being James Graham Niven the editor of the Portsmouth Evening News (Kelly’s Directories). Though the house name was altered to Blackbrook Grove little was changed in the garden apart from the addition of two glasshouses as shown on the 1897-8 Ordinance Survey map and the path to the avenue gets brought right up to the bay facing south down the vista. Then in 1903 Thomas H Harvey owned the property followed by his wife (Kelly). He commissioned Walter Frederick Cave FRIBA to design a ballroom with three bedrooms over and some structural reorganization all added to the south west of the cottage orné in a sympathetic style. Outside the ballroom facing south a large terrace with a flight of curved steps is integral to the design. Henry Plummer of Fareham was the building contractor. Plans and photographs were published in the Architectural Review in 1909. These extensions appear in the 1909-10 Ordinance Survey maps as do even more glasshouses.
In 1927 the Diocese of Portsmouth bought Blackbrook Grove for £14,000 and the Bishop Dr Neville Lovett moved in in September the same month that the house was blessed as described in the Evening News. It was renamed Bishopswood. By 1932 when the next Ordinance Survey Map was published there was a large addition attached by a porch to the north of the house beside the entrance approach and turning circle. It is still not clear whether this was built for Mr or Mrs Harvey post-1908 or added post-1927. The style externally is in harmony with the thatched cottage orné though when David Lloyd edited The Buildings of England: Hampshire he thought the interiors neo-Tudor. To the north west of the house one of the glasshouses has been built over and integrated into the house. The north circuit walk is beginning to be obscured.
On a map of the 1940s both north and east outer circuit walks have disappeared as has the glasshouse attached to the south veranda that had existed for a hundred years. A small dwelling has been built at the south east corner of the curtilage and new housing has been built to the east and south. Twenty years later the avenue which was part of the southerly vista from the house has been cut off from the rest of the property and become part of the grounds of the educational establishments built to the west.
By 1991 conservationists supported by Fareham Borough Council were interested in the future of the now separated avenue and the southerly woodland part of Bishopswood as both contained native flora. Maintenance objectives were established for the college which was caring for the avenue. Then in 1997 the Church Commissioners put Bishopswood on the market with Lane Fox at Winchester for £800,000. This generated considerable press interest including the Evening News. The estate agents’ particulars went into detail about the trees, shrubs, bulbs and roses and what was called ‘a wild woodland’. Both a cedar and the willow tree and pond are mentioned. The house and its thatch and verandas are perfectly accurately called ‘enchanting’ and the whole was bought by a private buyer.
Both Ordnance Survey aerial photographs and the 2008 Mastermap show lawns, pond, terrace, steps and verandas. Parts of the circuit walks have been re-laid. Densely wooded boundaries surround the property and there is dense woodland to the south. With permission from Fareham Technical College the cleared path down the avenue between overgrown shrubs and trees can be walked down to the raised viewing platform the views from which are obscured. A walk round the public roads reveals dense boundary planting and a great deal of self sown oak. A huge cedar rises near the north edge of the curtilage where it bounds the former Titchfield Road now called The Avenue. The gate piers topped by iron cannon balls remain.
Blackbrook Grove is a fine example of a cottage orné dating from the early 1800s. This is a type of building to be found in other parts of Hampshire and right along the south coast of Britain popular with aficionados of picturesque architecture. The garden is of a piece with the house and an uncommon survival of a picturesque garden matched to a picturesque house. Additionally the avenue with vista and viewing platform are of great interest especially as this was built for a naval family important in Hampshire. The twentieth century additions by Walter Cave both to house and garden should be seen within the context of his six other Hampshire houses and those houses and gardens he designed elsewhere.
HGT Research February 2009
Taylor 1759, Milne 1791, Greenwood 1826, Tithe Map 1841 and all Ordinance Survey 25″ Maps plus County Series and 2008 Mastermap
Hampshire Treasures Vol 10 P007 1986
Buildings of England: Hampshire 1967
Architectural Review: Recent English Domestic Architecture Ed Mervyn Macartney P52-3 1909
The Book of Fareham; Barton and Musslewhite P123 2006
T Way painting of Blackbrook Cottage 1875c
Kelly’s Directories of Hampshire 1895-1923
The Evening News Sept 1927, Dec 16 1996, June 12 1997
Lane Fox Bishopswood sale particulars 1997