Burkham House

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HCC Site ID: 1309 Parish: Bentworth
Designations: Area: c 4 ha
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Private

Location and site

Burkham House is west of Lasham Hill and the A339 Basingstoke to Alton road.

Historic description

The manor of Bentworth, comprising Bentworth and the hamlets of Wivelrod and Burkham, came into the possession of the Magewick family in 1590, George Magewick (1647-1736) being described as the owner of Burkham Farm in 1684 (VCH Vol 4 pp 68-71). In the 1815 Act of Partition of the estate (HRO21M67/4) the farm is described as having been `by him taken down and new built’ but no definite date is given. George’s daughter Elizabeth married James Battin in 1725 and James Battin inherited Burkham on George’s death in 1736. James’ son Joseph had no children but in 1794 granted `all that Manor or Mansion House and Farm of Burkham’ for his lifetime’s use to his brother-in-law Thomas Coulthard (1756-1811), husband of his sister Mary.
Thomas Coulthard seems to have spent little time resident in Burkham, mainly renting houses in Hampshire such as Farleigh Wallop and Chawton, but in 1776 he had inherited the estate of his uncle, James Coulthard of Lincoln’s Inn (HRO 21M67/5) and this no doubt enabled him to build up his landholding in Burkham. Milne’s map (1791) shows a house to the west of the road without any boundary definition and a rectangle of bounded trees to the east. In 1796 Coulthard employed Thomas Baker as a gardener, and Reuben Page `about the House, Dairy House and Garden at Burkham’ (HRO 44M69/G3/797) but whether these were general handymen or more professional gardeners is not clear. The house and farm were let to tenant farmers such as William Bulpitt who was resident there in 1803. In 1809 Burkham was offered on a fourteen year lease and was then described as `that capital mansion house, offices and garden….with 28 acres of rich, dry meadow land’ (Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle July 17).
The farm was then `adjoining the Mansion House’, comprising buildings `and a dove house..laying within a ring fence except the Mansion House’. Following Coulthard’s death in 1811 his land was divided by the Act of Partition between his elder son, also Thomas (1781-1859), and his younger son James Battin Coulthard (1782-1856) who was resident at Binstead Hill. Greenwood’s map (1826) shows buildings to the west of what was then a road past the house and farm. Although both the elder and the younger Thomas are described in various documents as `of Burkham’ the farm continued to be let to tenants; in the Tithe Apportionment of 1840 (21 M65/F7/18/1) the farm tenant, Stephen Dicker, is also described as the Occupier of Burkham House.
On the death of Thomas Coulthard in 1859 the estate passed to his nephew, James Battin Coulthard (1817 -1896) but by this time poor harvests were resulting in the impoverishment of the Coulthard holdings and by 1865 the family began Chancery Court proceedings. The OS 25” 1871 map shows the main drive running west to east along the south side of the house with a path leading from the door south through mixed woodland and shrubs and then bisecting a more delineated rectangular lawn with trees. Edged to the west by a row of conifers, it is bounded to the south by a fenced or walled woodland. East of the house and farm buildings are trees which may represent an orchard. North lies the kitchen garden. Farms belonging to the estate were sold in 1870 and 1873, and in 1882 James Battin Coulthard went into liquidation under the Bankruptcy Act. Burkham was put up for sale (HRO 10 M57/SP330).The house was described as a `large family residence or small mansion with Pleasure Grounds and stabling…much enlarged and improved in the last few years.’ A feature of the grounds was the `large lawn embellished with ornamental Timber and Firs, with parterres’. In addition there was a `good Kitchen Garden, productive Orchard and Fish pond.’ House and grounds together covered slightly more than 1.21ha (3 acres), the farm having 216.5ha (535 acres).
Burkham was acquired in 1881/1882 by Arthur Frederick Jeffreys. He immediately began making radical changes; by Feb 1882 he was requesting diversion of a footpath to the south, and the road to the east, the latter to be moved further east away from the house, though still running through Burkham land. A.F.Jeffreys was elected MP for Basingstoke in 1887, by which time he was well established as a country landowner and farmer. The H.H.Staghounds met at Burkham regularly (Times Online various).The 1896 OS 2nd ed. 25” shows that the house has a new west wing which has become the front entrance; before the front door there is a rectangular carriage sweep with a sundial in the centre. The approach drive is from the north to the west front, with the former entrance from the road to the east now merely providing access to the garden. The conifers lining the western boundary of the lawn are gone and the garden to the south and west of the pond appears to have been cleared of many trees to increase the lawned area. There appear to be no parterres. To the east of the house trees have been removed to create a garden enclosure with greenhouses, bordered by laurel and yew. More outbuildings, possibly stabling, have been built to the north with a new kitchen garden to the north of those. The farm itself has now been completely removed and rebuilt to the east of the new road away from the house. Kelly’s Directory of 1903 describes the house as `a red-brick mansion, pleasantly situated in a park of 250 acres’. Inherited in 1906 by George Darrell Jeffreys, (later the 1st Baron Jeffreys of Burkham), postcards and photos of the house and garden from 1906-1907 show gravelled paths in a formal layout. The lawns are extensive to the south of the house and used for tennis in the summer. The pond shows some Japanese influence in the shape of Japanese stone lanterns by the adjacent path to the west. Stone urns are visible and low brick walls provide boundaries. To the east are long borders and conifers of a good height. The OS 3rd ed 25” 1910 map shows avenues of trees in the parkland to the east. A fountain is marked north of the pond, and two specimen trees appear on its north-western corner. Steps to the south side of the lawn lead to a path through mixed woodland. The approach drive to the west is now lined with alternate deciduous and conifer trees. The gardens were open to the public in June 1933 in aid of the Queen’s Institute for District Nursing. Reference is made several times in the correspondence of Jeffreys’ wife, Dorothy, to the aconites in the spring. Post-war, the family seems to have retrenched; a sale of antique furniture in 1950 was followed in 1965 by the estate being put on the market by George Jeffreys’ grandson, Mark, who had inherited in 1960. The contents of the house were sold in Nov 1965 and the estate sold to a consortium of tenants in March 1966. In July 1966 it was offered for sale again, the Sales Particulars referring to the drives bordered by lime trees and the `beautiful formal gardens and parkland’ To the north are` two vine houses and a lime walk to the walled kitchen garden and fruit cage’. There is a `an Orangery with tessellated floor and heating,a sunken garden and a pond, a brick walled rose and herb garden, and the gardens are sheltered by a fine variety of mature ornamental hard and soft wood, including particularly fine specimens of beech, cedar, lime and yew.’ House and grounds at this time are given as 9.724 acres (3.9ha) with the pond adding a further 0.242acres (0.12ha).

Current description

The general garden layout survives, including the walls of the kitchen garden. The sunken garden now contains a swimming pool, and tennis courts surrounded by a high hedge, have been built to the east of the house beyond the eastern approach. The farm east of the road, renamed Home Farm, was purchased by the Woodland Trust in 1990, the land belonging to the farm was saved from becoming a landfill site. It is now being restored as woodland to provide habitats for wildlife and recreational access for the public. The parkland has been considerably reduced.


A largely 19th century house and garden, developed from an earlier 17th century farm and adjacent `mansion. Currently mainly with lawns and borders, specimen trees . Early 20th century, some Japanese lanterns around the pond and a sunken garden with roses and decorative well-head now the site of a swimming pool. The original parkland is much reduced.
HGT Research:  Nov 2008


Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
44M69/G3/797/1-2     Legal proceedings                                         1796
21M65/F7/18/1-2       Tithe map and apportionment                         1840
21M67/4,5                 Act for Effecting a Partition of Land                  1815
10M57/SP330             Sale particulars                                              1882
Kelly’s Directory for Hampshire                                                        1903
1826                Greenwoods map of Hampshire (Old Hampshire mapped)
1871                OS map 1st ed 25”      HCC
1896                OS map 2nd ed 25”    HCC
1910                OS 3rd ed. 6” map      HCC
VCH (ed.) Page, W., 1908, Victoria County History of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Vol. 4 pp.68-71
Other sources 
Times online various

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