Cams Hall

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HCC Site ID: 1614 Parish:
Designations: CA; Hall LB II*; dovecote, farmhouse,
barn range, orangery, stables all LB II; SINC
Area: 102 ha
Access: Public access to part of site Ownership: Strand Harbour Securities

Location and Site

Cams Hall lies on a peninsula just to the east of Fareham.  It has water on three sides where Fareham Creek enters into Portsmouth harbour. Against a backdrop of the Portsdown Hills the land slopes gently towards the sea giving fine views of Portsmouth harbour, the Solent and the Isle of Wight. The majority of the site is composed of coarse gravel with a layer of clay on the higher land around the Hall and farm buildings and chalk deposits in the North Park (KW 1992).

Historic Development

The history of Cams Hall can be traced back to Domesday Book when a manor of 4 hides, held by William the Conqueror, was recorded. (VCH 1908, 214) .The manor passed through the hands of several families but no park is recorded. There is a suggestion that the parkland in the north part of the manor came into existence in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century (KW 1992). The origins of the present Hall date back to Sir Joseph Wolfe who owned the manor before selling it in 1767. However its distinctive classical appearance was the work of the architect Jacob Leroux who was employed by the next owner, Brigadier General Carnac. Not only did Carnac have the house remodelled he also created many of the landscape features in the park, such as the pleasure grounds, lawns, kitchen garden and greenhouses.(Clouston 1989 Part III).

The house passed in 1783 to Peter Delme of Titchfield. Under his son John further improvements were made. Lodges were built at the entrance to the drive and garden buildings were added, possibly the barn, the orangery, the pigeon house and bathing house. After the death of John Delme the estate passed to his son Henry Peter after which there were only a few alterations for the rest of the nineteenth century (Clouston 1989, Part III).
When the Delme family died out in 1894 the estate was bought by Montague Foster who never lived there but sold some of the land (HRO 111M94W/R9/19: B and M 1991, 41). It was occupied by Captain and Mrs Ramsey who remained after the death of Montague Foster when the estate was bought by Lt. Col. Peters in1919 (Clouston 1989, Appendix D). In 1935, during the Ramseys’ tenancy, the gardens received particular praise from the Gardeners Chronicle (Clouston 1989 Appendix C).
By mid-20th century Cams Hall was falling into decay. In 1937 it had been sold to Jonathan May, a speculative builder (James 1996, 116), but his plans were thwarted by World War 11 when the Admiralty took over the estate (B and M 1991, 43). An explosion in 1950 left the Hall “a ruined shell”. The other buildings on the estate became derelict and the landscape suffered too (Fareham BC online).
In the 1980s different schemes for its revival were considered but none proved acceptable to both Fareham Town Council and the County Council (B and M 1991, 44-5). It was after a new owner, Charles Church, was killed in a plane crash that Strand Harbour Securities took over the estate in 1991 and a plan was agreed for its restoration (Fareham BC online).

Current Description

The estate has been transformed into a successful business park while maintaining the natural landscape and historic buildings from the past. The mansion and farm buildings have been restored for use as offices and in addition more office building has been provided by the construction of Carnac Court and Delme Place. This has required plenty of car parking spaces but these are well concealed by the sites chosen and by greenery (site visit). A new road for access has been built linking the car parks (O.S. Colour Raster 2008). The larger part of the Kitchen Garden is now used as a teleport (O.S. Mastermap 2008).
The parkland remains as the setting for the new buildings and the South Park now has a new use as a golf course with a newly built golf club house. While there has been some reduction in the size of the North Park the wooded areas still remain and are now properly maintained.
The four kilometre footpath around the edge of the estate  is open to the public and provides scenic views across to Fareham and to Portsmouth Harbour in the distance (O.S. Colour Raster map 2008).
Update: A controversial new restaurant building is almost completed on the A27 edge of the site, to the east of the entrance drive (August 2013).

Summary

An estate named in the Domesday Book and with a classical mansion and park of the eighteenth century has been transformed into a twenty-first century business park, thus saving the park landscape and buildings from utter ruin and preserving an open space on the eastern edge of Fareham.

HGT Research: November 2011

References

Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
111M94W/R9/19 Auction of Cams Hall 1895
O.S. Maps: Hampshire County Council:
2008 Colour Raster
2008 Mastermap
Books
B & M – Burton & Musselwhite, 1991, An Illustrated History of Fareham, Ensign Publications
James, Alice, 1996, Archive Photographs Series, Fareham, Chalford Publishing Co.
VCH – Victoria County History, 1908 (ed. W. Page) A History of the County of Hampshire Vol. 3.
Other Sources
Clouston for Strand Harbour Securities, (c1989) Cams Hall Landscape Design, unpublished
KW – Wilkie, Kim, 1992, Golf Course Management Plan, unpublished
Electronic Sources
Fareham BC online – Fareham Borough Council website: http://www.fareham.gov.uk/discoverlocalarea/whats_here/camshall.aspx


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