|HCC Site ID:||1968||Parish:||Netley|
|Designations:||Area:||c15 acres (6.07 ha)|
|Access:||Historic site||Ownership:||Multiple houses in private ownership|
Location and site
The Netley Firs was situated in a triangular area between Kanes Hill (A27) and Netley Firs Close which abuts the M27 between Junctions 7 and 8. Before the construction of the M27 (1976-83), the road now called Netley Firs Close continued into what is present-day Hedge End. On the other side of Kanes Hill is Netley Common, a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation managed by Hampshire Countryside Service.
The 1868-89 OS 1st ed. 25” map (HRO) shows Netley Firs approached by a winding drive from the main road (present A27), with a small plantation of conifers bounded on two sides by the drive. Mixed plantings of trees border this road and present-day Netley Firs Close as far as the house, with a straight path running through the middle of the trees, parallel to the two roads. There are several outbuildings, a well and an orchard to the north of the house.
By 1897 (OS 2nd ed. 25” HRO) (Fig.3), two conservatories have been added to the house, the orchard has been moved closer to the house, and a long glasshouse facing roughly west built along one side of the former orchard. For Sale details in The Morning Post of October 5 1889 include “a productive walled kitchen garden, with vinery 120ft. long, vegetable ground, and home meadows” and “The ornamental grounds surround the house, and the beautiful fir woods adjoining form an especial attraction by reason of the lengthy avenue walks which run throughout.” (19cBLN online)
Little has changed on the OS 3rd ed. 25” 1909 map (HRO). In 1922 the house was for sale: “An exceptionally attractive small Freehold Residential Estate…in the midst of beautiful undulating country, commanding extensive views…approached by a long drive, and having good stabling, garage, and other outbuildings,…delightful pleasure grounds, plantations, walled kitchen garden, and pasture fields…” (Times online 1922)
The OS Mastermap 2012 (HRO) (Fig.5) shows two houses, ‘Copper Beeches’ and ‘Chaddlewood’, facing Netley Firs Close, and the business units (Majortek and a joinery) occupying most of the remaining area. The M27 cuts across the upper north-eastern corner of the original site.
Today, Netley Firs has been replaced by ‘Copper Beeches’. To the southwest is ‘Chaddlewood’; these two houses and grounds occupy about one quarter of the original site. It is unclear when the original house was demolished and the land divided up. The present owner of ‘Copper Beeches’ said that there had been four plots along Netley Firs Close in 1935, on two of which bungalows were built. The present ‘Copper Beeches’ was built on the footings of one in around 1994, as it had been so well constructed. The original house may have been somewhat to the north of the modern one and closer to the M27, as the owner had no knowledge of the former house. In the grounds are a number of copper beeches and at least six fine mature conifers which were not possible to identify from a distance (possibly some cedars) but the owner knew nothing about them.
The owners of ‘Chaddlewood’ bought their house new in 1998. They had found the remains of a well-constructed septic tank, a row of coppiced hawthorn, and old medlar and cooking apple trees in the grounds, but it is unclear how old these were. They also commented on the number of oak and beech trees on the two sites (site visit April 2012).
The rest of the site is mainly occupied by several business units, with the majority of the area being overgrown and left to its own devices. It has belonged to the family who now use the site since about 1970. Entry to the units is along part of the old drive, which is still lined with mature oaks. Where the drive broadens out into the yard is a mature Monterey pine (Pinus radiate) on one side, and a huge holm oak (Quercus ilex) on the other. Dotted around the site are many oaks, a few pines and beeches, but scant evidence of the firs after which the house was named, nor of the avenue walks or of any original garden features. Many of the trees are in poor condition and decaying trunks and branches litter the site, which has been largely taken over by bramble, rhododendron, cherry laurel and birch (site visits Feb + April 2012).
Mid-Victorian house with walled kitchen garden, pleasure garden and many trees. House demolished, replaced with two houses and several business units. Only old trees remain.
Partial HGT research: April 2012
(19c BLN) 19th Century British Library Newspapers: The Morning Post 5 October 1889 http://find.galegroup.com – accessed Feb 2012
Times on-line 20 June 1922 p.25 http://find.galegroup.com – accessed Feb 2012
Majortek (site visits Feb + April 2012)
‘Chaddlewood’ (site visit April 2012)
‘Copper Beeches’ (site visit April 2012)