Ditcham Park School (Ditcham Grove, Ditcham House)

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HCC Site ID: 1326 Parish: Buriton
Designations: SDNP, SINC Area: 1921 – 667.7 ha; 2007 – 44.5 ha
Access: Access to school Ownership: Private School/
Ditcham Park School Ltd

Location and Site

Ditcham Park is located south of Buriton and to the east of the A3. It developed beside an ancient entrenchment on the chalk lands of the South Downs, on the Hampsjhire side of the county boundary. There are extensive view to the S across Chalton Down to the coast and the Isle of ‘Wight. The easterly views encompass Lady Holt Park in Sussex, Ditcham’s immediate neighbour, which formed a borrowed landscape of the encircling hills and valleys from Petersfield in the W to Harting in the E and beyond.

Historic Development

The lands are first mentioned in Domesday Book ending up in1545 in the hands of John and Margaret Cowper, which consisted of two farms, Old Ditcham and Sunwood, and large areas of wooded slopes and high down land. Richard Cowper left the estate in 1762 to his cousin John Cole who built a new house calling it Ditcham Grove on top of the down, arranging planting including specimen trees in a small landscaped park and building a walled garden. Cole probably added an ice-house in the Park Field just south of the house. A southern approach drive swept up in curves through fields and woods, though the more spectacular approach drive from the N was not developed until after 1885 by the Cave family.
Let for 10 years in the mid 19th century to the Bonham Carters the property of 1,600 acres was sold in 1868 to Charles Cammell who changed the name of the house to Ditcham House. He sold on in 1885 to Laurence Trent Cave who built a new house on the same site, which burnt down just after completion so was rebuilt in 1888. It has been suggested that either Sir Reginald Blomfield or his uncle Sir Arthur Blomfield were the architects. Not only is there no acknowledgement of this in either Blomfield’s archive, but the surviving Cave family members are adamant that the build was by a distant Cave cousin. This was in all probability Walter Frederick Cave who was articled with Sir Arthur Blomfield. He has been proved to be the architect of the North Lodge erected for the Caves, and there are stylistic similarities between this and the main house. It is also possible that he had design influence on the formal “Italian” garden created in the early 20th century as he had close connections with architects who designed in this fashionable style, including Sir Reginald Blomfield and Harold Peto. In addition to the  “Italian Rose Garden”, the Cave family radically improved the estate introducing a pumping station for water, installing electricity and paying for a nearby railway halt. Birch was planted as shelter for game which improved the shooting. Rides and avenues were cut through the woods to key viewpoints. Conifers were planted for more variety of leaf colour and plant form. Much glass was added to the frames and outhouses of an already well endowed 18th century walled garden which was immaculately maintained. The south terrace was improved with urns and the south lawn hugely extended. For sporting fun the family had a cricket pitch installed where regular matches were held. To the east south east of the house they laid out a nine hole golf course.  A gazebo with an Italian-style design was built around  1900, near the Rose Garden.
After the Cave’s moved on in 1922 the estate was until 1933 in the hands  of W R Rea, then briefly Colonel E J L Pike and even more briefly by Stanley Bond who ran the Dycheham Press. The estate was requisitioned by the Admiralty during WW2, then sold again to the Douai Abbey Trust Co  and run as a boarding school until bought in 1975 by Ditcham Park School Ltd. A co-educational day school was set up which is still in operation (2012).

Current Description

The approaches and views and the views from the house are as handsome as ever. The woods are mainly beech with a scattering of ash, birch and sycamore. Conifers from the 19th century remain as do the shrubberies near the house. In 1987 many trees came down around the house though some fine mature specimens remain. A now grassed walled garden has intact walls. The gazebo, deemed to be unsafe, lies dismantled in the woods north of the house, but could be re-erected. The “Italian Rose Garden” has gone and has beenreplaced by a sports hall. The footings of one glasshouse remain and contain a garden for the children. There is also a “wildlife garden” in the woods which is available for study. The frames that used to be by the stable yard are planted as raised beds. Exotic tropicals are being grown against south walls. Both cricket pitch and golf course are under crops, as is the 18th century topped-off ice- house.

Summary

Ditcham Park is in an exceptional position with equally exceptional views of which maximum advantage was taken. Many 18th century features remain enhanced by late 19th century.  The house was probably designed by Walter Cave.
HGT Research:  August 2007

Click here for link to School’s website

References

Maps
Taylor, 1759 – Old Hampshire Mapped
Milne, 1791 –       ”                ”
OS Old Series 1″, 1810   ”             ”
Tithe Map, 1841 – HRO
Estate Map, 1841 – Ditcham Park School
OS 1st ed, 25″ 1869 – HCC
The Ditcham Plan, map of the estate, 1869
OS 3rd ed, 25″ 1909 – HCC
Photographs 
House/garden Bonham Carter archive, 1855
Photograph collection, CJP Cave, 1891-1922
Photo tennis lawn, bank and walled garden/glasshouse 1895
Publications
North Lodge, designed by Walter Cave from The Builder, 1890
Ditcham Gazette No 3 p8-10
Ditcham Gazette No 5
Ditcham Gazette No 9 p40
The Formal Garden of England Reginald Blomfield, 1892


Our address

Address:
Buriton Access to school Click for Disclaimer & copyright
GPS:
50.954053690735954, -0.9358334541320801

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