|HCC Site ID:||1339||Parish:||East Meon|
|Designations:||House LB II. SDNP||Area:||14 ha|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
Location and site
Drayton House is built on the side of a hill overlooking the Meon Valley to the southwest. It lies near the source of the Meon and well above its north bank, protected from north and east by natural woodland. (Paterson 1978). The house and grounds lie within a triangular plot adjacent to Bereleigh to the east. It is within the South Downs National Park that is predominantly chalk.
Drayton House was built in the early eighteenth century. In the 1851 tithe awards, the house, grounds, buildings, bailiff’s cottage, and arable and pasture comprised around 13.75 ha (34 acres). This included the land, cottage and buildings near the River Meon, later known as Drayton Farm. The first edition 1869 Ordnance Survey map shows short driveways from the road to the front and back of the house, fairly dense tree and shrub planting to the southwest, narrowing the view of the valley from the house. The 1916 Sales notice extols the virtues of this view over the South Downs, and states that ‘A small very attractive Freehold Farm with a Gentleman’s Small House thereon, in addition to a Good Cottage and very commodious Farm Buildings’ was for sale. At one time it belonged to the owners of Bereleigh (Note: dates unclear – information from the owner of Bereleigh, 2013).
The size of the estate was similar to the earlier tithe awards, and included Drayton House, with pebble-paved verandah, walled-in garden, and attractive terraced lawn overlooking Drayton Farm.
There were a number of residents before William Douglas Home, the writer and playwright, and his family purchased the house in 1953. It is unclear when the driveway to the southwest of the house was made into a lawn, and the area to the southeast of the house was developed as a series of small cottage-like gardens with retaining walls, linked by brick paths and steps, although the former was in place by 1966, and the latter by 1978.
A visit in the early 2000s showed that the owners were restoring many areas of the gardens and the series of small gardens with retaining walls were very evident. However the house was put onto the market in 2008 since when it has been substantially re-modelled and upgraded; the lawns and area close to the house have also been re-designed to be more accessible for family use. The walled garden remains with six raised beds, ,an area of vegetables or cutting flowers and a further enclosed area with a circular pond and surrounding path, as well as various shrubs (aerial view, Google maps). This circular feature would appear to be new. At the eastern end of the series of the separate garden-rooms, there is a tennis court. Woods to the north of the property and a large grassy field to the west complete the grounds. The remodelled property was put on the market in late 2013 for £8m.
Early 18th century Gentlemen’s residence with fine views over the River Meon. Mid-20th century the home of playwright, William Douglas Home; series of garden rooms created. Early 21st century garden restoration of the post-war garden rooms. Substantial up-market remodelling of house and adjacent lawns in 2008-2013; walled garden rooms remain.
HGT Research: July 2000, Dec 2006 and 2014
Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
58M99/20 Notes and copy newspaper articles about William Douglas Home, the playwright who lived at Drayton House 1980s
97M89/4 Sales notices – various includes Drayton House 1916
21M65/F7/66/1 & 2 East Meon Tithe awards and map 1851
Paterson,A., 1978, The Gardens of Britain, Dorset, Hampshire & The Isle of Wight, B T Batsford Ltd
1st ed OS map 1869 (Hampshire County Council)
Archaeological & Historic Building Record (AHBR) 13158 Drayton House 1986
Sales details 2013, Strutt & Parker