Forest Research Alice Holt Lodge (Great Lodge Park)

You are here Home  > Other >  Forest Research Alice Holt Lodge (Great Lodge Park)
Item image

HCC Site ID: 1795 Parish: Binstead
Designations: SDNP Area:
Access: No Public Access to the lodge Ownership: Research Offices/
Forestry Commission

Location and Site

The Forest Research Alice Holt Lodge is situated in the north west of Alice Holt Forest, between the railway line to the north and the A325 to the south east.  A minor road linking the A325 and the A31 forms its eastern boundary and a track to Bentley Station its south western one.  The area rises from the tributaries of the Slea and the Wey, and is characterized by a gently undulating landform of underlying mudstones that are prone to slippage (LCA 2012 online: FC 2011 online).

Historic Development

The first mention of a lodge is from 1530, when Sir William Sandys wrote that he lived at the Great Lodge during the period when the Crown granted him Worldham Manor and Alice Holt which included 143 acres of farmland (HRO 14A01/6).  Great Lodge Park is mentioned in the 1635 Perambulation of the Forest when it was noted as ‘being a barren Heath for the most part’ (HRO 38M49/A3/7).  In the 1651-2 Parliamentary Survey, the Park was impaled with parcels of land divided into five sections of pasture and arable ground.  The buildings associated with the park, the names of the keepers and other tenants were given (TNA E317/Hants/14).   When the Rangers or Lieutenants of the Forest were granted by William and Mary to Emanuel Scrope-Howe and Ruperta, his wife, whose father was Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the cost of repairs to the Lodge amounted to £1,200.   Emanuel died in 1709 and Ruperta remained Ranger of the Park until her death in 1740.  Taylor’s 1759 map shows the Great Lodge in the open forest with an avenue of trees to the south-west and paths cut between the forest to the south-east and north-west.  At that time, The Rt Hon Henry Bilson Legge Esq held the residency, followed some seven years later by his son, Lord Stawell.  Between 1779 and 1788 over five and half thousand pounds was spent on repairs to the Great Lodge.  At that time, the Lodge, garden, pleasure grounds and land within the pale, continued to be around 143 acres with a rent of £100 per year (HRO 14A01/6).  During Lord Stawell’s residency at the Great Lodge, between 1766 and 1803, a survey in 1787 by the Commission of Woods, that became the 1790 Middleton Report, shows the area within the pale divided into separate compartments with a scattering of trees.  At this time the Lodge and Inclosures, including roads, were around 152 acres.  The dammed Lodge pond is shown to the east of the lodge outside the pale (HRO 100M96/1).   It is considered that, when Lord Stawell’s period of office ended, the Lodge was demolished and the present building erected on the same site.  It was certainly in place by 1816.  From this period, until the Forestry Commission took over the site in 1924, the house and grounds were let by the Crown on private leases (FC 2011 online).
In 1826, the Farnham to Petersfield turnpike north-south road was constructed splitting the Forest and separating the Lodge from Lodge Pond (Lyne & Jefferies 1980: OHM 2011 online).  This was followed in 1852 by the London to Alton railway, which was built on its north-east to north-west boundary, as shown on the first editions of the OS maps (RCTS 2011 online: OHM 2011 online).  The maps note the change of name from Great Lodge to Alice Holt Lodge, with the south and part of the south-east boundary of the Lodge fenced and lined by a belt of trees, the whole area being referred to as ‘Ornamental ground’. To the north and north east of the house, the  yards contained greenhouses with a walled garden adjacent and a more open kitchen garden, with fruit trees and another line of trees separating it from arable land  beyond.  To the north was an area of pasture with a pond.  Between the kitchen gardens and the ornamental ground there was an avenue of trees, more fruit trees, and probably a formal garden area immediately to the east of the Lodge.   To the west was open forest with an enclosed area some distance away that contained ‘The Kennel’.   Assarting, the clearing of forested lands for use in agriculture or other purposes, had occurred on land adjacent to the new road and a boat house was noted on Lodge Pond.  By the end of the 19th century, a pumping house had been installed to the south, outside the ornamental park boundary, that supplied water to a tank in the roof of the lodge.  The pump was powered by a pony (Hale 1958, 7).  In the early 20th century, improvements were made to the lodge and money was spent by its tenants in beautifying the gardens (HRO 14A01/6).
In 1924, the management of the Forest was transferred to the Forestry Commission, whilst the lodge continued to be leased until it became a military rehabilitation hospital during and after World War 2.  A 1937 plan of the lodge and grounds shows: to the north and north east of the main house, a carriage house, apple and game stores, deer pens, stables, walled kitchen garden with a peach house on its northern wall, area for soft fruit and an orchard; to the east and north of the main drive, an aviary and gun room, fig house, croquet lawn, tennis court, avenue of trees, paddock and paths weaving amongst the trees; to the south of the carriage drive and within the dyke area, a number of specimen trees;  and beyond the dyke, the site of the ice house, a pond and pumping station (Hale 1958, 6).   There are many theories about the construction of the dyke, the most plausible being that ‘it was an attempt to prevent some of the floods that were prevalent before the forest had an efficient drainage system’ (Hale 1958, 7).  In 1946, the Lodge was taken over for the development of the Forestry Commission’s Research Station.  Laboratory and office extensions were built in the yard and walled garden in 1959, and more laboratories were added in the late 1970s (FC 2011 online).  During the 1960s, just south of the ornamental ground and beyond the dyke, a narrow strip of broadleaved woodland was planted with a range of exotic species in memory of a deceased member of staff.  Around this time, many exotic trees were planted along the forest rides ( 2012).

Current Description

The parkland to the south of the Lodge remains, with some trees over 100 years old, notably, a coast redwood Wellingtonia (Sequoia sempervirens) and Lucombe Oak (Quercus x hispanica) ( 2012).  To the east of the Lodge and within the parkland, different species of trees have been planted and a Tree Walk produced (Jinks & Parratt, 2011).  Part of one wall of the walled garden is still in place, and the pond just north of it has now been informally landscaped and is a seating area.  The Lodge façade is preserved much as it was in the beginning of the 20th century.      Lodge Pond is used by the Farnham Angling Club.  The grounds of the Lodge and Lodge Pond are now within the South Downs National Park.


Great Lodge was a 16th century hunting lodge that was situated within a deer park enclosure.  It became a landscape park in the 18th century.   Early in the 19th century, a new Lodge was built on the footprint of the old.  Lodge Pond was formed by damming a stream outside the enclosure area.  Both remain, although the parkland, with many specimen trees, is confined to the area south of the Lodge.  In 1924, most the area came under the management of the Forestry Commission, and after World War 2 became a Research Station.  A small arboretum has been planted on former parkland to the east of the Lodge. The Park and Lodge Pond are now within the South Downs National Park.
HGT Research:  November 2012


The National Archives (TNA)
E317/Hants/14            Parliamentary survey of Alice Holt    June 1652
Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
14A01/6          Newspaper cutting about the history of Alice Holt Lodge    nd c1960
38M49/A3/7    A Perambulation of the Forest of Alice Holt & Woolmer; Copy of a document dated 1635, made in 1739
100M96/1   Plan of the forest of Alice Holt and Woolmer    1787
OHM, 2011, online, (Old Hampshire Mapped)
1759 Taylor map, c1840 1” to 1 mile OS map from [accessed 14 February 2011].
OS 1st ed 25” & 6” maps Hampshire County Council
Other Sources
Hale, E.F., 1958 ‘Alice Holt Lodge and Forest’, Journal of the Forestry Commission, No ? (4-10).
Jinks, R., Parratt, M., 2011 ‘Alice Holt Tree Walk’, Forest Research.
Jinks, R., Parratt, M., 2011 ‘Alice Holt Tree Walk’, Forest Research.
Lyne  M., Jefferies R., 1980 ‘The History of Alice Holt Forest’, Forestry Commission History Trail leaflet, Lyndhurst, Hampshire. Feb 2012: email 24 February 2012 Dr Richard Jinks to JB
Electronic Sources
FC 2011, ‘History of Alice Holt Lodge’, Forestry Commission, [accessed 14 February 2011].
LCA    Landscape Character Assessment type 7c$File/Landscape+Type+7.pdf [accessed 12 February 2012]
RCTS 2011 The Railway Correspondence & Travel Society Brief History of Railways in the Basingstoke area.
 [accessed 20 October 2011]

Our address

Binstead No Public Access to the Lodge Click for Disclaimer & copyright
51.1786130070044, -0.8516228199005127

Comments are closed.