Fryern Court

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HCC Site ID: 1111 Parish: Fordingbridge
Designations: CA, House LB II Area: 2.63 ha (6.5 acres)
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Multiple private

Location and Site

Fryern Court is situated in Over Burgate, to the north of Fordingbridge. The land is flat farmland and its position lies in the Avon Valley.  To the northwest lie the remains of Rockbourne Roman Villa. There is evidence of ancient neolithic earth works in the area and linear features and maculae are recorded in Fryern Court Wood (Archaeology and Historic Buildings Record) which is situated to the north of the house

Historic Development

The present house is believed to date from between 1450 and early 1500s ( AHBR) and to have been built as a friary for Beaulieu Abbey. There have been many additions throughout the centuries and an  adjoining  farmhouse  was built in the 18th century.
Fryern  Court  is marked on the 1759 Taylor map and Milne (1791); the 1” OS Survey map 1810 and Greenwood (1826), show  park-like land to the east.  In 1827 the property was put up for auction and described as having a garden and shrubbery, orchard and pasture of about 10 acres. (Morning  Chronicle, June 21, 1827); also a farm, house and buildings with 200 acres of arable, meadow and pasture land. The following year it was advertised again for letting by Matthew Hodding, Ann Reade’s son-in-law as a sporting estate, with over 270 acres abundant in game.
The 1840 Tithe Map Apportionment  notes buildings, orchards and parkland with clumps. A wall is marked on the south side of the garden but not referred to specifically in the document.  Ann Reade died in 1842 and her daughter, Eleanor and son-in-law, Matthew Hodding continued to live there (HRO 4M63/133).  By 1858, Captain Hulse lived at Fryern Court (Morning Post, Aug 1858). By 1861, Sir Edward Hulse of Breamore owned the house and farm leasing them out. (HRO 11M61/507) with  shooting rights over 1700 acres plus 11 acres of good park-like land, an orchard and vinery (Morning Post, June 11, 1861).  For the rest of the 19th century and up until 1919, Fryern Court remained part of the Breamore Estate and had several tenants, including William Henry Bond JP and his wife Mary Bond (1880s and 90s) after which Hugh Littleton Norris, watercolor artist associated with the Newlyn Colony of Artists, who is most likely to have been responsible for the first Artist’s studio, built in the small orchard around 1901.
The 1st ed 25” OS map, 1891, shows an L-shaped building which is the house and adjoining stables, designed gardens with orchards, paths, specimen trees and the park-like land to the east of the house and main gardens. By the 3rd ed OS map 25”, 1909, the old artist’s studio is marked in a corner of the small orchard near the part-walled garden, with a new footpath leading from the house to it.  A glasshouse is also marked on OS Maps from 1891 along the south side of the stables.
The Breamore estate was split up and sold in 1919 (HRO 33M64/2/8) with Fryern Court (still then let to Norris) and the farm sold in separate lots.  Augustus John, the artist,  moved to Fryern Court in 1927 with Dorelia, his ‘wife’ in all but name, who  developed the garden, planted spring bulbs and flowers and created two ponds in a formal garden. (Owen  and Cole, Hutchinson 1974).  In 1932-3 Christopher Nicholson designed a second studio for John to the north of the two ponds and to the east of the house. (HRO 87M76/BP2)
Augustus John died in 1961 though Dorelia stayed on until her death in 1968. Mr and Mrs James bought in 1970: they removed the glasshouse (building a swimming pool in the area) and two old copper beeches on either side of the east entrance. They also converted the Nicholson studio into a 3-bedroomed house which was sold with nearly a third of an acre of garden.   The gardens were well maintained and several specimen trees remain from the 19th century. The old studio was offered for sale in 1985 with over 7 acres of land, the orchard and part of the parkland. The James sold in 1994 and in 1999 the present owners bought Fryern Court.

Current Description

The house has gardens and paddocks of 6.5 acres. The two studios (the old one with the parkland, Augustus John’s with one third acre) and the farm are in three separate ownerships. There is a lime avenue leading to the house and several large mature trees dating from the 19th century or earlier. Two replacement copper beeches have been planted. The yews lining the path from the south of the house to the part-walled garden are now flat topped (2012).  The two brick edged ponds surrounded by stone paving that were built for Dorelia are still there, with bulrushes in one and water lilies and yellow flag in the other. The two young Liriodendron trees seen in the 1934 RIBA photograph are now mature.  Spring flowers, planted originally by Dorelia, abound in this part of the garden. There is a gardener’s room with a fireplace.
The distinctive crinkle crankle wall in the part-walled garden has twelve bays and a wrought iron door in the middle. The south facing wall is planted with roses, vegetables and fruit trees with ferns on the shaded, north side. There are also new fruit trees in beds in the part-walled garden and elsewhere ancient Judas trees, apples, pears and cherry. The house suffered a serious fire in July 2011, which destroyed much of the fabric; it is now (2012) under extensive restoration.


HGT Research: 2012


Hampshire Record Office – various
Morning Chronicle 1827
Morning Post 1858 and 1861
(OHM) Old Hampshire Mapped: Taylor 1759
Milne 1791
OS 1” map (1810)
Greenwood (1826)
OS maps (HCC) Tithe map and apportionment, 1840
HRO 21M65/F7/93 1 & 2
Books Owen R, de Vere Cole T, ‘Beautiful and Beloved’ Hutchinson 1974
Electronic accessed Jan 2012
AHBR The Archaeology and Historic Building Records various for Fryern Court, incl crinkle crankle wall (11381), house (239), Garden Studio (51583) and The Studio (11385)

Our address

Fordingbridge No Public Access Click for Disclaimer & copyright
50.9450012, -1.7981540000000677

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