Hinton Ampner

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HCC Site ID: 1499 Parish: Bramdean
Designations: SDNP, SMR, House LB II Area: Large
Access: Public Access National Trust Ownership: National Trust

Click here to visit National Trust site for the location.

Location and Site

Hinton Ampner lies along the A272 near Bramdean. The settlement of Hinton Ampner has been influenced by adjacent parkland landscapes, with a high proportion of mature parkland trees (Winchester Landscape Character Assessment, 2003).

Historic Development

The manor of Hinton Ampner belonged to the Bishop of Winchester at the time of Domesday. A Tudor House, for which no plan survives, was built unusually on the ridge, not far from the source of the River Itchen, overlooking the River Arle. It stood on what is now the orchard. The house was used as headquarters of the Roundhead soldiers under William Waller at the Battle of Cheriton, in 1644. There are burial mounds in the park north of the house.

In 1793, the Tudor house was demolished because it was believed to be haunted and was rebuilt on its present site. In 1864, the Georgian house was enlarged. The estate was inherited in 1935 by Ralph Dutton who demolished the Victorian additions and redesigned the garden. During WW1, Portsmouth High School occupied the building.

In the 1930s, Ralph Dutton started planting in English landscape style on the existing Victorian framework of laurels, yew and ilex. He emphasised the hills but also the gardenesque style as he liked individual specimen trees. The aim of the garden for Dutton was tranquillity, history and spaciousness brought about with trees, shrubs and flowers with both formal layout and informal planting. Vistas in each direction encourage you to walk on the south path with shrub roses and other shrubs. There is a sunken garden laid out in the 1930s with 43 formal beds of dahlias, tulips and clipped yew. A bastion to the south overlooks the parkland. A long walk to the Temple is through an avenue planted with limes dating from about 1720. A dahlia garden was once a yew garden planted by Ralph Dutton’s mother.
Other features include a paved terrace and lily pond near the house, Magnolia grandiflora, Azara microphylla, Hoeheria, Indian bean tree and Davidia involucrate and a philadelphus walk through box and backed with dark yew. An old chalk pit was developed in 1992 by replacing the soil and removing junk to provide the Dell, which is meant to be private and to surprise. In summer it provides the only area with hot colours backed with weeping trees. The east lawn has a huge Sequoiadendron giganteum and there is mixed orchard and wild garden with bulbs in the spring, then cow parsley tumbling over the formally clipped box hedges. From outside the garden all is green with colour such as Cotoneaster horizontalis and yew inside. Every seat has a purpose other than for sitting, as they each end a vista or view.
Deer and dryness give a lot of trouble in the gardens, as well as Japanese knotweed and brambles and watering is also a problem.
In 1960 there was a major fire in the house, which had to be rebuilt.
Overall, Ralph Dutton’s motto was Pope’s:
‘Let not each beauty ev’ry where be spy’d
Where half the skill is decently to hide:
He gains all points, who pleasingly confounds,
Surprises, varies and conceals the Bounds.’
In 1985, the house, 18 acre gardens and estate of 1650 acres were bequeathed to the National Trust by Ralph Dutton, 8th Lord Sherborne. The house was tenanted at first and the large walled garden, which was part of the tenancy agreement housed a swimming pool.

Current Description

The description of the gardens above was composed in 2003, since when there has been a considerable amount of work carried out by the National Trust. The tenancy has ceased, the house restored and opened to the public and the walled garden impressively restored as a functional kitchen garden. The wide terrace at the back of the house is one of the highlights of a visit and a sizeable number of volunteers and professional gardeners maintains the grounds to high standard.


Tudor house origins; Georgian house built on a different site with Victorian additions. Rebuilt in 1960 after a major fire; C20 extensive gardens in early English landscape-style on existing Victorian framework. Owned by the National Trust.

Information: February 2003

Our address

Bramdean Public Access National Trust Click for Disclaimer & copyright
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