Holly Hill Woodland Park

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HCC Site ID: 1623 Parish: Fareham
Designations: SINC, SSSI Area: 30 ha
Access: Public Access Ownership: Fareham Borough Council

Location and site

May 2016

May 2016

Holly Hill Woodland Park is situated on the eastern banks of the River Hamble, north of Warsash and to the west of Locks Heath. A small tributary of the Hamble has been widened to include 5 acres of lakes and woodland walks. There are views across the river valley.

Historic development

At the time of the Commons Enclosure Act, Holly Hill was listed as a ‘Mansion and farm of 220 acres’ (c89 ha). Records and early maps show the farm with a walled garden near the Hamble river, and the mansion ‘on a gentle eminence about ½ a mile from the sea shore’ having views of the river and the opposite village of Hamble’. In 1831, William Henry Hugh Cholomondely (later the 3rd Marquess) purchased the estate. He subsequently sold it in 1866. The 1870s 1st edition O.S. map gives some indication of the changes that he made. It is rumoured that Joseph Paxton laid out the gardens in the middle of the 19th century. The area around the house had been landscaped. The parkland extended to the small stream, which ran from the northeast of the house, to meet the River Hamble in the southwest. The stream was dammed to form a large lake not too far from a lodge and the approach drive from the northeast. A walled garden abutted the stream south of the house. Downkiln Copse, to the west, was laid out with a network of paths and glades. In 1880, Admiral Frederick A Maxse owned the property when a severe fire gutted the house. Nevertheless, Quinton Hogg, who founded London Polytechnic, bought the property, built a Tudor style house on the site of the previous house, renaming it Sarisbury Court. This was mainly used as a weekend school and for special courses. A few years later another fire partially destroyed the property, and it was sold to Sir Edward Walter. There is uncertainty as to who commissioned the further damming of the stream to create a series of terraced lakes within the valley, landscaped with rocky outcrops, cascades, and a grotto. Pulham Co. made the artificial rocky outcrops with their ‘Pulhamite’ mixture of Portland stone and cement poured over rubble, and individually moulded into shape. The company usually worked with landscape gardeners, and it is thought likely that it was either Edward Milner or his son, Henry Ernest. The 2nd edition O.S. map (1897) shows that the stream in Winnard’s Coppice had been landscaped since the survey of the 1870s, with a series of lakes, stepping stones, and a bridge crossing it, linking the house to another lodge and approach drive situated on Barnes Lane.
There were further changes in ownership. George Winn bought the estate in 1900 and built for himself Holly Hill Mansion in 1905, on a new site east of Winnard’s Copse. Mr Winn laid out a sunken garden in 1936. Previously this site had been covered with a very large glasshouse for tender plants. Trachycarpus, and Camellias prospered and when the glasshouse was removed they still flourished. The sunken garden has been restored and Camellias can be seen in the garden today.
In 1917, Sarisbury Court was sold to the US Government, and after the war sold back to the British Government. The building suffered from neglect, and was eventually demolished in the 1920s. Fareham Borough Council purchased Holly Hill House, Winnard’s Copse and Cawte’s Copse in 1954.

Current description

Holly Hill Mansion which was until recently, an old people’s residence, has just been sold. The rest of the area forms the Holly Hill Woodland Park, and is open to the public all the year around.

Summary & significance

Mid and Late 19th century landscaped woodland park of the old Holly Hill House and Sarisbury Court estates; rocky outcrops constructed with ‘Pulhamite’ along a small stream to form a series of terraced lakes, with cascades, and a grotto; possible designers include Joseph Paxton, Edward and Henry Ernest Milner. Holly Hill Woodland Park is now owned by Fareham Borough Council and is a public amenity.

HGT Research: 1996-97, collated April 2003, updated June 2016

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