Holywell House

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HCC Site ID: 1575 Parish: Swanmore
Designations: House LB II, SDNP, SINC, SMR Area: Medium
Access: See NGS for access Ownership: Private

Location and Site

Holywell House is situated off the A32 north west of Soberton Heath in the Lower Meon Valley. It is within the South Downs National Park.

Historic Development

Holywell House was originally Holywell Farm on the estate of Swanmore Manor and bought by Admiral Lord Anson in 1745, who extended the existing two cottages and joined them. Humphrey Minchin bought the house in 1765 and extended it re-using old materials. In 1775 and 1790 further remodelling took place, introducing the large, distinctive semi-circular bows to the south and east. The walled garden and barn date from this time. Maurice Portal bought the house in 1917 and a Georgian-style door was added to the front. In 1960, it was bought by Lord Rhyl, and then by descent it came to the Earl of Clarendon. In 1994, reconstruction of a 18th century service wing and an old farmhouse took place.
The house is reached via a long tree-lined lane. The unplanted south front looks across a ha-ha to a vista carved through the once surrounding Forest of Bere. The gardens of terrace and borders are at the side of the house: also an extensive woodland garden and a wide pergola draped with vines and roses (Batsford 1978). The woodland surrounding the house today is of outstanding beauty and is mainly broadleaved mature trees and plantation of small leafed limes. A small formal garden was replanted in 1995 and the summerhouse restored. A lake was also created in 1995. The old walled garden, which is as old as the house, is some distance from it. By the mid-1990s it was in need of restoration.

Current Description

The grounds are much as they as described above. There has been regeneration of some trees in particular on an expanse of lawn to south of the house and the left of the approach drive. Further to the north is a flower garden with camellias and peonies in the spring. A lawned area sweeps down from the west side of the house, which has several climbing plants. There is a narrow grassed area between railings and the adjacent side of the house, with a large number of steps leading up to an entrance door round which are further climbing plants. It has not been possible to ascertain the state of the walled garden referred to above.


House LB II having undergone many alterations from the original modest farm: ha-ha, terrace, woodland, old walled garden and restored summerhouse. Modern additions include a small replanted formal garden and lake.

Information: From Countess of Clarendon 1996 and Country Life 1999

Our address

Swanmore See NGS for access Click for Disclaimer & copyright
50.93189069649861, -1.1556372643826762

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