|HCC Site ID:||1031||Parish:||Boldre|
|Designations:||House LB II*; NFNP, SINC||Area:||39.2 ha (98 acres)|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Charitable Trust|
Location and Site
Walhampton House is a Grade II* listed 18/19th century country house 2km from the south coast of Hampshire with views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. It is on the edge of the New Forest just east of Lymington. The house sits on a small peninsular 25m above sea level. To the south the land falls away gently until close to the shore and to westwards steeply to the estuary of the Lymington river. The land rises towards Portmore Common in the east and towards Beaulieu Common in the north & north-west. The climate is temperate although the site is exposed to strong salt laden winds, thought to be the reason the house and lawns were sheltered by groves of trees at the expense of views.
The present extent of the land owned by Hordle Walhampton School, some 39.2h (98a) comprises the pleasure grounds that were the nucleus of a much larger estate of 320h (800a) in its heyday, reduced to 182h (455a) after 1936. This was broken up in the sale of 1948 when the house and surrounding grounds were acquired for use as a preparatory school. The house and school buildings are situated to the west and north of the site with the main garden, inluding Peto’s sunken garden and Italian terrace, to the south. On the same axis as the house and to the east is the Long Walk which ends at a series of ponds and lakes. The eastern side of the site is wooded, bisected with tracks and walks and contains the Serpentine Canal, the Mount and a further lake. This lake can also be reached from the south lawn via The Glade.
Recorded in the Domesday survey as a small estate and later used as the endowment of Christchurch Priory, the estate returned to the Crown after the dissolution of the monasteries and was leased to tenants. A large parcel of land at Walhampton was bought by Elizabeth Burrard, a widow and who settled a portion on her son Paul. By mid 1670s he owned the house and garden of about 1.6h (4a) together with 40h (100a) of farmland.
Paul Burrard’s son, also Paul rebuilt the house in 1711. A drawing purporting to be 1680 appeared in a book published in 1870 which clearly shows the 1711 building with formally disposed gardens surrounding the house. These gardens persisted through subsequent stages of development, some of which can still be detected. In 1730 Paul Burrard handed over the estate to his son Harry Burrard who continued to buy land. An estate map of 1787 provides the best clue as to how the gardens looked during this period. Sybil Wade suggests the map depicts a landscape in transition from an early/mid 18th century formal design to the informal landscape style. A number of features on the map can be assumed to belong to the time around 1734. These include the straight avenues, the wilderness south of the house, the walled garden, banjo pond, lime walk holme oak walk and canal. Their is no evidence to show when the lakes were made nor who was the designer of the naturalistic landscape. William Gilpin was a friend and neighbour and a possible influence. Harry Burrard received a baronetcy in 1769 and about that time he enlarged the house adding octagonal rooms at each end and extending eastwards.
Sir Harry’s heir, in 1791 was his nephew, Admiral Sir Harry Burrard, who took the name Burrard-Neale on his marriage to a wealthy heiress. He enlarged the house further and moved the Lymington-Beaulieu Road north away from it. He completed the transition of the grounds to the English Landscape Style, removing the avenues and banjo pond and deformalising the canal, the lime walk and the planting in front of the house. Tradition says his boatswain made the shell-work grotto at the north end of the western walk. His wife was a passionate gardener and plantswoman who enriched the gardens with rare and exotic plants from around the world.
After Admiral Sir Harry’s death in 1840 the estate passed to his brother George and thence to his son who died without heir. There followed a period of trusteeship of the entailed estate which ended in bankrupcy which forced the sale of the estate. The 1868 OS map shows the layout of the gardens much as before but with more detail. It shows a conservatory-like building to the west of the house on the site of the present colonnade.
The 1883 sale particulars give a detailed description of the house and grounds that include a Chinese Bridge over the Serpentine canal, a Summer House on the Mount and fourteen other summer houses, a boat house and a house boat. The new owner was John Postle Heseltine who engaged the well-known and fashionable architect Norman Shaw to remodel the house, reconstructing the whole of the eastern part. He also remodelled the Conservatory providing it with a flat roof to be used as a roof garden. There is strong circumstantial evidence that Heseltine involved Harold Peto who was working at nearby Hinton Admiral. Peto who had stayed at Walhampton House is thought to be responsible for the Italian Terrace and Sunken Garden, the Roman Arch and probably the layout of the Glade and Chinese Boathouse. These make their appearance on the 1907 OS map which also shows a Water Tower.
Heseltine sold the estate in 1910/11 to Dorothy Morrison, a very wealthy spinster. She married Viscount St Cyres in 1912, but before the marriage she engaged Thomas Mawson & Partners to undertake a comprehensive scheme of alterations to the house and gardens. The work done by Mawson, and Edmund Fisher the architect who drew up the plans to remodel the house, consolidated the relationship of the house and the garden. A colonnade was created immediately to the west of the music room, enclosing a garden court and providing a visual link between a newly laid-out garden to the north and the main garden to the south. The work has a distinctly Roman flavour similar to Mawson’s work for Lord Leverhulme in Hampstead.
Lord St Cyres died in 1924 followed in 1926 by his wife. They had no children and the estate was left to her four year old nephew. Much of the estate was sold leaving the house and 182h (455a) which was let. Used as a convalescent home for American airmen for eighteen months, it then stood empty until it was put up for sale in 1948.
The house and 40h (100a) was bought by Audrey Brewer for use as a preparatory school, most of the purchase money being put up by the vendors as a large mortgage. Underfunded the venture floundered and in 1955 was acquired by John Bradfield who put it on a sound financial footing.
The necessary school buildings that have been erected over the years have affected the setting of the historic structures to varying degrees. These include the Lodge and its extensions, a single storey building at the front of Shaw’s east wing and the swimming pool in the colonnaded garden court. A pre-prep and kindergarten complex has radically changed the environment to the north of the Long Walk and has caused the removal of the east wall of the walled garden. Other developments both existing and proposed will continue to affect the gardens. The most obvious is the all-weather playing surface sited near the south side of the Long Walk. There has also been the gradual loss of important garden features from neglect and natural events such as the storms of 1987 and 1990. However much of Mawson’s and Peto’s work remains as well as elements from the earlier 18th century landscape.
The school commissioned a study from Sybil Wade, the well-known expert on historical landscapes and gardens. This was available in 1999 and provides a framework for the gradual restoration of many of the lost or damaged garden features. In 2006 the architectural firm Radley House Partnership was commissioned to conduct a similar conservation study of the house and other structures and their settings.
Hordle Walhampton’s historic landscape has been created by the overlaying of three distinct phases in landscape design – the early 18th century formal, the late 18th century English Landscape style and the late 19th century/early 20th century Italianate revival and the Arts and Crafts movement. Each design removed much of what had gone before so that by the middle of the 20th century the wider landscape was in the naturalistic English Landscape style but with areas close to the house dominated by the more ornamental Italianate/Arts & Crafts design. Within both is evidence from the older gardens. Notable architects Norman Shaw and Edmund Fisher at different times refigured the house, whilst in the garden the designs of Harold Peto and Thomas Mawson are still very much in evidence.
1787 Estate Map by Charles Ley on display at Hordle Walhampton School
1841 Tithe Map HRO:F7/26/1&2
1868 OS County Series 1st ed. 1:2500
1896 OS 2nd ed. 1:2500
1907 OS 3rd ed. 1:2500
Walhampton House Historic Landscape Restoration & Management Report on the Grounds of Hordle Walhampton School by Sybil Wade 1999
Walhampton House Conservation Study for Hordle Walhampton School by Radley House Partnership 2006