Ingersley (Fernlea)

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HCC Site ID: 1943 Parish: Chilworth
Designations: TPO Area: 38 ha
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Private

Photo: Fernlea Beech Walk – Courtesy of Peter Philip 1991

Location and Site

Ingersley is situated in part of Lords Wood, north of Southampton. Until 1895 it was known as Fern Lea House, and then the name changed to Ingersley House (Kelly). The house lies at the head of a valley running roughly north-south, and containing a southward flowing tributary of Tanners Brook. The stream had been dammed and a distinctive triangular lake formed by 1857 (Willis Fleming Historical Trust). In the 1950s the estate of approximately 100 acres (39 hectares) was divided into two, another house was built in the western section of 6.1 hectares (15 acres) and named Fernlea. The area is well wooded, but both houses have taken advantage of the view to the south over open sloping pasture.

Historic Development

The first house, named Fernlea (1), was built in 1852 by William Baldock, on land leased from the Willis Fleming estate (Willis Fleming Historical Trust). The entrance drive led off the Chilworth to Southampton carriageway, an old track across Chilworth Common, skirting Lords Wood. Baldock and subsequent owners developed the grounds during the second half of the nineteenth century and the layout has changed very little since then (OS 1st – 4th eds). Features include a large walled garden close to the house, now overgrown, a triangular lake formed by building a dam across a stream, and leveled areas for a tennis court and croquet lawn. There were buildings for a small farm which included a cowshed and a piggery (HRO 10M57/SP344). In 1895 the name was changed to Ingersley (Kelly). During World War II the house was badly damaged and the owners moved away. In the 1950s the whole estate of approximately 100 acres, was bought by the Seward family, this included the southern 40 acres that were leased to the Forestry Commission at a ‘peppercorn rent’ (HRO H/CLS/PL749). The remaining land was divided into two. The owner rebuilt Ingersley in a Tudor style in the eastern part, and a new house was built in the western 15 acres and named Fernlea (2).

Current Description

Both the houses of Ingersley and Fernlea (2) are situated on high ground and enjoy a long view south down the valley. The owners of Fernlea (2) have done much work in clearing their grounds of brambles, laurels and rhododendrons which had become rampant; they have redesigned the beds near the house and continued to plant trees (Garden Plan Fernlea Garden 1998). The former walled garden of Ingersley has not been maintained and is now completely overgrown with trees. The triangular lake is the prominent feature and has been recorded on maps since the 1850s.


Fern Lea estate was created in the second half of the 19th century on forested land leased from the Willis Fleming estate. A house was built in Tudor style and the grounds developed. By the end of the century the name had been changed to Ingersley. The house was badly damaged during World War II and subsequently demolished. Mid 20th century when the lease had run out, the estate was bought by the Seward family and divided into two. A new house was built in the western 15 acres and named Fernlea. In the eastern section George and Lena Rathbone (née Seward) rebuilt Ingersley, again in Tudor style.

HGT Research: August 2009


Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
10M57/SP344 1875
34M74/BP357 1899
H/CL5/PL749 1964-6
Ordnance survey OS from Hampshire County Council
1st ed. 1868/71-72
2nd ed. 1896-98
3rd ed. 1909
4th ed. 1938-42/1946
Aerial photo 2005
Colour Raster 2008
Hampshire Magazine March 2002 Article by R Cobern
Chilworth Parish Council Handbook 1964-5
Kelly’s Directory
Electronic Sources 01/08/2009
Other Sources
Willis Fleming Historical Trust archives
Site visit with Peter and Barbara Philip 2009
Plan Fernlea Gardens 1998

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