Jenkyn Place (Bentley House, Jenkin Place)

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HCC Site ID: 1303 Parish: Bentley
Designations: House LB II Area: 17.8 ha (44 acres) estate 2011
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Private

Location and Site

Jenkyn Place is a Queen Anne grade II listed building which is situated on the outskirts of the village of Bentley (AHBR 12875).  It is sited on a slope on the northern side of the Wey valley overlooking the hills of Alice Holt Forest to the south east and Selborne to the south west.  The soil is Upper Greensand over chalky marl (BBR 2011 online).

Historic development

The earliest reference to the site is on the Domesday Survey, but not in the Domesday Book, which mentions a house named after Janckenes Welle.  The well is underneath the house (Coke 1993, 3).  The name is thought to have been corrupted to Jenkyn.  At that time, the land was held by Bishop Henry of Winchester and was tenanted by two farmers.  According to an anonymous manuscript in the Jenkyn Place archives, the property passed from the Beale family to the Lutman family towards the end of the 17th century. A stone inscribed near the front door bears the initials of Robert and Ann Lutman, who probably had the core of the present house built.  The Eggar family acquired the property in 1808 and retained it until the end of the 19th century (Coke 2001).  During their ownership, the 1841 tithe map shows a pond between the house and the outbuildings and the house was considerably extended around 1860.   By the time of the first edition OS map in 1871, a formal garden had been laid out to the south of the house and an orchard to the south west.  A Cedar of Lebanon had been planted, apparently in 1828, in the east lawn and glasshouses built. The land surrounding the property was mainly used for hop growing and lines of trees delineated many of the field boundaries (Coke 2001).
In 1900, the house was bought by Francis Goode Cunningham who re-named it ‘Bentley House’ and carried out some major works of modernisation, rebuilding and enlargement (Coke 2001).  The 1910 OS map shows a footbridge had been constructed over Hole Lane to the east of the house, and, to the west, the old orchard area had been divided into four separate compartments.  These areas could well have accommodated the croquet ground and two tennis courts, which according to the 1912 Sales catalogue, were overlooked by ‘a range of stone, brick and tile buildings, comprising Tea Room, Garden Room, and Tool House’ (HRO 133A06/14).  There were various owners or tenants between this sale and the beginning of the second World War.  It is thought that the basic structure of the garden was created in the 1920s by a garden designer, whose identity is unknown.  However, there is a good possibility that Ellen Constance Eggar, a granddaughter of the previous owners, could well have planned the layout as she was listed in the 1911 census as a garden designer (Email Eggar 2013).  The most extensive changes occurred when the Cokes purchased the property in 1941.
After the war, the Cokes removed many of Mr Cunningham’s additions and extended the northern end of the house.  They greatly improved the garden and ‘began to construct a series of ‘compartments’ with ‘a different feel achieved by scale, colour, texture, according to soil conditions, aspect and position relative to the house and to existing features’ (Coke 2001).  The ‘Ash furlong’ plot of around five acres, which was shown on the 1841 tithe map, as extending from the house to the village properties, now allotments, became the new garden.   A swimming pool was built in the meadow over the bridge.  In 1986, the Cokes wrote a booklet about the changes they made to the garden, with an addendum in 1988 after much damage was done by the storm of the previous year.  They also noted that the north side of the Italian Garden had been completely replanned and the tennis court had been laid to form the Pavilion Garden, which would ‘blend into the existing planting on each side with a central avenue of Sorbus’.  A later plan of the garden notes: Sunk, Lion, Valley, Armillary Sphere, Pavilion, Herb, Leaf, Yew, Old-fashioned Rose, Italian, Dutch, Sundial, Magnolia and Rose gardens; Lion Walk, Spinerie, Terrace, four herbaceous borders south of the Bowling Green and an Information kiosk (Coke 1993).  The gardens had been opened under The National Gardens Scheme for many years, and from 1985 until 1996 it was opened four days a week from April to October.   The old Cedar tree fell in high winds in 1990, shortly after the death of Gerald Coke.  His wife died in 1995 and the estate was sold the following year (Coke 2001).

Current description

Where once there were hops in the surrounding fields there are now vines.  In the southern field adjacent to the garden, an arboretum has been planted.  The trees were planted as crossing avenues in the shape of a Scottish Saltaire to limit wind exposure to the vines and grapes (BBR 2011 online).  The 2011 Country Living article of the sale gives, in addition to the main house, five estate cottages, various estate buildings and 44 acres (c18 ha) of gardens, paddocks and woods, including a vineyard. The tennis court had been reinstated with Astroturf in the Pavilion garden.  To the east of the house, across the Hole Lane bridge, the swimming pool had been restored (CL 2011 online). From a 2005 aerial photograph, the rest of the gardens remain much as the plan above.   As far as is known, the property is no longer open to the public (2013).


An 18th century grade II listed house with an early 20th century designed garden that was extended and re-designed over a period of 50 years after the second World War by the owners, Gerald and Patricia Coke. In 2011, the garden remains largely intact and an arboretum has been planted in an adjacent field.
HGT Research: 2011), updated January 2013


Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
21M65/F7/17/1 & 2   Bentley Tithe Awards and map  1840
133A06/14   Sales notice of Bentley House  1912
Maps – all from Hampshire County Council
1st ed 25” OS map 1871
3rd ed 25” OS map 1910
2005 Aerial view
Coke, G. & P. 1993 ‘The Gardens of Jenkyn Place’
Other Sources
Coke, 2001, notes accompanying letter from David Coke dated 2009
Electronic Sources
BBR 2011 online – Berry Bros & Rudd [accessed 14 January 2013]
CL 2001 online – Country Living article November 2011 [accessed 14 January 2013]
Email Eggar, 2013, email re Eggar census details

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