Knighton-Seymour Estate, Horndean
The Knighton-Seymour estate was a group of gentry houses in Blendworth belonging to the children and grandchildren of Captain James Hawker RN of Plymouth, four of whose five daughters lived in Blendworth. There were three principal family homes and three smaller properties. The arrangement lasted for two generations from 1819 until 1887 and at its peak covered c90 Acres. In addition the Knightons influenced planting at two nearby houses.
The estate evolved from informal arrangements between two brothers-in-law – Captain, later Rear Admiral Sir Michael Seymour Bt and Sir William Knighton Bt – both married to daughters of Captain Hawker. Hard work had enabled Sir Michael and Sir William to live comfortably but not grandly. However by co-operation and by avoiding hard internal boundaries they created a communal family parkland which neither could have afforded on his own. Their sons unified and enlarged the family holding by co-ordinated planting and joint property transactions.
The three principal homes
The old Blendworth House (HR1834), a modest villa on Havant Road, was bought by Captain Sir Michael Seymour Bt in 1819. It was sold out of the family in 1852 but bought back in 1862 to extend the grounds of Blendworth Lodge and Cadlington House, below. Blendworth House was demolished by Sir William’s son, Sir William Wellesley Knighton. Its well house, stables and parkland trees survive.
Blendworth Lodge (HR1361) off Rowlands Castle Road, was a cottage Ornee bought by Sir William Knighton Bt in 1820. Over time the Knightons enlarged it into a mansion and surrounded it with parkland. Despite near destruction by fire in 1917 it survives as a family home. Its new garden incorporates a restored ha ha and Sir William Wellesley Knighton’s American planting which includes sequoia, cedar, liquid amber, ginkgo and tulip tree.
Cadlington House (HR1362), at the top of Blendworth Lane, was built on land acquired by Sir William Knighton for the marriage in 1829 of his daughter Dorothea to her cousin Captain Michael Seymour RN, the son of Rear Admiral Sir Michael Seymour Bt, above. It retains its original layout of lawn, shrubs and specimen trees behind, and walled garden in front. The walled garden and adjoining meadows belong to a horticultural training enterprise; the house and garden are a MENCAP residential home. LBII.
The three smaller houses:
Hook Cottage in Blanchards Lane was owned by the Knightons. It was occupied first by Rev Edward Osborn, the son of Captain Hawker’s second daughter, Elizabeth, and then by naval and military families. It remains a private house. LBII.
Green Hook (Letcombe House HR1835), a house on Rowlands Castle Road, was in 1819 owned by the Rev Sir Samuel Clarke-Jervoise Bt of Idsworth and occupied by his new curate, Rev Charles Gower Boyles. By 1822 Rev Boyles and his mother Mary, Captain Hawker’s eldest daughter, had bought it. Green Hook was later occupied by Knighton-Seymour relations, by naval and military families and then by a farmer. In 1873 Sir William Wellesley Knighton bought Green Hook and demolished it to build new stables for Blendworth Lodge. The site now belongs to a plant hire company which has preserved the turning circle of the well and some of the old stable walls.
Myrtle Farm, at the top of Blendworth Lane, next to Holy Trinity Church, was created by the Knightons from older farms and leased to the Gale family, but it was also the home of Sir William Wellesley Knightons’s cousins, the Misses Hawker. After Sir William Wellesley Knighton’s death in 1885 the Gale family bought much, if not all, of Myrtle farm.
The two houses influenced by the Knightons:
Blendworth House (HR1836) was built in 1850 as the Rectory to Holy Trinity and was designed by Habershons, Holy Trinity’s architects. The site was farmland given by Sir William Wellesley Knighton in exchange for the glebe and rectory site opposite Blendworth Lodge. Circumstantial evidence suggests that he had a hand in planting its specimen trees and in ornamentalising Blendworth Lith, which later became part of its grounds. c1930 the Rectory became a private house.
Crookley Park (HR1861), was built by George Alexander Gale on a former field of Myrtle Farm, which was sold after the death of Sir William Wellesley Knighton in 1885. Crookley Park’s specimen trees and undulating lawn resemble the catalogue description of the Blendworth Lodge grounds in 1885. Its walled garden survives at a separate house, Crookley Pool, which has a Yellow Book garden.
Of the eight properties, six survive and two were demolished by Sir William Wellesley Knighton.
Four of the surviving properties (Blendworth Lodge, Cadlington House, Blendworth House and Crookley Park) and the two demolished by Sir William Wellesley Knighton (the old Blendworth House and Green Hook, now Letcombe House) have been researched to first stage and are on the Hampshire Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
The two non-Register sites are Hook Cottage and Myrtle Farm. Hook Cottage is on the Architecture and Historic Buildings Record. Knighton-Seymour research contains sources for both.
All sites are private.