|HCC Site ID:||1371||Parish:||Liss|
|Designations:||SDNP, House LB II, SMR||Area:||18.4 ha|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
Location and site
The house and garden stand to the south of the Liss to Hawkley medieval road in a wide valley protected by sandstone hills to the south and closer hills of sandstone with higher chalk hills rising above to the north. Underlying soil is alluvial with spits of sand and clay. Indeed there is a brickfield on the Hawkley Road just before Hurst Gate. The presence of local clay would have made puddling the medieval ponds more cost effective. Springs emerging beneath the hills to the north provided water. The streamlet canalized beside the ponds is a tributary of Batts Brook part of the headwaters of The Rother.
‘Lis’ is referred to in Domesday, belonging to the Abbess. Lyss Place has a Grade II (343) house dating back to the Fourteenth Century monastic structure with early Seventeenth Century alterations and re-build,with encasing of the early Nineteenth Century. Attached are pleasure grounds set in a small park, a model farm and two medieval fishponds. The latter are partially silted up and scrub filled though one still contains water, and both have causeways, sluices and a canalized stream. The current owners have added garden features in a sensitive antiquarian style. It is thought that the name Lyss derives from the designation of “chief “or “main” place in the district.
There is an approach drive which was in place by 1870 (Mrs Bashford), and a very small landscape park, a ha ha, estate railings and veteran trees including a Cedar of Lebanon and two splendid Planes. A shelterbelt of mixed deciduous and conifers stands to the north of the house.
In the pleasure grounds is a walled former kitchen garden now filled with a swimming pool installed about 1970. To the south is a parterre with 4 grass plats and cruciform paths in early 17 Century style but more likely early Nineteenth Century when the house which formerly projected further east was radically reconfigured. Further enhancement is in the west courtyard where there is a small formal garden in 17 Century antiquarian style with yews, lavender walks and turf seats. There is an oblong cistern here possibly originally a fish holding tank but certainly part of the domestic water management system directing overflow down to the ponds. As part of this system there is a storage tank below the courtyard paving. The large gargoyle beside the cistern was found in one of the sluices at the medieval ponds and is presumed to have come from the monastic building.
South of the pleasure grounds are the 2 medieval clay bottomed fish ponds: the NW pond is L-shaped and the southern half cleared and filled with water, while the SE pond is choked with self seeded trees and scrub though even in dry 2006 there were patches of muddy water. Form is clearly defined by the substantial causeway which are in good condition. To the south of the causeways is the canalized straight cut of the feeder stream fed by springs and drains including sluices from the ponds only one of which is marked on any map. One sluice drained the smaller pond and 3, as on the sketch map prepared in 2006, the bigger one. They are well built from large ironstone slabs but decaying. There is no sign of either boat house or landing stage shown on maps from 1870 to 1910. A hump marks the position of the islet which may have begun as a swan nest. The earthwork shown on the Milne Map of 1791 and the 2002 OS Map does not appear to be part of the medieval ponds and is very unlikely to be foundations of buildings or even a garden feature as this is the most low- lying part of the N field and prone to flooding. Current research suggests there were withy beds here.
New gardens have been added including a glasshouse in Nineteenth Century style, a range of frames with lights and raised beds. The stables have been repaired and the yard magnificently re-laid with ironstone cobbles bought from a sand-pit near Puttenham, Surrey. Finally Hurst Cottages on the Hawkley Road appear to be on 18th Century foundations on the site of the “rooms” and “gate” mentioned by Charles Cole in his will (1752). The “yew” at Whetham mentioned by Mrs. Bashford (1922) no longer exists if it ever did possibly having been mistaken for a huge still extant larch.
Though the medieval ponds were the primary target for examination and are even better preserved than initially supposed, this site has proved of wider ranging interest from the restored and reconstructed pleasure grounds to the water management system associated with the house. Until the owners put the house onto the market in 2007, they continued to research the house.
A site with monastic origins with remaining fishpond feature pleasure grounds set in a small park. Gr II listed house dating to 14th century.
HGT Research: 2006, update 2008
Hampshire Record Office
Tax Assessment for William 1st Domesday Book 1086
Will of Charles Cole mentions timber and ponds 1752
Milne map, 1791 Two Fish Ponds, earthworks plus trees
OS Old Series 1″ Lyss Place curtilage 1810 Old Hants Mapped
Ponds, Boathouse, parterre, approach drive O S 1st Ed 6” 1870-74 HCC
Causeways clear, two tiny islands O S 1st Ed 25” 1876
One sluice, clear Ha Ha O S 2nd Ed 25” 1897
Ponds silted, cistern shown O S 4th Ed 25” 1932
Books and magazines
All about Lyss Place House Bashford, C 1922
Hants County magazine Vol 8 No 1 p 43
Hants County magazine Vol 13 No 4 p40/41
Lyss Place (Unpublished) Roberts E Vol 18 No 4 p40/41
Richard Martin, local information, 2006
Owners of Lyss Place, 2006