|HCC Site ID:||1715||Parish:||Southampton Unitary Authority|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:||Southampton City Council|
Location and Site
Mayfield Park, which is located in the southeast corner of the City of Southampton, lies close to the mouth of the River Itchen where it enters Southampton Water. The Park is to the south of the A3025, to the west of Weston Lane and to the east of a narrow gully leading to the River Itchen. An east to west branch of the gully separates the two main sections of the site: that to the north, where the main house had been located, having the gardens; and that to the south having the playing fields.
In 1854, Col. Robert Wright bought 35 acres (14.16 hectares) of land from William Chamberlayne of Weston Grove Estate (Leonard 1984, 76). This area became Mayfield Park and included the obelisk, built by Chamberlayne in memory of Charles James Fox (Cain 2005a). Mayfield House, with its stable block, walled kitchen garden and lodge, was built two years later, on the northern end of the park. After Col. Wright’s death, his widow and son continued to live there until it was sold to the third Baron Radstock in 1889 (City News 1988), who was a noted evangelist and travelled extensively whilst making Mayfield his main home. In 1913, the fourth Baron succeeded him and continued to live there until his death in 1937 (City News 1988). The House was used during WW1 as an annex for the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley (Abrahams 2005). It was sold to Southampton Corporation in 1937 (City News 1988).
The fourth Earl’s will stated that the estate should be retained as public open space, and the Park was opened to the public in 1938 (City News 1988) and depicted on the Ordnance Survey map of the same date. During WW2 the house was first occupied by Free French soldiers after Dunkirk, and later housed evacuees from the Chapel area of the town, which led to severe deterioration of the fabric (Maughan 2005). The house was demolished in 1956 and the bowling green was built on the site in 1960 (Southampton Evening Echo 1960). The council continued to develop the gardens and adjoining playing fields. In 1982 greenhouses were built in the walled kitchen garden, where bedding plants were grown for the City’s gardens. During the two great storms of 1987 and 1990 a large number of trees were lost, which have been gradually replaced (Abrahams 2005).
The nursery in the kitchen garden was closed in 1992 and the greenhouses became derelict until 1995, when they were leased to the charity Mind, who now run a project for mentally disabled people (Abrahams 2005).
Although the 100-year old house was demolished in 1956, the wooded gardens and playing fields remain, thanks to Baron Radstock and the local authority, a priceless amenity to the population of Southampton. The gardens and playing fields are very well maintained and used by local people. The wall of the kitchen garden forms a backdrop for the herbaceous border. The lawn, with island beds, fills the remaining area where the orchards were and is surrounded by mature trees. Despite the damage caused by the two great storms, many mature trees survive and create a woodland setting to the south and east of the bowling green. The south and west side of the gully is covered by rhododendron thicket. The obelisk stands at the northern end of the playing fields.
The Park was originally part of a mid-19th century estate. The land was set aside for public use according to the will of the fourth Baron Radstock, who died in 1937, and the public park was opened in 1938. It is situated between Woolston and Weston to the south-east of Southampton with wooded gardens, a walled garden, bowling green and playing fields.
HGT Research: November 2005; new format November 2008
Ordnance Survey: 4th edition 1938, 6”, from Hampshire County Council
Leonard, A.G.K. 1984 Stories of Southampton Streets, Southampton, Paul Cave Publication
Abrahams, I. 2005 Personal Communication – from MIND Nursery
Cain, A. 2005a Photograph of the Fox Memorial taken by Researcher
City News 16 June 1988
Maughan, A. 2005 Personal Communication – from MIND Nursery
Southampton Evening Echo 4 May 1960