Molex House (Broxhead)

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HCC Site ID: 1404 Parish: Whitehill & Headley
Designations: SINC Area: 40.5 ha
Access: Historic site Ownership: Private Laboratory & Ministry of Defence

Location and Site

The site of the original Broxhead House is situated on the northern outskirts of Bordon in the district of East Hampshire near the border with Surrey. Much of the original site is now Ministry of Defence property, and the house itself was demolished in 1983 (WFHS online 2011). The site lies on the east side of the A325 between Petersfield and Farnham, with Alice Holt Forest to the north and Woolmer Forest, a designated SSSI, to the south. On the other side of the A325 is Broxhead Common, 42 hectares (104 acres) of dry heathland and secondary birch/oak woodland, and a SSSI for its heathland habitat and rare ground-nesting birds (Hantsweb Broxhead Common online 2011)
The landscape gently undulates, dropping slightly to the east into the shallow valley of the River Wey. The area is characterized by lowland heathlands and conifer plantations, with underlying acidic sands and gravels (Bordon and Whitehill Character Assessment March 2010 online 2011)

Historic Development

Until the late nineteenth century, the land around Broxhead was a largely undeveloped and sparsely populated area of woodland and common heath, part of Woolmer Forest. In 1877 the Hon Fitzalan Foley, later Lord Foley, built Broxhead House, a large mansion standing in grounds of over one hundred acres (40.47 ha.), with several acres of shrubberies, conifer plantations and pleasure lawns as well as a walled kitchen garden and orchard, with a modern farm nearby. It was a hunting estate, with winged and ground game, and fishing in the two lakes – probably Hogmoor Pond and Oxney Pool (Times online 1886). It is likely that the latter had been formed from water flowing through the marshes at the request of the first owner Lord Foley (Smith & Wain 1998,57).  The estate was sold to Ulick Burke, probably in 1886, and then to Sir David Miller Barbour at the turn of the nineteenth century. In 1902 the estate was bought by the War Office, and barracks and stables built on a substantial area of the gardens south of the house, with the house itself being used for military purposes, until it was sold to Molex in 1983, when it was demolished and laboratories built on the site (WFHS online 2011).

Current Description

The immediate area around Broxhead House is owned by Fresenius Kabi Oncology plc. Of the original house, only one turret and a few of the arches remain (WFHS online 2011). Unfortunately, permission was not given to visit the site, so it is not possible to verify if any garden features remain, for example the sunken garden which was still in existence in 1994 (WFHS). The rest of the estate is owned by the Ministry of Defence, although Louisburg Barracks is now uninhabited and is earmarked for future development as part of the new Bordon eco-town (Petersfield Post 2010). Discussions are still ongoing about the extent of military withdrawal from the rest of the area. Much of the original estate is now an army training area, with buildings housing the School for Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, and army accommodation with its attendant facilities. There is no trace of the walled kitchen garden, apart from the filled-in well in the orchard, and nearby the lower brick courses of a glasshouse with heating pipes along one exterior wall. There is no sign of the lodge or of Hogmoor Pond, now playing fields. Oxney Pool, the lake formed in the late 19th century by damming Oxney Marsh, is less than a quarter of the  size shown on the OS 3rd ed 6” 1910-11 (HCC), but the depth of the hollow gives an indication on the ground of how it used to be. The pool is peppered with self-sown birch and reeds, currently unused but a possible future resource if funding could be found. The two footbridges seen on the 1910-11 map have been reinforced over the years, with some of the original brickwork still visible. There is a small open concrete building on what may have been the site of the boathouse. The ammunition shield at the northern end of Oxney Pool is built of bricks but it was not possible to ascertain their age. Many of the original paths probably remain. Very little remains of the original planting, though some older trees may exist around the site of the house. Otherwise, there is a preponderance of Scots pine and birch, a few oaks, and extensive Rhododendron ponticum (site visit December 2011).

Summary

A late nineteenth century house and hunting estate, with pleasure gardens and two lakes for fishing. Bought by the War Office in 1902, the land continues to be used for military training and housing. The house was demolished in 1983 after being sold to Molex, who built laboratories on the site. There are very few signs of original garden features or planting. There are plans for the army to withdraw from parts of the area from 2015.
HGT Research:  December 2011

References

Maps
3rd ed. 6” 1910-11 OS map from Hampshire County Council
Books
Smith, B. & Wain, C., 1998, Images of England: Bordon and Whitehill, Stroud
Electronic Sources
Bordon and Whitehill Character Assessment March 2010 http://www3.hants.gov.uk/bordon_townscape_assessment.pdf   accessed November 2011
Hantsweb Broxhead Common http://www3.hants.gov.uk/countryside/broxhead-common.htm accessed August 2011
Petersfield Post 13 August 2010
http://www.petersfieldpost.co.uk/news/the_future_of_new_housing_in_bordon_s_eco_town_1_1008459  accessed December 2011
Times on-line, Estate for Sale 14 Sept 1886 http://infotrac.galegroup.com accessed August 2011
(WFHS) Woolmer Forest Heritage Society http://www.woolmerforest.org.uk  accessed various dates 2011


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Address:
Bordon Historic site Click for Disclaimer & copyright
GPS:
51.126525531009456, -0.8605492115020752

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