Netley Castle

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HCC Site ID: 1193 Parish: Hound
Designations: TPO, conservation area. public open space,
Gr II* the Castle
Area: 1.12 ha
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Private residential,
multiple ownership

Location and Site

Netley Castle lies on the edge of Southampton Water to the west of the village of Netley and about four miles to the east of Southampton in the country of Hampshire. It stands next to a recreation ground from which leads to a path along the seashore bounded by the sea wall built in 1873/4. Railings separate this from the Castle grounds. The soil is sandy with gravel subsoil.

Historic Development

The Fort was built as part of Henry VIII’s chain of 12 forts in 1542, under the direction of Sir William Paulet. Materials came from Netley Abbey, after the dissolution of the monasteries. The Fort was garrisoned until 1627, when hidden by trees it was a store for coal and also used by smugglers. It was partly demolished at the end of the Civil War. It was part of the same ownership as Netley Abbey with various owners until 1704 when Sir Berkeley Lucy renovated it using stones from Netley Abbey (part of the same estate). In 1734 the area was visited by Alexander Pope who was struck by the beauty of the it, ‘…a rising hill very steeply hung with woods that fell into the water and at the Edge of the Sea a very old Castle – overgrown with . Walpole, too, wrote ‘This little castle is buried from the abbey in a wood, in the very centre, on the edge of the hill, on each side breaks in the view of the Southampton sea, deep blue glistening with silver and vessels; on one side terminated by Southampton on the other by Calshot Castle, and the Isle of Wight rising above the opposite hills’.
It was inherited in 1765 by Thomas Dummer from his father, Thomas Lee Dummer. Thomas Dummer’s estate eventually was inherited in 1826 by William Chamberlayne , the son of Dummer’s friend of the same name. Though he did not live in the Castle, Chamberlayne commissioned George Draper, noted for Gothic design, to redesign the tower in 1827. Chamberlayne died in 1829 and the Netley estate was inherited by his nephew, Thomas Chamberlayne. The 1851 Census refers to the Netley estate of 350 acres. By 1857 the Castle had an oriel window built into the centre of the seaward wall and had been heightened, with an upper storey. It had been leased with 16 acres to George Hunt from1841 until 1857, when he surrendered the lease of the Castle and 19 acres (129M85/D8/1 2 HRO). There were unsuccessful attempts to sell the Castle separately, but in 1968 George Sherrifff took over the lease until 1873 when he surrendered it and bought the Castle and 27 acres from the Chamberlayne estate. He commissioned a stone sea wall to be built running along nearly the entire sea front of the property (139M71/D8/4 HRO).
The 1st ed OS map 6” 1870-71 shows a long rectangular walled garden. By the 2nd ed OS map, 1897 the walled garden has been reduced and an orchard added. A small building (the boathouse) is shown and the entrance drive extended.
In 1881, Sherriff died and Netley Castle with 27 acres was put up for sale with pleasure grounds, parterres, lawns, conservatory, boat house, fish pond, kitchen garden, orchard etc. Sir Henry Crichton bought (107M922 HRO) and renovated the building and lived there until his death in 1922 . 1885-90 it was remodeled to a design of John Dando Sedding, in a Gothic/Baronial style (English Heritage); Sedding also designed West Lodge (listed Gr II in 1974) in the far West of the grounds. Abbots Lodge also Gr II and probably also designed by Sedding, was added late 19th century. The 4th ed OS map, 1933 indicates that the gardens were enhanced with paths and a new smaller walled garden nearer the house. Crichton’s widow lived at the Castle until her death in 1936. Sales details note oak paneled library and grand oak staircase, garage, stabling, farmery, lodge, park and grounds of 42 acres. In 1938 it was bought by Middlessex County Council as a convalescent home for elderly patients in their hospitals. Southampton Area Health Authority took it over in 1945 until 1998. In 1974 it received English Heritage listing, Gr II*. However, the necessity of raising funds for the upkeep had led to all but 3 acres being sold. The lack of funds finally forced the Home’s closure in 1998. The Castle with grounds of 3 acres were bought by developers, Fairmist Ltd, in 2000.

Current Description

The Castle is in excellent condition having been restored and renovated to the standards of English Heritage and divided into nine apartments in both the main part of the castle and in an additional new wing of the house. There is a luxurious 3-bedroom tower house situated on four floors, and within the grounds a boathouse residence. The grounds are filled with shrubs and trees. There is public access along a path between the sea wall and railings of the property.


Built as a Fort in 1542 by Henry VIII; in use for storage until 1627. It was renovated at various times and extended late 19th century by J D Sedding into a substantial residence. Developed in 2000, with multiple occupancy set in communal grounds of 1.21 ha (3 acres).

HGT Research: July 2012 and February 2013


Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
129M85/D8/1 2
Ordnance Survey (OS) maps from Hampshire County Council
1st ed 6” 1870-71
2nd ed 25” 1897
OS map Colour Raster 2008
4th ed OS 25” and 6” 1931-45
Varilone, B  Netley Castle and its people, 2004
Pevsner and Lloyd, Buildings of England 1967
Page, W Victoria County History, Vol 3 1908
Other Sources
Philological Quarterly XLV, II, April 1966
English Heritage listings
Electronic Sources

Our address

Netley No Public Access Click for Disclaimer & copyright
50.8775298459467, -1.358144759433344

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