North Stoneham (North Stoneham Park)

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HCC Site ID. 1181 Parish: Eastleigh & Chilworth
Designations: Walled garden & St Nicholas Church (LB II) SINC Area: 260.6 ha (1846)
Access: Only access to Avenue Park & public footpaths Ownership: Multiple ownership

Extensive park straddles two local authorities – Eastleigh and Test Valley Borough Councils

Location and Site

North Stoneham Park is situated to the north of Southampton and on the western edge of Eastleigh, forming part of the Eastleigh – Southampton Strategic Gap. The north-west part of the site is in the Borough of Eastleigh whilst the south-east portion lies within Test Valley. Over the centuries, the boundaries of North Stoneham Park have changed many times, from its relatively small size of around 77 acres (31.16 ha.) in medieval times to its largest extent of over 600 acres (242.8 ha.) in the nineteenth century, when it extended from the present A33 Winchester Road in the west to Stoneham Lane in the east, and from Chestnut Avenue in the north to Bassett Green Road in the south-west, with the southern boundary roughly following the course of the M27 motorway. In 2015, the remaining elements are contained within the loop formed by the intersection of the M3 motorway to the west, the M27 to the south, Stoneham Lane to the east and Chestnut Avenue to the north.
North Stoneham Park lies on land sloping first steeply, then more gently eastwards from the Chilworth Ridge to the broad Monks Brook/Itchen Valley. Stoneham Golf Club extends over a valley at the south-western part of the former park, and a stream, one of several originating at its head, flows towards Monks Brook. It has been dammed to form Park Pond and Shrubbery Pond. The site of the 1818 house and gardens lies on a slight ridge rising up from the ponds. Northwards the ground rises very slightly before dipping to a depression around Avenue Pond. From here the land rises locally to a high point at the Shrine. The western part of the park lies on acid soil formed either on Bracklesham Beds or gravel deposits overlying London clay; as the land flattens out east of Shrubbery Pond and northwards towards the playing fields, the soil being formed over the London Clay is of better quality (CBA 1991, 2).

Historical Development

North Stoneham has existed as a large estate since the Saxon period when King Athelstan granted land in 932 AD to his thegn Alfred, who in 941 gave the same land to St. Peter of the New Minster (later Hyde Abbey) in Winchester (NSHRS 2000,87). A park has existed since 1329 when the Abbot of Hyde was granted free warren in his manor of North Stoneham, and the first mention of a deer park occurs in 1334. The area of the park is unknown though fieldwork in the 1990s suggested that it was about 77 acres (31.16 ha.), and was located to the south of Shrubbery and Park Ponds, bounded by pre-existing landscape features such as valley sides, streams and old man-made trackways (Currie 1992, 8-12). After the dissolution of the monasteries, the manor of North Stoneham was granted by Henry VIII in 1545 to Sir Thomas Wriothesley, later earl of Southampton (HRO 5M53/230). This family was the greatest landowner of the age in Hampshire, controlling their extensive estates from their newly constructed mansion at Titchfield. They were largely absentee landlords at Stoneham, letting the estate to tenants. A rental of 1546-47 recorded that pasture land called ‘Le Parke’ was leased to John Knolls, the tenant of Chickenhall Farm, at an annual rent of 40 shillings, suggesting that the park was being used to pasture animals in the sixteenth century (HRO 5M53/764). In 1599 Sir Thomas Fleming (1544-1613), later Lord Chief Justice of England, purchased the manor of North Stoneham from the Wriothesley family for £5000. In the contract ‘the Parke’ is recorded as ‘not exceeding the number of four score acres of arable land, pasture and wood ground in the tenure of Henry Knowles’ (HRO 5M53/441). An inventory of 1638 on the death of Thomas Fleming III (1609-1638) shows that a considerable mansion had been constructed by the family at North Stoneham. This document lists at least 29 rooms in the house, plus ten possible outbuildings (HRO 1638A/058/2). Evidence seems to point to the location of the house being about 100 metres northwest of the church of St. Nicholas (AHBR). Between 1680 and 1683, work on the gardens took place which included the rebuilding of ‘all the old walls’ in the ‘Great Garden’ and the walling in of ‘the pond before the Court doors in a very good ovall manner’. Mention is also made of a number of ponds in the gardens (HRO 102M71/E2-3). In 1736, 604 acres (244 ha.) of North Stoneham Common was enclosed by Richard Fleming, lord of the manor, and at about this time a summerhouse and lodge, also known as the banqueting house, was built, a white landmark standing at the high south-west corner of the Park. It was described by Jeremiah Milles in a tour of the area in 1743 as consisting of “one room most beautifully and richly adorned with stucco both on its sides, and the roof: & is one of the compleatest rooms of the kind yet I ever saw. In the front of it is an Ionick portico of 4 pillars, in a very good taste: & underneath is a kitchen, larder, & other conveniences for dressing dinner; Mr Fleming often dining here in the summer time. The summer house is fronted towards Stoneham, Mr Flemings seat which lies in a bottom about a mile off: but the side window commands a most noble prospect southward of Southampton and of rivers, the New Forest and the Isle of Wight, this being the highest land between Southampton and Winchester. From the front of the summerhouse likewise one has a very fine view both Northward and Eastward” (Milles 1743 from CBA 1991,4).
Taylor’s map of 1759 is the first to depict the full extent of the estate, showing the manor house close to the church, and what appears to be a pale around the whole park. Two linear avenues of trees lead from the house, one running north towards Chestnut Avenue (with Stoneham Farm on the other side of the avenue), and the second leading to the south-western corner of the park to a ‘Banqueting House’, on the site of the later Belvedere Lodge (OHM). In the 1760s on the death of William Fleming ((1677-1766), the male line of the Fleming family became extinct and the estates passed to his half-brother John Willis (1749-1802) who also took the name Fleming, being known as John Fleming (VCH 1908). From this time the Willis family adopted the names and arms of the extinct Fleming family at Stoneham and remained in possession of the estate until the early 1950s.
Some time before June 1775, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was engaged by John Fleming to survey the 400 acres of the estate and prepare a general scheme of alteration. The work was carried out by Alexander Knox and Andrew Gardiner, with an interim payment of £1000 being made in 1775, and a final payment of £400 in 1778 (Brown’s account book 1778, 116). No other contemporary descriptions or plans of Brown’s work at North Stoneham are known, and the extent to which Brown involved himself in the alterations is also unclear. Currie proposed that Shrubbery Pond, which has a sluice mechanism known to Brown, could have been incorporated by him into the landscape design, given its proximity to the pre-1818 house. Additionally, a sunken wall that extended eastwards from the east end of Shrubbery Pond towards the church, about 150 metres in length, was considered by an archaeological field trip in May 1989 to have all the characteristics of a ha-ha, whose purpose would be to keep deer to the south of the house (Currie 1989). It is also considered probable that Brown proposed the breaking up of the northern avenue of limes and a serpentine approach drive across Avenue Park; the creation of tree clumps on the higher ground of Cricketer’s Hill; a screen of trees or shrubs along the outside of the north side of the walled garden; and a perimeter belt and scattered parkland planting to the north and south of the old mansion. It has been suggested that Avenue Pond was originally an ornamental basin which was given a more informal and irregular plan by Brown (EDP 2012, 14). There has been no conclusive evidence that Brown was responsible for the Grade II listed walled kitchen garden nor the stables, the dates for both being uncertain, although the oldest bricks in the walls of the former are of a Harley type 5.1, indicating a mid- to late 18th century date (Currie 1992, 18), whilst the coach house is similar in appearance to a Brownian stable at Clandon Park (Campbell 2015). According to John Phibbs “North Stoneham is a very high grade Brownian landscape… A number of Brownian buildings went up at about that time, including the stables, the walled garden and the ice-house. In addition the general form of the landscape took shape”. Phibbs believes the principal views and effects would have been to the west, where the land would have been graduated from polished lawns and gardens, set in the deer park, up to Rough Park ( ‘rough’ probably referring to gorse and heather, both prolific there today), and thence on to the common. As for the land to the north of the house, Phibbs suggests that it would have been used for agricultural purposes (Phibbs2000,1). Milne’s map of 1791 shows the park dotted with clumps of trees whilst the two linear avenues of trees leading from the manor are no longer in evidence (OHM).

Shrubbery pond

Shrubbery pond 2011

In 1813 John Barton Willis Fleming (1781-1844) succeeded to the estate and in 1818 had the old manor house near the church demolished. He commissioned the architect Thomas Hopper (1776-1856) to design and build a new mansion in the Grecian style on a more elevated site about 400 meters further to the west. The house was thus sited to take advantage of a prominent position on the north side of Park Pond, not only so that it commanded fine views from the southern elevation, but also so that it was highly visible when entering the park from the principal Belvedere Lodge entrance. Over the next 26 years until his death in 1844 and with a seemingly limitless budget, John Fleming continued to realise his ambitious vision for North Stoneham Park: Temple Lodge, designed in the manner of a Greek temple, stood facing east towards the Stoneham Lane entrance, and at the southwest entrance the summerhouse, remodelled as a triumphal arch and known as the Belvedere, became Stoneham’s principal gateway. Described by Hewetson in 1829 as “probably the most splendid in the kingdom, arising as well from the incomparable beauty of its situation, as from the remarkable taste displayed in its architecture”, it also commanded extensive views over the surrounding countryside (Hewetson 1829,29). It is also likely that Winchester Lodge, comprising a pair of irregular octagonal structures either side of iron gates, was built around this time (Currie 2000,3).

Avenue Pond

Avenue Pond 2011

A survey of the North Stoneham estate by John Whitcher, commissioned by John Fleming in 1818, shows the extent and layout of the estate with the projected new house and gardens, and illustrates the changing focus from north to west. To the east of the house is a range of walled courts shown as the Old Orchard, the Gardens set out in the manner of a kitchen garden, and the Pleasure Ground. To the south of these are two ponds, a large one to the right (Lower or Shrubbery Pond) with a much smaller one (Upper of Park Pond) to the left (SRO D/Z639). After a fire in 1831 which caused substantial damage to the house, the remodelling and enlargement of the mansion began, although the death of John Fleming in 1844 and lack of funds meant that the house was never fully completed. In 1833 Prosser talked of a new dining-room which opened into “a handsome Conservatory …” and went on to describe the changes to the gardens and the upper pond below the house: “Before the south and east fronts, are handsome terraces and flights of steps descending into elegant parterres, inclosed with stone balustrades, the piers being surmounted with vases etc. in the Italian style. Below these terraces is an ornamental piece of water, formed about ten years ago, and supplied by springs in the park, the bold declivities forming its embankments being planted with American shrubs, and the remarkably fine oaks and other timber which surrounds it, add much to the beauty of the site and the embellishment of the pleasure-grounds, which extend eastward of the mansion” (Prosser 1833).
An article written in Gardener’s Magazine in 1835 is less complimentary of the mansion (“one of the architectural monstrosities of the present day”) and the grounds, though it does commend the number of scions of different species of thorn which had been grafted half standard high and transplanted to the pleasure-ground. Interestingly, the magazine notes that “the fine avenue of sweet chestnuts which led to the old house still remains, but the house is removed” (GM 1835, 162). The Tithe map (c.1840) is the first available map to illustrate the curving course of the northern carriage drive entering the Park through Winchester Lodge on Chestnut Avenue, and winding around Avenue Pond and through Avenue Park to join with the track from the Stoneham Lane entrance. The enlarged Upper Pond with a small island at its western end is also depicted for the first time (HRO 21M65/FZ/173/1+2). After John Fleming’s death in 1844, the new owner John Fleming was reputedly still contemplating “additions to the already splendid mansion and grounds (which) are so extensive that the estimated cost is already £30,000″ (19c.BLN), but increasingly severe financial difficulties led to the Willis Fleming family moving out of the mansion by 1854, later making nearby Chilworth Manor their primary home. By 1871 part of North Stoneham House was being used as residential flats, and the park for sporting events, though the deer herd had been removed (NSP). The OS 1st ed. 25” map of 1868-9 shows North Stoneham Park probably at its peak after decades of enlargement and redesigning but before the effects of the family’s move to Chilworth had been felt. The Deer Park around the house is distinguished from Avenue Park to the north and Rough Park, where a rifle range is now shown, to the west. The southern boundary of the deer park appears to have retreated back to the east-west track which exits at Stoneham Lane, rather than extending southwards as is shown on Whitcher’s 1818 survey. Summergate Wood in the northwest is now Home Wood. The three entrance lodges – Temple, Winchester and Belvedere – are clearly depicted, as is the new mansion, enlarged after the fire in 1831, with a conservatory at the front, facing west. The walled gardens are neatly laid out, and the pleasure grounds abound with trees, shrubs, island beds and meandering paths. The ice house, of unknown date but thought to be pre-1818, is shown for the first time to the south of the outbuildings. Both Shrubbery and Park Pond (previously Lower and Upper Pond respectively) are bordered by paths, shrubs and tree cover, with a small island on each. On the south side of the house two sets of steps lead down to a terrace overlooking Park Pond. After a fire in 1874 destroyed the estate’s farm buildings on Chestnut Avenue, the coach house and stables at the centre of the park became Park Farm, with the coach house converted into a residence (WF). Though unoccupied by its owners, North Stoneham Park continued to be used for a variety of purposes: the ponds were leased to the Southampton Piscatorial Society in 1898. and in 1908 part of the Deer Park and Rough Park was used to create a golf course designed by Willie Park Junior (1864-1925), the influential and innovative golf course designer and pioneer of parkland courses, who had designed the Sunningdale course in Berkshire in 1899-1900 (golfeurope – online 2015). The VCH of 1908 records that “The grounds are well laid out, and are used by the members of the North Stoneham Club for games and athletic sports of all kinds. There are also two fine fishponds, now used for boating” (VCH 1908).

Orangery 2015

Orangery 2015

In August 1914 the construction of the Swaythling Remount depot began on land south of the deer park; it was one of the four principal remount depots in England and processed some 400,000 animals before its closure in 1920. During the war the disused North Stoneham House was converted into a hospital for wounded Belgians. In 1918 a shrine was built by John Willis Fleming on Cricketer’s Hill in Avenue Park as a memorial to his son Richard Fleming and 36 other North Stoneham Parish men killed in World War I. The shrine is one of an identical pair, the other being built at Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight. Whilst the original design sketch of the shrine is attributed to the architect Chris Hatton Turnor (1873-1940), whose most famous work is the Watts Gallery in Surrey, the overall plan with the three compartments was John Fleming’s own. Some decorative work has been ascribed to Eric Gill (1882-1940) (Shrine leaflet 2010). Between the wars the house was again used as residential flats and the park for events including the Royal Show in 1932 which the Duke and Duchess of York attended (Times online 1932). According to Douglas Bunce, whose family lived on the estate, North Stoneham Park was still a managed estate at that time, closely guarded by keepers, with regular shoots taking place through the woods and fields; however in 1939 permission was given for the mansion to be demolished due to its poor state of repair (WF). Four years after the death of John E.A.Willis Fleming (1871-1949), the Fleming family sold the estate to Mr. Cousins, who split it up and sold off parcels of land, thus creating the diverse ownerships which characterise the park in 2015. The auction of the North Stoneham estate took place on 15 May 1953 in Southampton, and comprised the residual 1357 acres of freehold lands at North Stoneham and Chilworth in 38 lots (WF). Home Wood was leased to the Forestry Commission, open pastures to the north of the new house and south within the deer park became playing fields, and the orangery and walled garden adjacent became a market gardening enterprise; the site of the new mansion and adjoining woodland were sold to Mr Hallett (CBA 1991,13). Over the ensuing four decades, areas of the park became neglected and vandalised; Temple Lodge was demolished in the 1960s, the fringes of Avenue Pond (leased to the Eastleigh & District Angling Club in 1968) were densely planted with trees to conceal it from view, and the completion of the M27 in 1983 through the southern edge of the park led to the further silting up of the lakes with sand being washed down from the workings. The angling club, which had purchased Park and Shrubbery Ponds in 1982, carried out a restoration and refurbishment of the lakes in the late 1980s (EADAC 1988). With the completion of the M3 through the southern edge of the parkland in 1991, Hampshire County Council formally recognised that North Stoneham Park should be afforded greater merit as part of Hampshire’s heritage and that efforts be made to conserve, restore, and enhance the parkland as a viable historic and natural landscape, and as a part of the Strategic Gap separating Southampton and Eastleigh. In 1996 HCC acquired the southern part (61 acres – 24.7 ha.) of Avenue Park for its protection and preservation (NSP).
The restoration of Avenue Park began in 1999 when it was decided to use developers’ contributions following the redevelopment of the local Rectory and its grounds, in order to restore the landscape close to Brown’s original vision and to attract the public into the centre of the park. The area covered the land in Avenue Park owned by Hampshire County Council as well as Eastleigh Council’s north portion and shrine (5.5 ha. = 13 acres). Scrub and brambles were cleared, traditional park fencing and gates installed, and trees planted, including thirty lime trees in Avenue Park which were moved to a new location and realigned with the remains of a lime avenue believed to fit in with Brown’s original design. A footpath following the line of one of the original entrance drives from Chestnut Avenue was created, which linked key sites such as those of Winchester and Temple Lodges, the old and new mansions and gardens, Avenue Pond and the War Shrine, and St. Nicholas’ church (NSP). From 2005, the next stage focused on the restoration of the derelict and unroofed Stoneham War Shrine memorial, with the aim of using this monument as a landmark for Avenue Park and as a key to unlocking the history of the landscape. The Willis Fleming Historical Trust was also formed at this time, with the mission “to identify, conserve, and memorialise this heritage in creative and pioneering ways”. With the aid of a Heritage Lottery grant, the project to restore the shrine began in November 2008 and in May 2011 the completed shrine was rededicated in a special service of remembrance (WF).

Rededication of the Shrine

Rededication of the Shrine 2011

In 2014, the Local Plans of both Eastleigh and TVBC included proposals for residential developments on much of the land south of Chestnut Avenue and north of Shrubbery and Park Ponds, excluding the 5.5 ha. site around the shrine, and in 2015 a planning application was submitted to build 1100 houses and community facilities on the land between Chestnut Avenue and the track around Park Farm and the walled garden, retaining a narrow green corridor from the Winchester Lodge entrance, past Avenue Pond as far as St. Nicholas’ church (EBLP/TVBCLP/EBCOP).

Walled garden

Entrance to Walled garden 2015

Current Description

In 2015 North Stoneham Park is in multi-ownership and facing an uncertain future. Much of the former estate is given over to playing fields, the golf course and golf range, woodland and fields.
Few visible remains survive of the 19th century mansion, the site of which is surrounded by trees and scrub and dotted with temporary buildings. Both the Coach House and the Orangery have been converted into private domestic residences but retain the form of the original buildings.
The Grade II listed walled garden behind the Orangery covers 1.6 ha. (4 acres) with walls about 4.5 metres high and is used as a kitchen garden, but one wall has collapsed at the northeast corner and the coping is disintegrating in places. The three ponds – Avenue Pond on Cricketer’s Hill, Shrubbery and Park Ponds to the south of the new mansion – are used and managed by the Eastleigh and District Angling Club; there is no public access and all are surrounded by fairly dense tree and shrub cover. The club has continued an active programme of site management, creating an attractive and tranquil setting. The golf course provides probably the most accurate representation of the dramatic parkland setting of both old and new mansions: not far from the site of Belvedere Lodge (though on the other side of the motorway) is the clubhouse, from where the ground drops away steeply towards the valley with extensive views in every direction over the undulating countryside. There is no evidence of the original avenue of sweet chestnut trees referred to in 1835, though there remain many mature trees including oak and sweet chestnut. Only Avenue Park, where some fine old lime trees remain, and the footpath leading to St. Nicholas’ church have open public access.

Summary and Significance

A medieval deer park, North Stoneham developed into a park and pleasure grounds in the 17th century, with input from Lancelot Brown in the late 18th century. A new mansion in the Greek Revival style by Thomas Hopper was built in the early 19th century and the gardens further enhanced. The house was demolished in 1939 and the estate sold off in lots in 1953. The orangery, walled garden (LBII), and coach house remain, as do the three ponds and areas of parkland. The site is now in multi-ownership.
The existing landscape and long history of North Stoneham Park can be documented back to the Anglo-Saxon period and illustrates the changing trends in garden fashions and landscape design and utilisation up until the mid-19th century, including input by Brown. Today it is an important asset for the local community in offering a diversity of recreational and leisure space in a densely residential area.
HGT Research: June 2015


Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
HRO 5M53/230 – 1545 granting of North Stoneham to Thomas Wriothesley
HRO 5M53/764 – 1546/7 rental records
HRO 5M53/441 – 1599 sale of North Stoneham to Thomas Flemyng
HRO 1638A/058/2 – 1638 inventory made on death of Thomas Fleming III
HRO 102M71/E2 – 1680 contract to take down and build new walls
HRO 102M71/E3 – 1683 contract to wall in pond
HRO 21M65/FZ/173/1+2 – North Stoneham Tithe map (c.1840) and apportionment (confirmed 1842)
OS maps from Hampshire County Council (HCC):1st ed. 25” 1868-69
(OHM) online Old Hampshire Mapped: Taylor 1759, Milne 1791, Greenwood 1826, c.1855 OS Old Series map – – accessed various dates 2014
Hewetson J., 1830, Architectural & Picturesque Views of Hampshire Vol.2 p.29, London
Prosser, E.F., 1833, Select Illustrations of Hampshire, London (no page nos.)
Other Sources
Campbell, Susan, site assessment, April 2015 (unpublished)
(CBA 1991) – Chris Blandford Associates, 1991, North Stoneham Park Historic Landscape Survey and Outline Proposals for Future Management, commissioned by HCC Planning Dept.
(Currie 1989) Currie C., 1989, The Park at North Stoneham,, HFC&AS newsletter, New Series No.11, p.9-10
(EADAC) Eastleigh & District Angling Club: July 1988, Proposals for the Restoration and Refurbishment of North Stoneham Lakes; 1993, response to the Eastleigh-Southampton Strategic Gap: a Planning & Management Framework
Lindley Library, London: Brown’s account book 1778, 116
(GM) Gardener’s Magazine 1835, Vol. 11, p.162 ‘Notes on Gardens and Country Seats’
(Phibbs 2000) – Phibbs, J.L., 2000, report on North Stoneham visit August 1994 and 12-14 January 2000 (unpublished)
(Shrine leaflet) – Willis Fleming Historical Trust, 2010, The Restoration of Stoneham War Shrine & Discovering North Stoneham Park 2nd.ed.
(SRO) – Southampton Archives: D/Z 639 – 1818 Whitcher survey of Stoneham Estate
Electronic Sources
(AHBR) Archaeology & Historic Buildings Record 64139 + 25880
(Currie 2000) Currie C., 2000, An archaeological evaluation at Avenue Park, North Stoneham, report to Eastleigh Borough Council - – accessed November 2014
(Currie 1992) Currie C., 1992, North Stoneham Park: its origin and development, – – accessed November 2014
(EBCOP) Eastleigh Borough Council Online Planning – +(HG – accessed
(EBLP) – – accessed March 2015
(EDP) – Land off Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh, Hampshire – Historic Landscape Assessment prepared by The Environmental Dimension Partnership on behalf of North Stoneham Developments Ltd. In association with HCC, July 2012 – – accessed November 2014
(EH) – English Heritage – – – accessed Nov 2014
(golfeurope) –
(19c.BLN) 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Berrow’s Worcester Journal Jan. 27, 1831; Hampshire Advertiser & Salisbury Guardian, February 1, 1845, p.3 - – accessed January 2015
(NSHRS) – 2000 – accessed 2014
(NSP) – accessed various dates, 2014 + 2015
(Times online 1932 & 1953)
(TVBCLP) – Test Valley Borough Council Revised Local Plan DPD 2011-2019 –…/EB-AD-15-Revised-Local-Plan-Reg-19-2014.pdf – accessed April 2015
(VCH) – A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3, – London 1908 – accessed Nov 2014
(WF) – – accessed various dates 2014 + 2015

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