Oakley Hall Hotel (Hilsea College, Oakley Hall)

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HCC Site ID: 1623 Parish: Fareham
Designations: SINC, SSSI Area: 30 ha
Access: Public Access Ownership: Fareham Borough Council

Oakley Hall Hotel is approximately 6 miles to the west of Basingstoke and south of the B3400 Road to Overton, Whitchurch and Andover, on rising land with views over the Deane valley.  It is situated in a mosaic of arable farmland, managed parkland and mixed woodland where there is limited intrusion from people, traffic and noise.  The southern boundary of the historic parkland is skirted by the main Southampton to London railway line with public rights of way between the line and the boundary (B & D LCA 2001 online).

Historic development

Oakley Hall is a medieval site dating from the thirteenth century (AHBR 1971, 20858).  The present Mansion was built in 1795, on the site of a former manor house, and altered in 1860 (Pevsner & Lloyd 1967, 363).  It stands in the midst of a well-wooded park, covering 198 hectares, which extends from Deane into Church Oakley Parish. The main South Coast to London railway runs through the south of the park.
Until the eighteenth century it was called Hall Place or the Hall and it formed part of the manor of Deane.  The Withers family acquired the Hall in 1620. It remained in their family for the next 100 years, when the daughter of Charles Wither inherited, and it then passed to the Beach family. Charles Wither was the Surveyor General of the Royal Woods and Forests who directed the construction of the ‘Serpentine’ (1727-1731) at Hyde Park, under Bridgeman (Bigg-Wither 1907).  It is thought that he may have been responsible for creating the early informal parkland, although there is no direct evidence of this.  In 1839, when the tithe map was drawn, there were blocks of woodland to the south, and clumps of trees in the park to the south east.  A path led to a mount that projected into the parkland where a ha-ha now forms three sides of mount.   The ha-ha has a decorative triangular coping and runs parallel to the earlier path.   It is uncertain when the ha-ha was constructed.  A walled kitchen garden was situated to the south of the Hall (HRO 21M65/F7/59/2).  In the mid-nineteenth century Edward Milner designed the pleasure grounds with a sunken garden, rose and water gardens and a network of pathways to the mount.  The walled kitchen garden was moved to the south west of the house; and a stable block, courtyard and water tower were added (Pevsner & Lloyd 1967, 363).  By the end of the 19th century two lodges had been built adjacent to the road (OS map 2nd ed. 1896).
The house and estate were offered for sale in 1933 and sold (HRO 8M61/279; Oakley Manor, Church Oakley, 1989).  Between 1940 and 1942, the Hall and its grounds were owned by Hilsea College.  An extra classroom and swimming pool were added, and the grounds were used for sporting activities (Platt 1985).  In 1993, Forest Care took over the management of the estate, and two years later the Hall opened as a nursing home, which is now known as Oak Lodge Care Home.  The care home buildings were mainly arranged around the stable block where a staff bungalow had been added.

Current description

The structure of the mid-nineteenth century garden remains, as does the earlier mount, ha-ha, and later walled kitchen garden.  The stables and outbuildings have been refurbished and are a care home for the elderly.  In 2003, the main Hall became a conference centre and wedding venue, which will be extended if the Nursing Home moves to the old farm site as planned by the owners (Minall 2009).  The land to the south east of the Hall still retains its parkland feel and has public rights of access.

Summary

An eighteenth-century informal parkland was created, possibly designed by Charles Wither, the owner, who was also Surveyor General of the Royal Woods and Forest.   By 1839 a mount, walled kitchen garden, and possibly a ha-ha were in place.   During the mid-nineteenth century alterations were made to the Hall and adjacent buildings, and the pleasure gardens were designed by Edward Milner.  From 1940 until 1992 the park and Hall accommodated Hilsea College with the grounds used for school activities.  The Hall is a hotel and conference centre, vestiges of the former park and gardens remain.
HGT Research: December 2001, updated December 2009

References

Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
21M65/F7/59/1 & 2    Deane Tithe map and awards 1839
8M61/279  Oakley Hall estate Sales particulars 1932
Maps
1896  2nd ed. OS 25” & 6” (HCC)
Books
Bigg-Wither, Rev R.F., 1907, The History of the Wither Family, Winchester, Warren & Sons. Pevsner, N., Lloyd, D, 1967, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Middlesex, Penguin Books. Other Sources
Minall, H., 19 March 2009, ‘Re: Visit’, Email to: Researcher
Platt, L.F., 1985, Countryside Heritage, letter to County Planning Officer, R Brown, HCC. Shaw, W.A. 1897
Electronic Sources
Archaeology and Historic Buildings Records (AHBR) No. 20858, 1971 ‘Excavated Medieval buildings at Oakley Park, Deane’ all at HCC or on-line.
B & D LCA 2001, online
http://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/80596C04-AD5E-4D87-B7D4-55ECCD8FED6A/0/3The_Landscape_Character_Areas.pdf [access 3 March 2013]


Our address

Address:
Oakley No Public access except to Hotel Click for Disclaimer & copyright
GPS:
51.246544199602724, -1.1989903450012207

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