|HCC Site ID:||1248||Parish:||Oakley|
|Designations:||LB Grade II||Area:||51.7 acres|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
Location and Site
Oakley Manor is a large detached 18th century Grade II Listed Building, located in the Church Oakley Conservation Area approximately 4 miles west of Basingstoke.
From excavations carried out in 2007, evidence suggested the presence of a settlement area to the south of of Dummer Lane that was occupied from the middle Iron Age to the early Roman period. During the reign of Edward the Confessor, there was a manor in Church Oakley, which was held by one Alwin. At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor of Church Oakley, Gerlei, a district of Deane and Church Oakley, comprised much of what is now the Malshanger Estate. It was included among the holdings of Chutely Hundred and was in the possession of Walter, son of Other, Governor of Windsor Castle and ancestor of the baronial house of Windsor. In 1504 the land was sold to William of Warham, who had had connections with the manor since the fifteenth century. He it was who crowned Henry VIII and his first wife, Catharine of Aragon, in Westminster Abbey, and was later an opponent of their divorce. The twelfth century Church of St. Leonard lies to the north west of Oakley Manor. The church tower was built by Archbishop Warham early in the sixteenth century. From 1620 the same family owned both Oakley Manor and the Oakley Hall Estates. The more notable owners included the Kingsmill and Brickenden families.
By the early 19th century, William Hicks Beach was the Lord of the Manor, and the family continued to own the estate, maintaining the strong family connections between Oakley Hall, Deane Park and Malshanger until the end of the century, when William Wither Bramston Beach was in residence. This family connection continued until the early 1930s when the Oakley estate was offered for sale in February 1933. In the period between 1911 and 1932, the OS 2500 maps show that the Manor house was considerably enlarged with the main entrance moved to the east front, and the south front now overlooking a circular lawn in part contained by the curved brick walls – relics of the original entrance sweep to the front.
Oakley Manor is accessed from Rectory Road via the entrance through the original barn yard onto a gravel drive which sweeps around the house to the east facing front entrance. The grounds around the house include extensive gardens, reflecting the changing tastes of the manor’s owners. The house overlooks agricultural land to the south. The eastern gardens are contained by a double row of fine sculptured formal yew hedges between 2-3 metres in height enclosing a lawned area.
The yew walk opens out to create a central circular plat with hidden openings in the hedges that give access into the eastern garden – a kitchen garden with fruit and vegetable area. The whole may have been aligned with views from the new front of the house – suggesting that this part of the garden was central to the overall garden design at the time of it’s enlargement by the Mr & Mrs Lewin Hunter in the 1930s. Close to the northern boundary are two greenhouses. Towards the eastern end is an area of hardstanding, used in the past as a tennis court, and a slightly raised paved area in poor condition that may once have been the base for a further outbuilding. There are two further outbuildings in the south eastern corner of the site.
The western court is the oldest part of the garden enclosed by original brick walls that defined the sweep of the drive in the late 18th /early 19th century. Within the garden the curved wall creates an interesting space which has flower borders, lawns and footpath from the entrance at the West Front out into the parkland, and the church beyond.
The manor house overlooks lawns to the southern boundary defined by a metal rail estate fence. A double beech hedge located just inside this fence connects the kitchen garden with the front lawn. Within the circle of this front lawn close to the boundary is a pond of 20th century construction, and vestiges of earlier plantbeds in the lawn at each side of the brick walls recorded in 19th century maps are visible in the aerial photographs. A gap in the hedging provides a vista into the fields. A public footpath crosses the field in front of the house, and a new thorn hedge is being planted in the 2009/2010 season along this path. The northern boundary along the road comprises a 2 metre wooden fence and mature lime trees and conifers at its eastern end with hedging at the western end, closer to the house. Towards the furthest point of the plot to the east is a small bank with a hedge screening the estate from the adjoining Dummer Lane.
1. East Garden – double planted yew hedges with hidden openings to create the element of surprise – an important feature of the early 20th century garden, with mature specimen conifers – sculpted to complement the yew hedges and enclosures within the garden – leading east through the wisteria walk into the kitchen garden
2. Western lawn and flower garden enclosed by outbuildings, and brick walls of the south lawn.
3. South lawn enclosed to the north by brick garden walls – relics of the original driveway, approached to the south terrace from the beech avenue as part of a circular walk,
4. Tennis court at the most easterly part of the gardens.
Church Oakley is connected with Archbishop Warham and other notable owners included the Kingsmill and Brickenden families. The western court is the oldest part of the garden enclosed by original brick walls that defined the sweep of the drive in the late 18th /early 19th century. The extent of the gardens at the present day are contained by the estate boundary fence – soon to be superceded by a hawthorn hedge just inside the public footpath. The planting within the east garden is contemporary with the changes made to the house and its approach in the 1930s, with a sculpted yew allée very typical of garden designs at that time.
The gardens retain evidence of two distinct historic periods:
1. vestiges of the Georgian entrance to the south front with its brick wing walls defining the three gardens, and the west garden contained within brick walls
2. the dramatic yew hedges and topiary of the early 20th century
Landscape Planning Status:
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council designated the Church Oakley Conservation Area in 1976, in recognition of the special architectural and historic interest of the village. Oakley Manor lies south east of the 12th century Church of St Leonard in the Church Oakley Conservation Area and all protections apply. There is one Area of Archaeological Importance (AAI) in Church Oakley, located in the fields to the south of St Leonard’s Church, which is known to have been the site of a medieval church, with a possible associated settlement.
Research: EM Consultants for Basingstoke & Deane: June 2010