|HCC Site ID:||1706||Parish:||Portswood Ward, Southampton|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Multiple Private|
Portswood Residents’ Gardens
Portswood Residents’ Gardens, a green space, was formed as an amenity for the local householders. As Southampton blossomed into a spa town in the late 18th century, small estates were established on its perimeter.
Portswood Lodge was one of these, as is shown on a map of 1790. By 1841 it was advertised as a house ‘To be let with coach house, stables, greenhouse, lawn, gardens, shrubbery, and cottage, containing with pasture 32 acres in every respect suited for a gentleman of fortune‘. In 1875 the land was up for sale and advertised as ‘attractive land ripe for development, eligible sites for villa residences‘. It was bought by Walter Perkins, who made modest changes and renamed it Portswood House. On his death in 1907, his heirs formed a company to develop Portswood House and another estate, Whithed Wood Park in Shirley, Southampton. This was the time that the garden city movement was developing, aiming to design suburbs for ‘persons of all classes’. Plans began to take shape in 1908 with the frontage onto Portswood Road to be developed with commercial properties. Houses were built over several years, the bulk of them in the 1920s; they were of varying designs. Portswood House itself was demolished in 1923 and by 1931 the estate was complete.
When bought by Walter Perkins the estate, which covers 35 acres, was known as Abbott Park it was defined by Highﬁeld Lane, Portswood Road and, on the south and west, Brookvale Road, which still has a very sharp bend in it. it was well wooded and had a farm, an orchard and fields. Plots were sold with frontage to the existing roads, and to two new central roads; Abbotts way, which roughly cuts the area in two, and Russell Place, which makes a north-south division and is continued by Abbotts Way bending sharply. Each house has a garden in the front and the back, and all those backing onto the communal areas in the centre of each ‘half’ have direct access through their garden gates. The southern ‘half’ has six tennis courts, both hard and grass, a croquet lawn, a nuttery and shrubberies, an Edwardian games pavilion and a perimeter belt of mature trees which include oak, lime, cherry and tulip trees.
The northern ‘half’ is much less formal, known as the meadow with a stream running through it. In the plans it was ‘considered suitable for rougher children’s games’; this has been proved correct by several generations. The meadow too, is edged with trees. There are allotments which were compulsorily introduced during the 1st World War and voluntarily during the 2nd. These are still popular among the residents and associates. The Residents’ gardens have been made into a conservation area and the residents are in close proximity to the many birds and butterflies that take advantage of the protected habitat. Thus the aims of the garden city movement to enjoy ’the free gifts of natune – fresh air, sunlight, breathing room and playing room’ are well fulfilled in the Portswood Residents’ Gardens.
Lubor Velecky, Protect it Now, 200I
Sylvia Landsberg, The Portswood House Estate and The Residents‘ Gardens, 1996