South Stoneham

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HCC Site ID: 1709 Parish: Southampton
Designations: Conservation area, AHBR Area: 110 acres in 1915
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Southampton University & Hampshire County Council

Location and Site

The manor of South Stoneham lies at the head of the tidal Itchen estuary and, at the time of Domesday, was held by the Bishop of Winchester. The site is approximately three miles from the centre of Southampton on very fertile land, well watered by the River Itchen and its smaller streams. The house was built at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the designed grounds completely encircle St Mary’s Church and church yard. Most of what remains of the eighteenth century estate is now surrounded by private housing, or occupied by university buildings.

Historic Development

The manor of South Stoneham had existed from the Saxon period, but a Manor house was not built until the beginning of the 18th century when the land was bought by Edmund Dummer, who had been the Surveyor of the Navy (HCC July 1995). Paintings of the grounds south of the house in the mid eighteenth century show that the first gardens may have been terraced and flanked by walls leading down to a pool lined with ashlar stonework, and a three arched bridge (HGT/HCC Archives). In 1773 the then owner, Hans Sloane, paid Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown £700 to introduce a less formal design, and take advantage of the nearby water courses (RHS/Brown’s Account book). This new design is described in a sale notice of 1804 as ‘ … Lawn, Pleasure Ground and Sheets of Water laid out by the late Mr Brown …” (Hampshire Chronicle). Although the small scale Milne map of 1791 does not show details clearly, it does seem that at this time the small tributary of the River Itchen, Monks River, (known later as Monks Brook) was considerably widened as it flows across the estate (OHM online). This is confirmed in an estate map of 1818 when, following its sale to John Fleming of North Stoneham, a survey of the South Stoneham estate was prepared (SRO Estate map). There is a bridge crossing the water from the Glebe ground to the neck of land between Monks River and the River Itchen. It shows that there are pools at each end of this sheet of water, one labelled Salmon Pool, and a larger one Fish Pond (HGT/HCC Archives).
In the mid nineteenth century the house was let to several people as the Flemings had moved back to their house, North Stoneham. It was also the time when the London and South Western Railway line was built, this cut right across South Stoneham Park and its elm avenue (HGT/HCC Archives). In 1875 the estate was up for sale, it was bought by Captain Davison, and ten years later sold again, to Sir Samuel Montagu, who was later knighted as Lord Swaythling (HCC July 1995). Lord Swaythling made changes in the grounds, creating a much bigger walled area which included the former orchard, also several glasshouses and a gardener’s cottage were added to the enlarged walled garden. Lord Swaythling built a boat house on the banks of the Fish Pond, which was also given footbridges across to the islands, and another boat house on the bank of the River Itchen. The lawn and the Glebe ground beside the church were unchanged (OS 2 1896-97). In 1909. Rome Guthrie was commissioned to design a decorative garden in the Glebe area, this was linked to the bank of the River Itchen by a long woodland walk (RIBA 1422 1907-8). Lord Swaythling died in 1911 but Lady Swaythling remained in the house (HCC July 1995).
In 1921, after the death of Lady Swaythling, South Stoneham House was bought by the University of Southampton (then a College), to provide residential accommodation for students. The sale did not include the Salmon Pool and the Fish Pond for which the 2nd Lord Swaythling retained the fishing rights, and this area was fenced off from the University land. Pressure built up very quickly to provide more residential accommodation for students, and the outbuildings of the mansion were adapted (Temple Patterson 1962, 161). Soon these also became inadequate, and by 1931 a new quadrangular hall, Connaught Hall, was built on the land that had been the orchard and walled garden of the estate (OS 1933). Also the former park area north of the house had been bought by Mrs Montefiore, wife of the President of the College, and she sold it to the college at a nominal sum, for a recreational ground (Temple Patterson, 1962, 154 & 158). By 1964 the student accommodation situation was again acute, a second quad was built on the land that had been part of the walled garden adjacent to Connaught Hall and, as a temporary measure, a seventeen storey tower was built beside the mansion with a connecting link of dining facilities (Nash & Sherwood 2002, 67). Two years later Montefiore House which had been built on part of the grounds of the sports field, was opened. Subsequently it was further developed with Montefiore 2, 3, and 4, until all the ground of the former playing fields is now occupied by halls of residence (Nash & Sherwood 2002, 67, 277).
The land and fishing rights of the two pools were sold by the 2nd Lord Swaythling in 1983 to a private owner Mr Roberts, and ten years later, he sold them to Hampshire County Council. A master plan was drawn up for the development and maintenance of the area (HGT/HCC Archives). It is now the Woodmill Activity Centre (online 2014l). The grounds of South Stoneham House are maintained by the university gardeners, but the future use of the mansion is uncertain and, in March 2014, the house is empty.

Current Description

Much of the former estate of South Stoneham is owned by the University of Southampton. The former parkland is largely built over with halls of residence. The mansion itself is empty and its future use is uncertain. The 1960s tower block is in the process of being refurbished. Brown’s view of sheets of water is obscured by shrubs and trees, some of which were referred to in the sale notice of 1875. Part of Rome Guthrie’s designed garden remains as a lawn. The Salmon Pool and Fish Pond are fenced off from the university land and are managed by Active Nation, they are utilized for a variety of outdoor activities.


South Stoneham has developed from a small self-supporting estate on the outskirts of Southampton in the early 18th century, into a residential district of Southampton. The pleasure gardens to the south of the mansion were first laid out with formal terraces and straight walls each side. In 1772 Lancelot Brown was consulted, and redesigned them with lawns and a sheet of water crossed by bridges. North of the mansion there was a park and farmland. Today much of the land has been developed with private housing, and what remains of the estate is owned by the University of Southampton, several halls of residence for students have been built in the grounds.

HGT Research: April 2014


HCC – Hampshire County Council
HGT/HCC Archives – HCC archives held by Hampshire Gardens Trust
RHS – Royal Horticultural Society
SRO – Southampton Record Office
RHS – Lindley Library
Brown’s Accounts, Reproduction of the Account Book of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 2014
OHM online 1791 Milne (
1818 Stoneham Estate map by J Whitcher, Land Surveyor of Liphook SRO SCR 587/13
1897 OS 2nd ed. 25” HCC
1933 OS Hampshire Sheet LXV.3 25”
Nash & Sherwood The University of Southampton, An illustrated History James & James 2002 Temple Patterson A The University of Southampton 1962 Pub. Camelot Press for the University of Southampton
Electronic Sources
Times Online 21/6/1815, 4/8/1983 [Accessed 20.01.2014]
Woodmill Activities 2014 [Accessed 03.03.2012]
Other Sources
Hampshire Chronicle cutting of 25.06.1804
HCC Landscape Assessments & Recommendations 04.04.1995
RIBA 1422 Gardens at South Stoneham by L Rome Guthrie Architect
Site visit 01.03.2014

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