|HCC Site ID:||1479||Parish:||Romsey Extra|
|Designations:||House LB II*||Area:||20 ha|
|Access:||No public access||Ownership:||Private School – closed 2013|
Location and Site
Stanbridge Earls is situated to the north-east of Romsey, bounded on the south by a chain of ponds (possibly originally fishponds).
Stanbridge Earls is reputed to be the place where Ethelwulf, King of the West Saxons and father of Alfred the Great died and was buried. However, it has not been proven. After 1066 various families possessed the estate. It was well endowed, with fishing rights in the River Test, arable and meadowland, orchards and plentiful woodland. Even so in the time of John Fifield in the late eighteenth century it was allowed to fall into decay and become ruinous. The estate was saved by a number of owners in the early twentieth century who were prepared to invest money in restoring and beautifying it. In this way a scenic area south of the house was created, a variety of plants, some exotic, some Alpine, were introduced into the gardens and more trees were planted. Facilities for sports were also introduced.
In the mid-20th century,the estate became an independent boarding school, which necessitated much new building when a number of features, such as the kitchen garden, disappeared. Nevertheless, the historic layout of the grounds was maintained. The approach to the north side of the mansion remained and the ornamental area round the ponds was preserved. The wooded nature of the estate was conserved and was still an important feature.
The school was closed down in 2013 and the estate put on the market. Bought by Audley Retirement Villages in 2014, the site is to be re-developed as a retirement village with, according to a report in the local newspaper, up to 100 residences made up of 1 and 2-bed room apartments and a few cottages. Audley is quoted as saying that the Grade II* listed building will be sympathetically restored in the 6-acre site and it is to be hoped that the grounds will receive the same respect.
Claimed since Saxon times that King Ethelwulf, father of King Alfred, died at Stanbridge Earls. The manor was held by a number of families until, by the early nineteenth century it was in a ruinous state. The house and grounds were substantially restored until 1952 it became a school, which closed in 2013. 2016, plans to be re-developed as a retirement village.
HGT Research: September 2004, interim update following the closure of school – February 2016