|HCC Site ID:||1372||Parish:||Liss|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
Location and Site
Stodham Park stands on a gently rising south westerly facing slope in the valley of the River Rother. It is backed by a steeply rising heavily wooded sandstone ridge parts of which belonged to the estate. Soils are light and fertile. Beyond the river, protection from adverse weather is afforded by the chalk Hampshire Hangers and to the south the chalk South Downs. The park lies within the confines of the new South Downs National Park. There are ancient sunken tracks dating back to the early middle-ages, through the woods and a lane (Tankerdale Lane), upon which the house stands. Transport links are exceptionally good.
Stodham is mentioned briefly in medieval documents as land for a stud and as hunting grounds. It belonged to the Abbey of St Mary in Winchester but reverted to the Crown in 1539, being eventually granted by James I to the Whitmores’, changing hands in the eighteenth century to the Coles’ and the Aubreys’. The lands changed hands twice more before being bought in 1820 by successful local man Cornthwaite John Hector, who by 1827 had built Stodham House popularly called Hector’s Folly as it was very ‘of its moment’: stucco over brick; five by three bays; a pillared porch and colonnade of paired Tuscan columns. Cornthwaite John Hector developed estate, grounds and pleasure gardens and by his will of 1842 left everything to his four daughters. His Trustees put all up for auction. Sales particulars show a sketch of the house and the grounds including a carriage sweep in front of the house, woods, lawns and winding walks through pleasure grounds by the river, which end in a circular feature with a small structure marked upon it, beneath which it is thought an ice house exists. Liss Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment (1842) also shows more details of paths, deciduous and coniferous trees and a garden house on the lawns. A water colour of 1848 shows the two storied house including an attached conservatory, only hinted at on the maps, plus a rustic garden house.
Edward Daniell bought the house and considerably enhanced the gardens before selling in 1857. A large estate map shows a small lodge was added at the original entrance to the house and another to the north at a new entrance with a long approach drive. Clumps of trees are shown in the pasture lands to the north of the house. Many specimen trees had been planted on the lawns both singly and in ornamental shrubberies. There were winding riverside walks and a bridge over Tankerdale Lane giving easy access to woodland walks in Stodham Copse. Stodham estate was up for sale again in 1862, noting specimen, native and exotic trees, flowering shrubs, rhododendrons and azaleas; a walled kitchen garden had been built on land acquired on the west side of the River Rother. Captain Thomas F Sanderson bought the estate. The 1st ed OS map, 1869-1875, notes an added cottage into the kitchen garden complex, called Little Stodham. The house to its north was called Bowyers Place and an extra garden house had been built near the walk leading to the river. From 1872 to his death in 1875, the estate was owned by the Reverend James Drummond Money. After his death, his wife became Clara Money-Coutts. She had another storey and two more wings added; the approach drive was lined with Wyche Elms and a circuit walk built round the south lawns. The pool at the junction with Tankderdale and Stodham Lanes was drained and a reservoir and a decorative stone Pump House was built in Stodham Copse. The name Little Stodham, hitherto being the kitchen garden, was given to Boywers Place. Clara Money-Coutts died in 1899 and her son auctioned the estate in 1908. Sales details note named creepers on the house and specimen trees in the grounds as well as a 600-ft long herbaceous and shrub border. Tennis courts, a cricket ground and shooting and fishing were now available. The kitchen garden was productive and Little Stodham was called the dower house.
Major AW Marden bought the house and sixty five acres in 1910, living there until 1922 when he moved to Bowyers Place and his son Captain BJN Marden took over. A number of improvements were made to the house and the estate’s sporting activities and potential, including racquets and squash courts and a home cinema. Outside a six-hole golf course and a splendid hard tennis court were added. Water and gas were supplied from outside the estate but electricity was generated by a dynamo powered by water. On Captain Marsden’s death in 1927 the house was again auctioned. Woodland walks and a lily pool and bog garden were highlighted and photographed. James Billson bought the house and twenty six acres. The 4th ed OS 1930-1938 is similar to the 3rd, with the exception of the kitchen garden which was now separate from the estate.
Sir Reginald and Lady Dorman-Smith bought Stodham from James Billson’s executors in 1936 but during World War II Stodham became a base for ‘special operations’ training for European volunteers for ‘subversive activities’. After the War the Dorman-Smiths returned and remained until 1966. The next owners Chesborough Properties Ltd, however, divided the estate up and sold it in a number of separate lots; the house and grounds, two lodges, stable block, woodland and pasture. North Lodge was sold privately. The stables went through the hands of two sets of developers, were subdivided and sold privately. The house and much reduced grounds passed through three hands until 1994, when Stodham Park was put up for sale. The sales particulars show that the exterior of the creeper-covered house is little changed from its late nineteenth century appearance. Outside there are wide lawns and a Cedar of Lebanon and the hard tennis courts. There is a new approach drive close to Stodham Bridge and the old north drive has been cut off half-way and has lost its avenue of elms. Also gone is the foot bridge over Tankerdale Lane. The woodlands were separated from the remains of the estate.
Stodham Park is currently owned by Anthony and Mary Ann Travers and has well-kept lawns, an herbaceous border, roses and a recent planting of Cypresses near the house. Some of the ornamental trees have died including the Cedar, though further out in the park native trees have done better. The river walks exist in a simplified form and there are still Rhododendrons. There are trout in the river and beside it a little Bathing House. New tennis courts have been built to the north east of the house. There is a manège where the hard courts used to stand. Most unusually the Power House and its equipment, though unused, remain. The woods at Stodham Copse, now owned separately, are well maintained, with many mature trees and the walks and rides kept clear. Also remaining is the reservoir and at the edge of the woods the stone Pump House and its accompanying cottage. The 2008-2013 OS Maps show some of these changes.
A park and pleasure grounds developed from farmland in the 1820s. Gardens enhanced in the mid-19th century and later sporting activities added. The pleasure grounds and a large part of the parkland remain and are well cared for, as are the surrounding woods though now separated from the estate.
HGT Research January 2014
Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
Liss Parish 1843 Tithe Apportionment (Ref. 3)
Kellys Directory of Hampshire 1867,1871,1875-1878 (Ref. 5)
Kellys Dir Hants 1885, 1889, 1895, 1898+ 99 (Ref. 7)
Liss Oral History Project (AV239/4/SI) recorded Peter Jenkins (Ref. 8)
1st Series + all OS 6” and 25” and OS 2008-13 (See Figs)
Liss a Brief History, Dick Martin, 2011 pub. LAHS, P 21, 26, 45, 66, 79, 101-2 (Ref.1)
All About Lyss, Mrs Bashford, 1922 pub. DH Watford, P29, 44 (Ref. 6)
Stodham Park Liss, A History, Peter Bushell and Sara Van Loock 2007 private one off estate research (Ref. 16)
Kellys Directory of Hampshire 1903, 1907, 1911, Petersfield Library (Ref. 9)
Kellys Dir Hants + I of W, 1923, 1931-35. 1936-1939 (Ref. 12)
Petersfield Record Office and Museum, 1922 Plan of ‘Attractive Building Sites’ Stodham Park Estate (Ref. 13)
Report by Mr McCombe and interview Winifred Baker Petersfield Post 6 June 1974 cutting Liss Area Historical Society (LAHS) (Ref.14)
Petersfield Post 28 July 1966 cutting LAHS (Ref. 15)
Kate and Jeffrey Bull Stodham Park Estate Managers Nov.2013 (Ref. 17)
Robert and Janice Priddle, I Stable Court, Stodham, Nov. 2013 (Ref. 18)
Walter Cave; Arts and Crafts to Edwardian Splendour, Judith Patrick 2012 Phillimore & Co Ltd P111-115 and The Motor Car and the Country House, Pete Smith 2010 English Heritage (Ref. 19)
Devon Gardens Trust; Carolyn Keep and Clare Greener (Ref. 20)
Stodham Estate Map Hall Pain and Foster 1966 LAHS (Ref. 21)
Kaus Parvin, 2 Stable Court, Nov. 2013 (Ref. 22)
English Heritage Listed Grade II 1068/10/10014 (Ref. 2)
National Archives Public Record Office Census Returns (Ref. 4)
Complete Peerage Vol 1 P277; Vol IV App H; Vol VII P450-479; Vol IV Supplement (Ref. 10)
Victoria County History ed.W Page, 1911, Liss Parish P84-88 (Ref. 11)