Swanmore Park House

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HCC Site ID: 1577 Parish: Swanmore
Designations: House LB II, SDNP Area: Medium
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Multiple Private

Location and Site

Swanmore Park House lies to the north of Swanmore village and to the east of Bishop’s Waltham and is approximately seven miles north of Fareham. It has views over the Meon Valley and is within the South Downs National Park.

Historic Development

Early name, Suanmere , assumed to mean ‘swans pool’ – of the Bishop of Winchester. The Milne map, 1791, shows house belonging to A Bettesworth. His niece, who married Alexander Shearer, inherited and it was their son, Bettesworth Pitt Shearer who developed the house and grounds in the 1830s. The 1” OS survey map shows the house alongside a public road with a small rectangular garden running W-E from the house. The Greenwood map, 1826, reveals that the road has been realigned to the north leaving the original road as the southern approach road and a new approach road created to the north. The park has also been extended. The Tithe map, 1841, shows two lodges on each approach road and the house and grounds are now 59 acres. By 1868, the grounds have been extended further and formal pleasure gardens have been created to the north of the house. There was much tree planting in the park. Bettesworth Shearer lost two wives and by 1875 moved away to East Molesey, the estate being bought by Charles Myers, a director of the White Star Shipping Line, Liverpool. He had the house demolished and brought in Sir Alfred Waterhouse to design a large, neo-Tudor building. He also brought in Edwin Molyneux whom he had probably known in Liverpool to redesign the gardens. A large walled garden with elaborate glasshouses was built and the whole gardens redesigned. Myers died suddenly in 1879 leaving his estate to his son, William Henry Myers who through Molyneux carried on with the creation of impressive grounds. Due to the skills of Molyneux as a plantsman, in particular in growing prize chrysanthemums, Swanmore Park gained a reputation for the quality and maturity of its planting and was written about in several garden magazines of the time, such as the Gardeners’ Chronicle, the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, Gardening World and Country Life. A rock garden of pulhamite was created by James Pulham & Sons, with water, many alpines and two bridges and the glasshouses were developed and extensively used for vines, fruit and exotic plants. There was an orchard, a winter tennis court, a ha-ha, many climbing roses and other plants along a pergola, ½ m trees with some specimens planted in the parkland, the house covered with colourful climbers and two acres of grassland planted with limes, elms, Spanish chestnut with 1000s of bulbs in the grass. A sun dial is moved round the grounds. There was an avenue of cupressus and sweet briar hedges. Molyneux moved to be Farm Bailiff around 1898 and Mr G Ellwood became the head gardener. A conifer, Chamaecyparis lawsonia ‘Elwoodii’ originating as a seedling, was named after him.
William Myers died in 1933 after which the gardens never regained their glory and after a succession of owners the estate was divided up and sold off in 1952. The cottages and land, including the walled garden were divided into lots and sold. The house and part of the gardens were sold to a developer who divided it into a number of properties.

Current Description

In 2006 some of the parkland planting is evident and the site of certain features of the gardens can be seen or traced, including the ha-ha, a summerhouse, steps leading to the pergola and the now overgrown land where the 1000s of bulbs had been planted still reveal snowdrops in early spring. The walled garden has had a bungalow built on the footprint of the glasshouses and the sun dial, which maps reveal was moved around the grounds, lies in its centre. Behind the bungalow the heating systems including steps to a coal cellar remain. On a visit to the walled garden, the owner referred to the rockery and the Pulhamite which was apparently dug up and buried in nearby land.


A late 18th century house demolished in 1870 and rebuilt by Sir Alfred Waterhouse for William Myers. An early 19th century formal garden and parkland redesigned with walled garden by Edwin Molyneux. Some features remain round the house, now apartments.

HGT Research: October 2006


OHM Web site of Old Hampshire mapped accessed 2005
(OHM) Isaac Taylor map 1756
(OHM) Thomas Milne map 1791
Surveyor’s Drawing , British Library Maps OSD 82E
(OHM) 1” OS map 1810
(OHM) Greenwood map 1826
21M65/F7/63/1 and/2 Tithe Map and Apportionment 1840 HRO
1st Ed OS map 25” 1:2500 and 1:4500 1868
2nd Ed OS map 25” 1:2500 and 1:4500 1896
2nd Ed OS map 6” 1:5500 1897
3rd Ed OS map 25” 1:4500 1909
3rd Ed 6” 1:5500 1910
Survey drawing 1948 157M89W/3/9 HRO
Colour Raster 2005
Collection of post cards P63A04/B123/23
A collection of postcards P63A04/B123.39
Sales Particulars 1935 45M69/95
Photographs from Sales Particulars 1936 12M86/2/68
Sales Particulars 1939 159M88/1622
Correspondence and contract re sale of timber 51M76/P/2A/100
Survey drawing 1948 157M89W/2/9
LL – Lindley Library
BL British Library
Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, November 13 1884 Pp 439-440 LL
The Gardeners’ Chronicle, August 23 1884 Pp246-247 LL
The Gardening World, September 17 1887 Lindley LL
Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, August 2nd 1888 Pp 92-92 Lindley LL
Garden and Forest, vol 2 issue 93. The 19C in print periodicals, digital catalogue, Library of Congress web site
Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, January 9 1896 Pp38-39 LL
Chrysanthemums and their culture: From the Cutting to the Silver Cup pub 1891 – frontispiece LL
Country Life article February 18 1899 Pp 208-212 BL
Country Life article Feb 1899 Pp 208-212 HCC
Journal of Horticulture December 15 1904 pp528-529 LL
The Garden July 15 1905 LL
Waktins P Swanmore since 1840 pub Swanmore Books 2001
Personal communication Trevor Bignall, owner of house within the walled garden
Two contemporary photographs Trevor Bignall date unknown
AHBR listing house
Web sites accessed 2005
Entry from eb site on Ellwood Falsecypress

Our address

Swanmore No Public Access Click for Disclaimer & copyright
50.957399507647956, -1.1700010299682617

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