|HCC Site ID:||1188||Parish:||Fair Oak|
|Designations:||Area:|| 1.6 ha (4 acres)
was 120 ha (48.5 ha)
|Access:||Historic site||Ownership:||School run by Hampshire Christian Education Trust|
Location and Site
Fairoak Lodge is located south of Fair Oak village and east of Eastleigh, in 2010 it is accessed only from Allington Lane; there was once also access from Botley Road. The land is a mix of sand to heavy clay which can become boggy lying within the Itchen Valley. The original land owners, the local Twynham family, lived in Quobleigh Farm just north of the site. Quob means boggy which is a good description of some of the land in the area.
At the time of the Domesday Book, the land was once part of the Bishop of Winchester’s hunting grounds. It has been suggested that during the 16th century, a building on the site of Fairoak Lodge may have been used as a resting place or lodging house for the monks travelling between Netley Abbey and Winchester, as the location is equidistant between the two places. Whilst this has yet to be proven there are some very old parts within the present house (Douglas 1998). The first record of a building is on the 1810 OS map where it is named “New House”. By 1819, this had become Fair Oak Lodge and was advertised to let. The owner was probably Henry Twynham of Quobleigh Farm. Greenwood’s 1826 map shows an un-named house within a landscaped park, with a carriage drive east to Botley Road and west to Allington Lane. In 1842 John Twynham was living in the house which he extended (Douglas 1998). It is unclear who carried out the alterations to the grounds that are shown on the 1870-72 OS maps where the house is referred to as Oak Lodge. It stood in an enclosed tree planted garden with a mix of conifer and specimen trees and to the rear an open terraced grass area which may have been a tennis or bowling green. There was a conservatory on the southern side of the house and several outbuildings. To the north was a lodge on Allington Lane and to the south a tree lined ride leading to the sluice on the southern edge of the large Quobleigh ponds. A second sluice separated the lakes into two. At this time, the parkland had a few specimen trees and eight small fenced areas each containing two or three conifers. The fields on the estate were well protected, with trees along most of the boundaries, and a clay pit was also marked.
By 1896 the gardens were more open with far fewer trees and an aviary had been built on the eastern side of the house (OS map). The back of the house had a clear view of the lakes which had tree planting around the northern edges. There were four glass houses on the west of the house, with a walled garden. In front of the house, the drive split into a turning circle, with the west branch probably leading to a second lodge house, built on the Botley Road during this period. A building was shown south east of the lakes, possibly a duck or bird hide used for shooting, and there was a boat house on the northern side. The southern tree lined ride was no longer shown although a few trees still stood.
It seems most likely that the Gillett family carried out the above changes as they were in residence in 1891 when they had 8 staff; and in 1900 when Mr. Gillett won a silver gilt medal for his orchids, although this was the year in which died (Census; Times on-line). In the following year, when the house was put up for sale, it was described as a “Sporting estate with fishing, shooting and golf” (Times on-line 1901). It appears that the brother in law of Mrs. Gillett, Sir Arthur Grant of Moneymusk, bought the property as he made an appeal for a reduction in the rates in 1903-4 (HRO 4M92/N185/5). In 1908, he was still the owner of the estate which was then of 120 acres (48.5 ha) including a lake of 7 acres (2.8 ha), although the property was probably let at this time (British History on-line)
In the 1920’s ownership changed once again, for in 1924 a Mr. Wolff applied for permission to alter the house and five years later to drain some land (HRO 39M73/BP1690). He was still resident in 1939 when he wrote to the Times that 8 cygnets were hatching on his lake at Fairoak Lodge (Times on-line). On the 1941 OS map the upper part of the lakes was shown as marsh land crossed by a stream, while even the lower lake was beginning to silt up at its north eastern edge where the stream flowed into it. The bird aviary had gone and a sundial was marked in its place. Only one glass house remained and the conservatory on the side of the house had also gone. By 1954 the Morrogh Bernard family were in residence and in 1963 Lt Colonel Morrogh Bernard was seeking a buyer for the house, with 55 acres (22.2 ha) of land for £20,000. It was described in the Times as “Main House built in 1842 on site of a much older house parts of which still form part of the present property, the grounds are a part of the Itchen valley and include a lake of 4 acres (1.6 ha) a market garden, pasture and woodland”. It appears that the Colonel sold the land to the Clifton Diocese which required a convent for the Sisters of the Saviour, while he built a house on remaining land for his family calling it “Fair Oak Lodge”. It is unclear if the Market Garden was sold separately or kept by the family. Two aerial photographs dated 1974 show the house and just one drive from Allington Lane. The grounds around the house were mainly laid to grass with a few tees around the house and a belt of trees along the road boundary. A line of mixed young trees was growing along the edge of the terraced area on the south side. The land to the west appears to have been a nursery or market garden, with very large greenhouses and rows of tree saplings. There was also a neat area of possibly nursery plants behind the house and outbuildings.
The main changes around the house and walled garden occurred in the late 1970’s when the nuns moved locally to other accommodation and the Clifton Diocese built St Swithen Wells Church on the northern boundary, adjacent to the lodge. The house and land were sold to a company called Lakesmere which extended the house and built a block of ten flats within the walled gardens, today known as Rockford House. Possibly for financial reasons the company sold the house and King’s School opened on the site with 3 ½ acres (1.4ha) of land in 1987.
It is believed that the Morrogh Bernard family still own some of the estate lands the rest is owned by Kings School and the diocese of Clifton who built the church of St Swithen Wells on the site (pers.com.).
Once a sporting estate of some 120 acres (48.5h) today it is a school a market garden and private homes, one built by the former owner retained the name of the former estate, Fairoak Lodge. The two lodge houses now privately owned still stand one on Allington Lane, with St Swithen Wells Catholic Church now next door and the other on Botley Road. There are still a few trees along what is today a track between the two lodges. The house has been extended several times over the years but the south east view is much as it was in the early 1900’s. It looks out over what were once the gardens down towards the lakes and woods beyond, in 2011 it is in another ownership and much obscured by trees. The walled garden is the site of apartments. The grounds around the house are mainly laid to grass and playing fields and on a visit it was explained that drainage is still a problem on the site in winter. A few specimen trees remain within the grounds and a belt of trees runs along the road boundary. It is probable that the Morrough Bernard family still own some of the estate lands, the rest being owned by The King’s School and the diocese of Clifton which built the church of St Swithen Wells on the site.
Fair Oak lodge was a mid to late 19th century small country park with two large lakes out buildings and two lodge houses on the entrance drives. The King’s School now occupies the former house with views south east towards the now obscured ponds and woodland. In 2011 very few specimen trees remain, one pond is completely silted and the woodland requires some management. The outbuildings and walled gardens have been demolished and developed for housing and school buildings. Much of the land is no longer part of the former estate.
HGT Research: July 2011
Hampshire Record Office
04M92/N185/5 Papers relating to a rating appeal by Sir Arthur Henry Arthur Grant on ‘Fair Oak Lodge’ 1903-04
39M73/BP1690 Allington Lane, Fair Oak 1929
(OS maps from Hampshire County Council)
OS 1810 ((A vision of Britain/maps images of early maps on the web)
OS 1870 1st ed. 25”
OS 1871/2 1st ed. 6”
0S 1896 2nd ed. 25”
Sales Map 1901
OS 1941 4th ed. 25”
Douglas, Helen, A History of Fair Oak Horton Heath 1998 (Eastleigh Museum) 1998
Eastleigh Borough Council Fair Oak and Horton Heath a walking guide (leaflet Eastleigh Museum) undated
Accessed December 2010
1819 -1900 – 1901 – 1919 – 1927 – 1928 – 1939 – 1963
British History on Line 1908
Census 1881 1891 1901 1911
Personal Communication (pers. com.)
Mr. Paul Trevett, of Kings School