|HCC Site ID:||1178||Parish:||Bishopstoke|
|Designations:||SMR No: 52140, Site of local importance for nature(SINC)||Area:||14.5 ha|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Development Company|
Location and Site
Located one mile east of Eastleigh town centre on Church Road, Bishopstoke; the river lies on the west of the site with countryside to the north.
The site of The Mount was open farmland partly owned by the Reverend Garnier at the time of the Tithe Map (1840). A local farmer realized the value of the coming railway and built several houses on the farmland including a cottage where the Mount now is. By 1855 Richard Gilman a business man returned from China bought what was now called Stoke House and improved both house and grounds (White’s Directory 1858). It is possible that specimen trees and plants were brought back by Gilman and it is also possible that Dean Garnier who lived in Bishopstoke had planted some of the specimen conifers when he owned some of the fields. The Census of 1861 showing that there were 7 servants at the Mount indicates that a substantial gentleman’s residence had been created. The 1st edition 25” OS map,1867 shows extensive pleasure grounds and photographs from an album assembled by Mr Gilman shortly before the Sale of the house in 1870 (HRO) illustrate the stylish nature of the house with a conservatory and colonnaded terrace, lawns, large trees, a riverside walk with rustic bridge etc.
Exquisite lawns, graceful slopes and terraces are described and flowers, shrubs, fernery are mentioned as well as fruit and kitchen gardens, hot houses for peaches and grapes poultry and pigeon house, piggery and cow-houses. ‘Ornamental woodland, planted generations ago on the hanging bank of the river’ and …’ The total acreage was 28 and the estate was bought by Captain Hargreaves.
From 1870-1890 Captain Hargreaves made considerable alterations and the house became Italianate in style, surmounted by a tower. There were 13 bedrooms one of which was a gallery, housing a magnificent collection of statuary, antique cabinets, pictures and Sèvres china. (Lecture, 1991). The house with now 66 acres was put up for sale after Captain Hargreavess’ death in 1891. A Plan of the house and grounds dated together with the description shows that the grounds had been designed further and a fishing lodge is now shown south of Breach Copse. The kitchen gardens and orchard are still in the same position as shown earlier. The Sales Details further describe a Swiss chalet fishing box with gas laid on; a dairy concealed by shrubbery; water pumped to the house by a ram; modern stabling; head gardener’s and coachman’s cottages surrounded by a lofty clock tower. There is a kitchen garden and orchard of nearly 20 acres. Trees named are: Wellingtonia gigantica,Cupressus macrocarpal, Thuyopusis borealis; Araucaria imbricate; Cedrus deodara; Picea pinsapa; Pinus insignia; Golden Yews. Also described is an island with rustic bridges, a rustic summer house, numerous fountains and grotts, resort of numerous kingfishers and many rare specimens of the ornithological and insect worlds. (HRO 1892). It was eventually sold to Mr Cotton, an architect and builder as well as a keen ornithologist and teetotaller. The full description of the grounds indicates that they were very well developed and well stocked before the arrival of Mr Cotton.
The Mount in Bygone Bishopstoke Escombe, F D(1925) notes that Mr Cotton, a keen ornithologist, had several aviaries built. The 2nd ed 25” OS map of 1895 shows an enlarged house and gardens made more ornamental with a water garden. The 3rd ed OS 25” map of 1910 shows that the focus of the gardens has moved from the formal, pleasure garden of the 19th century to the extensive woodland garden with the water features and the two copses at either end. The water features now consist of two length of canal, one of which was possibly a duck decoy, basins and a boathouse. The newer length of canal also has an island feature. A series of five fountains are also shown and water for them was provided by a Victorian pump-house, of which maintenance is recorded in the wages book of Mr Cotton’s chauffeur. The garden had a series of footpaths, two flights of timber/fling/brick steps, one of which led down to a fountain. The canals were crossed by means of four footbridges built of steel rails and timber. The orchard has gone and possibly moved nearer to the house as it is shown in later in the 20th century. The kitchen gardens have also disappeared. (Photographs from the lecture by Joan Symnonds, 1991).
On the death of Mr Cotton the house was sold in 1927 to Hampshire County Council who turned it into a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. The area of kitchen garden became an orchard. The original orchard to the north was built on as a Social Services Day Centre but much still remained of the gardens.
The 4th ed 25” OS map of 1937 shows that the woodland garden is fairly complete, the aviaries have gone but the glasshouses in the old kitchen garden area are still there. The boathouse and 3 fountains in the upper woodland area are shown. The lawns are still shown with perhaps less trees on the lawned area to the west of terrace and lawn near the house.
A Site Survey by Hampshire County Council in 1989 refer to the remnants of the once fine collection of conifers in the grounds probably in the early to mid-1800s possibly sourced by Dean Garnier of Winchester. Conifers are also referred to in the Wessex Series as well as in the Victoria County History Vol 3 (VCH). The VCH also adds that a large herd of deer was once kept in the fine park, evidenced by rubbing stones and the now small herd.
The site later became a geriatric hospital. A site survey by Hampshire Gardens Trust in 1991 revealed that while the upper grounds were reasonably maintained the rest, particularly the woodland, were overgrown and badly maintained.
The Mount was finally put on the market by the Health Trust in 2006 and sold for redevelopment as a retirement village. The site was sold on by first developers and acquiring planning consent for development has taken a long time but at the start of 2013 development appears to be moving forward, with a care home and associated facilities proposed by English Care Villages Ltd.
Since the sale by the NHS, the house has been vandalised and at the same time, the fabric of the building has considerably deteriorated. The remaining grounds have been used by walkers since the hospital closed but with total lack of maintenance they are now (2013) in a sorry state, though some specimen trees are still visible. Some peripheral parts of the original grounds are now housing.
The re-development proposes he house being restored into communal leisure facilities, including a swimming pool and a gym. It is further proposed to retain the large grounds to include an extensive area of lawn, as well as restored and managed ancient woodland for local people to enjoy. The area where the water gardens were created is now a SINC; a few remains of the water garden can still be seen (2013).
19th century designed gardens with late century complex water gardens on the sloping stream part of the site. 20th century institutionalisation and first sold for development 2006. Serious deterioration of the house and grounds since; proposed development (2013) for housing, leisure facilities, lawned area and restored ancient woodland.
HGT Research: 2006 (updated 2013)
Hampshire Record Office
Typescript of the Sale 1870, 122M93/2
Album of photographs assembled by R Gilman 1869, 122M93
Sales Particulars and Plan 1892, 15M84/SP2
A Lecture by Joan Simmonds to Eastleigh Local History Society 1991
Planning application by English Care Villages Ltd 2012
Books and papers
Escombe, D Bygone Bishopstoke 1925
Page, W Victoria County History 1908
Site Survery, HGT, 1991
Tithe map, 1840, HRO
1st ed Os 25″, 1867 HCC
3rd ed OS 1910 HCC
4th ed OS 1937 HCC