|HCC Site ID:||1299||Parish:||Beech|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private Residential|
Location and site
Thedden Grange is situated approximately three miles to the west of Alton on high ground with views to the north and east of the South Downs.
The Anglo-Saxon name of Tedena was first documented in 1168 and at that time the area of fertile land that represented Thedden was 1000 acres. In 1233 the King granted all his land in Alton to the Bishop of Winchester, some of which was passed on for the foundation of Selborne Priory. This in turn was endowed in 1485 to Magdalene College, Oxford by Bishop Wayneflete including much of the land around Thedden although the present 45 acres of parkland has always remained a freehold.
The earliest map is 1676 when Lewis Andrewes, surveyor for Magdalene College, produced a map of field boundaries, remarkable for their similarity to present field patterns. The house was inherited in 1695 by Hunt Wither, a Brigadier General in the service of King Charles lll of Spain. Both the 1759 Taylor map and the 1791 Milne map show a house on the site with a prominent avenue of trees leading to the Bentworth Road. Evidence remains of lime and chestnut trees that would hve formed part of this avenue.
In 1808 at a public auction, Thedden, consisting of 369 acres of arable land and 116 acres of the finest coppice land was bought by Sir Laurence Halsted, a naval man, who before rising to the ranks of Admiral had been the Captain of the Phoenix. He built a new mansion incorporating the previous manor and renamed it Phoenix Lodge. He added a coach house, two large walled kitchen gardens and a Home Farm. He also laid out the parkland as it is today following the fashion of the time, with rolling lawns that came up to the house, and trees planted in clumps and individually. Most of the trees planted were oak and beech, with specimen yew, cedar and wellingtonias nearer the house.
In 1835 Halsted was forced to sell for financial reasons and the estate was bought by a wealthy Yorkshire mill owner John Wood, philanthropist and pioneer of factory reform, being the moving force behind the Ten Hours Act of 1847. The present house owes its appearance to a building programme he carried out between 1838 and 1844 adding an extra floor over part of the main house, which he renamed Thedden Grange. A new longer drive through woodlands was created from the Basingstoke Road where a lodge was built. With the acquisition of other farmland, the estate at this time totalled 800acres.
From the beginning of 20th century the estate went through a series of other owners and was used during the war to house German prisoners of war. The present owners have been there since 1975.
The parkland trees consist predominantly of oak, chestnut, beech and lime. Many beeches were lost after the 1976 drought and the 1987 hurricane brought down more. The remaining trees, plus newly planted replacements still confer the feeling of a 19th century park and being 600 feet above sea level, there are commanding views to the SE. The walled kitchen gardens remain as well as coach-house, clock tower and ornamental woods. Near the house are some notable trees, ie Lucombe Oak, Wellingtonia & Yew.
HGT Research, March 2001 updated March 08