|HCC Site ID:||1951||Parish:||Tunworth|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private residence|
Location and site
Tunworth Down House occupies an elevated position north of the village of Tunworth which is some five miles south of Basingstoke. The area is agricultural, well-timbered mostly with beech trees and with extensive views in all directions. The area is characterized by its narrow, winding lanes linking the small hamlets in the area. The village of Tunworth is in a Conservation Area but Tunworth Down House lies outside this area (Tunworth Village Design Statement). The site is elevated with good views to the northwest and a shelter-belt of trees along the west boundary. The soil is chalk and clay.
In 1913 F.H.T. Jervoise offered part of the Herriard estate for sale including 198 acres at Tunworth Down Farm (Times online June 1913). The land was purchased by a Major Claud Chichester and after the Great War ended he and his wife built a large mansion on the site and employed Gertrude Jekyll to draw up plans for the garden. The architect of the house is not known (Pitcher 1982 and Godalming Museum, the Jekyll collection). Following Chichester’s death in 1931 the property passed to his daughter and then his grandson, the present owner Mr C. H. Petre. After the Second World War the garden became slightly neglected as the surrounding land was used for racehorse training and the Tunworth Down Farm was converted into stables.
The outlines of the Jekyll garden are strong and can still be seen in aerial views of the site but the planting is no longer hers. The house is surrounded by fine groves of trees and overlooks wide lawns edged with trim, clipped yew hedges. Terraces, steps, paths and borders are as Gertrude Jekyll designed them. A rose garden which was intended for the west of the house was in fact installed in the eastern ‘sunken’ lawn and the outlines of it can still be seen. The kitchen garden has lost its earlier productivity but now provides a quiet location for a swimming pool.
Tunworth Down House has remained in the same family since it was built in 1919. This family is descended from the famous eighteenth-century landscape designer and plantsman, Lord Robert Petre. Planting plans for the 1919 gardens were drawn by Gertrude Jekyll and are available to be viewed in the Godalming Museum. Although the present planting is not original, the structure of the garden remains basically unchanged and thus the site is a good example of Jekyll’s work especially when considered alongside the neighbouring property of Upton Grey Manor. The rural location has ensured that the views in and out of the site are unrestricted and the long vistas towards the north-west are particularly stunning.
HGT Research: April 2011
Gertrude Jekyll plans at the Godalming Museum: Reef Point 152; Object Number: WAMSB_2202.25.03
Pitcher, A. Upton Grey, Tunworth and Weston Patrick. 1982
Tithe map of Tunworth 1838; source: Basingstoke Library
OS Explorer 2004, sheet 144
All other maps from HCC/HGT database
The Times Digital Archive 1785-1985: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/library/reference-online/ref-newspapers.htm
Petre Family History: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Petre,_8th_Baron_Petre
Chambers/ Chichester family history: http://www.barbsweb.co.uk/templeton/chichesters.htm
Gertrude Jekyll plans: http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/GetRecord/WAMSB_2202.25.03
Mr Charles H Petre, December 2010