Weston Grove

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HCC Site ID: 1716 Parish: Woolston Ward, Southampton
Designations: SMR Area: Large
Access: Historic site Ownership: Southern part – Multiple Private; northern part – Mayfield Park

Drawing: Hewetson 1800s

Location and Site

Weston Grove Estate was located in the southeast corner of the City of Southampton, close to the mouth of the River Itchen where it enters Southampton Water. This formed its southern boundary, whilst it was bounded in the north by Portsmouth Road. There is a steep gully running southwest to northeast which may have been the western boundary, and the grounds extended eastwards to include the ruins of Netley Abbey. The house stood on rising ground above the shore with extensive views over Southampton Water and the New Forest.

Historic Development

William Chamberlayne who was M.P. for Southampton from 1818 to 1829, inherited land on the East side of Southampton Water. In 1801 he built a marine villa on the site and named it Weston Grove. The villa and park were much admired at the time for their picturesque qualities. William Cobbett wrote “to those who like water-scenes… it is the prettiest spot, I believe, in all England.” The long carriageway from the Portsmouth road was another attraction; bordered by rhododendrons, it followed the wooded gully and then climbed the slope to the house. Two decorative viaducts crossed Weston Lane and linked the House to the furthest reaches of the estate including the ancient ruins of Netley Abbey. A feature of the park was an obelisk raised in memory of Charles James Fox, the eminent politician.
In 1854 Thomas Chamberlayne sold to Colonel Robert Wright 35 acres (14.2 ha.) of Weston Grove Estate, which included the Charles Fox memorial and the upper Weston viaduct, and in 1856 the building of Mayfield House on the northern part of the land was begun.
The first half of the twentieth century saw the further breakup of the estate. This began with the sale of some of its lands by Tankerville Chamberlayne which allowed the building of an ammunitions factory on the Weston foreshore in World War 1. This destroyed the beauty of the scenic views at the same time as the rural character of the area was disappearing with the encroachment of the suburb of Woolston on the edge of the park. The Ministry of Munitions took over the estate. By the 1940s Weston Grove house had become ruinous. The process culminated with its demolition and the building of a modern housing estate over the southern half of the park. The northern half of the park and the gully became Mayfield Public Park.

Current Description

Today there is little trace left of Weston Grove house and its gardens. The northern half of the estate (previously Mayfield Park) together with the gully is now a well-used and well-managed public park with gardens, playing fields, a bowling green, a walled garden with glasshouses, and many fine mature trees planted over the past 150 years. These include species of oak, pine and beech, as well as Magnolia grandiflora,tulip tree, coastal redwood, ginkgo, spruce and cedar. The remaining area in the south is a modern housing estate.

Summary

A marine villa and estate overlooking Southampton Water, created in 1801 by William Chamberlayne in the Picturesque manner. Much admired by his contemporaries, principally for its situation overlooking Southampton Water.
Weston Grove suffered from developments in the 20th century: in particular the building of an ammunitions factory on the foreshore that destroyed the scenic views. The house was later demolished. The south part of the park is now covered by a modern housing estate; the northern part and gully became Mayfield Public Park.

HGT Research: October 2004; updated 2013


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Woolston Ward, Southampton Historic site Click for Disclaimer & copyright
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