|HCC Site ID:||1775||Parish:||Litchfield & Woodcott|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
Location and Site
WOODCOTT was held by Ansfrid of the king in the reign of Edward the Confessor. At the time of the Domesday Survey, William I bestowed it on one of his thegns, William Belet. The overlordship continued with his descendants until 1302 when the property passed to Ruald de Woodcott. By the beginning of the 14th century Richard de Cardeville succeeded to the manor, and granted it to the Prior and brethren of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England, who held the manor until the Dissolution. In 1304 the prior and brethren bestowed a life interest in the manor on Richard and Eugenia his wife in return for an annual payment of a single rose. In 1544 Henry VIII granted the manor to John Kingsmill, together with Bitfanger Copse, Frith Copse, Innerst Copse and Suggeaston Copse. It remained in the Kingsmill family until 1766 when the estate was purchased by the Herberts and descended to the Earls of Carnarvon. It continued in the estate of the Earls of Carnarvon until the land at Danegrove Copse was acquired at the beginning of the 20th century by Richard Nicholson Esq. There was no dwelling shown on the 1912 OS 6” map.
The house is located 2½ miles south of Crux Easton. In 1910, Crickmay & Sons architects were commissioned by Mr Richard Nicholson to design and oversee the construction of a new brick mansion on this site at Lower Woodcott, and Gertrude Jekyll was invited to submit drawings for the garden. This appears to be the only project upon which they collaborated. The plans are located in the Reef Point Collection.
Original drawings coloured in this fragment – to clarify some of the detailing (see appendix 2) show a fully developed sketch plan, with steps leading from the south east facing terrace, onto a four part parterre on the lower terrace and thence into an avenue. The path from the south west terrace leads into an elaborate flower garden with lily ponds and herbaceous borders on into the kitchen garden.
Comparisons between the Jekyll plan and the current layout, observable from the aerial photograph above, suggests that the structure of her design may have been used as a guide, rather than implemented in its entirety. The front terrace is less complex than the original design, and is reminiscent of the garden at Upton Manor Garden designed just two years earlier. The elaborate herbaceous garden with its pools seems to have been omitted completely. Vista creating elements are omitted. The walled garden is extensive the walls built to a high standard and appear to be well maintained.
Garden paths and walls and field boundaries, with their mature trees are largely as original. A more detailed study of this garden would be be of great interest. The plans give some detail of Gertrude Jekyll’s intentions with some planting proposals. (A schedule of plants is missing from this archive.) From the gardens there are extensive views south west across the valley towards Egbury, although the topography is complex and the landscape rich in mature trees and hedgerows that restrict views from other locations.
Woodcott House is situated on a south east facing shoulder of the Hampshire downland hills south west of Beacon Hill. The park extends to the edge of Suggeaston Copse, to the south east, restricting long views in that direction. The house was designed by Crickmay & Sons , and the gardens by Gertrude Jekyll. The main design elements within the garden are present although some have been changed or omitted.
Woodcott House – Gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll
Landscape Planning Status:
Research: EM Consultants for Basingstoke & Deane: October 2009