|HCC Site ID:||1204||Parish:||Worting|
|Designations:||CA, Grade II listed||Area:||c 55 acres|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Worting House serviced office accommodation Private company|
Site and Location
Worting Park lies in the parish of Worting just outside the urban area of Basingstoke to the west.
Extensive crop marks and the banjo enclosure on Kites Hill (located at the south western edge of the urban area), indicate the presence of continuous settlement in the vicinity of Worting during the Early-Late Iron Age. The Roman road from Winchester to Silchester forms the eastern boundary of the parish. Roman coins were found in the hamlet in the 19th century
The manor of WORTING was granted by King Edmund Ironside in 1016 to the Abbot and Convent of Hyde by Winchester, who continued in possession of it until the Dissolution. At the time of the Domesday Survey, the manor was assessed at 5 hides; land for 5 ploughs, and in July 1388 the king (Richard 11) granted that the premises and every parcel distinct from the abbot’s portion should be exempt from seizure, saving only the advowson belonging thereto.
At the Dissolution, in 1539, Henry VIII granted the manor of Worting to William Paulet Lord St. John, who in 1571 obtained licence to alienate it to James True and Richard Pyncke and their heirs. In 1619 James’ son sold sold his moiety of the manor to William Wither of Manydown bringing the dispersed parts of the original manor together. (see Manydown Park) In 1655 the old parish church was burnt to the ground along with a number of local buildings
Between 1714 and 1727 the central block of the new manor house was built with a central tree lined avenue from the Worting Road, (Taylor’s map 1759) the tree avenue still visible in the tithe map The construction of the wings to the house, the ha-ha, relocated walled garden and realigned driveway were probably carried out by John Edwards in the 1770s. In 1797 Worting House was sold to Squire Lovelace Bigg-Wither, of Manydown House. The house was let to Mr John Clarke, and in 1798 during a visit to her friend Catherine Bigg at Manydown, Jane Austen sought ‘chaperonage from Mrs Clarke the mistress of Worting’. In 1813 Worting House was inherited by Harris Bigg Withers, whose claim to a place in literary history centres on his brief engagement to Jane Austen. By 1840 L&SW Railway Basingstoke to Winchester connection was completed – the line already defined on the 1838 Worting Tithe Map.
The extent of the modern park is aproximately 55 acres, defined largely by the hedges and mature trees around the park boundary. Recent changes include the provision of car parking to accommodate modern use. The designated ‘ancient semi natural woodland’ Worting Woods and Wooton Copse remain to the north and west of the Park.
The house is approached by a drive up to the coachouse along the western edge of the parkland through a shrubbery.
The forecourt at the house is retained by a ha-ha.
Many of the parkland trees are past maturity, including beech, ash, lime, and chestnut. Some draconian tree surgery has been necessary on a significant group of limes at the edge of the forecourt, and further remedial work is planned. The out buildings to the rear of the house contain two small walled gardens – neither of which are in use for therir original purpose. In the 19th century, the kitchen garden being removed to a location between the drive and Scrups Farm (now a farm shop). Car parking to the Business Centre is accessed from Church Lane, and screened from the mansion by an embankment planted with spring bulbs. Further car parking is planned in the parkland to the north east of the house. The church lies close to the mansion at the south east boundary.
The parish of Worting covers an area of 1,145 acres: it lies at the western edge of Basingstoke, and it’s eastern boundary runs along the line of the Roman road from Winchester to Silchester. The integrity of the estate footprint is largely unchanged from the park in the 1838 tithe map, with the addition of Scrupps farm from 1886. Worting House is no longer a private residence, but is maintained to a high order, providing serviced accommodation to local business. The Park forms a major part of the Worting Hamlet Conservation Area, and lies at the edge of the Basingstoke urban area on the B3400 Basingstoke to Andover road.
The park retains the elements of an 18th century landscape – open parkland, Ha-Ha, small wilderness, and mature trees, with the main phase of development laid out between 1750 and 1820. Much of this landscape survives to reflect the original design.
Worting House has a long association with the Bigg Withers of Manydown, and through this connection with Jane Austen and her family.
Research: EM Consultants for Basingstoke & Deane: July 2009