|HCC Site ID:||1300||Parish:||Beech|
|Designations:||House & Granary LB II||Area:||15.23 ha|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private|
Location and site
Wyards Farm is situated a mile or so west of Alton on the A389 road to Basingstoke and just to the north of the remains of the park pale of Chawton Deer Park.
The present house sits on the site of an older manor with references to the Wyard family as early as the thirteenth century. It was owned for many years by Winchester College and the tenants well-documented in the college records. The manor was rebuilt in 1691 by Robert Kercher, the son of a clergy-man, who must have been familiar with the bishop’s new house at Wolvesey in Winchester. It is described by Edward Roberts as an ‘innovative and transitional building’ and ‘reflects what the families of minor country gentlemen and clergy were coming to expect. It also shows how local builders, familiar with earlier traditions, were struggling to master the new symmetrical form. For example, the builder of Wyards gave the front six bays so that it was impossible to place the front door in an exact central position.’ (Hampshire Field Club Newsletter 39 p10-11)
After his death the house was occupied by several people including, in 1815, the Rev. Benjamin Lefroy and his wife Anna, a favourite niece of Jane Austen who lived nearby and was a frequent visitor. During her time at Wyards, Anna Lefroy painted the house and garden and the view she chose is little changed today.
The 1st edition OS map of 1870-71 shows a house set well back from the Alton to Basingstoke road with outbuildings and a round pond to the west and orchards to the east. A publication, The Gardens of Dorset, Hampshire & the IOW by Allen Patterson, Batsford 1978 describes a 25 yard long ha-ha framed at either end by trees & shrubs which hide stock fencing, but this is not obvious on any of the maps and the date uncertain. The house with 130 acres of land was offered for sale in 1952 and was bought by talented gardeners who planted extensively creating a white garden and a secret garden, whilst keeping the feeling of a cottage garden.
Much of this planting remains in evidence. Wide herbaceous borders, beech hedges and specimen trees including a Davidia (handkerchief tree) and a liriodendron Tulipifera (tulip tree). The ha-ha has been removed and a wider lawn created but the round pond at the front of the house has been reinstated and planted with aquatics. A rectangular pond has also been created on the south front.
An early example of a private house influenced by the architectural style of Wolvesey Palace in Winchester. Having been owned and let by Winchester College until the 1950’s, it retains many of the original features. The garden is typical of a country farm and is notable for having been painted by Anna Lefroy who lived here in 1815 and was a favourite niece of Jane Austen.
HGT Research: 2004 updated April 2008, May 2011
Taylor 1759 HRO
Milne map 1791 HRO Internet
OS 2″ Drawing Sheet no.17 1808 HRO
Greenwood map 1826 HRO Internet
OS 6″ Sheet 35 1870 HRO
OS 1st edition 25″ 1880 HCC
Parish of Alton map 1829 Curtis Museum Alton
OS map 2000 HCC
Kelly’s Directory 1905 Alton library
Kelly’s Directory 1920 Alton library
Description of the garden in The Gardens of Dorset, Hampshire & the I.O.W Paterson, A p154-5 1978
Description of the Lefroy’s move to Wyards in Jane Austen. A Family Record Austen-Leigh, W Leigh R A p201 1989
Letters of Jane Austen Brabourne Edition 1989 Internet search
Anna Lefroy’s painting of the house garden in My Dear Cassandra compiled by Penelope Hughes Hallett p122 1990 Alton Papers No 1 p3-9 Bethune, C 1997 Alton library
Alton Papers No 1 p24-38 Hurst, J 1997 Alton library
Hampshire Field Club Newsletter No 39 p10-16 Hurst, J and Roberts, R 2003 HRO
Hampshire Houses 1250-1700 Roberts, R pub. HCC
1891 Census HRO
Sales particulars in Country Life 1952 HRO 159M88/130
Winchester College Muniments compiled by S Himsworth 1984 HRO
Conversation with present owners 2000
Photographs of house garden 2000 Sheila Carey-Thomas