|HCC Site ID:||1301||Parish:||Binstead|
|Designations:||SDNP||Area:||16 ha (39.5 acres)|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Private residence|
Location and site
Wyck Place is located about 3½ miles east of Alton and about a mile south of the hamlet of Wyck. It lies to the east of Wyck Lane which runs north to south between the villages of Binsted and East Worldham crossing the west to east B3004 Alton to Liphook road. Since 2009 the area has been within the South Downs National Park. The house stands on the edge of the greensand terrace escarpment with gardens sweeping down eastwards to a valley of gault clay.
The name `Wyck’ derives from Latin `vicus’, later Old English `wick’, meaning a settlement, and suggests lengthy occupation. Although the estate contains the remains of a Roman bath-house outside the garden to the south-west (EH NMR 627747 and 627753; HFC 44/1988/25-28), local belief that a Roman villa lies under the garden terraces is unsubstantiated. However, it is perhaps significant that Wyck Place lies on the spring-line.
The first written reference to the hamlet occurs in the 1228 Feet of Fines (VCH 1973, 487) when 18 hearths were liable for the Land Tax of 1665 .On the site of Binsted Wyck stood a 17th century farmhouse which was considerably remodelled in the 19th century by the Wickham family using `Binsted Rock’, possibly the last time this pale grey local stone was used (Hampshire Treasures Vol 6 p.48), though George Clements in his recollections of Binsted (Clements 1997, 55) asserts that the foreman’s house at Hay Place, to the north of Binsted Wyck, together with the vicarage at Rowledge used the last rock in the late 1880s.
The remodelling of the house and the garden was the work of the Rt Hon. William Wickham of Cottingley, York and Binsted Wyck Hants, (1761–1840), who had held a variety of important posts in government including chargé d’affaires to Switzerland in 1794, under-secretary of state for the home department (1798), Chief Secretary for Ireland (1802-1804) and Lord of the Treasury in 1806 (Sparrow 2009, ODNB).
Wickham was responsible for the extensive tree-planting throughout the estate which included Cedars of Lebanon, swamp cypress and gingko, which survive, as well as many hundreds of native trees. Traditional rose and honeysuckle planting was confined to the area nearer the house owing to its position at the top of a steep bank overlooking parkland in the valley below. The planting of the garden does not appear to have been particularly formal. However he was a keen gardener, sending for many seeds from a seed supplier in Paris and his surviving papers also record his interest in growing figs at Binsted Wyck (HRO 38M49/A2). His paper on the growing of figs in England leads to his membership of the Horticultural Society in 1818. His notes on the flora on Binsted Wyck and its surroundings were used in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, A New Edition with notes by Several Naturalists (London 1833).
Interest in botany was continued by his grandson William (1831–1897) who was given the estate by his father Henry Lewis Wickham in 1867. Reference is made to a fernery of his construction, complete with small fountain, in the late 1800s (Welcome to Froyle online). He and his wife Sophia added the distinctive East tower and the west wing to the house, together with walled gardens, now part of the Dairy Cottage, and a stable block. After William’s death Sophia Wickham remained at Binsted Wyck until her death in 1929.
Throughout the later 19th century there seems to have been little significant development to the gardens. Photographs taken around the turn of the century show rhododendrons planted on the path down to the lake in the valley (HRO13 M90/1–3). After Sophia Wickham’s death the estate passed to her daughter Lucy Ogilvy, though Lucy’s garden notes show she had contributed to some planning at Binsted Wyck before then. She planned informal walks through the woods and planting in the stream and the steep bank to the south of the house is replanted with shrubs and bulbs. During the 1930s and 1940s the garden was opened regularly to display the aconites (Times Online). Other photographs dating to the 1960s and 1970s show cyclamen persicum near the house and snowdrops on the banks (HRO 38M49/F9/124). A Hampshire Chronicle article from 1969 (Aug 2nd) confirms the impressive carpets of aconites and snowdrops. (HRO 141 M83/191) The emphasis remains on the informal and natural due, no doubt, to the nature of the sloping site. Charlotte Bonham Carter, the last descendant of the Wickham family at Binsted Wyck, inherited the estate in 1946 and continued her mother’s interest in the garden. The style remained informal and Charlotte developed the plantings of bulbs. After her death in 1989, Mr and Mrs .A Tait acquired the estate by a private placement in 1991.
Mr and Mrs Tait added a triple garage with gym above it to the main house, now known as Wyck Place, and the former stable block was converted to form Stable Cottage in the early 2000s. The garage and storeroom of the latter are surrounded by magnolias and walnut trees. The Dairy Cottage has been modernized and the garden now has a tennis court in the grounds of the former kitchen garden screened by pleached limes, a Japanese style rockery with ornamental pond stocked with Koi carp, and a wisteria walkway to a modern summerhouse. The drive to Wyck Place itself is now lined with an avenue of young trees but the gardens and wooded grounds of some 8.1 hectares (20 acres) remain mainly lawn with sweeping views down the valley to the lake and over the parkland. Many specimen trees, including a mulberry tree on the main lawn, and rhododendrons remain.
Initially a farmhouse, Wyck Place, developed in the 19th century as a secluded retirement seat. Grounds extensively planted with native and exotic trees, and parkland developed for sporting activities. Garden today, lawn with informal plantings, due to the steep nature of the land. Many good specimen trees survive throughout.
HGT Research: November 2009
EH NMR English Heritage National Monument Record
HFC Hampshire Field Club
ODNB Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
VCH Victoria County History
Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
HRO 38M49 A2 Wickham Family, Rt. Hon. William Wickham, Financial and Estate 1761-1840.
HRO 13 M90/1-3 Photographs of Binsted Wyck houses early 20th century
HRO 38M49/F9/124 Miscellaneous photographs taken by Charlotte Bonham Carter 1930-70
HRO 141 M83/191 Newspaper cuttings relating to Binsted: Wyck Place 1969.
Books and papers
Sales Catalogue Knight/Frank and Strutt and Parker 2009.
English Heritage National Monument Record (EH NMR) 627747 and 627753
Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club (HFC) 44/1988/25-28
Victoria County History (VCH) Vol. II, 1978
The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, A New Edition with notes by Several Naturalists (London 1833)
Clements, N.G. 1997, My Binsted, Mullins, Alton
Hampshire Treasures Vol 6 p.48 http://www.hants.gov/hampshiretreasures/vol06/page048.html
Welcome to Froyle (The Binsted slides) http://www.froyle.com/binview.htm Sparrow, E., 2009, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) Online