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The manor of Hurstbourne, although owned by the Crown, was essentially under religious control until the Dissolution. It formed part of a larger estate, including Hurstbourne Tarrant, St Mary Bourne, and Hurstbourne Priors, which was recorded by the Domesday survey as belonging to the Bishop of Winchester. Manorial rights were held by the prior of St Swithin’s who in 1332 was given a licence to impark and enclose his woods to create a deer park which probably covered much the same area as the present (late 20th century) one. The manor house, referred to also as the Priory and later as the Grange, stood in the valley on the Bourne Rivulet. Following the Dissolution, the manor passed to the Crown but was eventually sold in 1558 to Sir Robert Oxenbridge. His grandson, also Sir Robert, again sold it, 'with orchard, gardens and the park called Hursbourn containing by estimation three hundred and fifty acres' (Wilkinson 1861) to Sir Henry Farley of Farley Wallop. Sir Henry died in about 1678 and was succeeded by his sons Henry and then John. John’s second son, also John and later to become Viscount Lymington and first Earl of Portsmouth, inherited in 1707 at the age of seventeen. Leaving Eton to make his Grand Tour, he chose instead to volunteer for the Duke of Marlborough’s army in 1708 and to fight at Oudenarde. John then set about major improvements both to the Grange and to the surrounding landscape, with the assistance of Thomas Archer (died 1743), one of the leading architects working in the continental Baroque style, largely for the aristocracy but also, from 1715, laying out a complex designed landscape on his own estate in Hampshire at Hale (see the description of this site elsewhere in the Register). Although Archer’s plan of 1712 for a new Baroque house for Mr Wallop (Pevsner and Lloyd 1967) appears not to have been implemented, the view of the Grange in one of Jan Griffier II’s two paintings of Hurstbourne (at Audley End, Essex - see the description of this site elsewhere in the Register) shows flanking pavilions in Archer’s style adorning the plain brick house (Harris 1979). North from the house, the Bourne Rivulet was diverted to form an axial canal (White’s Directory of 1878 suggests this was a late 17th-century feature), terminating in a grotto with cascades and beyond, on or near the site of the present house, a mock castle (all now gone). Archer’s hand in the landscape of the park is also suggested by the style of other buildings and by surviving planted features (Griffier painting; 18th-century county maps). The second Earl of Portsmouth inherited Hurstbourne from his grandfather in 1762 and between 1780 and 1785, a new house, designed by James Wyatt (1747-1813), was built by John Meadows on the site of the present one. By the beginning of the 19th century, informality had been introduced into the landscape in the form of a new winding drive, informal parkland, a pleasure ground, and the smoothing and widening of the Bourne. The parkland was also extended up the west side of the valley (OS Surveyor’s drawing, 1808). In 1891, Wyatt’s house burned down and a few months later, the fifth Earl died and was succeeded by his son, Newton Wallop, for whom a new mansion, with terraced gardens, was erected in 1891-4. Hurstbourne remained with the earls of Portsmouth, with little change occurring to the park’s appearance, until 1936 when Lord Lymington sold the house and the deer park to Ossian Donner, who gave it to his son Patrick. Following its occupation by the Bank of England during the Second World War, Sir Patrick regained possession in 1947 and in 1965 reduced the house to just under half its original size. Both the house and deer park east of the Bourne and the late 18th-century, informally landscaped parkland on the west side, remain (1999) in separate, private ownership.

Site timeline

1939 to 1945: The site was occupied by the Bank of England during World War 2.

1965: The house was reduced to just under half its original size.

People associated with this site

Architect: Thomas Archer (born 1668 died 1743)

Architect: James Wyatt (born 1747 died 1813)



Formal terraced gardens and pleasure ground.