Burkham House, Alton, England
Record Id: 6553
The manor of Bentworth, comprising Bentworth and the hamlets of Wivelrod and Burkham, came into the possession of the Magewick family in 1590. George Magewick (1647-1736) was described as the owner of Burkham Farm in 1684. At some time before 1815 the farm was taken down and rebuilt and the early part of the house possibly dates from this time. George's daughter Elizabeth married James Battin in 1725 and he inherited Burkham in 1736. James' son Joseph had no children but in 1794 granted `all that Manor or Mansion House and Farm of Burkham' for his lifetime's use to his brother-in-law Thomas Coulthard (1756-1811), husband of his sister Mary. Thomas Coulthard seems to have spent little time resident in Burkham, mainly renting houses in Hampshire such as Farleigh Wallop and Chawton.
Milne's map of 1791 shows a house to the west of the road without any boundary definition and a rectangle of bounded trees to the east. The house and farm were let to tenant farmers. In 1809 Burkham was offered on a fourteen year lease and was then described as `that capital mansion house, offices and garden....with 28 acres of rich, dry meadow land'. The farm was then `adjoining the Mansion House', comprising buildings `and a dove house..laying within a ring fence except the Mansion House'.
Following Coulthard's death in 1811 his land was divided between his elder son, also Thomas, and his younger son James Battin Coulthard. Greenwood's map (1826) shows buildings to the west of what was then a road past the house and farm. Although both the elder and the younger Thomas are described in various documents as `of Burkham' the farm continued to be let to tenants. The Tithe Apportionment of 1840 shows the farm tenant, Stephen Dicker, as the Occupier of Burkham House.
On the death of Thomas Coulthard in 1859 the estate passed to his nephew, James Battin Coulthard, though by this time poor harvests were resulting in the impoverishment of the Coulthard holdings and outlying farms were gradually sold. The OS 25" 1871 map shows the main drive running west to east along the south side of the house with a path leading from the door south through mixed woodland and shrubs and then bisecting a more delineated rectangular lawn with trees. Edged to the west by a row of conifers, it is bounded to the south by a fenced or walled woodland. East of the house and farm buildings are trees which may represent an orchard. North lies the kitchen garden.
In 1882 James Battin Coulthard went into liquidation and Burkham itself was put up for sale. The house was described as a `large family residence or small mansion with Pleasure Grounds and stabling...much enlarged and improved in the last few years.' A feature of the grounds was the `large lawn embellished with ornamental Timber and Firs, with parterres'. In addition there was a `good Kitchen Garden, productive Orchard and Fish pond.' House and grounds together covered slightly more than 1.21 hectares (3 acres), the farm having 216.5 hectares (535 acres).
Burkham was acquired in 1881/1882 by Arthur Frederick Jeffreys. He immediately began making radical changes; by February 1882 he was requesting diversion of a footpath to the south, and the road to the east, the latter to be moved further east away from the house. A.F.Jeffreys was elected MP for Basingstoke in 1887, by which time he was well established as a country landowner and farmer.
The 1896 OS 2nd ed. 25" shows considerable changes from the OS 1st ed. of 1871. The house has a new west wing which has become the front entrance; before the front door there is a rectangular carriage sweep with a sundial in the centre. The approach drive is from the north to the west front, with the former entrance from the road to the east now merely providing access to the garden. The conifers lining the western boundary of the lawn are gone and the garden to the south and west of the pond appears to have been cleared of many trees to increase the lawned area. There appear to be no parterres. To the east of the house trees have been removed to create a garden enclosure with greenhouses, bordered by laurel and yew. More outbuildings, possibly stabling, have been built to the north with a new kitchen garden to the north of those. The farm itself has now been completely removed and rebuilt to the east of the new road away from the house.
Kelly's Directory of 1903 describes the house as `a red-brick mansion, pleasantly situated in a park of 250 acres'. Inherited in 1906 by George Darrell Jeffreys, (later the 1st Baron Jeffreys of Burkham), postcards and photos of the house and garden from 1906-1907 show gravelled paths in a formal layout. The lawns are extensive to the south of the house and used for tennis in the summer. The pond shows some Japanese influence in the shape of Japanese stone lanterns by the adjacent path to the west. Stone urns are visible and low brick walls provide boundaries. To the east are long borders and conifers of a good height.
The OS 3rd ed 25" 1910 map shows avenues of trees in the parkland to the east. A fountain is marked north of the pond, and two specimen trees appear on its north-western corner. Steps to the south side of the lawn lead to a path through mixed woodland. The approach drive to the west is now lined with alternate deciduous and conifer trees.
Later photos of 1913 show a sunken walled garden to the south-east with ornamental wellhead, standard roses and rose pergolas. A possible south-facing view across the pond shows a Japanese lantern with what could be a Japanese-style fence beyond.
Before World War II the garden was open to the public during the year, especially in spring for the aconite display.
In 1965 the estate was put on the market by George Jeffreys' grandson Mark, who had inherited in 1960. The Sales Particulars refer to the drives bordered by lime trees and the `beautiful formal gardens and parkland'. To the north are` two vine houses and a lime walk to the walled kitchen garden and fruit cage'. There is a `an Orangery with tessellated floor and heating..a sunken garden and a pond, a brickwalled rose and herb garden, and the gardens are sheltered by a fine variety of mature ornamental hard and soft wood, including particularly fine specimens of beech, cedar, lime and yew.' House and grounds at this time are given as 3.9 hectares (9.724 acres) with the pond adding a further 0.12 hectares (0.242acres).
The general garden layout survives today, including the walls of the kitchen garden. The sunken garden now contains a swimming pool. Tennis courts, surrounded by a high hedge, have been built to the east of the house beyond the eastern approach. The farm east of the road, renamed Home Farm, was purchased by the Woodland Trust in 1990, the land belonging to the farm was saved from becoming a landfill site. This is now being restored as woodland to provide habitats for wildlife and recreational access for the public.
1867: Re-routing of footpath from the parkland.
1868: Building of the sunken garden.
After 1895: Used for the local H.H. hunt meetings.
1932: First open to the public under District Nursing Scheme.
After 1970: The planting in the sunken garden is removed and a swimming pool built.
Feature created: 1882 to 1896
Feature created: Before 1815
Feature created: Before 2009
Feature created: After 1975
Feature created: 1872 to 1896