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Cranbury Park


Cranbury Park has formal gardens, pleasure grounds and a landscape park of around 150 hectares. The gardens date from the mid-18th century, with further work by J B Papworth in the 1830s.

Mid- to late 18th-century formal gardens, pleasure grounds, and a landscape park, developed in the 1830s.


Cranbury House and the southern half of the park are on a plateau and the ground falls steeply from here to the north.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Cranbury House and its surrounding landscape of c 150ha is located 7km south-west of Winchester, 3km north-west of Eastleigh, and immediately west of Otterbourne. The park is bounded by Home Farm and open land to the west and north-west, Freemantles Copse to the north-east, the M3 motorway which cuts off the former south-east tip of the park to the east, and Hocombe Road to the south, with the residential area of Hiltingbury on the outskirts of Eastleigh beyond. Cranbury House and the southern half of the park are on a plateau and the ground falls steeply from here to the north. There are views from the garden to the south and east.

Entrances and Approaches

The main entrance to Cranbury House is from Otterbourne Hill in the south-east corner of the park. The approach is off the old A33, Southampton to Winchester road, just north of where it crosses the M3, from where a drive leads north-west over the motorway and past the mid C19 Top Lodge (listed grade II) to the House. Another entrance is situated near the south-west corner of the park, from Hocombe Road on the south boundary, and leads north-east to the House. The two drives meet to form a semicircular sweep passing between a heavy iron screen and gate into a forecourt on the south side of the House.

Principal Building

Cranbury House (listed grade II) was built in 1790 by George Dance the Younger (1741-1825) for Lady Dance-Holland, and was altered internally in 1830 by J B Papworth. The House was extended in the mid C19 and then reduced in 1960. The building is L-shaped and built of brick with stone and stucco dressings and has a courtyard on the west side formed between the wings and the service buildings. The south or entrance front is of two storeys with a mid C19 porte-cochère. The east or garden front has three storeys. Attached to the west end of the south front of the House is an early C19 brick carriage shed (listed grade II) and to the west of this, a mid C19 brick stable block (listed grade II), restored in 1963. Between the carriage shed and the stable block are mid C19 brick gate piers (listed grade II).

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

The gardens and pleasure grounds lie to the east, north, and west of the House and are largely early C19 in design, contemporary with the work on the House by Papworth.

To the east of the House are formal gardens flanked by Irish yews and vases and with an early C19 Portland stone pond and fountain (listed grade II) by J B Papworth in the centre. Walks lead from this garden through an area planted as an arboretum, with mature conifers and deciduous trees, to an early C19 L-shaped brick ha-ha (listed grade II) which runs around the south and east sides of the garden, 200m from the House. The ha-ha has a Portland stone coping with early C19 wrought-iron gates at either end of the southern section. There are views from the ha-ha to the east and south over the park.

From the House a sunken path between banks curves to the north-east and leads to an early C19 shell grotto (listed grade II). Possibly designed by Papworth, the grotto has a vaulted brick chamber and decorated interior and is set into a bank 200m north-east of the House.

To the north of the House the ground falls steeply, giving views northwards towards Winchester along a grass ride between clipped rhododendron and laurel, backed by beech, lime, and oak. An early C19 stone and terracotta circular pool surrounded by vases, known as Middle Pond (possibly by Papworth, listed grade II), is situated along the ride, 150m north-north-east of the House. From the pool an intersecting ride leads west to east, to the shell grotto at the eastern end and westwards along the length of the garden and pleasure grounds. To the south-west of the pool and 100m north of the House lies an early C19 semicircular vaulted chamber (listed grade II) of coral, flint, and stone which houses a spring. Tablets mounted in an arch on the chamber read: `Written by WORDSWORTH on visiting this spring',

Gentle Reader, view in Me An Emblem of true Charity Am neither heard nor seen to flow. Who, while my Bounty I bestow For ev'ry Drop of Water giv'n Repaid by fresh Supplies from Heav'n.

From the spring, a late C18 dairy (restored 1978, listed grade II) by George Dance the Younger can be seen, situated 80m north-west of the House on higher ground. The building is in yellow brick with Portland stone dressings and rendered walls and has quadrant colonnades to each side forming semicircular courtyards. To the west of the Dairy are two small enclosed gardens, the first of which is a circular rose garden, enclosed by laurel hedges and with a C19 octagonal wrought-iron pergola with a domed roof (listed grade II) situated 100m north-west of the House, behind the stable yard. In the centre of the pergola is a terracotta vase, bordered by a small flower bed with terracotta edging. To the west of this garden is an oval rose garden, with shrub rose beds enclosed by box hedges.

To the west of the House and outbuildings is a circular earthwork consisting of a hilltop plateau surrounded by banks and laid out as an area of pleasure grounds, the mature trees planted out as an arboretum with a laurel understorey. To the north of the earthwork is a late C18 brick orangery (probably by George Dance the Younger, listed grade II), 200m north-west of the House. This has been a ruin since it was bombed in 1942. In front of the orangery is a Portland stone base and pedestal supporting a bronze sundial (listed grade II), dated 1720, located 200m north-west of the House. The design of the sundial is attributed to Sir Isaac Newton.


Open parkland lies to the north, west, and south of the gardens and pleasure grounds, with scattered trees including oak, beech, and hornbeam, the area backed to the north-west, north-east, east, and south by woodland. The western part of the park is dominated by Great Pond, c 400m west of the House, which is reached from the west side of the pleasure grounds across a meadow. The Great Pond is bordered by trees and a walk, lined with rhododendrons and late C20 azaleas, leads around the pond.

In the southern part of the park are two further ponds, Upper Pond, c 400m south of the House on the southern edge of the open parkland, and Lower Pond, c 600m south-south-west of the House, within Castle Copse. An C18 folly, known as The Castle (listed grade II), is situated 100m south-east of Upper Pond and 500m south-east of the House. It consists of the C13 ruins of Netley Abbey which were reassembled at Cranbury in the 1770s with an C18 two-storey tower and a brick building behind. A wing was added to the folly in the C19.

Kitchen Garden

The walled kitchen garden, known as 'The Gardens', lies 300m south-west of the House.


  • OS 6" to 1 mile 1st edition published 1871; 3rd edition published 1910
  • OS 25" to 1 mile 3rd edition published 1909; 1932 edition; 1939 edition

Description written: May 2000

Edited: January 2022

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

The house and park are not generally open to the public, although open days are occasionally held.


The Chamberlayne family

Cranbury Park

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

17th - 18th Century

By the mid-17th century the Cranbury estate was the property of the Wyndham family, who sold it to Jonathon Conduit in the early 18th century. Conduit sold the property to Thomas Lee Dummer in 1737-8. Dummer died in 1765 and his son, Thomas, inherited the estate, which later devolved to Sir Nathaniel Holland.

Thomas Dummer died without heirs in 1781, leaving his property at Cranbury and Netley and also at Horninghold in Leicestershire first to his widow, Harriet, with reversion to Thomas Chamberlayne, a member of a family with which the Dummers had been previously connected. Harriet Dummer (the daughter of Sir Cecil Bishopp, 6th Baronet) then married the artist Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland, Bt), whose brother George Dance had designed the present-day house, built in 1780.

19th Century

Nathaniel Dance-Holland died in 1811, but his wife survived him until 1825; on her death, William Chamberlayne, MP for Southampton, came into the property under the terms of the will of Thomas Dummer. On the death of William Chamberlayne in 1829, the estate passed to his cousin Thomas Chamberlayne. On his death in 1876 the estate passed to his son, Tankerville Chamberlayne.

20th Century

In1924 Chamberlayne died and was succeeded by his son Tankerville Chamberlayne, who had married Magaret Frances Bertram in 1922.

During the Second World War, the house was briefly the base for Canadian troops prior to their embarkation for the Normandy landings.

Cranbury Park is still a private residence (2022)

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD1857
  • Grade: II*


  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Civil Parish