Halnaker Park 5255

Boxgrove, England, West Sussex, Chichester

Brief Description

Halnaker Park is an medieval deer park situated in the parish of Boxgrove in the Hundred of Box and Stockbridge. The most impressive feature of the landscape is the mature Sweet Chestnut Trees. In essence, the landscape of Halnaker Park has changed little in 370 years, with the exception of changes in land use. More of the park is now under arable cultivation rather than grassland and pasture (as indicated by the field names in 1629).

History

The park may have originated in a grant of free warren made to Robert de St John in 1253 for his demense at Halnaker and Goodwood.

Detailed Description

Halnaker Park is situated to the north of Halnaker village in the parish of Boxgrove, at map reference SU910090.The ruins of Halnaker House are situated at 60 metres on the south slope of rising ground bordered by two north/south running valleys. The southern boundary, formally Peepe Street which ran along an intrenchment called the Devil's Ditch, is now an abandoned sunken lane. The eastern boundary defined by a wide hedge is approximately half a mile from the remains of Selhurst Park. To the west is the boundary flint wall (date of building unknown) of Goodwood Estate Home Farm. To the north on land rising to 110 metres is extensive woodland. From Halnaker House there are extensive views south to the south coast and Halnaker Windmill (date of building unknown) is a distinctive feature on the hill to the north -east at 125 metres.

The ruins of Halnaker House are a distinctive feature viewed from the south. They are set within a large garden area bounded by a brick wall to the west. Within the gardens are a variety of specimen trees, a cockpit (according to the Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 map surveyed in 1972) and two more recent houses, Little Halnaker (date of building unknown) and Halnaker Park (a Lutyens House, date of building unknown). There is a further house converted from farm buildings to the west, opposite an entrance pillar in the flint wall.

The 1972 Ordnance Survey map indicates a Park pale on the eastern boundary. Within the north-east corner of Hazel Wood and in places within Halnaker Park woodland a distinct ditch and bank feature can be found. Along the rest of the boundary it can be seen as a steep bank but the ditch appears to have been ploughed out.

Of the woodland within the park boundary Hazel Wood is now a largely coniferous plantation divided in two by a central track aligned north-north-east/south-south-west. The only hazel is confined to the boundaries. Halnaker Park woodland is predominately beech with some conifer.

The most impressive feature of the landscape is the mature Sweet Chestnut Trees. There are 74 in total distributed along the lower southern boundary, in a block to the south-west of the ruins, in a long row to the south-east of the gate house entrance, and as isolated trees in the lower park. The trees are all in a poor state, with die back and bark loss. They are clearly very old. One has a girth of more than eight meters.

From studying maps of 1629, 1778, 1813, 1880 and comparing them with 1997 aerial photographs and on the ground observations, certain historic features can be identified.

Boundaries: The southern, eastern and northern boundaries of Halnaker Park are the same as shown in the estate map of 1629 and they can be traced on the ground. The western boundary has been incorporated into Goodwood Estate Home Farm. However, the flint wall and bridleway appears to be consistent with the old inner park pale.

Woodland and Parkland Trees: the names and location of woodland blocks in 1629 are similar to the current situation, that is:Haflewoode coppice (1629) = Hazel Wood Winkinge Woode = Ladys WinkinsHoke Woode = Rook WoodHarthill Wood = Hathill Copse WestSaley Coppice = Seely Copse

The gap or ride through the woodland to the northern boundary, apparent on maps of 1778, 1813, 1880 is still evident as Halnaker Gallop. The shape of the woodland blocks are almost identical to the 1880 map and very similar to the 1778 map. Many of the parkland trees and clumps on the 1880 map are still present today.

In essence, the landscape of Halnaker Park has changed little in 370 years, with the exception of changes in land use. More of the park is now under arable cultivation rather than grassland and pasture (as indicated by the field names in 1629).

The greatest threat to the historic landscape in the short term is the loss of the Sweet Chestnuts in the lower park. All the trees are showing signs of severe stress mainly due to agricultural activities, for example spray drift, ploughing too close to the tree base, or ring barking due to mechanical damage from equipment.

Returning the lower park to permanent pasture would reduce the stress on the trees and considerably enhance the setting of the ruins of Halnaker Park. Reversion to pasture could be grant aided. Collection of seed and propagation of replacement trees would maintain the historic stock. It may be possible to involve the local West Sussex Education Trust (which has links with the Goodwood Estate) in the tree propagation and early care.

Retaining the shape of woodland blocks is important in conserving the historic landscape. This need not interfere with the commercial forestry and game management. Ideally the outer tree/shrub line should be retained and a diversity of species encouraged.

The remains of the park pale ditch and bank is an important historic feature. Further loss should be avoided by preventing close ploughing and allowing a slightly wider boundary woodland strip to develop.

In September 1980, Stella Palmer wrote ‘The site is part of a medieval deer park. There are remains of a sweet chestnut avenue south of the gate house (now outside the boundary) and one or two of the trees probably date from 1700. Brick walls enclosing the ruins and immediate gardens surrounding them were built circa 1800. The present gardens (Little Halnaker) were planted in and around the ruined buildings after 1960 and although not of themselves of historic interest make a pleasing setting and for this reason are important. They are well kept up.'

Recently, several folios of drawings and plans by Gertrude Jekyll were located at Halnaker House. They are presently lodged in the Surrey History Centre in Woking.

Features
  • Ruin (featured building)
  • Description: The house is known to have been in a ruinous state by 1880.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Tree Feature
  • Description: The most impressive feature of the landscape is the mature Sweet Chestnut Trees. There are 74 in total distributed along the lower southern boundary, in a block to the south-west of the ruins, in a long row to the south-east of the gate house entrance, and as isolated trees in the lower park. The trees are all in a poor state, with die back and bark loss. They are clearly very old. One has a girth of more than eight meters.
  • Designed Route
  • Description: The gap or ride through the woodland to the northern boundary, apparent on maps of 1778, 1813, 1880 is still evident as Halnaker Gallop.
  • Latest Date:
  • Ditch
  • Description: The remains of the park pale ditch and bank is an important historic feature. Further loss should be avoided by preventing close ploughing and allowing a slightly wider boundary woodland strip to develop.
Access & Directions

Directions

Halnaker Park is situated to the north of Halnaker village in the parish of Boxgrove, at map reference SU910090.The ruins of Halnaker House are situated at 60 metres on the south slope of rising ground bordered by two north/south running valleys.
History

Detailed History

Halnaker Park is an medieval deer park situated in the parish of Boxgrove in the Hundred of Box and Stockbridge. The park may have originated in a grant of free warren made to Robert de St John in 1253 for his demense at Halnaker and Goodwood. Certainly it was well-established by 1283 when there was an inquiry into the recent enlargement of the park by 60 acres. In 1337 it was said to contain 150 acres with a perimeter of two leagues. Hugh, the elder son of Lord St John had a licence to enclose 300 acres of land within the lordship of Halnaker in 1404. However it appears he did not take this up, as the licence was renewed by Thomas West, Lord Le Warr and his wife Elisabeth during the time they had ownership of the manor from 1498 to 1540 [VCH4p142-3]. Modifications to Halnaker House was carried out during this time[SACxliiip201-13]

Halnaker and Boxgrove were clearly of importance, as in 1540 Thomas and Elisabeth West were induced to conveyed the manors to Henry VIII in exchange for the suppressed abbey at Wherwell in Hampshire. The king made John Jenyns steward and baliff of the manors and keeper of the house and parks in 1544. Two years later these offices were given to Henry, Earl of Arundel and in 1561 Queen Elizabeth granted him the manors. By 1570 the manors were in the hands of Howard, the Duke of Norfolk who had married the Earl of Arundel's daughter Mary. At that time Halnaker Park was estimated to be four miles in compass and supported 800 deer [VCH4p143].

In 1570 Halnaker was one of a number of parks in the vicinity....within half furlonge of Halnaker parke pale on west side lies a park called Goodwood - north east lies another park called Shelhurst park distant from Halnaker pale one quarter mile. On north side of pale lies another parke half mile distant called Estden. The soyle of the said parke is a sweet and short feede best for Deare and Sheape [SACixp224]

In 1587 the manors were sold to John Morley of Saxham, Suffolk, these passed to his son Sir John and then on his death in 1622 to his son Sir William Morley KB [VCH4p143]. An fine estate map .... The true Plott and Contents of Halnaker Parcke Lienge Within the Parrift of Boxgrove and Countie of Suffexx belonginge to Sr WillIam Morleye Knight taken in the yeare of our Lord God 1629 by Thomas Kington, [GoodwoodMSE4981] shows Halnaker House and surrounding domestic gardens, an inner and outer park enclosed by park paling and woodland blocks. The area within the estate boundaries includes what is now Goodwood Home Farm. Halnaker Estate was situated to the north of Peepe Street, an ancient intrenchment used at that time as a track.

Sir William Morley died in 1701 leaving no male heir. Halnaker passed to his daughter Mary and her husband James, Earl of Derby. They may have made additions to the house. In 1752 Mary died at the age of 84. As she had no surviving child she left Halnaker to her distant relative Sir Thomas Dyke Acland [VCH4p143-4]. The change of ownership caused the habitation to be abandoned as a lordly residence, it fell into state of decay, helped by free use of building materials for cowsheds, farm buildings and metalling adjacent roads [SACxliii]. In 1765 Sir Thomas sold estate for £48,000 to Charles, Duke of Richmond [VCH4p144]

By 1880 the house is shown on the Ordnance Survey map as a ruin. The importance of Halnaker declined as Goodwood increased and now Halnaker is just part of the Goodwood Estate farm.

References

Contributors

  • Sussex Gardens Trust