Luccombe Chine House has cliff-top gardens covering about 2 hectares, originally laid out in the picturesque style to accompany an early 19th century cottage orne.
Luccombe Chine House was built between 1833 and 1839 on an earlier site.
Formerly known as Luccombe Cottage and Chine Cottage, Luccombe Chine House is situated at the head of Luccombe Chine, with extensive sea views to the east over Luccombe Bay. The house is on the site of a former cottage orné built in the early 19th century (rebuilt in the early 20th century) with picturesque grounds.
The layout of the grounds is based on winding paths along the south side of Luccombe Chine. (The footpath descending to the shore on the north side of the chine lies outside the grounds). Natural features such as the chine with the stream flowing through it and a cave in the cliff face on the south side of chine gave the grounds a picturesque quality. A castellated stone tower in an elevated position forms a striking feature of the grounds and is approached by steep stone steps climbing through woodland.
A spring in the grounds feeds the house and chine and emerges as a cascade on the south side of house before entering the chine. A separate stream flows along the north edge of the grounds to the west of house before entering the chine. The flow of this stream has been channelled and controlled by means of a sluice to enhance its picturesque effect. To the west of Luccombe Chine House this stream forms a cascade traversed by a footbridge. It briefly goes underground and emerges to the east of house before cascading down the north face of the chine. A mortared stone wall situated in the bottom of chine enhances the appearance of this waterfall which can be viewed from a path on south side of chine.
The house is approached from the west by a winding drive entering the property to the south of Luccombe Chine Lodge. A pond to the south west of the present house appears to be in the same position as a pond shown on the 1866 Ordnance Survey (OS) 25" map. To the east of the house is a lawn with a mature oak.
The following details of the historic development of Luccombe Chine House include references used by the Isle of Wight Gardens Trust.
Illustrations: Luccomb Chine (Brannon 1820). Luccombe (Brannon 1839).
Shown as "Park" (Ordnance Survey (OS) 1866 6").
Shrubbery walks. Cave to the east (OS 25" 1866).
'Luccombe Cottage' or 'Chine Cottage' as it is variously called in 19th century accounts was built as a cottage orné in the picturesque setting of the Undercliff. A tenement and landholding of 10 acres (4 hectares) known as Bolhull was first recorded on this site in about 1440 (Quarr Abbey Rental). The holding was later known as Bolehead until the early 19th century. Englefield (1811) mentions a 'pleasing ornamented cottage' at Luccombe Chine but Brannon's engraving of 1820 shows only a very small cottage at the head of the chine.
Comparison of the plan attached to a deed of 1833 (IWCRO Acc85/25), the Brannon engraving of 1839 and the Bonchurch Tithe Map of 1843 suggests that the cottage orné was built between 1833 and 1839. The 1833 plan shows a simple rectangular building orientated west-east with a small projection to the north, whereas the 1843 tithe map shows a building orientated north-south with projecting bays to west, south and east at southern end. This ground plan appears to conform with the cottage orné shown in Brannon's 1839 engraving, which has projecting bays with gabled roofs and a verandah on the seaward side (Brannon incorrectly places the cottage on the southern side of the chine, possibly as it was not clearly visible from its true position). 1833 plan shows a structure in the position occupied by a castellated tower in the 1839 Brannon engraving.
The 1844 edition of Brannon's 'Vectis Scenery' leaves no doubt about the status of 'Luccombe Cottage':
"A Gentleman's residence occupies the head of the chine, very judiciously built in an unobtrusive cottage style, enveloped in a profusion of the choicest creepers, supported by a green painted trellis work extending over the walls of the whole building; and is surrounded by a few fine old oaks. A mimic tower, platform etc are dispersed through the grounds, which seldom fail of being noticed by the stranger."
The development of the grounds and associated buildings can be traced through various editions of the OS 25" and estate plans:
The 1833 estate plan shows ornamental 'garden grounds' to the east of Luccombe Cottage. Land to west of Luccombe Cottage is described as a 'field', although forming part of the property, as did a barn, cattle shed and yards on the site of later Dunnose Cottage.
On the 1843 Bonchurch Tithe Map the Luccombe Cottage property was shown as plot number 67, comprising 3 acres 26 perches (about 1.5 hectares). This plot seems to include the property to the west which was to become known as Dunnose Cottage. A new building is shown here where the farm buildings had previously stood. Dunnose Cottage is itself a small cottage orné and it would appear that it was built between 1833 and 1843 as an addition to the ‘Luccombe Cottage' estate. Another new building shown on the tithe map was the lodge in the north west corner of the former field to the west of Luccombe Cottage. This is not shown on the 1833 plan but is listed in the 1841 census.
The 1866 25" OS map shows the former field between the main house and lodge now landscaped, planted with trees and traversed by a winding drive. The main house is now labelled 'Chine Cottage' and the cave is also labelled. The position of the tower is marked but not labelled.
Many of the present paths are of concrete but appear be on the line of ornamental walks shown on the 1866 OS 25" map. However, it appears that the grounds were modified when the property was in the ownership of Sir Arthur Fleming (from about 1940). It was at this time that a large number of hydrangeas were introduced into the grounds. Tony Mackett, Foreman Stonemason for Daniel Day (Bonchurch Building Firm), did much restoration work in the garden, channelling the valley stream into the pond to the north of the house and then into the waterfall. He also restored the Lookout tower. After the war the property was owned by a Mr Tolton, then by Mr and Mrs Fallon who started a hydrangea nursery assisted by Ramon Downer (Champion and Downer 1997).
Look out tower : (Listed Grade II) to the south east on the south side of Luccombe Chine. Built of stone, it is a circular tower battered towards the base. It has a crenellated parapet with flag pole. Features include a lancet window, and an arched door case with a plank door. It was built to command views over the sea, and rebuilt by Sir Arthur Fleming in 1940's.
Lodge: now in separate ownership.
Dunnose Cottage: (Listed Grade II) - in separate ownership.
Luccombe Chine House: On site of Luccombe Cottage/Chine Cottage. A photograph of a fire at the house in 1928 shows the appearance of the 19th century cottage orné ('Shanklin in Old Picture Postcards', R McInnes and A Butler 1986). The house was rebuilt in the half timbered style after the fire by James Ball & Son. The architect was B L Phelps Esq. (Isle of Wight Illustrated Guide 3rd Edition, published in the late 1930s, shows a picture of the reconstructed house). The lower part of the west elevation to the existing building is in stone and may relate to the earlier building.
Luccombe Chine House was a hotel in the 1990s.
The grounds of the former Luccombe Cottage/Chine Cottage can be compared with those of Shanklin Chine. Both exploit the picturesque quality of the natural landscape, although Luccombe Cottage/Chine Cottage was not open to the public in the 19th century, as was Shanklin Chine.