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Swanmore Park House (also known as Swanmore House, Suanmere)


The site had a late-18th-century house, which was demolished in 1870 and rebuilt by Sir Alfred Waterhouse for William Myers. An early-19th-century formal garden and parkland was re-designed, with a walled garden by Edwin Molyneux. Some features remain around the house, which is now apartments.

The 1" Ordnance Survey map shows the house alongside a public road with a small rectangular garden running west to east from the house. The Greenwood map, 1826, reveals that the road has been re-aligned to the north, leaving the original road as the southern approach road and a new approach road created to the north. The park has also been extended.

The Tithe map, 1841, shows two lodges on each approach road and the house and grounds are now 59 acres. By 1868, the grounds have been extended further and formal pleasure gardens have been created to the north of the house. There was much tree planting in the park. Bettesworth Shearer lost two wives and by 1875 moved away to East Molesey, the estate being bought by Charles Myers, a director of the White Star Shipping Line, Liverpool. He had the house demolished and brought in Sir Alfred Waterhouse to design a large, neo-Tudor building. He also brought in Edwin Molyneux, whom he had probably known in Liverpool, to re-design the gardens.

A large walled garden with elaborate glasshouses was built and the whole gardens redesigned. Myers died suddenly in 1879 leaving his estate to his son, William Henry Myers, who, through Molyneux carried on with the creation of impressive grounds. Due to the skills of Molyneux as a plantsman, in particular in growing prize chrysanthemums, Swanmore Park gained a reputation for the quality and maturity of its planting and was written about in several garden magazines of the time, such as the Gardeners' Chronicle, the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, Gardening World and Country Life.

A rock garden of pulhamite was created by James Pulham & Sons, with water, many alpines and two bridges and the glasshouses were developed and extensively used for vines, fruit and exotic plants. There was an orchard, a winter tennis court, a ha-ha, many climbing roses and other plants along a pergola, trees with some specimens planted in the parkland. The house was covered with colourful climbers and there was two acres of grassland planted with limes, elms and Spanish chestnut. Thousands of bulbs were planted in the grass. There was an avenue of cupressus and sweet briar hedges. Molyneux moved to be Farm Bailiff around 1898 and Mr G Ellwood became the head gardener. A conifer, Chamaecyparis lawsonia ‘Elwoodii' originating as a seedling, was named after him.

William Myers died in 1933 after which the gardens never regained their glory. After a succession of owners the estate was divided up and sold off in 1952. The cottages and land, including the walled garden were divided into lots and sold. The house and part of the gardens were sold to a developer who divided it into a number of properties.

In 2006 some of the parkland planting is evident and the site of certain features of the gardens can be seen or traced, including the ha-ha, a summerhouse and steps leading to the pergola. The now overgrown land where the thousands of bulbs had been planted still reveal snowdrops in early spring. The walled garden has had a house built on the footprint of the glasshouses. The sundial, which maps reveal was moved around the grounds, lies in its centre.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The site's early name, Suanmere , is assumed to mean ‘swans pool', of the Bishop of Winchester. The Milne map, 1791, shows a house belonging to A. Bettesworth. His niece, who married Alexander Shearer, inherited and it was their son, Bettesworth Pitt Shearer who developed the house and grounds in the 1830s.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building

  • Reference: Swanmore Park House
  • Grade: II


  • Glasshouse
  • Description: The walled garden has had a house built on the footprint of the glasshouses.
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  • Ha-ha
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  • Sundial
  • Description: Maps reveal that the sundial was moved around the grounds.
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  • House (featured building)
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  • Summerhouse
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  • Steps
  • Description: Steps leading to the pergola.
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  • Pergola
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Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential



Open to the public


Civil Parish