Watergate Park 7104

Chichester, England, West Sussex, Chichester

Brief Description

The site, on a gentle south-west facing slope of a valley, comprises historic parkland, Watergate House (rebuilt in the later 20th century), listed stables and the remains of garden terraces and walks lying around the house. The bones of the early-20th-century terraced garden (walling and steps) laid out principally to the south and east are still extant but their extent has not been verified. What was the earlier formal geometric garden (now a field to the north-east of the house across the public bridleway) has disappeared under the ground.

History

The first house was built sometime before 1609 for William Drury ('sometime a gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Charles I') by his father John Drury. Parkland and a kitchen garden are indicated on a map of 1778. The house was destroyed by fire in 1942 and has been replaced by a modern building in classical style.

Terrain

The site is on a gentle south-west facing slope of a valley.

Detailed Description

"Watergate is first mentioned in 1279Ass. The topographical application of the name is not clear... [but,] as the valley here is very narrow and steep sided, it may have been thought of as a gate through which the flood waters have to pass" (Mawer & Stenton).

The site, on a gentle south-west facing slope of a valley, comprises historic parkland, Watergate House rebuilt in the later 20th century, listed stables and the remains of garden terraces and walks lying around the house. The bones of the early-20th-century terraced garden (walling and steps) laid out principally to the south and east are still extant but their extent cannot be verified from the public bridleway. What was the earlier formal geometric garden (now a field to the north-east of the house across the public bridleway) has disappeared under the ground (nothing visible from the bridleway or on the aerial photography on Google Earth) but geophysics would reveal the plan. In the narrow belt of woodland the crumbling circular wall of the early summer house is still evident.

A walk along the public footpath between the kitchen garden and the house and stables shows upstanding stone (flint?) walls with brick piers, formal steps and flattened lawns, evidence of the 'delightful Pleasure Grounds arranged in extensive Lawns well adapted for the game of Lawn Tennis, with Ornamental Parterres and wide gravelled Terrace and other Walks' referred to in the 1880 sales particulars. There are still some 'handsome specimens of the Conifer tribe'. Along the driveway to the rear and west of the house is a line of fairly substantial conifers.

The sweep of the parkland to the south of the house (east of the B2146) has been largely preserved in shape but there are no obvious significant historical features nor any mature parkland trees, presumably the result of agricultural activity, either there or on the parkland to the west (fields 131 and 132 on the 1841 tithe map). Mature conifers do however line the drive up to the rear of the house from the northern lodge (possibly of 19th-century date). A copse approximately 200m south-east of the house may contain the remains of the icehouse referred to below.

The current drive from the south replaces an earlier drive from the west (the lodge known as the Pillars).

Despite the various phases of investment on the property, it never appears to have been other than the country seat of well-to-do minor gentry and perhaps reached its peak in the decades immediately preceding World War 1.

Histories/Literary Description

A copy of the 1880 sale particulars (WSRO SP1543) provides the following description. These particulars pre-date both the rebuilding of the house in 1883 and the addition of the terraced garden in 1907-08. A picture is incorporated which shows the house (probably from the south-west) with parkland in front depicting a number of mature trees with a drive from the south-west and more extensive woodland behind.

"The Property which has a boldly undulating surface is embellished with Ornamental Timber of all kinds, some being of very large size, and the Woodlands and Plantations, which form a beautiful and important feature of the Estate, are also filled with large Timber, and with the Farm Lands, are intersected by miles of Turf Roads in all directions, the numerous vistas which have been formed through the Woods adding much to the picturesque beauty and enjoyment of the same, and affording delightful and extensive sylvan home rides and drives.

The Mansion is in the Grecian style, well built in a very substantial manner...with 2 Principal Fronts embellished with Ionic Columns.... the design of John Soane. It occupies a well chosen site on the slope of the hill facing the South and the West, in the midst of delightful Pleasure Grounds arranged in extensive Lawns well adapted for the game of Lawn Tennis, with Ornamental Parterres and wide gravelled Terrace and other Walks. The Pleasure Grounds are adorned with fine old Timber and handsome specimens of the Conifer tribe... The Woods and Plantations and Shrubberies around the Mansion form a perfect screen from the North and East winds."

In terms of external services the particulars include a stabling department (12 horses and a pony and 8 carriages) built round 3 sides of a quadrangle to the rear of the mansion, Behind that, an extensive covered farm homestead - 2 brick and flint, board and tile blocks - is described in detail, including a granary on stone piers.

The fine large Kitchen Garden, South sloping and about 2 acres in extent, is described as enclosed by a capital Brick Wall, with wide Side Slips, containing the best Standard and Wall Fruit Trees in great Abundance and various Glass Houses with appliances for heating: They comprise a Stove House in 3 Divisions for Pines, Melons, etc, a Range of 4 Early and Late Vineries, 2 ranges of Brick Pits, Potting and Tool Sheds etc.

An excellent Spring Water supply is referred to with several tanks for soft water, the gardens also being well supplied with spring and soft water."

Additional features noted are

  • a good Gardener's Cottage
  • a capital ice house in the grounds
  • a good carriage drive
  • a classic entrance lodge built of flint with 4 Ionic Pillars and Pediment
  • a large quantity of iron fencing

The whole estate of 1147 acres includes approximately 8 acres of Mansion, pleasure grounds and garden, 68 acres of pasture and park and 162 acres of woods. Dolly's Hanger, Haslett and Warren Copses are described as a very fine Ornamental Wood of about 136 acres near the Mansion, specially adapted for the rearing of Pheasants, and a delightful adjunct to the Pleasure Grounds.

Maps

Richard Budgen 1724

Yeakell and Gardner 1778

WSRO TD/W131 Up Marden tithe map 1841

WSRO TD/W121 Stoughton tithe map 1840

WSRO Add MS 4719 Stoughton & Upmarden, Plan of the Watergate Estate -- the property of Sir John Crosbie 1841

Ordnance Survey Surveyor's drawings 1805

Ordnance Survey 25" maps dated 1874, 1898, 1912, 1969/70 and 6" 1870/80

Reference Material

Brit Lib: Add MS 5675 f.96 (171) - Drawing of Watergate House in 1791 by SH

Grimm (reproduced in Farrant, John (2001) Sussex Depicted, Lewes: Sussex Record Society)

Dallaway, J (1815) History of the western division of the County of Sussex,1, Rape of Chichester 2 vols London

Elwes, DGC (1876) A History of the Castles, Mansions, and Manors of Western Sussex, London: Longmans

Mawer A. And Stenton FM. eds (12929.1930) The Place Names of Sussex , English Place-Names Society

Nairn, I and Pevsner, N (1965) The Buildings of England Sussex London

Report prepared by Nicholas Pearson Associates in February 2011 in relation to planning application for Lake at Watergate House ref 11/05289//FULNP (seen on Chichester DC website).

WSRO MP 3106 Tanner SJ (1988) Watergate House, Up Marden Parish

WSRO SP1543 1880 Sales particulars for The Watergate Estate

Features
  • Stable Block
  • Description: The listing for the stables includes a weather-boarded clock tower above the stable with a hexagonal cupola over with lead-covered dome and weather-vane.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Garden Building
  • Description: This is the barn adjoining the stables of the former Watergate house on the east.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Temple
  • Description: The Pillars is an early-19th-century temple-like building, the original lodge of the former Watergate House. It may be by Soane.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The current house is modern, built in classical style.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Garden Terrace
  • Description: The bones of the early-20th-century terraced garden (walling and steps) laid out principally to the south and east are still extant.
  • Summerhouse
  • Description: In the narrow belt of woodland the crumbling circular wall of the early summer house is still evident.
  • Drive
  • Description: Mature conifers line the drive up to the rear of the house from the northern lodge.
  • Tree Feature
  • Description: A copse some 200 metres south-east of the house may contain the remains of the icehouse.
Kitchen Garden, Icehouse
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Compton
History

Detailed History

The 1724 Budgen map depicts Watergate House as a Gentleman's residence. The more detailed 1778 Yeakall & Gardner map gives indications of parkland with a drive leading to a semi-circle at the west façade of the house. The outline of the kitchen garden is also shown.

Grimm's 1791 view shows the Watergate House which predates that attributed to Sir John Soane and built by 1810. The view is probably from the south-west (in view of the slope direction, the building to the back right (probably the 18th-century stable) and the trees behind) and captures a long sweep of wall line running apparently north-west/south-east at sufficient distance from the house as not to form the garden/parkland boundary. This wall does not appear on the Tithe Map of 1841 unless the perspective has been foreshortened and it is much further away. It probably relates to the moving of the public road apparent from a comparison of the 1805 Ordnance Survey surveyor's drawing and later maps. The open space between the house and the right hand edge of the print indicates that the park may have been created by 1791. There are two significant trees to the rear left (west) of the house which may have been the end of an avenue, possibly the two westward ones of the line of four trees shown on the 1841 tithe map.

The 1805 Ordnance Survey Surveyor's drawing shows the extent of the buildings but as yet no garden.

The 1841 Tithe Map shows a later house to that depicted by Grimm. There is a circular entrance drive at the west facade but no obvious lodge building. The notable feature is the formal garden laid out a little distance to the north-east of the house and stable block, with its central feature (water basin?) the three rectangular buildings in the south-east quadrant (possibly the glass houses referred to in the 1880 sale particulars) and the buildings on the north side behind which is an apsoidal shape. In the arm of wood running east/west immediately behind this formal garden is a cleared half circle with a small circular building. Various paths are depicted in the woods. Some parkland is shown but its southern area is within Stoughton Parish. A circular feature against the road to the north-west of the house appears to contain water. The shape is still visible on the ground but, from the road, there is no apparent evidence of the original nature of this feature. The 1841 plan of Sir John Crosbie's estate also shows the copse with a small building where the ice house is shown on the 1874 map.

The 1874 25" Ordnance Survey 1st edition map shows a house with a similar yet subtly altered footprint which appears to be set slightly to the north of the house on the 1841 Tithe Map. When Elwes was published (1876), he referred to the Soane House as the 'present' one. The boundary between Park and garden to the south and west of the house has changed as has the line of the drive. 'Fountain' has been attached to the feature in the centre of the formal garden and the small building in the woods referred to in 1841 is shown as a summer house. The surviving section of the circular walls show that the building probably had a tiled roof, given the debris now found on the ground. Nearby is an old well. The circular entrance drive to the west of the house has disappeared and with it the boundary to the park. The line of trees on the Grimm depiction referred to above has been extended and the road in on that side possibly made more definite. An Ice House is shown to the south-east of the house in a clump in an otherwise belt of woodland.

The 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1899 shows that the drive has been extended southwards, a new South Lodge appearing on the 1912 map which also shows the 1906-08 garden terracing to the rear of the barn to the east and the then extent of the parkland.

Associated People

Just one person associated to Watergate Park

Contact

Telephone

01793 445050

Official Website

Click Here
References

References