West Hill, Shanklin (also known as Westhill Manor Hotel)7152

Isle of Wight, England

Brief Description

This is a mid- to late-19th-century villa garden including a walled kitchen garden, with evidence remaining of early-20th-century features, now developed for housing.

History

A house at West Hill is shown on the 1842 Tithe Map (Parker, 1977) and listed in the 1851 Census when it was occupied by William B. Lumbley, a retired Captain of the East India Company, and his family.

Detailed Description

Location

The Westhill Estate lies to the north of Westhill Road on ground rising gently to the west some 400 m to the west of Shanklin Old Village.

Setting and Approach

The approach along Westhill Road is semi rural, with mainly detached houses to the north and to the south hedged open ground, including allotments and a cricket ground. The rural character is enhanced by a wooded slope falling away to the north of the site. To the south and south-east the steeply rising slopes of the Downs provide a sense of enclosure.

The former main entrance from Westhill Road is marked by stone piers and wrought iron gates which are included on the IW Council's Local List.

The Grounds

The former gardens are now (2012) fully developed for private housing. Garden features seen on 1928 aerial photographs that still exist include a small octagonal stone edged pond with stone paths linking the pond to a single row of coursed stone columns which mark the inner line of the pergola.

Mature trees remain marking boundaries and within the now divided site where, north of the house, a central access drive follows the line of the former formal path leading to the pond and pergola.

Some perimeter walls and outbuildings remain as evidence of the former kitchen garden.

Features

Style

  • Formal
Pergola, Ornamental Pond, Garden Wall, Gate Piers, Tree Belt
Access & Directions

Directions

SW of town centre adjacent to Cricket Ground
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Shanklin
History

Detailed History

A house at West Hill is shown on the 1842 Tithe Map (Parker, 1977) and listed in the 1851 Census when it was occupied by William B. Lumbley, a retired Captain of the East India Company, and his family (Shanklin and District History Society). By 1861 they had been replaced by the family of Edward Napier (died 1870), an Army Major General on half pay (Shanklin and District History Society).

The 1866 OS map shows West Hill house set back from what is now Westhill Road to the south. The grounds are marked as divided east-west into three sections, with the house towards the centre. Individual trees and a single clump are shown to the north of the house and the whole of the grounds appear enclosed within a partly tree-lined circuit path forming an inverted U shape. A small building adjacent to Westhill Road is very probably a lodge and another small building to the west is possibly a stable. The circuit path remains on the 1880 OS map which also indicates loosely formal lines of bushes (possibly young trees) to the west and south of the house. The 1881 census lists Napier's widow in residence (Shanklin and District History Society).

By 1893 the property was owned by Mrs Julia Scaramanga, a wealthy widow and local benefactress (Shanklin and District History Society) and she appointed a gardener at West Hill that year. This was Charles H Snook (1863-1924), formerly of the Royal Gardens at Kew and Shuckburgh Park, Daventry (Shanklin and District History Society).

The 1898 and 1909 OS maps indicate the extent of Snook's work. The ornamental grounds have been greatly extended to the west and this, together with an area to the north of the house are laid out with generally winding paths lined with trees and bushes which provided a variety of circuits around the grounds. Glasshouses are shown in the area to the south of the house, adjoining Westhill Road, indicating a kitchen garden and a conservatory is shown at the south-east corner of the enlarged house. The site area in this period was about 10 acres (4.05ha).

Julia Scaramanga died in 1910 and her nephew Constantine Ralli (1854-1934) inherited West Hill. He changed his surname by Royal Licence to Scaramanga-Ralli (http://www.thepeerage.com) and also in 1910 stood unsuccessfully for Parliament as the Island's Liberal candidate (http://www.christoperlong.co.uk). Charles H Snook was retained as head gardener (Gardeners' Chronicle, 1910). He also had a London residence. By 1924 Scaramanga-Ralli (a banker in New York and author), who also had a London residence, was bankrupt and was released from bankruptcy on 13 June 1928 (London Gazette, 1928).

Aerial photographs taken in 1928 (www.britainfromabove.org.uk) show a much enlarged house with kitchen garden to the south and winding tree-lined paths to the west. The grounds to the north of the house have been redesigned with a more formal path layout and a central path leading from the house to a semi-circular pergola built around a central pond. The most likely date for these new features is after 1910 and before 1924.

Scaramanga-Ralli no longer lived at West Hill when he died in 1934 (The Times, 1934). The ownership and full history of West Hill for much of the later 20th century has not been established.

References

Gardeners' Chronicle, 15 July 1893, p.78.

Gardeners' Chronicle, 9 July 1910, p.32.

London Gazette, 18 December 1923; 3 July 1928.

Parker, Alan G., 1977 The Story of Victorian Shanklin. Shanklin Rotary Club.

Shanklin and District History Society, unpublished notes in possession of the recorder.

The Times, 22 March 1934, p1.

http://www.thepeerage.com

http://www.christoperlong.co.uk

www.britainfromabove.org.uk

Maps

OS 6" to 1 mile 1st edition published 1866

OS 25" to 1 mile 1st edition published 1880

1st revision published 1898

2nd revision published 1909

OS 1:2500 published 1970

Associated People
References

References

Contributors

  • Helen Thomas

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