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Woodlands Vale

Introduction

Woodlands Vale is situated between Ryde and Seaview with Puckpool Hill to the west and Oakhill Road to the east. The main house occupies the south-west corner of the estate with sea views north-east over formal gardens and parkland descending to Springvale Road, with the beach and Spithead Channel beyond. Originally a landscape park with pleasure grounds, the estate is now in two parts. The gardens include terraces, formal pools and a Japanese garden.

Terrain

The land slopes from the south-west to the north-east.

The house, pleasure grounds and former kitchen garden occupy the south-west corner of the property with the parkland beyond to the north-east, east and south-east.

The parkland is planted with shelter belts of pine and holm oak with some clumps. A triangle of land at the south-west corner of estate was thickly planted with trees when Calthorpe Road was moved further to the south in about 1900.

The gardens and former parkland survive largely intact although these two elements of the Woodlands Vale estate are now separately owned. The house is now privately owned. There are a number of holiday chalets in the wooded grounds to the south and west of the house.

The garden has a strongly architectural structure with a series of terraces leading the eye down to the formal pool at the bottom of the garden. The pet cemetery within the garden is a typical Victorian element. A feature of particular historic significance is the Japanese garden created between 1896 and 1907, when oriental garden features were in vogue. The garden was designed to take full advantage of sea views to the north-east and glimpses of parkland to the east and south-east. These views are still intact, giving the site an important group value embracing the house, the garden with its important built features and the parkland beyond.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

The Woodlands Vale estate is located to the east of Ryde in the Civil Parish of Nettlestone and Seaview and comprises 29.4 hectares (72.66 acres). It forms an irregular shape, fuller to the south-west and south-east, narrowing to the north-west with an elliptical curve at the south-west side. It is bounded on the south-west by Calthorpe Road, on the north-west by the western part of Puckpool Hill, to the south-west by part of Oakhill Road and to the north-east by Springvale Road. The land slopes from the south-west to the north-east affording views from the main house over parkland to the Solent and Palmerston's Spitbank Fort.

Entrances and Approaches

The main entrance is no longer through Salter's 1900-1 Woodlands Vale Lodge (Grade II) but is situated further north along the earlier road alignment of Calthorpe Road. The entrance drive skirts Garden Cottage and passes through the pleasure grounds to the north-west of the house. The drive rejoins the original carriage drive near the former stables of 1894 and the Coach House and proceeds in a north-easterly direction to the main house, terminating in a gravelled courtyard with entrance piers supporting ornamental glass and iron lamps and an arcaded wall with banded brick arches and terracotta finials of circa 1889 separating the courtyard from the gardens.

There is a back entrance into the parkland along the north-east boundary in Springvale Road.

Principal Building

Woodlands Vale, principally by Samuel Sanders Teulon and Stephen Salter, is listed at Grade II*, including Teulon's rose arches attached to the north-east of the house and other garden features linked to the house.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

The formal gardens with their hard landscaping are situated mainly to the north-east of Woodlands Vale. The main layout of the gardens dates from the 1870s and 1880s with Japanese garden features added circa 1900. The garden has a strongly architectural structure with a series of terraces leading the eye down to the formal cruciform-shaped pool at the bottom of the garden and beyond to views across the parkland to the Solent and Spitbank Fort beyond.

A gravel terrace runs beside the north-east elevation of the house with a Gothic-style garden building built 1874 to a design by Teulon at the north-west end (Grade II). Below the gravel terrace at the north-west end is a pet cemetery. Steps descend from the centre of the gravel terrace on either side of an arched grotto to a central grass terrace divided by a gravel path with two brick multi-angled planters. (Until the 1990s a 1884 statue of a lion by J Stiff and Sons London occupied a plinth on the north-west side of the central terrace). To the north-west of the house a gravel terrace opens onto another grass terrace - The Seabreeze Terrace - which overlooks the central grass terrace.

A garden store dated 1889 is built beneath steps leading down from Seabreeze Terrace. From the central terrace a further set of steps descend to a semi-circular area of lawn with a central path leading to three linked formal pools with two fountains (the 'water temple' in the central pool was demolished in 1923). Along the north-east edge of the central terrace runs a pergola supported on brick columns with a garden shelter at the north-west end. From the west end of the pergola three flights of steps lead down a pathway running south-east. Each flight of steps is decorated with ceramic lanterns in Japanese style dated 1903. Beside the bottom set of steps is a wooden Japanese arch with three flat lintel beams. The steps and arch are listed Grade II. The path terminates in a gateway with brick piers and terracotta finials giving access to the park. From this point a grass path runs north-east alongside the edge of the park. Halfway along the path is a wooden open-fronted garden shelter of circa 1900 (Grade II). At the end of the path another gateway with brick piers and terracotta finials gives access to the park and steps with brick piers and terracotta finials lead back to the garden. A ha-ha separates the garden from the park.

The principal view is from the house and gardens across the falling parkland to the north-east which provides borrowed views over the Solent to Spitbank Fort. There are also views from the house and gardens over the parkland to the east and south-east.

The entrance drive skirts Garden Cottage and passes through the pleasure grounds to the north-west of the house, which comprise lawns with a planting of specimen trees and exotic species of coniferous and deciduous trees.

Park

The parkland is grazed. The south-western boundary of the park along Calthorpe Road, expanded to the south by Calthorpe between 1897 and 1909, has a thick belt of deciduous trees planted at that time to screen the main house from the road. The parkland is bisected by a narrow stream running from south-west to north-east and there is a small irregular pond towards the north-west. To the south-east of the house the parkland retains clumps of trees shown on the 1909 OS map and shelter belts shown on the 1898 map. Along Oakhill Road are the late C19 estate water tower, which has been converted into a residence, and the home farm, Woodlands Vale Farm. To the north-east of the house are further shelter belts masking houses beyond the estate boundaries and clumps of trees. The north-east and north-west sides are bounded by stone walls with brick curved coping. The shelter belt of trees along Puckpool Road is also part of Colonel Calthorpe's improvements, shown on the 1909 Ordnance Survey map.

Reasons for Designation

The Woodlands Vale estate is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

  • Design quality: the Woodlands Vale estate contains a good and representative example of a formal garden laid out between the 1870s and 1890s with the addition of some fashionable Japanese features in the first decade of the C20. It is considered to be in the top three Victorian and Edwardian parks and gardens in the Isle of Wight.
  • Designer: the rose arches and a summer house were designed by the distinguished architect Samuel Sanders Teulon.
  • Group Value: the main house and attached garden features are listed at Grade II* and the parkland is integral with the house and garden and provides views to the north-east and south-east with borrowed views of The Solent and Spitbank Fort to the north-east. It is one of the most complete surviving gentry estates on the Isle of Wight and one of the few remaining estates on the Isle of Wight with an open outlook to the sea.

Date first registered: 20-Jun-2012

Updated: January 2021

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts
History

The original house, known as Woodlands, was built in 1839 and rebuilt in the 1850s or 1860s. The house was enlarged in 1870-1871 by Samuel Saunders Teulon for Colonel (later Baron) Calthorpe, with later additions and estate buildings between 1880 and 1923. The development of grounds from 1830 to 1939 can be traced on a series of Ordnance Survey maps and estate plans. During this period the area of the pleasure grounds, parkland and woodland shelter belts expanded considerably. In the 1880s the name of the house was changed to Woodlands Vale.

The main layout of the pleasure gardens dates from the 1870s and 1880s with the Japanese garden added later.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

19th Century

In 1829 Charles Coach, the son of a coal and timber merchant, obtained about 14 acres of land, including a wood, in the Parish of St Helens. An area of the wood was cleared and Woodlands House was built on the north side of the road between Thornton Cross and Bullen Cross. Charles Coach lived there until 1838 when he sold the estate to John Percival, a banker from Northampton. He died at Woodlands in 1852 and a few years later his widow sold the estate to Thomas Fowke, son of Rear Admiral George Fowke of Sible Hedingham, Essex. The First Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1866 shows a detached house of irregular plan called Woodlands surrounded by a wooded area and with an area of parkland stretching only as far to the east as Lady's Bridge. A sales catalogue states that Thomas Fowke had the house rebuilt in stone on a ground scale.

In 1869 the freehold of the estate was bought by Colonel Somerset John Gough Calthorpe (1831-1912), son of the 4th Lord Calthorpe of Edgbaston, Birmingham. He had been an aide-de-camp to Lord Raglan during the Crimean War. In time he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and he inherited his father's title in 1910. The architect Samuel Sanders Teulon (1812-1873) had already built Elvetham Hall, Hampshire for his father in 1859-62, and in 1870 Colonel Calthorpe employed him to enlarge the existing house he had bought on the outskirts of Ryde. As part of the improvements Teulon added canted bays and a circular tower under a conical roof. He also added a nine bay round-arched screen wall to the north-west and a detached Gothic-derived summer house of 1874, designed by him although it was completed after his death. In 1880 a three-arched loggia was added to the house by Tarring and Wilkinson and extensive balustrading and a pergola were added to the garden by E Erskine in 1889. In 1893 Calthorpe employed a local architect Stephen Salter to add a porte-cochere to the main house and the following year Salter replaced the existing conservatory by a billiard room and added some detached stables to the south-west of the house.

By the 1897 Ordnance Survey map the name of the house had changed to Woodlands Vale, formal gardens are shown laid out to the north-east of the house with terracing, paths, a large cruciform-shaped pond and a curved ha-ha wall to the north-west and south-east sides of the house, separating the gardens from the parkland beyond. Woodlands Vale Farm, a home farm, and a water tower are shown for the first time on the south western boundary of the park and shelter belts have been planted in the park.

Between 1897 and 1909, the date of the third edition Ordnance Survey map, Calthorpe had moved Calthorpe Road further south in an elliptical shape to provide a grander entrance and Salter's 1900-1 lodge is shown at the north western end of this. Clumps of trees are shown for the first time near the south boundary at Lady's Bridge and the formal garden layout has acquired further paths and a flight of steps with Japanese lanterns, dated 1903 by Davy and Salter, is shown for the first time.

20th Century

The Seventh Lord Calthorpe died in 1912 and Woodlands Vale passed to his second son, Rear Admiral the Hon. Somerset Arthur George Calthorpe. A 'water temple' to the pool was demolished in 1923. On his death in 1937 the house passed to his younger sister, the Hon. Mrs Wilson-Heathcote. The 25 inch 1939 Ordnance Survey map shows a rectangular-shaped area cleared of trees and bordered by paths to the west of the house (possibly a croquet lawn) and to the east of the Pleasure Grounds circular ornamental clumps of trees are shown in the parkland for the first time.

The 25 inch 1946-7 Ordnance Survey map shows the shelter belt of trees dividing Woodlands Vale from Springfield at its north eastern end partially removed, suggesting that Woodlands Vale had more recently acquired this land. Mrs Wilson-Heathcote died in 1956 and her husband two years later. The house and grounds were sold to a Mr A Ball whose widow sold the house, gardens and pleasure grounds to the present owner. The parkland and subsidiary estate buildings are now in separate ownership.

Woodlands Vale was listed at Grade II as part of the Ryde listing resurvey in 1972 but upgraded to Grade II* in 2005 including the attached rose arches, forecourt balustrades, terrace walling, alcove, pergola, steps, planters and ornamental pond.

Period

Victorian (1837-1901)

Associated People
Features & Designations

Designations

  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: 1406522
  • Grade: II

Features

  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Woodlands Vale is principally by Samuel Sanders Teulon and Stephen Salter.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: Woodlands Vale Lodge was created by Stephen Salter.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Drive
  • Description: The entrance drive skirts Garden Cottage and passes through the pleasure grounds to the north-west of the house.
  • Stable Block
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Courtyard
  • Description: A gravelled courtyard with entrance piers supporting ornamental glass and iron lamps.
  • Wall
  • Description: An arcaded wall with banded brick arches and terracotta finials separating the courtyard from the gardens.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Garden Terrace
  • Description: A series of terraces.
  • Pool
  • Description: A formal cruciform-shaped pool at the bottom of the garden.
  • Terrace
  • Description: A gravel terrace runs beside the north-east elevation of the house.
  • Garden Building
  • Description: A Gothic-style garden building.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Grotto
  • Description: An arched grotto.
  • Steps
  • Description: Steps descend from the centre of the gravel terrace.
  • Terrace
  • Description: The Seabreeze Terrace.
  • Garden Building
  • Description: A garden store is built beneath steps leading down from Seabreeze Terrace.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Pool
  • Description: Three linked formal pools with two fountains.
  • Pergola
  • Description: A pergola supported on brick columns.
  • Steps
  • Description: There are three flights of steps, each of which is decorated with ceramic lanterns in Japanese style dated 1903.
  • Arch
  • Description: A wooden Japanese arch with three flat lintel beams.
  • Gateway
  • Description: A gateway with brick piers and terracotta finials giving access to the park.
  • Garden Feature
  • Description: A wooden open-fronted garden shelter.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Ha-ha
  • Description: A ha-ha separates the garden from the park.
  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: Specimen trees and exotic species of coniferous and deciduous trees.
  • Tree Belt
  • Description: The south-western boundary of the park has a thick belt of deciduous trees planted at that time to screen the main house from the road.
  • Stream
  • Description: The parkland is bisected by a narrow stream running from south-west to north-east.
  • Pond
  • Description: A small irregular pond.
  • Tower
  • Description: The estate water tower, which has been converted into a residence.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Boundary Wall
  • Description: The north-east and north-west sides of the park are bounded by stone walls with brick curved coping.
  • Arch
  • Description: Rose arches attached to the north-east of the house.
  • Summerhouse
Key Information

Type

Garden

Purpose

Ornamental Garden

Principal Building

House

Period

Victorian (1837-1901)

Survival

Extant

Hectares

29.4

Civil Parish

Nettlestone and

References

References