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William Stone & The Park

A Visit in 1867

I recently accompanied a friend to the gardens appertaining to Leigh Park, near Havant, Hampshire, the residence of W.H. Stone, Esq., M.P.; and amidst the varying lights and shades of an April day, passed a few hours most agreeably amongst the objects of Nature’s handiwork which are met with there.

The neat little town of Havant, lying on the South Coast Line, about seven miles from Portsmouth, is easily accessible to holiday-seekers, and the attractions of the Park are fully appreciated in summer by visitors from miles around. The entrances to the place are from the Portsmouth turnpike road; that which afforded us ingress is about a mile and a half from Havant, and is provided with a handsome lodge, the architectural design of which is the first evidence of taste which attracts the eyes of a stranger. After entering at this place, and following a carriage drive winding amongst “ancestral trees,” we came to a slight wire fence separating the shrubberies and precincts of the mansion from the park without. Passing this, my attention was first arrested by a curious looking building of which the masonry, grey with age, proclaimed its antiquity. A most intelligent guide who accompanied us through the grounds informed us this was the old library, the present mansion being a modern erection, and occupying a different site from that of the old house. The library is a beautiful octagonal building, and its eight oriel windows contain excellent paintings relating to the Staunton family, to whom the estate formerly belonged. The harmonious blending and richness of the colours in these windows is very attractive to the eye, and skilful workmanship displayed in the carved surroundings enhances their beauty.

…..We were then conducted along the back of the building, taking the orchard-house on our way; and passing by a side walk towards the east we entered the new kitchen garden. This has only recently been formed, but promises full well under the management of Mr Young, the head gardener. It is three acres in extent admirably laid out, and walled in, and the various crops are in a thriving state. There are a number of new pits for forcing vegetables, and cucumbers and melons were in a flourishing state.

Passing out of the kitchen garden, through the shrubberies, we soon arrived at the new carriage drive, on one side of which is a thickly-planted border of Rhododendrons, and on the other a neat plantation of choice Conifers on a well-kept piece of turf. We continued our walk along this winding and ornamental drive towards the mansion, which is about 350 yards north-west of the kitchen garden. A new conservatory, a lofty and imposing structure, graces the south front of the mansion. Being unfinished, there is nothing worthy of remark here, save the extensive and lovely landscape which is opened to the view, bounded by the hills of the Isle of Wight, and with the sea in the foreground. Hayling Island is distinctly seen, and right and left is spread a panorama of picturesque scenery as beautiful as any in this country. A narrow spiral staircase conducts from this conservatory to a vaulted corridor, open to the west on the lowest level on the west front. This is designed as a promenade on rainy days. From this corridor we passed onto the green turf before the house. It is an elegant edifice, very unlike the general massive and stately architecture employed in England. The style is pure Swiss, with all the gables and terraces prominent as a mountain chateau.


George Newlyn, Journal of Horticulture & Cottage Gardener, Vol. X11, 13 June 1867


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