A mid to late C20 plantsman's garden, laid out within the structure of mid C18 axial walled garden compartments.
Bramdean was part of the manor of Woodcote in the C17 and was owned c 1670 by John Venables. Bramdean House and its walled garden was built in the mid C18, possibly by Catherine, a younger daughter of the Venables family (CL 1950). She inherited Woodcote, leaving it and probably Bramdean as well, to a relative, Edward Hooper, from whom it passed to the Earl of Malmesbury. By the early C19 Bramdean had become the property of the Rev Egerton Arden Bagot. He settled it on his sister and her husband, Rev the Hon Augustus George Legge (VCH 1908), their son Henry inheriting in 1828 and his son, Augustus George, in 1879. Bramdean was tenanted in the late C19 and early C20 by Mr Hubert Garle who carried out alterations to the house and its setting. Its ownership passed to the two daughters of Augustus George in 1906 before being sold in 1925 to Sir John and Lady Capper. At the beginning of Second World War, Bramdean was bought by Mr and Mrs Feilden. It passed to their descendants and remains (1998) in private hands.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Bramdean House stands on the immediate north side of the A272, Winchester to Petersfield road, at the western end of Bramdean village, the c 2.5ha registered site lying on the gently rising, south-facing slope of the shallow east to west valley containing the road. The west boundary is enclosed along the southern third by the forecourt buildings and a brick wall; north of this and on the north and east sides, the boundaries are formed by hedges, post and rail fencing (along the east side), and a fringe of mature trees. The main road abuts the southern boundary which is enclosed by a line of iron railings on a low brick wall behind which, and largely screening the house from ground-level view, is a high, broad hedge of sculpted clipped box and yew. At both ends of the frontage, the railings form a quadrant either side of tall brick gate piers surmounted with urns and hung with wrought-iron gates with overthrow (railings and gates listed grade II), these erected c 1900 by Hubert Garle and probably brought from Norfolk (listed building description). The site is set in a surrounding landscape of gently rolling farmland with trees and small woods.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The site is approached in the south-west corner, a large gravelled forecourt, enclosed by ancillary brick-built cottages and a garage range, opening directly off the main road. The east side of the forecourt is formed by the west elevation of the house which contains its present main entrance. The principal entrance front lies on the south side and opens now (1998) onto a gravelled drive edged with low box and, between this and the boundary hedge of box and yew, an apron of lawn. The house appears to have been entered on its principal, south front in the late C19, the present entrance forecourt being occupied by a further range of domestic buildings which had gone by 1909 (OS 1st and 2nd editions).
Bramdean House (listed grade II*) stands on level ground some 18m back from the road and at a slight angle to it. It is a two-storey building with an attic and a tiled roof, its central five bays forming the original house built in the mid C18 (c 1740 given in listed building description, but initials C V and date of 1784 on stack pipe). Similar bays, added in the early C19, extend the house to the west and east while the western end was extended further with a service wing c 1900. The principal, south front is built of blue brick with red-brick dressings and the central doorway is approached by a curving flight of stone steps and wrought-iron balustrades, these latter installed c 1900.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The formal gardens comprise a progression of three compartments laid out on rising ground and aligned on the north front of the house. A central doorway opens from the house into the southernmost compartment, stone steps leading down onto an apron of lawn with a mid C20 circular pool set in a paved surround and with a central fountain. From the pool an axial grassed path extends c 50m up a gentle slope to gates in the south wall of the walled garden. It is flanked by deep herbaceous borders, planted in mirror image, which are cut at their halfway point by cross-axial paths. On the west side of the borders an open lawn is framed by a serpentine-edged mixed border and enclosed to the west by a brick wall while on the east side is a parallel row of topiary box squares with ball finials, planted in the 1920s (CL 1950). In the late C19 this compartment appears to have been fully enclosed, an east wall, gone by 1909 (OS), extending from the east end of the house northwards to meet the walled garden. The compartment was quartered by axial paths (OS 1870).
Northwards, steps at the head of the axial path lead up between gate piers hung with wrought-iron gates (c 1900) into a 55m square compartment enclosed by high red-brick walls dating from the mid C18 and planted with espaliered fruit (walls and north and south gates listed grade II). The compartment is laid out with a perimeter gravelled path and is quartered by broad grassed paths, the north to south path flanked by herbaceous borders backed by espaliered fruit trees. The path crossing is framed by quadrants of clipped yew hedge and the quarters of the garden are laid out to fruit and vegetable cultivation.
From further gates in the north wall, which may be of French origin (listed building description), the grassed path continues the axis northwards for 100m through the third compartment, which is laid to meadow and informally planted with exotic and orchard trees of mixed ages and species and with shrubs and bulbs. At its halfway point, the path opens into an oval of grass framed by clipped box hedging. On the northern boundary, the vista from the house is terminated by a square brick gazebo (listed grade II) with a south-facing door set in a stone arch and with a clock turret, cupola, and weathervane surmounting its hipped, tiled roof. From the gazebo, which is of C18 origin although it is not shown on the OS 1st edition map surveyed in 1870, there are extensive views beyond the house to the slopes of Rectory Meadow on the south side of the valley. North-east of the walled garden a tennis court, set within further informal tree planting, has been laid out in the 1990s on the line of a former public footpath, diverted at the same time to follow its present course along the eastern site boundary.
East of the house and the southernmost compartment a lower area of lawn, enclosed by shrub-planted banks to the north and west, extends to the eastern boundary where it is enclosed by a fringe of mature trees. This was levelled as a tennis lawn in the early C20 (CL 1950) and now forms a croquet lawn. To its north, and east of the walled garden, is a further informal area of mature and late C20 trees and shrubs in grass with, 14m east of the walled garden, a circular rustic summerhouse with walls clad in oak shingles and with a thatched roof. This building, which is shown on the OS map of 1909, was restored in the 1990s.
Country Life, 13 (10 January 1903), pp 48¿54; 107 (9 June 1950), pp 714-17
Victoria History of the County of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight III, (1908), p 45
N Pevsner and D Lloyd, The Buildings of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (1967), p 138
A Paterson, The Gardens of Britain 2, (1978), pp 56-8
P Hobhouse, Private Gardens of England (1986), p 96
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1870
3rd edition published 1909
Description written: June 1998
Amended: May 2000
Register Inspector: VCH
Edited: January 2004