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South Stoneham House

South Stoneham House
The north (front) face of the original house
South Stoneham House is located in Southampton
South Stoneham House
Location of South Stoneham House within Southampton
General information
Status Complete
Type House
Address Wessex Lane
Town or city Swaythling, Southampton
Country United Kingdom
Completed 1708, 1964
Owner University of Southampton
Height (tower) 48.7 metres
Technical details
Floor count 3 (original); 17 (extension)
Lifts/elevators 2
Design and construction
Architect Nicholas Hawksmoor (original house)
Architecture firm Brandt, Potter, Hare Partnership (1964 extension)
Structural engineer EWH Gifford and Partners (1964 extension)
Other designers Lancelot "Capability" Brown
Main contractor Trollope and Colls Limited (1964 extension)
Designations Grade II* listed

South Stoneham House is a Grade II* listed[1] former manor house in Swaythling, Southampton;[2] the former seat of the Barons Swaythling[3] before the family moved to the nearby Townhill Park House. The building is currently owned by the University of Southampton, and until recently was used as a hall of residence, part of the Wessex Lane Halls.[4]

Originally called Bishop's Stoneham, the records of the manor date from Domesday, but the current house was constructed in the early eighteenth century.[3] Attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor[1] with gardens and landscaping by Lancelot "Capability" Brown,[5] the house is close to the River Itchen and Monks Brook.[6] The manor was owned and occupied by a long series of families and people, including the Willis-Fleming family of nearby North Stoneham and Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling.[3]

After Montagu's death his son elected to continue living at nearby Townhill Park House, and South Stoneham was subsequently sold to University College Southampton (now the University of Southampton) for use as student accommodation.[7] In 1964 the building was considerably altered by adding a 17-storey tower and a kitchen and dining complex to the building. In 2004 the University submitted plans to demolish these extensions with the intention of converting the original house into a conference venue and building new blocks of flats on the remaining landscaped gardens.[4]


  • History 1
    • Manor of South Stoneham (990–1708) 1.1
    • South Stoneham House (1708–1920) 1.2
    • Hall of residence (1920–present day) 1.3
  • Architecture 2
    • Original house 2.1
    • 1960s extension 2.2
  • Grounds and gardens 3
  • Interior 4
    • Original house 4.1
    • 1960s extension 4.2
  • Redevelopment proposals 5
  • Restoration 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Manor of South Stoneham (990–1708)

A charter dating from 990 relates to the manor of South Stoneham and during building works in the area immediately around the current house and grounds, archaeological evidence of a Saxon settlement was found.[8] The manor of South Stoneham was originally called Bishop's Stoneham, and was held by the Bishop of Winchester at the time of the Domesday Book. The original parish of South Stoneham covered more than 8,000 acres (32.37 km2; 12.50 sq mi), and extended along the eastern side of the River Itchen from the site of the present day Eastleigh in the north to just above Northam Bridge in the south, and from Swaythling to the outskirts of the original town of Southampton on the western side of the river; it included the tithings of Allington, Barton, Pollack, Shamblehurst, and Portswood. Other than St. Mary's Church (which is close to South Stoneham House but predates it considerably) and a few adjacent houses, there was no village of "South Stoneham"; the closest village to the house was Swaythling, now a suburb of Southampton.[3]

The tenants of the manor apparently took their name from it; a Gregory de South Stoneham (or Gegory de Stoneham) is recorded there in 1236 and 1249, and in 1315 the manor was held by Nicholas de South Stoneham (son of Guy de South Stoneham). In 1348 Thomas de Stoneham and his wife Alice were lord and lady of the manor, and five heiresses of theirs – possibly daughters – held the manor in 1367. However, that year they quitclaimed it to Adam le Chaundle.[3]

The history is somewhat incomplete after that point, but records do exist of the manor being passed from Nicholas Fitz John to William Nicholl in 1436 and from John Langhorn to Thomas Payne in 1478. After Payne's death the manor passed to John Langhorn's son William, and it remained in the Langhorn family until Stephen Langhorn, or Langher, sold it to John Capelyn for £140 in 1553.[3]

Capelyn sold the manor to William Conway in 1600, who sold it to Edmund Clerke in 1612; Clerke's son inherited the manor in 1634 but only survived for a further two years, at which point the manor passed to Edmund Clerke's 8½-year-old grandson, another Edmund. This Edmund Clerke was the Sheriff of Hampshire and clerk to the Signet in 1671.[3] Clerke the younger married the daughter of Giles Frampton, who took control of the manor after Clerke's death and sold it to Edmund Dummer, a former Surveyor of the Navy, in 1705.[2]

South Stoneham House (1708–1920)

Dummer purchased the South Stoneham estate, comprising approximately 300 acres (120 ha), for the sum of £3,400.[9] The house was constructed in 1708 as Dummer's family home, and its design has been attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor.[1][10] The actual construction was carried out by Dummer's uncle, Thomas Dummer of London.[9] Edmond Dummer was from nearby North Stoneham and had been baptised in St. Nicolas' Church there.[11] The grounds of the house comprised 110 acres, with 5 acres of water.[12]

Edmund Dummer was declared bankrupt in 1711 and he died in debtors' prison two years later. His cousin Thomas, a lawyer who had acquired the manor on Edmund's behalf, fought a lawsuit attempting to gain control of the property; however in 1716, Edward Nicholas of Newton Valence took ownership of South Stoneham, purchasing it from Edmund Dummer's daughter, Jane.[9] William Sloane, whose brother Hans founded the British Museum,[13] purchased the manor from Nicholas in 1740,[2] and it was subsequently owned by his son Hans Sloane, and later by Jean Louis Bazalgette.

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown

The previously formal grounds were landscaped between 1772 and 1780 by Capability Brown.[5] The landscaping work cost £1,050.[9] John Lane purchased the estate from Bazalgette for £15,000 in 1809[10] or 1810,[9] but was later declared bankrupt and the manor was put up for sale in 1815. It was not until 1819,[9] however, that it was bought by John Willis Fleming, who also owned the manor of North Stoneham where a new house was being built for him at North Stoneham Park.[10]

When the new North Stoneham House was completed, John Willis Fleming moved there and leased South Stoneham House to General Joseph Gubbins until the general's death in 1832. In 1831 there was a major fire at North Stoneham, and John Willis Fleming returned to live in South Stoneham House again after Gubbins' death while North Stoneham was rebuilt. When this was completed in 1834 South Stoneham House was again advertised to let, and in the latter part of the 1830s a Colonel Boucher was in residence.[14] The house was advertised for let again in 1843. Mrs Charlotte Maria Beckford leased the property with Miss Lucy Middleton[9] and Beckford died at South Stoneham House at the age of 86 on 25 Jun 1854,[10] after which Thomas Willis Fleming (second son of John) moved in. He purchased the property from his elder brother in 1857 and lived there until 1860/61. At this point they leased the property to W. C. Standish.[9] The Willis Flemings put the house up for sale in 1875 and sold South Stoneham House for £20,000 in 1878, to Captain Thomas Davison (or Daveson).[3][9][10] Included in the sale catalogue issued on 23 November 1875 was Wood Mill (still standing and operating as an outdoor activities centre as of 2013), Gascon Cottage, and land for building.[15] "Gascon's Meadow with house thereon in South Stoneham" was reconveyanced the next year.[16]

Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling, was the last owner of South Stoneham House before it was sold to the University.

In 1888 South Stoneham House was purchased from Davison by Samuel Montagu,[3] who became the first Baron Swaythling in 1907.[9] During his tenure he had a large porch added to the front entrance of the house. Eleven years after buying South Stoneham House he also purchased Townhill Park House for his son Louis, who continued to live at Townhill after Samuel's death in 1911.

Hall of residence (1920–present day)

South Stoneham House was acquired, with South Hill (some two miles to the northwest), in 1920 to house male students at University College Southampton.[7] The salmon pool at South Stoneham was retained by the Montagu family, becoming part of the Townhill Park estate.[9] Tradition prevailed in the house, with a collegiate atmosphere as gowns were expected to be worn to dinner and lectures and curfews were enforced.

By 1924, there was distinct pressure on space in the halls of residence, and it was clear that more rooms were needed. The existing halls were full and so South Stoneham and South Hill were extended by covering their outbuildings.[7]

During the Second World War, the Highfield location of the College meant it was directly in the war zone itself. With Southampton being attacked, the halls of residence were also under siege: at South Stoneham windows were blown in by bombs. The School of Navigation at the College was relocated to the communal rooms of South Stoneham House for the duration of the war,[7] and afterwards was moved to Warsash; in 1970 the school became independent of the University (instead it is affiliated to Southampton Solent University) and is known as the Warsash Maritime Academy.[17]

The 17-storey extension to South Stoneham House from the west

The stables and servants' quarters were demolished in 1961[9] and in 1964 a concrete tower extension was added to the hall, incorporating a bar and dining hall area. The tower contains 180 student rooms over its 17 floors and is 48.7 metres high,[18] making it the 8th-tallest building in Southampton.[19] The extension was designed as a stop-gap measure until the full development of the Montefiore and Glen Eyre sites could be pushed through, with an anticipated lifespan of just 15 years. However the tower was only removed from the University's housing stock in first decade of the 21st century.

On 9 January 1986, Southampton City Council created the Itchen Valley Conservation Area which includes South Stoneham House and Lodge.[20] This places a number of restrictions on the construction of new buildings and the demolition of existing structures; however the Council have made an exception in the case of the tower block attached to South Stoneham House, which "may be considered for demolition by the University within the plan period."[21]

In the 1990s South Stoneham House was merged into the Wessex Lane Halls complex of residences, although each individual hall maintained an individual character. Residents were catered for and ate originally in South Stoneham's own dining hall, part of the 1960s extension, and later in the Galley Restaurant in the neighbouring Connaught Hall. Residents shared small kitchen and bathroom facilities.


Original house

The north face of the house

The architecture of the original building is attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor,[10] with some alterations from around 1900[1] and the subsequent modern 1960s extensions. The original mansion is in the Queen Anne style.[22] The house itself has three storeys constructed of red brick. The ground floor level has a rubbed brick band at nine courses, and another rubbed brick band exists on the second floor, along with a moulded stone cornice level with the sills.[1]

The attic is tall and embraces the second floor. It has moulded stone coping and a small pediment in the centre, which is supported by an entablature decorated with triglyphs and modillions.[1]

The roof is tiled and hipped, with five hips in all. The seven window openings built into the roof at second-floor level are original, but fitted with modern windows. On the first floor there are nine tall, narrow windows with wide frames, stone sills and deep arches of rubbed brick. In the late 18th century eight windows, two of which are on the left-hand-side of the door, were altered. The door itself is placed centrally with a coved, moulded architrave above and 45-degree corbels decorated with acanthus supporting a cornice with round brackets and a carved keystone. The door is glazed and a Doric porch of modern brick covers the doorcase.[1]

A full-height extension exists to the left-hand side of the building (looking at the north front), and the attic storey was extended by one bay on each side after this full-height extension was built. The building is now flanked by two modern wings.[1]

The rear of the house, the south front, has the same overall design as the north front with the exception of a large central bay at ground and first-floor level. The first floor of the bay has three windows; the ground floor has two windows with a glazed door in the middle. This door is of similar design to the front door at the north of the house, and has four steps of Portland stone accompanied by balustrades also of Portland stone.[1]

On both the north and south faces of the building there are two rainwater heads made of cast lead, inscribed with the initials "EDS".[1]

1960s extension

The extension was designed by Oakdale, Dorset. During his lifetime he was also responsible for significant work on Chichester Cathedral, Chelmsford Cathedral, Oxford's Bodleian Library and he held the post of Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul's Cathedral in London.[23]

EWH Gifford and Partners were the structural engineers, while the general contractors were a company called Trollope and Colls Limited. The designers settled on a tower block so as to leave as much of the gardens and grounds intact as they could.[22]

The tower block and other additions to the house were described in the January–March 1964 edition of Concrete Quarterly as "some very fine extensions":[22]

The tower block measures 49 by 56 feet (15 by 17 m) and rests on a concrete raft 2 feet 6 inches (76 cm) thick on a stiff clay subsoil. A reinforced concrete core keeps the tower stable and contains the lifts and other services. This central core also supported a tower crane during construction which meant no scaffolding was used at all. Above the first floor level, the tower has an "egg crate structure" with cross walls made of reinforced concrete and measuring 6 inches (15 cm) thick, and 5 inches (13 cm) thick reinforced concrete floor slabs. Both the walls and floor slabs were cast on site.[22]

Grounds and gardens

The salmon pool as seen from the grounds

The estate was landscaped some time after 1722 by Lancelot "Capability" Brown[5] and Kelly's Directory of 1915 described the house as being "pleasantly seated".[12] At that time the grounds comprised 110 acres, with 5 acres of water,[12] which would have included parts of Monks Brook (including the salmon pool that it flows into) and the River Itchen and the modern Riverside Park. However 100 years earlier the estate was more extensive, being described thus in The Times on 21 June 1815:

In 1839 the estate was described as not particularly extensive, but notable for its groups of "patrician" elm trees.[24]

It has been suggested that the ponds are relics of the "2 fisheries" mentioned in the Domesday Book entry for the site.[25] The gardens and salmon pool were the subject of an oil painting by the neo-classical painter Adam Buck; the painting, measuring 35 inches by 57 inches, sold at auction at Sotheby's in London for £3,200 on 27 November 1974.[26] Some of Capability Brown's signature cedars of Lebanon still surround the house today.


Original house

When the house was sold in 1875, the interior was described thus:

Surviving interior features include an early 18th-century staircase with carved tread ends decorated with scroll, flower and leaf designs. Each step has three twisted balusters, and there is a moulded hand rail. The staircase is situated in a hall with an 18th-century ceiling painting of pelicans, trumpets and swags.[1] In the early 21st century it was planned to remove the staircase from the house entirely.[9]

The interior is panelled to dado level[1] and in the Music Room there is a cornice decorated with swags and paterae and a marble fireplace decorated with cupids, urns and more swags.[1] The music room is situated at the eastern end of the ground floor.[9]

1960s extension

Each of the upper floors of the tower block has a kitchen, a laundry and wash rooms as well as ten "study-bedrooms" and two larger rooms linked by a lobby. Each study room has a wash basin and fitted wardrobe. Originally the interior walls of the extension were not plastered since a plastic-faced plywood framework had been used to give a higher quality finish to the concrete, rendering plastering unnecessary. As a result, internal decoration was applied directly to the concrete walls.[22]

Redevelopment proposals

The tower, with scaffolding being erected around it in October 2012

Much controversy has surrounded the continuous use of South Stoneham Tower and in 1997 a large wooden collar was added to the base of the tower to prevent crumbling concrete falling onto staff and students below. The tower's construction and its extensive use of asbestos mean that decommission and deconstruction has provided a technical stumbling block to redevelopment of the South Stoneham site. Physical disassembly would be hugely expensive, while explosives cannot be used due to the proximity of private houses and the Grade II* listed[6] original building. Indeed, because the tower and kitchen/dining hall complex are physically linked to the original house by a glazed connection, the whole site, including the tower, shares the listed building status.[4]

Nevertheless the University commissioned a firm of architects to create a listed building consent application for the tower and the kitchen and dining hall complex to be demolished with the resulting report being published in 2004. The application stated that the demolition was part of a "master plan" which "seeks to establish the reinstatement of South Stoneham House to a standard befitting its Listed Building status. The key part of the master plan is to refurbish and change the use of the Listed Building as a conference facility." The application stated that this would replace the University's conference centre at Chilworth Manor.[4]

To pay for the demolition of the 1960s extension, the consent application indicated that the University planned to sell off another part of the current South Stoneham estate, currently occupied by a tennis court and caretakers' house, for a residential scheme comprising 65 flats. In addition, to replace the student accommodation that the demolition would remove, the plan was for another building containing 64 student flats plus staff accommodation to be constructed on the eastern part of the site.[4]

The plan also indicated the provision of better access to the site including new footpaths alongside Monks Brook and the River Itchen as well as the possibility of handing part of the site to the city council as a nature conservation area. The University also planned a series of repairs and alterations to the original house.[4]

The listed building consent application for the demolition was recommended for approval although some concerns were raised regarding the proposed new constructions, which were to be detailed in a separate application.[4] Other applications made at the time, for the demolition of other buildings on the site and for the refurbishment and change of use of the house itself were also recommended for approval.[27][28]

In 2006, the first six floors of the tower were re-opened to accommodate an overflow of students. As of 2012, however, the building was no longer in use and was not listed on the University's website for the Wessex Lane Halls complex.[29]

A 2007 promotional leaflet revealed that architecture firm Poole Philips had recently completed a design for the "restoration and enhancement" of South Stoneham House to be used as a conference centre. The design combined the historical original house with "a modern glass structure".[30]


By 2011 the western part of the house (the end closest to the 1960s extension) had been water damaged leading to a substantial dry rot infestation. To remedy this several of the original timber lintels, wooden wall panelling, plasterwork and some steps from the staircase had all been removed and it was planned to remove the entire staircase from the house. The lintels were to be replaced with new wood and the walls were to be replastered.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "South Stoneham House, Southampton". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "South Stoneham". The Fleming Estate in Hampshire & the Isle of Wight. Willis Fleming Historical Trust. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i William Page (editor). "Parishes: South Stoneham". A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Demolition of 17-storey tower block hall of residence, glazed link, kitchen area, and linking block to South Stoneham House". Listed Building Consent Application. Southampton City Council. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c The Times, 13 June 1804
  6. ^ a b "Listed buildings in Southampton". Southampton City Council. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Nash, Sally; Sherwood, Martin (2002). The University of Southampton, An Illustrated History. James & James.  
  8. ^ "Woodmill". FishPal Ltd. Archived from the original on 22 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "South Stoneham House, Swaythling, Southampton: Historic Building Record and Archaeological Record". Wessex Archeology. August 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "South Stoneham House". The Willis Fleming Historical Trust. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  11. ^ MacDougall, Philip (2004). "Edmund Dummer".   (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  12. ^ a b c "South Stoneham".  
  13. ^ "South Stoneham House". Portcities Southampton. Southampton City Council and partners. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  14. ^ Freeling, Arthur (1839). The London and Southampton Railway Companion. J.T. Norris, London. 
  15. ^ "Sale catalogue. South Stoneham House, Wood Mill, Gascon Cottage and land for building, 23 November 1875". Hampshire County Council. 23 November 1875. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "Abstract of Reconveyance D/BU/2/18 1876". Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Aldridge, M H (1996). A history of the Southampton School of Navigation. Southampton Institute for Higher Education. p. 6. 
  18. ^ "South Stoneham House". EMPORIS GMBH. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Southampton's tallest buildings – Top 20". EMPORIS GMBH. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "Conservation Areas – streets and buildings". Southampton City Council – Historic Environment Record. Southampton City Council. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  21. ^ "HE 2 Demolition in Conservation Areas – Southampton City Council". Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f "Extensions to a hall of residence, University of Southampton". Concrete Quarterly (60): 14–16. January–March 1964. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Obituary: Robert Potter". The Telegraph. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  24. ^ Duthy, John (1839). Sketches of Hampshire. p. 327. 
  25. ^ "South Stoneham (Bishops Stoneham)". Hampshire County Council Historic Rural Settlement Reports. 2000. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  26. ^ "Gardens and salmon pool at South Stoneham House, Swaythling". Blouin Art Sales Index. Louise Blouin Media. Archived from the original on 22 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  27. ^ "Demolition of post-graduate accommodation, wardens lodge, store structures, part of boundary walls and ancillary structures within grounds of South Stoneham House". Southampton City Council. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  28. ^ "Refurbishment and conversion of the existing building (currently vacant and last used partly as halls of residence) to form a conference facility and the laying out of associated car parking and landscaping to the site". Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  29. ^ "Wessex Lane Overview". Accommodation. University of Southampton. 14 March 2012. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  30. ^ "From 16th Century Hall houses to Stunning Contemporary Homes". Autodesk Inc. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 

External links

  • A brief film of the lawns being ploughed at South Stoneham in 1941
  • Amateur film taken by Captain Wakeford, Director of the School of Navigation, of cadets, staff and visitors at the School in South Stoneham House during World War Two
  • Photograph of some Dragon's teeth from the Second World War in the grounds
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