An 18th Century Grade ΙΙ* listed Gothic Cottage Orné, idyllically set above the tranquil waters of the River Test. The House is set in extensive grounds, with fine trees and lawns sweeping down to the banks of the River. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful privately owned houses and gardens in Hampshire.
Cottage Ornés or Rural Retreats as they were known were built in the eighteenth century as Sir Roy Strong writes "by noblemane who yearned for the simple life away from the draughty grandeur of the great house". Although comfortable on the inside they were designed to give an air of rusticity on the outside. Thatched roofs and tall chimneys were designed to give an air or rusticity on the outside. At the same time there was a gradual move away from the formal layout and plantings of English parks and gardens to the desire for ‘natural’ landscapes. An increased sensitivity to the world of nature, and the importance of the picturesque and romantic movements led to the development of the Natural Style.
Architects and garden designers set about softening the boundaries between house and garden with delightful contrivances such as conservatories, french windows, terraces and verandahs with vases of flowers and plant containers in profusion both inside and out. Houghton Lodge is a textbook example of this. There is total harmony between the shape of the house, its carefully contoured lawns and the sweeping bends of the river.
Houghton Lodge has an importance quite disproportionate to its size, a building of architectural and historic importance. Built sometime before 1799 and probably intended as a fishing lodge, it is one of the earliest examples of a Cottage Orné or Rural Retreat. Whoever designed it appreciated regional buildings, especially the rounded thatched forms and plastered walls of Hampshire valley villages. Built on a hill overlooking the River Test, a more magical position would be hard to find. Both the House and the Garden are in the rare category of Grade II* listed status, one of only 12 properties in the whole of Hampshire.
The best view of the house is from the end of the main lawn. The ideal of the picturesque style of architecture was to achieve a union between art and nature; the blending of the house with its surroundings. Hence the large windows to the ground and the verandah (probably once of rustic woodwork) for a sheltered walk.
The house, orginally symmetrical on all four sides (unlike many later buildings in the vernacular) stood apart from the stables and was probably thatched. It is, in fact, timber framed rendered to resemble the cob cottages of the district.
The kitchen, once in the cellars, were transferred during the time of Lord Arundell or Wardour in the early part of the nineteenth century to part ofthe stables and a linking block built between them. Thus making the task of bringing hot food to the dining-room a daily challenge for all subsequent generations!
Did Your Ancestors Live Here?
We would very much like to hear from anyone who is descended from one of these families:
- 1799 The earliest advertisement for the sale of the house
- 1800 Mrs Bernard who let the house to Caleb Smith
- 1802 The Hon. G. Pitt who later that year succeeded his father, Lord Rivers, and moved to Stratfield Saye
- 1803 Donald Frail Esq
- 1804 John James Esq (who died 5th November 1829)
- 1810 Lord Arundell of Wardour
- 1831 Mrs Margaret James
- 1842 John Mannington Morgan Esq
- 1892 William Snow Clifton Esq (who died 3rd May 1892)
- 1982 - 1910 Let to the Daubeney family
- 1910 - to the present day the house is owned by the Busk family
We are always delighted to hear from people who remember the house in the old days and can tell us their reminiscences. Whether a sketch of letter with reference to Houghton Lodge, perhaps a relative remembers fishing on the famous chalk stream or someone went racing at the old Course at Stockbridge, if you can help to shed some light on the early days, please get in touch.
Please email us at email@example.com or ring 01264-810502 or 810912 for our recorded message or fax 01264-810063