Bedhampton Manor House Confusion Explained

The Old Manor House - Image from the Bedhampton Historical Collection


When I first became involved in Bedhampton local history, I found a picture on-line of The Old Manor House by Martin Snape (artist 1853 - 1930). For quite some time, I believed that this image was an early version of the present Manor House in Edward Gardens, Bedhampton, before the Victorian redevelopment that hides the Tudor core which can be seen on the rear elevation. I later learnt from John Pile, Alan Palmer and from research by Eileen Smith, that the Manor House in the Snape picture had stood on a different site and had been demolished in 1881 owing to natural decay and neglect.

The Old Manor House stood on the south side of Bidbury Lane and at the northern end of Donkey Meadow. From the few images of the house which survive, it appears to be a large, brick and half-timbered, house with a thatched roof on the main house and a tiled roof on the west wing. At the eastern end of the house were beds of watercress and a spring head. In the summer much of the view of this area from the road was hidden by a tangled hedge of scarlet runners. The house, a familiar sight to railway travellers on the line from Portsmouth is identified on some old maps as The Poorhouse; as the local alms houses the building was divided into six tenements, although I have been unable, so far, to find any information about the people in residence. 

The Old Manor House was owned by the Lord of the Manor, who at that time was the Hon. John Dutton, Baron of Sherbourne, whose son Ralph later bought Hinton Ampner (National Trust), a large estate near Alresford, Hampshire. In 1960, there was a serious fire at Hinton Ampner and for a short time relocated Ralph Dutton relocated to The Manor House in Edward Gardens.

When John Pile was heading the Bedhampton Historical Collection he sent some images of The Old Manor House to David Lloyd - an architectural historian and collaborator, along with Nikolous Pevsner (The Pevsner Guides to Building of England) for comment – his reply was:-

This looks a very interesting example of a timber framed, jettied house which, I would say is most likely to have been mid to late 16th century or very early 17th, with box-framed upper storey in the wing, and with the main, longer portion largely close-studded (though partly box-framed) in the upper storey. 

The ground storey of the wing looks as if it had been underbuilt in brick, perhaps in the 18th century, resulting in the loss of the overhang. The overhang of the jetty remains, however, in the part of the main range visible on one of the drawings, with the ends of the floor joists showing. The timber-framing of the upper storey of the wing is clearly filled with brick noggin – a practise which was a well established by the late 16th century. It is not clear whether narrow spaces between the vertical studs on the main part were brick-nogged or filled, according to the more traditional practise, with wattle-and-daub. The upper storey windows in the wing appear to be leaded casements, suggesting a 17th century date; those visible on the main part may have been partly wood-framed Georgian casements; later insertions. I would say that the window was probably an addition to the longer range, making the latter perhaps 16th century and the wing 17th.

Nigel Gossop

Bedhampton Historical Collection

February 2018