South Stoneham House
|South Stoneham House|
The north (front) face of the original house
|Town or city||Swaythling, Southampton|
|Height||(tower) 48.7 metres|
|Floor count||3 (original); 17 (extension)|
|Design and construction|
|Owner||University of Southampton|
|Other designers||Lancelot "Capability" Brown|
|Designations||Grade II* listed|
South Stoneham House is a Grade II* listed former manor house in Swaythling, Southampton; the former seat of the Barons Swaythling 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.
Originally called Bishop's Stoneham, the records of the manor date from Domesday, but the current house was constructed in the early eighteenth century. Attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor with gardens and landscaping by Lancelot "Capability" Brown, the house is close to the River Itchen and Monks Brook. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
South Stoneham House (1708–1920) 
The house was constructed in 1708 as the Dummer's family home, and has been attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor. Dummer was from nearby North Stoneham and had been baptised in St. Nicolas' Church there. The grounds of the house comprised 110 acres, with 5 acres of water, and were laid out after 1722 by Capability Brown (though very little of the original landscaping remains).
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. William Sloane, whose brother founded the British Museum, purchased the manor from Nicholas in 1740, and it was subsequently owned by his son Hans Sloane, Jean Louis Bazalgette, and John Lane. Lane was declared bankrupt and the manor was put up for sale in 1815 after which 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.
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 again in 1843. Mrs Charlotte Maria Beckford leased the property and died at South Stoneham House in 1854, 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 1861. The Willis Flemings sold South Stoneham House for £20,000 in 1875 (or 1878 according to some sources), to Captain Thomas Davison (or Daveson). 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. "Gascon's Meadow with house thereon in South Stoneham" was reconveyanced the next year.
In 1888 South Stoneham House was purchased from Davison by Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling. Eleven years later 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) 
Tradition prevailed in the house, with a collegiate atmosphere as gowns were expected to be worn to dinner and lectures and curfews were enforced.
A bell was rung at 5.45 each evening and everyone settled in silence to study until another bell two hours later released us for dinner. At 10 o'clock another bell called us to prayers. Half an hour later the warden came round to all the bedrooms to check that everyone was in bed.
— Ernest Holmes, The University of Southampton, An Illustrated History
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.
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. For much of this time, the College operated a School of Navigation, based in the communal rooms of Stoneham House.
In 1964, a concrete tower extension was added to the hall, incorporating a bar and dining hall area, both now out of use. The tower contains 180 student rooms over its 17 floors and is 48.7 metres high, making it the 8th-tallest building in Southampton. 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. 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." 
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.
The architecture of the original building is attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor, with some alterations from around 1900 and the subsequent modern 1960s extensions. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Grounds and gardens 
The estate was landscaped some time after 1722 by Lancelot "Capability" Brown and Kelly's Directory of 1915 described the house as being "pleasantly seated". At that time the grounds comprised 110 acres, with 5 acres of water, 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 Jun 1815:
A highly valuable and very compact FREEHOLD ESTATE, comprising the manor or reputed manor of South Stoneham, and the capital Mansion, called South Stoneham-house, most delightfully situate on the banks of the Itchen river, distant only two miles and a half from Southampton, with offices of every description for a family of respectability, gardens, pleasure grounds, hot houses, ice house, sheets of water, fish ponds, and 360 customary acres of arable, meadow, and wood land, about 40 acres of which form a beautiful paddock, in which the mansion stands; the remainder divided into a farm, with farm house and buildings ...
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. Some of Capability Brown's signature cedars of Lebanon still surround the house today.
When the house was sold in 1875, the interior was described thus:
A Corridor with scagliola pilaster, having solid Ormolu Corinthian caps and bases, leads to a spacious SEMI-OCTAGONAL LIBRARY, surrounded by twenty fluted three-quarter column scagliola pilasters, standing on a scagliola base, and having ormolu caps and bases supporting a richly moulded imitation marble cornice, the recesses filled with Shelves for Books, and a black marble chimney-piece and register stove. Plate glass French Windows open into a HANDSOME-CONSERVATORY 40-ft. long and 14-ft. 6-in. wide, with a silvered plate glass screen at the further end, giving an appearance of greater length, and stocked, with some choice creapers. On the right of the Hall is a Gentleman's Room or Study with Wainscotted Walls, two large Cupboards, marble and carved Mantel-piece, next to which is a GLASS and CHINA STORE ROOM, fitted with numerous Cupboards and a close Stove, and at the back a SCHOOL ROOM overlooking the Lawn, with marble Chimney Piece and register Stove. ANTE-ROOM at side, LOBBY, long Passage, W.C.; GARDEN ROOM at end, opening on to the Terrace. THE PRINCIPAL STAIRCASE with spiral balusters and Gallery Landing, leads to TWO NOBLE DRAWING ROOMS, divided by folding doors, one being 20-ft. 3-in., by 18-ft .. 6-in., and the other 25-ft. by 20-ft. 6-in., with moulded cornices, distempered walls, woodwork grained maple, enamelled slate chimney-piece in imitation of Sienna marble, and polished register Stove. A BED ROOM, 18-ft. by 16-ft., adjoining, and a DRESSING ROOM, also A PRINCIPAL OCTAGONAL SHAPED BED ROOM OVER THE LIBRARY.
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.
Redevelopment proposals 
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. As the tower was originally built using jack building techniques (i.e. the top story was constructed first, jacked up, and the next story added below) and made extensive use of asbestos, its 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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".
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- A brief film of the lawns being ploughed at South Stoneham in 1941
- Photograph of some Dragon's teeth from the Second World War in the grounds