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History of Cranbury Park, Hampshire by Michael Ford

The Home of Sir Isaac Newton

Cranbury Park

Once a year Cranbury Park, South of Winchester in the Parish of Hursley, opens its gardens to the public for their enjoyment and for the support of various charities.

A visit on a nice day, as it was this year (1999), is a delight. Unfortunately the house is not open so its magnificent interior cannot be seen, which is a shame as Pevsner describes it as an 'unforgettable experience' to behold the hall with its coffered tunnel-vaults to the full height of the house and the beautiful ballroom. It is however possible to arrange a bed and breakfast stay as guests of the owner Mrs Chamberlayne-Macdonald.

Roundel above the EntranceThe house is built in a very red brick with stone dressings. The entrance is through a porte-cochere either side of which are large columned windows with roundels in relief above each and above the porch. Balustrades surmounted by urns run around the parapet, framing the whole house to give a very pleasing prospect within the landscape.

The house we see today was built in 1780 for Lady Dance-Holland the wife of Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland the painter and the brother of George Dance who is believed to be its architect. Cranbury Park, before this time has an interesting history as the home of Sir Isaac Newton, England's great philosopher, during his latter years, until his death in 1727. One of his former pupils, Jonathan Conduitt, married Sir Isaac's half-niece and adopted daughter Catherine Barton in 1717.

Netley Abbey Ruins re-erected at CranburyOn his death the property was bought by Mr Lee Dummer and it was a Dummer who purchased medieval masonry from Netley Abbey for his collection of historic monuments. Today in the grounds can be seen these fragments which he had re-erected in the 1760s, some being incorporated into a picturesque tower with the others forming a wall of arches taken from the North transept of the Abbey.

Sir Isaac Newton's SundialThe Chamberlaynes came to live at Cranbury Park around 1800 and are still in residence. The pleasure grounds were laid out in 1815 and are thought to be by Papworth. The sundial in the garden displays the Conduitt coat of arms and was calculated by Sir Isaac Newton himself.

The Garden of Cranbury Park is normally open for one day only in June. Enquire locally for details.

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