Most people around Basingstoke will be aware of the ‘Local Plan’ which will effect us in different ways in the not too distant future. One of the sites destined for new housing has a history surprisingly few seem to know about these days, especially us “newcomers”. I have been to the site of Kempshott House to explore a couple of times and just this last month I found out there was a local talk on the House. Relaying this information to my friends, none of them had seemed to have heard of the house, which is a real pity.
I had seen from old Ordnance Survey maps a house was marked, so I have been over to the site a couple of weekends to explore what become of Kempshott House, and see if any of it was still visible.
There are several articles about Kempshott House / Manor / Park which can be read online and have much more detail than I intend to cover here, and there some great old photos you can see of the property and its interiors. My real motivation is to encourage people to visit the site before its gets lost forever. It will probably take you just around an hour to retrace the site and I come away understanding its location.
Basingstoke Golf Club currently preserves part of the landscape of Kempshott Park which in different guises, has been owned by Lords, has been the country residence of a Prince of Wales, and one of the founding fathers of Canada, (and oh yeah, Jane Austen was know to visit from time to time…) It’s slow decline has mirrored many estates post war, as the money run out and upkeep such places spiraled. The coming of the M3 motorway helped its demise further. I always thought it was the building of the motorway that demolished the house, but at the recent talk on the subject I discovered this was not the case! It didn’t really help preserve it though with the land being split in two…
So at this moment in time you can stand on the site of the house – er, but be careful… if you don’t mind the fly tipping and debris of old factories pulled down around, so take care! This is a bit sad to see when you have a knowledge of whats been lost. Around the fringes there are supposed to be some traces of the steps – but I couldn’t see any easily, and I’m not encouraging you to trespass or endanger yourselves in the hunt.
But bear with it… Its not all doom and still worth persevering. The second part gives you a much better experience of what it was like if you just take the path, with the current golf course on your right. You cross the motorway via a bridge and down the slope, the old coaching stables and remains of what was the kitchen garden come into view. Here you can walk into an open view away from the bustle of the M3, just as the Prince Regent would have known.
On one of my walks earlier this year I was able to find a musket shot, which I like to think harks back the hunting the Prince Regent and his party once indulged in!
So before the building commences can I urge you to read up on the history of Kempshott House, take a map, (and an old one preferably), and see this site before it is lost to housing and the next residents know nothing of what they live on.