A 10-minute drive from us is Hinton Ampner, an elegant stately home, garden and woodland near Alresford in Hampshire.
The house has undergone many changes in its history, most notably a change of location. In the 18th century, the old Tudor house attained notoriety as being severely haunted and therefore uninhabitable, with the tenant, Mary Ricketts, literally forced to flee the property. The house was pulled down in 1793, after its replacement, the current house, was built about 50 metres to the south.
The current house was built in 1790 but remodelled extensively in 1867. When Ralph Dutton inherited it in 1935, he remodelled it again from a Victorian mansion to a neo-Georgian style country house. In 1960, when the house was badly damaged by fire, Dutton carefully restored the house and its collections. On his death in 1985, having no direct heirs, Dutton gave the estate to the National Trust.
Fortunately, many items were salvaged from the fire, including a marble fireplace, originally from Robert Adam’s demolished Adelphi Terrace, and a plasterwork ceiling in the dining room, originally from a Robert Adam townhouse. There are also numerous fine paintings, including a set of paintings of the four seasons by Jacob de Wit, as well as collections of hard stone and fine ceramics.
The garden at Hinton Ampner is a masterpiece of 20th century garden design, mixing formal and informal planting with fine vistas throughout. The garden was created by the 8th and last Baron Sherborne, Ralph Stawell Dutton, from 1930. There is a walled garden lined with 19th century espalier apple and pear trees, and some of the organic fruits and vegetables grown in the garden today are used in Hinton Ampner’s Stables tea room.
Visitors to Hinton Ampner can also explore the surrounding parkland on a number of walks such as a 4-mile trail around the estate. In late April and early Mary, the woods are filled with stunning displays of bluebells, which are well worth seeing.
After a relaxing stroll around the estate and gardens, why not treat yourself to lunch, dinner and a drink at the Thomas Lord.