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BROADLANDS
A house, a history, and a home (Pg 1/2)

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Broadlands, Romsey, Hampshire - The Mountbatten's home

'Broadlands' is considered one of the finest examples of mid-Georgian architecture in England.  It stands serenely in a unique place in British history, having had several distinguished owners and many of its important visitors have helped to shape the course of history.  Its name originates from the 'Brode Landes' estate, which was owned by nearby Romsey Abbey which had been founded by a daughter of King Edward the Elder (870(899-924) - who was the son of King Alfred the Great (848(871-899), as a Benedictine nunnery in 907.  At this time the men who farmed the estates paid their rents and taxes, as well as swear allegiance to 'the Lady of Romsey Manor' - the Abbess.

In 1539 the manor was surrendered to King Henry VIII (1491(1509-1547) who separated the Abbey from the house after the Dissolution of the Monasteries and allowed the people of Romsey to buy the church for £100 to become their parish church.  The King died in 1547, and was succeeded by his sickly son - King Edward VI (1537(1547-1553) who gave the estate to his uncle - The Rt Hon. Sir Thomas Seymour, 1st Lord Seymour of Sudeley (1508-1549), who was Lord High Admiral 1547-1549 and brother of Queen Jane (Seymour) (1508-1537), the third wife of King Henry VIII.  Seymour subsequently sold Broadlands in 1547 to Sir Francis Fleming (1502-1558), who had served under Seymour as Lieutenant-General of the Ordanance, whose grand-daughter Frances married Henry St. Barbe.  The manor remained the property of the St. Barbe family for the next 117 years.

A map of the  old Broadlands estate

An old map of the original Broadlands estate

Sir John St. Barbe, Bt. (1655-1723) made many improvements to the manor prior to leaving the estate in 1723 to his nephew – Humphrey Sydenham (1694-1757), who was a banker.  Broadlands was then a red brick manor, in the traditional 'E' Elizabethan design.  Sydenham was ruined in the 'South Sea Bubble' incident – where the South Sea Company was granted a monopoly to trade with South America under a treaty with Spain and an economic 'bubble' occurred through overheated speculation in the company’s shares.  He sold the estate for £26,500 to Henry Temple, 1st Viscount Palmerston (1673-1757) in 1736. Palmerston began the 'deformalisation' of the gardens between the river and the house and produced the "gentle descent to the river” and to make the house “suitable for a gentleman to live in". 

In 1767, a major architectural 'transformation' was begun by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-1783).  Palmerston’s grandson - Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston, (1739-1802) requested that Brown seize upon the capabilities' of the earlier Tudor and Jacobean manor house and between 1767 and 1780, the 'deformalisation' of William Kent (1685-1748) was completed, as well as further landscaping, planting and riverside work, creating one of his greatest masterpieces. 

 

Much of Brown’s designs remain today and it is a tribute to his foresight, that Broadland’s grounds are so beautiful today. Broadlands' Archives show that his was the principal influence in planning the project to 'square' the house in new classic Palladian style to be encased in white brick to give the appearance of stone and to have two noble porticos.  Brown's protégé and son-in-law - Henry Holland (1745-1806) added the east front portico and domed hall in 1788.  Most of the decorative plaster work in the main rooms was designed and executed by Joseph Rose the Elder (1723-1780) who was described by a contemporary as "the first man in the Kingdom as a plasterer".   The stable building (which now houses the Mountbatten Exhibition) has changed little since the end of the 17th Century when the old manor house of the St. Barbe family stood on the site of the present Georgian house. 

​ An early 19th Century engraving of Broadlands ​

An early 19th Century engraving of Broadlands

The St.Barbe family memorial within Romsey Abbey ​

The St. Barbe family memorial
within Romsey Abbey

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The Arms of the St. Barbe family

Lancelot "Capability" Brown ​

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown

'Capability' Brown's design of the South Front of Broadlands © Southampton University -  Broadlands Archive

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's

design of the South Front

of Broadlands
(c) Southampton University - 

The Broadlands Archive

The 18th Century grace of Broadlands' exterior is today complemented by its elegant interior and visitors can see many of the original paintings, furniture, porcelain and magnificent sculpture collected by The Palmerstons.  Lady Palmerston wrote - “nothing can be more comfortable than this House.  It is magnificent when we have company, and when alone it seems to be only a cottage in a beautiful garden".  

 

Today, the house is largely as the 2nd Viscount Palmerston left it, with only minor improvements being made by The Rt Hon. Sir Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865) who served as Foreign Secretary 1830-1834, 1835-1841 and 1846-1851 and as Prime Minister 1855-1858 and 1859-1865.

 

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The Rt Hon. Sir Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
(standing at the back to the right) with his family 

on the steps of Broadlands c.1858

​ An early photograph of Henry, 3rd Viscount Palmerston on the steps of Broadlands ​

 

Following the death of the 3rd Viscount Palmerston, the Broadlands estate passed to his step-son William Cowper-Temple, 1st Lord Mount Temple (1811-1888), who held public prayer meetings in the grounds and banned all blood-sports on the estate.  Following his death the estate passed to his great-nephew – The Rt Hon. Evelyn Melbourne Ashley (1836-1907), who was the second son of the great philanthropist Sir Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-1885) and who had been private secretary to the 3rd Viscount Palmerston.

Evelyn Ashley’s only son – Lt-Col. The Rt Hon. Wilfrid Ashley (1867-1939) who had been created Lord Mount Temple (2nd creation) in 1932, inherited the Broadlands estate in 1908.  Upon his death in 1939, the estate passed to his eldest daughter - Edwina, and through her marriage to Mountbatten, Broadlands passed into the Mountbatten and later the Knatchbull family, where it remains today.

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The Mountbatten Family during World War II

at Broadlands (left to right)

Pamela; Edwina; Patricia & Mountbatten

When the 3rd Viscount inherited Broadlands in 1802 (aged 18yrs), his father's debts were substantial and Broadlands had a £10,000 mortgage and worked hard to reduce his debts.  With restored finances added by his ministerial salary, he spent a great deal on the estate by improving the workmen's cottages and carried out extensive improvements to the house itself.  He regularly hosted large parties and enjoyed hunting and his horses at Broadlands.  He was a popular landlord and generous to his servants, tenants and to the local community by supporting local charities instituted a school for the local poor children of Romsey and paid the salary of the teacher.  In addition he paid for gaslight and heating improvements to Romsey Abbey - where he attended regularly.  By 1847, the new railway service from Romsey meant that the 3rd Viscount could travel from the Foreign Office to Broadlands in 3½ hours.

 

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ABOVE & LEFT:

The Rt Hon. Sir Henry Temple,

3rd Viscount Palmerston​ at Broadlands

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William

Cowper-Temple,

1st Lord Mount Temple

(1st creation)

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The Rt Hon.

Evelyn

Melbourne

Ashley

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Lt-Col The Rt Hon. Wilfrid Ashley,

1st Lord Mount Temple (2nd creation)

- Edwina's father

In November 1947, Princess Elizabeth, the Heiress Presumptive to King George VI (1895(1936-1952) and now Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-2022) and Mountbatten’s nephew - Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021) spent the first stage of their honeymoon at Broadlands. Mountbatten and Edwina had started their own honeymoon there following a family tradition started by Edwina’s parents and this was continued in 1981 following the wedding of Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, later King Charles III (1948(2022-    ) and The Lady Diana Spencer, later Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997). 

 

ABOVE: A short film by Pathé from 1947 about

The Duke & Duchess of Edinburgh

(Prince Philip & Princess Elizabeth) on their honeymoon

RIGHT: Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh

& Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II)

at Broadlands whilst on their honeymoon

Mountbatten & Edwina at Broadlands ​
Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh & The Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) on their honeymoon at Broadlands ​
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ABOVE LEFT & RIGHT: Mountbatten and Edwina, standing by the banks of the River Test

with their home - Broadlands, in the distance

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Mountbatten "in full fig" (in the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet),

in the Wedgewood Room at Broadlands