History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Broadlands is best known as the former home of the late Lord Louis Mountbatten, great grandson of Queen Victoria. Mountbatten's grandson, Lord Romsey, is the current owner.
The Palladian mansion, set on the banks of the River Test, which flows for four miles through the estate, was a Tudor and Jacobean manor house. Owned by Romsey Abbey, it fell into Henry VIII's hands on the dissolution of the monasteries. From there it passed through a number of hands ending up with the St. Barbe family for the longest period-117 years.
Purchased in 1736 by Henry Temple, the 1st Viscount Palmerston, its landscape was transformed by Capability Brown under the direction of the 2nd Viscount in 1766. Brown then proceeded, with the help of Henry Holland, to change the manor house into the present foursquare Palladian mansion. He built a new portico and refaced the building in yellowish brick.
Henry Holland continued the transformation in 1788 by adding an east front portico and domed entrance hall on the site of an open court. Greek and Roman sculptures, purchased on the 2nd Viscount's Grand Tour of the continent of Europe are on display in the Sculpture Hall along with his collection of 18th century sculpture and original tables with Roman granite tops.
It was the third Viscount, Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, who became famous as the Victorian Prime Minister. His desk is on display in the house. Broadlands is filled not only with mementos of its famous owners but with many art treasures, including paintings by Van Dyck, 18th and 19th century portraits, and a collection of Wedgwood. Paintings by Raeburn and Reynolds are also represented.
Throughout the house exquisite plasterwork is by the notable plasterer, Joseph Rose the Elder. His work is seen in the Saloon's white and gold neo-classical decoration on the coffered ceiling. Sèvres and Meissen pieces are on display in the Saloon. Rose designed the Drawing Room ceiling, which has oval painted panels.
Of special note in the home's interior is the aptly named Wedgwood Room. Done in blue and white, the room resembles a piece of Wedgwood. Rose completed the plasterwork ceiling and frieze in 1769, while other wall decorations were done by Henry Holland. In the room is a portrait by Sir Peter Lely of Frances Teresa Stuart, the famous beauty and friend of Charles II.
There is an 18th century mahogany sideboard and pedestals in the dining room. The Oak Room and the 17th century oak staircase retain much of their Tudor origins.
Lord Mountbatten is the subject of a special AV program and exhibition in the former stables. He received the title of Earl Mountbatten of Burma for services in the WW II and in India. The former "show dairy" is now the Visitor Centre. The mid-Georgian home, set in beautiful parkland is a rich repository of a family's history and a showcase for the talents of all those who helped in its design.
Address: Romsey, Hampshire, England, SO51 9ZD
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: at Romsey, 8 m N Southampton, off A31. Closed until June 2006.
OS: SU355 204
Photo Credit: Image from from Morris's Country Seats (1880)
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
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