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Broadlands, Hampshire, England

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Broadlands, Hampshire, England

The original manor and area known as Broadlands has belonged to Romsey Abbey since before the time of the 11th-century English Norman Conquest.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Broadlands was sold to Sir Francis Fleming in 1547. His daughter married Edward St. Barbe, and the manor remained the property of the St. Barbe family for the next 117 years. Sir John St. Barbe made many improvements to the manor before it was left to his cousin Humphrey Sydenham in 1723. When Sydenham was ruined by the 18th-century South Sea Bubble, he proceeded to sell Broadlands to Henry Temple, 1st Viscount Palmerston in 1736. It was 1st Viscount Palmerston who began the deformalisation of the gardens between the river and the house and produced the (broad-lands) the "gentle descent to the river".

In 1767, a major architectural "transformation" was begun by Capability Brown, the celebrated architect and landscape designer, and completed by architect Henry Holland, which led to making Broadlands the Palladian-style mansion seen today.

Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston had requested that Brown go there and seize upon the "capabilities" of the earlier Tudor and Jacobean manor house. Between 1767 and 1780, William Kent's earlier "deformalising work" was completed, as well as further landscaping, planting, clearing and riverside work.

Broadlands was the country estate of the nineteenth century prime minister Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston.

Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) and Prince Philip spent their honeymoon at Broadlands in November 1947; Earl Mountbatten, whose home Broadlands was at the time, was Philip's uncle. The newly married Prince and Princess of Wales also spent the first three days of their honeymoon at Broadlands in 1981, travelling to the estate by train from London Waterloo.

In current times

Broadlands, August 2000 It is occupied by Lord and Lady Brabourne (who until 2005 enjoyed the courtesy style of Lord and Lady Romsey, a subsidiary title of Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Lord Brabourne's mother, whose late husband was John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne).

Norton Knatchbull, 8th Baron Brabourne is the grandson of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Should the title fall from the 2nd Countess Mountbatten on death to her son, the seat of the earldom would again be Broadlands as it was in Earl Mountbatten's time.


Broadlands house and estate, formerly the residence of Lord Palmerston. The estate is bounded on the west by the River Test, famous for its trout fishing. Broadlands was visited by James I in 1607, his host being the then lord of the manor, Edward St. Barbe. To the west is Pauncefoot Hill, now part of the Broadlands estate, but once a separate manor. South-west of Broadlands on the other side of the river is Moorcourt, opposite to which across the Test are Lee, Skidmore Farm and Toothill.

The site of the monastery of Romsey and the mansion called the Abbess' Lodging, with the adjoining chapel of St. Peter, the clerk's house, the gatehouse and meadows called Tappesham, Langley Meade, Colemede and South Garden, were granted in 1546 to John Bellowe and Robert Bigott, (fn. 64) but passed before 1557 to Sir Francis Fleming, with Broadlands (q.v. infra). The estate was then known as the manor of ROMSEY INFRA. (fn. 65) Sir Francis Fleming died in 1558, leaving a son and heir William, (fn. 66) who held the property until his death in 1605, (fn. 67) when it passed to his only daughter and heir, Frances the wife of Edward St. Barbe. (fn. 68) Henry St. Barbe, their son and heir, settled the manor in 1615 on himself and his wife Anna, (fn. 69) and was succeeded before 1653 by John St. Barbe, (fn. 70) who at his death in 1658 was followed by his eldest son Henry. (fn. 71) The latter died without issue three years later, his heir being his younger brother John, who was created a baronet in 1663 and died without issue in 1723, when his estates passed in accordance with his will to his great-grand-nephew, Humphrey Sydenham. (fn. 72) In 1736 Humphrey sold the manor of Romsey Infra and Broadlands to Henry Temple first Viscount Palmerston, (fn. 73) whose grandson and heir Henry followed him at his death in 1757. (fn. 74) The latter died in 1802, and his son and heir, Henry John third Viscount Palmerston, the eminent statesman, was dealing with the manor by recovery in 1808. (fn. 75) He died without issue in 1865, leaving Romsey Infra by will to his widow, with remainder to the Hon. William Francis Cowper, her second son by her first marriage with the fifth Earl Cowper. (fn. 76) The Hon. William Francis Cowper assumed the additional surname of Temple on succeeding to the property at the death of his mother in 1869, and was created Lord Mount Temple of Mount Temple (co. Sligo) in 1880. (fn. 77) He died without issue in 1888, leaving his Hampshire estates to his nephew, the Hon. Anthony Evelyn Melbourne Ashley, (fn. 78) who held the manor until his death in 1907, when he was followed by his son and heir, Mr. Wilfrid William Ashley, the present owner.


BROADLANDS, with other lands, was leased in 1538 by the Abbess of Romsey to Thomas Foster of Cranbrook (co. Kent), (fn. 79) who obtained a regrant of the lease from the king in 1541. (fn. 80) In 1547 Edward VI granted Broadlands to his maternal uncle, Thomas Lord Seymour, (fn. 81) who the same year sold it to Francis Fleming. (fn. 82) Francis Fleming was knighted the same year, and about the same time acquired the site of Romsey Abbey. Mr. Wilfrid William Ashley's property in Romsey is now known as the Broadlands estate.


Preserving public access to over 4,500 boxes of papers relating to Lord Palmerston and Mountbatten: the Broadlands Archives campaign by Kathryn Hadley 17 November 2009

At the end of last week, the University of Southampton launched a campaign to raise the necessary funds to preserve public access in the UK to hundreds of thousands of papers and photographs relating to Lord Mountbatten and Lord Palmerston. The Broadlands Archives have been on loan to the University’s Hartley Library since 1989, where they were transferred from the home of Lord Romsey. They were inherited by Lord Romsey, Mountbatten's grandson, on Mountbatten's assassination by the IRA off the Irish coast on August 27th, 1979. The University now needs to raise 2.85 million to acquire the Broadlands Archives.

The archives are stored in more than 4,500 boxes and include documents which chart the major political, social, diplomatic and economic events of the 19th and 20th centuries. They include 1,200 letters dealing with foreign affairs and general government business from the Queen to Lord Palmerston (1784-1865), who served as Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Prime Minister during Queen Victoria’s reign.

There are also 250,000 papers and 50,000 photographs which chart the career of Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979). In particular, they cover his time as Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command (SACSEA) from 1943 to 1946, and as the last Viceroy of India in 1947 and 1948 and the first Governor-General of the newly independent Union of India. Correspondence from this time includes letters from Gandhi and there are also papers and photographs of Mountbatten’s wife Edwina, Countess Mountbatten.

Lastly, the Broadlands Archives include the diaries of the politician and philanthropist Anthony Ashley Cooper (1801-1885), the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. Known as the ‘poor man’s earl’, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury notably fought for the protection of child chimney sweeps and shorter working hours for children and women in factories, and his papers provide an insight into social progress in Victorian England.

In Safe Harbour for Mountbatten Archive Sydney Reynolds reports on the initial transfer of the Broadlands Archives to the Hartley Library in April 1989.

In 1991 we republished a vintage article by AJP Taylor entitled Lord Palmerston and written in July 1951 about the 60 year long career of Lord Palmerston. Also, for further information on the Indian partition and the role of Lord Mountbatten as the last Viceroy of India, read our article Mountbatten and the Transfer of Power.