Peach house (central and eastern sections, and excluding the central porch) constructed between 1871 and 1896, probably by General and Mrs Gubbins, tenants of the Longmead estate. It is built against the south and west faces of the late-C18 and early-C19 garden walls, formerly the walled garden to Bishopstoke Rectory, where gardens were laid out by Dean Thomas Garnier in the first half of the C19.
Reason for Listing
* Architectural interest: purpose-built peach house, estate-built but using the latest glazing techniques using copper clips, where the unusual means of ventilation using a system of hinged panels manipulated by iron stays and the typical method of peach cultivation are evident;
* Rarity: one of very few late C19 peach houses of comparable layout, scale and status to survive, and where detailed evidence of the method and succession of cultivation is seen in the supports and ties and plant labels;
* Historic interest: remnant of a flourishing late C19 and early C20 kitchen garden, where typically a wide variety of exotic and tender fruits would have been cultivated, probably built by General and Mrs Gubbins, tenants of Longmead; built within the walled kitchen garden of Bishopstoke Rectory noted for its celebrated garden and arboretum laid out in the early to mid- C19 by Dean Thomas Garnier, member of the Linnean Society; later the kitchen garden of Longmead (GE Street, demolished) built for Alfred Barton who extended the estate and gardens.
The peach house at St Martin's Close is built in the former walled garden of Bishopstoke Rectory. The Rectory is separately owned and listed Grade II while its gardens are included in the Hampshire list of Parks and Gardens. The gardens were laid out by the incumbent Dean Thomas Garnier (1776-1883), a member of the Linnaean Society and noted plant collector. The grounds were highly acclaimed at the time and were described in detail in the Country Gardeners’ Magazine in 1834. When Garnier sold the house and garden in 1865, the gardens were acquired by Alfred Barton who went on to extend the estate and in 1866 built a new house, Longmead, designed by GE Street. It stood across the lane from Garnier’s aboretum and walled garden and was linked to them by a bridge. Barton left Longmead in 1879, letting the house and kitchen gardens to General and Mrs Gubbins, while from 1892 the bulk of the estate was gradually sold for redevelopment as housing. Longmead and the bridge spanning the road have since been demolished. When the gardens of Longmead were sold in 1928, plots 14, 15 and 24 which included the walled garden and glasshouse were sold as a single lot. The gardener’s bothy within the walled garden has since been extended as a bungalow. Until relatively recently the garden retained nut and fruit trees which were sufficiently low that they did not take light from the peach house.
The cultivation of peaches and nectarines became increasingly popular in the later C19. Although the glasshouse appears to have been built by the estate, it closely resembles peach cases, such as the Messenger Peach House, which were manufactured commercially at the time. Peach houses are specific to growing peaches and nectarines. Unlike larger-leaved figs and vines, the foliage allows sufficient light to percolate so that two rows of plants could be grown, trained as palmettes or fans, in a shallow glasshouse. However the plants need to be well-spaced, and a number would be needed to give a succession of fruiting.
While the glasshouse is not marked on the 1st edn 25” OS map of 1867-71 (nor on a detailed but undated surveyor’s plan by W Burrough Hill) it is shown on the 2nd edition map of 1896-97 suggesting that it was installed between 1871 and 1896 and most probably by General and Mrs Gubbins. A series of plant labels referring to peach varieties and dated 1904 may indicate an initial planting date or a second phase of planting: peaches are relatively short lived, with roughly a fifteen-year life span. The glasshouse appears to have been part of a longer range of buildings since the charred top plate of a structure is visible on the brick garden wall to the west of the former boiler house.
The walled garden, is an unusual proportion, being c 70m in length (east-west) and 25-30m in width (north –south) and is enclosed to the north, west and east by a red brick garden wall c.2.35m in height, largley built in Sussex bond typical of the late C18 or early C19. The southern wall is of similar construction but lower and a section is missing to the east. However, a short stretch of wall at the eastern end of the garden appears to predate the main garden walls. There is a cambered arched doorway in the eastern wall. The garden wall which supports the glasshouse is separately owned.
PLAN: the glasshouse is built against the south-facing wall within the walled garden. The building is divided in three sections (the western section is excluded from the listing) separated by brick spur walls, with a porched entrance between the central and western sections and at the eastern end (the central porch is excluded from the listing). There is also a rebuilt western entrance which is inaccessible and is excluded from the listing. Added to the west is a former boiler house and the remains of a former cold frame which is deeper than the glasshouse (also excluded from the listing). Between the porches, a rear bed runs the length of the building. Any evidence of a front bed is hidden by debris and foliage. A central path extends the length of the building.
MATERIALS: the glasshouse is built against a red brick garden wall (separately owned) c.2.35m in height, mostly laid in Sussex bond and capped by projecting brick coping. The interior surface has been lime-washed. The roof structure is timber framed, the glazing held in place with copper clips fastened to horizontal metal straps. Part of the roof has been replaced in polycarbonate sheeting. The base of the front wall is of rendered brick and supports timber-framed, glazed, panels. Spur walls and porches are principally of brick, the latter have tiled roofs.
EXTERIOR: the glasshouse is 38m long (including the not-listed section), 1.8m wide and some 2.3m in height. In section the building has the profile of a mansard. The roof structure is timber framed, the glazing held in place with copper clips fastened to horizontal metal straps in a manner typical of the later C19. Part of the roof has been replaced in polycarbonate sheeting. The base of the front wall is of rendered brick and appears to be of solid masonry rather than being arched. The lower courses are however hidden beneath accumulated earth. It supports hinged timber-framed, ventilation panels each with two overlapping panes of glass, which are also held in place by copper clips. Plastic guttering replaces the original iron gutters, which formerly fed into a reservoir by the central entrance.
The porches are brick-built, each with a south-facing entrance flanked by small-paned south windows; both have shallow pitched tiled roofs. The eastern porch was altered by the current owners to form a secure pigeon loft. It has a part-glazed outer door, with a vertically-boarded lower panel, flanked by a four-paned window. The inner glazed partition and part-glazed door which separate the porch from the glasshouse have chamfered frames and panels, and re-uses components from elsewhere. A doorway in the eastern garden wall opens from the porch and has a plank door with moulded muntins. The central porch, which is excluded from the listing, has been considerably repaired in the post-war period; the spur walls have concrete lintels and the entrance cill has been rebuilt, the window and the floor have been replaced; the door is missing.
INTERIOR: the roof is ventilated by unusual hinged lights linked to a horizontal bar and manipulated by means of long, curved, slotted iron stays which are attached to pegs in the rear wall. Horizontal wires for supporting the fruit trees are attached to the rear wall. The floor surface of most of the central path is largely covered but where it is visible, adjacent the central porch, it is of loose concrete. There is a shallow bed at ground level at the base of the rear wall, with an edging of scalloped tiles, some of which have been inserted by the current owners. Accumulated earth and debris obscures any evidence of a bed against the front wall, particularly where benches have been added to the central and western sections. Iron heating pipes run the length of the central section behind the front wall. A narrow bore watering system was added by the current owners.
In December 2010 five fruit labels were noted, attached the rear wall: 1904 Barrington; 1904 Palmerston (Lord or Lady Palmerston); 1904 Sea Eagle; 1904 Hale’s Early; 1904 White New. By April 2011 only three of these were visible, to the east and west of the central entrance; the reminder may be hidden beneath foliage.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.