From medieval times the area now occupied by the Gardens was part of the vast Fleming estates. Known as the Manor of Romsey Extra, it consisted of woodland and grassland.
The date of the first house here is not certain; however, in 1724 a Farmer Jarman was reprimanded by the Manorial Court for taking land as ‘a backside’, that is as a back yard of a house, or, presumably in this case, a farm. This does indicate that the original house here could have been built in the early 18th century. It also gives us the origin of the name.
After being used as a smallpox hospital and inoculation centre in the 18th century, the next record comes in 1808 when the house and 360 acres were leased to Frederick Blundell who was instructed to plant ‘proper and sufficient quick plants along the boundaries’, the first record of planting here. It was then sold in 1822 - the first time in several hundred years – to Sir Thomas Heathcote of Hursley Park for £2,103 17s 4d.
Sir Thomas, the fourth baronet of Hursley, had bought Hursley Park from Oliver Cromwell’s granddaughters. He died in 1825 and another member of the family, Gilbert Heathcote, bought Jermyn’s House. It was during Gilbert’s time here that extensive renovation was carried out and by the 1830s the house had largely assumed the appearance it has today.
In 1844 the house was sold to Captain Sergison Smith, from Staffordshire, for £4000. Local JP, Robert Linzee took on the house, but sold it in 1900 to Reverend Gordon. It subsequently passed through several hands.
By the beginning of World War ll it was owned by Brigadier General Cuthbertson, who made it the HQ for the local Home Guard. The General died before the end of the war and his widow sold the house to Lady Cooper.
In 1951 it was auctioned and the Hillier family took up residence in June 1953, the day after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Jermyn’s house now serves as the administrative centre of the Gardens and as a Lunch and Tea Room all year round. The house is also available for private hire for meetings, conferences, weddings, civil ceremonies and all special occasions.
Early Victorian photograph of Jermyn’s House
Sale notice of auction 25 September 1951
Members of the Linzee family in front of Jermyn’s House