Avington Park - Historic photograph of exterior

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History

Avington (formally Afintun) dates back to as early as 961 and is recorded in the Doomsday Book.  Beautifully perched on the banks of the River Itchen, it was a Priory for the Monks of Saint Swithun, until King Henry VIII took the estate for the Tudors and Royal Courtiers.

It was then owned by the Crown and was enjoyed by the Royal Court for the next 300 years.

Avington Park History

1546-1665

Avington was initially managed by Edmund Clerk (Clerk of the Privy Seal for Henry VIII and Elizabeth I) for the Tudors, until the reign of the Stuarts’ when Sir George Brydges (Groom of the Bed Chamber of Charles II) bought the estate. The Brydges had a long history as Royal Courtiers and a portrait of the first Baron Brydges hangs in the main staircase hallway. It depicts him welcoming the future Queen Elizabeth I into the Tower of London, on the orders of her sister, Bloody Mary.

Hand painted wall coverings of The Tudor Dynasty remain in perfect condition on the walls of Avington’s first floor private family drawing room. Numerous original features remain intact to this day, including the Tudor Courtyards and bed chambers at the rear of the main house.

Painted ceiling - Avington Park

1665-1771

With the House of Stuart now ruling England, King Charles II returned from exile. The King lived at Avington for 10 years with his mistress Nell Gwynn and their children, whilst building a new palace at Winchester. Avington became his Party Palace and was remodelled by the Brydges to reflect the King’s architectural taste, which had strong European influences from his time abroad. They include the ballroom ceiling, painted by Antonio Verio who was tasked with replicating the ceiling masterpiece he had created in the Palace of Versailles. Various portraits of Charles II and his family, including Nell Gwynn, hang on the walls of Avington.

Avington Park Picnic

1771-1951

Avington passed through various generations of Brydges Barons who became the Dukes of Chandos. Avington continued to play party host to Royals, including King George IV and his longterm mistress Mrs Fitzherbert. A coronation portrait of King George hangs in the ballroom.

Avington remained under the ownership of Brydges until 1847 when the ownership passed to Sir John Shelley. Sir John Shelley further advanced the house including the building of the Orangery and adjoining conservatories.

Lady Eleanor Shelley Rolls, the heiress to the Rolls Royce fortune, lived a long life at Avington and launched her hot air balloons from the South Lawn. Portraits and statues remain at Avington of Lady Shelley Rolls, who divided and sold the main Estate to Lt. Col. Hickson and his family in 1951.

Avington Park Aerial Photograph

1951-present

The Hicksons and their family saved the main house after its occupation by the army during the Second World War. Their daughter Sarah Bullen and her husband Charles continued the remarkable preservation and rejoining of the estate until selling it to Nicolas Roach and his family in 2020. Today it remains a private family estate and the parties continue!