A very special country house hotel...

The house that you see today dates from the late 17th century, however the foundations show evidence of an earlier mediaeval dwelling. The chapel in the grounds dates from the 12th or 13th century, again replacing an older wooden one, and was a valuable asset.

The name Lainston derives from Leofwines’tun, as tun means enclosure, Leofwine was a popular name, Leof meaning ‘one who is dear’ and wine meaning ‘a friend’. Leynestone, meaning: ‘farm of the great field’ has evolved over the centuries with various spellings.

Commissioned by Charles II

Charles II commissioned Wren to build a new palace in Winchester. Started in 1683, Lainston would have been within the Great Park planned to go with it. Charles and his mistress Louise de Keroualle, visited the house.

In 1711, Sir Phillip Meadows a courtier and diplomat bought the estate. His sister-in-law’s husband was Sir John Evelyn, grandson of the famous diarist, landscape gardener and author of ‘Silva, A Discourse on Forest Trees’. Sir John wrote a charming description of the estate in ‘his’ diary. This connection resulted in the planning of the Lime Avenue (c.1716). 

John Merrill MP bought Lainston next in 1721, originally goldsmiths from Essex. In 1744 his niece, Elizabeth Chudleigh, while paying a visit, met and married (late one night in the chapel) Augustus Hervey, a naval officer, later to become 3rd Earl of Bristol. Elizabeth was a Maid of Honour to the Princess of Wales, and the marriage could not be made public or she would have lost her job. With Augustus away on ship, and Elizabeth the ‘toast’ of court society, the marriage soon faltered.


Twenty-five years later, Elizabeth Chudleigh married the 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull. When he died she inherited his vast wealth, but his nephew, Evelyn Meadows, grandson of Sir Phillip above, took her to trial for bigamy in an unsuccessful attempt to recover his lost fortune. This was one of the great scandals of the day!

Mr Samuel Bostock bought the property in 1897, making substantial improvements including adding the North Wing. The Bostocks moved on and Mr John Craig Harvey bought the estate in 1921.

The house was sold off in 1980 and turned into a hotel by 1981. The present owners took over in 1983 and a programme of refurbishment was implemented. The Dawley Barn and Walkway were completed by 1985. The stable area was then redeveloped and the total number of bedrooms is now 50.

The old well house, from where water was pumped to supply the needs of the Estate is currently being refurbished to its former glory showcasing many original features. The well house will be home to our new gymnasium. 

An in-depth history of the house can be found at reception.

Leaflets and maps for exploring the area are available from reception.




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Dating from the 17th CenturyChapel grounds dating from 12th Century

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