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
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
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.