The name has many variant spellings including Benestres, Banestres and Bannister. It derives from the Banestre family of Idsworth, who held the property in the area from at least the 14th century. It was originally a medieval estate lying south of the Common and west of the Avenue, stretching from modern day Cavendish Grove in the east to Hill Lane in the west and southward on this side as far as Colwell Spring. The name Banister was also applied to a former ward and district.
Although traditionally included in Southampton from the earliest times, this was disputed in 1651-2 and onwards, and it was actually excluded from the town from 1835 until the extension of the borough in 1895.
In 1790 the estate, consisting of over 100 acres of land, was acquired by William Fitzhugh, son of Valentine Fitzhugh of Bitterne Manor, who replaced the original house with a larger residence and had two small lakes excavated in the grounds. The new house was sometimes referred to as Banister Lodge and the estate as Banister's Park. A picturesque corner of the estate known as the Dell was a notable feature of the estate. Later this site was used for Southampton Football Club’s ground, the club retaining the name ‘The Dell’. In 1858 the estate was bought by Edward Hulse (after whom Hulse Road is named) who added the tower (image 1).
In 1867 the house was leased to the Reverend George Ellaby for use as a boys’ school. In 1927 it was sold to Charles Knott, who demolished it and in the following year opened a speedway / greyhound stadium on the site. The stadium was demolished in the 1960s and Charles Knott Gardens now occupies the site of the house.
Lost Houses of Southampton, by Jessica Vale. (HS/i)
‘The Country Houses of Southampton’, by Jessica Vale in Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, volume 39, 1983, p176, 181, 185. (H/f)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p50. (HS/h)
Stories of Southampton Streets, by A. G. K. Leonard, 9-16. (HS/h)
Picture of Southampton (1849), by Philip Brannon, p73 (HS/h)
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