Freemantle House, an elegant Georgian country house, was formerly situated just to the north of the present-day Paynes Road. Philip Brannon’s map of 1871 shows the site of a mansion on the line of Naseby Road (later Paynes Road) near the junction with Waterloo Road (i.e. north of Christ Church).
It was built in the mid 18th century, replacing a much older farm house on the same site. Free Mantle Farm was marked on Isaac Taylor’s map of 1759 but it is not mentioned in the 1768 Southampton Guide, which listed all the country houses in the area. This suggests that it was still a farmhouse and not yet a gentleman’s residence. Its status as a country house was confirmed by the 1775 guide, which lists Freemantle as the seat of James Amyatt.
Amyatt, originally from Devon, made his fortune in the service of the East India Company and retired to Southampton in 1784, later becoming one of the MPs for the borough. He did not inhabit the house for long – by 1790 he was living in a smaller house in Millbrook and the Freemantle estate had passed into the hands of John Jarrett. Jarrett died in 1809 and the estate was put up for sale in 1810 (see clipping 1 below). However it seems to have remained in the Jarrett family for some years after this.
From 1822 to his death in 1840 Freemantle was owned by the celebrated soldier Sir George Hewett, former commander-in chief of the army in India. His widow remained at the house until her death in 1852, after which the house was put up for sale by Sir George Hewett's brother (or possibly his son). Sales particulars from 1848 (see clipping 2 below) suggest he had attempted to sell the estate previously.
In 1852 the house and estate was bought by Sampson Payne (after whom Paynes Road is named), a local businessman and twice mayor of Southampton. Payne demolished the house in 1853 (see clipping 3 below) - with the Hampshire Independent's reporter lamenting the loss of the mansion's beautiful marble hall - and sold off the estate to housing developers.
- 1. Freemantle estate to be sold by auction - (Hampshire Chronicle 19/03/1810)
- 2. Freemantle Park, Southampton - (Hampshire Independent 01/04/1848)
- 3. The Freemantle estate - (Hampshire Independent 19/11/1853)
More Stories of Southampton Streets, by A. G. K. Leonard, p119-122. (HS/h)
‘A Trip Down Foundry Lane’, by B. A. Thomas in Essays on the History of Southampton, p69-79. (HS/h)
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