Former priory takes its name from a natural spring

November 21, 2013

Fishing Hut

HOBBIT HOME: The fishing hut at Mottisfont that can be found at the top of the riverside walk. I was waiting for Frodo Baggins to come out in the front.



WATER SOURCE: The font, at Mottisfont, was in regular use by the estate up until the 1940s.

Montisfont House

PALATIAL HOME: The front of Mottisfont House. Inside it contains hidden mosaics and pieces of works by artists such as Degas, Nicholson, Hepworth and Piper, works collected by Derek Hill, a painter who loved to visit Mottisfont.

 Stables @ Montisfont

COURT YARD: This is the entrance to the old stable yard where the National Trust Shop, the Stirrup Cup café and WC facilities. The visitor and reception centre and seasonal plant sales place are next to the car park area.


Walled Garden 1

GREEN DREAMS: The walled gardens at Mottisfont feature herbaceous borders and a National collection of old-fashioned roses.


Copse @ Mottisfont

COUNTRY SCENE: Walking across from the fishing at the back of the meadow, towards the walled garden, Paddock and Ice House.


THE leaves on deciduous trees are turning to ruby reds and glorious golds at one of the National Trust’s prominent properties.

Mottisfont House and Gardens  is a romantic house and former abbey set in beautiful riverside gardens in the heart of rural Hampshire at Romsey and the River Test flows through it.

Water is in abundance in the grounds and visitors can stroll on both sides of the river, stumbling across a rustic fishing hut, the meadows with the copse in the midst of it and leading onto the stable block.

The gardens of Mottisfont are noted for their kaleidoscopic colour all year around, from the carpets of spring bulbs in fragrance to the texture of the winter garden.

The three walled Gardens at Mottisfont feature herbaceous borders and a National collection of old fashioned roses that flower in June.

The grounds have plenty of areas of wooded shade, walks along the River Test and spacious lawns to hold picnics in the summer.

The house wasn’t open when I visited to bring this write-up but it is known that Maud and Gilbert Russell moved to the house in 1935, intrigued by its original use as a medieval priory.

An Augustine priory is said to have been founded in 1201 by William Briwere, a courtier, businessman and administrator to four kings of the Plantagenet era. Pilgrims were said to have come here on their way to Winchester and also look at a relic held at Mottisfont, said to be John the Baptist’s finger.

Maud Russell was a fan of the arts and she brought many well-known artists and designers – inspired by Mottisfont’s past – to make works for the house’s future.

The property takes its name from the Saxon word “motts” for meetings which took place by the natural spring that is in the front of the house. The combination of the words ‘mott’ and ‘font’ shaped the name of the house.

The font is up to three metres deep and is never to have known to have dried up. Up to the 1940s the font supplied water to the walled garden and several houses in the village.

The gardener Norah Lindsay, once said of the property, in 1935: “Mottisfont is magnificent and romantic too. It is all stone, with rushing rivers, vast old yew trees, cedars and lawns and a chanting atmosphere of the past.”

The National Trust shop is located in the old stables yard complex and there is a café that serves up snacks and drinks in the summer. In the courtyard is a life-size model horse made from chicken wire that attracts plenty of attention.

The Cellarium serves up a snapshot atmosphere of what the house used to look and feel like when it was used for its original purpose as an abbey.

  • THE gardens, shop and café are opened throughout the winter from 10am-4pm but the house and art gallery are closed. For more information e-mail or call 01794 340757.

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