a very special country house hotel

Dating back to the late 17th century, this divine country house hotel in Hampshire is noteworthy for several reasons throughout history. The house may date back to the 17th century, however the foundations show evidence of an earlier medieval dwelling. The chapel in the grounds dates from the 12th or 13th century and was a valuable asset.

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

commissioned by charles II

Charles II commissioned renowned English architect Sir Christopher Wren to build a new palace in Winchester, who started work on the site in 1683. Building on the grounds of an earlier medieval dwelling, it became known as the home of Charles and his mistress Louise de Keroualle before he died in 1685. In 1711, courtier and diplomat, Sir Phillip Meadows bought the estate. His sister-in-law’s husband was Sir John Evelyn, the grandson of the famous diarist and author of ‘Silva, A Discourse on Forest Trees’. Sir John wrote a charming description of the estate in ‘his’ diary, which then went onto influence the planning of the Lime Avenue (c.1716).

a great scandal

Lainston House was then bought in 1721 by John Merrill MP, who was originally a goldsmith from Essex. In August 1744, the private chapel became the location of the secret late-night marriage between Elizabeth Chudleigh, niece of John Merril MP, and Augustus Hervey, a naval officer who later became 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 then moved on and Mr John Craig Harvey bought the estate in 1921. The house was sold off in 1980 and turned into a hotel in 1981. Two years later the present owners took over and a programme of refurbishment was implemented. The Dawley Barn and Walkway were completed by 1985, and the stable area was then redeveloped. The old well house, from where water was pumped to supply the needs of the Estate has been refurbished to its former glory and now showcases many of its original features. The well house is now home to the spectacular cookery school, SEASON.

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