The Grounds and the Surrounding Area

While still a residence and more particularly before the leasing of land for building purposes the grounds contained all manner of trees and shrubs including the rhododendrons introduced by Repton. Flowers included roses and honeysuckle round the house and a characteristic of the grounds were the shrubbery walks, particularly old is the large rhododendron at the top of the house entrance. The grounds also contained a water garden and at one time even a deer park.

Today we can still see poplars (below) that are thought to be between 300 and 400 years old and must have witnessed the early days of St. John's House.

From the house, then as now, an extensive view of Spithead and Portsmouth was one of the most noticeable features of St. John's.

Between St. John's and the water was Apley (sic) House, the home of a Mrs. Roberts in the time of General Amherst, and later of a Doctor Walker, the son-in-law of Mrs. Roberts. It was hidden from view from St. John's by a thick bank of trees, just as the Benedictine St. Cecilia's Abbey which stands on its site, is today. The house was extended to become the Abbey in 1907.

The row of three lodges - Upper Lodge, Middle Lodge and Lower Lodge (the site of Lower Lodge is now the site of a Appley café), were Lodges for the Appley Tower, later to be called Appley Hall Estate. (Demolished circa 1964 the grounds now home to the Marina Drive estate and Appley park) These were situated in a row along Appley Lane with Lower Lodge at the sea front, Middle Lodge at the junction of Appley Rise and Appley Lane, and Upper Lodge where Appley Lane meets Marlborough Road. At one time a brickworks stood near the site of Lower Lodge.

Further east lay Apley (sic) Tower and further still was St. Clare, the elegant castellated mansion of Lord Vernon, in the last century. Long since gone this site was, until the mid 1990's the site to St Clare Holiday centre, then it was amalgamated with the site next door of Puckpool to become the Harcourt Sands Holiday Park which closed in September 2006. Puckpool House is now a Grade 1 listed private residence and the site of Harcourt sands lies derelict.

The situation of St. John's was compared in the last century to that of the Priory along the coast, between Seaview and St. Helens, the home then of a gentleman named Nash Grose, who was later to be knighted and was a judge. Both were considered delightful settings.

To return to the grounds of St. John's itself there are other buildings of interest within the old boundaries beside the house.  The lodge or cottage entrance to St. John's which stood at the junction of St. John's Wood Road and St. John's Hill displayed the influence of Repton, called in by Edward Simeon to landscape the grounds. This entrance was the source of a lot of pleasure for Victorian writers and visitors.

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