Broadlands is an elegant grey brick Palladian mansion set in beautiful landscape gardens on the banks of the River Test.
Today the house is associated with two men who have played an important part in the history of Britain. The house was the country residence of Lord Palmerston, the great Victorian Prime Minister, and the home of Lord Louis Mountbatten.
In the middle ages the property belonged to the Benedictine nunnery at Romsey but after the Dissolution of the Monasteries the estate was purchased by Sir Francis Fleming. He built the first house on the site with a great hall in the central block and a long gallery on the top floor.
The property passed through the female line to the St Barbe family and in 1736 they sold the property to Henry Temple, who was related to the Temple family of Stowe and the Ist Viscount Palmerston, in the Irish peerage.
He began to landscape the gardens but the house was remained unaltered until his grandson the 2nd Viscount commissioned 'Capability' Brown to rebuild the house in 1765 - 74. Brown transformed the house into its present form and at the same created an arcadian park in the grounds with the lawns stretching down to a widened river and views across to the low hills rising in the distance.
In 1788 - 92 Brown's son-in-law, Henry Holland, supervised further alterations and today the house remains largely as he left it.
The 2nd Viscount was a great collector. He brought a huge quantity antique and neo-classical statuary back from his Grand Tour of 1764 and later acquired Old Master and contemporary paintings and commissioned new furniture. Some of this furniture can still be seen in the rooms designed by Brown and Holland.
The 3rd Viscount Palmerston, who became Prime Minister twice in the 1850s and 1860s, employed T L Donaldson to add a wing onto the house and to make other minor alterations in 1859.
Lord Mountbatten, the great-grandson of Queen Victoria, was connected to Broadlands through his wife Edwina Ashley. The estate had been left to her grandfather by Lord Palmerston's stepson William Cowper, later Lord Mount Temple. Lord Mountbatten demolished the Victorian wing in 1954 and made a few changes to the interior.
When Lord Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979 the property was inherited by his grandson, Lord Romsey, the present owner.
In the 1980s Lord Romsey commissioned his uncle, David Hicks, the interior designer to redecorate the interior.
Broadlands is approached through the former Tudor dairy and the first view of the north and west fronts created by Brown.
The west or river front is dominated by a great Ionic portico. The entrance front on the east side was designed by Holland with another Ionic portico in antis. The attic storey above was added by Donaldson the create further bedroom space. Holland filled the courtyard behind the portico with a top-lit octagonal vestibule and this provides the entrance to the interior.
The first room to be viewed is the Sculpture Hall designed by Brown in 1768 - 69 to display the best of the 2nd Viscount Palmerston's collection.
The Dining Room was created in Holland's time and is decorated in neo-classical style. Pictures here include a painting of Emma, Lady Hamilton by Lawrence, added to an earlier flower picture by Monnoyer and three works by Van Dyck.
The river front is taken up by three splendid reception rooms. The most impressive is the Saloon, at the centre, which has superb gilded plasterwork on the ceiling and walls by Joseph Rose, the elder. The porcelain displayed in this room includes Meissen and Sevres pieces which were arranged by King Gustav of Sweden, brother-in-law of Lord Mountbatten.
The Drawing Room, used as a living room by the family, still has the original neo-classical pier glasses.
The Wedgewood Room, originally called the book room, contains the collection of Wedgewood ceramics acquired by the 2nd Lord Palmerston and increased over the years by subsequent owners. The delicate plasterwork here is also by Rose but the later bookcases and mirror were added by Holland. The paintings include portraits of court beauties by Lely.
The rooms which conclude the tour of the house are of historical rather than asthetic importance.
A back staircase, displaying paintings of Lord Mountbatten's ancestors from the House of Hesse, leads to the Oak Room which was transformed into a cinema by Lord Mountbatten. The late-17th century panelling was probably moved here from an older part of the house. The early portraits include a Lely of Lady Dorothy Sidney.
Another back staircase leads to the ground floor where the passage displays a collection of model ships on which Lord Mountbatten served. The Palmerston Room is the last major room. This contains Angelica Kauffmann's Grand Tour portrait of the 2nd Viscount with Mount Vesuvius in the background. There are portraits of the Victorian Prime Minister and items commemorating his great career.
The Mountbatten Exhibition, located in a former 17th century stable block, is an extensive museum to the life and times of the great man.
Following a distinguished naval career in World War II Lord Mountbatten became the last Viceroy of India. As Earl Mountbatten of Burma he was Admiral of the Fleet from 1956 to 1965. The display includes a spectacular audio-visual presentation.