Broadlands is unique among stately homes. Its history goes back centuries. However, its most important history and its royal associations are recent and/or current. It is a beautiful Palladian-style house located in Romsey, Hampshre, not far from Southampton.
Prior to the Norman Conquest (1066), the area upon which Broadlands sits was part of Romsey Abby. Following the dissolution of the monasteries under King Haney VIII, the estate became Crown property. King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII, granted it to Admiral Sir Thomas Seymour (one of his mother's brothers). The Admiral sold the property to Sir Thomas Fleming whose daughter married into the St. Barbe family. The St. Barbes had the estate for 117 years.
Following the bankruptcy of the St. Barbe heir, the estate was purchased by Henry Temple, 1st Viscount Palmerston in 1723. Some 40 years later, his grandson, the 2nd Viscount Palmerston hired the noted landscape architect Capability Brown to re-design the house and its grounds. The viscount had collected a large number of antique Greek and Roman statues during his Grand Tour of the Continent and wanted a home that suited his collection. Brown, together with his son-in-law, Henry Holland, took the existing Elizabethean/Jacobean house, coated the outside with white brick and Portland stone, added porticoes and transformed the house into the Palladian-style house we see today. They also de-formalized the gardens creating the gentle slope from the back of the house down to the River Test.
The next Viscount Palmerston became one of Britain's most popular prime ministers during the rign of Queen Victoria. A keen rider, he woud ride for six or seven hours each weekend after the close of business at Westminster to return to Broadlands. Of course, an incentive for making the journey was that Emily Lamb, Lady Cowpers lived on the estate. Lord Palmerston eventually married her after Lord Cowpers died.
Broadlands came down to Edwina Ashley in 1939. She was one of the smart, young beauties of her day and had married Lord Louis Mountbatten. Mountbatten achieved fame first as a naval commander and subsequently as the Supreme Allied Commander in the Burma theater during World War II. After the war, he was Viceroy of India and was instrumental in the transition of India to an independent country.
Although Broadlands had seen its share of royal visitors before it became the home of the Mountbattens, it became part of the royal world with the Mountbattens. Lord Mountbatten was a grandson of Queen Victoria and he was the uncle of Prince Phillip. The Queen (then-Princess Elizabeth) and Prince Phillip spent part of their honeymoon at Broadlands. In 1981, Prince Charles and Princess Diana spent their wedding night at Broadlands. Members of the Royal Family have been regular visitors over the years.
The Mountbatten title can pass through either the male or female line. After Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA in 1979, the title passed to his daughter Patricia. On her death it passed to her son Norton who became the 2d Earl Mountbatten. However, after he left the country to start a new life with his then-girlfriend, hie wife, the 3rd Countess Mountbatten, took on the responsibility of running Broadlands.
The house is an ideal aristocratic home. It has public rooms done in a Robert Adam-style paintings by the likes of Van Dyck, Lawrence and Lely. There are Greek and Roman antiques collected by the 2d Viscount Palmerston as well as memorabilia from the lives of Lord Palmerston and Lord Mountbatten. Yet the house does not feel like museum but rather a place where people live.
Outside, the lawn slopes down to the River Test, which has trees and bushes scattered along its banks.
For more information on visiting, see the Broadlands website.
Cruise destination - England - Hampshire - Broadlands