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Background

In the early part of the 20th century, long before the Leigh Park Estate was built, the countryside north of the village of Bedhampton was hundreds of acres of green fields and woods. Within the woodland there were several small copses - Billy’s, Bondfields, and Battins. There were tall trees, wild flowers and many bushes and shrubs as well as a stream. Appearing on maps as old as 1575, the 1800 Ordnance Survey drawings recorded 30 dwellings in the Hamlet of Leigh. In amongst this countryside was Leigh Park House, a large Victorian mansion, which was surrounded by beautiful gardens and a lake. The original Leigh Park House was built in the 18th century and enlarged and re-built by William Garrett in 1802, before being sold to Sir George Staunton in 1817.

In the 1930s the land around the stream was almost solely used for agriculture with several long established farms including Hooks Farm off of Park Lane, Barncroft Farm and Smith’s Farm, sited close to the Hermitage stream on what is now Middle Park Way. Other farms included Riders Lane Farm, Leigh Park Farm and Westbrook Farm.

The Hermitage stream ran through this farmland, as it still does through the estate today. Since the development of the Leigh Park Estate its course has been altered and channelled to prevent some of the flooding experienced by the earliest residents of the estate.

The Hermitage stream has always played a central role in the topography and history of the area. It had an impact on the building work, the houses and the inhabitants of the new town, Leigh Park, which was built around it. 



(the above picture shows the difference between the original direction of the stream including meanders and the stream after it was channelized during the development of the Leigh Park estate). 

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