Newlands Manor was developed at the end of the 18th century when a house was built by Sir John Hadley Doyley and then leased to Admiral William Cornwallis. When the house burnt down, Cornwallis bought the freehold and had a new house built in the style of Strawberry Hill Gothic with its decorative embellishments. The style is named after Horace Walpole’s ‘little Gothic castle’ at Strawberry Hill near Richmond. Newlands Manor was probably built between 1803 and 1807.
Cornwallis had a long career in the Navy and developed a close friendship with Theresa Whitby, wife of his flag captain John Whitby. Mrs Whitby lived at Newlands after the death of her husband, managing the many improvements to the house and estate and caring for Cornwallis until his death in 1819. She inherited the estate herself and continued to acquire more land. By the 1840s the estate had increased from 62 acres to 1,900 acres and included parts of Milford, Keyhaven, Arnewood, Downton and Hordle. Mrs Whitby’s daughter Theresa West inherited the estate on her mother’s death, though she spent most of her life at her husband’s estate in Wales.
Theresa’s son William, who changed his name to Cornwallis-West, was responsible for putting Newlands on the map after he inherited the estate in 1886. He let his estate in Wales and lived in London, coming to Newlands in the summer. He held lavish weekend parties inviting high society and royalty to Newlands. Edward VII was a regular visitor to the house. William’s children married well, although not happily. One daughter, Daisy, married Prince Henry of Pless; Shelagh married the Duke of Westminster and his only son, George, married Jennie Churchill (mother of Winston) and then Mrs Patrick Campbell (a well known actress and beauty). All the marriages ended in divorce, except George’s second marriage.
The family were living way beyond their means and the failure of plans to turn Milford into a major seaside resort forced them to sell parts of the estate to developers to keep them in funds. Col Cornwallis West died in 1917 and his wife moved into Arnewood House. His son George, who had already been declared bankrupt, then decided to dispose of the rest of the estate so astutely acquired by his great-grandmother.
In 1920 the whole estate of 2,000 acres was put up for auction in 91 lots. The mansion and its grounds and four lodges were sold in one lot. Other lots included arable, pasture and woodland, building sites in Milford, 30 cottages and farms including Batchley, Kings, Harts, Lea Green and Downton Manor. The house, which had been badly neglected, and 500 acres was bought by Sir John Power, MP for Wimbledon, who made improvements but put it up for sale in 1948. The house and 38 acres were then acquired by a developer who turned it into six flats.
The following gallery has more images and information about the estate.