What is now known as Staunton Country Park, is shown on old maps as Leigh Park after the house begun by one Samuel Harrison sometime before 1791. In 1802 he sold this to William Garrett parts of whose house and gardens survive to this day.
Garrett, in turn sold it to the Regency politician and botanist Sir George Thomas Staunton who added the lake and a number of follies.
The Gothic Library
In 1861, Staunton's descendants sold the property to William Henry Stone, who demolished most of Garrett's house, and built a new one overlooking the lake. Only the Gothic Library and, what is now, the Regency Tearooms survive from the earlier house.
After passing through the hands of the Fitzwygram family, in 1944 Portsmouth City Council purchased the estate in order to built a new overspill town to house people displaced by bomb damage. This became the infamous Leigh Park Council Estate, one of the largest in Europe.
The Lake from the Terrace
In 1959 the council demolished Stone's house leaving only the terrace, and in 1987 the rest of the grounds and gardens became a Country Park.
It adopted the name of its most famous resident to avoid confusion.
For more information, opening times, admission prices, etc., please see Hampshire County Council's official site, detailed below.
What we see today is very much a park of two halves:
South of Middle Park Way is what remains of Garrett's house, along with the home farm, the kitchen gardens, a maze and the splendid Victorian Glasshouses. There is a entry charge for this part of the park, which is expensive unless you have young kids who will appreciate the young animals and playground equipment. However you do get you car parking fee refunded.
The Chinese Bridge
North of Middle Park Way is extensive grounds of Stone's house including the lake with its Chinese bridge, the stable, the terrace and the surviving follies. There are way-marked walks of varying lengths.
The route from the car park to this part of the park is not well sign posted, but then it is free, apart from the parking fee.