History: Highfield House

Highfield House


The Oakmount Triangle was built in the early part of the twentieth century on the site of Highfield House and its triangular shaped grounds (The High Field – possibly Hay Field originally) which bordered to the  south east with Westwood House, to the north east with Oakmount and to the west with Southampton Common.

Admiral FooteHighfield House itself originated about 1810. This pleasant and agreeable villa was built by Captain (later Admiral) Edward James Foote RN (1767-1833), who lived there from 1819. He was acquainted with the novelist Jane Austen, but famous in .... Read more

John Smith & Development of the Triangle

The Developer

John Smith (1855-1926) was a controversial figure and somewhat unorthodox as a developer and builder. He was reported to have used his umbrella to measure out the plots. Described as leading a quiet life and being connected with the Congregational Church on the Avenue, he was absorbed in his construction business. ‘By enterprise and keen business acumen’ he expanded his firm into probably the ‘largest of its kind in Southampton’.

At his death, it was estimated that in over thirty years of activity, he was responsible for erecting more than 1000 houses in the suburbs of Southampton, notably in Shirley. He built many of the houses in Oakmount Triangle but it is probably fair to say he was a developer and builder rather than a trained architect. What we call the “John Smith” style of building seems to be based on very typical suburban design we can find across the whole country.

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Historical Maps

Map Overlays (1658 – 2017)

1658 – 2017

View the interactive overlays which show you how the area has changed and developed over the years, and see how much is left of Highfield house.

Maps from 1658, 1846, 1868, 1910, 1933, 2017. Click on a thumbnail button to change the map


What’s Left of Highfield House?

Mouseover or use the slider to view before and after development