Tag Archives: Country Mansion

HUNTON PARK

By the 1970s, Hazelwood House was empty and ready for demolition, perfect for film-makers wanting a miserable location. All these years later, and a change of name, this is a thriving country house hotel.  

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Hunton Park, at Abbots Langley, in south west Hertfordshire. It was originally called Hazelwood House when first built in the 19th century. The house we see today replaced a mansion destroyed by fire. HITCHED.

The 1970s were a bleak time for the English country house. Take, for example, Hazelwood House at Abbots Langley, in Hertfordshire. In 1970, the rambling mansion was empty, typical of many similar properties, but it caught the attention of film director Bryan Forbes who chose it as the principal location for ‘The Raging Moon’.

The British film starred Malcolm McDowell and Nanette Newman (Forbes’s wife) and based on a book by Peter Marshall. One critic described it as ‘romance in wheelchairs’, considered unusual because of the sexual nature of the relationship between its two lead characters in a church-run home for the disabled.

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“The Raging Moon” is a 1971 British film starring Malcolm McDowell and Nanette Newman. Adapted and directed by Bryan Forbes. It was filmed almost entirely at Hazelwood House. DAILY EXPRESS.

Hazelwood House was used as the care home. The photography was miserable. The snowy winter scenes complement the austere atmosphere within the house, but it was a true reflection of society back then. ‘The Raging Moon’ had a depressing ending, but it reflected the darkness and gloom permeating from the Edwardian mansion. Take out the actors and this would have been a big, cold and draughty house, with broken windows and leaky roof.

Sad times, but Hazelwood House’s depressing appearance had already made it functional as a film location for Sam Wanamaker’s ‘The Executioner’ (1970) and several Hammer House of Horror productions. Much later, it would feature in a different and much happier kind of creation, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ (2004).

It wasn’t an old house in the 1970s, built in 1908 on the site of an older property, but its history had been intriguing.

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The original Hazelwood House built in the early 18th century. It was built by Henry Botham who, between 1810 and 1826, acquired surrounding land to form its parkland. HERTFORDSHIRE GENEALOGY.

In 1810, Henry Botham (1749-1825), a wealthy Londoner, had bought 42-acres of land in the Hertfordshire countryside, subsequently acquiring a further 30-acres from the Earl of Essex, to create surrounding parkland in which to establish his country residence. Hazelwood House was most likely completed by 1812. Following his death in 1825, aged 76, it remained home to his widow, Lydia Payne, until her own demise in 1838.

The estate was bought by Sir Henry Robinson-Montagu (1798-1883), 6th Lord Rokeby, the second son of 4th Baron Rokeby. He had been commissioned into the 3rd Foot Guards in 1814 and fought at Battle of Quatre Bras and Battle of Waterloo as a 16-year-old Ensign in June 1815. At the outbreak of the Crimean War he was made a Major-General and commanded the 1st Division. He was married in 1826 to Magdalen Crofts, the young widow of Frederick Crofts and daughter of Lt-Col Thomas Huxley, and later took the title of 6th Baron Rokeby of Armagh on the death of his elder brother in April 1847. He also owned agricultural estates at Eryholme (North Yorkshire) and Denton (Northumberland), Cambridge and Kent.

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Sir Henry Robinson-Montagu, 6th Lord Rokeby. This portrait dates from 1858. NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY.

Henry died at the age of 85 on 25th May 1883 at Stratford Place, London, and was buried in Clewer churchyard. The peerage became extinct on his death.

Hazelwood House was bought by Admiral Ralph (Peter) Cator (1829-1903), the son of Peter Cator of Beckenham, Kent, and nephew of Major-General William Cator, CB, former Director-General of Artillery and of Vice-Admiral B.C. Cator.

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From the Herts Advertiser in May 1884. The estate was for sale following the death of Sir Henry Robinson-Montagu. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.

Ralph Cator had entered the Navy in 1843 and was present in the Rodney in the attack of the forts of Sebastopol, in October 1854, and for some time commanded her tender, the Danube steamer. In the latter vessel he served in the early part of June 1855, with the flotilla in the Sea of Azoff, where he assisted in destroying a vast accumulation of stores belonging to the Russian Government, and displayed merit which he was mentioned with praise in the dispatches of the senior officer. On the nights of 16 and 17 of June 1855, prior to the unsuccessful attack made by allied troops upon the Malakoff and Redan, the Danube was engaged in pouring a shower of rockets on the town and sea defences of Sebastopol.

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This portrait from an unknown artist shows Rear Admiral Sir Ralph Cator. ART UK.

As Senior of the Furious, Cator was attached to the Naval Brigade, at the storming of the city of Canton in December 1857, on which occasion he assisted in burning the houses in the vicinity of the North Gate, a service executed under a sharp fire and with considerable difficulty, the houses containing little inflammable matter. His conduct during the operations against Canton was brought to the notice of the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Michael Seymour, by whom he was again mentioned for his services on shore while belonging to the Calcutta, at the destruction of the Chinese fortifications at the entrance of the Peiho River, in May 1858.

Cator received the Crimean medal and Azoff and Sebastopol clasps, the Turkish medal and the Medjidie. He was promoted Naval ADC to the Queen from 1879 to 1882, from which he was appointed Rear Admiral, and was the inventor of an ‘alarm buoy’, which was approved by the Admiralty and supplied to the fleet.

He left Hazelwood House in the 1890s and died at Chelsea Court, London, in 1903.

In 1896, Hazelwood House was acquired by Reverend Henry Steuart Gladstone (1856-1929),  ‘a tall, spare distinguished-looking man of serious aspect, though his disposition and manners were pleasant enough’.

Gladstone had been the Curate of Fawley and was the Vicar of Great Barton, Suffolk, between 1886 and 1897, and the Vicar of Honingham, near Norwich. He was the husband of Mary Cecil Elizabeth Wilhelmina Gage, daughter of Lt-General Hon. Edward Thomas Gage, Governor of Woolwich,  whom he married in December 1882. Most notably, he was the cousin of William Ewart Gladstone, the Prime Minister.

He first leased the house to various London gentlemen, amongst those being Lord Roberts, its proximity to Ascot being an attraction. However, in 1907, he decided to live in the house himself, spending over £1,000 on renovations only to see the house gutted by a large fire which occurred on the 8 March 1908.

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A postcard of the fire that destroyed Hazelwood House on March 15th 1908. HERTFORDSHIRE GENEALOGY.

The family pictures were saved but little remained of the house.  Assisted by an insurance compensation of £10,500, Gladstone rebuilt Hazelwood House, using the architects Hubbard and Moore, similar in appearance to the first, but sited at a different angle to the ornamental grounds. The mansion that we eventually saw in ‘The Raging Moon’ was built in Queen Anne-style, in brown-red brick with lighter red brick, stone and white painted wood dressings, with a hipped tiled roof.

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The aftermath of the fire in 1908. A large portion of the house was destroyed. As a result Hazelwood House was rebuilt close to the original footprint. HERTFORDSHIRE GENEALOGY.

Henry Steuart Gladstone died in 1929 leaving unsettled property valued at £121,155 gross, with net personalty of £106,704.

Hazelwood House was sold to Andrew Barclay Walker, the son of Sir Andrew Barclay Walker, 1st Baronet, of Osmaston Manor in Derbyshire. However, his occupation of the house was cut short by his death in June 1930.

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The death of Andrew Barclay Walker meant that Hazelwood House had to be sold – “a modern country residence.” THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.

The house was almost immediately sold to Francis Edwin Fisher, a substantial landowner, farmer, meat wholesaler and businessman who frequently travelled the world with his wife, the explorer and journalist, Violet Cressy-Marcks.

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This cutting from the Dundee Evening Telegraph from 1933 shows that Violet Cressy-Marcks was quite a remarkable woman. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.

During their absences the house was left empty or rented out, most notably to the Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1892-1975), an exile from his country after the invasion by Italy in 1936.

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This photograph from The Tatler in July 1935 showed a reception at Hazelwood House for H.R.H. The Emir Saud, Crown Prince of Arabia. It also shows Francis Fisher and his adventurous wife. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.

Back in England, Francis Fisher and his wife spent most time at their townhouse, in Princes Gate, South Kensington, London. The outbreak of World War Two provided a unique opportunity for Hazelwood House when it became the wartime offices for Illustrated News Ltd and Odhams Press. Bruce Ingram, the editor of The Illustrated London News (from 1905) and The Sketch, had run his company for years and realised that wartime bombing  posed a threat to their offices at Inveresk House in Aldwych, London. Throughout the war years readers were instead encouraged to write to the Illustrated News’ temporary offices at Hazelwood House. His publications were regarded as the ‘Great Eight’ publications and also included The Sphere, The Tatler, The Graphic, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, The Bystander and Eve.

Part of the estate was taken over by the Ministry of Defence for production of Mosquito and Halifax aircraft.

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“Strictly our own affair.” This piece appeared in The Sphere in November 1939, shortly after the staff of Illustrated Newspapers had relocated to Hazelwood House. THE BRITISH NEWPAPER ARCHIVE.

Francis Fisher retained ownership of the estate until the late 1950s. Hazelwood House went through various uses, but stood empty for long periods, except for brief appearances on the big screen, until 1971.

Later, Paul Edwin Hember, the owner of several small businesses, bought the house and changed its name to Hunton Park, a name still associated with it today. The mansion’s fortunes changed for the better, eventually becoming the Hunton Park Hotel, part of the De Vere chain, until bought in 2017 by Ravi Ruparelia, a London-based hotel and catering businessman.

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Hazelwood House was renamed in the 1970s and for generations has been known as Hunton Park.
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Hunton Park Hotel has built up a reputation as a popular wedding and events venue.
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A view of the gardens from the terrace at Hunton Park. A similar snow-covered shot was filmed on this terrace for “The Raging Moon.”

Before we leave Hunton Park, it is worth reminding ourselves of that piece of former parkland acquired by the Ministry of Defence during World War Two.  It became Leavesden Aerodrome and the former aircraft factories were used by Rolls- Royce to manufacture helicopter engines until 1993.  At its peak in 1990, the airfield handled some 60,000 aircraft movements and remained open until 1994.

In 1995, the site was purchased by Third Millennium Group and part of it used to create Leavesden Film Studios. The 80-hectare studio complex is better known now as Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, also home to the ‘Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter’.

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An aerial view of Warner Bros Studios, Leavesden. It was built on the site of Leavesden Aerodrome, an airfield created in 1940 by the de Havilland Aircraft Company and the Air Ministry. The land once formed part of the Hazelwood House estate.
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Scenes for “The Raging Moon” were shot from this same angle. However, back in the 1970s the house looked remarkably different. Grim, miserable and institutionalised.
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Hunton Park Hotel, Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire.

BRAMLEY MEADE

Bramley Meade was built on the proceeds of the textile industry. One hundred years ago it was up for sale. It gained prominence as a maternity home but, a century later, history is repeating itself .

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

One hundred years ago, in February 1919, the sale of country estates gained momentum, with the latest property added to the auction catalogues being Bramley Meade at Whalley in Lancashire.

The mansion of “modern architectural design” contained five entertaining rooms, a noble staircase and eight principal bedrooms. In addition to the house, the auction scheduled for April 1919, would also include the entire contents, including furniture “made from the best selected timbers by Harrison of Burnley.” There was also a 30 H.P. Daimler Landaulette up for grabs as well.

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The preliminary sale notice for Bramley Meade taken from February 1919. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.
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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

Bramley Meade was built in 1882, in the style of Italian Renaissance, for textile manufacturer Richard Thompson, proprietor of Britannia and Alma Mills in Padham, and was one of a number of prestigious residences built north of Whalley in the late 19th century.

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Richard Thompson, JP (1831-1913). “A man of iron will and strong determination, gifted with foresight and an extraordinary capacity for business, one of the first of Lancashire’s captains of industry.” From the Burnley Express in February 1913. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.

Richard Thompson died in 1913 and the mansion eventually passed, in 1919, to Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Alfred Dixon, Royal Field Artillery, who died in 1925.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.
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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

Passing to Thomas Allan Collinge, a Burnley manufacturer, Bramley Meade was bought by Lancashire County Council to become a maternity home for the Clitheroe borough and rural districts in 1946. However, it stood empty for several years before finally opening in 1951 and operated until 1992. After that time, the property was converted back into a family residence.

A century after that sale notice appeared, Bramley Meade Hall is back on the market, now with the addition of an indoor heated swimming pool. Although the asking price has been kept a secret, it is understood from Athertons that it will be in the millions of pounds.

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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.
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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.
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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.
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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.
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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.
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Bramley Meade, Whalley, Lancashire. ATHERTONS PROPERTY & LAND.

FEARNVILLE HOUSE

“To all outward appearances the mansion had the appearance of being unoccupied, and the spacious garden was in the same neglected condition as it had been for many years.” One hundred years later, nothing has changed.

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Fearnville House, Roundhay, Leeds. Photographed in 2016. URBAN DIVISION.

This week, one hundred years ago, the discovery of an illicit whisky still in an old mansion gave considerable food for gossip in a Leeds suburb.

The scene of the discovery was the century-old mansion known as Fernville House at Roundhay, which stood in rural splendour until it became overshadowed by what was known as the Fernville ‘Garden City’, a small colony of ‘modern’ residences.

The mansion house (also known as Fearneville) had been built about 1820 by a Leeds merchant, and Thomas Louis Oxley, a surgeon dentist, later lived here, letting about 100 acres of land as a farm.  In the 1870s, the mansion with about 49-acres of pleasure grounds, had been occupied by William Middleton JP, and then Samuel Sykes, after which the estate was sold for development on garden city lines. The last tenant had been Alderman Alfred John Knowles (1836-1918), a well-known Leeds provisions merchant, and for the last ten years or so had been unoccupied.

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From The Yorkshire Post. June 1867. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.
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A letter from Thomas Louis Oxley in the Leeds Mercury, February 1872. He was now living in London. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.

In November 1918, negotiations had taken place which resulted in Fernville House being sold for £2,000 to a Jewish businessman, who, it was understood would turn the former country house into a business place. Those who had negotiated the sale had asked what the place was going to be used for, presuming that it would become a clothing factory. The reply had been a definite ‘no’.

The new owner had not been long in taking possession, and it had been understood by some people in the neighbourhood that the house was being used as a laundry. On Saturday 1 February 1919, two officers from the Leeds special police force had seen a large cask being driven away from the house on a cart. They weren’t satisfied with the explanation given as to the contents of the cask, and at midnight a raiding party of special and regular police had taken possession of the house.

The officers came across ample evidence that spirit distilling operations had been conducted here. An attempt had been made to wreck some of the plant, which was unmistakeably a whisky still, and several barrels were removed from the premises.

Neighbours at Fernville House told the Yorkshire Evening Post that no serious attempt had been made to put the mansion into a state fit for habitation. Joiners had been seen doing odd repairs, and to fix a new wooden gate to the entrance which led to outbuildings of the house. To all outward appearances the mansion had the appearance of being unoccupied, and the spacious garden was in the same neglected condition as it had been for many years.

In June 1919, writs were issued by the Commissioners of the Customs and Excise upon Joseph Levi, a wines and spirits merchant, in connection with the illicit whisky still. The total penalties imposed on Levi, his wife, Sarah, and two others amounted to £1,960. (Sarah Levi was again convicted for similar offences in 1930).

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Fearnville House, Roundhay, Leeds. Photographed in 2016. URBAN DIVISION.

The events preceded what would turn out to be  a torturous century ahead. One hundred years later, the condition of Fearnville House (as it is now known) is even more precarious than it was then.

During the early part of the twentieth century the Ralphes lived here. The land was sold in the 1950s and the house was converted into flats while still retaining the pillared porch and a fine staircase inside.

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Fearnville House, Roundhay, Leeds. Photographed in 2016. URBAN DIVISION.

By the 1970s, the house was again derelict and seemingly abandoned entirely in 1993. The council had evicted its residents, boarded up the building and it has been left ever since. In 2008, it was sold on the instruction of Leeds City Council for £228,000. The following year it was sold again, reputedly to become a nursing home. The last planning application in 2012 was abandoned the following year after various objections, including opposition that the premises would need a long period of observation for bats, along with doubts from the coal board who stated previous mine workings might undermine the property. There was also a further rejection from the council’s Highways Department who said a nearby road would have to be made one-way and restrictions, due to the entrance width, meant the number of dwellings was unsustainable.

Fearnville House is now in perilous condition, its interiors collapsing, and the grounds open to vandals and fly-tippers. Now marooned within housing estates, it has been the subject of frequent visits from urban explorers, who, if nothing else, have at least highlighted the sad state that the once-grand house is now in.

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‘Swallowed by surburbia.’ Fearnville House, Leeds. Marooned by housing developments. BING MAPS.
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Fearnville House, Roundhay, Leeds. Photographed in 2016. URBAN DIVISION.
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Fearnville House, Roundhay, Leeds. Photographed in 2016. URBAN DIVISION.
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Fearnville House, Roundhay, Leeds. Photographed in 2016. URBAN DIVISION.
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Fearnville House, Roundhay, Leeds. Photographed in 2016. URBAN DIVISION.

CALLINGWOOD HALL

A turreted property, this castle in the country has been refurbished by the present owners, taking advantage of grand period features, and it has been home to some very prominent people.

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This four-bedroom property may need to come with a warning to heritage connoisseurs. The east wing of Callingwood Hall, at Tatenhill near Burton-on-Trent, is on the market at Fine & Country with offers wanted over £1 million. The Grade II listed country house is believed to date back from the early 18th century, with later 19th century additions, and was originally part of Lord Burton’s Rangemore estate. Look beyond the ‘Great British’ theme and you’ll see that its period features are still evident.

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A spokesman for estate agent says: “A simply stunning turreted property, this castle in the country has been thoroughly refurbished by the present owners to offer a comfortable modern family home with an abundance of grand period features, coupled with an impressive facade and captivating views.”

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Callingwood Hall was probably built for Sir Theophilus de Biddulph and remained in the family until it was sold by his great-grandson in 1796 to the Evans family of Allestree. It descended to Spencer Stone and was later occupied by Major Edmund Probyn. The estate was sold in 1889 to Michael Arthur Bass, 1st Baron Burton (1837-1909), a brewer, philanthropist and Liberal politician. The Bass family descended from William Bass, who founded the brewery business of Bass & Co in Burton upon Trent in 1777.

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Lord Burton’s principal home was Rangemore Hall meaning that for large periods Callingwood Hall was tenanted. Amongst the notable residents were the Rev Edward Ash Were, former Bishop of Stafford and Bishop Suffragen of Derby, Alexander William Stopford Sackville, Sir Digby Lawson, Captain Maurice J. Kingscote and Colonel James Alister Eadie, chairman of Wilson’s Brewery, Newton Heath, Manchester. Callingwood was probably sold in the late 1940s.

Callingwood Hall was later split up into ‘wings’.

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MORDEN PARK HOUSE

A forgotten mansion, once rooted in the countryside, now standing quietly within a popular park surrounded by housing estates.

Morden Park House - YourSurrey
YOUR SURREY

Morden Park House, in the London Borough of Merton, is a small Georgian country house, that once stood in a large swathe of parkland. This land was once owned by Westminster Abbey and later owned by the Garth family until the estate was split in two.

In 1768, Richard Garth, in partnership with the London merchant and distiller John Ewart, procured a private act of Parliament permitting the creation of the Morden Park estate. The double-fronted brown-brick Morden Park House was built in 1770 as a retreat for the Ewart family, who remained until 1788.

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MERTON MEMORIES PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE

Morden Park House should not be confused with Morden Hall Park, a much larger property, built by Sir Richard Garth in the 1770s, and now a National Trust property. This was sold to Gilliat Hatfield (1827-1906) a member of the firm of James Taddy and Co, tobacco and snuff manufacturers, in the 1870s.

A sale notice of 1879 described Morden Park House as a “desirable mansion on high ground, commanding extensive and diversified views, with an ornamental entrance lodge and carriage approach through an avenue from the high road from London to Epsom, with stabling, coach-houses, extensive gardens, pleasure grounds, shrubberies, with cottages, orchard, and park-like meadow land containing about 60-acres.”

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After this Morden Park passed through different owners. From the late 1780s the estate was in the hands of the Polhill family and between the 1880s and the 1910s, the house was occupied by the banker John Wormald. The entire estate was eventually purchased by Gilliat Hatfeild, the owner of Morden Hall Park, thus reuniting the two estates.

Morden Park House was tenanted and after Hatfeild’s death, it passed to his son, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild (1864-1941).

For a brief period following the Second World War, the building became the headquarters for the local golf club, and was later purchased from the Hatfeild family by Merton and Morden Urban District Council. The house and 90 acres were preserved as public open space, the house used as council offices for the Parks Department between 1965 and 1985.

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Like many country houses, Morden Park House suffered years of neglect and from 1985 onwards stood vacant for lengthy periods. The Grade II* listed house was eventually restored and is now the local register office, subject of a £1.8 million restoration using money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

However, its future has been the subject of speculation, after the Labour council announced plans to close it. It now appears that this decision has been reversed and the register office will remain open.

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BRADFORD MANOR

This old country house once  boasted an 1,110-acre estate complete with five farms and three workers’ cottages. They now make up the hamlet around the manor.

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The 10th Century Bradford Manor was damaged by fire in around 1770. Purchased and then rebuilt in the 1860s, the existing Manor was styled and rebuilt by J. T. English. Image: Fine & Country.

Bradford Manor, near Holsworthy, in Devon,  is being marketed by Fine & Country, with offers wanted over £1.95 million.

The manor house stands on the site of an older manor house destroyed by fire in the 1770’s and subsequently demolished.

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The previous Bradford Manor was a Doomsday recorded Manor dating back to the 11th century. Image: Fine & Country.

The present house was built in 1868 by Joseph Thomas English (1819-1892), a successful businessman who was married twice and had ten children. He was the younger brother of Henry Hampden English and together they founded English Brothers, timber merchants, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. J.T. English subsequently moved to Stamford (Lincolnshire), Stratford-on-Avon (Warwickshire), Stratton (Cornwall) and finally Bradford (North Devon). Amazingly these moves all took place in the 1860’s. When he built Bradford Manor the estate was 11,000 acres with five farms. As well as managing his estate he held shares in shipping, railways and finance.

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Bradford Manor contains many original Victorian features including panelled doors, fireplaces, moulded coving ceilings and a servants’ bell system. Image: Fine & Country.

Following his death the house passed through several sons but the longest tenant was Alexander Emanuel English (1872-1962), the younger son, who obtained the freehold of Bradford Manor in 1904. He was frequently absent in India and Burma during a long career with the Indian Civil Service.

The house was extended during the mid-20th century and comprises of 25 rooms. The sale also includes a Victorian walled garden, open fronted carriage barn, coach house, garaging and extensive stone and slate barns.

As property owner of this important historic and quality manor house the prestigious title, Lord and Lady of Bradford, is obtained which rarely becomes available.

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Bradford Manor has a pillared entrance with lighting and wrought iron railings. There is a front door screen with solid hardwood door and brass fittings, door lock and bell push with etched glass over, and sash side windows. Image: Fine & Country.
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Bradford Manor has four reception rooms and six bedrooms. Image: Fine & Country.
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Each room has been sympathetically refurbished in keeping with its age and style with particular quality in its recent library, kitchen and master bedroom en-suite bathroom. Image: Fine & Country.
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The first floor landing area contains a number of period features, including original sash windows with deep sill and wood panels. Image: Fine & Country.
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A period wood banister staircase climbs to the first floor. Image: Fine & Country.

DALCHENNA HOUSE

One hundred years ago, this week. A large part of Dalchenna House, two miles from Inverary, was destroyed by fire.

Dalchenna House

The greater part of Dalchenna House was destroyed by fire on the night of 30 January 1919. The house was built in 1891 as a hunting lodge and residence for the Sheriff-Substitute of Argyll, and the late Duke of Argyll had made it his residence while in Inverary.

John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll (1845-1914) had several costly additions made to the mansion in 1908-09, which eventually “assumed the appearance of a castle.”

This mansion occupied a beautiful position on the west shore of Loch Fyne, and commanded one of the finest views of the picturesque district. Since 1903, the Duke of Argyll had resided at the house for weeks at a stretch.

After his death, the entail on Dalchenna House was conferred to his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who, according to the Pall Mall Gazette, had a great affection for the beauty of the surroundings and often stayed here.

Dalchenna House - Postcard

At the time of the fire, the house was being occupied by members of the Women’s Land Army, who were engaged in woodcutting in the neighbourhood. The previous autumn, Princess Louise had visited the house and removed several valuable pieces of furniture.

The house was restored and occupied by tenants, but suffered a further fire, although less serious, in 1928.

In 1930, after being diagnosed with a chronic duodenal ulcer, the author A. J. Cronin was told he must take six months complete rest in the country on a milk diet. At Dalchenna House, he was finally able to indulge his lifelong desire to write a novel, ‘Hatter’s Castle’.

During World War 2, Dalchenna was requisitioned by the Admiralty but, according to Historic Environment Scotland, the house has since been demolished. Its location was probably north-east, but close to the surviving Dalchenna Farm.

Dalchenna House - Postcard 1