Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Great Country Estates of Britain Series. Part Six: Wrotham Park

Wrotham Park, Hertfordshire is a Palladian English country house, designed by Isaac Ware in 1754 for Admiral John Byng. It is set within a 2,500 acres estate seventeen miles from Hyde Park, making it one of the largest private houses inside the M25.

Originally part of an estate known as Pinchbank, first recorded in Middlesex in 1310 and owned in the 17th and early 18th centuries by the Howkins family, the property passed to Thomas Reynolds, who renamed the estate Strangeways. His son, Francis, sold the property to Admiral Byng, who changed the name to Wrotham Park in honour of the original family home, Wrotham, in Kent. Admiral Byng never had an opportunity to live in retirement at Wrotham, being court martialled and executed first. It remains in the family today.

A disastrous fire in 1887 burned slowly enough to permit retrieval of the contents of the house, but gutted it. It was rebuilt precisely as it had been.

Scenes for Robert Altman's Gosford Park were shot at Wrotham Park, including exterior scenes and the staircase, dining room, library and living room. Scenes for the ITV Jeeves and Wooster series were also shot at Wrotham Park. Both the interior of Brinkley Court and the interior and exterior of Chuffnell Hall (Episodes 4 & 5, Series 2) were filmed there.

Other film and television sitings include The Line of Beauty and Peter's Friends.

Wrotham, however, is more important to me for inspiring the idea to provide disabled access to Willowbrook Park via two ramps on either side of the front entrance, as per the twin set of steps at Wrotham...

We had been searching for a way to enable the less-abled (and ourselves in our dotage) to find ingress and egress without breaking a hip. If instead of a magnificent twin set of steps, one had a twin set of ramps of a suitable gradient, one could have disabled access without spoiling the overall aesthetic of the front entrance...

Wrotham's steps remind me of another building - Keddleston Hall...

But Keddleston will have to wait for another exciting installment of The Great Country Estates of Britain series.


  1. This is so magnificent, that entrance is wonderful.
    I can see a problem for myself, As I am 73 and the steps are over whelming to me. Good point..

  2. I have just found your blog through the Down East Dilletante - fascinating to see your ideas and inspirations. Speaking of Kedleston: A while ago I did a post about some silver we acquired for the dining room at Kedleston.


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