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Worcester Park House, Surrey, England

Worcester Park House, Surrey, England

Worcester Park House, built in 1607, whose ruins are in Surrey, in the United Kingdom, was one of the residences of the 4th Earl of Worcester, who was appointed Keeper of the Great Park in 1606. In 1670 a long lease of the house and park was granted to Sir Robert Long, 1st Baronet, by Charles II. The area known as Worcester Park was once part of a Great Park surrounding the Nonsuch Palace of Henry VIII, and was used extensively for hunting.

Worcester Park House burned down in a great fire in 1948. The remaining walls and chimneys were gradually demolished by the youth of the area during the following ten years. The lake also silted up during this period following improvements to the Hogsmill river. The ruins of a splendid ornamental lake with a multi-arched bridge (at grid reference TQ211654) and balustrade were still visible in the woodland at the foot of the hill in "Parker's Field" (situated between Grafton Road and Old Malden Lane, and behind the still rather ramshackle stables in Grafton Road). The house was positioned so that it had a view of the arches and balustrade.

The house itself was not visible, even in the late 1950s, nor were there any obvious ruins apart from the lake and some mounds of brickwork to be found. The lake itself had drained into the river Hogsmill, but no source of incoming water was visible. To the northeast of the site is a small, often dry, stream[3] at the field boundary, running SE->NW, with some old and modern culverting and which drains into the Hogsmill.

There was an impressive kitchen garden with glass houses and an inner walled garden. During World War II a local policeman "looked after" the walled garden and kept everyone else out.

Close to the bridge remnant, to the southwest of the bridge, was a ruined domed structure that resembled an ice house. However, it was filled with soil and other débris which prevented any investigation in the 1950s, and has all but disappeared today.

Confirmation that the site of Blakesley School was "Worcester Court", not "Worcester park House" - 1930 map
Locals presumed the house to be named "Worcester Park House", and have suggested that Blakesley School, was the original house,while historical sources (below) suggest "Worcester House" as the name. However the map of 1871 shows a building labelled "Worcester Park House" to be alongside the lake, to the west of it, on land that was, in the 1950s, overgrown with trees. The scant overgrown ruins in the photographs of the site fit with this map.

Exploration of the site in May 2006 reveals loss of the balustrades, the bridge and the lake, which has been filled and is now used for horses. The remainder of the site is heavily wooded and has dense undergrowth, with some contemporary fly tipping of refuse.

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===From British HIstory Online:===

—The whole of the former village of Cuddington, with its mansion and church, were swept away by Henry VIII to make room for the palace afterwards known as Nonsuch, and its two parks—the Great Park or Worcester Park (containing 911 acres), and the Little Park (containing 671 acres). The palace was never completed by Henry VIII, but had alread attained sufficient splendour to evoke from Leland the lines—

'Hanc quia non habeat similem, laudare Britanni Saepe solent, nuliique parem cognomine dicunt.'

During the next reign Sir Thomas Cawarden, Keeper of the Banqueting House, in accordance with a royal mandate entertained there 'at the Quenes Majestie's House,' the French ambassador, M. de Noailles, and his wife.

In 1556 the reversion of Cawarden's lease was granted to the Earl of Arundel, with the additional grant of the Little Park and the palace (vide supra) which he is said to have completed. He in 1559 entertained there Queen Elizabeth, when, we are told, 'her grace had as gret chere every nyght and bankets; but ye sonday at nyght my lord of Arundell made her a grete bankett at ys coste as ever was sene, for soper, bankete, and maske, wt drums and flutes, and all ye mysyke yt cold be, tyll mydnyght; and as for chere, has not bene sene nor heard. On Monday was a great supper made for her, but before night she stood at her standing in the further park, and there she saw a course. At nyght was a play of the Chylderyn of Powlles and theyr mysyke master Sebastian Phelyps and Mr. Haywode; and after, a grete banket, wt drumes and flutes and the goodly bankets and dishes as costely as ever was sene, and gyldyd. . . . My Lord of Arundell gayfe to ye Quene grace a cubard of plate.' Queen Elizabeth paid frequent subsequent visits to Nonsuch, and in 1590–2 purchased the palace and park of John, Lord Lumley, heir of the Earl of Arundel, in exchange for lands to the value of £534.

In 1599 Mr. Roland White wrote to Robert Sydney: 'Her Majestie is returned again to None-such, which of all other places she likes best'; and it was on the occasion of this visit that the Earl of Essex, having returned from Ireland without the queen's permission, burst into her bedchamber at ten o'clock in the morning, and though received kindly at the time, was committed four days later to the custody of the Lord Keeper.

Lord Lumley was appointed Keeper of the Palace and Little Park by James I, who was frequently resident there for hunting and racing, which probably took place on Banstead Downs (vide Banstead).

On 1 December 1606 the Earl of Worcester was appointed Keeper of the Great Park at Nonsuch, whence no doubt it acquired the name Worcester Park, and the lodge in it the name of Worcester House.

The estate formed part of the jointure of Queen Henrietta Maria, and was visited by Charles I in 1625, 1629, 1630, and 1632. During the Common-wealth the palace was at first leased to Algernon Sidney for £150 per annum. The Government soon afterwards assigned the whole place to Lilburne's regiment, then in Scotland, as security for the men's pay. A letter is extant from Colonel Robert Lilburne to General Lambert, in which he offers on behalf of the regiment to sell Nonsuch to him. The men, it was thought, would be willing to accept 12s. in the £ for their debentures. Certainly the Little Park and Palace were purchased by Major-General Lambert, and in 1654–6 the Great Park and Worcester House were purchased by Colonel Thomas Pride, who died in 1658 at Worcester House, the house in the Great Park.

At the Restoration Nonsuch House and Parks were restored to Queen Henrietta Maria. In 1663 the reversion of part of the estate (under the name of Nonsuch Great Park or Worcester Park, land called the Great Park Meadow, and the mansion-house called Worcester House) was leased by Charles II for a term of 99 years to Sir Robert Long, his late companion in exile, and at this date Chancellor of the Exchequer; one of the conditions of the lease being that Sir Robert should from time to time convert part of the premises into pasture without destroying the trees and bushes, so that the same might become fit for deer in case the king were minded to restore and make the same park a park as formerly, Sir Robert to be keeper of the park and have herbage and pannage.During the plague year of 1665 Nonsuch Palace was fitted up temporarily for the offices of the Exchequer. In 1670 Sir Robert Long pleaded for another life in his lease, at the same time representing that during the late disturbed times the site had been converted into tillage, the wood all down, and that he, Sir Robert, had compounded with the queen for her interest, bought out the keepers, and paid £2,500 for repairs of the house.

Sir Robert Long died in 1673, and his will mentions that he settled his lease on his nephew. But in 1670 the palace and fee simple of both parks were bestowed by Charles II on Viscount Grandison and Henry Brounker, in trust for Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, in that year created Baroness of Nonsuch, by whom as a means of settling her pecuniary difficulties the house was entirely dismantled, its contents sold, and the park divided up into farms.

In 1710 the parks were held by Charles, Duke of Grafton, grandson of the duchess, whose son in 1731 sold Worcester Park to John Walter his former steward. John Walter died in 1745, and was succeeded by his son George, afterwards knighted. The latter left two daughters, one of whom died single in 1749, while the other married Rev. — Clarke, who sold to Mr. Taylor, from whom it passed to William Taylor, who died in 1764. Mr. Taylor set up here a large gunpowder factory. His heir, William Taylor, built a new house, called Worcester Park, in 1797. The property has long been divided. Worcester Park House is now the residence of Miss Wheeler.

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