Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire

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Stoke Park Country Club, Spa and Hotel
Stoke-park-logo.png
Front Drive at Stoke Park.jpg
General information
Location Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, SL2 4PG
Opening 1908
Owner International Group
Design and construction
Architect James Wyatt, 1790
Developer John Penn ("the American"), Lancelot "Capability" Brown & Nick "Pa" Lane Jackson
Other information
Number of rooms 49 Bedrooms and Suites
Website
Official website

Stoke Park is a historic estate in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire. The Mansion is located amongst 300 acres (1.2 km2) of parkland, lakes, historic gardens and monuments. Since 1908 it has been a notable country club, spa and AA 5 Red Star hotel.

Stoke Park has served as the filming location for several major films, including James Bond's Goldfinger and Tomorrow Never Dies, Bridget Jones's Diary and Layer Cake. It also hosts the annual Boodles Tennis Championships as a warm-up to Wimbledon, a week prior to the Championships.

History[edit]

The Estate[edit]

Aerial Shot of the Mansion and Repton Bridge

The Stoke Park Estate's recorded history dates back over 1,000 years to before the 1086 Domesday Book. From 1066 the estate was inherited in a direct line of descent for 515 years until it had to be sold to the Crown in 1581 to pay the outstanding debts of Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, whose father Francis, the Commander in Chief of Henry VIII’s army, had rebuilt the Manor House (part of which can still be seen today) in 1555.

John Penn (1760–1834), a soldier, scholar and poet, is responsible for most of what can be seen at the estate today. He used a large proportion of the £130,000 the new United States Government paid for his family's 26-million acre (110,000 km2) plot in Pennsylvania.

The Mansion was designed by James Wyatt (architect to George III) who worked on the development of The Mansion and surrounding monuments from 1790 to 1813. The parkland was the product of two geniuses of Eighteenth Century landscape architecture, Lancelot "Capability" Brown and Humphry Repton, who designed in 1792 the landscape that can be seen today.

The Club[edit]

The estate was used as a private residence until 1908 when Nick "Pa" Lane Jackson, founder of the Corinthian Sporting Club (Corinthian F.C.), purchased the estate, and turned it into Britain's first Country Club. One of his initial objectives was to commission the famous amateur golfer and course architect Harry Colt (who also designed Pinevalley, Wentworth, Sunningdale, Muirfield and Royal Portrush) to design the golf course. The golf course, along with the Tennis Courts and the conversion of The Mansion were all completed within seven months.

In 1908, the Club’s first President was His Highness Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein and first Vice President was the Right Honourable Earl Howe. The committee also included Lord Chesterfield, Lord Kinnoull and Lord Decies.

In his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, Bernard Darwin wrote:

"Stoke Park is a beautiful estate, and there is very good golf to be played there. There are plenty of things to do besides playing golf. We may get very hot at lawn tennis or keep comparatively cool at bowls or croquet, or, coolest of all, we may sit on the terrace or in the garden and give ourselves wholly and solely to loafing. The clubhouse is a gorgeous palace, a dazzling vision of white stone, of steps and terraces and cupolas, with a lake in front and imposing trees in every direction."

The Mansion[edit]

The Mansion and West facing Gardens
The Pennsylvania Suite

The main building is a Georgian Mansion located at the centre of the 300 acres (1.2 km2) of parkland. The architecture of the building bears some resemblance to the United States Capitol, Washington D.C.

The 21 bedrooms are individually designed and are named after many of the past residents who lived at the estate (e.g. Pennsylvania, Windsor and Lancelot). Many of the Mansion's Bedrooms and Suites open onto terraces with views across the grounds and even Windsor Castle.

Away from the bedrooms, Stoke Park also has private bars, lounges and restaurant - Humphry's, which was awarded 3 AA Rosettes in 2013.[1]

The Boutique feel of a Pavilion Bedroom

The Pavilion[edit]

Opened in 2008, The Pavilion is far different from the old English country house feel of The Mansion. The 28 Bedrooms and Suites are designed to feel more like a contemporary Boutique Hotel.[2]

The Pavilion also houses Stoke Park's Spa, indoor heated swimming pool, Gymnasium and children's Créche.

Dining, Entertaining & Conferencing[edit]

Humphry's Fine Dining Restaurant

Stoke Park hosts three restaurants:

  • Humphry's, named in honour of Humphry Repton who designed Stoke Park's landscape, holds 3 AA Rosettes and offers British modern cuisine.
  • The Orangery offers light meals and afternoon teas.
  • San Marco provides Italian dishes, children's menus and smoothies.
The Fountain Room at Stoke Park

Stoke Park has eight private function rooms.

With three licensed rooms and a garden terrace, Stoke Park can also hold Civil Marriage Ceremonies and Wedding Receptions.

Golf[edit]

The Repton Bridge on Stoke Park's Golf Course

Stoke Park's 27 hole championship golf course was designed by Harry Colt in 1908. It was opened in July 1909 and received immediate acclaim:

"If there were no palatial clubhouse and no beautiful gardens and grounds, the course itself would take a great deal of beating anywhere within thirty miles of London. Colt, to whom belongs the credit of designing it, has scored a great success and his reputation as a green architect, already high, will be greatly enhanced by this the latest of his works." (Golf Illustrated, 1909).

Stoke Park is considered one of the "Top 100 Courses of the World".[3] The exceptionally high quality of the greens, which have been consistently maintained, are a particular feature of the course.

Stoke Park's Golf Course was used in part in the inspiration of Augusta National Golf Course's tee '16' "Amen". Stoke Park's seventh tee "Heaven" was considered so good, that it was replicated in its American counterpart.[4]

The course has 27 holes, which can be played in a variety of ways.

  • Holes 1 to 9 are known as the Colt course.
  • Holes 10 to 18 are known as the Alison course.
  • Holes 19 to 27 are known as the Lane Jackson course.

The course is long and has no fewer than eight par fours of more than 400 yards from the medal tees, the longest being the 9th at 454 yards. It remains largely as Colt designed it with the exception of the 15th and 16th holes, altered in recent years to enhance the Championship layout.

Stoke Park also houses 13 Tennis Courts - three indoor carpet courts, four all-weather courts and six Wimbledon specification grass courts.

The Boodles tennis challenge[edit]

Stoke Park is the host of the annual Boodles Challenge each June.

Movies at Stoke Park[edit]

Stoke Park has been the backdrop to many movies and TV programmes. Two James Bond films, Goldfinger (1964) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) have been filmed at the Club. The epic duel between Bond (Sean Connery) and Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) led to Sean Connery's own "lifelong love affair with golf".[5]

The 'mini break' and rowing scenes from Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) were filmed in The Mansion, lakes and The Pennsylvania Suite.

In 2004, three movies were released featuring Stoke Park: Wimbledon, Bride & Prejudice and Layer Cake. In Wimbledon, Paul Bettany featured on the grass tennis courts. Stoke Park featured heavily in Layer Cake, including the dramatic ending with Daniel Craig and Sienna Miller filmed on The Mansion steps.

Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla (2008) also featured the grass tennis courts and the 21st Green.

Other features filmed at Stoke Park include, The Vice, The Professionals, Midsomer Murders, Dead of Night and many advertisements.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "theaa.com". Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "Official website". Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Top 100 Golf Courses of the World". Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.stokepark.com/assets/old-augusta-programme-7th.pdf
  5. ^ "Daily Telegraph article". Retrieved 31 January 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°32′07″N 0°36′18″W / 51.53530°N 0.60504°W / 51.53530; -0.60504