Witley Park

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Coordinates: 51°08′50″N 0°40′49″W / 51.147165°N 0.680255°W / 51.147165; -0.680255

Not to be confused with Witley Court, Worcestershire.
Thursley Lodge gatehouse, at Witley Park.

Witley Park was a 19th-century house and is an estate in Surrey, between Godalming and Haslemere.

History[edit]

The estate named Lea Park between Godalming and Haslemere, Surrey, and the adjacent South Park Farm, were purchased in 1890 from the Earl of Derby. The title to the estate included the titular Lordship of the Manor and control of Hindhead Common. Lea Park was developed by J. Whitaker Wright, as part of extensive land, approximately 9,000 acres (36 km2; 14 sq mi), that he purchased in the Haslemere and Hindhead area.

The preexisting house was developed into a 32 bedroom mansion, adjacent to artificial lakes and landscaped grounds. Beside three lakes,[1] Whitaker Wright built an underground conservatory/smoking room, with aquarium windows.[2]

Whitaker Wright committed suicide upon conviction for fraud, and his properties were auctioned off. Much of Hindhead Common, Witley Common and Thursley Common was passed on to the National Trust.

Lea Park was sold to Lord Pirrie, notable for his role in the building of RMS Titanic. The letter P with a crown above can be seen on metal gates in the estate and previously-owned lands.

The estate was renamed from Lea Park to Witley Park by the Leigh family, later owners, perhaps to avoid the confusion with Lea/Leigh.

Present[edit]

The original Witley Park mansion burned down in 1952 and 'Witley Park House', a Modern movement home designed by Patrick Gwynne,[3] was built elsewhere on the estate in 1959. The landscaped park remained [4]

Permission for a new house on the site of the old mansion was granted around 2004 and is now completed. It directly overlooks the follies making attempted break-ins very obvious. The houses, park and follies make up a private family home and are not open to the public. In particular the underwater folly is now well lit at night, alarmed, locked with metal gates at both shore and lake ends and the rooflights, smashed by visitors end July 2015, now repaired and underpinned by thick metal bars.

References[edit]

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