Wrotham Park

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Wrotham Park
Brayley(1820) p5.105 - Wrotham Park, Middlesex.jpg
Wrotham Park in 1820
Wrotham Park is located in Hertfordshire
Wrotham Park
location within Hertfordshire
General information
TypeEnglish country house
Architectural styleNeo-Palladian
Locationnear Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
Destroyed1883 (fire)
OwnerRobert Byng
Grounds2,500 acres
Design and construction
ArchitectIsaac Ware
Other information
Number of rooms18 bedrooms
Entrance to Wrotham Park

Wrotham Park (pronounced "Rootam")[1] is a neo-Palladian English country house in the parish of South Mimms, Hertfordshire (formerly in Middlesex). It lies south of the town of Potters Bar, 17 miles (27 km) from Hyde Park Corner in central London. The house was designed by Isaac Ware in 1754 for Admiral John Byng, the fourth son of Admiral George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington, and remains in the family at the heart of a 2,500-acre (10 km2) estate. It is one of the largest private houses near London inside the M25 motorway. Its distinctive exterior has been used over 60 times as a filming location.

The house is listed as a Grade II* building on the National Heritage List for England, and its landscaped park and gardens are Grade II listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[2][3]


Originally part of an estate known as Pinchbank (also Birchbank), 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, a director of the South Sea Company, who renamed the estate Strangeways. His son, Francis, sold the property to Admiral John Byng who had the house rebuilt by Isaac Ware in 1754.[4]

Admiral John Byng changed the name of the house to Wrotham Park in honour of the original family home in Wrotham, Kent.[5] Byng never had an opportunity to live in retirement at Wrotham. Following his inadequately equipped expedition to relieve Menorca from the French during the Seven Years' War, he was court martialled and executed in 1757. This event was satirised by Voltaire in his novel Candide. In Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad; and is told that "in this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others" (pour encourager les autres).[4]

The house was inherited by John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford in 1847 and passed to his son, George Byng, 2nd Earl of Strafford, on the first earl's death in 1860.[4] A disastrous fire in 1883 burned slowly enough to permit retrieval of the contents of the house, but gutted it.[4] The house was rebuilt exactly as it was and still remains in the hands of the Byng family.[6]

Filming location[edit]

Wrotham Park was used for various movies as a filming location.[7]

Wrotham Park was used as a stand-in for Buckingham Palace in the opening scene of the 1991 comedy film King Ralph.[8]

In Robert Altman's Gosford Park (2001) scenes were shot at Wrotham Park, including exterior scenes and the staircase, dining room, library and living room. It was also used for the filming of Peter's Friends.

Wrotham Park was filmed as Hanbury Hall in "Ghost in the Machine" a 1989 episode of ITV's Inspector Morse.[9]

Location scenes for the ITV Jeeves and Wooster television series were 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.

Location scenes for the BBC TV production of Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty (2006) were also shot at Wrotham Park, including the exterior, lawns, dining room, library, drawing room and living room.

Location scenes for the BBC TV miniseries Sense and Sensibility (2008) were also shot at Wrotham Park. The exterior of Norland Park was filmed there.[10]

Location scenes for the idents of the Dave channel were shot at Wrotham Park.

Location scenes for the BBC TV production The Hour (2011) were also shot at Wrotham Park, as well as the ITV production of Mr Selfridge (2014).

It has also been used for the 2004 film version of Vanity Fair, 2012 film version of Great Expectations, the 2011 version of Jane Eyre and Bridget Jones's Diary.[11]

Agatha Christie's Poirot episodes The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly[12] and Third Girl were filmed here.

In 2013–14, location scenes for the comic action spy film Kingsman: The Secret Service were shot at Wrotham Park. It was also used in its sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle during which it appears completely destroyed in a CGI explosion.

Social events[edit]

Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece and the former Marie-Chantal Miller had a pre-wedding reception attended by approximately 1,300 guests two days before their July 1, 1995 wedding.

Chelsea and England footballer Ashley Cole and Girls Aloud singer Cheryl had their wedding blessed at Wrotham Park on 15 July 2006 – they weren't allowed to have their wedding there because Wrotham Park does not have a licence to hold civil weddings.

Music mogul Simon Cowell held his 50th birthday party at Wrotham Park on 3 October 2009. The party, estimated to have cost £1 million, was attended by an estimated 400 guests, and the house itself was bathed in blue light specially for the occasion, with a picture of the host beamed onto the wall of the property.[13]


  1. ^ Woods, Judith (25 January 2002). "Palladian marvel outshines a cast of stars". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  2. ^ Historic England, "Wrotham Park and stable block (1174715)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 1 March 2018
  3. ^ Historic England, "Wrotham Park (1000254)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 1 March 2018
  4. ^ a b c d Wrotham Park, Barnet Hertfordshire Genealogy
  5. ^ 'South Mimms: Other estates', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5: Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham (1976), pp. 285–290
  6. ^ History Wrotham Park
  7. ^ Location Agency for Wrotham Park listing official website
  8. ^ "Where was King Ralph filmed?". British Film Locations. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  9. ^ IMDB Ghost in the Machine https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0611641/locations
  10. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (16 September 2011). "Constructive criticism: the week in architecture". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Jane Eyre". The Castles and Manor Houses of Cinema's Greatest Period Films. Architectural Digest. January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  12. ^ The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly Poirot, 27 May 2014
  13. ^ What a swellegant, Cowell-egant party as Simon celebrates 50th birthday with £1m bash Daily Mail. Published 4 October 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°40′38″N 0°11′48″W / 51.67722°N 0.19667°W / 51.67722; -0.19667