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Background

Townhill Park House is built on the site of an old farm. Townhill Farm originally belonged to the Manor of South Stoneham, but in 1787 the land was bought by Nathaniel Middleton. The farmhouse underwent alterations and improvements and over the next century was home to a succession of wealthy families, becoming known as Townhill Park .

Townhill Park House

In 1897 the estate was bought by Lord Swaythling, who lived at nearby South Stoneham House, as a country residence for his eldest son and heir, Louis Montagu.

When Louis became the third Baron Swaythling in 1911 he initiated improvements to the estate, and employed the prominent architect, Leonard Rome Guthrie to redesign the house. The architect worked with Gertrude Jekyll in 1912 to plan a magnificent garden and arboretum. The garden displays many of her classic design features, such as a pergola, a herb garden, herbaceous borders, and a Sunk Garden surrounded by dry-stone walling. A valley garden was also established in nearby Marlhill Copse and this was filled with outstanding rhododendron and azaleas specimens, which were hybridised by Lord Stuart and his renowned Head Gardener, Fred Rose.

During World War II the house became a Red Cross convalescent home for wounded soldiers. The estate was sold, mostly for housing development, by the third Lord Swaythling in 1948. The house was occupied until 1969 by a Middlesex County Council boarding school for underprivileged girls. When this closed down, the house was taken over as a hostel for Merchant Navy cadets from 1971 -1984. After a period as an educational conference centre, Townhill Park House was acquired by The Gregg School in 1994.

Full details of the history of the Montagu family, the house, the garden, and its recent restoration, may be found in the book - Townhill Park – The Life and Times of a Gertrude Jekyll Garden by Rosaleen Wilkinson.

You can see, and purchase, some photos of Townhill Park House and Gardens on the Country Life website, here.

 
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