West Park Estate

West Park Estate

West Park was one of several parks on the Estate owned by the Bysshe family who lived at Bysshe Court in 1382. Previous mention of a park in Horne of 200 acres, probably West Park, was held by John de Wysham, c. 1334.

The word park comes from the Saxon word ‘pearrot’ or ‘parwg’ which means, ‘a place enclosed by a paling’.

The Clayton family acquired West Park around 1677 when Sir Robert Clayton and John Morris, his partner, acquired the manor of Bletchingley whose lands extended down to Hedge Court Heath. On the death of Morris he left his share of the Estate and his wealth to Sir Robert Clayton. During the Clayton ownership they amassed a substantial area of land and so the Estate passed down through the Clayton’s until the early 1700’s when the then owner, another Robert, sold the reversion of the manor of Bletchingley and about 8,000 acres of land, including West Park, to the Kenrick family to clear his debts. This family was related by marriage and so the name Kenrick Clayton emerges. This name appears on maps, starting with the Evelyn map of the Felbridge Estate of 1748, owning large sections of the Felbridge area.

Around 1787 J W Ewart bought land, including West Park, after the death of Robert Bulkeley. In 1810 Ewart sold West Park of 200 acres, plus parts of the Estate to J W Willet. Some time around 1869 George Palmer of Huntley and Palmer fame purchased West Park. It was in 1869 that the residence known as West Park House was erected. His son, Dr. Alfred Palmer, who used it primarily as a shooting lodge, extended the property in 1898. During the ownership of the Palmers they amassed an Estate of 2,329 acres. On the death of Alfred Palmer and the subsequent sale, in September 1936, the Estate included the residence of West Park house standing in 10 acres of it’s own grounds and parkland, four private houses, twenty one farms and smallholdings, a large number of cottages and 302 acres of woodland, mostly oak.

West Park House was considered to be of moderate proportions and well laid out. It contained three reception rooms, ten bedrooms and two bathrooms, with a large garage and stabling accommodation. There was a large game larder near the kitchen, as the shooting potential of the Estate was on average 800 pheasants each season, a recreation room and servants quarters.

Since its sale in 1936 the Estate has been split and West Park House and grounds have had a chequered history. It was occupied up until 1997/8 but had been divided into bed-sit accommodation on the first floor, probably during the 1950’s. It currently stands empty with planning consent to convert it into four houses. There is still the impression of its former grandeur, but is in need of some loving care and attention. Unfortunately most of the original features, such as fireplaces, range, bathroom suites etc., appear to have been replaced in the 1930’s, probably to modernise it! There is now a complete set of tiled fireplaces set into the ornate carved Edwardian fire surrounds.

West Park Road runs in front of the house and cut across the Estate, and was tolled. One set of Toll Cottages, still standing, are on the edge of the road opposite Perry Cottage and another toll cottage once stood between Bones Lane and Lowlands Farm at New Chapel.
The Claytons

The Clayton family wealth was established by Sir Robert Clayton a London scrivener who rose to become a Sheriff of London in 1671 and Lord Mayor of London in 1679. He inherited a fortune from his Uncle Robert Abbott to whom he had been apprenticed in 1648 and from his partner Alderman John Morris.

Sir Robert died in 1707 and his property passed on to his nephew William, son of his brother William Clayton of Hambledon, Buckinghamshire. Sir William of Marden had two sons, Kenrick and William of Harlingford. Robert, only son of Kenrick, inherited the property and died childless in 1799. Succeeded by his cousin, William son of William of Harlingford. Much of the Bletchingley property was sold to the Kenrick family, already connected by marriage to the Claytons over the years, but principally in 1772 and 1779 when Robert Clayton sold the reversion of the manor of Bletchingley and about 8,000 acres of land to pay off his debts.

Sir Robert Clayton returned for Bletchingley in 1689-90,1698 and 1702. His nephew William returned for Bletchingley in 1715, 1722 and 1727. From 1734 both he and his son Kenrick returned for Bletchingley together until William died and was replaced by his grandson William.

Robert Clayton sat for Bletchingley between 1768-80 and 1787-96, overlapping his father Sir Kenrick Clayton until the latter’s death in 1769.

John Kenrick sat for Bletchingley in 1780 and 1784. The Borough was then disfranchised by the Reform Act of 1832.

(Notes taken from the S H C index)

1673 – Manor of Marden acquired by Clayton and Morris.
Newhouse and lands belonging to Senocks Barn acquired by Clayton and Morris
1674 – Wash house and farmlands of Godstone Place acquired by Clayton and Morris.
1677 – Manor of Bletchingley acquired by Robert Clayton and John Morris.
1700 – Manor of Bletchingley includes Hedge Court Heath.
1703 – Robert Clayton is knighted.
1711 – William Clayton leases Flore House, Godstone.
1748 – Meadowland abutting Ignores on the E, Kedhams on the N and the road from Godstone to Croydon on the W, acquired by Sir Kenrick Clayton.
1751 – Manor of Walkhamstead or Godstone acquired by Sir Kenrick Clayton.
1753 – Manor of Garston acquired by Sir Kenrick Clayton.
1757 – 3 acres of land at Frogwood Heath acquired by Sir Kenrick Clayton.
1759 – Sir Kenrick Clayton lease Flore House, Godstone.
1759 – Stangrove Estate including water mill at Bletchingley acquired by Sir Kenrick Clayton.
1761 – Map of part of the Clayton Estate made. (SHC K61/3/2)
1810 – West Park Sale from J W Ewart to J W Willet, along with Bysshe Court Farm, East and West Park, and Rough Bysshe. (West Park was 200 acres at sale).
1851 – West Park Census entry Henry Marchant 28 Farmer of 175 acres.
1851 – Buck Barn Census entry James Peters 43 Farm Labourer.
1851 – Cherry Garden Census entry James Sparks 35 Ag. Lab.
1881 – West Park Census enrty George Palmer, JP, MP, Dalerman Farmer aged 63.
1881 – Gamekeeper West Park, Reuben Stroud, lived at East Park.
1881 – Gamekeeper West Park, Daniel Giles, lived at ‘Keeper’s Lodge’.
1898 - “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “