Inventory Site Record

Hollydale Open Space

Hollydale Open Space (Bromley)

Brief Description

The park is formed from the former grounds of Hollydale, an C18th house built for the Kirkpatrick family who lived here for four generations. It was extended considerably to east and west, and the small parkland and lakes were created, with a lodge and entrance drive with an avenue of lime trees, some of which remain. The house had a sizeable stable and a walled kitchen garden, part of its walls surviving. The estate appears to have changed little until 1933, when the local council bought some of the land and mansion, which was demolished. By 1936, the northern and eastern parkland had been extensively developed. However the lake and some woodland around it survived as a Recreation Ground, which remains as the public park today.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Hollydale; Hollydale Recreation Grounds
Site location:
Beverley Road/Lakeside Drive/Rowan Walk, Keston Mark
Type of site:
Public Park
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Children’s play area
Friends of Hollydale organise events which are advertised within the park
Public transport:
Bus: 320 (Oakley Road), 61, 261, 336, 358, 402 (Hastings Road), R2, 353 (Croydon Road)

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Hollydale House was the residence of the Kirkpatrick family for many years until the late C19th. James Kirkpatrick (1701-1770) was the first owner, who eventually retired here in 1750. His son, also James (1729-1818), became a captain in the East India Company and was the occupier of Hollydale in 1779. He rose to become a Colonel and was nicknamed 'the Handsome Colonel of Madras'. The house, which is shown on Hasted’s map of 1779, may have been the work of either of these. It was extended considerably both to east and west, and the small parkland and lakes were created, together with the lodge and entrance drive with its avenue of lime trees, some of which still remain. These works were carried out by the 'Handsome Colonel' or by his son George (b.1763). Hollydale was described by John Dunkin in his 'Outlines and History of the Antiquities of Bromley' (1815) as a very elegant mansion commanding an extensive view of the surrounding countryside. A History of Kent of 1830 (in Bromley Library) states: ‘Hollydale in the parish of Keston, the seat of the Kirkpatrick family, is situated in a small park about 3 miles SE from Bromley. This is an ancient structure, but was greatly improved by Col. James Kirkpatrick father of the late George Kirkpatrick, Esq. The interior is elegantly embellished with paintings and some fine sculpture in marble. The distance from London is about 13 miles.'

The Kirkpatrick family had strong connections with India; George's brother, James Achilles Kirkpatrick (b.1764), was, like their half-brother William, the British Resident at the Court of Hyderabad. His marriage to Khair un Nissa, a daughter of a wealthy Indian aristocrat, is recounted by William Dalrymple in 'The White Moguls'. There are several memorials to the family in Keston Church (q.v.).

The house and estate occupied a good position, with spring fed water, extensive views to the north, access to London and the coast, and it was near other large properties such as Holwood, Hayes Courte, Hayes Place, Oakley House and The Rookery. The house had a sizeable stable block that contained three coach houses in the centre surmounted by a clock and bell turret, stabling to the left, and accommodation above. This remains today as a private house at 32/32A Croydon Road. To the east of this lay a walled kitchen garden with a spring running through it. The wall, a fine, well-built structure of red brick, survives in part, varying in height from 10 to 12 feet, and appears older than the stable.

The 1st edition Ordnance Survey 1882 shows the mansion approached via a long drive from the Hastings Road to the north. The drive meanders around a small landscape park, which was embellished with two summer houses, an ornamental lake, as well as belts and clumps of trees. An icehouse was indicated to the east of the lake and the courtyard to the north of the house had a fountain. The estate appears to have changed little until 1933, when the local council bought the land and the mansion, which was demolished, and built Beverley Road in 1934/5. Lakeside Drive was built in 1936 and the southern edge of the property was divided into building lots.

By 1936, the northern and eastern parkland had been extensively developed although the lake and some woodland around it survived, marked on the OS map of that date as 'Recreation Ground'. By the second half of the C20th the site of the mansion, the remaining parkland and The Cedars, an adjoining property formerly known as Keston Lodge, had been built over.

Hollydale Recreation Ground is approached from the south along a tarmac path from the Lakeside Drive entrance. There is a second entrance from Kemble Drive to the north, with two further entrances leading to the tarmac path: one from Beverley Road to the north, and one from Lakeside Drive to the east towards the north end of that road. This leads down a sloping path through an area of ornamental trees and shrubs to the southern end of a small lake. The lake is surrounded by trees and shrubs and has a small oval island in the centre. The water spills over a concrete weir to a second smaller lake. The tarmac path, with occasional seats, follows the edge of the upper lake and leads to the recreation ground at the northern end of the site. A small play area is situated to the south of the recreation ground and the rest is given over to mown grass. The recreation area slopes to the west. What appears to be relict terracing running north/south divides the grassed area into two levels. This may be an old field boundary as shown of the 1st edition OS 1882. A gazebo formerly in Crystal Palace Park was located here in 2003.

Sources consulted:

J. Dunkin, 'Outlines and History of the Antiquities of Bromley' (1815); C. Freeman, 'The History and Antiquities of Bromley' (1832); W. Dalrymple, 'The White Moguls' (London, 2002); Leonard Smith, ‘Behind the old brick wall, Keston’s lost mansion’ in Bromleag, newsletter of the Bromley Local History Society (March 2007); 'An A to Z of Bromley's Parks, Local Open Space & Woodlands', (LB Bromley, 2007?). Bromley Local Studies Library has correspondence regarding the history of the Kirkpatrick family.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Harry Calthrop, Vivienne Tatam, Leonard Smith, 2009

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ423655 (542365,165403)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Bromley
Site management:
Leisure and Community Services; Friends of Hollydale Open Space
C18th - C20th
Listed structures:
LBII: Hollydale (former stables to Hollydale House)
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - surrounding houses Site of Special Residential Character incl. Hollydale (former coach house)
Other LA designation:
Urban Open Space

Page Top