Inventory Site Record

Holwood Park *

Holwood Park * (Bromley)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Holwood Park is an C18th Pleasure Ground and landscape park at one time owned by William Pitt the Younger who in 1792 commissioned Humphry Repton to advise on improvements to the landscape. His main work was in advising on views and planting, some of which remains south of the house. Holwood Mansion was designed by Sir John Soane but when this burnt down it was rebuilt in 1823-6 for John Ward to designs of Decimus Burton, replacing the earlier house.

Practical Information
Site location:
Westerham Road, Keston
Type of site:
Private Open Land
Open to public?
To check
Opening times:
London Loop runs across south-west corner of site
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Bus: 320

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2006
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see

The Holwood estate was conveyed in 1767 to Robert Burrow, who enlarged the estate by buying several lots of adjoining land including the area of common land between the old and new Westerham Road to the south-west of the site. He converted stretches of woodland to open pasture, ornamented these with ponds and shrubberies, and repaired the house. By 1784 John Randall, an eminent ship builder, had purchased the estate, which now covered 82.5 hectares. In 1785 he sold it to William Pitt the Younger, who had become Prime Minister in 1783 and who owned Holwood until 1803. During this time the house was enlarged for him by architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837) and in c.1790 he commissioned Humphry Repton (1752-1818) to advise on improvements to the landscape. Repton continued to be involved with Holwood until at least 1798. Pitt himself was actively involved in many of the improvements and is described (Letters, Public Record Office) as laying out new roads and drives, levelling and draining the park, and carrying out extensive planting in the gardens and park, including planting on the ancient monument. He was also responsible for making a pond to the north-east of the house, probably the large pond in Lake Wood. The earliest available plan, that by the Ordnance Survey (OS) dated 1798, shows the estate during Pitt's ownership, immediately after Repton's work, and includes the new drive and the pleasure grounds around the house. After he retired from politics, Pitt could no longer afford the upkeep of Holwood and in 1803 he sold the estate to George, later Sir George, Pocoke who owned it for twenty years.

The new owner in 1823 was John Ward, a wealthy London merchant who became a magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Kent. He rebuilt the house, using Decimus Burton as the architect, used the northern route of the old Westerham Road for a new drive, and made a second new drive from the south-west corner of the site. Ward also made alterations to the water in Lake Wood, extending Pitt's single lake with a string of four new pools, and was responsible for planting many single specimen trees around the park. The estate map of Holwood dated 1832 and the OS map of 1869 record changes to Holwood during this period of ownership.

In February 1852 Ward sold Holwood to the railway builder and engineer Thomas Brassy and over the next twenty-four years there was a succession of owners, until in 1876 Edward Henry, Earl of Derby, purchased the estate. Derby made alterations to the landscape, including the ornamentation of Lake Wood and the walled garden, which were described in the Gardeners' Chronicle (1890). The estate remained with successive Earls of Derby until 1953 when it was sold to Seismographic Services (England) Limited, who used it as their country headquarters and undertook considerable building development in the grounds near to the house. They moved from the site in 1996 and the site became vacant. A public footpath crosses the south-west corner of the site, which is otherwise private. The site has changed hands recently, no information available on who manages the site.

The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

Sources consulted:

See NHLE Register listing; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 2: South', (1983, reprint 1999) p.187.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ422635 (541760,163592)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
private commercial
Site management:
C18th; C19th
Humphry Repton; William Pitt the Younger
Listed structures:
LBI: Holwood Mansion. SAM: Caesar's Camp (Iron Age hill fort)
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

NHLE grade:
Grade II
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:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - part of proposed World Heritage Site see UDP draft 2002
Other LA designation:
Area to north part of Area of Archaeological Significance, Prehistoric, Roman

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