Inventory Site Record

The Warren

The Warren (Bromley)

Brief Description

Warren House, later renamed The Warren, was built in 1882 as a country mansion, the house and its grounds added to by subsequent owners, who developed the gardens. Since 1935 it has been the Metropolitan Police Sports Ground, the house now the club house. It retains fine gardens although a number of trees, shrubs and flowerbeds were removed to make a playing field. Tennis courts have been built on the site of the kitchen garden and a bowling green made on the east side of the house.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Warren House
Site location:
Croydon Road
Type of site:
Private Open Land
Open to public?
Opening times:
private (Members only)
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Rail: Hayes. Bus: 246.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Now the Clubhouse for the Metropolitan Police (Hayes) Sports Ground, Warren House was built in 1882 as a fine country mansion for Walter Maximilian de Zoete, who leased c.2.42 hectares of land for that purpose from Dame Julia Maria Francis Lennard, wife of Colonel Sir John Farnaby Lennard who owned much land in the area. The de Zoete family had come to London from Holland, Walter's father becoming a successful stockbroker, later Chairman of the Stock Exchange. By 1882 the rural area of Hayes was becoming more accessible with the arrival of the railways, which encouraged wealthy people to build country houses in the rural landscape. Warren House was designed in Flemish style with stepped gables, its name taken from adjacent woodland that had long had a large population of rabbits. Polecat Alley on the west boundary of the Sports Ground also reflects the local practice of hunting rabbits with ferrets and polecats.

In 1885 Walter de Zoete assigned his lease to banker Martin R Smith, who leased an additional c.6.5 hectares of land from Sir John and added to the mansion and its grounds. He built a new wing that housed a billiard room overlooking the rose garden, added a pair of cottages, a range of glass houses, and a greenhouse used for grapes. In the grounds were woods, a fishpond, and area of fruit bushes and fruit sheds; a fruit store still exists near the squash courts. Other buildings in the grounds included a Carpenter's Shop and Cottage, and Cottages for the Gardener and Watchman who were on the staff. A Broad Walk consisting of the drive and flowerbeds was located where the tennis court is now, and in front of the house was an expansive area of lawn. An area of woodland was known as Julian's Wood after Mr Smith's youngest son, and there were other areas of planting and herbaceous borders. From 1889 Martin Smith cultivated carnations in special beds in his garden, becoming a leading grower of hybrids, Queen Mary wearing one of his flowers on her Coronation in 1911.

After Martin's Smith’s death in 1908, most of the property was conveyed by his son Everard to Sir Robert Laidlaw, MP for Renfrewshire for £15,000. Sir Robert also had an interest in horticulture, particularly growing seedling rhododendrons and azaleas, and planting many fine trees. He built a gardener’s bothy in 1910 for his staff. In 1914 he permitted the Red Cross Society to use Warren House as a hospital, also contributing £25 a week to its upkeep and providing produce from the gardens. After his death in 1915, the property was conveyed in 1920 to Edwin Munford Preston of Monk’s Orchard (q.v.), who grew shrubs and rare plants in his gardens, building a conservatory for the purpose. The advice of his Head Gardener, Mr Wood, was much sought after. During his tenure he changed the name of the property to The Warren. In 1934 the property was sold to Gordon Ralph Hall-Caine MP, although he did not live here, and later that year it was purchased for the Sports Ground for the Police of 'P' Division, who had been looking for a site for recreation since 1926.

The Warren was converted as the Club House, and the grounds laid out with a playing field and bowling green. It was officially opened on 13 June 1935 by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. In the 1960s tennis courts were created in the former sunken gardens, with squash courts added in the 1970s. In 1974 the stables were refurbished as a new Metropolitan Police Horse Patrol Station that remained until 1997. In 1984 a new Sports Pavilion was built and in 1989 a function room, the Coney Suite, was added to the facilities. The conservatory is now used for table tennis and there is a children’s play area..

Sources consulted:

History section on Metropolitan Police (Hayes) Sports Club website,

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ400655 (539888,165474)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Metropolitan Police (Hayes) Sports Club Limited
Site management:
Metropolitan Police (Hayes) Sports Club Limited
Listed structures:
LBII: Warren 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:
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance I
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Archaeological Significance
Other LA designation:

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