Inventory Site Record

The Wood, including Richard Jefferies Bird Sanctuary (Kingston)

Brief Description

The Woods was a large Victorian house with a lake and mixed woodland in the grounds. The house was demolished in 1933 and in 1947 the site was purchased for a public park, which opened in 1951/2. Soon after the land was purchased it was suggested that it be turned into a bird sanctuary and called Jefferies Wood after the naturalist Richard Jefferies, who had lived in Surbiton. In 1980 part of the site became the Richard Jefferies Bird Sanctuary.

Practical Information
Site location:
Oakhill Grove, Surbiton
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Park
Open to public?
Opening times:
unrestricted. Bird sanctuary closed to public, occasional open days)
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Rail: Surbiton. Bus: 281, 406, 71, 465, K1 (walk)
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.kingston.gov.uk/browse/environment/parks/recreation_sites

Full Site Description

The Kingston Tithe Map of 1840-42 shows a cottage here with garden and brickyard, and the site was evidently used for clay extraction. By 1865 there was a lake, possibly created as a result of brick earth excavation but which had disappeared by the end of the C19th, and a large house called The Woods, which was surrounded by lawns to the west, with paths around the house and lake, and mixed woodland of deciduous trees and conifers to the east and north of the lake. The Woods was demolished in c.1933 but remnants of the Victorian layout remain visible on the site. In 1947 the site was compulsorily purchased by Surbiton Borough Council and it was laid out as a public park in 1951-2, including planting of bluebells and other woodland flowers. It was once part of the substantial grounds of The Gables, which was built for Wilberforce Bryant of Bryant and May in 1888, which is now Hillcroft College (q.v.). In 1948, soon after the land was purchased by Surbiton Borough Council, a suggestion was made to turn it into a bird sanctuary and call it 'Jefferies Wood' to commemorate the birth of the naturalist Richard Jefferies (1848-1887). Jefferies, a Surbiton resident, had written 'Nature Near London' in 1883 and was also a novelist, writing such books as 'Wood Magic' for children. However, this commemoration did not take place until 1980 when the upper section to the east of The Woods was fenced off and named Richard Jefferies Bird Sanctuary, which has been managed since 1987 by the London Wildlife Trust. The park contains species from the former Victorian planting such as larch, horse chestnut, copper beech, false acacia, and shrubberies.

Sources consulted:

M Bellus, 'Kingston Then and Now', London, 1977; Sue Swales, Ian Yarham, Bob Britton, 'Nature Conservation in Kingston upon Thames', Ecology Handbook 18 (London Ecology Unit) 1992

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ181671 (518210,167070)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
RB Kingston
Site management:
Bird Sanctuary: London Wildlife Trust
Listed structures:
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:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance II
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Local Open Space (Public Open Space). Local Nature Reserve

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.