Murray Park (Richmond)
Originally part of the Whitton Park estate in Middlesex that at one time comprised 200 acres, Murray Park is named after Colonel Gostling Murray, whose family owned the estate from 1766-1892. Archibald Campbell, Lord Islay and later 3rd Duke of Argyll, first began acquiring the land from 1722 in the creation of his country seat in England. Known as ‘the treemonger of Whitton’ his famed garden featured rare and exotic trees, many of which were cultivated here. In 1738, Campbell created a separate estate on the site of today’s Murray Park for his mistress, Mrs Elizabeth Ann Williams. On his death in 1761 the entire estate at Whitton went to Mrs Williams and then to their illegitimate son, William, who divided and sold it in 1766. In 1796/7 the estate was re-united by George Gostling, who invited Humphry Repton to advise on the landscape design. What had by then become known as the Whitton Park Estate survived until 1894 when it was eventually sold for housing. Following efforts to save some open space, Twickenham UDC purchased 10 acres of Mrs Williams’ former estate in the creation of Murray Park, which opened on 1 May 1914.
- Previous / Other name:
- Whitton Park Estate
- Site location:
- Kneller Road, Twickenham
- TW2 7ED
- Type of site:
- Public Park
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- Mon - Sat: 7.30am - dusk/Sun & Bank Hols: 9am - dusk
- Special conditions:
- Play areas
- Public transport:
- Rail: Hounslow/Whitton then bus. Bus: 281, H22
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2015
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.richmond.gov.uk/parks_and_open_spaces
Full Site Description
Whitton Dean was originally one of three parishes comprising the Isleworth Hundred; Twickenham and Heston being the other two. Heston and Isleworth merged into the London Borough of Hounslow when it was created in 1965. The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames was created at the same time to include the Municipal Borough of Twickenham, which included Whitton. A minor tributary of the Thames formed the parish boundary separating Twickenham and Isleworth parishes. About midway along its length from Heston to Isleworth is Murray Park where, in the 1740s, John Rocque’s Survey shows a substantial winged house centrally placed and set within a walled enclosure facing west towards a small parterre garden and with a barn to its rear. Comprising the northern half of the ground is a large garden.
On seeing his opinion in 1993, Sir Roy Strong wrote to the then President of the Garden History Society where it transpired a study had been made of Twickenham gardens clearly influenced by Alexander Pope that had not included the ‘lost formal garden’ in present Murray Park. It emerged that while Pope spent much time devising garden schemes for Marble Hill, with Charles Bridgeman eventually carrying out the work, sketches for squiggly wilderness paths found amongst Pope’s manuscripts suggest that he was the author of a plan never implemented at Marble Hill, but remarkably similar to that at Whitton.
When Archibald Campbell, Lord Ilay and later 3rd Duke of Argyll, purchased this land in 1738, half of it lay in the parish of Twickenham and half in Isleworth. In keeping with his preferred methodology, he first created a garden before building a house. In 1740 Mrs Elizabeth Anne Williams, Campbell’s mistress, is recorded as being in occupation of a new house, a fine Palladian villa, matching Campbell’s own half a mile away. Both were linked with an avenue of his famed cedar trees.
The formal garden encompassed many of the features earlier considered for Marble Hill House on the banks of the Thames in Twickenham where Archibald Campbell had assisted in acquiring land for the house built as a settlement for the Prince of Wales’s mistress, Henrietta Howard. The ‘elegant Italian Villa’ at Whitton Dean that Campbell provided for his own mistress was described as being complete with coach houses, stabling for twelve horses, a riding house and numerous offices. The garden, sloping towards the brook that fed the ornamental pond, was set in nine acres of beautifully wooded pleasure gardens and grounds, the whole including 31 acres of good pasture land to create the idyllic C18th pastoral landscape.
When Argyll died in 1761 he left his estate at Whitton to Mrs Williams, who survived him by a year. The property then went to their son, Colonel William Campbell, who had been granted permission to take his father’s name. In 1765 he sold the estate to George Gostling, except for 10 acres of the Whitton Dean Estate where he continued to live with his wife and their son, Archibald. George Gostling then divided the estate, creating out of it Whitton Park and Whitton Place. The garden at Whitton Dean was de-formalised together with Argyll’s own garden, probably in 1797, when Humphrey Repton was commissioned to undertake landscaping work on a number of Whitton estates.
In 1806, Archibald Campbell sold Whitton Dean to George Gostling II, who then set about re-uniting the estate, greatly increasing its size as a result of land purchases and the 1818 Enclosure Awards. By the time the family came to live at Whitton in 1847, the estate was known as Whitton Park. Three years later and Argyll’s Palladian villa was demolished together with that of his former mistress at Whitton Dean. The Riding House there became a drill hall for Colonel Murray’s rifle volunteers and throughout the 1870s and 1880s sat in a Pleasure Ground used for local activities such as fetes and school sports.
When Colonel Charles Gostling Murray died in 1892 the Whitton Park Estate was put on the market and sold by auction. Despite great efforts made by local residents, supported by the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, to acquire part of the estate as a public park, money had already been allocated by the London County Council to save Marble Hill and so the attempt failed. In 1913 Councillor James Wills led moves to create public open space, as a result of which Twickenham UDC bought the 10.5 acre Pleasure Ground at Whitton Dean for £2,100, which led to the creation of Murray Park.
The Old Riding School survived until 1925 when it was replaced with the present community hall. The offices, lake and many fine trees disappeared a decade later when a new road was built that took the altered name of Whitton Dene. Hedged today on three sides, Murray Park has paths running north to south with gates on Kneller Road and Whitton Dene. Mature sweet chestnuts, ash, sycamore, oak etc., join a single mature cedar tree and three more recent plantings marking the once historic avenue. Parch marks on the grass revealing the foundations of the villa are evident during hot summers and the Great Storm of 1987 revealed an historic underground brick chamber that once fed the ornamental pond. As open land of townscape importance, it is beneath the gentle slope of the northern half of the park that evidence might remain of the meanders and serpentines, the hippodrome shaped lawn, the amphitheatre, groves and irregular walks of this once ‘new fashionable garden’.
Research: E Harris MA. Chairman, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society. Vice Chair, Twickenham Museum. See E Harris ‘Whitton Brook; Formerly Birket’s Brook. London Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No.90. 2011; E Harris ‘ The Lost Garden of Whitton Dean’. Twickenham Museum. 2007; P Foster and D H Simpson 'Whitton Park and Whitton Place' Twickenham Local History Society paper no. 41 (revised) July 1999
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- TQ142744 (514323,174421)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- LB Richmond
- Site management:
- Environment Planning & Review, Parks and Open Spaces
- 1726; 1790s; 1914
- Daniel Craft [Crofts] for the Duke of Argyll; Humphry Repton for George Gostling
- 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:
- Tree Preservation Order:
- Not known
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Other LA designation:
- Open Land of Townscape Importance