The house was originally an early C19th farmhouse. Henry Goschen, 2nd son of Viscount Goschen, bought the estate in 1866/72 and enlarged the property into Heathfield House. The estate fell into disrepair after WWI, but in 1927 it was purchased and restored by Raymond Riesco. He had formal gardens and terraces laid out, established a small nursery and walled garden, and later created a model farm. In adjoining woodland he planted rhododendrons and azaleas. From 1958 his gardens were open to the public and he entered into an agreement whereby Croydon Corporation would purchase the estate after his death. This took place in 1964 and Heathfield continues to be run by Croydon Council. The former orchard is now an ecology centre.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2017
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.croydon.gov.uk. Ecology Centre: www.heathfield-ecology.org.uk
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.
Heathfield - Photo: Colin Wing
Click photo to enlarge.
The house was originally the farmhouse of the early C19th Stones Farm. Henry Goschen, the second son of the Viscount Goschen (d.1866), bought the Heathfield estate in 1866/72 and enlarged the property into Heathfield House. During Goschen's ownership the house was largely rebuilt and the main entrance was moved from half way up Gravel Hill to its present position. Following the bankruptcy of a subsequent owner, Howard Houlder, who owned the estate after 1919 just after the end of WWI, the estate was bought by a Mr Costain. Costain did not occupy the house, which subsequently fell into disrepair along with the grounds. The estate was then bought in 1927 by Raymond Riesco who spent a considerable amount of money restoring both house and garden. Initially he leased the farm to Peter Thrale who bred race horses, but later Riesco turned it into a model farm. A keen gardener, Riesco employed a firm of landscape contractors to lay out the gardens, which were redesigned for him by a Mr White. This included a rock garden made with stones from the Midlands and terraces, and these sere planted with a variety of alpines, small trees and shrubs. On the main lawn was a cauldron that came from Addington Palace, which dated back to Henry VIII's stay at the Palace when he visited Anne Boleyn at Wyckham Court. A rose garden was also created and the walled garden, formerly used as a kitchen garden, was well-cultivated and a small nursery supplied plants for the garden. Within the adjoining woodland Riesco developed a collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. From 1958 the gardens were open to the public.
Before his death in 1964 Riesco had entered into an agreement with Croydon Corporation under which the latter would purchase the estate. The woodland lost many fine trees during the hurricane of 1987 but one or two oak pollards, former boundary hedge, survive on the west edge of the wood. The walled garden was rebuilt in 1987 and notable trees in the garden include an Atlas cedar dating from 1922 and a veteran sweet chestnut to the south of the house. The former orchard is now an Ecology Centre founded in 1997, run by conservation volunteers. It contains old tree varieties that are pre-1900, traditional hedgerows, two ponds and a couple of sheep. The farm is leased to a tenant and Heathfield House is used as a training centre. The garage block was once the stables and coach house with hay loft and flat for the stable lad. When the Croydon Tramlink was built in 1999 part of the land on the eastern boundary was taken. New planting was carried out to reinforce the new boundary in 1999-2000.
J Bellamy, York Form I, 1984; MA Winterman, Croydon's parks: an illustrated history (LB Croydon, 1988) p46; Selsdon and Croham Living History Local Guide no. 6; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008