Welcome along to another one of my trips outside London – where this time I’ll be exploring Titsey Place and Gardens in Oxted, Surrey. The quintessentially English country house is known for being the home of the Gresham and Leveson-Gower families. Today, its delightful splendour is preserved by a charitable trust.
The house originates from the 16th century and was built by Sir John Gresham who was an English merchant, courtier and financier. He also worked for King Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell – and was Lord Mayor of London as well as being the founder of Gresham’s Schools – an independent day and boarding school in Norfolk. A Tudor style house, it was demolished and rebuilt in the 18th century, before the front of the house was redesigned in 1826.
During the Middle Ages, the Uvedale family owned Titsey, in which time the Uvedale owners were High Sheriffs of Surrey between 1393 and 1464. The 16th century saw the Gresham family have their greatest influence as a result of their power and vast wealth. Sir John Gresham was a rich merchant in the city, which consequently saw him purchase Titsey from the heirs of John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners, to whom it had been granted by King Henry VIII. Gresham ended up building a new house there near where the parish church was located.
The house and estate passed through many generations of the Gresham family from Sir John Gresham, William Gresham, Sir Thomas Gresham and Sir Edward Gresham. They were titled Baronets by Charles II at the time of his restoration in 1660. After the heiress of the last Gresham marriage, the house passed to the Leveson Gowers, who were on the family tree of the Dukes of Sutherland.
The 18th century saw the last Gresham baronet demolish and rebuilt a Tudor House, while in 1826 new fronts designed by William Atkinson were installed. By 1856, a tower was added by Philip Charles Hardwick. The gardens of Titsey contain the former parish graveyard and many of the Uvedales are buried there. The Leveson Gowers would remain at Titsey until the death of Thomas Leveson Gower in 1992. Within his Will a charitable trust was set up to preserve the house and gardens, with the remainder of the estate being left to his heir, David Innes – who is the Governor of the charitable trust.
Today the house is noted for its fine collection of family portraits, which are on display throughout the house The works of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Peter Lely are represented, with the dining room containing four paintings of Venice by Canaletto. The antiquarian interior and Georgian style throughout the house restore that traditional feeling that’s been untouched. Unfortunately, photography within the house is prohibited, but when you walk within it, the grand splendour is wonderful to experience – whether that’s the staircase and antiques to the portraits and furniture – you get a real sense of what life was like for the affluent, well-heeled residents.
You are however able to explore the gardens, which are sensationally splendid. After World War Two, the gardens were left in a run-down state, but were renovated by Thomas Smith, who planted orchids and grew fruit and vegetables – which are sold to greengrocers in the local area. The kitchen-garden was renovated in 1992 to a more Victorian style and the entire estate is 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares), with miles of woodland walks.
Immersing yourself around the gardens and lake area is pleasantly peaceful with many picturesque sights that wouldn’t look out of place in a painting. The gardens reflect the estate’s stylish, quintessentially English and majestic nature. After you’ve explored the house and gardens, there’s a cute tearoom as well to have a cuppa and a slice of cake!
Hope you’ve enjoyed joining me on my journey around Titsey Place and Gardens and stay tuned for my next ‘Beyond London’ discovery. Thanks for reading and in the meantime, you can follow all my walks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also, why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you – and you can also read my very special walk of San Francisco too – and that’s not all – you can also listen to some of my walks on my London Wlogger podcast.
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