The original Eastwick Estate was vast stretching from Lower Road to the south and the extent of Bookham Commons to the north. In 1662 it was conveyed to Lord William Howard a descendent of the Duke of Norfolk and it remained in their line until 1809. After several sales of the estate it was bought in 1882 by William Keswick whose family lived in the manor house until 1918 – he was MP for Epsom for thirteen years and was offered a title and could have become a Lord but turned down the honour to remain Mr Keswick.
After Keswick’s death in 1912 his wife decided to sell the house which she did in 1918 to Hippolyte Louis Souchon (later knighted in 1927) who only kept the estate for about four years. In 1922 the whole estate was sold. Part was bought by a property developer who began selling off plots for house building. Another part of the sale was Bookham Commons to the alarm of the villagers. With the prospect of loosing it, deforestation and housing development an ad hoc committee was formed from the village and they only had three weeks to raise the purchase price of £1,650 for the land itself and the three cottages on it. Twenty three villages managed to raise this money in a short time or the Commons would have been lost for ever. Later in the year, August 1923, the Commons were conveyed to the National Trust.
Eastwick Park House is said to have been designed by Nicholas Dubois in 1726. Dubois was a French Huguenot architect who built several London houses and also designed and built in the Palladium style Stanmer Park near Brighton which can be visited to this day. It is said that there were many similarities between Stanmer and Eastwick Park House. The original house was of red brick but was resurfaced in stucco in 1801. In 1833 it was largely rebuilt to be the majestic house as it remained until 1918.
After 1923 the house no longer retained its status and was sold to become Southey Hall Preparatory School which had previously moved from Worthing. The new owner was its headmaster Henry Fussell. No longer was the interior richly furnished but rooms became utilitarian classrooms and bedrooms – unless houses of this nature are taken over by the wealthy or maintained by the National Trust there was little future to ever see them again in their original state. A separate chapter of the book tells the story of Southey Hall and the preparatory school.
Worse came later with World War II bombs falling in the grounds and the decision by the school to evacuate and the empty building being taken over by Canadian troops. One bomb devastated the entrance lodge. After the war the school returned but eventually closed in 1954 leaving the house empty. In 1958 it was demolished to make way for the housing development of today. On the site of the old house the Eastwick schools were built. The only remaining remnants of the house are some wooden entrance gates still standing at 182a Lower Road. These are not the original gates of Keswick’s day. His daughter (1903 -1997) Kate related that at the entrance were ‘a pair of lovely wrought iron gates’ as would be expected for an estate of this nature. These gates must have taken down and the present wooden gates erected and this presumably occurred around 1920.
We can have a glimpse at the majestic house that stood there in the middle of the 19th century from the sale details of the whole estate in 1833.
2,280 Acres of Cultivated Land and 785 acres together with most fertile and picturesque Bookham Commons of 349 acres
Hall used as billiards room 27 feet square and in the hall the principal stairway of oak. The main bedchambers lead from the landing
Library or Morning Room on left of hall – 26 by 20 feet with mahogany door. Chimney Piece of dove coloured marble
Small library with coved ceiling, chimney piece of statuary marble, semicircular bow and windows that open to stone steps to the pleasure grounds
Saloon or drawing room on the right of the hall 71 feet by 20, extending the entire depth of the mansion with marble chimney piece, mahogany doors and centre windows to pleasure grounds. This truly elegant room has two beautiful Ionic columns appearing as red breccia
Dining room 81 feet by 21 feet, chimney piece of marble in a semicircular recess with a niche for statues on each side
Principal bed chamber 26 feet by 20 feet communicating with a lady’s morning or dressing room with semicircular bow end, chimney piece of black marble and folding doors panelled with looking glasses. Five other best bed chambers four of which with dressing rooms large enough for beds and having fireplaces in each
The attic floor with ten bachelor and servant’s sleeping rooms
Water Closets on both floors
A separate wing provided a housekeeper’s room, sleeping room, store room, and still room and beyond a fruit chamber. On the ground floor of the wing a spacious kitchen, a scullery, cool larders and beyond a brew house
The basement providing a servants’ hall, arched wine cellar, butler’s pantry
Dairy, wash house and laundry, a brick and tiled building
Four stall and a three stall stables with loose box
Double and a single coach house and harness room
Kitchen garden of more than two acres enclosed by a fruit wall
A small pleasure ground surrounds the house leading to and partly concealed offices
Outside the Main House
Ornamental dairy and separate scalding house not too distant from the dwelling which are octagonal buildings, brick built and thatched
Until recently (2012) the remains of the Ornamental Dairy stood in a dell in Eastwick Drive close to the Lower Road junction. Brick by brick and tile by tile the building was taken to be rebuilt at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum near Chichester where it is planned to restore it to its original condition.
William Keswick’s daughter Kate Keswick (b 1903) gave an interview reminiscing about her childhood memories in the house which is recorded in a separate chapter but an excerpt is given here.
The wrought iron entrance gates opened up to a forked driveway which led to the grand house, surrounded by 387 acres of land. In the walled kitchen garden there was a vinery, and peach and nectarine houses. The male employees lived above the stables which were located in the main garden. In those days children were not encouraged to read and so they explored the outdoors. Miss Keswick owned a pony and frequently went riding on the estate, which had a radius of 10 miles! In addition to pony riding another one of Miss Keswick’s favourite past times was to go to the bluebell woods and go bird nesting. The estate also had a farm and farmhouse that supplied the village with cream, butter and milk. Beef tea was made everyday and given free to pregnant women and nursing mothers of the village.
At Christmas a ball was held at the house for the servants, trades people, farm hands and the family to unite in celebration. The Keswick family were fortunate not to have to participate in household chores due to the numerous staff employed in the house. In1901 there were 17 servants which included a cook, kitchen maids, housemaids, buttons and a butler. A coachman looked after the carriages and horses. Keswick himself often walked to and from Clandon as he would never take the horses out on a Sunday.
In 1910 when Miss Keswick was living in Eastwick Park House electricity was installed. She was fascinated and thrilled by this new development!
Eastwick Park House was an imposing property set in magnificent grounds. Now all that is left is a vast housing estate occupying the old grounds.