Hatchlands Park is a red-brick country house with surrounding gardens in East Clandon, Surrey covering 430 acres. The park initially belonged to the Chertsey Abbey with the park being mentioned in the Domesday Book. In 1544, after the dissolution of the monasteries, it was granted by Henry VIII to Sir Anthony Browne and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald ('The Fair Geraldine' of Henry Howard). The first visual record of the park is shown on a John Seller map of 1693. The park was purchased in 1750 by Admiral Boscawen.
The interior at Hatchlands Park is the earliest documented work in an English country house by Robert Adam, the celebrated Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. Adam trained as an architect under his father William, eventually taking on the family business with his brother John. With proceeds from this business Robert set off on a Grand Tour of France and Italy in 1754, intending to meet potential clients and produce a successful and influential publication. He studied under artists and architects including Charles-Louis Clerisseau and Giovanni Battista Piranesi. He eventually decided on the ruins of a Roman Palace in Dalmatia, or Split in modern day Croatia, as the primary site for his study. He returned to London in 1758 with hundreds of drawings which were published in 1764. The resulting publication called ‘Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia’ was a triumph. A specially bound copy was presented to King George III. When Robert returned home from his tour in 1758, he immediately opened a new architectural practice in London with his brother James. Initially they focused on producing designs for the interiors of houses but later moved on to schemes for entire buildings. The commission from Admiral Boscawen to produce designs for the interior of Hatchlands, was one of the first Adam received on his return from Italy. It's his earliest recorded work in an English country house. The motifs that run through our rooms are, appropriately for an Admiral, of a naval and seafaring theme. Dolphins, anchors and cannons feature, watched over by Neptune himself. You can see wonderful examples of Adam’s work in the plasterwork ceilings in the library and staircase hall and the fireplace and ceiling in our saloon. The saloon is amongst the first of Adam’s great rooms, his influence is unmistakeable. Originally conceived as a dining room it now serves as a picture gallery for the Cobbe Collection. The detailed plasterwork of the ceilings is likely to have been inspired by the Roman stucco ceilings that Adam had studied on his Grand Tour.
Edward and Frances Boscawen built the house at Hatchlands Park. They fell in love with the estate and made it their family home. Despite only spending a period of about 20 years at Hatchlands, the Boscawens are probably most responsible for the way we see the house today. Frances Evelyn Glanville was born on July 23, 1719. Much of Fanny’s childhood was spent away from home with relatives. It was during a stay with her friend Mary, that she first met Mary’s brother Edward, a young captain in the Navy. Fanny looked forward to seeing this ‘unusually attractive and distinguished looking sailor’, a very different kind of man to those she knew. She referred to this period in a letter to Edward as the time ‘when you and I loved each other and told it only by our eyes’. Fanny was not a classic beauty but her wit, intelligence and an independent spirit unusual for the time, combined to make her irresistible to Edward. Having met in 1738 Edward was then away at sea for almost five years. They were married late in 1742, before he set sail again. In total, Edward was away for almost 10 years of their marriage. Edward went on to become an Admiral in the Royal Navy having begun his career at the ripe old age of 12, setting sale for the Caribbean aboard the HMS Superb. He finished his career a genuine war hero having taken a full part in one of the most turbulent periods of British naval history. Frances, known to her friends as Fanny, was a strong, intelligent and independent woman. She was a member of the Blue Stockings Society, a group credited with preserving and advancing feminism by advocating education for women.
Fanny wrote to Edward almost daily, keeping him up to date with her search for the perfect home. Her heart was set on Hatchlands, but it was not for sale. She wrote of other locations, ‘by the way, I hear is to be sold, but not knowing whether you would like it or the country about it, I have made no enquiries, my heart still fixed at Hatchlands’. Eventually Hatchlands did come on to the market, they bought it and commissioned the house you see today. Fanny’s letters detailed the progress of their new house. She described the deal she’d managed to get on bricks, ‘a shilling cheaper than I expected to get them’ and progress on the building, ‘your son has galloped to Hatchlands this morning. Says it is very high, the last scaffolding up and looks just ready for the roof’. She was particularly proud of plans for her garden walk, ‘I will just deign to tell you that I have purple lilacs, yellow laburnums, white Gelder roses, fine red cinnamon roses’. The Admiral was not able to enjoy the fruits of his and Fanny’s labour for long. While at sea, off the east coast of France near Quiberon Bay, he suffered an attack of typhoid fever. He was brought ashore and transported to Hatchlands where Fanny nursed him constantly. Her friend Elizabeth Montagu wrote ‘The noble Admiral does not fight so well with a fever as he does with the French; he will not lie in bed, where he would sooner subdue it.’ Edward died in January of 1761, just 2 years after Hatchlands was completed, with his wife at his bedside.
William Brightwell Sumner purchased Hatchlands Park from Fanny Boscawen in 1770. His family continued to live at Hatchlands for four generations but we know comparatively little about their life there. William had spent 23 years in India having made his fortune with the East India Company. He returned to England after falling out with Robert Clive, the famous Clive of India. He later became Sheriff of Surrey. George Holme Sumner was born in Calcutta in 1760 and took the name ‘Holme’ having inherited Holme Hall in Cornwall from his uncle. George took over Hatchlands Park after his father’s death in 1796. Unlike William, who made few changes to Hatchlands, George made changes that you can still see today. George commissioned Joseph Bonomi to draw plans to extend and improve the house and then employed the famous landscape designer Humphry Repton to draw up a scheme to improve the grounds. Bonomi carried out alterations to the south and west fronts of the house. His proposal for a new entrance on the west front was carried out in 1797. His other work included alterations to the Garden Hall and Staircase Hall. Repton’s improvements to the garden and park were more extensive and he made these recommendations in one of his celebrated red books. He suggested more formal lawns, gravel walks and screening of the nearby road. Arthur Holme Sumner was the last Sumner to own Hatchlands. As surviving information on the Sumner family is scarce, it is not clear how Arthur made his living. We do know that, because of mounting debts, the family decided that they could no longer afford to live at their elegant but expensive home.
Lord Rendel bought Hatchlands Park from the Sumner family in 1888, he made many changes to the house and gardens and his family continued to live here until the late 1950s. Stuart Rendel was born in 1834, son of a distinguished engineer. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, qualified as a barrister in 1861 going on to become a managing partner of engineering firm Armstrong Whitworth & Co. He also had political interests, serving as a Liberal Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire from 1880 until 1894 when he was elevated to the peerage as Lord Rendel of Hatchlands. Rendel’s personal and political correspondence shows that, even as a quiet family man, his opinion was valued on a range of important matters. Perhaps Rendel’s strongest relationship was with one of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers, William Gladstone, on whose recommendation he became a peer. He once wrote, ‘my intimacy with Mr Gladstone will be probably the feature of my life that may longest survive obliteration.’
Their friendship was also entwined in family alliances. Rendel confessed, ‘I do not know how Mr and Mrs Gladstone came to be so often my guests. I think it was because Mrs Gladstone desired to promote the friendly relations of her children and mine’. It seems that Mrs Gladstone’s maternal motives were a success, as Rendel’s daughter Maud eventually married Gladstone’s son Herbert. During his ownership of Hatchlands Lord Rendel made big changes. He constructed a new entrance on the east side, converting what had originally been Admiral Boscawen’s bedroom and dressing room into a dining room and entrance hall. In 1900 he asked influential garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to submit designs for a formal garden that is still here today. Then, in 1902, he commissioned Sir Reginald Blomfield to design a music room. The Rendels had four daughters but no sons. Their eldest daughter Rose Ellen married Harry Goodhart, a Cambridge don and it was their son Harry Stuart who would continue the family’s presence at Hatchlands Park. ‘Hal’ was born in Cambridge in 1887. He studied music at Cambridge but became involved in architecture and he practised as an architect from 1910. Hal inherited Hatchlands Park from his grandfather in 1913 having added the name Rendel to his own as a condition of the inheritance. He did little to change the main house but used his architectural skills to design the new stable block and the two lodges at the entrance to the park. He is also responsible for the addition of the stone temple to the garden; the inscription it bears is to his mother.
Celebrated beauty, Beatrice Holme-Sumner was born on 12 July 1862 at Hatchlands Park, her family tree sprinkled with royalty and notable ancestors. A controversial figure known for her strong will and defiant nature, Beatie was born to shock society. In 1885 scandal broke and hit the front pages. Beatie appeared in court with a man twice her age; he was married with five children. She and Charles Hoare, a banking heir, were accused of breaking a court ruling forbidding them to have contact. They’d been living together for two years but had first met years before. As the scandal unfolded it emerged that Beatie had been banished to live with relatives at remote Berkeley Castle. Her father, Arthur Sumner, discovered that Charles had been found in Beatie's bedroom ‘in circumstances which he could not satisfactorily explain’. Undeterred, the couple continued to exchange letters. It was even rumoured that Beatie had staged a riding accident leading her to be bedridden, and therefore closer to Charles. At the end of his tether, Arthur shockingly had Beatie declared a ward of court, the couple now legally bound against communicating. Arthur’s troubles continued in other areas of life as his debts mounted. Astonishingly, as a solution to the family's financial worries, Mrs Sumner demanded £3,000 from Charles Hoare and left the country for Germany with Beatie and her Uncle Fitz in tow. In yet another twist, unknown to Mrs Sumner, Fitz already owed money to Charles Hoare and ended up passing letters between the forbidden couple.
The fall... In 1883 Beatie turned 21 and, no longer under court protection, moved in with Charles instantly. It was not to be happily ever after, the relationship crumbling when Charles heard about the contempt of court case being built against him. Fitz confessed his involvement alongside testimonies from servants who had been party to their secret meetings. Beatie and Charles got off lightly, being ordered to pay court costs but the scandal caused shockwaves through polite society. Beatie’s father fled to Malta and, never to return, her mother sought sanctuary from the scandal in Geneva. Uncle Fitz’s reputation lay in tatters and another uncle, Colonel Kingscote who’d brought the case to court, was forced to resign from parliament and withdrew from public life entirely. ...and rise. Happily, Beatie retained her spirit and independence and she went on to live an incredible life. She spent time aboard the naval training ship Mercury, eventually married cricketing superstar C B Fry. Together, the pair became a famous society power couple.
The First World War had an impact across the country and at all levels of society. Hatchlands, like many grand houses and estates, was not immune to the trauma and tragedy of war. In 1913 Hatchlands was inherited by Hal Goodhart-Rendel, the last private owner here. Hal held a commission in the Grenadier Guards, but didn’t see active service due to poor health. Despite this, Hal remained an important part of the regiment for the rest of his life. He came out of retirement in the Second World War to train younger recruits and rewrote the Grenadiers’ Squad Drill Primer book. Hatchlands itself was put to use as an auxiliary hospital, in 1917 they provided 14 beds. The hospital was registered as ‘convalescent cases only’ so they probably provided little actual nursing care, instead receiving recovering patients from the larger Guildford War Hospital. Nearby Clandon Park had a much larger role to play in this area.
Designated parking for disabled visitors in main car park, 250 metres from house. Transfer by staff driven buggy, available from main car park. Wheelchairs available from reception and house entrance. Adapted toilet with handrail and drop-down hand rail, in cobbled courtyard. Braille, large print guides and touch list details, available from house entrance. Alternative route to house entrance via Gertrude Jekyll garden. Three steps to the house entrance, wheel chair ramp provided. Partly accessible parkland with some rough and undulating terrain, grass and gravel paths, dirt tracks, cobbled courtyard. During the winter months the parkland is likely to become extremely muddy in places
Location : East Clandon, Guildford, Surrey, GU4 7RT
Transport : Horsley (National Rail) then bus (478). Bus Routes : Buses Excetera 479 and Arriva 478 stop near by.
Opening Times : Tuesday - Thursday, Sunday 14:00 to 17.30
Tickets : Adults £9.00; Children £4.50
Tel. : 01483 222482