Sundridge Park

Sundridge Park, Bromley

The north-eastern part of suburban Bromley, spread around golf courses and a magnificent mansion

Sundridge Park - the mansion

First men­tioned in a char­ter dat­ed 987, Sun­dridge (or Sun­dresse, as it was orig­i­nal­ly known) was in the hands of the Le Blund fam­i­ly for sev­er­al cen­turies from around 1220.

From the 17th cen­tu­ry a suc­ces­sion of wealthy Lon­don­ers lived here and a three-storey brick house was built on the south­ern slope of the Quag­gy Riv­er val­ley ear­ly in the 18th cen­tu­ry. Sir Claude Scott pur­chased that house in 1795 and demol­ished it on the advice of Humphry Rep­ton, build­ing the present man­sion on the oppo­site slope and cre­at­ing the park. The stuc­coed state­ly home was designed by John Nash and the work was com­plet­ed under the direc­tion of Samuel Wyatt.

When the rail­way line to Brom­ley North opened in 1878 the Scott fam­i­ly had a sta­tion built for their pri­vate use. Sir Edward Scott won fame for breed­ing pheas­ants and his name­sake the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) was equal­ly well-known for his love of killing them. Under­stand­ably, the two men became friends and the prince often vis­it­ed Sun­dridge Park for game-shoot­ing week­ends.

Near the end of the cen­tu­ry Sir Edward began to sell off the estate and a rebuilt sta­tion opened to the pub­lic as Sun­dridge Park in 1896. The park became a golf course, with a new club­house opened by prime min­is­ter AJ Bal­four in 1903. What began as a nine-hole course has since grown into a pair of what Niko­laus Pevs­ner calls “unusu­al­ly umbra­geous” eigh­teen-hole cours­es.

To the south-east, on Sun­dridge Avenue, Robert Whyte junior built a grand house for his fam­i­ly in 1899. After his death, Whyte’s wid­ow and daugh­ters saw through his plan to cre­ate a music room capa­ble of hold­ing up to 80 guests. Fam­i­ly con­certs fea­tured per­for­mances by Sir Adri­an Boult, Paul Torte­lier and many oth­ers. In 1968 the house became an arts cen­tre that now attracts around 20,000 peo­ple a year to its con­certs, art exhi­bi­tions, inter­na­tion­al cin­e­ma screen­ings and class­es and work­shops of var­i­ous kinds.

Brook­lyn, Lodge Road

Sev­er­al archi­tec­tural­ly impres­sive hous­es from the mid-20th cen­tu­ry are clus­tered east of Sun­dridge Park sta­tion, on Plais­tow Lane, Edward Road and Lodge Road. Two of the most high­ly regard­ed are God­frey Samuel’s By the Links (1935) and Ivor Berresford’s cedar-clad Brook­lyn, which is shown in the pho­to on the right. Inspired by mod­ernist trends in Amer­i­can archi­tec­ture, Berres­ford designed Brook­lyn for him­self and his new wife in 1958. He paid £800 for the quar­ter-​​acre plot and spent around £3,500 hav­ing the house built. Today, it could cost almost as much to rent the place for a month.

Sun­dridge Park man­sion func­tioned as a lux­u­ry hotel until after the Sec­ond World War and became a man­age­ment cen­tre in 1956. A new block of res­i­den­tial accom­mo­da­tion was com­plet­ed in 1970. The man­sion until recent­ly host­ed meet­ings, events, team build­ing exer­cis­es and the like – but with­in the next few years it seems like­ly to be con­vert­ed back to res­i­den­tial use, accom­pa­nied by some lux­u­ry dwellings in the grounds.

The Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin lived at 61 Crescent Road for almost half his adult life. David Bowie spent much of his childhood (from 1955 to 1965) living at 4 Plaistow Grove. Both addresses are located just to the south-west of Sundridge Park station.

Postcode area: Bromley, BR1
Population: 15,122 (Plaistow and Sundridge ward, 2011 census)
Station: Southeastern (zone 4)
Further reading: Ken Wilson, Sundridge Park, Sundridge Park Management Centre, c.1991