This history of Ottershaw Park Estate begins in 1761 when Sir Thomas Sewell, Master of the Rolls, built the first mansion, designed by Sir Robert Taylor, on Ottershaw Farm purchased from The Reverend Thomas Woodford.
In 1784 Thomas Sewell died and ownership of Ottershaw Park passed to his son, Thomas Bailey Heath Sewell, Lieutenant Colonel in the Surrey Fencible Cavalry. He sold it in 1796 to Edmund Boehm who improved the interior of the house and enlarged the estate by buying tracts of wasteland and allotments.
In about 1805 Boehm built, to the design of the eminent architect James Wyatt, two Grecian-style lodges at the new entrance to the estate from where a coach road ran to the mansion. The same architect may also have designed for Boehm the Gothic Chapel which originally served as a kitchen, bake house, dairy and pantry but was demolished in 1962.
Ottershaw Park was bought in 1819 by Major General Sir George Wood, a Lieutenant General in the Bengal Army. At this time the estate was largely self-supporting with stables, smithy, brew house, bake house, laundry, dairy, slaughter houses, ice house and two farms.
Sir George died in 1824 and the estate passed to his son, also named George, who in 1841 sold the property to Richard Crawshay who built a new bailiff’s house, farm buildings and brew house.
On Crawshay’s death in 1859 the estate was bought by Sir Thomas Edward Colebrooke MP, who made a number of alterations to the mansion. He also gave the money and land for the building of Christchurch and the first village school.
The estate was later sold to Lawrence James Baker, a stockbroker and MP who sold it in 1910 to the millionaire, Friedrich Gustav Jonathan Eckstein. Eckstein demolished the old mansion and replaced it with the present building designed by Niven & Wigglesworth which is more magnificent and much larger.
During World War I Eckstein made the building available to the British Red Cross as an Auxiliary Home Hospital but soon after the war sold it to Miss Susan Dora Cecilia Schintz, the daughter of a Swiss nitrates millionaire. Miss Schintz lost most of her sizeable inheritance through gifts to charity and bad investments and finally had to sell the estate. Much of it was acquired by the Ottershaw Park Investment Company (OPIC) which planned to develop the rim of the estate for housing. In 1932 the mansion and central part of the park became Ottershaw College, a boarding school for boys which for a short time was very successful, but eventually became insolvent and finally closed at the outbreak of World War II.
During the war The Vacuum Oil Company leased the mansion as offices and laboratories. From 1940 much of the surrounding land was either ploughed for crops or grazed as part of the war effort and the woodland areas were used by the 19 Vehicle Reserve Depot (VRD) for storing vehicles.
The Vacuum Oil Company moved back to London at the end of 1947 and Surrey County Council established Ottershaw School which was opened in 1948. The school prospered until 1980 when it closed due to financial constraints.
In 1982 the developers DeltaHome converted the mansion and other buildings into the present residential estate.
- Please see John Athersuch’s website for more information and photos.