Now converted as a residential care home for the elderly, Frognal is an ancient site considered to be one of the most important historical landscapes in the borough, with occupation dating back to the C13th. Parts of Frognal House date back to Tudor times although it is mainly c.1670 with C18th and C20th additions. In 1780 it was inherited by Thomas Townshend, MP, later created Lord Sydney of Chislehurst, after whom Sydney, Australia is named. The property remained in private ownership until 1915, and then became Queen's Hospital, later Queen Mary's Hospital. Features in the grounds include earthwork remains of formal terraced gardens; C17th kitchen garden walls; a turkey oak possibly planted in the C17th; a ha-ha; remains of a yew walk with an C18th specimen; a C19th oak avenue and other mature specimen trees in the Garden Shaw plantation.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2011
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
Frognal is an ancient site that is considered to be one of the most important landscapes in the borough historically. Occupation of the site dates back to the C13th. The name is thought to be derived from 'frog pool'. From 1327 until the early C16th the land was owned by the Cressel family, and following the death of Richard Cressel in 1508, a benefactor of Chislehurst church of St Nicholas (q.v.), it eventually passed to the Dyneley or Dyngley family, who probably built the original house. The next owner, William Watkins appears to have made major alterations to the house in keeping with the fashion of the day, also developing formal gardens, terraces, arbours and grottos. Watkins sold the property in 1649 and over ensuing years it had a number of owners until 1747, when the then owner Thomas Tryon went bankrupt and the estate was sold for the benefit of creditors. By 1752 when it was purchased by the Hon. Thomas Townshend, 3rd son of Viscount Townshend, the estate covered 442 acres. In 1730 Townshend's father-in-law had left him the adjoining estate of Scadbury, but after his wife's death in 1739 he abandoned his plans to build a new country house there and purchased Frognal as his family seat.
After his death in 1780, Frognal was inherited by his son, Thomas Townshend, MP. He later became Home Secretary and was rewarded with the title of Lord Sydney of Chislehurst by the King. The property remained in the family until Lord Sydney's grandson John Robert Townshend died childless in 1890. On the death of his wife, Countess Sydney, in 1893, Frognal passed to his nephew Robert Marsham on condition that he added Townshend to his name.
Robert Marsham-Townshend died in December 1914 and in 1915 Frognal and 1,740 acres of land were sold to the government as the site for a new hospital, named Queen's Hospital, Sidcup after Queen Mary. The first patients were admitted in July 1917 and Queen's Hospital became a pioneering centre for plastic surgery for wounded soldiers. The hospital closed in 1929, but re-opened in 1930 under the auspices of London County Council, renamed Queen Mary's Hospital. From 1948 it became part of the National Health Service. The old house was at one time used as administrative offices, but later converted for retirement homes. The Queen Mary’s Hospital complex had extensive huts in the parkland, which were demolished when the new hospital was built in the 1960s to the west of the house. A hollow square, Frognal House has parts dating back to Tudor times but is mainly c.1670 with C18th and C20th additions. In November 1999, the house was converted as a residential care home, and is now Sunrise at Frognal House run by Sunrise Senior Living, who also provide a number of apartments to enable independent living. The 7 acres of grounds provide an important resource for the benefit of residents and their visitors. Landscape remnants from the earlier layout of the grounds include earthwork remains of formal terraced gardens as shown in Badeslade print of 1750; a turkey oak reputed to have been planted 1650-70; kitchen garden walls c C17th; early C18th wrought iron gates in the boundary walls; a ha-ha; remains of a yew walk in which an C18th specimen has been found; an oak avenue c.C19th and other mature specimen trees in the Garden Shaw plantation.
J. Harris 'History of Kent' 1719, p72; E. Hasted 'History & Topographical Survey of the County of Kent', Vol II 1797, p10-13; J. Kip 'Nouveau Théâtre de la Grande Bretagne' Vol 2, 1724; T. Badeslade '36 different views of ....Kent' 1750s; G. Virtue 'Picturesque Beauties of Kent' 1829, p41; J C Loudon, Gardeners Magazine Vol 6 1830, p653-4; W.H Ireland 'History of .... Kent' Vol4 1830, p481; 'Garden' Vol25 1884, p79; M. McCartney 'English House & Gardens' 1908, pl. 24; B.N. Nunns 'Frognal' - LB Bexley Lflt, 1974; N. Pevsner 'Buildings of England London South' 198, p150; B Fondu, C Sumner & J. Wrightson AA report on Frognal, 1987. Bexley Local Studies Note No. 28 'Frognal' (n.d.) and No.49 'Queen Mary’s Hospital 1915- 1971'