Fishponds was an C18th house in private grounds owned by Sir Frederick Butler. The estate was purchased by Surbiton UDC in 1935 although members of the Butler family continued to live in the house for their lifetime. Below the house is one of the ponds after which the house and public park are named. The land had once been part of Kingston Common and brick working caused the formation of ponds and the shape of the landscape. The steep bank of the eastern edge of the largest pond was the original limit of the brick earth excavations.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
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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.
Fishponds was a plain Georgian house built between 1740-1742, part of the estate of Sir Frederick Butler of the tobacco family. The house was later altered in the C19th, including a curved extension on the southern elevation added in the Regency period. In May 1935 Surbiton Urban District Council purchased the estate for £10,000 from Miss Mabel Butler and Mr Frederick Butler. A condition of the sale was that for their lifetimes they and Miss Susannah Butler could remain in leasehold residence in the house and its 12 acres of land. Situated on high ground on the slopes of Surbiton Hill, the house and its private garden are now screened from view by mature trees and shrubs. Below is a large pond, one of those after which both the house and now the public park are named. Originally there were seven ponds, but today three remain (check number).
The land had once been part of Kingston Common, which extended between the hamlets of Hook, Tolworth and Surbiton, and had been used for brickworks. John Rocque's map of 1762 shows a brick kiln here and the excavations would have been the cause for the formation of the various ponds and the shape of the landscape. By 1839 the land was mostly used for allotments and what is now a hay meadow to the east of the park was shown as a field on both the first edition OS Map and in a map of 1904, the latter showing the present ponds in the park.
The western part of the park is grass bounded by hedges and trees with three substantial oaks near the Ewell Road entrance, which has an evergreen hedge flanking the main path into the park. The centre of the park has the largest pond surrounded by trees, enlarged in the 1990s to incorporate an area of land as an island for nesting wildfowl and a larger expanse of water for swans, which breed here. There are two further ponds in the north west linked by a small stream that runs along the bottom of old brick earth excavations with a grassy bank, terraced as it rises towards the house and with an enclosed area planted with flowering shrubs. Steps lead up the bank to the upper level of the park, which has many mature trees, and the path skirting the top of the bank has fine views over the park towards the spire of St Matthew's Church near the south-east corner of the park. The entrance to Mayberry Place has large shrub beds. There used to be two ash trees on the bend on the main path off Ewell Road entrance, which succumbed to a fungal disease, and the trunk of one has since been carved to depict the Kingston coat of arms.
RB Kingston notes for EH listing submission; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; M Bellus, 'Kingston Then and Now', London, 1977; Sue Swales, Ian Yarham, Bob Britton, 'Nature Conservation in Kingston upon Thames', Ecology Handbook 18 (London Ecology Unit) 1992