Warren House was built as a country house for banker Hugh Hammersley on land that was formerly part of the Coombe Wood estate of the Duke of Cambridge. Adjacent land was in separate ownership of horticulturalist James Veitch who developed a Japanese water garden, which was later brought into the grounds of Warren House. Later owners Lord and Lady Wolverton made additions to the house and gardens, and decorative features and planting dating from the late C19th remain in the grounds today. The house and part of the grounds are now a conference centre, the former water gardens once again in separate ownership as part of a luxury housing scheme.
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Warren House was built in the 1860s as a small red-brick country house for banker Hugh Hammersley (1819-1882). The 6.5-hectare site was formerly in the Coombe Wood estate of the Duke of Cambridge who decided to sell part of his lands at the top of Kingston Hill in the 1860s. By 1865 Hammersley had laid out formal gardens to the east of the house and a wide terrace had views to the south and south east, with lawns and pleasure grounds around the house on the south, and a kitchen garden on the north side. Another purchaser of the Duke's estate lands at Coombe Wood was the leading horticulturist James Veitch Jnr (1815-69) who bought 14 hectares for a new nursery, probably one of the first building leases from the Duke. A tongue of his land, some 2.4 ha, intruded into the land purchased by Hammersley, who repeatedly tried to buy it, finally succeeding in the 1870s when he incorporated it into his own gardens. Veitch had by then laid out this area as a Japanese water garden with a series of lakes, bridges, summerhouses and ornamentation inspired by the Willow Pattern. However, this is now once more in separate ownership (The Watergardens q.v.).
Hammersley died in 1882 and in 1884 Warren House was bought by the 2nd Lord Wolverton, George Grenfell Glyn, who was a partner at Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co and a friend and strong supporter of the Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, who often visited Lord and Lady Wolverton at Warren House. Lord Wolverton later became postmaster-general in Gladstone's 3rd Government in 1886, but he died in 1887. Other notable visitors included King Edward VII who planted the blue cedar on the northern boundary that remains today. Warren House was extended for Lord and Lady Wolverton by the architect George Devey in 1884-6 when the southern wing and loggia, north wing, tower and service wing were added. Within the grounds are a number of garden features probably designed by Devey, including a grotto made from red brick, stone and man-made stone, and a garden wall that terminates in a stone balustrade flanking steps to the lower garden, with urns set on piers. A stone seat has terra-cotta panels with putti set into the back, and at a lower level is a stone fountain set into the rear of the retaining wall, which was restored in the 1990s.
Between 1907 and 1952 Warren House was owned by Sir A Paget and an article in the Gardener's Chronicle of 1924 reports on the fine camellias growing in his garden. In 1954 the estate was bought by ICI whose retired Chairman, Sir John Harvey-Jones, refers to taking cuttings of camellias in his biography. In 1985-6 3.645 hectares of the grounds were sold to Octagon Developments Ltd who developed part of the site for luxury housing but who also gradually restored Veitch's Warren House Watergardens. Warren House is now an exclusive conference centre and venue for weddings and other events, the fine gardens providing a backdrop to the house.
DCMS Listed Building Schedule; National Gardens Scheme notes by Simon Stafford (n.d. - 1990s?); Gardeners Chronicle, June 24, 1865; Graham Pattison 'Veitch's Water Garden', The Garden, August 1989; Graham Pattison, 'Tranquillity in the Midst of Suburbia' in Plants and Gardens, Spring 1990; Barbara Simms 'The Houses and Gardens of Bertram Wodehouse Currie and His Liberal Friends at Coombe 1860-1900', The London Gardener, vol. 15 2009-2010