London Gardens Online
London Gardens Online


Carshalton House Grounds, Water Tower and Historic Garden including St Philomena's School *s School * Sutton


* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Once part of the medieval Manor of Carshalton and an estate called the Old Farm, Carshalton House was largely rebuilt in 1718-21 for Sir John Fellowes. A formal landscape was laid out for him by Charles Bridgeman, modified in the latter C18th by informal landscaping. The property became a school in the mid C19th and the house is now part of St Philomena’s School in whose grounds are remains of the C18th landscape park, including an early C18th Water Tower and The Hermitage, a grotto by the lake.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
Carshalton House Estate

Site location:
Pound Street, Carshalton

SM5 3PN ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Garden Feature Remnants Institutional Grounds

1715 and later

Charles Bridgeman (c1720)

Listed structures:
LBII*: Carshalton House. LBII: Water Tower, Estate walls, Hermitage.


Site ownership:
St Philomena’s School/ Carshalton Water Tower Trust

Site management:
Carshalton Water Tower and Historic Garden Trust & Friends of Carshalton Water Tower

Open to public?

Opening times:
Water Tower: Easter to September: Sun 2.30-5pm; The Hermitage Easter to September: 1st Sun month 2.30-5pm (check website) + occasional open days
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 12 times, most recently in 2018.

Special conditions:
entrance fee to Water Tower and The Hermitage

Toilets in Water Tower (when Tower is open). Water Tower and Hermitage are available for hire.

Occasional special events; exhibitions in Water Tower; tours; has opened for London Open House. Private tours can be arranged.

Public transport:
Tube: Morden (Northern) then bus. Rail: Carshalton. Bus 127, 157, 154, 407, X26.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:
Grade II

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

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.

On Local List:

In Conservation Area:

Conservation Area name:
Carshalton Village

Tree Preservation Order:
Yes - Large yew tree on lawn

Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance II (Lake)

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:

Carshalton House Grounds, Water Tower and Historic Garden including St Philomena's School *s School *

Carshalton House Landscape Garden - Water Tower - Photo: Colin Wing

Click photo to enlarge.


Fuller information

Carshalton House: Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see

What became the Carshalton House estate was once the Old Farm Estate, within the medieval Manor of Carshalton. Between 1685-1700 a house was built by Edward Carleton, 'in or near the place where formerly stood the messuage called the manor house of Old Farm'. A City merchant, Carleton became bankrupt in 1713, at which time his estate had 'an acre and a half of garden, three acres of orchard, one wilderness and five fishponds'. In 1714 the estate was briefly held by Dr John Radcliffe, who employed the landscape gardener Henry Wise as well as the waterworks engineer Captain Thomas Savery, during which time the early conduits appear to have been constructed. After Radcliffe's death, John Fellowes purchased the estate in 1716 and in 1718-21 he largely rebuilt Carshalton House, the work probably undertaken by architect Henry Joynes, incorporating part of the fabric of Carleton's earlier house. The lodge, with gate piers and gates, is 150m to the south, from where a curving approach drive leads to the house. In 1718 Fellowes was made a baronet and became a Sub-Governor of the South Sea Company. As a result of the speculative mania that became known as the South Sea Bubble, in 1721 Fellowes forfeited his estates, although he continued to live at Carshalton House, and the estate was later bought back by his family.

The grounds were laid out for Fellowes between c.1716-1721 by Charles Bridgeman, who was to become Royal Gardener in 1728. Records indicate that numerous trees were purchased in this period; the grounds were subsequently much modified, although elements are still evident today including a Ha-Ha and formal terracing, buildings such as the Water Tower and The Hermitage, and Bridgeman was almost certainly responsible for developing the conduit system further. The Water House or Water Pavilion was built before 1721, probably by Henry Joynes, with a sunken plunge bath lined with tiles, and the water-powered pump provided water for Carshalton House and fountains in the grounds. The Hermitage or grotto, which was also created before 1721, is a classically-styled stone folly built into the land behind, it was later flanked by flint walls in the C19th. Sir John died in 1724 and the estate remained in his family until 1732. For the remainder of the C18th it was successively owned by the Earl of Hardwicke (1732-40), William Mitchell and his successors (1740-54), Sir George Amyand (1754-66) and Thomas Walpole (1767-82), and thereafter had a number of owners until 1815.

It was probably during Sir George Amyand's or Thomas Walpole's ownership that the more informal landscape was created and the conduit system extended, a curving lake, c.80m to the east of the house, replacing Bridgeman's formal canal. The rustic Folly Bridge, constructed of brick, stone, flint and clinker, was located at the north end of the lake, acting as a dam rather than having water flowing beneath it; it has been restored in 2010. The lake extends for 150m north-south, now partly and sporadically dry, at its south tip on the eastern shore is The Hermitage. The Sale catalogue of 1815 and accompanying estate map described the property, with its belts of trees, shrubbery path and lake with tree-covered island, referring to the 'most picturesque' Water Tower, the 'Rustic Bridge' overlooked by a 'Thatched Summerhouse' and the Hermitage 'under a steep bank [. . . ] embowered in a grove of Yew Trees'. The gardens remain an important early example of the landscape style, with the avenue drive placed off-centre from the house, naturalistic lake and ornamental buildings.

Carshalton House ceased to be a private residence in 1847 when the then owner, Edward Simeon, leased it to the Board of Ordnance for a preparatory school for cadets for the Royal Artillery and Engineers. This school proved a failure and closed in 1859. Carshalton House was then intermittently used as a school until 1863 when it was purchased by Revd. Barrett who transferred his school in North Cheam here, running it until his death in 1887. Having remained empty for 5 years, in 1893 the house and grounds were sold to the Daughters of the Cross, a Roman Catholic order established in Liege in 1833 who were looking to establish a convent, English Novitiate and schools.

The sale catalogue of 1888 listed among the amenities of the property 'a fine old octagonal Dovecote', 'a large Drying and Poultry Yard', a farmyard with various outbuildings, 'a stone-built Grotto Summer House called The Hermitage', an ice house, an orchard, and '3 large Walled Kitchen Gardens with Greenhouse, 2 Vineries, Potting Sheds and Apple Room'. In addition the grounds boasted the 'Large Ornamental Lake (with Island) supplied by never-failing Springs, which yield an abundance of water of excellent quality capable of being turned to very profitable account.' The Waterhouse, which had been put to use as a school chapel, was described as a 'Red Brick Building comprising Chapel, Pump House (with pumping apparatus worked by an undershot wheel, with supply pipes to the Mansion and throughout the Premises); also a Large Plunge Bath, the walls lined with Dutch tiles, with Dressing Room adjoining' and 'large Cisterns on the Water Tower.'

The Daughters of the Cross established St Philomena's College, a boarding school for girls, and St Mary's Elementary School, and since its use as a school there has been extensive institutional building to the west and south-west of the house in the latter part of the C20th, although the walled kitchen garden remains 100m south-west of the house. Further school buildings are found to the east of the lake and south of the Water House or Water Tower. The grounds rise slightly but steadily from north to south, and are enclosed by late C17th/C18th walls. There are winding paths within the boundary walls and beside the lake, with lawns and scattered mature trees.

The former Carshalton House estate is partly managed by St Philomena's School and partly by the Carshalton Water Tower and Historic Garden Trust, together with Friends of Carshalton Water Tower, which maintains the Water Tower, Hermitage and part of the historic garden.

Sources consulted:

See LB Sutton Heritage Centre; A E Jones, 'The story of Carshalton House now St Philomena's' (LB Sutton Libraries and Arts Service, 1980); Ian Yarham, Richard Barnes, Bob Britton, 'Nature Conservation in Sutton', Ecology Handbook 22 (London Ecology Unit, 1993) p68/9. See also Watts’ Views of Seats (1783), articles by Derek R Sherborn in Country Life March 4 pp480-483, and May 27 1949 pp1254-55; Surrey Archaeological Collections, etc, and thesis on history of Carshalton House by a Sister of the Daughters of the Cross; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'London 2: South' (1983), pp646-640; B Jones, 'Follies and Grottoes' (1979), p328; Andrew Skelton 'The Hermitage and the development of the Carshalton House landscape garden' (Carshalton House Estate Reports Number 2, May 2007)

Page Top

Discover. Visit. Research. Explore.