Carshalton Park is a former medieval deer park and was once part of the extensive Carshalton Park Estate owned for much the C18th by the Scawen family, who also owned the neighbouring Stone Court estate from 1729. Both estates were inherited by Thomas Scawen who undertook landscaping works, although his new house here was never realised. After his death in 1774 Carshalton Park had a number of owners and later became a public park when it was acquired by Carshalton UDC. Remnants of earlier landscaping include a C17th grotto.
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Sir William Scawen, Governor of the Bank of England, was Lord of the Manor of Carshalton from the early C18th and throughout much of the C18th the Scawen family acquired substantial land holdings in the area, from the hamlet of Wallington to the parish of Sutton and from Wrythe Green, Hackbridge and Mitcham to Woodcote, Woodmansterne and Banstead. On the death of Sir William in 1722 the Carshalton Park estate was inherited by his nephew Thomas Scawen (1702-1774), who later inherited the neighbouring Stone Court estate through mortgages provided by his uncle to its late owner John Cater. Part of Stone House estate remains as The Grove Park (q.v.). Thomas Scawen undertook landscaping works on both estates but he never completed his new mansion in Carshalton Park, although extravagent designs were drawn up by Italian architect Giacomo Leoni.
Features surviving from the C18th landscape include the large grotto built in 1724 with gates adorned with the Scawen griffins, and the remains of the ornamental canal running from the grotto, although this is now often dry. In his description of the design for Carshalton House Leoni wrote: 'behind the House is a delicious Garden adorned with variety of Statues and Fountains, as also with a Canal of a very noble length and breadth, terminating in an ample and delightful Grotto, most artfully contrived and adorned with a great number of rareties, according to a curious design invented by the Master of the House himself.' ('Some designs for Buildings both Publick and Private' in Vol 3 of The Architecture of Leoni Battista Alberti, translated by Leoni and publishedc 1729). Rocque's map of 1768 shows a formal layout but by 1783 this had become more informal. However, Carshalton Park retains remnants of its earlier landscape in the form of a large circular depression known as the ‘frying pan’, probably C19th in date, and the Hogpit Pond, a rectangular reservoir with sloping grass sides that was created in the 1770s to supply water to the River Wandle for mills in Mill Lane. After Thomas Scawen's death, Carshalton Park had a number of owners and part of the land later became the public park. Today the site is largely laid to grass with tarmac paths and some mature trees, including impressive sweet chestnuts, planted in the early C18th or earlier. The park was once famous for its walnut trees, but most were on land later taken for the extension of All Saints Churchyard (q.v.).
LB Sutton Archive; Ian Yarham, Richard Barnes, Bob Britton 'Nature Conservation in Sutton', Ecology Handbook 22, London Ecology Unit, 1993; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999