Falkland Park (1890)
Falkland Park was built in 1890 of white Suffolk bricks with Portland Stone dressings. It was described by English Heritage in 1988 as of ‘Mongrel Classical Style’! Like The Grange its portico’d entrance is to the side allowing as many rooms as possible to benefit from the magnificent views to the south & west.
Following the death of Viscount Falkland Thomas McMeekin bought Grangehyrst on Grange Hill. McMeekin, originally from Scotland was a tea merchant with estates in India managed by his sons. He seems to have been unhappy with Grangehyrst as by 1890 he employed architect Henry Rawlins and north London builders Patman & Fotheringham to build him a grand mansion which he called Falkland Park. McMeekin had moved in by 1891 living there with his wife, Eliza, two daughters and three sons. Oddly he had only three servants in the house, a cook and two maids, perhaps a sign of reduced circumstances. Within a few weeks of moving in the house was burgled, a bit of an amateur job as the thieves disturbed the household and fled empty handed only to be apprehended by local constables in Decimus Burton Road.
McMeekin’s finances were impoverished by the delayed arrival of two cargoes of tea accompanied by a fall in the global price of tea. He moved back in to Grange Hyrst and put the rest of the estate up for sale. In 1897 McMeekin was charged with assault; however it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity! In 1900 he retired to Bournemouth.
Charles Hay Walker, a wealthy Civil Engineer, bought the Falkland Park estate in 1900 and was living there in 1911 with his wife, Fanny (first cousin), their four sons & four daughters, 9 house servants and numerous gardeners. The Walkers were Baptists. Charles’ father had constructed the Severn Tunnel & numerous other major projects. He even constructed a whole village, (Sudbrook) for his workers.
The west front is symmetrical with a central belvedere & large bay windows. Inside it has a two storey galleried staircase with Renaissance style decoration. A conservatory and covered link was added to the south by 1904. In 1936 a library with bedroom above was added, extended in 1963. A chapel was added in 1956 and an additional storey was added to the service wing.
The college as it stands has not been drastically altered, the main elevations survive intact & detail. Inside the main plan survives along with much of the original decoration.
When put up for sale in 1912 on the first floor it had 7 bedrooms, day & night nurseries, bathrooms, dressing rooms. The belvedere was described as a smoking room with balcony to admire the views. On the ground floor there was a dining room, morning room, double drawing room and library. Household facilities & servants quarters were in the two wings. In the basement were coal cellars, boiler room & two wine cellars. There was stand alone garaging for 14 cars, complete with inspection pits, a laundry block.
In the grounds were a vast ornamental lake, tower summer house & ice house. There was a range of glasshouses, a vast conservatory & glazed corridor, heated vinery, nectarine & peach house, potting shed, fruit garden, orchards huge kitchen garden etc.