Georgian mansion set in historic parkland
Stoke Park was created in 1331 when Sir John de Molyns received a royal licence to enclose three woods.
In the 18th century, when John Penn, the grandson of William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania, USA) returned after 28 years in America, he saw the Manor House in a very bad state of repair. He therefore set about building the present mansion between 1792 and 1808. He used the compensation he received from the new Commonwealth for the loss of his family’s lands in Pennsylvania, following the American Revolution in 1776, to pay for it.
Robert Naismith started to build the mansion house but was replaced by James Wyatt, who was architect to George III. John Penn also commissioned Wyatt to design the monuments in the parkland, in honour of the poet Thomas Gray and Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice of England.
The historic parkland was laid out by two outstanding landscape designers of the 18th century, 'Capability' Brown who designed the grounds and lake in 1750 and Humphry Repton who improved the landscape and built the Repton bridge.
One of the later owners of Stoke Park was Edward Coleman (1863 to 1885). Red deer had existed in the park since Norman times but they were at their best under Coleman, who improved the herd. They have long gone, with some being shipped to New Zealand. Coleman was a patron to Sir Edwin Landseer and provided a studio for painting, especially animals such as dogs and deer. Sir Edward's most controversial painting, 'Man Proposes, God Disposes', was commissioned by Coleman.
Wilberforce Bryant, son of William Bryant, the founder of Bryant and May matchmakers, bought the estate in 1887. Bryant died in 1906.
In 1908 the park was acquired by ‘Pa’ Lane Jackson (Founder of the Corinthian Football Club). He developed the estate into the first golf and country club in England. Harry Colt, now considered to be one of the world's most famous golf course architects, was employed to design an 18 hole golf course. Jackson leased the mansion and half the land to the Stoke Poges Golf Club. The other half was sold for development.
In 1928, the mansion and golf course came into the ownership of Sir Noel Mobbs, the co-founder of Slough Trading Estate. He subsequently acquired the old Manor House.
In 1958, the Eton Rural District Council became the owner. Its successor, South Bucks District Council, granted a 250 year lease to International Hospitals Group (IHG) Ltd. Many enhancements were carried out by IHG, especially restoration of the Repton bridge and upgrading the golf course to 27 holes.
Since the formation of the golf course, many major championship golf matches have taken place, yet it was a classic golf scene in the James Bond film 'Goldfinger' which put Stoke Park on the international map. A lot of filming has taken place on the estate, including 'Layer Cake', 'Wimbledon', 'Bride and Prejudice', 'Bridget Jones's Diary' and the Netflix series 'The Crown'.
A new Heritage Walk footpath was opened in 2000 which affords superb views of the Stoke Park Mansion, the Manor House and other parts of the original estate.
In 2021, Buckinghamshire Council, the freeholders of Stoke Park, leased it to Reliance Industries Ltd. They continue the restoration of the mansion house, a Grade I listed national heritage asset, and the maintenance of the golf course and parkland landscape, a Grade II listed national park and garden heritage asset.