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Report - Steep Park House, Crowborough July 2010

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by Rookinella, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. Rookinella

    Rookinella I should have danced all night
    28DL Full Member

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    Visited with James.

    It took a bit of googling but we found it eventually and rocked up outside this ramshackled place in Crowborough. It really doesn't look like much from the outside but once you're in the building, you can see it's packed full of stuff so old, it's amazing it hasn't crumbled away. It seems the only things that have caused the decline of this estate are plants and pigeons!

    I know very little of the history of this place but from scrabbling around in the attic, we found and read all the articles we could find to track down what sort of people lived here.

    James Walford was in the shipbuilding business but was also a keen painter, potter and gardener specialising in orchids (of course). There's artwork lying around everywhere and evidence of the sort of lives they led tucked away here in Sussex.

    He published his own book of his orchid drawings and had exhibitions of his pottery in some pretty top London galleries. I found a tiny cut out article from the newspaper telling of how a member of the Walford family died in a tragic boating accident. I don't think this was their child because the name didn't tally up.

    There are so few modern things in this house, it looks as if it hasn't been lived in for about 40 years. Did Mr. and Mrs Walford die in a care home leaving this enormous estate? The house and grounds are currently on the market for £3 million. I'm guessing the renovation would cost a pretty penny in itself.

    Here are the photos:

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  2. Muddy Fox

    Muddy Fox Guest
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    Re: Mr & Mrs Walford's Manor House of Yore 2010

    Just putting in my tuppence: this house belongs to my cousin, Mrs Walford. She's 104 (yes really!) and went into a nursing home after her husband died. He was the son of a Spanish duke, and fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Not sure about the shipbuilding, but yes, he was an artist. One of his specialities was recreating ancient Chinese glaze techniques, and some of his work can be seen in the V&A in London. His wife was the gardener though, one of the most renowned orchid growers in the UK in her time - she grew them, he painted them.
    I used to visit with my parents when I was little, and loved running round the gardens exploring. I was so sad to find these photos, I had no idea the house was in such ruin (it was lived in just 11 years ago, that's when I last went), but at the same time am very glad that people are enjoying it. It would be far more tragic if this place was rotting without anyone to love it still.
    If anyone wants to know more about the place, or people, please ask! Stories are better if they're shared :)
     
  3. Rookinella

    Rookinella I should have danced all night
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    Re: Mr & Mrs Walford's Manor House of Yore 2010

    That is incredible! Thankyou so much for the information, I'd love to know more! Who owns the house now? And Mrs Walford is still alive?
     
  4. Muddy Fox

    Muddy Fox Guest
    Guest

    Re: Mr & Mrs Walford's Manor House of Yore 2010

    As far as I know Mrs Walford still owns it (yes, she's still alive), but it's bequeathed to her niece (they had no children). It breaks my heart what has been allowed to happen to this house (insert choice comments here about irresponsibility of the idle rich) - I'll be contacting said niece as soon as. Trouble is, I'm Mrs Walford's cousin's granddaughter, and last saw any of these people when I was about 12, so who's going to take me seriously?
    Anyway: Muriel grew up in India, with my grandmother - same age, so they were more like sisters. They moved back to England probably sometime early 20s. She grew orchids because she loved them so much from her time in India - she went back several times as a plant collector. The balcony above the main door was where she liked to feed her beloved birds, and there was a gorgeous 'winter garden' to the right of the house as you look at it. In the big storm in the late 80s the estate lost over 70 trees. If it was up to me I'd give the whole place to the National Trust, I love this house.
     
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