Witley Park is an intriguing abandoned place in the middle of the English countryside.
Many of the photographs you see here are of a hidden space that sits beneath a man-made lake next to the massive estate of a late mining magnate.
The story begins in 1890, when a house called Lea Park, was sold by then owner JP J.W.Stone, to an Anglo American called J.Whitaker Wright. Wright had made his fortune through mining. Considered what they called at the time as ‘New Money’, Wright lost no time converting the estate into a sumptuous residence, with no expense spared.
The house contained thirty two bedrooms, eleven bathrooms, landscaped gardens, a private theatre, an observatory, 450 acres of land and a domed glass and steel room complete with billiard table, under the artificial lakes.
Rumour has it that he had more than 500 men working on the changes he made to the estate, which included digging and filling the three lakes.
Local authorities became concerned as to what was happening to the estate.
On the 13th May, 1899, the Surrey Times ran an article headed “Despoiling Hindhead Common” and stated that “many residents of Hindhead are not a little annoyed, and certainly very much grieved, at the poor respect which the new lord of the manor is apparently showing for the natural beauty and adornments of Hindhead Common and the Punch Bowl.”
However, when the work finally finished on the estate five years later, Wright sensationally committed suicide using a cyanide pill. Witley Park was put up for sale in an auction of fifty lots at Godalming.
The land and relevant buildings then changed hands again in 1909, with the famous SS Titanic designer and builder Lord Pirrie, buying Whitaker’s mansion at Witley Park for $1,000,000.
He and his wife, Lady Margaret Montgomery Carlise made it their main residence and enclosed the estate with an iron fence which echoed the boundaries of the original medieval deer park.
Unfortunately, Whitaker Wright’s Witley (Lea Park) burned down in 1952 and the buildings were demolished.
What you see here are the remains that survived the fire over half a century ago. A haunting reminder of one man’s eccentric building demands from a bygone era.