Wrotham Park in 1820
The house was designed by Isaac Ware in 1754 for Admiral John Byng, the fourth son of Admiral George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington: the unfortunate John Byng was shot on his own quarterdeck for negligence. His great nephew Field Marshal John Byng was ennobled as Earl of Strafford, and Wrotham Park served as the seat of the Earls of Strafford until the death of Edmund Byng, 6th Earl of Strafford, who, without a male heir, bequeathed the estate to his daughter's eldest son (who took the surname 'Byng'), while the title passed to a nephew. The estate remains in the family and stands at the heart of a 2,500 acre estate. It is one of the largest private houses to be found inside the M25 motorway.
The distinctive exterior of Wrotham Park house has been used over 60 times as a filming location.
Originally part of an estate known as Pinchbank (also Birchbank), first recorded in Middlesex in 1310 and owned in the 17th and early 18th centuries by the Howkins family, the property passed to Thomas Reynolds, a director of the South Sea Company, who renamed the estate Strangeways. His son, Francis, sold the property to Admiral John Byng who had the house rebuilt by Isaac Ware in 1754.
Admiral John Byng changed the name of the house to Wrotham Park in honour of the original family home in Wrotham, Kent. Byng never had an opportunity to live in retirement at Wrotham. Following his inadequately equipped expedition to relieve Menorca from the French during the Seven Years' War, he was court-martialled and executed on the quarter-deck of his own ship in 1757. This event was satirised by Voltaire in his novel Candide: in Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad, and is told that "in this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to give courage to the others" (pour encourager les autres).
The house was inherited by John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford in 1847 and passed to his son, George Byng, 2nd Earl of Strafford, on the first earl's death in 1860. A disastrous fire in 1883 burned slowly enough to permit retrieval of the contents of the house, but gutted it. The house was rebuilt exactly as it was and still remains in the hands of the Byng family.
Wrotham Park was used for various movies as a filming location.
Some films and television programmes using Wrotham Park include:
- King Ralph (1991) as a stand-in for Buckingham Palace.
- Gosford Park (Robert Altman, 2001): scenes were shot at Wrotham Park, including exterior scenes and the staircase, dining room, library and living room.
- Peter's Friends
- Inspecftor Morse episode "Ghost in the Machine" (1989) as 'Hanbury Hall'.
- Jeeves and Wooster' (as the interior of Brinkley Court and the interior and exterior of Chuffnell Hall (Episodes 4 & 5, Series 2)
- Vanity Fair (2004 film)
- The Line of Beauty (2006)
- Sense and Sensibility (2008 BBC miniseries)
- The Hour (BBC, 2011)
- Mr Selfridge (2014)
- Great Expectations (2012)
- Jane Eyre (2011 film)
- Bridget Jones's Diary.
Agatha Christie's Poirot episodes The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly and Third Girl
- The Kingsman franchise:
- Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle during which the house appears completely destroyed in a CGI explosion.
- The house will again appear in The King's Man, a prequel to the original film
- Location scenes for the idents of the Dave channel were shot at Wrotham Park.
Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece and the former Marie-Chantal Miller had a pre-wedding reception at Wrotham Park in 1995, attended by approximately 1,300 guests, two days before their wedding on 1 July.
Chelsea and England footballer Ashley Cole and Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy had their wedding blessed at Wrotham Park on 15 July 2006 – they were not allowed to have their wedding there because Wrotham Park does not have a licence to hold civil weddings.
Music mogul Simon Cowell held his 50th birthday party at Wrotham Park on 3 October 2009. The party, estimated to have cost £1 million, was attended by an estimated 400 guests, and the house itself was bathed in blue light specially for the occasion, with a picture of the host beamed onto the wall of the property.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Wrotham Park)
- Wrotham Park as filming location, The Internet Movie Database
- Photos of the house
- Woods, Judith (25 January 2002). "Palladian marvel outshines a cast of stars". The Daily Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1382599/Palladian-marvel-outshines-a-cast-of-stars.html. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
- Wrotham Park, Barnet Hertfordshire Genealogy
- 'South Mimms: Other estates', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5: Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham (1976), pp. 285–290
- History Wrotham Park
- Location Agency for Wrotham Park listing official website
- "Where was King Ralph filmed?". British Film Locations. http://www.british-film-locations.com/King-Ralph-1991. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- IMDB Ghost in the Machine https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0611641/locations
- Glancey, Jonathan (16 September 2011). "Constructive criticism: the week in architecture". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/sep/16/constructive-criticism-architecture-design-riba. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- "Jane Eyre". The Castles and Manor Houses of Cinema's Greatest Period Films. Architectural Digest. January 2013. http://www.architecturaldigest.com/ad/set-design/2013/period-movies-set-design-manors-castles-vanity-fair-jane-eyre-slideshow#slide=3. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly Poirot, 27 May 2014
- What a swellegant, Cowell-egant party as Simon celebrates 50th birthday with £1m bash Daily Mail. Published 4 October 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009.