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Pyrford Court was built on land formerly part of Woking Park, lying within the southern area of Windsor Forest. The land came into the ownership of the earls of Onslow during the 17th century and remained so until 1902 when lands adjoining Pyrford Rough (the home of Sir Charles Dilke, the Liberal Cabinet minister ruined by a notorious divorce), near the northern edge of the park, were offered for sale by auction. It had been intended that the area would be developed for exclusive housing (Crosby 1982) but the auction did not take place, and Lot 55, a 'very attractive, freehold site for residences, ... adjoining Pyrford Common and having a frontage thereto of about 1,020 ft with sandy soil adjoining the grounds of a good House picturesquely planted with Fir and other trees, on a high level and commanding beautiful views' (Sale particulars, 1902) and Lot 56, further to the west, were acquired by the Hon Rupert Guinness, the fourth Earl of Onslow's son-in-law. A new house, Pyrford Court, designed by Clyde Young and later enlarged by the local architect John Hale to the designs of Guinness (created second Earl of Iveagh in 1919) was built in grounds that eventually totalled over 400 hectares. Lady Iveagh (the former Lady Gwendolen Onslow), whose mother gardened at nearby Clandon Park (see description of this site elsewhere in the Register), laid out a series of gardens and pleasure grounds surrounding the house and developed the ornamental woodlands. In the late 1940s the Head Gardener commanded a team of eighteen gardeners (B Strudwick pers comm, 1999). Lady Iveagh was very influenced by the writings of, and may have consulted Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) who lived not far away at Munstead Wood (see description of this site elsewhere in the Register) near Godalming.

During the Second World War Pyrford Court was used by the Headquarters Staff of the 20th Guards Brigade. After the death of Lord Iveagh in 1966, the estate passed to the three daughters who became trustees of the Burhill Estate Company. The outlying farmland as well as the golf course which occupies the park remain in corporate ownership. Pyrford Court was sold off separately and, after a period of use as an old people's home, is currently (2000) privately owned, being part office and part single residence. The large stable block to the north-east, known as The Bothy, has been redeveloped as twelve residential units; this also remains in corporate ownership as does the garden to the east. The easternmost lodge is in separate private ownership.

Site timeline

1939 to 1945: Pyrford Court was used by the Headquarters Staff of the 20th Guards Brigade.

People associated with this site

Advisor: Gertrude Jekyll (born 29/11/1843 died 08/12/1932)

Architect: Clyde Francis Young (born 1871 died 04/05/1948)


ornamental lake