Holbrook House

Holbrook Park is in Old Holbrook, north of the A264 in Horsham, towards Warnham.

Holbrook Park originated c1800 as a red brick house but underwent major rebuilding in 1846 under the ownership of W R Seymour Fitzgerald (see below), evidenced by the Roman numerals MDCCCXLVI featured high on the northern face of the main Park building. The Italianate style used began to go out of favour by 1855 but not before Holbrook Park was built.

Featuring the appearance of a flat roof bounded along the front with a ballustrade it actually has a U shaped pitched roof section running laterally. The main entrance has a pediment at roof level and the porch is supported by four ionic pillars. On the northern corners are two towers which are only decorative having blanked off windows but giving access to the roof via a service door. The windows, including one above and to the left of the main entrance may have been left blank to avoid the Window Tax which was in place from 1696 to 1851, or they may be just for show and therefore providing ‘balance’ to the architecture.

The property, now divided into a number of apartments, comprises a range of buildings. The main building, described above, greets you as you go up the drive. To the right of this is the coach house; the right hand side of which is known as Holbrook House and has been painted cream and has its own private entrance drive. Behind and to the right of the main building is a smaller building featuring a bell tower. This was apparently designed to face into the extensive gardens because of the balustrading on the far western face. Between the bell tower and the coach house is a slate roofed property that once housed the generator. It was converted to a domestic property in 1958 and purchased by the current owners in 1961. The layout can be seen from the aerial view.

Hidden Horsham has been able to trace a little history attached to this property. Some of the various owners have been key players in the history of Horsham as described below:

From Year Owner
c1799 John Manley

c1811 Admiral Sir James Hawkins Whitshed (1762-1849), served under Admiral Lord Nelson before himself being promoted to the highest rank in the British Navy as Commander in Chief of the Fleet. He was awarded a gold medal for actions during the Battle of Cape St. Vincent against the French Navy.

1843 Robert Henry Hurst 1788 – 1857 served as MP for Horsham, the first as Horsham’s only MP from 1823 – 1841. Prior to 1832 Horsham returned two MPs to Parliament. His son, also Robert Henry Hurst was returned as MP a two times: 1865 – 1868, 1869 – 1874 and 1875 – 1876. They were part of the influential Hurst family and are buried at the family plot in the Denne Road Cemetery.

1844 Henry Padwick 1804-1879, R H Hurst’s mortgagee sold it to W R Seymour Fitzgerald 1818 – 1885. Padwick was a local lawyer and money lender who had a reputation for foreclosing on debts and repossessing properties.Fitzgerald was MP for Horsham in 1848 but was unseated by petition. He was elected again in 1852 and served contiously until 1865 at which point he was unseated by Robert Henry Hurst, son of the previous owner. Fitzgerald took Horsham again from Hurst in 1874 only to be replaceded again by Hurst a year later when Fitzgerald, by now a knight, was appointed Chief Charity Commissioner for England and Wales, suceeding the late Sir James Wales. Fitzgerald was the son of the Irish statesman William Vesey-FitzGerald, 2nd Baron FitzGerald and Vesey and 1st Baron FitzGerald, MP for Clare. Being illegitimate he was not eligible to inherit the title.

1877 H D Harrison

1888 A R Creyke

1905 H Alan Scott (married to niece of widow of A R Creyke)

1927 W A Wigram recorded as living there

c1950 Sold by executors of E T Neathercoat who was involved in the Horsham Chamber of Commerce.

1954 Planning application to demolish and build residential houses refused.

1955 Planning application to convert main building into six flats and conversion of outbuildings to residential use permitted.