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Wentworth Estate

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Landmark Properties | Crown Estate | St George’s Hill | Wentworth Estate


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Wentworth Estate, Virginia Water, Surrey

The Wentworth Estate is a 1920s-founded estate of houses and woodland across 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) (a typical small village size in England) around the home of the first Ryder Cup, Wentworth Club. It is in Virginia Water, Surrey, England and forms one of Europe’s premier residential areas on a gently undulating area of coniferous heath, a nationally rare soil type. Most of its invariably large plots have homes built from scratch or rebuilt after 1930 in a range of styles from the ornate multi-chimneyed Arts and Crafts movement of the earliest properties through Neo-Georgian and colonial revival to the postmodern simple style as in the recording studios at John Lennon’s Tittenhurst Park (1971) in the adjoining parish of Sunninghill and Ascot, the north of which, with parts of Windsor, Winkfield and Virginia Water is the main piece of Crown Estate in South-East England, Windsor Great Park.

The 19th-century house the “Wentworths” (now the club house for the Wentworth Club) was the home of a brother-in-law of the 1st Duke of Wellington. It was purchased in 1850 by the exiled Spanish count Ramon Cabrera, and after his death his wife bought up the surrounding lands which were later to form the nucleus of the Wentworth Estate.

In 1912, builder W.G. Tarrant had started developing St George’s Hill, Weybridge – a development of houses based on minimum 1-acre (0.40 ha) plots based around a golf course. In 1922 Tarrant acquired the development rights for the Wentworth Estate, getting Harry Colt to develop a golf course around the “Wentworth” house. Tarrant developed the large houses on the estate to a similar Surrey formula used at St George’s Hill – tall chimneys, dormer windows, gables, leaded lights, tile-hung or half-timbered or a combination of both; most using hand-made bricks and tiles. Some houses had stonework round the front door and stone fireplaces, a few had a marble floor in the hall, and the rarest – of which he was most proud – had a stone tablet with his initials WGT.

Development of Wentworth Estate ground to a halt due to depression in the late 1920s, and in 1931 when the banks asked for repayment of a large debenture, Tarrant was forced to declare bankruptcy. The ownership of the land passed to Wentworth Estates Ltd, which came under the control of Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Co Ltd. Construction picked up in the late 1930s, with many houses built by Tarrant Builders Ltd, with Tarrant’s son Percy as one of the directors; but again stopped during World War II when the need arose to build high-density housing close to Virginia Water railway station.

Post-war development picked up considerably, and by 1960 most of the available land was already used.

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