The manor of Denford dates from before Domesday. The manor house lies south of the A4 road, adjacent to Lower Denford Lane. This is not to be confused with Denford Park, on the north of the A4, which was built in 1832.
1349 A fulling mill called Toukyngmill was operating at Denford.
1650: Denford Manor was sold: One capital messuage with buildings of firm brick and stone and an accumulation of outhouses. Two gardens, two orchards, four barns, six stables. One other messuage and garden, a great barn. cotter and with it 120 acres worth of land at £40. Land is £46, one quarter of rates. 300 acres and freehold with Capital Messuage worth 8 fine acres. 60 acres at 40d - £120; 60 acres of wood at 14d - £42; timber on the ground worth £150; fishing of River Kennet, with fishponds and garden - £6.
1808 The Manor was mortgaged to John Thomas Wasey of Newbury.
- A miniature, thought to be of George Henry Cherry, who had bought Denford Park in 1822. (Kindly sent Jan 2021 by Lynn Hutchinson, Canada).
- George Charles Cherry, by John Hanson Walker, 1888 (B.R.O.).
- Denford Park, 1903
- The Hungerford Town Brass and Reed Band, 1912. These two photographs show the Town Band at Denford Park on the occasion of their first concert with new instruments. The then tenant of the house, Captain Sawbridge (standing in the formal group in the back row, just to the left of centre), had loaned the finance to purchase the instruments, music and music pouches. [A Parsons, Hungerford]
- Denford Park (labelled "Denford House") c1913 [Barnard]
- Denford Park, undated (Moya Dixon).
- The Chapel, Denford Park.
- The Craven Hounds at Denford Park, 21 Mar 1921 [Parsons] (SH)
- Denford Park (c1956 after the west wing added)
- Girls riding at Denford Park, undated ?1960s.
- "The Norland Institute Nurseries Ltd, Student's Laundry No. 10"
- Norland Nannies outside Denford Park, 1986
The earlier Denford Park mansion:
Denford Park (with the previous mansion) was bought in 1810 by William Hallett of Townhill, South Stoneham in Hampshire (later an MP).
The new mansion is built:
The new house may have been commissioned by William Hallett, and the style is consistent with the architect James Wyatt. Wyatt died in 1813, and it is known that the commission was completed in 1832 by his nephew Sir Jeffrey Wyatville (who also designed Claverton Manor and Dinton Park, and worked at Longleat and Windsor Castle).
Interesting architectural features include a semi-circular Tuscan portico main entrance, a stone cantilevered staircase with a balustrade decorated in the Adam style and a fine leaded dome.
Paula Downer kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Aug 2016) saying "I am a Researcher for the local history society at West End in Southampton. I am currently researching Townhill Park House as it was at the time of William Hallett (c.1810). According to his will 'the house was pulled down except what I now enjoy' and 'I took a considerable quantity of the materials of the Townhill estate and built the present mansion of Denford House' (the Will can be found on Ancestry). It appears to me that he took the circular portico with the 6 columns which can be seen at Denford Park from the Townhill Park House!"
The Cherry family (1822-1913):
In 1822 the estate was sold (in 1822) for £32,026 12s to George Henry Cherry. Denford remained home to the Cherry family until 1913.
The property included the mansion, stables, park, watermeadows, a mill, two farms (Denford Farm and North Farm), plantations and meadows. The estate embraced all the land from Denford Mill by the canal through the current estate and north beyond North Farm (which is now part of Eddington Estate). It also extended west beyond Dark Lane.
It was also in 1832 that George Cherry had Holy Trinity Chapel, Denford built in the grounds. It was a small Gothic chapel of Bath stone designed by Papworth, and it was erected close to the house. Initially it was used as a private family chapel, but later in 1833 gained parish status and had its own register recording baptisms of the family and estate employees from 1833-1949. See Holy Trinity, Denford Church.
Denford Park featured in the Swing Riots of 1830. The mob entered Denford Park and broke Mr Cherry's thresher, and took two sovereigns off him. A while later another party accosted him, and relieved him of a further £1. This was later returned to him when the mob learnt that Mrs Cherry was lying-in with her seventh child.
George Henry Cherry was a local magistrate, and Sheriff of Berkshire in 1829. He died in 1848 and the house and manor passed to his son, George Charles Cherry (who was Sheriff of Berkshire in 1871).
During this time the mansion was let. Piers Dunn has a letter written in 1854 by Major General William Brown to his grandson Eddie Dunn, living at Denford at the time. general brown owned Inglewood and rented Denford from 1850-55 whilst Inglewood was being refurbished. He served with the Royal Horse Artillery during the Peninsular War.
George Cherry died on 12 Jun 1887, and Denford passed to Major-General Apsley Cherry, who assumed the name and Arms of Garrard on inheriting Latimer Park, Hertfordshire.
On the latter's death in 1907, the estate passed to his own son Apsley George Benet Cherry-Garrard (1886-1956). He had long absences abroad, and, at the age of 24 years, he was one of the youngest members of Captain Scott's famous Antarctic "Terra Nova" expedition of 1910-1913. He wrote "The Worst Journey in the World" about his experiences there. He also took part in a scientific expedition to China. He served in the Army 1914-16. In August 1914 he attempted to set up an independant unit using dogs to find wounded soldiers on the Front. He then worked as a motorcycle dispatch rider serving in the ranks, which must have been quite an experience for a country gentleman!
There were several further changes of ownership and tenancy, including Mr & Mrs Rennie (c1907), Captain Sawbridge (1910) and Philip Dunn, QC.
There are two photographs of Capt Sawbridge standing with the Hungerford Band at the doors of Denford Park in 1912 (see Photo Gallery).
The Harrison-Hughes family (1924-1939):
In 1924, on the expiry of the lease to the Sawbridge family, Denford Park was sold to Sir Thomas Harrison-Hughes. He bought it for his young French wife Ann Harrison-Hughes, who was Catholic. Denford remained a private residence until 1939 when Ann died prematurely.
The Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and Denford Park Convent School (1939-67):
The estate was bequeathed to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a community of Roman Catholic nuns which originated in Liege, Belgium, and which had provided (unusually) Protestant and Catholic education in England since 1799.
During the Second World War the house was requisitioned for use by the officers of the American 101st Airborne Division (along with Chilton Lodge).
The house was returned to the nuns at the end of the war.
The main school was at New Hall in Chelmsford, but when numbers grew, a junior preparatory school for girls (for 14 pupils) was opened at The Goodings (1947-53).
The junior school transferred from The Goodings to Denford Park in 1953, and the house was extended at this time. See New Hall Preparatory School advert, 1964.
In 1967, there were 150 pupils at the school, but dwindling numbers caused the school to be amalgamated with its senior school at New Hall in Chelmsford. The NWN reported 20 Jan 1966 "Denford Park Convent School, near Hungerford, is closing. This news was given to the parents of 140 girls at the school in a letter which came as a complete shock only six months after a mammoth appeal for the school's development and building fund. Less than two years ago, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth opened new buildings including a senior girls' wing and a magnificant assembly hall with stage and changing rooms, The school is to be amalgamated with the Convent of the Holy Sepulchre, New Hall, Chelmsford". See also: Canonesses of Holy Sepulchre website.
Norland Nursery Training College (1967-2002):
In 1967, Denford Park was bought by Norland Nursery Training College, who moved in from Chistlehurst, Kent, during the late summer of 1967.
The Norland training was highly thought of (see "Norland nannies are wanted worldwide" - NWN 12 April 1979). NNTC was renamed Norland College in 1991. Norland was based at Denford for over 30 years until their move to Bath in 2002.
The house, a Grade II Listed building, was sold in 2002, and underwent a major renovation in 2009-2013 by HRH Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (of Saudi Arabia), born 1970, 5th son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (who took the throne of Saudi Arabia on the death of his brother 15 Jan 2015).
- Norland, The Story of the First 100 Years 1892-1992, by Penelope Stokes, 1992. ISBN 0 9517843 0 7 [HHA Archives R39]
- HHA Archives [A06]