WONERSH
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HISTORY SOCIETY
INSIDE WONERSH PARK Margaret Rice was 84 and living in Grasmere, Wonersh Common Road in 1970 when she talked about her memories of Wonersh Park where she had worked whenever Mrs Sudbury needed extra staff. There were four children: John , the elder son; Hugh ; Evelyn and Katie. The family didn’t occupy the whole of the mansion and a number of rooms, particularly on the top floor, were shut up. The visitor to Wonersh Park, arriving by carriage, would pass through the ornamental gateway and sweep around the curve of the short gravelled drive to alight at the front door. This naturally led into the hall, off which various doors opened. To the left was the little dining room; the door at the rear led to Mrs Sudbury’s private rooms which faced the garden. The main staircase was at the rear on the righthand side. The big drawing room was nearer to the front of the house and occupied more than half of the ground floor of the south-west wing, looking towards the church over the tennis court and shrubberies. Beyond it was the large dining room, another fine room, and above them both, the billiard room. A large conservatory was found to the left of this dining room, extending into the garden and this was always filled with a mass of beautiful flowers and plants. There was only one bathroom, hot and cold water being carried up by the servants from the kitchen to the bedrooms in copper cans where they filled basins and hip baths. Mrs Sudbury, whose needs were rather spartan, invariably had a cold bath each day. The house was illuminated by candles with shades and by oil lamps. In the days when Mrs Rice worked at the house neither gas nor electricity was available in Wonersh. Mrs Sudbury’s bedroom was on the first floor, at the front of the house behind the righthand bay window. The landing ran behind the centre windows above the front door; there were also three first floor landing windows at the rear, overlooking the lake and this gave the house the odd appearance of having two floors at the south-west end but three everywhere else. Hugh Sudbury’s bedroom was to the right of the conservatory, on the first floor; John’s was behind the left first floor bay window at the front. The two girls occupied the two second floor bedrooms with bay windows. The old Grantley crest stood centred prominently above the long front facade. Returning to the hall, the visitor would find the housekeeper’s room beyond the little dining room; beyond that were the servants’ quarters. If entering the house through the back door, which opened onto the drive from the street down to the coach houses, there was a long stone passage. On the left was a courtyard off which were two large stone-flagged kitchens, the butler’s pantry, pantry, larder etc. In 1914, Mary Sudbury sold Wonersh Park to Robert Haslam on condition that she could live there for the rest of her life. When she died in 1926 he tried unsuccessfully to sell the house and it was eventually demolished in 1929.
“The old Village Flower Show became a Garden Party and Flower Show in the Sudbury’s time and for the village it was a very special day to look forward to each year … A military band often came to play earlier in the day and stayed on to provide music for dancing in the evening.”