Editor’s Note: This is likely the final entry in our Great British Houses series. We’ve now published almost fifty articles in the series and we’ve basically run out of ‘great’ (as in famous) houses to write about. While I’m sure there are many more beautiful stately homes in the UK to write about, we’ve run out of the ‘popular’ ones – ones that are open to the public or historically important. We’ll regroup and do some more research and see if we can find some more great homes to write about. I think we might do important castles next in the meantime. Check out the archive of all the Great Houses articles here.
Wokefield Park is a fairly typical 18th century country house. No one can say precisely when the house was built, or who it was built for, but a manor at Wokefield is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The deeds for Wokefield Park have passed through the hands of many owners and many families over the years before ending up in the hands of the De Vere Hotel Company, who have transformed the mansion house into a conference center and popular wedding venue.
Key Facts about Wokefield Park
- Wokefield Park is located in the parish of Wokefield, near Mortimer in Berkshire.
- Built around the mid-18th century, there has been a manor recorded on the site of Wokefield Park since 1086.
- Wokefield Park is now a conference center and events venue with an 18 hole golf course, managed by the De Vere group.
History of the House
Most accounts of the history of Wokefield Park only stretch back to around the year 1777, when the Brocas family acquired the property and began making alterations. But evidence of a manor at Wokefield goes back much farther than that, as far as 1086 in fact, as Wokefield is first mentioned on paper in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book. Wokefield Manor was assessed at 1 and ½ hides and was said to belong to Walter, the son of Other. Walter’s descendants, the Danver family, held the over-lordship of Wokefield Manor until the year 1321, when Sir Thomas Danvers granted the manor to Roger Mortimer.
Just 19 years later, in 1340, the king granted Wokefield Manor to John Brocas and the lands became the property of the Brocas family for the next 100 years. Wokefield Manor was restored back to the Mortimer family next and followed the descent of Stratfield Mortimer until 1553. It was at this time that the current house standing at Wokefield Park may have come into existence. Around 1569, Wokefield Manor was sold to Edmund Plowden, treasurer of the Middle Temple. The current house features a vaulted cellar that is thought to date back to this time. A loyal Roman Catholic, considered the best scholar of the law in the country, Plowden lived at Wokefield Park until his death in 1585.
The majority of Wokefield Park, as it stands today, is believed to have been built for owner Bernard Brocas of Beaurepaire at some time in the mid-18th century. A large symmetrical building with a central block of three stories, Wokefield Park is typical of 18th century country houses. On the north front is a portico of Doric Stone and the house features a decorative Roman cement facing with a slate roof. The interiors at Wokefield Park are notable for their 18th century stairway with a molded handrail and twisted balusters.
Alterations have been made to Wokefield Park continually since the 18th century with subsequent owners, such as George Palmer MP, making their own mark on the property. Much of the interior is now a restoration of 19th century designs featuring contemporary fireplaces, wood paneling and typical Victorian molded plaster ceilings. In 1936, Wokefield Park became St Benedict’s Approved School and increased in size to accommodate workshops and staff housing.
Today, Wokefield Park is owned by De Vere Group, a hotel company that utilizes historic houses for conferences, business meetings, holidays or golf breaks. Weddings are popular at Wokefield Park, as are large conferences and events held by companies such as MBW and KPMG. The mansion building at Wokefield Park has 87 rooms, while the nearby executive center, which began as a farmhouse servicing the mansion, has 222 rooms. There are another three buildings on the site of Wokefield Park that offer bedrooms or conference space for guests.
Wokefield Park is also known for its 18-hole golf course that was designed by Jonathan Gaunt in 1996. Other facilities available to visitors include gyms, swimming pools, saunas and a range of outdoor activities such as archery, laser tag and Segway tours.
As a hotel, conference center and wedding venue, Wokefield Park is not open to the public.