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University of Surrey Lodges Plan To Demolish ‘Historic’ Manor Farmhouse And Outbuildings

The University of Surrey has applied for planning permission to demolish a farmhouse and outbuildings on its historic Manor Park estate.

Permission to undertake the work, beginning in March 2018, has been lodged with Guildford Borough Council’s planners with details of the farm buildings in a report prepared by property and construction consultants Ridge.

The house at Manor Farm that the University of Surrey wants to demolish. Part of its timber framing can be seen.

The report notes that “Manor Farmhouse is a four-storey detached dwelling house, including a basement, with a detached stables block and outbuilding ‘Barn 2’. The buildings are unoccupied with Barn 2 only being used as a temporary storage facility. All the buildings are in poor condition and the buildings are derelict.”

It adds that the “buildings are not listed, locally listed or located within a conservation area. The house is located near to a scheduled ancient monument, the site of the demolished medieval manor house, where a portion of the moat remains. This area, including the moat and specified three to six-metre protection boundaries will not be affected by the works and will not form part of the demolition site.

“The house was previously rented but has been unoccupied for about seven or eight years. The property has been boarded up and has been subject to both vandalism and the theft of lead.”

Associated outbuildings that may also be demolished if permission is granted.

The report also adds that it is not considered financially viable to refurbish the buildings to a habitable standard. It contains a detailed list as to why this is considered not to be viable.

The site has claim to be of great historic importance. In medieval times this area to the west of Guildford was a royal deer park, created in 1154 by Henry II. It covered about 1,600 acres and included what today is Onslow Village, Westborough, Park Barn, parts of Woodbridge Hill, Guildford Park and The Mount. It was one of 13 such parks within Windsor Great Forest.

The deer park would have been surrounded by a ditch and a large bank with wooded posts on top. There would have been gaps in the bank where dear could jump in, but were unable to get out – known as deer leaps.

The site adjacent to the buildings proposed for demolition is a scheduled monument, where there was once a manor house, that was visited by several generations of royalty when they came to hunt, and is now a now a scheduled monument, following archaeological excavations in the 1970s. The remains of a moat that surrounded the manor house exist.

Within the documents submitted by the University of Surrey to Guildford Borough Council in its application is a heritage report on the farmhouse published in November 2017 by planning design firm Terence O’Rorke.

Further outbuildings that are subject to the planning application.

Among the details it states are that the buildings are “adjacent to, and within the setting of, the nationally important moated site of the former manor at Guildford Park, a scheduled monument. But the farm buildings themselves are not designated as heritage assets”.

It adds that the “core of the present Manor Farmhouse is a small two-bay timber-framed structure that was constructed soon after the manor house was dismantled and reused some of the timbers and masonry.

“The farmhouse was built in several phases; the 17th-century building, additions by the early 19th century, a major phase of remodelling between 1841 and 1871, and the minor addition of the north-east corner that was in existence by 1917. Of the farm buildings, the stables were built between 1871 and 1895, and the workshop store had been built by 1916, as part of an amended layout of the farmyard buildings to the south.

“The farm buildings at Manor Farm, and the wider group of surviving other alignments and features of the deer park are part of the setting that allows the history of the monument to be read. The later farm holding is of value as an illustration of ‘time depth’ and the transition to agriculture, and retains some rural or semi-rural character.”

After the deer park had fallen into disuse, in 1630 a freehold was granted with the right to ‘dispark’, and most of the land was divided into farms (as noted in the Terence O’Rorke report). It states that the deer park was being farmed by around 1660, and by about 1700 the smaller tenancies had been amalgamated into five farms. The earliest to be named was Bannisters Farm, in a lease in 1658. Manor Farm is first named in a lease of 1703, probably a renewal of an earlier lease of about 1682.

Therefore, a number of farms once occupied the ‘footprint’ of the deer park. These included Park Barn Farm, Deerbarn Farm, Wilderness Farm, and so on. Today, the ‘footprints’ of these farms are roughly the housing areas of Park Barn and Westborough, Woodbridge Hill and Onslow Village, respectively, as well as the campuses of the University of Surrey and the Surrey Research Park.

The farmhouse at Wilderness Farm in Onslow Village still exists, so therefore the only other farm buildings to survive from the period of the farms are those at Manor Farm, which the University of Surrey is aiming to demolish.

Details of the demolition application can be viewed on Guildford Borough Council’s website by clicking here.

See our previous story about the historic medieval royal deer park in Guildford and how the area developed over the centuries in relation to it.

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6 Responses to University of Surrey Lodges Plan To Demolish ‘Historic’ Manor Farmhouse And Outbuildings

  1. Trish Tye Reply

    December 4, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    “…not considered financially viable to refurbish the buildings to a habitable standard” – because the University have just left it to rot for years. It was habitable and could’ve been maintained as such.

  2. John Fox Reply

    December 4, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    I am sad to see the farm go. I grew up nearby and played on that farm for years as a kid. Mr Weaver, the farmer, would fly his plane from the surrounding fields.

    We all said once the Research Park went up they would develop on these fields and sure enough it has happened. Puts what is happening with Local Plan into perspective. Be careful what you wish for.

  3. Lisa Wright Reply

    December 5, 2017 at 10:16 am

    I’m sure the University of Surrey and Guildford Borough Council would rather develop this large brownfield site instead of using up green belt to meet their housing targets.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    December 6, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Why should the University have any say on where developments go?

    It’s about time they built the student accommodation they need on their own site rather than on farms and farmland they have been acquiring.

  5. P Phillips Reply

    December 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Another example of the university bulldozing anything in their way to get what they want. They should be up to the top of the Hog’s Back in five years time which, I believe is green belt land. But they’ll get away with it no doubt.

  6. Peter Garbutt Reply

    February 21, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Manor Farmhouse is of historical interest. The University of Surrey should save these buildings and found a new use for them.

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