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Steep Park

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What: Mansion and country estate
Where: Crowborough, Sussex
Built: 1890
Architect: Unknown
Abandoned: c.2003
Listed: No
Visited: 2009, 2010
Last Known Condition: Fully restored
Page Updated: September 2015

For a long time I pondered about keeping Steep Park a secret, holding off publication due to the many personal effects still left inside. By 2013, however, its name had become well-known on the Internet and there was little enough left for it to make much difference: following the owners' death, executors had removed most of the contents, while holes in the roof let in water which seeped through plaster and timbers spreading rot and decay.

It seemed inevitable that the house would be demolished within a matter of months.

South aspect
From the south lawns

Grand stair
Landing on the grand staircase

Old business or calling cards
Old business or calling cards

Artist's linseed oil

[click images below to expand & enlarge]

Tradesmen's entrance The back of the house Reception rooms Reception rooms Service corridor Sacred heart Book prospectuses Wallpaper Scattered papers in the studio Newspaper clippings Faded memories Mirrored wardrobe Magazines and artwork Accessories Servant's quarters Skylight Skylight View out over the grounds The house from the gardens Pollarded avenue leading to the gardens Heated glasshouse Garden buildings Potting shed Seed catalogues Petrol pump hidden in the bushes Estate farm Estate farm Estate farm Estate farm Fully restored and on the market in 2015 (estate agent's photo)

The manor of Steep, anciently called Parstepe, was first mentioned in 1327 but the present rambling late-Victorian mansion, originally named High Steep, was built in 1890 for Robert H. Halford, a London jeweller and silversmith who lived there with his large extended family and staff including a cook and gardener. The next owner was a Mr. Coomber, who later sold it to a Mr. Kerlew and he to a Mr. Jackson. By 1928 the estate was owned by W.B. Woodrow, who added landscaped grounds, glasshouses and a winter garden and renamed it Steep Park.

The history of the mansion's last owners, by contrast, is well documented: James Francis W. was born in 1913 to Leopold W, a London shipping magnate and an Andalusian Duchess. Having enjoyed a successful career in The City, Mr W turned his hand to pottery and ceramics, becoming a founding member of the Craft Potters' Association of Great Britain. In 1957 he married a Ms. Muriel W. and they moved to a large villa in South Nutfield, Surrey. James and Muriel married late in life (he was 44 and she was 51) so had no children.

Mr W had two great passions in life: art and rare orchids: around 1959, possibly aided by a bequest from his late father, he bought Steep Park, which allowed ample room for both passions. He wasted little time in setting up a plant nursery, studio and craft pottery there and soon established himself as an authority on orchids and a successful potter. The couple seem to have lived a long and happy life here; they painted, kept dogs and enjoyed holidays in France, Spain and the Carribean.

Shortly after Mr James's death, aged 88, Muriel, alone except for the servants and her visitors, left the now crumbling house for a care home. With no direct heirs to look after the estate, it fell into ruin and was put on the market for just over £2,000,000 as a redevelopment opportunity.


In September 2014 Steep Park appeared, against all expectation, to be undergoing renovations. The roof had been repaired, new brickwork replaced the tired timbered gables and a mobile home stood outside. In 2015, the fully restored mansion was offered for sale for £3,250,000.


Anon, 'The Weald - Property History, bibliography and Topography - Steep' (n.d.) [ http://www.theweald.org/P3.asp?PId=Cr.Steep | Accessed 13/4/13 ]

Pullen, Catherine, 'Rotherfield: The Story of Some Wealden Manors', Tunbridge Wells: Courier, 1928, pp. 458-465

Anon, 'The Peerage' (2003) [ http://thepeerage.com/p9358.htm#i93575 | Accessed 13/4/13 ]


The Derelict Miscellany: website and all content © D. A. Gregory unless stated to be otherwise.