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Tangley Place

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What: Mansion, later convalescent home
  MAFF field station and animal laboratories
Where: Worplesdon, Surrey
Built: Mansion c.1872, Labs 1958
Architect: Unknown
Abandoned: 1996
Listed: No
Visited: 2009
Last Known Condition: Demolished
Page Updated: January 2014

Tangley Place (originally Tangley Park) was built c 1872, a rambling brick and half-timbered mansion surrounded by beautiful gardens of rose walks, sweeping lawns and topiaried yew hedges. In the early 1900s, Tangley was home to automotive pioneer Wilson Noble, who in 1904 had four cars garaged there: a Curved Dash Oldsmobile, an 8hp de Dion-Bouton, a 12hp Gladiator and a 14hp Daimler, worth a small fortune at the time, as they would be now. After Noble's death in 1917, the house was bought by Margaret Hamilton-Fellows, estranged wife of Maj. Ernest Gaddesden Fellows and daughter of Sir Frederick Wills, Bt, the millionaire tobacco manufacturer. Fellows, who had inherited a 2m fortune from her father, lived there until her death in 1926. Her daughter, Enid Margaret, married the 14th Earl of Kinnoull in 1923 but the marriage was unsuccessful; their only child died suddenly while staying at Tangley with his grandmother aged just three months and they were divorced in 1927.

By 1945, the house had become a children's home and from 1947 to 1955 it was used as an NHS convalescent home. Three years later, in 1958, the property was taken over by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (later the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) for use as a field station. New laboratories were built and the site became known as Worplesdon Laboratory.

Garden front


Stray gauge

[click images below to expand & enlarge]

Perimeter fence. In later years the site was often beseiged by animal rights activists The front of the house in 2009 The front of the house in 1927 (English Heritage) Around the side A gable on the garden front Remains of the library in 2009 (Compare next photo) The library in 1927 (EH) Downstairs rooms Fire escape Two-storey bay Upstairs  workroom Collapsed floor Abandoned monitor Looking up Kitchen: recess for stove Entrance to the cellars Relic of the steam heating system Wine cellar Cellar collapse Service wing Emergency Shower Test subjects were kept in the animal house Animal house stairs Toppled animal cages Animal house corridor Don't. Junction Pipes and valves Exit Animal carrier Incinerator house (Equipment removed) Incinerator shutoff Wilson Noble of Tangley Park

In the 1980s, the primary job of the Worplesdon Laboratory was to develop "improved methods of preventing damage to agriculture by harmful mammals and birds". Work was also done on the effects of pesticides on wildlife and other aspects of agricultural conservation while a small section worked in co-operation with the Ministry of Defence and the Civil Aviation Authority to alleviate the problem of bird strike to aircraft. A Hansard report for February 1983 stated that "The following species are currently being used in the research programmes: rabbit, badger, Japanese quail, feral pigeon, starling, bullfinch, house sparrow and wood pigeon." In 1985 the area of office and laboratory buildings totalled 26000 sq ft.

Testing on site ceased in 1996 and the premises were offered for sale in 1997. Purchased in 1999 by a developer, plans to convert the main building into luxury apartments were derailed by a fire which damaged the main building beyond repair. Since then, plans to demolish the buildings and replace them with a offices or a care home have repeatedly been thrown out by the local council due to their unsuitability. Several fires later the house is a total wreck, much of it completely inaccessible due to structural collapse. Tiles, bricks, charred timbers and pipework have fallen through roof, ceiling and floor, coming to rest in the cellars and reception rooms. Almost all of the original arts-and-crafts style decor has been destroyed by fire and water damage but here and there tantalising traces remain: the ruins of a pannelled library, verdigris-coloured woodwork in the hall and burnt parquet flooring in the service wing - a fragile impression in charcoal that cracks and crumbles with every step.


Detailed planning consent was granted by Guildford Borough Council on 14th September 2009 for the erection of a three-storey, 92-bed care home following demolition of the existing buildings on the site. Tangley Place was razed to the ground in January 2010 and none of the buildings now remain. Construction of the new care home (also called Tangley Place) was well underway by June 2011 and has now been completed.

Concise Bibliography

Hansard, 15th Feb, 1983, 1st Dec. 1989 and 19th Jan, 2000.

HMSO, (1873) 25" O.S. Map, 1873

Records held by Surrey History Centre (DCH/11/1);


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