Hollydale Open Space was once part of the grounds of Hollydale House, a mid-18th century mansion owned by the Kirkpatrick family. Although the house was demolished in the 1930s you can still ﬁnd remnants of the original estate including part of the former kitchen garden wall and the two lakes. Fortunately Bromley Borough Council decided to save part of the estate from development and created a peaceful haven, with a wide variety of wildlife and mature trees, for local residents to enjoy.
Find out more about Hollydale’s past by coming along to an organised Heritage walk. Our volunteer expert guides will be happy to answer your questions.
Check the Events calendar or the noticeboards to see the date of the next event.
Gardens and landscaping
Many of the trees and shrubs in Hollydale Open Space were grown from specimens brought back from abroad by members of the Kirkpatrick family who worked for the East India Company.
The main entrance to the house was at the junction of Hastings Road and Lakeside Drive. You can still see many of the lime trees that formed an avenue leading to the house today, along Rowan Walk.
A spring-fed stream, which rises in nearby Holwood and runs through the Hollydale estate, was dammed to create two lakes, which are an important feature of the open space. The lakes provide an ideal habitat for plants and wildlife.
Hollydale House was home to four generations of the Kirkpatrick family. The first owner was James Kirkpatrick (1701-1770), a Scottish doctor.
James had fled with his family from Dumfriesshire in Scotland to America following the failed Jacobite uprising in Scotland in 1715. The Kirkpatricks settled on a plantation in Charleston, South Carolina where James’ son, also called James, was born in 1730.
Sometime in the middle of the 18th century the family left America and came to live at Hollydale House.
James Kirkpatrick’s son became a captain in the East India Company spending much time abroad. He later became known as ‘the handsome colonel’. In 1779 he became owner of Hollydale following the death of his father a few years earlier.
James’ sons also joined the East India Company and all went on to play important roles in India. One of them, James Achilles Kirkpatrick, adopted the Indian culture and married a local Muslim woman. When he died in 1805 his two young children were sent to England to be brought up by their grandfather at Hollydale. Their Muslim names were changed and they became known as William George and Katherine Aurora.
‘The Handsome Colonel’ also had an illegitimate son, William. William was a linguist and studied Persian. He rose rapidly in the East India Company. In 1793 he became the first Englishman to cross the high mountain range between Bengal and Nepal to mediate with the Chinese, who had invaded Tibet.
You can find a marble memorial to George Kirkpatrick, who died at Hollydale in 1838, in nearby Keston Church. There is also a Kirkpatrick tomb in the churchyard.
There were a number of different owners of Hollydale House after the Kirkpatrick family, including, at the end of the 1880s, the Earl of Derby while he was Secretary of State for the Colonies.
20th century changes
Many owners of large houses across Britain sold their estates between the First and Second World Wars for economic reasons. The houses were often demolished and the land redeveloped to meet the growing need for suburban homes.
Hollydale House and its estate were sold in the late 1930s and the house was demolished. Semi-detached houses were built along Beverley Road and Lakeside Drive between 1934 and 1936.
Fortunately Bromley Borough Council decided to save part of the estate from development and created a peaceful haven, with a wide variety of wildlife and mature trees for local residents to enjoy.
If you go to the garden area at the southern end of the open space you can still see the brick wall of Hollydale’s former kitchen garden and beyond it the old coach house where the domestic staff lived.
History of the Bromley area
History of the Bromley area