South Hill Park October. Bracknell Arts Centre.

South Hill Park is an historic park located south of Bracknell town centre with excellent road and rail links to London.

The grounds are open to the public and include landscaped gardens, lakes and woodland, all of which surround a Grade II listed building which is now used as an arts centre.

The original South Hill Park mansion was built in 1760 for William Watts and his wife (better known as Begum Johnson) for his retirement from service as a senior official of the Bengal Government. The house was originally on two floors, built in the Italian manner, decorated with stucco, with a front entrance and tower in the baroque style. The grounds included 30 acres (12 ha) of common land, which William Watts enclosed. In return, he built almshouses on a site opposite Easthampstead Parish Church about half a mile away. The almshouses were eventually demolished by order of the Marquess of Downshire in 1826.

During the Second World War (1939–45) the house was occupied by the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital, evacuated from Margate. In the late 1940s it was converted into five luxury flats with the main reception being common to all.

From 1953 the house was owned by the BBC, who converted parts into studios and acoustically treated some of the rooms.

In 1963 South Hill Park was included in an extension of the new town designated area of Bracknell and the Bracknell Development Corporation acquired the property. The house was let in 1965 to Ferranti Limited, who used it as offices and laboratories until early 1972.



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