Local MP steps into Carshalton’s past

July 19, 2011 11:37 AM

An excavation has been undertaken in Oaks Park in Carshalton to uncover the foundations of an old mansion that stood in the park. The Oaks Mansion, which used to stand on the site until it was torn down in the late-1950s, was most famously the home of the 12th Earl of Derby in the nineteenth century.

Local MP Tom Brake went along last Friday to meet with the volunteers from the Friends of Honeywood Museum who are leading the excavation.

Tom said: "The Oaks Mansion was a landmark in Carshalton for centuries. It's great to see such a strong grassroots effort to unearth this centre piece of our local heritage."

The excavation, which has in recent years become an annual event, has so far unearthed the original foundations of the outer walls. Those working on the site are now looking to discover the location of a pit used for cock fighting in the late 18th century.

Though the house was initially built in the sixteenth century, the Oaks Mansion was best known as the racing estate of the 12th Earl of Derby, Edward Smith-Stanley. It was from here that the Earl and his friends initiated a sweepstake horse race which has today become one of the most famous horse races in the world, run each year from the nearby Epsom Downs.

The house was also offered out to house twenty two Basque children escaping the violence of the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Many of these children remained in Carshalton following the end of the war, and their unique story was told at a special exhibition at Sutton library two years ago.

The excavation is being organised and run by the Friends of Honeywood Museum, the central museum for the London Borough of Sutton. For more information about the museum and the organisation's work, visit www.friendsofhoneywood.co.uk.

Tom Brake at the Oaks Mansion excavation

Tom Brake with John Philips of the Friends of Honeywood Museum at the Oaks Mansion excavation

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