An 1818 engraving of the current (third) house from "Neale's Views of Seats"
The entrance facade of the current house
Stoke Poges Church
The park from Stoke Poges Church
Earlier Houses: There were at least two earlier houses on, or near, the site of the current house: a medieval manor house (the first house), which was replaced circa 1555 by the 2nd Earl of Huntingdon (commander-in-chief of the army for Henry VIII), who built a new house (the second house) on the site. In 1581 the estate was sold to the crown to pay the debts of the 3rd Earl, which is when Stoke Park became a seat of Queen Elizabeth I. The second house was replaced by the current house (the third house), which was built in the late 18th century on a more commanding site.
Built / Designed For: John Penn Jr. (aka John Penn of Stoke)
House & Family History: In 1760, Thomas Penn, second son of William Penn, purchased Stoke Park from Lady Cobham; in 1790 John Penn Jr., Thomas’s son, started construction on a new (third) house on a more prominent site. The house was begun by Robert Nasmith, a former assistant of Robert Adam; James Wyatt then came onboard and, between 1793 and 1798, redid the design. Though there were subsequent alterations, it is Wyatt’s designs that are most prominent today. In 1813 John Penn published a book on the work at Stoke entitled “Historical Account of Stoke Park.” In 1848 Stoke was sold to Henry Labouchere, who, in 1850, employed Matthew Digby Wyatt to alter the house to better display his famous art collection. Stoke Park remained a private residence until 1908, when it was purchased by “Pa” Lane Jackson, founder of the Corinthian Sporting Club, for use as a private hotel and club, a use it continues to serve today. Stoke still has an important sequence of Neoclassical style interiors done up in the 1820s and 1840s. In spite of his American heritage, John Penn Jr. was born in 1760 in London and attended Eton College and Clare College, Cambridge. In 1775 he inherited his father’s 75% claim to the proprietorship of Pennsylvania (a cousin, also named John Penn, claimed the remaining 25%). John returned to Philadelphia after the revolution, where he built a small country house, The Solitude, above the banks of the Schuylkill River. Erected between 1784 and 1785, this house, originally in the country, today stands in the grounds of the Philadelphia Zoo, where it is the only extant Penn house in America. In 1789 John returned to England with his share (£97,500) of the £130,000 that was paid to his family from the newly formed government of the United States for the 26 million unsold acres of the proprietorship of Pennsylvania. It was this princely sum, approximately £157 million in 2020 values using the labour value commodity index, that enabled John to build Stoke Park and Pennsylvania Castle on the Isle of Portland, where he was appointed governor in 1805.
Garden & Outbuildings: Capability Brown and Humphry Repton designed the landscape in late 18th century. John Penn erected two important monuments in the park: a 60-foot-high Roman Doric column in memory of Sir Edward Coke that was built between 1799 and 1800 to the designs of James Wyatt (topped with an artificial stone statue of Coke by Rossi) and a monument to the poet Thomas Gray, who wrote his famous "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" at Stoke. Stoke Park hosts the annual Boodles Tennis Championships, a warm-up to Wimbledon. The golf course at Stoke Park was made world famous when it was used as the location for the famous golf game between Goldfinger (together with Odd Job) and James Bond in the 1964 movie "Goldfinger."
Architect: Stiff LeadbetterDesigned: Repaired earlier house (demolished by John Penn 1790s)
Architect: Robert NasmithDate: 1790
Architect: Matthew Digby WyattDate: 1850
Architect: Lancelot BrownDate: 1792
Architect: Humphry ReptonDate: 1792
John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, p. 220, 1852.
John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, 1818.
Country Life: XIV, 168, 1903.
Title: Christie's Auction Catalog: Works of Art from Country Houses Removed from Boxted House, Cheswick House and Rabley Park, Oct 3, 2001
Year Published: 2001
Reference: pg. 13
Publisher: London: Christie's
Book Type: Softback
Title: Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, The
Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus; Williamson, Elizabeth
Year Published: 1994
Reference: pgs. 653, 654, 656
Publisher: London: Penguin Books
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Georgian: The Magazine of the Georgian Group, The
Year Published: NA
Reference: January 2002, pg. 11
Publisher: London: The Georgian Group
Book Type: Magazine
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: William Fitz-Ansculf, 11th century. Amicia de Stoke, 12th century. Sir Robert Poges, 12th century. George Hastings, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, 1506-44; Francis Hastings, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon, 1544-61; Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, 1561-81. Queen Elizabeth I, 1581-1603. Sir Edward Coke, 1603-44. Sir John Villiers, 1644-56. Sir Robert Gayer, 1656-1724. Lady Cobham, until 1760. Thomas Penn, 1760-75. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: John Penn Jr. (aka John Penn of Stoke), 1789-1834; Granville Penn, 1834-44. Henry Labouchere, 1st Baron Taunton, until 1869. Wilberforce Bryant, until 1908.
Current Ownership Type: Corporation
Primary Current Ownership Use: Hotel
Ownership Details: Today Stoke Park Hotel and Golf Club