Open House at Roehampton

Visit jewel in the University of Roehampton’s crown during Open House London weekend on 20-21 September

Four completely different buildings in Roehampton, including the beautiful 250-year-old Parkstead House, will throw open their doors to the public during this year’s Open House London weekend on 20-21 September.

Parkstead House, off Danebury Avenue, now home of Whitelands College, one of the four colleges which make up the University of Roehampton, was designed by William Chambers, in the palladian style for Lord Bessborough circa 1762. Visitors can see rooms maintained in the style of previous owners from the landed gentry as well as exploring its new setting within modern buildings as a seat of learning. 

There will also be a rare opportunity to visit the College’s unique archive and view artefacts including a cross-owned by Victorian philanthropist and prominent social thinker John Ruskin. 

Free tours will be conducted by the University’s heritage expert Gilly King, who will tell the story of the house from its earliest owners through its time as a Jesuit novitiate (1860-1962) when it was known as Manresa House. Celebrated poet Gerard Manley Hopkins studied at Manresa, and a blue plaque now pays tribute to his time as a Novice. During World War One soldiers encamped in Richmond Park, used it as a training base. 

Reverend Dr Mark Garner, Head of Whitelands College, said: “Roehampton has a surprisingly large number of Georgian Villas and notable buildings but Parkstead House is the jewel in the crown. Our students are fortunate to be studying in such impressive surroundings, and I’m pleased we can welcome in local people for Open House weekend. I’d encourage Roehampton residents to visit and find out more about this interesting building on their doorstep, and to have a look at the inner workings of the University at the same time.”

Also open to the public will be the University’s modern circular Southlands College chapel, which opened in 1997, to create a sense of place for a vibrant community. The chapel hosts regular Methodist services and has an impressive set of stained glass windows.

After exploring the two University buildings, visitors can walk to Priory Lane to The National Tennis Centre and see its 42metre long canopy. Alternatively, the King’s Head pub in Roehampton village which dates from at least the 1670s, but was likely to have been built on the site of a medieval farmhouse will also be open. It is probably the oldest secular building in Wandsworth.

Open House weekend takes place takes place from 20-21 September. More details can be found at https://www.openhouselondon.org.uk/. Visitors are advised to check opening and tour times and dates before travelling. 

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