The Fountain Garden, Source: Country Life Illustrated, 1899 - The Mansion, Milton Mount College, pre-WW2, and the large Pulham fountain with planters - Camellia Walk, Milton Mount College - Camellia Walk as featured in CLI 1899 - The Lake in Milton Mount College times - Aerial View in college times (photos 2, 3 and 5 courtesy of the Miltonian Guild, photo 6 provided by Tom Howard-Jones) Background Map: reproduced from a document from West Sussex Record Office, Ref. OS 1st ed 6” sheet IV 1872-79
Pulham Stamp on the stonework in the gardens - One planter from the large fountain can now be seen to the west of the croquet grounds - the little Pulham fountain (now just a planter) in the formal gardens, from a postcard provided by Tom Howard-Jones.
Historical OverviewWorth Park was part of the large forest of Worth which extended over the parishes of Worth, Crawley, Balcombe, Ardingly and Slaugham. Most or all of this forested area was enclosed as a deer park, referred to as the “Park in Worth” by John de Warenne in 1279. Since then the forest has been partitioned and changed ownership many times. The earliest Ordnance Survey maps of Sussex shows ‘Park Farm’ to the west of the Balcombe Road. We learn from an 1824 article in The Times that Abraham Montefiore bought his Worth-park farm in the 1810s. By 1839/40, his son Joseph Mayer Montefiore owned numerous plots of land in the area and we read now of a “Worth Park House and Garden”. After a fire in 1847, Worth-Park House was rebuilt completely by 1856.The Worth Park branch of the Montefiore family re-modelled Worth Park continuously. The now most visible re-design of the grounds took place from 1884-1887. The company of James Pulham and Son, who also designed features for the gardens of Buckingham Palace and Sandringham House, built many elements for Worth Park which survive until today.From 1920 to 1960, the house and large parts of the grounds were the home of Milton Mount College, a boarding school for girls. Crawley Borough Council bought the school property in 1963.The Pulham dynasty of garden builders spanned four generations, starting with James Pulham (1793-1838). Each James Pulham was succeeded by at least one son, also named James. The major restoration of Worth Park in the later 1880s has been attributed to James III (1865-98).The Pulhams’ speciality were their own brand of artificial rock (Pulhamite) and their terracotta work of urns, fountains, balustrades and sundials. Clients of the Pulhams included the Prince of Wales, several members of the Rothschild dynasty, Sir Bache Cunard and the Barclay family.
Several members of Worth Park Friends are or have been involved in the research of Worth Park and other Crawley history. Crawley Borough Council had commisioned research for the Lottery Bid. In 2012, CBC commissioned the Sussex Gardens Trust to research the history of Crawley’s historic parks and gardens. The sections about Worth Parkare based on the extensive research carried out for the bid documents which were prepared to obtain Lottery Funding. Towards the end of 2016, the Miltonian Guildpublished a book “Schoolgirl Days at Milton Mount College 1920 -1960”.
Worth Park TodayThe Montefiore Mansion was demolished in 1968 and replaced by Milton Mount Flats. However, Ridley’s Court, the Victorian Stable block remains. Only the core parts of the gardens and park survived because substantial areas of the park were released for development of residential housing.