The Mansion is a Grade II* Georgian building, meaning it is of architectural and historical significance.
The stable block, now known as the Homesteads, suffered a fire in 2011 and has now been the subject of Heritage Lottery funding and has recently been restored. In the long term, we understand Lewisham Council hope to obtain significant funds to fully restore the Mansion as well.
The Mansion was built for John Cator, circa 1760 – 1762. John Cator (21 March 1728 – 26 February 1806) was an English timber merchant, landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1772 and 1793. He became a landowner with estates in Blackheath, Beckenham, Addington, Croydon and Waltham Forest.
John Cator created the park much as we know it between 1762 and maybe as late as 1793 in the land of the Manor of Foxgrove. In 1773 he also became Lord of the Manor of Beckenham, having purchased land from Frederick St. John, Lord Bollingbroke.
The Mansion is believed to have been known as ‘Stumps Hill’ at first, and was built as a gentleman’s seat in Beckenham, Kent. It was a grand family sized house intended as a pleasant retreat from the hubbub of London.
Interesting architectural features
The plasterwork on the ceilings is possibly attributed to, and typical of, the leading plastering firm, Joseph Rose & Co., who had major commissions at Chatsworth House and Kenwood House.
The Mansion has 4 storeys including the basement and attic. In the centre of the Mansion is a curved bay of 3 windows on all floors. A balcony has been added to its 1st floor with an outside staircase leading up to it; this was added around the 1920/30s.
The principal feature of the interior is a central hall (atrium) with a gallery and a small circular dome (cupola).
A portico, said to have been added in 1787 or later and brought from Wricklemarsh House, Blackheath, gives entrance to the house at 1st floor level. 4 giant composite columns rise through 2 storeys5.
We became resident caretaker managers in November 2016, and relaunched the Mansion in April 2017, but we continued to keep the cafe open within this time.
The golf club had only used the basement floor, as their pro shop, cafe and changing rooms. One of the Ground Floor rooms was used by the Friends of Beckenham Place Park and the remaining two rooms were not used on a frequent basis, apart from the occasional LB Lewisham Council Department meeting.
The team behind Copeland Park & Bussey Building carried out a few essential Health & Safety building works, such as fixing broken windows and minor electrical concerns. We also repaired the boiler and set up WiFi throughout the mansion for both our resident artists and tenants to use. There was also a lot of cleaning and dusting!
We also hung festoon lighting around the balcony and installed festoon lighting down the park path.