A walk in Manor House Gardens in Lee is always a jolly occasion. There are happy children in the playground, people chatting quietly, walking, or jogging, and birds dipping in and out of the lake. This is a very popular local park with a history.
History of the site
The Manor House is a Grade II* listed building which was built in 1771-72 for Thomas Lucas by Richard Jupp, a notable English architect. Thomas Lucas was a wealthy man with wide-ranging international business interests, the Treasurer, then President, of Guy’s Hospital, and an MP. The gardens, including the lake and an ice house, were laid out in 1773.
In 1798 Sir Francis Baring bought the Manor of Lee which came down to the Earl of Northbrook. In 1902 Lord Northbrook sold the Manor House and its gardens to the London County Council for a Library and public park.
Manor House Gardens
The gardens are much as originally laid out, but underwent a major restoration programme in 1999-2000. A path from the house curves around the boundaries, passing an 18C Ice House, and encircling lawns which run down to a large lake. There are plenty of squirrels scampering about, particularly now that the spring is coming on.
Swans and herons breed on the island in the lake where you can always find coots moorhens, mallards, and tufted ducks. Inevitably there are Canada geese, and the lake is also an important feeing source for bats.
The River Quaggy
Just beyond the lake the River Quaggy flows through the gardens, largely hidden in the overhanging trees. There are many large trees in the garden. London Planes, chestnuts, beech and robinia soften the edges of the park and it is an idyllic country scene viewed from the terraces behind the Manor House.
Children’s playground and cafe
Children are always squealing and laughing in the enclosed playground. And the nearby cafe has a constant stream of customers.
Behind the river’s belt of trees are tennis and exercise courts and a dog exercise area.
A walk in Manor House Gardens in Lee
- Historic England: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000821