The magnificent Oatlands Park Hotel you enjoy today, was built at the turn of the 18th Century on the Oatlands Estate, which has a long and varied history.

Originally the site of a grand Royal Tudor Palace, the Oatlands Estate in Surrey has been home to the Kings and Queens of England, played host to Emperors and Earls, and been immortalised in both prose and paint, throughout the centuries.

The current Hotel was built on the footprint of a large mansion which burned down in the late 1700s, but had dated back to the 15th Century. A Parliamentary Survey of the period mentions a house which sat in the grounds of a great royal palace, on the Oatlands Estate.

Henry VIII erected the palace for his new Queen, Anne of Cleves. Although a worthy rival to his other riverside house at Hampton Court, the imposing red brick building with its gateways, octagonal towers and open courts, Oatlands was only visited occasionally by the King.

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A Military Hospital in the Great War

After the first New Zealand Military Hospital was established at Mount Felix in Walton in 1916, it was soon realised that more accommodation was needed for wounded NZ soldiers, and so, at the end of that year, Oatlands Park Hotel was requisitioned by the War Department. Managed by Messrs. Waterer & Sons, much of the furniture was sold at auction on 7th December 1916 to make way for more suitable hospital furniture. Items included in the sale indicated the high standards of accommodation there – upright grands and cottage pianofortes, mahogany sideboards, antique cabinets and bedroom antiques in polished, decorated woods.

Wounded soldiers must have arrived quickly into the new facility as it was reported that 400 patients were already there in January 1917. As was the case at Mount Felix, the patients were welcomed by local Oatlands residents and entertained during their stay. Mrs. Vernon Harcourt of Haddon House, for example, gave a concert in the grounds of her house in July 1917.

By August 1919, 200 patients still remained at the Hotel with 56 due to leave, so an outdoor farewell sports event was held on their croquet lawn, paid for by the New Zealand War Contingency Fund. In September, the hospital was closed and the Hotel re-opened soon after.

Do you have a historic story to share about Oatlands Park? Let us know… we’d love to hear it!