Worstead Park dates back to the 16th century when it was owned by Sir John Berney of Westwick (the neighbouring estate). To his dismay John Berney had two daughter and no sons, leaving his family name threatened with extinction. John Berney’s eldest daughter Juliana lived on Worstead Estate with her husband Thomas Brograve in Muckley Hall. John brokered a deal with Juliana, if her first son was to inherit the estate from John, she would have to call him Berney.
The youngest of John Berney’s two daughters, Elizabeth, inheriting the Westwick Estate. Elizabeth commissioned the building of an Obelisk which still stands today on the Westwick Estate. Apparently, she could then keep a jealous eye on Juliana from atop this building with her telescope.
Sure enough, Julian named her first born Berney Brograve and he inherited Worstead Estate and the title of sir. Between 1791 and 1797 Sir Berny Brograve commissioned James Wyatt, who also restored Westminster Abbey, to build Worstead House and Worstead Park Coach House, which still survived as a rare example of Wyatt’s work. Humphrey Repton masterminded the landscaping to create Worstead Park. As originally designed, visitor’s to the park would have entered between the gate houses, down the lime tree boulevard to reveal the majestic Worstead House framed by the lake (see left). This is known as a “Repton Burst” and would become a signature of his work. [cont]
Sadly Sir Berny Brograve passed away just as Worstead House was finished. When Sir Berny Brograve died his son, Robert Berny took on the estate and carried on the Berney name. According to Robert, his father could be seen on stormy nights riding his horse between Worstead and Waxham. If you visit the estate you will be able to see a portrait of Robert Berney framed above the fireplace in Gardener’s Cottage (right).
Robert Berny died without an heir in 1828, finally ending the Berney dynasty. In 1843, William Rufus Rous, third son of the first Earl of Stradboke, took ownership of the Estate. He was a well-known horticulturalist, a lover of country sports, a great traveller – the farm dog Rufus is named after him. Rufus never married and died on 12 April 1914, aged 80. [cont]
William Keith Rous, the fifth Earl of Stradboke temporarily took ownership of Worstead Estate before it changed hands again in 1938. Sir Harold Harmsworth, a newspaper tycoon, acquired the Estate. When his uncle visited he told Harold the house looked like a prison. Stung by this, Harold demanded that the house was demolished in 1939. Sir Harold died during the Second World War and never lived to see it re-built.
Meanwhile, in the 1920’s James Paterson came down from Scotland to earn a living as a tenant farmer on the estate living in Worstead village. During the Second World War the army commandeered Worstead House to use as a command centre, only to discover when they arrived that it had been knocked down. James had to move out of his house in the village to accommodate the army there instead, something we understand he was not happy about.
In 1956 James purchased the surrounding farmland. As there was no house the parkland was included with the rest of the estate. It is rumoured that James fought off a last minute bid by a member of the royal family. The park remained largely untouched for 60 years and has never been open to the public until now.
Read more about the history of Worstead here…