Worth College is a mixed day and boarding school not far from Three Bridges railway station which might have been a reason why three interesting owners bought it during the later part of the nineteenth century.
Paddockhurst was a small estate with a country house when in the mid 1860s, George Smith, a wealthy builder who had worked on major buildings such as Alnwick Castle bought it. He employed Anthony Salvin, a well known architect with whom he had worked to build a new house between 1869 and 1873 in the mock Tudor style then fashionable. He also enlarged the estate. In 1880-1 the estate was sold by his trustees to Robert Whitehead an inventor who made his fortune developing and selling torpedoes. His working life was mainly around the Mediterranean and his clients included the Austro-Hungarian navy. Having acquired Paddockhurst in 1881 he then added a large music room (by Sir Arthur Cawston) and an extensive range of fam buildings.
The last owner was also a successful businessman, Weetman Dickinson Pearson who became the first Lord Cowdray. Pearson inherited a building contractors which he expanded into one of the world’s biggest firms of civil engineers by seeking contracts overseas as well as in the UK. He also developed an oil firm in Mexico. From 1894 he invested a huge amount in to Paddockhurst. He employed Aston Webb (who designed the facade of Buckingham Palace was we now see it) to further extend the house and Walter Crane to design some interiors which included the spectacular plaster frieze depicting the history of transport in the Cowdray room. You enter the house today through Aston Webb’s entrance porch.
Lord Cowdray died in 1927 and the family sold the house and 500 acres to the Roman Catholic School called Downside to be used for a junior school and from this came Worth College. The school had to return to Downside whilst Paddockhurst was used by Canadian troops before D Cay but returned and Gee. It became depended of Downside in 1957 and the senior school was opened in 1959. . The striking chapel designed by Francis Pollen has become a well known feature of the school. Designed in the 1950s, work began in 1965 and built as funds allowed. It was completed in 2001.
We will view house and the chapel. This visit is out of term but as ever we ask that all who come remain in the group as a matter of courtesy to our hosts and because the visit has an agreed route which enables us to see the key features of this house and to view the chapel.