Woodheath Polo Stables. renamed Woodheath Cottage

Woodheath StablesIn 1908 Frank Tiarks had a stable block built on the southern boundary of his house, Woodheath, where it met Meadowcroft. The block was designed by EJ May. These second stables were built to house his three polo ponies, which he exercised in Sturges Fields and on the adjoining Homewood Estate, which he owned. Frank was a keen polo player, and held regular polo tournaments at Foxbury.

The stables had also been used as a home for employees at Foxbur - Mr Anderson, the estate electrician, lived there for a time - but they were in a derelict state when Peter and Sheila Harding bought the stables for their home for their wedding in 1952. Photographs taken in 1951 show how dilapidated the building was, but Mr and Mrs Harding converted it into the lovely cottage that survived until recently, surrounded by the newer houses of Queenborough Gardens. The cottage has now been demolished.

However dilapidated the stables were, it does appear that they were occupied; Kenneth and Hilda Tadman lived here through the war years. Arthur Battle refers to another inhabited property at the time he was writing, which was about 1920. He refers to this as the gamekeeper’s cottage, which, he says, was nearby. The smaller building which can be seen in the map of 1939, but of which there is no trace today, was probably the filter room for Foxbury's streams and lakes.

Woodheath CottageThe original entrance to the polo stables was along the boundary with Meadowcroft, which can be seen to the left of the car in the colour photograph of Woodheath.

Mr and Mrs Harding also bought a large area of the original gardens of Hoblands, by then owned by Foxbury Estates Limited, which included a sunken garden, an indoor swimming pool, and ponds. Mr Harding and his family cleared the old gardens, and one of Peter’s sons recalls what a wonderful playground it was for growing boys. Eventually, however, it was difficult to maintain such a large area, and the land was sold for development. Queenborough Gardens was built on the site, with Woodheath Cottage somewhat uncomfortably at its centre until Mr Harding died, and his widow sold the house.

More information on Peter Harding here...