Charlton Park

Charlton Park was opened on the 10th January 1946 as a mixed home. In December 1966 the boys and girls moved to their new home at Woodlands Charlton Park closed it doors as a Dr Barnardo's home. The House was Purchased by  Lt Col Michael Underwood took it over from Dr Barnardo's in 1970 and spent some £85,000 restoring Charlton Park. We don't know what went wrong, but Charlton Park was sold to a Mr. George de Chabris, a Canadian financier and Liberal party benefactor. He also spent quite a sum of money on the property in hope that it would become a sports and recreation centre. This was another venture that was to misfire. In 1994 the property was in the hands of a Mr. and Mrs Twigg who believe it or not set about renovating Charlton Park once more. Lets hope they got the central heating working, the reason the children left early for their new home at Woodlands.


DID YOU KNOW? Charlton Park is one of the oldest buildings to have come into the care of Dr. Barnardos.


Charlton Park, an elegant 16th century manor, was often visited part year by the then Prince Regent, later to become George IV. During his romance with Lady Conyngham, he is said to have installed an exterior staircase on the side of the building so she could enter Charlton Park (presumably for some private tete a tete) unobserved. Or could it have been simply a fire escape?


The house had a varied career after it was taken over by the Army during WW2. A 16 inch gun was mounted on a railway carriage nearby to bombard France, although it was not actually fired very often because it did almost as much damage to local houses as it could expect to do to its target area in France.


In October of 1967 Peter Johnson wrote to the Guild Magazine for an article under the heading WHERE YOU AT?


Looking back over the last year, which falls into two parts, I have memories of packing up at Charlton Park and settling in at our new Home in Canterbury at Woodlands. These two parts are divided by a very hectic week when we moved. Many of our ex-staff and Old Boys and Girls were able to come to the November 5th Bonfire last year which marked the end of our time at Charlton Park. Besides the usual fireworks display put on by the Round Table we also had a film show followed by community singing accompanied by Mickey Vella, David Chan and Terry Steventon on their guitars and Peter Johnson on the drums.


Three weeks before Christmas we moved into our new home, an event which had to be hurried up because the central heating boiler at Charlton Park was not working. However, we managed to get organised so that we could enjoy Christmas and I know although it wasn't the same as at the old home where we were altogether in one house we all enjoyed the break after the move.


In February, Christine Yeoman, who is now nursing at Ashford, had her 21st birthday party at Woodlands. Tony Kilczewski has joined the Special Police in Canterbury and has just started at St. Augustines' Hospital as as student mental nurse.


At the end of February, Mr. and Mrs. Butcher opened a foster home for working boys and girls nearby and Pauline Day, Margaret Steventon, Susan Johnson and Rodney Patrick moved in. Pauline still works at Stantons with Lettie Van Greuning. Margaret works as a daily mother's help, and Rodney as an apprentice chef. Susan is staying on two years at school and passed seven subjects in C.S.E. this year. Her sister Melody is married and is living at Margate with Mick, her husband. Terry Steventon is in the Merchant Navy, working in the engine room and has made several trips to Australia as well as America. He spends his leaves with us and sees his sisters, Bronwyn, working at Maidstone, and Olwyn who is still at school, and Margaret at the foster home.


Miss Challice is still with us, in charge of Pinewood House, Mr. and Mrs. Hedges run Cedarwood House and have two lovely small sons; Jason the youngest, was christened earlier this year and we all enjoyed the event. Mr. Hedges works on the cross Channel Ferries. In May we had an unforgettable day when Princess Margaret visited our new home at Woodlands and had tea in the games room with the staff and children.




There has been a Manor House on the site of Charlton Park since the 13th century. The present building, which was originally a Tudor Manor House, dates from about 1500. Volume III of Hasted's History of Kent, dating from about 1790, refers to Charlton Park as an estate; "which was formerly the estate of a family named HerTing in which it continued till William Herring, in the third year of the reign of James J, conveyed it to one John Gibbons, gent."


Evidently the Tudor Manor House was demolished or enlarged in the 18th century and the present, structure and main elevation is Georgian, with additions - notably the Ballroom - in the 19th century. This wing is believed to have been added by the Prince Regent (later, George IV) who asked to occupy it for part of the year. There is a Dowagers House just east of the Manor House, which is in the Jacobean style (1603 - 1629) but is understood to be of late 18th century.


Some information regarding Charlton Park, is also given in Charles Greenwood's "An Epitome of County History, Volume J" (County of Kent) published in 1839, about the different owners of Charlton Park, up to that particular year, and Greenwood writes of one of them; "Charlton, in the Parish of Bishopsbourne, the seat of Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick William Mulcaster, K.CH., Inspector General of Fortifications, and Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Royal Engineers, and magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for the County - is a handsome house, situated in a small park, adjoining the Dover & Canterbury road, at the side of which it has a lodge entrance, where the distance to the house is half-a-mile.


In the interior are a few good paintings, and a collection of shells Founded in the 13th Century, it became the country's seat and estate of John Foote in 1784 chiefly from the Indian Ocean. The drawing-room is a splendid apartment, 40 feet long, 36 feet wide, and 21 feet high." Charlton Park has passed through the ownership of many people since being founded in the 13th century, until 1784, when it became the coun­try seat and estate of one John Foote, Esq. Other historical notes state that the house was a favourite residence ­for part of each year - of the Prince Regent, later to become George IV. He is said to have installed an exterior staircase at one side of the building, just so he could have his mistress enter the house (presumably for some private tete a tete) unobserved'


Charlton Park eventually came into the possession of Dr. Barnardo's Homes at the end of World War II. It opened as a home for boys and girls on 10th January 1946 - in which state it remained for twenty years, before closing on 12 November 1966. The remaining residents were, at the time of closure, transferred to Woodlands at Glen Iris Close, St. Thomas Hill, Canterbury - but this building too, eventually closed down on 1 August 1971.


After Barnardo's relinquished control of Charlton Park, it came under the control of Lt. Col. Mike Underwood, who spent some £85,000 in renovation costs in an attempt to restore the house to its former glory. His intention was to open the build­ing to the public as a mini stately home - whether or not he had some success with this venture is unknown: and along the same lines, another owner  said to be a wealthy Canadian - tried to open the house as a sports and recreation centre. Another venture, which sadly, misfired. The present owner of Charlton Park, is a Mrs. Twigg who, at the time of writing, is subjecting the premises to yet another renovating overhaul'.


Reproduced from The Barnardo Guild Messenger Summer 1994