Walk the fairways of Thorndon Park and you walk with history. Gaze at the great Palladian columns of Thorndon Hall and you gaze at history.
Thorndon Park Golf Club's course was created in 1920 by Harry Shapland Colt on a deer park dating back to the 1580s. The deer park, already rich with oaks from the 16th century – some of which survive to this day – was enhanced with oaks and chestnuts planted in the 1730s by the eighth Lord Petre, a noted botanist.
The Hall we now see, designed by James Paine and completed in 1770, was the home of the Petre family until 1919. Here, George III was entertained in 1778; here, Lancelot "Capability" Brown laid out a park that was the finest in the county; here, some of the great families of England stayed during the deer-hunting season and joined the Petre family in roller skating in the ballroom.
Ravaged by fire in 1878, Thorndon Hall was offered a new lease of life in 1919 when a group of businessmen saw the grounds as the perfect place for a golf course and for developing a residential estate similar to the one planned for St George's Hill at Weybridge. St George's Hill had chosen Harry Colt as its architect – and he was selected to design Thorndon Park golf course.
With the onset of the Second World War and the subsequent constraints of the Green Belt laws, the plans for an estate never materialised. But the course did. It was opened on 1 July 1920 and it has thrived ever since.
The East Wing of Thorndon Hall was leased to the Club in 1921 and, by the late 1940s, the Club had also bought the chapel within the Hall, which was converted into the mixed lounge.
Over a period of time, the Club bought the 240 acres the course occupied and, in 1968, Thorndon Hall. With the building of a new clubhouse in 1974, the Hall was sold the next year to a building company which restored the facade of the Palladian mansion to its former glory and turned the building into apartments with views over the course.