Selsdon Park’s golfing paradise looks lost under new owners

Buggies off: the new owners of the Selsdon Park hotel might not have any use for the 200-acre parkland golf course’s fleet of buggies

It is looking very likely that the last 18-hole round of golf at Selsdon Park was played some time at the end of 2021.

The new owners of the Selsdon Park Hotel and its accompanying 200 acres of parkland released a statement last week about their ambitious plans for the place.

And there was not a word about any golfing activities at the latest addition to the Birch hotel group.

“Real estate investor Aprirose will reopen Selsdon Park Hotel next year as a joint venture with Birch Hospitality,” the property trade press reported.

“The 17th century, 150-room hotel sites [sic] on 200 acres of parkland, with meeting and conference facilities, dining amenities, a leisure centre, tennis courts, and running trail.”

See that? Nuffink about golf.

Estate of that: De Vere sold up at the start of this year

Mind you, what had been most recently renamed as the “De Vere Selsdon Estate”, until its closure last December, used to claim to have 200 rooms, too. So the new owners, who have been on site for most of this year with their refurbishment project, must have decided to down-size big-time.

The 17th-century claim seems a bit odd, too, since most sources agree that much of the country house which later became the hotel was built in the 19th Century, with major additions during the 1920s.

The press release from the property investors continued: “The establishment will be relaunched as the second property in Birch’s lifestyle brand.

“Currently the hotel and grounds are undergoing renovation. The project is being led by co-founder Chris King and the Birch team, with Adam Mursal of Pillar Consulting as development manager.”

Aprirose, who have been in business 25 years, are the investment company who put up the cash for Birch’s first hotel, based within a Grade II-listed Georgian mansion in Cheshunt.

The Cedars, built in the 18th Century, had been the home of the Meux brewing family and later a secondary school, before being turned into a 21st Century hotel and members’ resort, where a room for two nights’ stay for two people can cost £540 and a one-course Sunday lunch starts at around £38.

Birch’s new-age hotel also offers sough dough bread-making and pottery classes, plus Friday night DJs and, if you prefer to slum it a little at your luxury hotel, you can even stay in a shepherd’s hut in the grounds.

Bringing home the bacon: Birch’s hotel website offers a range of activities, including bread and pottery making

“We all dream of remote cabin living and with a growing interest in reducing our footprint on the land through renewable energy generation and conscientious consumption, Planted’s beautifully designed solar-powered cabin provides a unique sustainable living experience,” according to the venue’s website.

Birch was named The Sunday Times’ Hotel of the Year in 2020 – the covid year which put paid to so many hotel businesses, including, it seems, De Vere’s interest in Selsdon, and dooming the golf course to closure.

Aprirose’s deal to buy Selsdon Park from De Vere went through in February this year.
The plan appears to be for a south of the river, Birch v2, possibly with those shepherd’s huts lined up where the 18th green once was…

For committed golfers, the loss of the course will be regretted.

Selsdon Park’s hilly, 6,000-yard par 72 course was designed in the 1920s by five-times Open champion JH Taylor. Its position offered players terrific views over the Surrey countryside and northwards to Croydon and London.

Undulating challenge: golfers gave Selsdon Park a 4/5 star rating

With greens well maintained by its small team of green-keepers, the tree-lined fairways provided a stern test of players’ golfing skills, although the fees for a day’s play were relatively modest compared to other private golf clubs.

Rated 4/5 stars by Today’s Golfer magazine readers, Selsdon Park was reckoned to be a “gently undulating golfing paradise”.

Or now, a paradise lost.

According to Manish Gudka, the chief executive at Aprirose, the second Birch will be opening in 2023.

But he didn’t say a word about the golf course.

Read more: Lots of reservations after Selsdon hotel and golf course close

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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8 Responses to Selsdon Park’s golfing paradise looks lost under new owners

  1. Dave West says:

    Apologies to the golfing fraternity, who seem well catered for locally with countless courses, but many would call this a paradise regained. I doubt it will happen, but the new owners could create a new footpath across the estate linking Selsdon Park Road down the valley to the London Loop through Kings Wood and Hamsey Green. The golfers would never have allowed that!

  2. derekthrower says:

    What’s another year. So another venture that sees the date slipping by another year without even considering the demise of the golf course. With the worsening economic conditions and the inept governance in place, why not add another decade to the reopening of the facility. Perhaps Paul “build them high” Scott, Big Tone and Jo Negready can be brought onto the scheme to completely return it to nature.

  3. Lewis White says:

    This is a very interesting scenario– to take out a well-established, scenic golf course and replace this traditional use of the land with…….. ?????

    A few years ago, golf, a long-established use of much of the parkland landscape, was abandoned at a public park not too far from Croydon.

    Beckenham Place Park, an ex GLC park, since then a Lewisham Council park, is located partly in the London boroughs of Bromley, and partly in Lewisham. For decades, until about 6 years ago, the majority of the open, rolling parkland landscape surrounding the 18th century Mansion was a public 18 hole golf course.

    I don’t know much as to when golf declined, but over a period of maybe 30 years, there was a long-drawn-out discussion about the future of the course.

    Presumably Lewisham made the decision about 10 years ago, to shut the course down, and open up the greens and fairways to the public, as a place to walk, picnic, jog, sunbathe, play kickabout, fly kites, run, lie down to watch the clouds and skies, doze, and what ever activities the counci deems appropriate.

    In the mid 1980’s I actually lived in the park, in a very pleasant staff cottage, in the old stables yard homesteads , when I worked for the Parks section of the Borough Engineer and Surveyor’s department. I designed at that time a Masterplan for the restoration and renewal of the park landscape and facilities. My brief was to do what ever seemed right–but NOT to touch the golf course! I could not restore the old lake (a mini Serpentine) as part of its site had become a golf green, and half was in the woodlands, but I did propose a big pond on an open area nearby .

    Sadly, there was no money at that time for any significant works.

    BUT– and credit to all concerned– some 30 years later, the Council obtained Lottery Funding to restore much of the park, and to restore about 60% of the 18th Century lake on its original site!

    You can now swim in it, paddle on it, and splash around in part of it. I would imagine that this summer of 2022 has made everyone realise the fanstastic asset of freshwater swimming in London–and especially in this verdant parkland landscape in South London, with really clean waters that have never passed through a sewage pipe !

    Now that the golf has gone, visitors are free to wander at will across the open areas and wooded breaks of the former golf course. Before, they could look over the course from viewpoints, but not explore it as it was out of bounds, with the danger of injury from golf balls. No hazards now ! Wander at will – for no payment – and enjoy the air without the worry of a little white ball cracking you on the forehead!

    It would be interesting to see a survey of “visitor satisfaction” now, when the park is on the mental and web mind-map of a new generation of visitors. It’s clearly impossible to conduct a survey of people who enjoyed the park -and golf– all those years ago. My guess is that the number of visitors enjoying the open parkland now at weekends outweighs the number of golfers who enjoyed it then… but, to be fair, the course was very popular, although the Mansion building and the golf changing rooms within it was very, very shabby, even in the 1980’s. Not anything like the high quality of the Selsdon Park Golf Course and its facilities.

    If the new owners of the private parkland and stately house called Selsdon Park have lots of money, presumably they could afford to let the public come in and wander the parkland at will– but there are several questions. Will the public pay for the privilege?. Like a golf club, but with membership categories such as “Walking and nature watching” or “Jogging, “Dog owner” or “artist” .
    Is there swimming, is there tennis? Is there 5 a-side footie?

    Is there any mileage in keeping the best of the existing course as a 9 hole course ?

    Could the rest of the course be “rewilded” with Oxen, European Bison, and wolves, or at least, rare breeds of sheep and Sussex Red cattle? But Is that compatible with dog-walking?

    How much demand exists for people to holiday indoors in rooms, or outdoors in Yurts, in suburban Selsdon?

    How many Yurts does a lovely building and landscape set in outer (but quite dense) suburbia need to make it viable? Would it end up looking like a yurt colony?

    and…. what happens if the public leave litter, and their dogs”worry ” (aka kill) the sheep?

    I am left wondering ……
    Is golf the best use of the beautiful landscape ?
    Can bee keeping and yurt long weekending really generate tyhe cash to keep the grass cut on the parkland, let alone pay for the staffing and upkeep of this rambling, immense, venerable-pile-of-a- building ?

  4. Jane Fifield says:

    The 17th century claim is fair, there is a Tudor corrior of rooms, at the heart of the building.

  5. David Wild says:

    I can remember Selsdon Park Hotel from my days at Selsdon Primary, with it’s many access roads, the open air pool, the Tudor Wing, etc.

    I was fortunate that one of my friends was temporarily housed there after immigrating from Australia until their home was ready.

    If I recall ‘staff areas’ were adapted from the old stables and supporting buildings.

    I can remember an entrance out toward Sanderstead, which was closed and the gatehouse left to rot, such a shame, however Google shows it’s been ‘restored’, though no way of working out when.

    I believe a ‘sports wing’ was added which included squash courts, though I can find no plans.

    For may years The Hotel declined, but seemed to improve under De Vere, plans were approved for a new ‘sports complex’ including a pool, gym, etc but it was never built, nor a new wing to the south east, shame.

    The outdoor pool is still there, but looks stagnant and sorely unloved.

    I always thought the golf course was accessed separately from Sanderstead, must be my fuddled brain. I hope it can be kept as it’s lovely countryside, which I believe sits in the Green Belt, so in theory it’s protected.

    The buildings need restoration rather than refurbishment, otherwise much of the character will be lost, I wouldn’t be surprised to find at least part of the building is listed due to it’s age and historic importance, possibly the Tudor Wing ??

    I keep looking for plans but can’t find any.

  6. Lewis White says:

    Outdoor swimming ?. Now this is so popular again, I do hope that the new owners allow day or half day tickets to the paying public.

  7. Lewis White says:

    I hope that this wonderful parkland landscape is not within half a mile of a station, as it might be in the sights of the new Government for house building.

    Does a tram stop count as a station? Rather close…. a country mile, perhaps, down to Gravel Hill?

    Might the “gently-undulating golf paradise”, with easy road access, turn out to be a juicy low-hanging fruit for a major house builder ?

    I hope not. But converting this venerable pile to a place for people to live, might be nececesary if the yurt long weekender future flops….. it sounds rather tenuous to me.

    Viva golf ? Health club– indoor and outdoor swimming — all sounds rather good.

    I am sure that there must be some space for many yurts too, in all that acreage.

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