Silwood Park

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Silwood Park from the south east

Silwood Park is the rural campus of Imperial College London, England. It is situated near the village of Sunninghill, near Ascot in Berkshire. Since 1986, there have been major developments on the site with four new college buildings. Adjacent to these buildings is the Technology Transfer Centre: a science park with units leased to commercial companies for research.[citation needed]

There are a number of the divisions of Faculty of Natural Sciences that have a presence on the campus. Additionally, Silwood Park is home to the NERC Centre for Population Biology (CPB),[1] the International Pesticide Application Research Consortium (IPARC),[2] and the Imperial College Reactor Centre.


Silwood Park, engraving from a drawing by John Preston Neale, 1818.

Prior to World War II, Silwood Park was a private residence—the manor house of Sunninghill—then during the war, it became a convalescent home for airmen.[3][4] The original manor at which Prince Arthur stayed in 1499 was known as Eastmore and was situated on the hill near Silwood Farm. In about 1788, Sir James Sibbald built a neo-classical Georgian mansion by architect Robert Mitchell (1770-1809)[5][6] on part of the present house and demolished the old "Eastmore"; he called it Selwood or Silwood Park. The name stems from the Old English for Sallow (Salix caprea Agg.) which presumably grew then along the banks of the streams that flow through the Park. The grounds were landscaped by Humphry Repton, most celebrated landscape designer of his generation.

In 1854 Silwood was bought by Lancashire cotton mill owner John Hargreaves Jr[7] from the widow of Mr Forbes and Silwood Lodge added thereafter.[8][4] Mary Hargreaves received socialite Rose O'Neale Greenhow as a guest in April 1864[9][7] and was an associate of novelist Mrs Oliphant.[10] John Hargreaves died in 1874 and his trustees, one of whom was John Hick,[11] sold the estate to engineer Charles Patrick Stewart in 1875.[12] Silwood Park and Silwood Lodge were demolished in 1876 and the present mansion commissioned by Stewart to the design of Alfred Waterhouse, completed in 1878. Stewart was keen on horse racing and partying, and built his new house around a grand ballroom where, on race days and holidays he would entertain the sons of Queen Victoria amongst other racing enthusiasts. Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described the new manor house as "Red brick and huge. Free Tudor with a freer tower". Waterhouse's use of Silwood-style bricks for new university buildings at Manchester and London gave rise to the phrase red-brick universities.[4]

In 1947, Silwood Park was purchased by Imperial College for entomological research and field studies. Initially, pioneering developments in insect pest management[13] took place, but more recently the emphasis has been on ecology and evolutionary biology. Staff and research students of the Zoology Department were the first college personnel at Silwood when the Field Station moved from Slough, but the department of Civil Engineering has used it since 1947 for courses in surveying. Botany and Meteorology started work there about thirty years ago and the nuclear reactor was opened in 1965. Over a thousand postgraduate students have been trained at Silwood since its establishment, about half of them taking PhDs.[citation needed] They have come from more than sixty countries, and Silwood-trained graduates have gone to almost every corner of the globe.[citation needed] There are over 200 graduate staff and students working there at any one time. Undergraduates from South Kensington attend for field courses and some final-year projects. In 1981, the departments of Zoology and Botany were merged to form the Department of Biology.

A low power nuclear research reactor (100 kW thermal), named CONSORT II, was licensed at the site on 20 December 1962, completed February 1963, and achieved first criticality in 1965.[14][15] The reactor will be decommissioned by 2021.[16]

In 1984, the CAB International Institute of Biological Control (IIBC) moved its headquarters to Silwood Park. In 1989, the institute moved into its own new building at Silwood Park, which also houses the Michael Way Library, specialising in ecology, entomology and crop protection. In spite of this, the celebrated Entomology Masters in Science (Msc) course was suspended in 2012, causing faculty to move their work elsewhere[17]. From January 1998, IIBC and its sister Institutes of Entomology, Mycology and Parasitology were integrated on two sites as CABI Bioscience. The Silwood site was the centre for the LUBILOSA Programme, where an inter-disciplinary team could be set up, combining IIBCs biological control skills with (bio)pesticide application (IPARC) and host-pathogen ecology (CPB). CABI continued to focus on biological pest, disease and weed management in Silwood Park until consolidation at Egham (to become the UK Centre) in 2008.

As of 2014 the mansion stands vacant, and is rumored to be slated for conversion to luxury flats [18].

See also


  1. ^ NERC Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College, UK.
  2. ^ International Pesticide Application Research Consortium, Imperial College, UK.
  3. ^ Genealogy and history of Sunninghill and Silwood Park
  4. ^ a b c "Silwood Park - Past and Present". Imperial College London. Imperial College London. 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Robert (1801). "Silwood Park, Berkshire". RIBA RIBA. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  6. ^ Neal, John Preston (1820). Historic buildings, Country homes, Ireland, Historic buildings, Country homes (Volume 4 ed.). Getty Research Institute: London : Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, and Co., Paternoster Row and Thomas Moule, Duke-Street, Grovenor-Square. pp. 15–16, 294. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b Blackman, Ann (2005). Wild Rose: Rose O'Neale Greenhow, Civil War Spy. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 158836481X. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  8. ^ "A Short History of Silwood Park Sunninghill". Sunninghill Berkshire England. The Great Park Portal. 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2019. 1854: John Hargreaves, Jnr. purchased at least part of the estate from Mrs Forbes (widow of M Forbes) for £30,000
  9. ^ John W; Beverly Anne, O'Neal; Crowe. ""Rebel Rose" O'Neal Greenhow's European Diary & Address Book" (PDF). Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  10. ^ Oliphant, Mrs. "Mrs Oliphant [Margaret Wilson Oliphant Wilson] (1828-1897), Scottish novelist [John Hargreaves of Silwood Park]". Richard Ford, Books, Printed Ephemera and Manuscripts. Retrieved 5 February 2019. The letter begins: 'I am delighted to see your handwriting again - It will give me the greatest pleasure to avail myself of Mrs Hargreaves kind invitation.' She explains why the following Wednesday will suit her best, and proposes to 'drive over arriving at Silwood about one o'Clock and if it is quite convenient for Mrs. Hargreaves to send me back in the afternoon, that will be very kind of her'.
  11. ^ "John Hargreaves, Esq., Deceased" (PDF). London Gazette (5595). 19 November 1875. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Charles Patrick Stewart". Graces's Guide. Grace's Guide Ltd. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  13. ^ G.A. Matthews, Pesticide Research at Silwood Park. IPARC, Imperial College, UK.
  14. ^ "Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine". Office for Nuclear Regulation. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  15. ^ Silwood Park Reactor Centre 1982 on YouTube
  16. ^ "Decommissioning of UK research reactor approved". World Nuclear News. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  17. ^
  18. ^

External links

  • Silwood Park Campus

Coordinates: 51°24′31″N 0°38′28″W / 51.4086°N 0.6410°W / 51.4086; -0.6410

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