The London Borough of Sutton is lucky enough to be able to boast of three, yes three, historic Grottoes. These are Victorian oddities designed to enthral and entertain guests. In Carshalton Park there’s a Grotto nearly 300 years old, and one of the oldest in the country. There’s one at St.Philomena’s (though strictly speaking that’s a hermitage). The other is here at Oaks Park.
This easily missed part of Oaks park features a Grotto that dates back to at least 1873.
Now out in the open, it was originally designed to be inside a large greenhouse. You can make out the footprint of the E-shaped greenhouse in the nearby flower beds.
In the photo below, you can clearly see the original tiling still on the floor.
In front of the Grotto is a small round pond, that once had fish and a fountain.
The Grotto is constructed using tufa, a variety of limestone.
It was most likely erected under the ownership of Joseph Smith, and developed further in the 1890s by Harry Berkeley James. It was steam heated and the remains of a Victorian underground boiler room survive.
The Grotto is now Grade II Listed.
Why not take a look yourself and visit Oaks Park. The Grotto is situated behind the top car park, at the garden area to the left as you first drive in.
© Current photos and collating research, Secret Carshalton 2022. Old photo copyright unknown. Found this interesting? Please let us know in the comments below…