Foxhills takes its name from the brilliant but mercurial 18th century politician Charles James Fox. The 19th Century Manor House was originally owned by Chertsey Abbey in the Middle Ages; the estate being then made up of heath and woodland making this part of the Botleys Park estate towards the end of the 17th century.
“I can think of no way in which our weekend could have been improved.”
Keith Blackmore, The Times
Fox came to live in the area in the 1780s with his mistress and former courtesan, Elizabeth Armistead, on St. Anne’s Hill nearby. A brilliant but restless young parliamentarian (he was MP for Midhurst aged just 19) whose talent for passionate oratory were matched only by his appetites for gambling and the high life. He once made a wager with the Prince Regent on the number of cats they would see on Bond Street. He later went on to fight a duel in Hyde Park, where he was shot in his ample belly and lived to quip that he would have died had his opponent, William Adam, not used the Government Issue, gunpowder.
Being a member of the Prince of Wales’ set; he never endeared himself to the establishment of George 3rd. Neither did his intellectual support for revolutionary causes in France and America nor his espousal of civil liberties and slave emancipation. When ill health struck and ruinous gambling debts forced him out of the metropolis he sought solace in the peace of his country estate. With the help of his neighbour and friend Sir Joseph Mawbey at Botley Park, Fox took to country living which began to restore his body and spirit. He recalled to public life all too quickly in 1801 and he died an untimely and lamented death in 1806.
“The resort is superb, the facilities and accommodation were fantastic and the staff are a credit to the complex.”
Sir Joseph did not long out-live Fox and the estate broke up upon his death in 1817. His Daughter and Son-In-Law, John Ivatt-Briscoe, bought the area now known as Fox’s Hill and France Farm; this founded the estate that we know today. A successful lawyer and local M.P. John Ivatt-Brisoce commissioned the fashionable architect Basevi, cousin to Disraeli, to build the current Manor House in which you sit today. Basevi’s work included Ely Cathedral in Cambridge, where he came to his untimely death inspecting the bell tower. A prodigy of the great Classicist, Sir John Soane, Basevi designed the Manor to reflect the spirit of the new Victorian age in its restrained charm and elegance.
As an M.P Ivatt-Brisoce was concerned with local issues; helping to found the Chertsey Agricultural Association. Their annual ploughing match is held to this day. His only national initiative was to campaign for the outlaw of the treadmill as a form of punishment (visitors to our new healthbspa will sympathise).
“Friendly, but discreet staff will even bring you ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.”
You & Your Wedding
In the 1870’s the estate was passed to a distant relative of Ivatt-Briscoe, General Hutton. A veteran of the Zulu and Boer wars, Hutton was well regarded for his active role in parish life. We recently met two sisters who remember playing at Foxhills after the Great War. Apparently, Hutton felt responsible for the families of the men who fell under his command and invited them to play in the grounds during their holidays. With our adventure playground and great family facilities centred around our new Children’s Clubhouse, the family atmosphere lives on.
After serving as a convalescent home for wounded Officers during the Great War the estate was sold to the Borthwicks, a successful merchant family in the 1920s. They ran the estate and farm in the manner unchanged since Ivatt-Briscoe and people still remember working at the ‘Big House’. The complement of staff totalled around 15. They included a second chauffeur, Trevor Francis and third housemaid, Evelyn. Fraternisation was not encouraged and when their relationship was discovered, she was forced to leave. They subsequently married in 1940 and celebrated their 50th anniversary here, in the Manor.
During the Second War the family energetically turned the farm, now the Bernard Hunt Golf Course, over to the Dig for Victory campaign. By the 1960s a gradual decline had set in which resulted in the estate being sold and turned into a golf club on 1975.
Now a luxury family friendly club & resort with two championship golf courses, one par 3 course (the first of its kind in Britain), 70 bedrooms, 3 restaurants, 11 tennis courts, 4 squash courts, 4 swimming pools, £5m Health Spa, conference facilities and we are especially proud of our award winning Manor restaurant.
We are sure that given his love for food, wine and gracious living, Charles James Fox would feel very much at home.