Exterior view of Gorse Hill
An Extraordinary History

History of Gorse Hill

Gorse Hill was built in the 1910 for John Ingram , an underwriter at Lloyds.

John Ingram had commissioned Edward Prioleau Warren (1856-1937) a British Architect of renown to design the house.

Edward Warren was known for designing churches and parts of the Oxford Colleges (Baliol, Merton and St Johns). He also worked for the War Graves Commission after WW1 having been appointed principal architect for Mesopotamia in 1919.

When in 1912 the Titanic, the largest and most luxurious liner in the world sank , John Ingram lost his fortune along with it and consequently was unable to make Gorse Hill his home.

Exterior view of Gorse Hill
Exterior view of Gorse Hill

Gorse Hill then had a series of owners until WW2, when the fortunes of the house plummeted to their lowest depths. A 500lb bomb destined for the railway line fell and exploded in the grounds of the house. Gorse Hill was abandoned and stood neglected save for the attentions of the Home Guard and Civil Defence who used it as a base.

Shortly after the war, in 1947, it became the Southern Railway Training College. In 1959 the British Transport Commission took over the College and its function was enlarged to embrace all sections of nationalised transport. To accommodate the extra students the C shaped Annexe was built in 1958 providing more bedrooms, syndicate rooms and a lecture hall.

The Library of the College was opened in November 1967 by Mrs Barbara Castle who was Minister for Transport.

In the late 1980s after denationalisation of the railways it was bought by Style Conferences and in turn in the late 1990s was bought by Initial who renamed the Style Conferences to Initial Style Conferences and continued to run it as a residential training venue for its clients.

In December 2005 the Alternative Hotel Group (AHG) bought Initial Style Conference Centres of which Gorse Hill was a part and the group became known as Verve Venues. In 2006 AHG bought the De Vere Group in a hostile takeover and absorbed Verve Venues into the enlarged group as its specialist meeting and training brand which became known as De Vere Venues

In March 2014 the De Vere Group sold the De Vere Venue brand to Starwood Capital who incorporated into their Principal Hayley Group of Hotels. Starwood Capital decided in 2015 to divest of its smaller properties which included Gorse Hill.

Exterior view of Gorse Hill at evening
Exterior view of Gorse Hill

In January 2017, boutique hoteliers Active Hospitality purchased Gorse Hill and commenced the refurbishment of the Mansion House to bring Gorse Hill back to its former glory and create a bespoke private residential and non residential meeting and training facility together with a new conference centre to be built in the grounds in the same style as the original Mansion House.

Comfortable chairs with table in lobby area at Gorse Hill

Gorse Hill Today

Gorse Hill in Woking is now the premier event destination in the area and is the perfect Surrey location to host corporate events, conferences, weddings, and all manner of special events.  

Residents and visitors to the area are welcome to make a dining or afternoon tea reservation, and to enjoy drinks from the bar. The beautifully manicured gardens that surround the property ensure that the dining spaces here at Gorse Hill, are totally unique in the Woking area.   

We cordially invite you to check out historic Gorse Hill today and would love to be considered as a venue to host YOUR next dinner, afternoon tea, drinks with friends or special event of any kind.