Wrotham Park, a Palladian Mansion set in the heart of a 2,500 acre estate located just 17 miles from Hyde Park Corner, was designed by Isaac Ware in 1754 and built by Admiral John Byng, the fourth son of Admiral Sir George Byng.
It is doubtful whether the Admiral ever lived at Wrotham. Following the failure of his inadequately equipped expedition to relieve Minorca from the French, the Government sought a scapegoat to assuage the public outcry. He was tried by Court Martial which acquitted him of cowardice and disaffection but finding that he had made an error of judgment convicted him of negligence for which there was a mandatory death sentence under the Twelfth Article of War. Although he was recommended for mercy he was executed in 1757. thus providing the occasion for Voltaire's famous quip "In this country it pays well, from time to time, to kill an Admiral to encourage the others".
In 1883 a fire broke out at the top of the house. The combined efforts of four London fire brigades could not prevent the fire from spreading, their pumps having insufficient power to throw water any higher than the portico and by evening the house was gutted. Fortunately, all contents of any importance were saved and the interior of the house was rebuilt using the same design as before, but incorporating the solidity of Victorian building technique.
Indeed if Admiral Byng could stand today on the terrace of Wrotham he would notice surprisingly few changes, the house is finished and larger than he planned, the oaks are now mature and there is a lake at the bottom of the park. However, as he gazed westwards thorough the trees, the distant rumble of a train might puzzle him, but he would be delighted in the knowledge that as we crossed the end of another century into the next, Wrotham is still the home of his family.
The Admiral never married and left the house to the eldest son of his brother Robert (who had already died in Barbados where he was Governor) and from him it descended to the present Robert Byng who lives in the house and has managed the estate since 1991.