Basildon Park estate
The Sykes family
Basildon Park estate was purchased by Francis Sykes in 1771. Sykes had made his fortune in the East India Company and required a home befitting his status. He demolished the old house and employed architect John Carr to build the Bath stone mansion you see today. Given its proximity to London, a manor like Basildon was eminently suitable for a wealthy and ambitious man such as Sykes. The Sykes family owned the house until 1838.
The Morrison family
The Morrison family owned Basildon Park from 1838 to 1928. It was originally bought by Liberal MP James Morrison who passed it to his eldest son Charles. On his death it was inherited by his sister Ellen who died just seven months later leaving it to her nephew Major James Archibald Morrison. Major Morrison, whilst not living at Basildon was very much involved with the estate and local area, pursuing his passion for country pursuits, in particular shooting and fishing.
Wartime at Basildon Park
During the First World War Basildon Park was used as a convalescent home for officers and soldiers of the Berkshire regiments. The property gave local soldiers a place to recuperate and learn new skills, and provided materials for the community.
During the Second World War the estate was requisitioned. It served a number of purposes including being used by the 101st Airborne Division of the American Army for D-Day training and later as a prisoner of war camp for Germans and Italians. This was all vital to the war effort but inevitably resulted in damage to the house and estate.