Lord Derby of the Oaks

On June 9th, 1774, a fête champêtre, magnificent even by eighteenth-century standards, attracted an appreciative concourse of the English nobility and gentry. Olive Fitzsimmons describes the event.

In the London borough of Sutton, lying between the two modern roads of Croydon Lane and Woodmansterne Road, is a park that once formed part of an estate called Lambert’s Oaks. During the eighteenth century a building here served as headquarters for the Hunters’ Club; the district was sparsely populated, and there was plenty of entertainment for sporting gentlemen, with horse-racing on Banstead and Epsom Downs, as well as the delights of the chase. Two members of the Hunters’ Club, whose names are recorded, were Mr Simmons, who used the dwelling as a ‘place of festivity’ during the hunting season, and the well-known banker, Sir Thomas Gosling.

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