Painshill is one of the finest remaining examples of an 18th-century English landscape park.
Painshill was created between 1738 and 1773 by the Charles Hamilton, a Member of Parliament though the original house built in the park has since been demolished.
Hamilton, born in 1704, was the 9th son of the 6th Earl of Abercorn. He went on two Grand Tours, one in 1725 and a further one in 1732.
In 1738 Hamilton began to acquire land at Painshill and, over the years, built up a holding of more than 200 acres. His plan was amongst the earliest to reflect the changing fashion in garden design prompted by the Landscape Movement. The garden was open to "respectable visitors" who were shown around by the head gardener.
There was a particular route round the park designed to bring the visitor to see successive views with best effect. Views from Painshill were painted on plates for a Wedgwood service of porcelain commissioned by Catherine the Great of Russia.
Hamilton ran out of money in 1773 and sold the estate to Benjamin Bond Hopkins, until the latter’s death in 1794. In 1778 Hopkins had commissioned architect Richard Jupp to rebuild Painshill House in a different location within the park. The house was later extended in the 19th century by architect Decimus Burton.
Henry Lawes Luttrell, 2nd Earl of Carhampton bought Painshill in 1807 from William Moffat. After his death in 1821, Jane Luttrell, his wife, lived at Painshill until her death in 1831 when it was sold it to Sir William Cooper, High Sheriff of Surrey. Sir William Cooper and his wife, later his widow, lived there until 1863. In 1904 Charles Combe purchased and lived in Painshill Park.
Until World War II Painshill Park was held by a succession of private owners. In 1948 the estate was split up and sold in separate lots for commercial uses. The Park, as such, soon disappeared and its features fell into decay.
By 1980 the local authority, Elmbridge Borough Council, had bought 158 acres of Hamilton’s original estate and the following year the Painshill Park Trust was founded with the remit "to restore Painshill as nearly as possible to Charles Hamilton’s Original Concept of a Landscaped Garden for the benefit of the public."
Painshill "Abbey", one of the surviving original follies.