The Lily pond in one form or other has existed for over
500 years. It probably started life as the southern end of a moat which
surrounded the earlier Dagnams which was demolished in about 1660. At that
point it seems the defensive moat was mostly filled in retaining the southern
end as an ornamental pond. When Richard Neave pulled down the 1660 house
in the 1760's the new mansion also retained the pond within its gardens.
Humphry Repton may have worked on it in
the early 1800s but apart from those minor alterations and of course changes
in the surrounding vegetation, the pond is much as it was. The pond is
closely bordered in places by alders, oaks, hawthorns, a single holm oak
in poor condition and a fine Bay Laurel. At one time several huge English
Elms towered over the pond but old age and dutch elm disease completed
their demise in the 1970s.
The aquatics include flowering
rush, yellow flag and of course the lilies, both yellow and white
but the yellows dominate. The pond is currently managed and fished by
the Brookside Angling Club....
Lily Pond memories, Del Smith.
As boys the Lily Pond was always a pond where we would fish for Carp
or Rudd. In fact we sometimes referred to it as the Carp Pond.
That is except for a short period in about 1959/60 when there was a time when it became
our punting lake. This followed the demise of the walled garden and stables
when it dawned on us that all the old doors from the stables and outbuildings,
etc, could be detached and dragged across to the Lily Pond and then used
as makeshift rafts. To anyone watching the hordes of children hauling
the huge doors towards the Lily Pond it must have looked a bit like the
slaves of Egypt building the pyramids as we all joined in and struggled,
heaved and dragged the doors the 50 or 60 yards to the Lily pond.
Anyhow these huge heavy old doors probably made of Oak and clad with heavy
iron hinges, bolts and latches were eventually dragged to the lily pond
and launched. I have vivid memories of punting around the pond perched
on a stack of 2 or 3 of these doors as they slowly parted company and
slipped away from beneath us, and at the same time we were sinking. I
remember on one occasion making it back to the bank with water up to my
waist with the raft invisible two feet below the waterline.
And I couldn't swim. But thankfully nobody died.
Needless to say these doors eventually became waterlogged and sank, they
are probably still there.
A little later on, maybe 1961 or 1962 a few of us devised our own plan
to restock the Lily pond with fish. I think my mate Johnny Honeyman was
the instigator of this project. We had discovered that a small pond, not
far away, contained a large number of easily caught, albeit very small
fish. It was opposite Queen Mary's College on the Coxtie Green Rd.
So after school one evening three of us cycled over with large plastic
carrier bags and filled them to the brim with fish and water. We then
cycled back with the bags on our handle bars towards the Lily Pond. Sadly
the bags were so full that we sensed the fish were dying and in fact one
bag burst near to the Wrightsbridge Rd and we had to stop and gather up
all the flip flapping fish in the road and squeeze then into the remaining
intact bags which made the suffocation problem even worse.
We were panicking but eventually we got back to the Lily Pond and turned
out the fish into the lake, many were dead or dying, at least to our eyes,
and indeed I remember many were floating on the surface. I don't know
how many survived but we intended no harm and maybe the offspring are
still there today.
It had been our intention at the start of this juvenile project to introduce
fish into all the Manor's ponds, but after this initial, disastrous attempt
we never tried again.