Whatever your reason for visiting Stoke Park Club, you will be adding your presence to a timeline that spans a thousand years.

The illustrious history of Stoke Park spans a millennium. From 1066 the estate was inherited in a direct line of descent for 515 years until it was sold to the Crown in 1581 to pay the outstanding debts of Henry Hastings, whose father Francis, the Commander in Chief of Henry VIII's army, had rebuilt the Manor House (part of which can still be seen today) in 1555.

John Penn (1760 - 1834) a scholar, poet and prolific patron of architecture was responsible for most of what can be seen at the club today.

Penn spent a large proportion of the compensation he was given by the new United States government for his family's 26 million acres (later known as Pennsylvania) on building the new mansion, landscape and monuments.

The Palladian style mansion was designed by James Wyatt, architect to George III, who worked on the development of the house and monuments from 1790 to 1813.

The historic parkland is the product of two geniuses of the eighteenth century, Capability' Brown and Humphry Repton, who designed the landscape we see today in 1792.

The estate continued to be used as a private residence until 1908 when Nick Pa' Lane Jackson, founder of the Corinthian Club, purchased the estate, turning it into Britain's first and finest country club.

However, since the glory days of the early part of the 20th century, the club gradually fell into neglect, aided no doubt by the irrevocable damage caused by the two world wars.

Indeed, by the 1980s the interior character and charm of the mansion had been systematically destroyed and the outstanding architectural features in the landscape, such as the statues, fountains and Wyatt Bridge, had decayed beyond recognition.

Fortunately, this trend has been reversed and since 1990, the present owners of Stoke Park Club have embarked on an ambitous redevelopment project to restore the club to its former glory, including the full reinstallation of the 18th Century landscape and gardens.

One of the current projects underway is the restoration of the Wyatt Bridge, which is situated in the lower lake overlooking the historic St. Giles' church.

The bridge, a masterpiece of Wyatt design built in 1798, was severely vandalised in the 1960s and 1970's, resulting in total loss of the coadestone balustrade and, with it, the graceful lines which made the bridge such an attractive feature of the landscape.

The carefully phased restoration project began in 2003 with the underwater stabilisation of the bridge's foundations and supports.

Phase two is now underway, with Thomas Cudworth, one of the few stonemason's working in coade type stone, recreating each individual balustrade a painstaking 12 month process.

Due for completion in 2005, this unique, privately funded project will cost in excess of £600,000, and the public will be able to enjoy the fully restored bridge for themselves as the Heritage Walk runs through Stoke Park Club's beautiful parkland and down to the lake.

For more information on events and breaks at Stoke Park contact them on 01753 717171 Stoke Park Club, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Bucks www.stokeparkclub.com