Fringe Box



Richest Man In UK Has a Guildford Home With A View, Of Sorts!

Published on: 23 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 25 Apr, 2013

He’s worth £13.3 billion, he’s a Russian businessman, he’s been named as the wealthiest man in Britain and Ireland according to the latest Sunday Times ‘rich list’, and he has a house near Guildford  – with a view that looks out to a recycling plant and a former rubbish tip!

A glimpse of Sutton Place from rough land at Slyfield that was once a refuse tip. Wonder what the view back from the house is like?

A glimpse of Sutton Place from rough land at Slyfield that was once a refuse tip. Wonder what the view back from the house is like? Probably takes in the recycling depot, car dealerships, and at night a number of orange sodium street lights around the industrial park.

Russian Tycoon Alisher Usmanov owns Sutton Place, between Guildford and Send and it’s a very historic pile indeed. It was built in 1625 by Sir Richard Weston, who was fascinated at the way pound locks were used in the Low Countries to control the flow of water and to make rivers navigable.

Sir Richard was particularly interested in ways to improve agriculture and so in the 1630s he built a pound lock at Stoke on the River Wey to the north of Guildford. He then constructed a channel about 5km long known as the Flowing River that enabled him to control the water around the meadows of his estate, thus flooding them when necessary.

His next idea was to make the River Wey navigable from the Thames at Weybridge to Guildford. The plan was delayed by the Civil War. The waterway eventually opened in 1653, but by that time Sir Richard was dead.

A closer view of Sutton Place.

A closer view of Sutton Place.

In more recent times Sutton Place was owned by the American oil baron J. Paul Getty, from 1959 to be exact. He entertained his wealthy friends there, and probably tied up business deals too. There is a story that claims he had a pay phone installed, which he made his visitors use  – not wanting them to run up bills on his own phone!

Sutton Place was sold in 1980 to Stanley J Seeger who set up the Sutton Place Heritage Trust. He spent a good deal of money on the property, and, during that time, a number of pubic events were held there. It was perhaps the first time in its history that ‘common’ people had a chance to see the house and enjoy its beautiful gardens.

Seeger sold it in 1990 to an another American, Frederick R Kosh, who also made it available for public events, but who is said to have never spent a night there.

It appears that in 2003 Sutton Place changed hands for £25 million, with Mr Usmanov getting his hands on the keys to this impressive drum.

His fortune comes from selling plastic bags and more recently in iron ore production. He also owns a major stake in mobile phone company MegaFon and the Russian internetgroup It is reported that he made a quick £1.6 million last year selling shares that he had in the social media website Facebook.

If you go down Moorfield Road at Slyfield Green, turn left at the roundabout near the entrance to the recycling depot. Beyond the motor dealerships on your right is an area of landfill. It was used to tip Guildford’s rubbish from about the 1950s into the 70s.

Thereabouts, there is a view through the trees of the house at Sutton Place, that itself stands on high ground surrounded by trees. From the house’s vantage point, anyone standing in an upstairs room of it looking back will get a great view of Slyfield…

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Responses to Richest Man In UK Has a Guildford Home With A View, Of Sorts!

  1. Angela Gunning Reply

    April 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Actually, Sutton Place is in Woking! The borough boundary runs along the Wey.

    Ed: Ah but never let the truth get in the way of a good story when it’s a humorous one that’s completely tongue-in-cheek…. And it is much closer to Guildford

  2. Malcolm Fincham Reply

    April 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Maybe Woking borough, but Sutton Place does have a Guildford postcode [GU4 7QN] so still Guildford [of sorts]. I have found a You Tube clip about Sutton Place that readers may like to have a look at. Copy this link:

    • Nicky Lindsay Reply

      February 27, 2022 at 6:02 am

      A GU postcode doesn’t make somewhere “still Guildford”. All Woking postcodes are prefixed by GU because of the convention to use the county town for postcode purposes. Sutton Place is not in Guildford.

  3. Judith Paska Reply

    May 16, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    I am interested in gaining access to Sutton Place. Is there a way to accomplish this?

    I work for an American museum whose founder, Marjorie Merriweather Post stayed at Sutton Place at the turn of the century. Please advise; it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    Judith Paska

  4. John Parker Reply

    July 27, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Sutton Place was built in 1521 and not 1625 and when Mr Seeger sold it to Mr Koch and not Mr Kosh.

  5. Sharon Kearney Reply

    February 9, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I wrote a project for my history GCE O level on the old house in 1974, as I lived just walking distance from Sutton Place. I still have it. It was the year his grandson had his ear cut off.

    I still visit the church frequently and met Getty a few times at the house and at the local newsagent. Within the last two weeks, in the Woking News & Mail there was a man searching for news of the place and Getty. I left him a message a few days ago and haven’t heard back.

    Then I was in the Olive Tree at Sutton Green, and someone mentioned to me that camera crew had been filming there that lunchtime and it was going to be on the One Show but it wasn’t as far as I’m aware. Did anyone see it? I have the original newspaper cuttings from 1974.

  6. Valerie Thompson Reply

    February 12, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I remember when, for a few years, a wonderful Christmas concert and dinner were held at Sutton Place. The (paying) guests entered the front hall, decorated with an enormous tree, where drinks were served. The concert was either held there or in an adjoining room.

    The performers were The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, whose tuba player, John Fletcher was a friend at Cambridge. One year he took me privately to a small panelled room nearby, full of the owner’s collection of, mostly oriental, erotica.

    Dinner was served in the magnificent Long Gallery in one of the wings of the house. I wore a long, cherry-red, medieval-style velvet dress, which I felt was appropriate to the splendour of the surroundings.

    We felt very privileged to be allowed to walk in the gardens and experience something of this very special mansion.

  7. Dinah Lampitt Reply

    November 8, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    If anybody wants to know about the history of Sutton Place then there is a wonderful book about the curse, about Richard Weston, Paul Getty and Lord Northcliffe, available on Amazon. It is called simply Sutton Place and is very creepy.

  8. Paul Robinson Reply

    April 4, 2019 at 6:30 am

    I remember as a child going to the Guildford or Surrey County Show in the late ’60’s or early 70’s and a big car passed by in the show ground and my parents telling me it was Paul Getty who was in it.

  9. Russell Morris Reply

    April 7, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Getty used to permit open days at Sutton Place in aid of charity, I think the Red Cross. Getty himself apparently always spent those days away from the house. I remember paying ten shillings (50p) entrance fee, a lot of money in the 1960s. Yes, and I saw the famous pay phone.

  10. Martin Elliott Reply

    February 27, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    And then there is The Royal Horticulture Society at Wisley whose publicity says it’s in Woking.

    All its planning matters come under Guildford Borough Council as it is located within Guildford Borough.

    I’ve even seen RHS claim visitors are more likely to know of Woking than Guildford.

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