The House's History
Family Home 1868 - 1903
The house now called Wardown House, Museum and Gallery, stands on the site of a farmhouse called Bramingham Shot. In 1868 the building was purchased by Frank Chapman Scargill, a Luton solicitor with a practice in King Street.
The present house was built in two stages by architect, Thomas Sorby, and completed in 1877. Scargill also had the outbuildings and lodges built and laid out a cricket lawn and park around his home.
The house contained sixteen bedrooms, billiard room, smoking room, drawing room, dining room, school room, conservatory, boudoir, four dressing rooms, four toilets, three bathrooms, two kitchens, dairy, laundry room, a range of cellars, boot room, game larder and servant rooms.
The Scargill family moved from Luton in 1893, and let the property to B.J.H. Forder, who changed the name of Bramingham Shott to Wardown.
"An Empty Place..." 1903 - 1931
After one more tenant, Wardown House was put up for sale in 1903 and bought on behalf of the Council by two influential Councillors. A year later in 1904 they sold the estate to the Council.
In 1905 the park surrounding Wardown House was opened to the public and became immediately popular. However the house posed more of a problem for the Council who could not find a permanent use for it, and soon neglect saw decay set in.
During the First World War, Wardown House gained a purpose as a military convalescent hospital. Afterwards the rooms were rented out to Council employees, whilst the ground floor housed a tea room.
The solution to the Council's problem came when the successful campaigning of Thomas Wyatt Bagshawe and The Luton News finally saw the installation of Luton's first museum in Wardown House in 1931.