In the early 1800’s, Holly House was built for a Britten Berne and it was sold in 1839. John Francis Davis bought the house and re-named it in 1820 as Holly Hill Mansion and Estate. He built the folly tower (Hollywood Tower) as an observatory and as being the main architectural garden feature of the estate between 1848 to 1854. The clock in the tower was made by Dent who had constructed ‘Big Ben’ and the clock needs winding-up each week.
The estate remained in the family until 1908 when Sir George White (1854 – 1916) a Bristol born businessman, tramway tycoon, and entrepreneur bought the estate for his son George Stanley White as a marriage gift.
George became Sir Stanley White on his father’s death in 1916 and his wife Kate Muriel made considerable changes to the house with mains-water being connected and various internal alterations were made. The Whites often hosted important guests, including Queen Mary, Winston Churchill and Sir Robert Menzies. Kate White was a passionate gardener and between 1908-1964 the grounds and gardens of the estate were at one time maintained by a staff of 14 gardeners.
In 1964 Sir Stanley White died and the following year the estate was sold to the Bristol and Clifton Zoological Society with the intention of providing a site for a brand-new type of zoo or wildlife park. Planning permission was granted for this in 1967. Lady White remained living in the Mansion until her death in 1970.
Construction of a National Wildlife Conservation Park on this site commenced in 2008 for a zoological reserve and is right now part of Bristol Zoo’s ‘Wild Place’ project.
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