In the 17th century the area known as Hurlingham Field was used as an isolation hospital for plague sufferers. In the next century John Ellis (1775-1832) employed the architect George Byfield to transform a modest house on Hurlingham Field into today’s neo classical mansion which became the Hurlingham Club in 1869.
At around the same time, 1844, Mr Price occupied Mulgrave House which stood in a corner of the park. He claimed to be Charles Louis Bourbon, Duke of Normandy, and heir to the French throne. He was also known as Karl Wilhelm Naundorff, an eccentric watchmaker and weapon maker who carried out explosive experiments and claimed there were three attempts to assassinate him. His descendants still claim recognition as France’s deposed royal family!
Meanwhile the Hurlingham Club, which had become a pigeon shooting club, introduced polo leading to the Club become the founder and home of polo with members drawing up the rules in 1875.
The area now known as Hurlingham Park was the Club’s No. 1 polo field, having built in 1936 a stadium with a capacity of 2500. After the Second World war the stadium deteriorated and was demolished in the 1990s’.
During World War II the polo field gave way to allotments together with an anti-aircraft battery.
In 1951 it was purchased by the Council for use as a public park and sports ground, with a running track which included a 200 metre straight next to the grandstand. The track was the base of the London Athletic Club and is thought to have been last used for a race in 1979.
A new pavilion was completed in the 1990’s to provide modern sports changing facilities. Today the park provides the community with a green open space together with a secluded Rose Garden. The playing field now accommodates rugby union and soccer pitches used by local schools and the Hammersmith & Fulham Rugby Club. In addition, there is an all-weather pitch, tennis courts, a bowling green, basketball court, together with children’s play areas.