History

The house was built in 1899 for Robert Whyte junior, his wife Margaret and their four musically accomplished daughters Marjorie, Dorothy, Jessie and Joyce.

The Whyte Quartet was formed and the gifted musicians played many concerts as well as entertaining the troops during the two world wars.

In 1919, following the death of Robert Whyte jnr., the family began to fulfil his plans of building a private Music Room and by 1925 the work was completed. Designed by architect Evelyn Hellicar to hold eighty guests, this intimate room was based on a Georgian Salon at Hampton Court Palace.

Today visitors can still see the single bricks carved with the Whyte’s initials laid by the family as the new walls began to rise.

In the musical world the family was well connected and visits by distinquished visitors – Sir Adrian Boult, Clifford Curzon, Paul Tortelier, Isabelle Baillie amongst them – were frequent.

When the house became vacant, after the death of Dorothy Whyte in 1968, the newly formed (1965) Bromley Arts Council approached the remaining Whyte family seeking to purchase the house and grounds to be used as an Arts centre. The family was extremely enthusiastic and the property was sold to the Arts Council under most generous terms.

As an Arts Centre Ripley continued to welcome well-known figures. In 1980 Peter O’Toole read a tribute to the memory of Lady Ackroyd (Joyce Whyte), and Dame Sybil Thorndyke gave a memorable Gala performance in the Music Room when she was in her eighties!! But there were also others who were soon to make their name – Julian lloyd Webber, Cliff Richard, James Galway, David Bowie, Emma Johnson…

Ripley Arts Centre now attracts over 18000 visitors a year from the community and further a field and we are proud to continue to offer a wide variety of arts activities, in addition to the classical musical concerts that began with the history of the house itself.