Parkstead was the Roehampton country seat of William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough. He commissioned Sir William Chambers, best known at the time as the architect of Somerset House, to design it for him. The property was finished two years later. It was later renamed as Bessborough House and later still as Manresa. In 1861, the house and 42 acres were sold to the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit religious order. The Jesuits used the building to house their novitiate and a retreat house for Ignatian spirituality. The house was renamed Manresa House after the town in Spain where Ignatius of Loyola developed his Spiritual Exercises. In 1962 they sold the property to the council and the house became part of the Battersea College of Domestic Science which ran from 1966 until 1979. The house was acquired as the new home of Whitelands College in 2001, which renamed the estate Whitelands College but referred to the original house as Parkstead House once more. It is now part of the University of Roehampton.
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