Wardown was originally a farmhouse and country residence known as Bramingham Shott.
It was bought by Frank Scargill, a solicitor and clerk to the justices in Luton, who in 1875 rebuilt the house, added lodge houses and laid out the park.
When he left in 1893 he let it to B.J.H. Forder and its name was changed to Wardown, not because of its nearness to Warden Hill but simply the fact that it had been the name of his previous house.
It then passed to Halley Stewart, father of Sir Malcolm Stewart, who founded the London Brick Company, and in 1903 he decided to sell it. In all this time it had been known to Luton people as just ‘Scargills’.
The price wanted for Wardown was £17,000 and to the council this seemed a lot of money, especially as it was so close to People’s Park and the Moor, and they hesitated to buy. For a time it looked as if it might become a convent, but then two council members, Asher Hucklesby and Edwin Oakley, purchased it privately for £16,250 and sold it back to the town in 1904 at exactly the same price.
Wardown was a tremendous success and the council extended the lake to make an open air swimming pool. A suspension bridge was built, boats were introduced and bowling greens, tennis courts and a cricket ground were added to the attractions.
It was soon a very popular place for fetes, band concerts and pierrot shows.
But Wardown House was a white elephant and it was a restaurant for many years before it was decided in 1931 to use it as a museum.