Surplus to requirement. A country house that was stripped of its interiors and subsequently demolished.
Chipstead Place was once part of the demesne and lands of the
manor of the de Chepsted family. It was first mentioned in the latter end of
the reign of Elizabeth I, when it was in the possession of Robert Cranmer, the
son of Thomas, who married Jane Grace, daughter of a Sussex landowner.
Anne, their only daughter, carried the seat in marriage to
Sir Arthur Herrys, eldest son of Sir William Herrys, in Essex. On the death of
Sir Arthur in 1632 the estate passed to his second son, John, who married the
daughter of Sir Thomas Dacre, of Chestnut, in Herefordshire. The lady survived
him and married William Priestly, of Wild Hill, in Hertfordshire, who in 1652
conveyed Chipstead Place to one Jeffry Thomas.
Subsequently it became the property of David Polhill, who
was High Sheriff in 1662, and dying without issue, left the estate to his only
surviving brother, Thomas Polhill, of Clapham, in Surrey. By his marriage with
Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Ireton, he left three sons but, by a will, he
conveyed the house in 1665 to Sir Nicholas Strode.
A new house was erected here by William Emerton around the
turn of the 18th century. A grand affair with 26 bed and dressing
rooms and six reception rooms.
David Polhill, son of Thomas Polhill, later re-purchased
Chipstead Place from Emerton trustees, and was a member for the county in
Parliament in 1708 and Keeper of the Records and Sheriff of Kent in 1715. Once again,
the house had come into the possession of the Polhill family. In 1754 Charles
Polhill resided here and it later became home to other members of the family.
Frederick Perkins built an estate village here in 1729, and on his death in 1860, the family tenanted the house, including to railway builder Sir Samuel Morton Peto and the banker Henry Oppenheim.
Subsequently it was the home to John Duveen, who during World War One, lent Chipstead Place as a hospital for wounded soldiers.
The first batch of Belgian soldiers who bore the brunt of the German attack on the forts of Liege and Namur were received here and nursed by ladies of the district who formed the local detachment of the V.A.D., under Miss Hall Hall, the Commandant.
During this period Chipstead Place was visited by thousands
of local people admiring the stately mantlepieces, the pictures and other
glories of the fine old mansion.
After the war, Mr Duveen sold the house to Sir Roland Hodge,
who later disposed of it to Dame Adele Meyer.
After a sale of contents in 1931, Chipstead Place went under
the hammer ‘for demolition’. “Thus, there passes a familiar landmark, another
sacrifice on the altar of ‘development’ a sacrifice even more complete than has
overtaken other mansions in the district,” reported the Sevenoaks Chronicle and
Chipstead Place was demolished in 1932 and its land used to build new houses. Only the ballroom, servants’ quarters and West Lodge survived. Part of the estate is now occupied by Chipstead Place Lawn Tennis Club.
One of the finest specimens of an old English Manor House that has played host to Kings and Queens.
The Manor House of Ockwells, or Ockholt, as it was called when Sir John Norreys, High Sheriff of Berkshire, and a courtier of Henry VI, started to build it between 1440 and 1450, is one of the most complete and satisfying examples of an English manor house of the fifteenth century. It embodies all that is best in the design and workmanship of the Middle Ages and has some remarkably contemporary heraldic glass of eighteen shields of arms, two of them Royal, in the east windows of the Great Hall.
Norreys’ house, which stands on land at Bray, near
Maidenhead, given to Ricardo De Norreys by Henry III in 1267, was completed in
1466, the year after his death. In his will, dated April 4th, 1465,
he is recorded as having left a sum of £40 to complete the building of a
chapel. When completed it formed part of the manor buildings, but fire
destroyed most of it in 1720.
Much of the uniqueness of Ockwells lies in the fact that it
is constructed entirely of local materials. It still retains undisturbed today
in its entirety the massive oak framework and timber which the Windsor forests
originally gave it. It retains also the pleasantly symmetrical architectural
features of Tudor building. Ockwells is built round its small Cloister Court.
The Great Hall also has its notable features: the massive oak screen with
complementary service quarters behind it, a 24 ft long table made of two
planks, fine armour and furniture and a large, colourful Flemish tapestry.
Nearly a century after Sir John had completed his manor house it passed, on the marriage of Elizabeth Norreys, to Sir Thomas ffetiplace. And Elizabeth’s daughter, Katherine, in turn, took Ockwells as part of her dowry on marrying Sir Francis Englefield. It was this Lady Elizabeth’s close friendship with Elizabeth I which is known to have brought the Queen to Ockwells on many occasions. King Charles I used it for some time as a shooting box and when George IV visited he was so pleased with its architectural beauty that the style was introduced at Windsor in the building of King’s College in the Great Park.
In about 1600 a new staircase was added, the hall furnished
with wainscoting and some new chimney pieces added. The fabric of the building
then fell into decline until the late 19th Century when Charles Grenfell moved
some of the glass to his home at Taplow Court for safe keeping. In 1885, his
son William offered to return the glass if a new owner would grant him a 99
year lease of the manor in return. By this time, Sir Stephen Leach came to the
rescue and he stripped the whole frame back and repaired it. It was then
purchased by Sir Edward Barry, another enthusiastic antiquarian, who recast the
building in its present form in stages, enlarging the dining room, inserting fireplaces
and windows and moving the Jacobean staircase to its present position. By the
1950s, Ockwells was owned by Mr S.H. Barnett who, at the time, was praised for
preserving rather than destroying the fabric of the house.
The present owners
have owned Ockwells Manor since 1986 and with the help of Mansfield Thomas and
Partners of Hertfordshire, returned it to its present order.
“It was impossible to save when nobody had heard of Bonomi.”
In 1961, Kitty Cruft, the leading officer of the Scottish National Buildings Record, visited Rosneath Castle to record its last dying days. Shortly afterwards, an unsafe ruin, this grand old country house, a ghost of its past, was blown up with 200 LBs of gelignite. There wasn’t much enthusiasm to save Rosneath, as Cruft said at the time, “It was impossible to save when nobody had heard of Bonomi.” And so Rosneath Castle (or House) became another casualty of post-war severity when nobody seemed to want a crumbling old mansion.
The story behind Rosneath Castle is sad, considering that
this had belonged to the Dukes of Argyll, although only ever playing
second-string to their seat at Inveraray. It was situated on the southern
extremity of the Rosneath peninsula jutting out into the Firth of Clyde.
Rosneath Castle was built between 1803 and 1805 replacing an
earlier castle, an ancient stronghold of the Argylls, that had burnt down in
May 1802. Considering its replacement, the Duke of Argyll was persuaded by his
son, the Marquess of Lorne, resident at Rosneath, to rebuild the mansion on a fresh
site, taking advantage of the picturesque views.
The Italian architect, Joseph Bonomi, was selected to realise
artist Alexander Nasmyth’s idealistic oil painting and watercolour interpretation
of what the new house should look like. Nasmyth had already been the
inspiration behind a circular court of farm offices with Gothic crenelated turrets
surrounding a high tower with fretwork parapet.
Bonomi died in 1808 and his design proved too expensive to
be completed in its entirety. In 1806, the Marquess had succeeded his father
and became the 6th Duke of Argyll, diverting his attentions to Inveraray.
However, the house later attracted Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s daughter,
who married the Marquess of Lorne in 1871. Lord Lorne succeeded his father as 9th
Duke of Argyll in 1900, but died in 1914, and Rosneath became the Princess’s Dower
House during her long widowhood, offering it to convalescing officers during
World War One.
The Princess and the 9th Duke were childless, and
he was succeeded by their nephew, the 10th Duke. Her death in 1939
prompted the sale of Rosneath’s contents, held on the premises, by Dowells of
Edinburgh, between 7 and 11 October 1940.
Soon afterwards the 10th Duke attempted to sell Rosneath,
but wartime events had the upper hand. During the Second World War it was used
as an American Navy base and, in 1942, this was where Churchill, Eisenhower and
Montgomery planned Operation Torch, the successful invasion of French North
Africa. Outside its walls amphibious units were trained in preparation for the
Rosneath almost certainly became another one of those ‘casualties
of war’ from which it never recovered. Afterwards it was unoccupied and in
1949, shortly after the closure of the naval base, there was another
unsuccessful attempt to sell the house and woodland. The grounds became a
caravan park with plans to use the mansion’s redundant rooms as support
facilities. These never materialised and the mansion became the domain of
children keen to explore the empty cavernous rooms.
Rosneath Castle suffered a fire, but its future had already
been determined. It was gutted and demolished in breath-taking style in 1961.
Hunton Court, near Maidstone, dates to the thirteenth century and the traditional framed farmhouse dating to the fourteenth century, with a large roof structure and three crown posts can still be found in the attic rooms.
The house has long been associated with the Bannerman
family, starting with Henry Bannerman (1798-1871), descended from a Perthshire
family of farmers and distillers who, by the 1820s, had graduated into
cotton-trading and manufacturing in Manchester. The firm of Henry Bannerman
& Sons dealt with cotton, calicoes, muslins and plain fabrics before
diversifying into manufacturing cotton goods.
It was from this fortune that Henry Bannerman bought the
Court Lodge estate in Kent in 1848, enlarging and remodelling the existing
farmhouse, adding a Georgian façade, with central pediment, canted bay windows
and balustraded parapet.
Henry Bannerman lived at Court Lodge until his death in 1871, leaving the estate to his wife, Mary, for life, and then to a nephew, Henry Campbell, on condition that he took the name of Bannerman, which he had reluctantly agreed to in 1872. He resided at nearby Gennings Park, part of the family estate, before moving into Court Lodge, renaming it Hunton Court, on Mary’s death in 1894.
Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836-1908), the son of Sir James Campbell, a Glasgow merchant and Lord Provost, entered politics and became leader of the Liberal Party between 1899 and 1908, and Prime Minister between 1905 and 1908.
He died a few days after leaving office and the Hunton Court
estate passed to his cousin, James Campbell-Bannerman, whose descendants remained
until the death of Captain Michael Campbell Devas in 2007. The following year
it was sold ‘in need of renovation’ and completely restored.
Sixty years ago, Chevening was bequeathed to the nation to ensure that the estate would not be broken up, but would instead retain a significant role as a private house in public life.
In May 1959, the Chevening Estate Bill, published details about Lord Stanhope’s gift of Chevening, Kent, to the nation. Lord Stanhope, the owner, who would leave no heir to the earldom, and had been a widower since 1940, said that as long ago as 1937 he had told Neville Chamberlain of his intention to bequeath Chevening to the country. During the Second World War he had told Winston Churchill of his wish.
However, it fell to Harold Macmillan to make a formal acknowledgement of the gift.
An endowment provided for the upkeep and maintenance of the house and the 3,000-acre estate, which could be used by Prime Ministers, or nominated members of the Cabinet, or members of the Royal Family. There was also provision in the Bill for its use as the residence of the American Ambassador if other nominees failed to make use of the house.
Mr Macmillan said that the mansion had associations with
many distinguished statesmen. Lord Stanhope’s long service to the State, had
been crowned with a gift which would allow the rare beauty of Chevening and its
peace and serenity to serve the same high purpose which he and his forbears had
Chevening had been in the possession and occupation of seven
generations of Stanhopes, except for a brief period in 1769 when Lord Chatham
stayed here with his family. During this period Pitt planned the carriage drive
known as Lord Chatham’s Ride, partly to facilitate visits from his family
residence at Hayes to see his only daughter, who married Charles, later the
third Lord Stanhope.
Like many country houses Adlington had a purpose during wartime. However, the cost of upkeep meant it had to open its doors to the public afterwards.
In August 1942, Adlington Hall the historic home of the Leghs, had been in the possession of the family since 1352, when they first acquired it in the reign of Edward III.
The then-chatelaine, Mrs Cynthia Combermere Legh (1896-1983) , had turned a large part of the house into a maternity hospital for the wives of servicemen of all ranks, with a staff of skilled nurses and all the modern equipment. It was opened by St. Mary’s Hospitals, Manchester, under the title of ‘St. Mary’s Services Maternity Hospital’.
Wonderful oak-panelled rooms had become wards and nurseries, and inmates of the hospital were able to sit in the Great Hall, where stood the organ on which Handel, when a guest at Adlington, played and composed his music.
The Hall stood on a site that in Saxon times was used as a hunting lodge. After the Norman Conquest it passed to Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and nephew of William the Conqueror.
In the thirteenth century it was granted to the Norman family of De Corona, and it was from their union with the De Leghs of Booth that its occupants were descended.
Successive generations of De Leghs carried out additions and alterations at Adlington, but the Hall still retained its ancient splendour. It was quadrangular in shape, and was in early times surrounded by a moat. The Great Hall was built between 1450 and 1505, and there were additions in typical black-and-white half-timbered Cheshire style, in 1581. Of this, the north-east corner and the east wing still stood, but the remainder had undergone rebuilding. The north front was added about 1600 and was built of dark-red brick; the west wing was rebuilt in 1749 and the south front – in Georgian style – in 1757.
All over England, Scotland and Wales, and for the most part for the same reason (the necessity of providing for upkeep), great mansions were being opened up to the public after the Second World War, and the public was flocking to these places, drawn in part by the rich treasures displayed, and in part perhaps by a natural curiosity to see the background of life as it was lived in the spacious days of privilege.
In April 1950, Adlington Hall became the latest to open its doors. The house is still privately owned by the Legh family and is open to the public for guided tours at advertised times.
Note:- While staying at Adlington Hall, Handel was inspired to write the Harmonious Blacksmith by hearing the notes from the anvil of the little wayside smithy near the hall.
A house that has changed significantly as the result of two fires within five years and the need to downsize.
Hainton Hall stands on the Lincolnshire Wolds between Lincoln
and Louth, and about seven miles south-west of Market Rasen. The mansion we see
today looks very different to the one that stood here one hundred years ago. It
was a large and handsome mansion standing in a well-wooded park of 145 acres,
and the seat of the Heneage family since the reign of Henry III.
The hall was built in 1638 with later additions, and a rebuilding and raising of the west wing, and the facing of the whole house in stucco, by Peter Atkinson in 1809. A porch was added by William Burn in 1875.
However, a series of events in the first part of the
twentieth century means that its modern appearance looks remarkably different.
In June 1919, a fire broke out at Hainton Hall, where Edward
Heneage, 1st Baron Heneage (1840-1922) had just recovered from an
illness that had lasted two months. He and Lady Eleanor Heneage, as well as a
full complement of domestic staff, were in residence when the blaze was
The fire occurred on the afternoon of Sunday 8 June and the
estate fire brigade had started tackling the flames before summoning fire
brigades from Lincoln, Wragby and Grimsby. As was often the case the firemen
were faced with the difficult task of securing ample water supplies, the only
immediate source being from a small fishpond on the estate.
The firemen made strenuous efforts to overtake the already
serious advance made by the fire, but the flames had made such headway that one
wing of the mansion was very soon destroyed.
All available help was used to rescue furniture and valuables
from inside, and these were carried out onto the lawn.
The fire was eventually brought under control around
midnight. The firemen had successfully saved the south and west fronts, but the
east wing, consisting of the servants’ quarters, had been lost.
It was later thought that a carelessly thrown peace
celebration firework was responsible for the fire.
Although there were no casualties amongst its residents, a Grimsby fireman, Albert Barrcroft, was killed when he was pinned beneath half a ton of falling debris, and one of his colleagues, William Watkins, injured by the fire.
In the aftermath, Lord Heneage contributed £500 towards the support
of the dead fireman’s widow and children, the Grimsby Fire Brigade Committee
stating that £1,100 was available to the dependants. As a sequel to the fire,
it later decided to insure its firemen against fatal accidents .
Lord Heneage died in 1922, and by remarkable misfortune the mansion was to catch fire again in July 1924.
The outbreak was discovered in a suite of bedrooms by a maid-servant,
probably caused by fused electrical wiring, and the estate fire appliances
(that had been brought up to date since the fire of 1919) set to work. Unfortunately,
they were inadequate to cope with the flames, and by the time the Lincoln Fire
Brigade arrived an hour later the building was once again a mass of flames.
On this occasion, the new Lord Heneage, George Edward
Heneage (1866-1954), was away at the Lincolnshire Show, a guest of Lord
Yarborough, and returned immediately.
People from all over the district, attracted by clouds of
dense smoke, arrived to render assistance in once again rescuing priceless art
treasures and antique furniture and piling them high on the lawn. Lord Heneage,
accompanied by his cousin, Lieut-Col A.P. Heneage, superintended the collection
The damage was reported to run at ‘something like’ £25,000,
the whole of the principal rooms completely gutted, and the ceiling of the
drawing-room destroyed by water. An attempt to remove valuable books from the
library had been abandoned because the roof had started to fall in, and molten
lead was dripping from above. Ironically, the books were later found to be
undamaged. Even though the library itself was saturated, the heavily recessed
bookcases had saved most of the collection.
The dining-room had escaped damage but not so the Adam
ceiling in the drawing-room where cracks had appeared in the delicate white and
The priceless collection of family portraits, going back to
the sixteenth century, had suffered not so much from the fire itself, but as
from moisture and the hasty way in which the pictures were carried to the lawn.
Many were mottled by damp and others scratched or marked. A picture of Lord
Heneage’s grandfather, presented by the tenantry in 1855, had a hole right
through the canvas.
In a bizarre set of circumstances, sightseers flooded from
all over the county to gain a glimpse of the hall, and for two days Lord
Heneage threw the grounds open.
When the second Lord Heneage died in 1954 the estate passed to the nine-year-old James Neil Heneage from another branch of the family. During his minority the trustees demolished the east wing in 1956 and removed the top storey of the central block (even though it had been listed in 1952).
In 1957 parts of the estate in Legsby, Barkwith, Torrington and Willingham were sold off largely to pay death duties.
When James Heneage came of age and inherited the estate, he commissioned the architect W. H. Hemmings to rebalance the external appearance of the Hall, the work being completed in 1975.