Hall Place & Gardens
- Original design
- Unknown, 1537
The 2017 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2018 programme on 21st August.
Built in the Commonwealth period Hall Place’s southern extension is of red brick, laid in English bond and dressed with limestone. The ground floor retains many of its early windows set into rounded brick arches. The first floor sash windows were added in the eighteenth century. The top floor is under the deep roofs; the attics within are illuminated by dormer windows. The focus of the southern front is the heavy central doorway topped by a classical pediment; it leads into the central courtyard.
Recent restoration has opened up the central courtyard. On entering the view is dominated by the Bell Tower. The bell that originally hung in the Tower can be seen in the Introduction Gallery along with its leading. The Tower is topped by a prospect room, now only accessible from the roof. During the seventeenth century a prospect tower was a fashionable addition, used to watch the hunt and to entertain.
From the seventeenth century this courtyard acted as the hub of the household. Water was fetched from the pump and the comings and goings of visitors could be observed from the upstairs windows.
The Parlour is part of the Tudor house dating from 1537. Originally linked to the Great Hall via a door in the east wall it was the first of the Champneys’ private chambers. A Tudor parlour was used for a variety of activities including sleeping, eating and socialising. Neither the panelling nor the large bay window is thought to be original to the room.
The Chapel’s central feature is its Gothic window. As private worship declined and the Chapel became less important the upper floor level was lowered cutting off the top of the Chapel window.
The Great Hall’s high status end is marked by the farthest bay window, originally a single ‘oriel’ window. The plasterer’s marks at the tops of the window, in the shape of leafed apples or pears, may relate to some earlier plasterwork, now lost.
The patchwork of blocked up windows and irregular brickwork within the Kitchen’s walls show the considerable changes that have been made here. It is likely that the Kitchen began as a shorter space, double the height it is now. The central fireplace is inserted into an earlier garderobe shaft from the floor above. Two, earlier, bricked up fireplaces are visible flanking this false fireplace; these correspond to actual chimney stacks.
Like the Kitchen wing the Gallery has undergone considerable change. Adjacent to the Gallery’s current first floor entrance are two openings overlooking the Great Hall. These entrances suggest that the Gallery was once much larger. This upper level may originally have been accessed via an external two storey porch connected at the point of these redundant doorways.
From the Tudor period onward the Great Chamber was a flexible social space used for significant occasions and entertainment or to accommodate important guests. The Great Chamber is dominated by its ceiling; this was created after 1649.
Leading on from the Great Chamber the Long Gallery was added in the Elizabethan period to provide views over the estate and to display paintings. The barrel ceiling in this room dates from the eighteenth century.
The gardens at Hall Place surround the house and extend some 65 hectares. Parts of the garden wall retain a distinctive black diaper brickwork pattern and date from the 16th century. Other historic features include a Jacobean barn and 17th Century stables. A highly fashionable pleasure garden called the Bowling Green Mead was positioned alongside the house in the 1760s, while the remains of a 19th century watermill can be found by the river Cray.
The gardens at Hall Place were first opened to the public in 1952 by HRH The Duchess of Kent. The famous topiary at Hall Place, the Queen’s Beasts, were planted in 1953 in celebration of the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II.
The gardens at Hall Place continue to be maintained and cultivated to a very high standard. The glasshouse was opened in 1987 to house tropical plants and the Hall Place Gardeners have been presented with a Green Flag Award for 20 consecutive years.