I’ve visited my fair share of historic houses, estates and manors, and I must say Hall Place and Gardens is one the best hidden gems I’ve visited. Situated in the town of Bexley, southeast London, the manor dates back to the 16th century, and was owned by several prominent families over the years who have all added something to the building, making it into a Frankenstein like house that’s perfect for exploring. It left such a great impression on me that I plan to revisit many times again in the future.
Exploring the Manor House
Visiting Hall Place and Gardens is a mixture of architectural wonder, scenic enjoyment and an intriguing history lesson. The manor house, or Hall Place, was built in 1537 by Sir John Champneys, a prominent merchant and Lord Mayor of London. The place has seen a lot of renovations and additions over the years, meaning you get to enjoy a bunch of English architectural styles including Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian.
Great Halls are always my favourite rooms and this one did not disappoint! From the high-beamed ceiling to a large fireplace, and even a balcony overlooking the place. I would have loved to get invited to a soiree back when it was a prominent place to be in SE London.
The Last Resident
Before the Council took it over, Lady Limerick was the last resident. She’s probably best known for adding mock-Tudor elements like the grand beams and fireplaces. But the most interesting thing she added was the bath on top of the stairs considering this was between 1920 and 1940 she was way ahead of her time!
WWII History of Hall Place
During WWII, the estate played host to the US Army, acting as an intercept station – a new collab between UK and US intelligence. You might know the name of the thing they worked on here – the Enigma code-breaking operation, popularised by several films. If you want to know more, there’s a permanent exhibition on this, including a replica of the soldier’s rooms.
Film & TV Location
All those historic corners of the manor make it a perfect place for historic backdrops and understandably, TV and Film locations. One of the most recent being Season 3, Episode 7 of The Crown where it doubles as St George’s House (one of the houses on the grounds of Windsor Castle), while it also served as the backdrop for the TV show Fearless.
Strolling through the Hall Place Gardens
Once you’ve seen the house it’s time to move to the gardens, which are a highlight on their own. The wider garden area is home to all sorts of plants and flowers, as well as a lake, a rock garden, and a walled garden. They also feature some stunning sculptures and fountains adding to the serene atmosphere and have their own history to tell as they’ve been updated over the many years.
How to get to Hall Place & Gardens from London
To reach Hall Place & Gardens from London, take the train from London Charing Cross to Bexley, which takes about 40 minutes or from London Bridge (same line), which takes 30 minutes. From Bexley Station, it’s a short walk to Hall Place, but do note that you have to cross a motorway to reach the entrance. Alternatively, you can hop on the 132 bus from North Greenwich Tube Station to Bexley and the venue itself, taking 45-60 minutes.