04 June, 2006

Hall Place, Bexley

A visit on a beautiful day to Hall Place, which Arthur Mee said was at the end of a country lane, but that the motor age was encroaching. The motor age has now fully encroached with the A2 running alongside and the roar of traffic everywhere in the grounds. It is still slightly outside of Bexleyheath’s main shopping centre and can be approached through a park but the most common approach is by road. The house dates back to Tudor times and was the country retreat of a lord Mayor of London. It has romantic associations with the Black Prince who spent his honeymoon there. The picture clearly shows the two halves of the house. The tudor half in stone and the 17th century half in brick.

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Its current use is as a function suite for Bexley council where couples can celebrate marriages etc, a museum (in a small way) and a gallery for displaying works by artists. Most of the rooms, including those with very fine plaster ceilings are empty except for a few pictures. The Tudor house has two wings and a great hall, and the masonry of the walls is decorated in a chequered pattern. The newer part surrounds a courtyard. The house was owned (but not lived in) by Francis Dashwood of hellfire club (in)fame.

The glory of Hall Place is the formal and informal gardens with topiary work hedges (in need of trimming) and herb and sunken gardens. The River Cray runs through the grounds.

Bexley parks department also have their nurseries at Hall Place and they have model gardens of different sizes to assist the public with planning their own gardens. A welcome innovation.

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