A village of Pendley is recorded from the 4th century AD. The manor pre dates the Norman conquest of 1066, at which it was confiscated by William the Conqueror and passed to his brother in law, Robert, Earl of Moretain. A later owner was John de Angle, an early Member of Parliament.
The manor land then passed to the Verney family when Sir Robert Whittingham's daughter married John Verney. Around 1440 Sir Robert Whittingam, sheriff of the county, enclosed 200 acres of the land and tore down all other buildings within, which at the time amounted to a small town, returning them to pasture. He built a manor house at the western end of the now demolished town as a double cloistered courtyard similar to those found at Herstmonceux Castle and Eton College. Whittingham subsequently obtained a papal licence to build a chapel at the manor-house and engage a priest to hold services there when the roads became impassable in winter.
The Verney family lived at the medieval manor for the next 150 years. The Anderson family then occupied the it for four generations from 1606-7 on, after which it was inherited by the Harcourt family . Sir William Harcourt abandoned the Manor after the construction of the nearby London and Birmingham Railway which he saw as an intolerable nuisance. The ancient buildings burnt down soon after in 1835.
A Local landowner and mill owner, Joseph Grout Williams commissioned architect John Lion to build a new Tudor style Manor, the present building, in 1872. He and his descendants then occupied the Victorian Manor from 1875 until 1983. The last private owner was BBC show jumping commentator Dorian Williams, who developed it as a center for adult education and the arts after the second World War. He inaugurated the Pendley Open Air Shakespeare Festival in 1949 in the hotel grounds which continues to run to the present. The grounds have two landscaped open air theatres. The Court Theatre has permanently occupied the former stables to the estate since 1978 and presents a full programme of drama and musical performance.
The house was sold to a property company in 1983 and then in 1989 to a hotel company which invested in the building and re-opened it as a country house hotel in 1991. There have since been several extensions built to house additional rooms, a spa and gymnasium and a banqueting / conference suite.
- Quinlan, Ray (2003). The Greater Ridgeway: A Walk Along the Ancient Route From Lyme Regis to Hunstanton. Cicerone Press. p. 158. ISBN 1-85284-346-2.
- Emery, Anthony (2000). Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, 1300-1500: East Anglia, Central England, and Wales. Cambridge University Press. pp. 186, 176 ,. ISBN 0-521-58131-1.
- Reynolds, Chris (2001-2011). "Pendley Manor". Hertfordshire Genealogy. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- WHITTINGHAM, Robert (d.1452), of London and Pendley, Herts. at the History of Parliament. Accessed November 2013
- Our history at the Pendley Manor Hotel web site. Accessed 5 Nov 2011.
- Pendley Manor - A short history. Available at the hotel reception. November 2011
- http://www.courttheatre.co.uk/index.html The Court Theatre
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