Thorndon Hall

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Thorndon Hall, Thorndon Park, Essex.

Thorndon Hall is a Georgian Palladian country house within Thorndon Park, Ingrave, Essex, England, approximately two miles south of Brentwood and 25 miles (40 km) from central London.

Formerly the country seat of the Petre family who now reside at nearby Ingatestone Hall, the house is located within nearly 600 acres (240 ha) of ancient medieval deer park, meadows and forest.

The current house was originally designed by James Paine and construction started in 1764. The park was then landscaped between 1766 and 1772 by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown at a cost of £5,000, much of which still survives, albeit merged into the landscaping of Thorndon Park Golf Course. The main driveway extended from what is now Shenfield Common for nearly two miles southwards to the northern face of the house. It can still be traced with maps, although it is now made up of public parks and golf courses.

Old Thorndon Hall[edit]

The current house replaced Old Thorndon Hall which was located about a mile to the south in what is now known as "ruin wood" next to Old Hall pond.

The estate of Thorndon Hall, known previously as the manor of West Horndon, can trace its records back to the 1086 Domesday Survey commissioned by William the Conqueror. However, a building on the site of Old Thorndon Hall was first recorded in 1414 when King Henry V of England gave licence for its new owner, a merchant from South Wales called Lewis John, to "empark 300 acres (120 ha), to surround his lodge within this park with walls and to crenellate and embattle the lodge".

The old hall was damaged by fire in the early 18th century and was subsequently pulled down after being used briefly as farm buildings. The portico on the current house was originally commissioned and imported from Italy in 1742 for use on the old hall which was remodelled by Giacomo Leoni in the Palladian style. Following the fire, it was kept, and reused in the design of the new house.

The estate and newly finished house was visited in 1778 by King George III and Queen Charlotte on their visit to see the troops at nearby Warley Common.

Following a fire in 1878, much of the main house and west wing were gutted leaving a shell. The surviving east wing was adapted into partial residential use with plans to renovate the house back to its original grandeur. However family finances were in a poor state after the Great War and in 1920 the house and a portion of the estate was leased to Thorndon Park Golf Club. Originally, the company had planned to develop the estate into a luxury housing development and golf course, much the same as the Wentworth Club and St. George's Hill in Surrey, but with the introduction of London green belt legislation limiting house building on farm and parkland, the plan could not go ahead and the company folded.

Eventually the golf club acquired the house and grounds, but chose to move out of the main hall and construct its purpose-built clubhouse within the grounds. In 1976, Thorndon Hall was sold to a developer, Thomas Bates & Son, Romford, who converted the mansion sympathetically to luxury apartments and cottages in landscaped surroundings, woodlands and parkland.

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Coordinates: 51°36′N 0°20′E / 51.600°N 0.333°E / 51.600; 0.333