Hill Hall (Essex)

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Hill Hall

Hill Hall, located near Epping, Essex, England, is an Elizabethan mansion. Although owned by English Heritage, the building consists of many private apartments.[1] It is a grade I listed building.[2]


The house was originally built for Sir Thomas Smith during the reign of Elizabeth I to replace a 12th-century house on the same site. Construction was carried out over several intervals (1567-8, 1572-3) interspersed between Smith's stints as ambassador to France.[3] The hall stands in 50 hectares (120 acres) of parkland designed by Humphrey Repton.

The Smith family remained in occupation until the mid 19th century. Hill Hall subsequently became a prisoner of war camp during World War 2 and later a women's prison until a fire in 1969. It has since become part of the Heritage Trust. Limited tours are available to see the internal period wall paintings described by Croft-Murray of the British Museum as the most important survival of Elizabethan decorative figure painting in England.[2]

According to local legend, Hill Hall was once the site of a duel between seven brothers, for the hand of a beautiful girl. Every brother was killed. It is also allegedly the haunt of a phantom black dog.[4]


  1. ^ "Hill Hall". English Heritage. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Name: HILL HALL AND ATTACHED SERVICE WINGS TO NORTH AND WEST List entry Number: 1123963". English Heritage. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Girouard, Mark (2009). Elizabethan Architecture: its rise and fall, 1540-1640, p. 176. Yale University Press, New Haven and London. ISBN 978-0-300-09386-5.
  4. ^ Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 246. ISBN 9780340165973. 

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Coordinates: 51°40′27.18″N 0°9′9.1″E / 51.6742167°N 0.152528°E / 51.6742167; 0.152528