Squerryes Court is a late 17th century manor house that stands just outside the town of Westerham in Kent. The house, which has been held by the same family for over 280 years, is surrounded by extensive gardens and parkland and is a grade I listed building.
The site has been inhabited for at least 800 years. According to the Domesday Book, in 1086 the Manor of Westerham was held by Earl Eustace de Boulogne, granted to him by William the Conqueror. Before that it was held by Earl Godwin under Edward the Confessor.
A substantial timber-framed hall house stood on this site before the present house was built between 1681 and 1685. From before 1272 it was owned by the Squery family, whose arms were A squirrel browsing on a hazelnut, until Sir Thomas Squery died in 1439. His daughter Margaret inherited, and on her death in 1448 the estate went to her son William Crowmer. The land changed hands many times; in the 1680s, the previous house was torn down and the present house built by Sir Nicholas Crispe. The house is set on a terrace and has a two-storey central block of seven bays under a steep, hipped slate roof with pedimented gables and dormers. It is a compact, oblong house, constructed of mellow orange brick. The original building was built flanked by two small wings forming a forecourt, but these were demolished and replaced in the 19th century. The replacement wings were themselves torn down after the Second World War and only the main block now remain.
In 1700, the property was sold by Sir Nicholas's son to Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey. The third earl sold it in 1731 to John Warde, whose great uncle Sir Patience Warde had been Lord Mayor of London in 1680. Subsequently, his father also achieved that office as well as becoming one of the first Governors of the Bank of England.
The building, which is in early Georgian style, houses a fine collection of Old Master paintings from the Italian, 17th century Dutch and 18th century English schools, together with furniture, porcelain and tapestries, all of which were acquired or commissioned by the family in the 18th century. Items connected with General James Wolfe, victor of the battle of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and a friend of the Warde family, are also on display.
The house and gardens were open to the public for tours from 1952 until September 2012, when the Warde family moved into the house.
The gardens at Squerryes Court cover some 10 acres (around 4 hectares) and include a dovecote, lake, gazebo, and parterres. Just after the house was built, they were laid out in formal style. When the Warde family acquired the estate in 1731, they reshaped the garden to adhere to the more fashionable natural landscape style. During the Great Storm of 1987, 147 trees fell in the garden, after which the Warde family began redesigning the garden in the old formal style based on the original plans and a print dated 1709.
All the farms on the estate have been amalgamated into a single agricultural unit. There is a 200-head dairy herd which produces milk for Marks & Spencer. The calves are reared on the farm; the Friesian heifers join the herd, while the bull calves and cross-bred heifers are grown for beef using the natural grazing in the park. The arable land produces millet wheat, malting barley, and oilseed rape, together with oats, barley, and beans for the cattle.
One third of the estate is woodland. Almost all of the traditional farm buildings have been restored and converted into offices or workshops, which are let to local businesses. Some farm houses and cottages have been refurbished and let to tenants.
Squerryes Court has been used as an exterior and interior location for many films, serving as:
- the location of Hartfield for the 2009 BBC adaptation of Emma
- the home of minister Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) in the 2009 film The Boat That Rocked
- the Battle of Agincourt in the 2012 TV film Henry V, part of the BBC series The Hollow Crown
- the home of Henry Beaumont (Robert Hardy) in episode one of Foyle's War, The German Woman.
- "Name: SQUERRIES COURT List entry Number: 1272592". English Heritage. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
- "Squerryes Court". Historic England.
- Hasted, Edward (1797), "Parishes: Westerham", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, 3, Canterbury, pp. 158–179, retrieved 6 March 2017
- Wells, Andrew (2008). "Squerryes" (Promotional pamphlet).
- "Squerryes Court - History, Travel, and accommodation information". Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "doors closing after 60 years". 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "About Squerryes | The Squerryes Estate". squerryes.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "New kid on the English wine block - Squerryes Sparkling - A Truly British Family - Consumer champions of manufacturing & farming". 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2016-07-12.
- "Austen Trail". 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "Masterpiece | Locations - Squerryes Court | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "Pirate radio ship film role for historic court". 2009-04-10. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "The Hollow Crown: Henry V (2012)". 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "Foyle's War – The German Woman (2002)". 2002-03-17. Retrieved 2016-07-11.
- "West end performance of Shakespeare will be performed at Squerryes Estate in Westerham". Retrieved 2016-07-12.