Stocks House

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Stocks in around 1995.
A photo of Stocks while undergoing renovations on 7 May 2007

Stocks manor house is a large Georgian mansion, built in 1773.[1] It is the largest property in the village of Aldbury, Hertfordshire. Stocks House and its manorial farm is an 182-acre (0.74 km2) estate surrounded by 10,000 acres (40 km2) of National Trust Ashridge Forest and the Chiltern Hills.

It takes its name from the old famous stocks of the medieval village of Aldbury just down the road.

Early history[edit]

Built in 1773, Stocks manor house was inherited by Sir Edward Grey, 1st Viscount of Falloden, who served as British Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States, from his grandfather. Lord Falloden's career never allowed him to live there, and in 1892 he sold Stocks House [2] to best-selling British novelist Mary Augusta Ward[3] who made Stocks her beloved home until her death in 1920.[4] While Ward lived at Stocks, it became a bustling salon of leading intellectual luminaries of her day, including her nephews Aldous and Julian Huxley, her son-in-law historian George Macaulay Trevelyan, and such guests as George Orwell, who gathered for long weekends, to join as many as 50 other literary and intellectually inclined overnight guests and friends who could be accommodated in the main house. Ward is buried just down the road at Aldbury Church.[1] Upon Ward's death, Stocks was inherited by her son, a Member of Parliament, Arnold Ward.[5] who sold Stocks to the Blezard family, who later sold it to the Brown family, before Stocks became an exclusive girl's school in 1944.[2]


In 1944, Stocks House became a residential school[4] when the oldest finishing school in England for upper-class girls, Brondesbury, moved to Stocks manor house from its previous manor estate in Surrey, where it had been located since 1865. The school moved to Stocks House due to the danger of bombing raids toward the south of England during WW II. At that time, the school was under the direction of Brondesbury's headmistress, Frances Abbott, who had been headmistress since 1916. Upon moving to Stocks in 1944, the school was then dubbed Brondesbury-at-Stocks. Abbott was succeeded in 1956 by Katharina Forbes-Dunlop, a British author.[6] In 1972 Forbes-Dunlop, the last Brondesbury headmistress, retired. She died at age 100.[6]


In 1972, Stocks House was purchased by American Playboy executive Victor Lownes and English Playmate Marilyn Cole[1] for £115,000.[2] They installed a massive jacuzzi - thought to be the largest in the country - in the house. The mansion was used as a training camp for Playboy bunnies and was well known for hosting extravagant parties with celebrities.[4]

Coincidentally Lownes also owned 1 Connaught Square in London, the townhouse of Mary Augusta Ward, the former owner of Stocks, where she had died.[2]


Following Lownes' ownership, Stocks was owned by English Cricket player Phil Edmonds, who added a swimming pool and a golf course to the extensive grounds; allowing him to turn the Stocks property into the Stocks Golf Resort Hotel and Health Spa.[7] In 1997 the album cover of Oasis' Be Here Now was photographed by the pool at Stocks.[4]

Reversion to private house[edit]

In 2004 Stocks was sold to Peter Harris, a retired horse trainer, entrepreneur and multimillionaire (£360m), for an undisclosed sum. A planning application to Dacorum to restore the historic Stocks Hotel back to a private home was made.[8] The extensive renovation work was undertaken by Holloway White Allom and completed in early 2008. The architect for the project was Hugh Petter, Director at ADAM Architecture. It is now a family home once again for Harris' son-in-law Walter Swinburn.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d Reynolds, Chris. "Stocks House". Hertfordshire Genealogy. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  2. ^ a b c d Lownes, Victor (1982). Playboy Extraordinary. St Albans: Granada Publishing. ISBN 0-246-11793-1. 
  3. ^ William Page, ed. (1908). A History of the County of Hertford. Victoria County History 2. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Aldbury: Be here now". Hertfordshire Life. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  5. ^ "Arnold Ward". Spartacus. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Bernstein, Margaret. "Inspiration". Growing Azalea Music. Retrieved 2009-05-19. , archived at
  7. ^ "The man who made £20m in four days". This is Money. 28 February 2005. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Village steaming over Redcoats in a hot tub". Hemel Today. 18 April 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 

Coordinates: 51°48′38″N 0°36′20″W / 51.81056°N 0.60556°W / 51.81056; -0.60556