This month, we look at the history of some more lost country houses collected by Matthew Beckett, a “frustrated builder” with a passion for architecture who was inspired to compile a website that would memorialise all of England’s vanished grand houses.
“It’s just a hobby for me,” he explains. “Through this study, I will be able to indulge my passion for architecture. After seeing the ruined shell of Guys Cliffe House in Warwickshire about eight years ago, my curiosity was piqued. The website started as a place for me to share the results of my study, including a list of the houses and photographs of them, as well as comprehensive histories. It has gotten a lot of attention, with about 12,000 visitors every month.”
Sussex’s lost houses are described by Mr Beckett as “a fascinating cross-section of properties, ranging from the aristocratic to the imaginative.” Lady Holt is a fictional character who appears in the novel
Lady Holt at Harting, formerly the house of the Carylls, a wealthy and influential Sussex family who made their fortune in the iron industry, is one of them. It is thought to have been founded in 1689 by Lord Caryll and passed down through the family generations until it gained notoriety in 1747 when the infamous Hawkhurst band of smugglers committed one of two murders there. The assassinations were so violent that they shocked the public and changed the public perception of smugglers.
They had taken their booty ashore and set off for the New Forest, where they were wanted for stealing a cargo of tea and spirits from a ship. On the way, gang member John Diamond was approached by Daniel Chater, a man he knew. The authorities later recruited Chater as a witness, but the gang kidnapped both Chater and his minder, an elderly customs official named William Galley. On the long journey to Harris’ Wells in Lady Holt’s grounds, where the gang intended to murder both men, the two men were tortured and whipped mercilessly. They eventually agreed to bury Galley alive in the Red Lion Inn’s turf store in Rake, West Sussex. Chater was returned to Harris’s Well, where he was thrown down the well, followed by rocks and timber that were thrown down with him until there was silence.
The vicious gang was apprehended and tried at the Chichester Assizes, where they were sentenced to death by hanging. Except for one, who died in jail before the punishment could be carried out, they were all executed on The Broyle.
Lady Holt was sold by the Caryll family to the Duke of Richmond in 1766-7, and it was finally demolished by 1770. The estate of Lady Holt Park is now managed by the Forestry Commission.
Beedingwood House was designed in 1876 for an Irish bacon merchant in Colgate, near Horsham.
With its flora and fauna stonework columns, a corner turret, circular rooms with conical roofs, and high-level bulls-eye windows, it was a fabulous example of Victorian architectural exuberance.
Unfortunately, the exuberant exterior did not represent the tragedy-tainted family life that existed within it. It was purchased by the Rev Edward Harvey in 1894, who would go on to become the Deputy Lieutenant of Sussex, a JP, and the chairman of the Sussex County Cricket Club. He and his wife, Constance, lived there with 20 servants, but their nine-year-old daughter died the year they moved in. In 1908, their son drowned at Eton, and Constance died three months later timber merchants crawley. Rev Harvey remarried and had a son with his second wife, but both of his older sons from his first marriage were killed in action during the First World War.
After Rev Harvey’s death in 1938, the National Council for the Rehabilitation of Industrial Workers purchased the house and the adjacent Roffey House and converted them into rehabilitation centres in 1944 or 1945. Beedingwood House, which had been closed since 1983, was reopened in 1994 after being destroyed by fire in 2007. For safety purposes, it was demolished the same day, and the new Roffey Park Institute now stands close to the original site.
Hill’s Place in Horsham was originally a timber-framed house with a later addition of a new range with a five-bay frontage and three-story frontage with polygonal bay windows, tall chimneys, and Dutch gables. Horsham MP John Middleton in the early 1600s, the 2nd Marquess of Hertford in 1807, and the 11th Duke of Norfolk, who purchased it for £91,475, all owned it at various times. He leased the property for cultivation, but his successor started to dismantle the estate in 1819, allowing the 17th-century house to be demolished. Only the range remained until 1925, when it was demolished as well.
Housing has been built on the site.
Wych Cross Place is a location in Wych Cross that is located
The history of the original Wych Cross Place at Forest Row, as well as the circumstances surrounding its removal, remain unknown. It was owned by Douglas W Freshfield, a mountaineer, author, and lawyer whose family firm Freshfields is now Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the world’s second largest law firm, from the late nineteenth century.
Freshfield, his wife, and their five children resided at Wych Cross Place. When their 14-year-old son died tragically at the age of 14, they gave Forest Row a building to use as a parochial hall and institute, but Freshfield Hall burned down the day after the boy’s funeral.
It was reconstructed on the same site, and the new structure still stands today.
The Emir of Sharjah’s 24-year-old son died of a heroin overdose in that city in 1999. The estate and house are now occupied by private individuals.
Searles was a Victorian Gothic mansion in Fletching that was built about 1865 and was the first house in Sussex to have electric light. It was the home of Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, a baronet of Eastbourne, who served as the High Sheriff of Sussex. The house was destroyed during WWII when it was used as a Canadian officers’ mess, and it was abandoned after the war. The only remaining remains of this grand mansion are the Grade II listed North Lodge and the South Lodge, which were demolished in 1949.
The Wadhurst Estate is located in Sussex, England.
Tetra Pak is the heir to the Tetra Pak business. Hans Rausing, a Swedish businessman and one of the world’s wealthiest citizens, purchased the Wadhurst Estate in Wadhurst in 1976 and replaced the original Wadhurst Hall with an ultra-modern one-story structure. After being dilapidated during the Second World War, when it was occupied by Canadian troops and later used as a prisoner-of-war camp, the hall was demolished in 1948. After the demolition, some parts of the hall were left intact, which Rausing retained as a feature of the gardens. Knepp Castle, near Shipley, is interesting because it is the site of two former buildings that have been destroyed. All that remains of a once-important castle dating back to the early 1200s is a ruined tower that “stands on a mound like a broken tooth.” William de Braose, Lord of the Rape of Bramber and one of King John’s most trusted barons, owned the land. As England’s barons revolted against the king over the expense of his military operations in France, William fell out of favour. William’s wife and heir were imprisoned and starved to death by King John, who also forced William into exile in France. He ordered the demolition of Knepp Castle in 1215.
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton and Buckingham Palace were both designed by John Nash, who is also known for his work on the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and Buckingham Palace. Sir Charles Merrick Burrell, the Conservative MP for New Shoreham for 56 years and later Baronet Raymond of Valentine House, designed it in the late nineteenth century. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by a massive fire in 1904, and Knepp Castle was built in its place.
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