Ranked #22 of 155 Outdoors in Kent
Category: Architectural Buildings; Gardens; Historic Sites
IntroductionSitting on the banks of the River Cray, Hall Place is a Grade I listed Tudor country house originally built in...
IntroductionSitting on the banks of the River Cray, Hall Place is a Grade I listed Tudor country house originally built in 1537 for Sir John Champneys (a prominent merchant and one time Lord Mayor of London) and with a 17th century courtyard built by later owner Sir Robert Austen (who purchased the house in 1649). The focal point of the lower floor of the original Tudor structure is the Great Hall with its polished wood panelling and minstrel's gallery above from which courtiers with lyres and flutes would have serenaded the revellers in the banqueting hall below. Leading off from the Great Hall is the Tudor kitchen where haunches of venison and other cuts of meat would have been meticulously prepared for the delectation of the guests. This room has been painstakingly restored first by Lady Limerick (the last private resident of the house until her death in 1943 who added the mock-Tudor fireplace) and then by Bexley Heritage Trust (who now manage Hall Place) so that today it looks exactly as it would have done 500 years ago and as such provides a window into a bygone age. The lower floor also boasts a chapel and an activity room where children and adults alike can quite literally touch the past via a series of interactive games designed to recreate the life and times of Hall Place in its heyday. Nearby is also the famed Hall Place turret. One of the most recognisable features of the house with its chequered white stone and flint cladding on the outside, its inside hides a far more sinister secret for it is here that the ghost of the Black Prince and Grey Lady are said to linger. The first floor of the Tudor building also contains the Great Chamber which today houses a museum exhibition which uses objects spanning a period of 10,000 years to chart Bexley's history from prehistoric times right up to the Blitz. Highlights of the display include flint tools used by the area's first primitive inhabitants and a giant woolly mammoth's tooth which was unearthed in Erith. Also of interest is the Long Gallery on the first floor which is impressive both for its commanding views of the rose beds and Queen's Beasts topiary display and for its interior design which includes Tudor designs (such as the mock-Medieval fireplace) and more modern styles (such as the floral motifs on the plaster ceiling). The Tudor house has something for everyone and when this is combined with Austen's re brick extension with its courtyard and clock tower (built in 1653) it means the house is one of the premier tourist attractions in the area. Equally as impressive as the house, are the 65 hectares of sprawling, award-winning gardens in which it sits. These contain greenhouses (where you can see banana trees, fish and terrapins), formal gardens (containing rose beds, herbaceous borders and the Queen’s Beasts topiary display), model gardens (which will supply inspiration to budding horticulturalists) and finally picnic areas. A recent £2 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has also enabled the construction of a new visitor centre which houses a display on Hall Place’s history as well as the new Stables Gallery where pieces of art by local artists are displayed. This grant also facilitated the construction of the Riverside Cafe where you can enjoy hot and cold snacks and refreshing beverages whilst soaking up the views of the nearby river which is brimming with wildlife all year round from Canada geese to sparkling kingfishers. In all Hall Place and its gardens are a prized piece of local heritage which are fun for all the family!Hall Place can also be hired for weddings, conferences and other private events. In addition, Hall Place and Gardens has an exciting events and exhibitions programme featuring open air theatre displays, Christmas concerts, farmers’ markets, craft fairs, wildlife events and much, much more. For more details please log onto our website.There is full disabled access to the house and there are wheelchairs available for free hire although the use of these needs to be pre-booked.Visiting and Contacting UsIf you are visiting Hall Place by car we are situated just off of Bourne Road (postcode DA5 1PQ) which lies near to the A2 and is 10 minutes from Junction 2 of the M25 and 15 minutes from Junction 1 of the M20. Free parking for coaches and cars is available. To reach us by train the nearest station is Bexley Station which is just 15 minutes walk away and if you wish to take the bus the 229, 492, 132 and B12 buses all stop nearby. Finally, Hall Place is fully accessible by foot and by bike with several footpaths and bike lanes leading to the house. If you are coming by bike you are welcome to use the bike racks located in the car park.If you have any queries relating to hiring Hall Place for a private function, upcoming exhibitions or anything else please contact us by using our e-mail address, website address or telephone number all of which are provided.Opening Times and Admission FeesThe house, visitor centre and cafe are open everyday (save for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day) from 10:00am until 5:00pm. The last admission is 30 minutes before closing. The admission fee for the house is £7 per adult with a concessional charge of £5 per under 16 year old. A family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children can also be bought for £20. Admission is free for those with a National Art Pass and National Trust members enjoy half admission price with individual tickets although not with group bookings. Guided tours of the house can also be pre-booked for a minimum of 12 people with the price being £6.50 per person. The gardens and glasshouses are free and are open everyday from 9:00am till dusk and from 10:00am till 5:00pm respectively. The Stables Gallery, Visitor Centre and Riverside Café can also be accessed free of charge.