Ingatestone Hall is a fascinating place to visit. Built in the 16th century by Sir William Petre, the secretary of state to four Tudor monarchs, it still retains the atmosphere of that time. Today the Petre family live in the south wing of the house, which was ‘modernized’ in the early 1700s with the addition of Georgian panelling, sash windows, and a clock tower.
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Set in eleven acres of grounds with formal gardens, it began as an estate of the Petre family after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. Sir William demolished the steward’s house to create the hall, but did build almshouses for the poor in the village. After his son John inherited the estate, it ceased to be their principal seat of residence, that being Thorndon hall near the village of Brentford. By 1760 further updates had been made, and in the 1790s a range of buildings was demolished.
In 1915, upon the death of the seventh Lord Petre, the house once again became the principal home of the Petre family. Fortunately for visitors today the house was turned back to its Tudor roots, showing off its dark brick exterior with the mullion and transom windows. The entrance to the house is set off by a row of lime trees and a lawn.
The interior tour starts in the stone hall where panelling, English furniture, and portraits are on view. The drawing room is also panelled and contains portraits of Prince Edward and Henry VIII and paintings by Stubbs. On view in the study is a priest hole, one of two discovered when the house was restored in 1937. The Catholic family’s fourth lord was implicated in the popish plot and died a prisoner in the Tower of London. His wife was a subject in Samuel Pepys diary and was described by him as an “impudent jade”. Linenfold panelling and tapestries, including a Mortlake one, are on display in the dining room.
Also on view is a bedroom with lord Petre’s peer robes and paintings from the 17th century Dutch school. A Queen Anne room has 18th century panelling and portraits and a carved, gilded table. A gallery displaying 40 family portraits is 95 feet long. Here you can see a painting of the original owner, Sir William Petre and many other family treasures collected through the centuries. A tea-room is situated in the former old kitchen. The house has been the setting for several TV shows.
Ingatestone, off A12, between Brentwood (northwest London suburb) and Chelmsford, Essex
Tel. 0 1277 353 010
Open: Easter-end Sep, Wed, Sun and BH Mon, except closed Wed in June; noon-6pm; also open for special events; closed for private functions on certain dates, check website
Historic Houses Association member; shop; tea-room; walks in the grounds; parking
Web: Ingatestone Hall
We regret Ingatestone Hall does not allow interior photographs.