HALL PLACE, BEXLEY

Grade 1   restoration & extension

Hall Place is situated in Bexley, to the south east of London, on the river Cray and adjacent to the A2. The building is listed Grade I and the site is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The house was built in 1537 by John Champneys, Lord Mayor of London, and substantially extended in the 1650s.  It was rented out, without significant further alteration, until bought by Bexley Council in 1935.  Bexley Heritage Trust took over its management in 2000.  The northern half of the house is Tudor, with a Great Hall, built of striking chequerboard flint and rubble masonry; the later part to the south is Stuart, in red brick. There are several fine plaster ceilings.

 

At the inception of the project, the house was only partly open to the public.  Major rooms were occupied by offices, gift shop, plant room, and lavatories and the areas visited by the public were bare of furniture and interpretation, with a ‘municipal’ feel.  The fabric of the building was in poor repair, with unsympathetic later additions and basic fittings dating from its time as a base for the Council’s library service.

 

Work undertaken included conservation of the historic fabric of the house and the removal of later inappropriate features, the removal of offices, shop, plant room and lavatories to a new visitor centre built onto the vacant stable block in the grounds. The interior of the house has been opened up for interpretation, exhibitions and displays.  The approach to the house was altered to reinstate the principal entrance from the south and to bring the visitor through the gardens, restoring the links between the house and the landscape. The central courtyard was opened to visitors. To the south of the house a new formal garden was created with a terrace below looking over the river.

 

The project has rescued Hall Place from being a rather unloved local art exhibition centre standing in a local park, and re-established it as a significant historic house set in gardens and parkland.

 

It has recently been entered for the Civic Trust and RICS Awards.