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The sixteenth Lord Abergavenny, William Nevill, built the present house at Kidbrooke as his new dwelling in 1733-1734, purchasing surrounding farmland to lay out the new grounds and park.

In 1803, the second Earl of Abergavenny sold the 203 acre (82 hectare) estate to Charles Abbot, later Lord Colchester, Speaker of the House of Commons. He called in Humphry Repton (1752-1818) between 1803 and 1808 to improve the park. Repton's visits and payments concerning the water system, planting and the site's approach are recorded, and a Red Book is referred to in the Colchester papers (Landskip & Prospect 1991), but it is unclear whether such a book was ever produced. Abbot also purchased Hindleap Warren, south of the park's boundary.

The third Lord Colchester sold the estate in 1874 to Henry Ray Freshfield who enlarged and altered the house. It was next sold in 1909 to Mr Lewes Kekewich and again in 1916 to Sir James Horlick. It was purchased in 1921 by Ronald Olaf Hambro who added the western formal gardens. The Alliance Assurance Company bought the estate for office use in 1938, selling it in separate lots in 1945-1946. South, North and Kidbrooke Lodges and farmland to the south-west (about 19 hectares and now run as a stud) were sold first, the remaining 145.5 acres (59 hectares), including the house, gardens and pleasure grounds, becoming the property of Michael Hall School, a Rudolf Steiner School, who are the present (1997) owners. The school has sold off some perimeter land for development and built school housing and facilities in the grounds.

Site timeline

1920 to 1929: The garden area near the house was developed in 1920s.

People associated with this site

Architect: Mr Frederick Pepys Cockerell (born 1833 died 1878)

Architect: George Dance the Younger (born 20/03/1741 died 1825)

Designer: Walter Hindes Godfrey (born 02/08/1881 died 16/09/1961)

Builder: Mr Robert Mylne (born 04/01/1733 died 05/05/1811)

Designer: Humphry Repton (born 21/04/1752 died 24/03/1818)

Gardener: Edmund Livingstone Wratten (born 1877 died 1925)