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Hall Place, Leigh


Hall Place is a late 19th-century terraced garden of 15 hectares with later 20th-century additions. The gardens are set within parkland and woodland of 85 hectares and additional agricultural land.


Hall Place and the village of Leigh are about one mile north of the River Medway and the setting is similar to Penshurst Place. The gardens of stiff clay loams are some 130 feet above sea level and reasonably well-sheltered. However, the incidence of air frosts is high compared with Emmetts or Chartwell on the nearby sandstone ridge.

The formal gardens include a rose garden, with pergola of climbing/rambling roses, herbaceous borders, ornamental pool (drained July 1988), and a heather/conifer garden next to the tennis courts. A more informal area to the south of the house has mature rhododendrons, acers and cornus species and other shrubs. There is also a walled kitchen garden.

There are several walks around the grounds. Notable is a perimeter walk of nearly a mile around the lake. Rustic stone bridges cross small inlets, and the waterside is planted with waterside foliage plants. About 100 years ago some cedars and wellingtonias were planted in the lawns in this area.

The 1987 storm has caused the loss of 87 trees, including large horse chestnuts and cedars, as well as much damage to stonework, statuary and buildings. Most of the cleaning up process had yet to be done in summer 1988, and the gardens were not opening to the public that year.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

A late 19th-century formal, terraced garden with an adjoining ornamentally planted lake, laid out on the site of earlier formal gardens by the architect George Devey and set in a park of 18th-century origin with additional 19th-century planting.



Hall Place is situated in the Medway valley, c 4km west of Tonbridge on the B2027 and on the north-west side of the village of Leigh. The 100ha registered site, which comprises c 15ha of formal and informal gardens and c 85ha of surrounding parkland and woodland, lies on level ground which rises gently towards the north-west. The southern boundary is enclosed from the B2027 and village housing by close-boarded fencing along the western half and by a high wall of red brick with blue-brick diapers on a stone plinth (listed grade II) along the remainder as far as St Mary's church. North-east of the church, a low stone wall encloses the site from the road and from open farmland to the south-east while to the west, north, and north-west, agricultural fencing marks the boundary with a landscape of wooded farmland beyond.


The site is approached from the B2027, at the western end of Leigh High Street. A gravelled drive enters between the walled gardens of an adjacent cottage and lodge (listed grade II), the eastern one, known as Old Lodge, built of red brick with diapers in blue brick and with a projecting octagonal turret and high pitched roofs with swept eaves. Old Lodge, which is shown as a lodge in 1871 (OS), is by George Devey, his work dating from the later C19. The drive, which formed the service route to the former house (OS 1871), bears northwards, passes around the west side of the stable block and enters the rectangular forecourt on the north-west, entrance front of the house. The forecourt is constructed as a raised terrace which is laid to lawn and gravel and enclosed by walls to the north-east and south-west and from which steps lead down to lawns and the lake on the north-west side (ensemble designed by George Devey in 1870-2, listed grade II). From wrought-iron gates hung on stone gate piers in the north-east wall, a further drive, lined by a number of mature oaks, loops north-eastwards into the park then runs 400m south-east to East or Leigh Lodge (listed grade II) on the B2027. Another of Devey's lodges built of red and blue brick, it has an extended screen wall to the north with an arch and a pair of timber gates. This eastern drive, and a further one from Penshurst Lodge West Lodge on OS (Devey, listed grade II) at the western corner of the site, which is partly overgrown and not now (1998) in use, were laid out in the late C19 to serve the new house.


Hall Place (listed grade II) stands on slightly raised ground, south of the centre of its park and with views south-eastwards over the park and north-westwards over the lake. It is a large mansion of two storeys with an attic and many gabled ends, built in the Tudor style of red brick with large diapers in blue headers and with a three-storey battlemented square tower. Built in 1870-2 by the architect George Devey (1820-86), it replaced the former house of 1794 which stood some 60m to the south-east, on the site of the present lawn, and which was demolished soon after 1870 (it is shown on the OS 1st edition). The northern portion suffered fire damage in 1940 and was considerably reduced in size in 1975-6. The surviving walls of this wing now (1998) form the setting for an enclosed paved and shrub-planted garden.

To the immediate south-west, a single-storey red-brick range forms an estate office and workshop with, at its northern end, a brick pavilion with a pyramidal tiled roof which is a former Peacock House (both listed grade II). South-west again and adjacent stands the stable range (listed grade II), a single-storey block with attic which forms a complete courtyard and which has a two-storey tower at its eastern angle. Built by Devey in 1870-2 of matching red brick with blue diapers, it is now (1998) converted to residential, garage, and storage use.


The formal gardens lie to the north-east and south-east of the house and are enclosed from the park on both these sides by a brick ha-ha wall topped by a balustrade, the south-eastern length of which is shown established as the garden boundary in 1871 (OS). The raised, entrance front terrace continues around the north-east and south-east fronts where it is laid out to lawn, borders, and a broad gravelled walk. Steps lead from the south-east terrace down onto the principal lawn. This extends 100m south-east to the ha-ha and is framed with specimen trees of mixed ages and species, gravelled paths, and rhododendron shrubbery. From the north-east terrace, steps each end lead north-eastwards down into a rectangular garden aligned on the house. This is enclosed by clipped yew hedges with topiary cones and laid to lawn bordered by low, box-edged beds filled with mixed planting, this structure shown in a photograph of 1900 (CL). A large stone basin and fountain head form a central focal feature. Adjoining to the south-east is a rose garden, laid out with geometric beds of roses and lavender and with, running c 85m along its north-west and north-east sides, a rose-covered timber pergola. Built in the early C20, the pergola features a rustic timber summerhouse at the angle. South-east from the rose garden, within ornamental woodland, mature trees of late C19 origin are interspersed with exotics and informal islands of shrubbery set in grass, to a planting design by Lanning Roper dating from the 1970s.

From the south-west side of the principal lawn the grassed Long Walk, which in the late 1860s (OS) was aligned on the south terrace of the former house, now (1998) runs c 65m south-west to a curved stone seat. South-east of the Long Walk and the ha-ha, a raised square of c 1ha, constructed between 1908 and 1937 (OS), is laid out with a central sunken tennis court, a pavilion, and two sunken stone basins; formerly laid out as a rock garden and a pool, the area is now (1998) overgrown.

From the north-west terrace, the lawns sloping down to the lake are planted with bulbs and framed by islands of shrubbery. The roughly triangular, 5ha lake with three islands, which was constructed in the early 1870s, is fringed with ornamental shrubbery and trees of mixed ages and species and has a perimeter lakeside walk. Three stone bridges, recorded as footbridges on the OS edition of 1908, cross inlets at the north, east, and south-west corners and a boathouse also stands in the south-west corner. Several timber summerhouses and shelters are dotted along the lakeside walk, that sited 120m north-west of the house built with five gables of rustic timbers and trellis-work.


West of the lake and to the north-east and south-east of the house, as far as the public footpath which runs north-west from East Lodge, the park is planted with scattered individual and clumps of mixed mature trees. These areas formed the extent of the park in 1801 (Mudge), the land west of the lake densely planted by the late 1860s (OS 1871) and the line of the footpath planted as a double avenue; this had gone by 1898 (OS). The park to the south-west, between the house and Penshurst Lodge, which was planted as parkland in stages between 1801 and 1898, is now (1998) open in character, a few trees surviving from the scatter shown in 1937 (OS). To the east, between the footpath and the Home Farm (outside the registered boundary), land imparked and planted between 1801 (Mudge) and 1866-9 (OS 1871) is now (1998) open arable and meadowland while north of the lake is a block of mixed woodland (Home Covert).


The kitchen garden lies to the south-west of the house, its c 48m x 38m brick-walled enclosure (walls listed grade II) shown on the OS map of 1871. It contains bothy buildings in the south corner and is largely laid out to the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. Immediately beyond the south-east wall is a further nursery area with a range of glasshouses surviving from the larger number shown established by the end of the C19. Part of this area is now (1998) laid out to a heather and conifer garden.


E Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent (1797-1801) [Facsimile edition 1972], pp 262-3

Country Life, 8 (15 December 1900), pp 776-81

J Newman, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (1969), pp 360-1

T Wright, Gardens of Britain 4, (1978), pp 56-8


W Mudge, Map of Kent, 1" to 1 mile, 1801

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1866-9, published 1871; 2nd edition published 1898; 3rd edition published 1909; 1938 edition

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1870; 3rd edition published 1908; 1938 edition

Description written: May 1998

Edited: November 2003

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


The site is at Leigh, 4 miles west of Tonbridge on the B2027 Tonbridge - Penshurst Road.


Hall Place is a high Victorian mansion and gardens in a landscaped park with a lake, trees and formal and kitchen gardens. The mansion was built for Samuel Morley MP in 1871-72 by the architect George Devey. Devey was probably influenced by the arts and architecture of the Elizabethan style after his first great commission, the restoration of Penshurst Place, in 1850. Hall Place was the largest house Devey built in the Tudor style.

At the same time, the extensive gardens and park were laid out on a scale to match the house. The east and west neo-Tudor gateways from the road are a foretaste of the opulent seat that used to exist here. The present owner is descended from Samuel Morley. In a programme of essential and realistic rationalisation of the property, the size of the great house has been considerably reduced by removing one wing, thereby creating some effective courts and walled gardens out of the old rooms.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


Hall Place formed part of the manor of Hollenden until it was conveyed by Henry VIII to William Waller, passing from him to his son Richard and gaining the name of Hall Place at about the same time. The estate passed through the hands of a number of owners including those of Robert Burges who rebuilt the house before his death in 1794. During the late 19th century, the estate was owned by Samuel Hope Morley MP, for whom the architect George Devey built the present house in 1870-2 on an adjacent site and enlarged and laid out the gardens. The estate passed to the descendants of Samuel Hope Morley and remains (1998) in private hands.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD1931
  • Grade: II*


  • Lake
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Hall Place was the largest house Devey built in the Tudor style.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Gatehouse
  • Description: The east and west neo-Tudor gateways from the road are a foretaste of the opulent seat that used to exist here.
  • Rose Garden
  • Pergola
  • Description: There is a pergola of climbing/rambling roses.
  • Herbaceous Border
  • Pool
  • Description: Ornamental pool (drained July 1988).
  • Planting
  • Description: Heather/conifer garden.
  • Walk
  • Description: Notable is a perimeter walk of nearly a mile around the lake. Rustic stone bridges cross small inlets, and the waterside is planted with waterside foliage plants.
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public


Civil Parish





  • Kent Gardens Trust