Search for the name, locality, period or a feature of a locality. You'll then be taken to a map showing results.

Rotherfield Hall

Introduction

Rotherfield Hall lies within a park of about 26 hectares. The site has terraced formal gardens laid out in 1897 by Inigo Thomas.

Terrain

The site lies on a westward-sloping hill, with higher ground to the east affording some shelter. The Hall stands on the highest part of the slope.

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 National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Formal gardens, incorporating architectural and ornamental features designed in 1897 by Francis Inigo Thomas to complement his restoration and extension of a Tudor house.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Rotherfield Hall is situated to the east of Crowborough, some 500 metres east of Jarvis Brook. The 26 hectare site lies on a westward- sloping hill, with higher ground to the east affording some shelter. The Hall stands on the highest part of the slope and there are spectacular views out to the west and to the Crowborough ridge.

Entrances and Approaches

The principal entrance to the site is at its north-west corner, lying directly on the south-east of the Treblers Road and Clackhams Lane junction. It is marked by large rusticated stone gate piers (1897, listed grade II) and the adjacent lodge. The drive winds upwards to the north of the Hall, which is only occasionally visible through the trees, and divides just as it reaches the start of the informally planted pleasure grounds north of the Hall.

The major route continues on to the east front through an entrance flanked by gate piers and into the walled forecourt (listed grade II), whilst the other branch leads around the western boundary of the formal gardens to the stables which lie south-west of the Hall. This section of the drive runs below the foot of the retaining boundary wall which forms the western edge of the formal gardens and from which it is thus screened. It continues on to lead out onto Treblers Road some 600m to the south of the north-west entrance where it is marked by an ornamental gateway (1897, listed grade II) with rubble-stone piers and pyramidal finials flanking ornamental cast-iron double gates.

Principal Building

The north part of Rotherfield Hall (listed grade II*) is dated 1535 and was built by the Fowles family using stone quarried from their estate. As well as a datestone marked 1535, there is another of 1666 on the north side. The southern half of the Hall was added to the main range by F Inigo Thomas in 1897, copying the style of the earlier house and complementing his restoration of the earlier building. To the south-west of the Hall is a stable block with stable yards, carriage house and horse boxes.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

East of the Hall lies the walled rectangular forecourt (1897, all structures listed grade II*), delimited by stone walls with sections of balustrading and great rusticated gate piers in the centre of the north and south walls. A grass turning circle forms the central area of the forecourt. Across the forecourt and opposite the front door, the east forecourt retaining wall is broken centrally by a small arched doorway which focuses on a fountain and basin set into it. The arch is flanked by broad stone seats and through the arch, on either side of the fountain, steps lead up to the higher level.

On this upper level two lawn terraces extend (1897, both listed grade II*), one parallel with and the other at right angles to the Hall. The latter, a long, narrow bowling green deeply cut into the hillside is bordered by terraced beds and is designed so as to carry the eye along its length when seen from a position by the main door. It terminates at a retaining wall some 110m east of the Hall. Before which is a shallow pool. To either side of the lawn are groves of trees, formally planted and divided by yew hedging.

To the west of the Hall lies a walled garden comprising a terrace, retaining walls, balustraded walls, steps, arcade, summerhouses and gazebos (1897, all structures listed grade II*). The upper terrace is set directly against the Hall and is paved in rubble-stone with a millstone set centrally. Steps flanked by a balustrade lead down to the lower level from the centre point of the terrace. At its southern end the terrace terminates at an arcade and loggia. An archway and lean-to summerhouse are set in the angle of the garden wall, where it returns on the south side of the walled garden. At the north end of the terrace an iron gate leads out of the gardens.

Beyond the upper, west terrace the natural steep slopes have been modelled and formed into two terraces divided by a grass bank. A set of steps leads down off the upper terrace to the first of these, laid out as a parterre which centres on a pool surrounded by box-edged beds set in turf. The shallow rectangular pool which opens out centrally into a circular pool has a statue of Aphrodite at its centre (1897, listed grade II). A pair of two-storey, brick-built summerhouses adjoining the walls that run down the north and south sides of the garden mark the change in level to the lower grass parterre. A substantial retaining wall surmounted by a balustrade forms the western edge of the gardens.

The southern end of the Hall is decorated with a Tuscan arcade, made up of five rusticated arches which lead from the morning room into the garden. On the south side the arcade leads to the service quarters. A path leads from the south front through a rose garden to a central podium of rubble-stone located beneath an arched clairvoie.

Park

The small park extends westwards from the gardens alongside a stream which flows north/south along the bottom of the valley. F Inigo Thomas included this area in his scheme by landscaping the stream, dammed in the C16 to form a string of hammer-ponds, with a series of four small stone bridges (all listed grade II) over the stream. A boathouse in the form of a square tower is set on the southernmost hammer-pond. One entrance into this boathouse lies through a gothic red-brick arch directly from the south drive. On a lower floor of the boathouse a Roman arch leads out onto a stone landing stage at water level.

Kitchen Garden

The walled kitchen garden lies beyond the stables on the south side of the Hall.

Description written: December 1999

Edited: November 2021

Contact
Features

Style

  • Formal
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The house was built originally for the Fowles family who were wealthy Wealden iron manufacturers. It was extended in 1666, then greatly enlarged in 1897 by Francis Inigo Thomas.
  • Latest Date:
Terrace
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Rotherfield
Designations
  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens
  • Reference: GD1316
  • Grade: II*
History

History

F Inigo Thomas, an architect, collaborated with Reginald Blomfield, emphasising the importance of the formal garden. The formal gardens at Rotherfield were laid out by Inigo Thomas in 1897, at the same time as the house was extended.

Detailed History

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 National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

19th Century

The house was built originally for the Fowles family who were wealthy Wealden iron manufacturers. It was extended in 1666, then greatly enlarged in 1897 by Francis Inigo Thomas (1866-1950), for Sir Lindsay Lindsay-Hogg.

Francis Inigo Thomas was the nephew of Broderick Thomas (1810-1898), one of the principal garden designers of the mid to late 19th century, who worked in a strongly architectural style, and in the 1870s created the lake and rock garden at Sandringham, Norfolk. Thomas, an architect, collaborated with Reginald Blomfield, providing the illustrations for the latter's book 'The Formal Garden in England' which was published in 1892. This book greatly helped to popularise the idea that good garden design and form should be based on existing historical precedents. As a result the 'formal garden' became increasingly fashionable during the later years of the 19th century and the turn of the century.

Thomas himself wrote various articles in contemporary gardening magazines stressing the importance of the relationship of the garden and house, and the superiority of the architect to the gardener in matters of design. His other garden works include a formal scheme at Parnham House, Dorset and in 1891 the restoration of the garden at Athelhampton, Dorset which he worked on throughout the next thirty years.

20th Century

During the mid 20th century, after a period of use as a school, Rotherfield Hall it once again became a private residence.

Associated People
References

References

Related Documents
#}