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Tendring Hall Park


Tendring Hall has the remains of a landscape park of 110 hectares laid out in 1791 by Humphrey Repton for Sir William Rowley.


Tendring enjoys a picturesque river-valley setting with the park falling from the north ridge towards the valley floor and the valley slope to the south offering extensive views out across the countryside.
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 landscape park for which Humphry Repton produced a Red Book in 1791, containing remnants of a formal 18th-century landscape including a canal and an oak grove.



Tendring Hall Park is situated at the south-east corner of Stoke-by-Nayland village, midway between Sudbury and Manningtree on the Suffolk/Essex border. The site falls dramatically to the south from the north boundary, which is formed by the B1068, into the valley of the River Stour. The B1068 occupies the ridge which divides the Stour valley in the south from the Box valley in the north. The west boundary is formed by the B1087 Stoke-by-Nayland to Nayland road. Thus Tendring enjoys a picturesque river-valley setting with the park falling from the north ridge towards the valley floor and the valley slope to the south offering extensive views out across the countryside. The maturing planting in the northern part of the park has begun to obscure some of the views which were originally intended from the main drive southwards.


The main approach is from the north-west corner of the park, on the edge of Stoke-by-Nayland village, past a single-storey cream brick and slate lodge, through the northern plantations towards the site of the house. The line follows that proposed by Repton in 1791. The drive from the south-west corner of the park, suggested by Repton, no longer exists, the lodges having been demolished sometime after 1905. A further lodge and drive from the south-east corner of the park, also proposed by Repton, appears never to have been created. Remnants of the early C18 double oak avenue approach to the south of the old house survive in the park between Tendring Hall Farm and the kitchen garden.


All that remains of John Soane's 1784 house is the main portico (listed grade II) which now stands alone in the park on the high ground to the north. It is constructed of red brick with four Ionic columns on the north-east front and semicircular arched window openings on the sides. Above is a stone plinth impost band with frieze and cornice. Some 200m to the south-east lie the ruins of the stable block.


The flower gardens and terraces to the south-west of the house described so vividly by the Gardeners' Chronicle in 1879 are now derelict and lost under grass scattered with tree seedlings. The ha-ha boundary to the south-west is crumbling. The pleasure ground to the north-west of the house retains remnants of the yew, box and holly which once lined the walks beneath the trees. Part of the wall to the north-west and south-east remains but Repton's beautified cow shed (used as a summerhouse) has gone.


Tendring Park was created between the mid and late C18 by the gradual removal of field boundaries and the subsequent embellishment of the planting at the hands of Repton. It covers c 107ha on the valley slopes with a wooded northern section and an open park to the south. The woods along the slopes to the north are edged with a thick boundary plantation, recorded by Repton as planted in 1790 and subsequently thickened in places at his suggestion. It is a mixed plantation of conifers and deciduous species, the oldest being oak and sweet chestnut. The whole is cut through with rides, mainly created in the early C20 when further planting was undertaken in this area. A cricket ground laid out in the 1920s occupies land along the north boundary which was known as the Bowling Alley Field in 1723 (estate map). East of the cricket ground is The Grove, a feature recorded on the 1723 estate map which continues to be managed as an open oak plantation, much of it recently replanted. Beside the western tip of The Grove, and c 100m north of the kitchen garden is an C18 octagonal red-brick dovecote (listed grade II). The park is open to the south as it slopes down to the river and fine views of it are enjoyed from the site of the former house. To the east the plantations continue down the slope to enclose the park along this boundary. Planting is scattered with some mature clumps, mainly in the south and the south-west, some very old sweet chestnut pollards and the remains of the early C18 oak avenue to the south. Other planting is recent (1990s). In the south-west corner stands a late C18 stuccoed Temple (listed grade II) at the end of a long, formal canal dating from before 1723 (estate map). Repton's proposals to alter the Temple and Canal were not carried out and they remain as originally built. The Temple has a square centre block with slate roof, a canted bay to the west and two sloping roof wings to north and south.


The kitchen garden with its red-brick wall sits almost centrally on the site, c 280m south-east of the house portico. It comprises a single compartment with a breach in the wall to the west and east. It is currently (1998) planted with Norway Spruce trees and used for pheasant rearing. Inside is a central, circular dipping well and the remains of the brick bases of glasshouses and hot beds. The productive ground is much reduced. The 1723 map shows an enclosure on this site with an adjacent hop ground to the east and a formal canal to the south. By 1840 (Tithe map) the kitchen garden was walled and this, together with the supporting grounds, remained until at least 1927 (OS 6" map) although by then the canal had been removed.


H Repton, Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1803)

W White, Directory of Suffolk (1844), pp 45, 568; (1874), p 194

Charles Martin Torlesse, Some Account of Stoke-by-Nayland (1877) [copy in West Suffolk Record Office: STO65]

Gardeners' Chronicle, (20 September 1879), pp 303-4

Barker, West Suffolk Illustrated (1907), p 333

D Stroud, Humphry Repton (1962)

Eric Sandon, Suffolk Houses. A study of domestic architecture (1977), p 122

Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses: Vol III, East Anglia (1981), p 265

G Carter et al, Humphry Repton (1982), p 162


Kendall, Estate survey, 1723 (private collection) [copy in West Suffolk Record Office: HA108/10/1/1]

C & J Greenwood, Map of the County Suffolk, 1824 (586/18), (West Suffolk Record Office)

Tithe map, 1840 (T113/2), (West Suffolk Record Office)

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1891; 2nd edition published 1905; 3rd edition published 1927

OS 25" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1904

Archival items

Humphry Repton, Red Book for Tendring Park, 1791 (private collection)

Early 20th-century photographs (K 920/30/3), (West Suffolk Record Office)

The Rowley family papers, including deeds of purchase, are held at the West Suffolk Record Office (HA108/2/3).

Description written: December 1998

Edited: December 1999

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

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):


William de Tendring and his wife Beatrix were given a grant for a fair and market in the manor of Stoke in 1303. The estate remained in the Tendring family until 1421 when Alice, daughter and heir to the fourth Sir William, married Sir John Howard Knt, son and heir to the Duke of Norfolk. From the dukes of Norfolk it passed in 1606 to the lords Windsor and then to the Williams (Torlesse 1877). An estate map by Kendall for Sir John Williams drawn in 1723 shows the estate land divided into fields with a double avenue running south from the house, a grove to the north-west and a canalised pond to the south-west. In 1736 the next Sir John Williams, latterly Lord Mayor of London, inherited but following his bankruptcy in 1750 sold the estate to Admiral Sir William Rowley. Sir William's son Sir Joshua inherited in 1768 and commissioned John Soane to build a new mansion located 200 metres north-west of the old house, also continuing his father's work on the creation of a suitable park to surround it. Sir Joshua died in 1790 and the following year his son, Sir William, employed Humphry Repton (1752-1818) to produce a Red Book. The Tithe map of 1840 shows that by this time the park had been extended to the size of the present (1998) registered boundary, a wall had been built around the kitchen garden which lay 150 metres south-east of the old house, and a temple had been erected at the west end of the long canal in the south-west corner of the park. Most of Repton's proposals for planting also appear on this map, together with confirmation that his suggestion to beautify a cow shed in the pleasure grounds was carried out. By 1857 Sir Charles Rowley was in residence and an article in the Gardeners' Chronicle dated 1879 records flower gardens, pleasure grounds, shady walks, a fine park and prolific kitchen garden. By 1927, the park had been reduced in the south-west corner beyond the Lower Lodge Plantation to the line of the river and in 1955 the house was demolished. During the early 1970s Joshua Rowley commissioned the architect Raymond Erith (1914-74) to design a new house, which was never built. The estate remains (1998) in private ownership.


  • 18th Century (1701 to 1800)
  • Late 18th Century (1775 to 1799)
Associated People
Features & Designations


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

  • Reference: GD1372
  • Grade: II
Key Information




18th Century (1701 to 1800)


Part: ground/below ground level remains



Open to the public


Civil Parish