Haybridge Hall - Transcript

Listen to this guide speaking about the historical Haybridge Hall.

Right click here for the mp3 listening file.


Welcome to Haybridge Hall and thank you for choosing to use our Guide-O-Matic to help you make the most out of your stay here. This guide is available in six other languages. Just ask at the ticket office. The general history of the house is as follows:

Haybridge Hall was constructed at the end of the 15th Century and was originally called Hawken Hall after the first family who owned it. Jack Hawken was a local businessman who had become wealthy thanks to success with wool exports. The house has changed very little in the last 500 years with the exception of the Dawson Conservatory which can be found behind the ticket office. This was added in 1941 when the British Army was using Haybridge Hall as a headquarters for the 8th Army. Churchill is said to have spent two nights at Haybridge in the main guest bedroom in the build up to the Normandy Landings in June 1944.

The Hawken family only managed to hold onto this fine property for around a decade before they had to sell up and the name Haybridge was used by the aristocrats who bought it. The Yardley family were not from this area, but from the north of England. They owned Haybridge for some 200 years and turned the surrounding area into productive farmland where various crops, from wheat to potatoes, were grown.

The Yardley family left Haybridge in 1722 and the property was left empty for some sixty years or so, falling, in the meantime, into quite a state of disrepair. It was during this period of neglect that the small church built on the grounds of the house in the early 16th Century, crumbled into ruins. Little is known about this church although one drawing of it survives. A local artist, Timothy Warsden, sketched the church in 1728, a mere six years after the Yardley family moved out.

Haybridge Hall's destiny seemed to have been that of long-term neglect and eventual destruction but the renowned local author William Hoaten bought Haybridge in 1784 and spent three years and a considerable amount of money renovating the mansion. By now, the amount of land belonging to the property had been considerably reduced and consisted of the few acres you see today.

The Hoaten family stayed at Haybridge until the beginning of the Second World War when the British Army took over the property. After the war, the surviving members of the Hoaten family decided it would prove too costly to move back into Haybridge Hall and so the property came to be owned by the charitable organisation English Heritage, who runs it to this day.

English Heritage undertook an extensive renovation operation in the 1970's, costing over ten million dollars. The aim of this work was to return Haybridge Hall to something of its glory days when it was owned by the Yardley family for two centuries. Specialist builders and craftsmen from all over the world were employed in an attempt to reconstruct the best possible example of a 17th Century country house.

Haybridge Hall remains to this day one of the finest examples of British renaissance architecture and the furnishing within gives an authentic idea of what country life was like three to four centuries ago in this country. Last year, over 60,000 visitors took the same path through Haybridge Hall that you yourself are taking today.

Now, please press button 2 if you would like to hear something about the first floor furniture. Press button 3 if you would like to hear more information about the gardens of Haybridge Hall.

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