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Stop Easton Park

WHAT IS STONE HALL?

By Admin
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Saving Stone Hall

A subset of members of the Stop Easton Park campaign became aware of informal bids offer for the sale of Stone Hall (following the death of the previous owner) and determined to save it.

Subsequently, you may have recently seen leaflets about Stone Hall giving some information about the property and inviting you to an event at Little Easton Manor to discuss how you can participate in saving it for future generations.

If you know nothing about Stone Hall, don’t feel you’re alone. It’s one of Easton Park’s best kept secrets. Contact stopeastonpark@gmail.com if you want to help and read on below the images for a primer…

Stone Hall Easton Lodge

  1. What is Stone Hall?
    It’s a house dating back to the fourteenth century originally used as a religious retreat together with grounds (gardens and woods) extending to 25 acres (10 Hectares) in all.
  2. Why have I never heard of it?
    It’s just inside the parish of Little Canfield in a far corner of Easton Park. It’s surrounded by trees (once part of Hatfield Forest) and access is not immediately obvious. Previous occupants have also been reclusive. Actually, it survived the Reformation and the ire of Henry VIII due to its anonymity.
  3. Is it protected?
    Stone Hall is Grade 2* listed on the Official Register (The List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest) as property of more than special interest. As such it is legally protected from being demolished, extended or significantly altered without special permission from the local planning authority. The wood has a current protection order.
  4. What is the connection to the Countess of Warwick?
    The Countess of Warwick (“Daisy”) was brought up at Easton Lodge discovering Stone Hall when on rambles through the park. When she married at nineteen she claimed her inheritance and resolved to deal with Stone Hall “in the light of my own long-pondered wishes”. Daisy arranged for the building to be restored and focused her efforts into creating renowned gardens. She used it as her own private hideaway for trysts (including the then Prince of Wales, latterly Edward VII).
  5. How did it fall into disrepair again?
    Daisy talked of the passage of time and the many years where she didn’t have time to spend at Stone Hall. When she did return she was shocked at how the garden had declined. She again focused effort on restoring the garden and used Stone Hall as a library which held a celebrated collection of gardening and nature books.
  6. Is it really worth saving?
    That depends upon the value of history. A lot of restoration work is required for the house and garden. But, the house and hall are dry and despite a number of cracks restoration does seem economically possible. If we do nothing there is a danger that the house will eventually become far too costly and, indeed, dangerous to restore. The garden is different inasmuch that cost is minimal but volunteer labour becomes key. Nonetheless, we have a lot of documents re what the gardens were originally like and, over time and working to a plan we are confident of a full restoration. But together the house and garden are the history. One cannot be fully complete without the other.
  7. What are the current plans for Stone Hall should a successful bid be made?
    Our plan is to generate revenue via a range of income-generating ideas ranging from educating young & old to a limited natural woodland burial ground.
  8. There are lots of gardens and parks around here. Do we need another one?
    Actually, if you take account of the number of people visiting Hatfield Forest and the pressure it’s under then you start to realise that there really are a limited number of unique places like Stone Hall. Add the history element and the closeness to Great Dunmow and surrounding villages and you have something really special for our local community.

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