‘Landmark’ Woodford Green manor Hurst House reaches 300th anniversary
- Credit: Archant
The fates of the borough’s historic manors have differed dramatically.
Wanstead House was unceremoniously demolished by its debt-stricken owner in the 1820s, while the Monkhams estate’s house in Woodford Green was redeveloped for housing in the 1920s and 1930s.
But a stately home built not long after Valentines Mansion is celebrating a special anniversary this year.
Hurst House, in Broomhill Walk, Woodford Green, has survived the damage from a serious fire, as well as changing times, to reach its 300th anniversary.
And its owners marked the occasion by revealing its gardens to the public.
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Nicola Munday, who lives in the Grade II* listed home with her husband and two children, said: “We opened it just this once to celebrate the anniversary and we opened it during the Woodford Festival because it sort of added to it and made it a special time for Woodford.
“The visitors loved it.”
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Hurst House was built between 1711 and 1714 – during the reign of Queen Anne – in what was then known as Woodford Row. It was built by Wapping brewer Henry Raine, who wished to have a rural retreat.
The area was becoming popular among bankers, merchants and businessmen and, over the course of the century, a number of villas and mansions were constructed.
Hurst House was known as “The Naked Beauty,” possibly because it sat on land originally part of the Naked Beauty estate.
Richard Warner, who lived in the home which preceded Harts House, referred to Hurst House by that title in his 1771 publication Plantae Woodfordiensi, about plants which could be found in the area.
The English Baroque mansion’s gardens, which featured a large pond, originally lay across three acres, but the land was decreased to one acre in the early 20th century so 18 houses could be built.
Raine lived at the manor until his death in 1738 and it went on to become home to wealthy city merchants.
The 1800s saw changes to the home, which had been divided into two dwellings.
Woodford House replaced the north wing and stables.
During the latter part of the century, the mansion was transformed into Woodford House School, but it became a private residence once more before the First World War.
In 1936, a fire ravaged the roof – an incident remembered by a woman at the open gardens event who saw it happen as a nine-year-old.
Mrs Munday, who has lived at the manor since 2006, said: “A lady called Joyce lived in Abbotsford Gardens and was in bed with mumps. She saw these huge flames on the roof and called her mother to come and look.”
The roof had to be replaced and some of the upper stories were rebuilt. Mrs Munday said the family who lived there had to move out and sent their Christmas cards from their temporary address.
The garden at Hurst House evokes much of its charm. In 1952, Percy Cane redesigned its remaining acre of land into three sections.
The lawn was made for croquet and marquees, the classical garden features statues and urns and the rose garden contains fruit trees and vegetable beds.
At its heart is a Grecian-style temple portico and the old trees include a “handkerchief tree,” “weeping silver pear” and an Acer negundo maple.
Mrs Munday, whose interest in the house was sparked by walking past it on her way to work, still very much treasures the architectural gem.
She said: “It is very exciting to be living in it when it is 300 years old. A landmark building and a very special anniversary.”