Posts Tagged ‘Hall Place’

Hall Place

Posted: November 27, 2019 in History, London, UK
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Hall Place lies outside the ancient village of Bexley on the south-east edge of London. It was built in 1537 for Sir John Champneys, a wealthy London merchant. It is believed that much of the building material used in its construction was ‘recycled’ from the nearby monastery at Lesnes Abbey, which had been closed following the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. In 1649, the house was sold to another city merchant, Sir Robert Austin who expanded the building to double its original size. He made little attempt to harmonise his new building with the original style and thus the whole building looks very different whether viewed from the front or from the back.

In the 18th century, the house passed into the possession of Sir Francis Dashwood, a politician who had held the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, for much of the Dashwood family’s ownership, the house was leased out to tenants and at the end of the 18th century was used as a school for young gentlemen. The 19th and 20th centuries continue to see the house let to tenants, the last of whom was Lady Limerick from 1917 until 1943.

In January 1944 Hall Place was taken over by the US Army, where it served as one of the signal interception stations which fed messages into the code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park.

After the war had ended, the Place was used as a school annexe until 1968, when it became the headquarters of Bexley’s libraries and museums service. Today the properties managed by Bexley Heritage Trust and much work has been done in recent years to improve the facilities and the accessibility of this house and its large garden.

Hall Place

Keith wanted to visit a couple of my local sites which he had not seen before and so we began the day at Hall Place Gardens in Bexley.

We started at the hide which overlooks a quiet section of the River Cray and can be a good spot for Kingfisher but no luck today. We then moved on to the main garden, where we found my first dragonflies of the year in the riverside vegetation, Banded Demoiselles and Common Blue Damselflies.

We also found a Grey Wagtail feeding under one of the bridges

A walk around the less busy parts of the garden added Jay and Mistle Thrush together with Greenfinch, Blackcap and Garden Warbler.

We returned to the hide for our lunch but still were unlucky with the Kingfisher. We did have an obliging young Robin, which perched for photos and saw a Red Admiral butterfly.

Robin (juvenile)

We then moved onto Danson Park in Welling, where we added a number of water birds including Great Crested Grebe, Coot and Tufted Duck to our day’s list as well as Blue-tailed Damselfly and Holly Blue butterfly.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Garden Warbler [sp] (Sylvia borin)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Decided to go out for a walk by the River Cray. Starting at Footscray High street I followed the course of the river as it wound through Footscray meadows all the way to 5 Arch bridge.

R.Cray @ Footscray Meadows

R.Cray @ Footscray Meadows

R.Cray @ Footscray Meadows

R.Cray @ Footscray Meadows

R.Cray @ Footscray Meadows approaching 5 Arch Bridge

R.Cray @ Footscray Meadows approaching 5 Arch Bridge

The weather was pretty awful and it rained for much of the way, but by the time I reached the bridge and the main pool the sun had come out.

The main pool from Five arch Bridge

The main pool from Five arch Bridge

Unfortunately it was very quiet and apart from a single Little Grebe and a single Great Crested Grebe there were only Mallard, Tufted Duck and Coot to be seen along with a family party of Mute Swans.

Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck

JUvenile Mute Swan

JUvenile Mute Swan

Coot

Coot

I then went onto another stretch of the Cray a few miles away at Hall Place but here the story was the same and it was very quiet. It was very noticeable how much water was flowing down the river, no doubt as a result of the recent rainfall.

R.Cray @ Hall Place

R.Cray @ Hall Place

So only 22 species for a three hour walk but lovely countryside and the soup and bread at Hall Place was a fine antidote to the cold, wet weather

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)