In the 18th century Hall Place came into the ownership of the Dashwood family. Sir Francis Dashwood was a politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1762–1763, but he was also a known rake and founder of the secret and immoral Hellfire Club.

From 1795 Hall Place was leased as a school for young gentlemen and Maitland Dashwood, grandson of Sir Francis, made the next set of significant changes to the fabric of Hall Place. Beginning in the 1870s, Maitland and his architect Robert William Edis added the lodge, linked the house to the water mains and altered the interior by adding much of the fine wood panelling and parquet flooring.

Following these changes and into the 20th century saw a series of short-term leases to the aristocratic and the fashionable. The tenants during this period reflected a new glamorous pre-war elite and included Baron Emile D’Erlanger and his American wife Matilda, a former gaiety girl.

The last tenant of Hall Place was Lady Limerick who lived in the house alone from 1917 – 1943. She added a number of mock-Tudor features including beams and fireplaces. Lady Limerick and the house appeared in a 1922 edition of County Life Magazine.

The Second World War

In January 1944 the U.S Army’s Signal Corps 6811th Signal Service Detachment arrived at Hall Place to operate an intercept station, code named Santa Fe. The station was set up in a new spirit of co-operation between British and American intelligence services.

The Signal Corps were to participate in the Enigma code breaking operation, Ultra. The Santa Fe station intercepted encoded Morse signals mostly from the German Air Force and the Luftwaffe. Radio aerial wires were strung over the rooftops and the Great Hall was converted into a ‘set room’ with banks of Hammarlund Super Pro radio receivers lined up on wooden-plank tables. The Great Chamber became the soldier’s dormitory.

The Gardens

The gardens at Hall Place surround the house and extend some 65 hectares. Parts of the garden wall retain a distinctive black diaper brickwork pattern and date from the 16th century. Other historic features include the former Jacobean barn and 17th Century stables which now house the Miller and Carter Steak House and the remains of a 19th century watermill can be found by the River Cray.

The gardens at Hall Place were first opened to the public in 1952 by HRH The Duchess of Kent and the famous topiary at Hall Place, the Queen’s Beasts, were planted in 1953 in celebration of the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II.