Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
Hall Place in Bexley in Kent was originally built in stone – salvaged from Lesnes Abbey – in 1537 by Sir John Champneys, a successful member of the Skinners’ Company and sometime Lord Mayor of the City of London (it was probably built on the site of earlier, thirteenth- and fourteenth- houses respectively owned by the de Aula and Shelley families). It was subsequently extended in brick in 1649-66 by Sir Robert Austen, who had bought it from Sir John Champneys grand-son Richard in 1649. In the eighteenth century the property entered the possession of Sir Francis Dashwood (*); and in the nineteenth that of his grand-son, Maitland. For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it was rented out to a series of tenants. During the Second World War it was occupied by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, who worked there on decoding intercepted messages sent by the German army and air force. At this time, radio aerial wires were strung over the roof-tops, and the Tudor Kitchen and Great Hall were converted into “set rooms” filled with banks of receivers.
Hall Place presently houses Bexley Museum and Galleries, and is open to the public (although a charge is payable for access to the – substantially surviving Tudor and Stuart – interior).
(*) Otherwise known as “Hell-Fire Francis”!