Copped Hall, Epping
This place has been on the list for eons. It used to be a walk in walk out place, so much so that many teenagers in the Epping area visited Copped Hall during the hours of darkness to experience the "Haunted Manor"
Then a certain Mr Rod Stewart brought a rather large mansion house in the grounds of Copped Hall and had some security measures put in place. A new electronic gate at the entrance meant that you had to park up and trudge nearly 2 miles across farm land to the place without being caught.
The today, I drove past and the gate was open!!! Fools!!!, I was up their like a bullet.
Very, very disappointed on arrival to find the all of the windows are now very heavily steel shuttered, it used to be an accessible shell, but it was brought in 1995 by the Copped Hall Trust and is now being restored.
So it was a mooch around the ground and a qucik photo session while trying to avoid the builders, I was nearly done when I got rumbled by an old boy carrying some 2x2. He turned out not to be a builder but a pretty bloody good expert on the place, he spent 15 minutes explaining the history of the building and what section was built in what year, he told his story with such enthusiasm that I was almost disappointed when he made his excuses and left
He tells me that a new roof has been put on and that they are in the process of replacing the floors, level by level and then the work on the interior will start to restore it to how it was before the fire.
Recorded history at Copped Hall starts in the 12th century when there was already a substantial building on the site. At that time Copped Hall belonged to the Fitzaucher family who served the King as huntsmen.
It's history is massive and very interesting, but much to exhaustive to reproduce in this report
Some of the hightlights are as follows....
In 1548 Edward VI allowed the future Queen Mary to live at Copped Hall where she remained – to a large degree – a prisoner, as she was a Catholic.
In 1564 Queen Elizabeth I granted Copped Hall to her close friend - Sir. Thomas Heneage.
Almost immediately he started to rebuild the mansion – incorporating part of the old house in the south west corner. The building was complete by 1568 when Queen Elizabeth came to stay.
This version of the building was demolished in 1752
The 'new' mansion house that we see today was built in 1758
By 1900 there were at least 31 gardeners and 27 house servants looking after the Copped Hall - together with all the farm workers.
The main house was gutted in an accidental fire one Sunday morning in 1917 after the owners had allowed the Army to use Copped Hall as a hospital during World War I.
Members of the hospital staff were on the roof to view the destruction of a German Zeppelin over Grays in Essex, and the fire is thought to have started there due to a carelessly discarded cigarette.
Much of the contents were saved by many items were also lost. The family moved to Wood House on the estate which had been built by Ernest Wythes towards the end of the 19th century.
The move was supposed to be temporary but in the end Mr.Wythes never rebuilt Copped Hall.
Mr.Wythes died in 1949 and his wife died in 1951. The estate was sold in 1952 and at that time anything of value that could be stripped from the house and gardens was sold.
The wing was stripped of its timberwork, the staircases were removed from the mansion and wing, railing and gates were sold, garden balustrading, statues, steps, etc. were mostly removed.
Even many of the ancient specimen trees were cut down for their timber. The conservatory was eventually dynamited. Later the M25 was driven through a corner of the landscaped park.
Although the destruction was very serious, the essential identity of Copped Hall remained. The mansion shell was in surprisingly good condition.
However, once the M25 was built, Copped Hall became a developer's dream. Large scale schemes were proposed again and again.
After many battles against such proposals, the parkland was saved by the Corporation of London who purchased it in 1992.
The specially formed Copped Hall Trust saved the mansion and gardens by purchasing these in 1995.
The list of Sirs and Earls who have lived at Copped Hall over the past 900 years is huge and the full history and plans for the future can be found on the excellent Copped Hall Trust website.
The magazine Country Life ran a full article on the charms of Copped Hall with many photographs published before the devastating fire. This perhaps remains as the only record of the house in its heyday.
John Conyers - Owner of the modern day Copped Hall