The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.394444, 0.418611


This text was copied from Wikipedia on 20 July 2024 at 4:10AM.

Cobham Hall in 1868, and as today; Tudor wings built 1584–91 by William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham (1527–1597); central block built 1662–72 by Charles Stewart, 3rd Duke of Richmond, 6th Duke of Lennox (1639–1672)
Map of Kent showing location of Cobham Hall and Cooling Castle, seats of Barons Cobham c. 1208 – 1603
Cobham Hall in 1904

Cobham Hall is an English country house in the county of Kent, England. The grade I listed[1] building is one of the largest and most important houses in Kent,[1] re-built as an Elizabethan prodigy house by William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham (1527–1597). The central block was rebuilt 1672–82 by Charles Stewart, 3rd Duke of Richmond, 6th Duke of Lennox (1639–1672).

Today the building houses Cobham Hall School, a private boarding school for girls, established there in 1962, which retains 150 acres (60 ha) of the ancient estate.[2]

The historic dairy, designed by the architect James Wyatt as an eyecatcher, was restored by the Landmark Trust [1] and opened as a holiday destination in 2019.

Building history

The garden front in 2009

There has been a manor house on the site since the 12th century. The current building consists of a pair of Tudor wings built for William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham in the 16th century and a later classical central block, the "Cross Wing", remodelled in 1661–63 by Peter Mills of London for Charles Stewart, 3rd Duke of Richmond.[3]

In the 18th century, the hall passed to the Bligh family, later Earls of Darnley. The attic storey was extended and other alterations made for John Bligh, 3rd Earl of Darnley by Sir William Chambers, ca 1767–70[4] A kitchen court was added to the rear in 1771–73. The most notable feature of the interior is the two-storey Gilt Hall, designed and installed by George Shakespear, master carpenter and architect, of London, who made extensive interior alterations, 1770–81.[5] The organ was built by John Snetzler in 1778–9.[6]

John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley, who inherited in 1781, employed James Wyatt extensively, for interiors that included the picture gallery and the dining room, and for stables and a Gothic dairy.[7] The library was fitted up by George Stanley Repton in 1817–20,[8] and with his brother, John Adey Repton, in Jacobethan style, including the ceiling for "Queen Elizabeth's Room" (1817).[9] Their father, Humphry Repton, was hired to design a landscape plan for the estate and completed one of his famous "Red Books" for Cobham in 1790.

During the first world war it was an Australian convalescent hospital. At one point it was led by Matron Mary Anne Pocock who had served in Egypt and she was awarded a second class Royal Red Cross.[10]

Cobham Hall remained the family home of the Earls of Darnley until 1957; it is now home to the school. It is open to the public on a limited number of days each year.[11]

The building has been used as a film set. A scene in Agent Cody Banks 2 in which Frankie Muniz fights Keith Allen in a room full of priceless treasures was filmed in the Gilt Hall. Scenes from an adaption of Bleak House were also filmed outside the building, and it was also used in a few scenes in the comedy sketch show Tittybangbang. The hall is used as the Abbey Mount school in the 2008 film Wild Child starring Emma Roberts, and as the Foundling Hospital in the CBBC adaptation of Hetty Feather.

Family owners

Families who have owned the manor include the Cobham family (Barons of Cobham), the Stewart family (Earls of Lennox), and the Bligh family (Earls of Darnley).


  1. ^ a b Good Stuff. "Cobham Hall (Including Kitchen and Stable Court), Cobham, Kent". Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Cobham Hall Heritage Trust". Cobham Hall. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  3. ^ Howard Colvin, "Peter Mills and Cobham Hall" in Colvin and John Harris, The Country Seat1970.
  4. ^ Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600–1840 3rd ed. 1995, s.v. "Chambers, Sir William".
  5. ^ John Cornforth, in Country Life, 3–10 March 1983, citing documents in Kent Archives Office, noted in Colvin 1995, s.v. "Shakespear, George".
  6. ^ S. Bicknell, The History of the English Organ, 1999.
  7. ^ Colvin 1995, s.v. "Wyatt, James".
  8. ^ John Preston Neale, Views of Seats, vi, 1821, noted in Colvin 1995, s,v. "Repton, George Stanley".
  9. ^ Colvin 1995, s.v. "Repton, John Adey".
  10. ^ McCarthy, Perditta M., "Mary Anne (Bessie) Pocock (1863–1946)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, retrieved 24 February 2024
  11. ^ "Open to the public - Cobham Hall". Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014.

Further reading

  • Six Wills Relating to Cobham Hall, Archaeologia Cantiana, Vol. 11, 1877, pp. 199–304 [2] (1. William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham; 2. Frances Countess of Kildare; 3. Frances Duchess of Richmond and Lenox; 4. Charles Stuart Duke of Richmond and Lenox; 5. Sir Joseph Williamson; 6. Lady Catherine O'Brien).
  • Waller, J.G., The Lords of Cobham, their Monuments and the Church, Archaeologia Cantiana, Vol. 11, 1877, pp. 49–112 [3] & Vol. 12, pp. 113–166;
  • Stephens, P.G., On the Pictures at Cobham Hall, Archaeologia Cantiana, Vol. 11, 1877, pp. 160–188.
  • Cobham and its Manors [4]
  • Glover, Robert (Somerset Herald), Memorials of the Family of Cobham, Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, Vol.7, 1841, Chap. XXVII, pp. 320–354 [5]
  • John Gough Nichols, Sepulchral Memorials of the Cobham Family, 1841: project never completed/published [6] Archived 24 February 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  • F. C. Brooke, Sepulchral Memorials of the Cobham Family (1836–74), completion of Nichols' work.
  • Esme Wingfield-Stratford, The Lords of Cobham Hall, London, 1959.

51°23′40″N 0°25′07″E / 51.39444°N 0.41861°E / 51.39444; 0.41861

4 Annotations

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In Pepys times, Charles Stewart, 3rd Duke of Richmond, and his wife, the beautiful Francis Stuart, resided at Cobham Hall, 5 miles (8 km) south east of Gravesend, until 1672 at which time they were followed by his descendants, the Earls of Darnley.

It had been the focus of Stuart attention since the reign of King James I.

Frances Howard Fitzgerald Brooke, Countess of Kildare appears to have left Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham to subsist upon the Royal Bounty, while she enjoyed his estates. She went to live at Cobham Hall, and when King James asked her to sell her life interest in Cobham to his cousin, the Duke of Lenox, and her cousin the Duchess of Lenox, in order that they might obtain immediate possession, Lady Kildare was not easily persuaded to do so.

In June, 1622, when King James was going to Rochester to inspect his Navy, he said that he would call at Cobham Hall, and dine with the Countess of Kildare, hoping that he might then be able to persuade her to sell the place, on reasonable terms, to the Duke and Duchess of Lenox.

His Majesty eventually succeeded, although not at once. On 19 July, 1623, Frances Howard Fitzgerald Brooke, Lady Kildare wrote from Cobham Hall to the Lord Treasurer (Lord Middlesex) asking for £200, and saying that she "wants all," but she is told that she is put off until the King is in progress, and the servants provided for.

Within a year or two the Countess had made some bargain with the Duke of Lenox, and had retired to a house which she had purchased in Deptford, where she made her will on 21 June, 1628.
In it she speaks of "lumber" belonging to her, as still remaining at Cobham Hall, but she mentions nothing else. It therefore seems logical that she had finally left the Hall.
Frances Howard Fitzgerald Brooke, Countess of Kildare was buried in Westminster Abbey on 11 July, 1628, in St. Benedict's Chapel.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I suspect the above story about the transfer from Lady Kildare to the Dukes of Richmond/Lenox/Earls of Darnley family wasn't straight forward.

Pepys' colleage, Sir Joseph Williamson, after the Diary, lived there:

In December, 1678, Secretary of State Sir Joseph Williamson MP, aged 45, married Lady Katherine O'Brien, Baroness Clifton, whose husband Henry, Lord O'Brien died in August 1678.
She and her husband had long been intimate friends with Williamson, and the marriage proved to be beneficial for her and her children, but at the time Evelyn reports she was censured for marrying beneath her rank; it is thought her children censured her as much as anyone.

It was said, at the time of Williamson's withdrawal from office, that his marriage was the real cause of his being forced to resign. (The Lord Treasurer Sir Thomas Osborne, Earl of Danby had intended his son to become Lady O’Brien's second husband; he effected Secretary of State Williamson MP's fall from office.)

In 1684 Gravesend, of which Lady O'Brien was Hereditary High Steward, suffered the fate which had happened to other municipalities: The Crown was seizing the charters of cities and corporate towns, and the Mayor of Gravesend received a writ "Quo Warranto," dated November 20, 1684.

Williamson, as High Steward Lady O'Brien’s legal representative, was at once consulted by the Gravesend authorities. It took him 6 years to get things sorted out.

The management of his wife's affairs, the arrangement of the late Duke of Richmond's estates, and the business of his own large possessions in Kent, took much of Williamson's time during the last 10 years of his life.

As their Cobham estates extended to the town of Gravesend on the one side and to the city of Rochester on the other, the affairs and interests of both those municipalities claimed a large share of Williamson's attention, and he seems to have acted generously towards both of them.

At Gravesend it had been a custom for centuries that the town should pay to the Lord of Cobham, or to the High Steward, an annual sum of £6 13s. 4d. for Pontage: — i.e. for the reparation of the landing stage, bridge, or causeway.

Williamson permitted this to fall into abeyance for 15 years; then, on 28 March, 1692, he received at Cobham Hall the Mayor of Gravesend, who produced an account of the monies expended by the town on this landing bridge or causeway since 1677, amounting altogether to £115. 13s. 0d., and the annual pontage was thenceforward tacitly surrendered to the town.

Interestingly, Williamson, who suffered from gout, made his will on 16 August, 1701, and died on 3 October, a few months after his 68th birthday. He was buried on 14 October in Westminster Abbey, within the Duke of Richmond's vault, at the south-east corner of Henry VII's chapel.

Highlights from…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The above link takes you to the Index of a library I could spend months reading. The exact location has moved. When I copied it, the file was called:
Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382 © 2017
Kent Archaeological Society

The closest I can find tonight is:…
which I'll read some other morning as my eyes (!) are not up to the small type at night. So maybe there will be more to follow here.

This article has pictures of Cobham Hall ... OMG, what a lovely place!

I'm glad Williamson had a happy ending to his story, We knew about his visits to Lady O'Brien in August 1668:…
and for some weeks following.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Williamson's Parliamentary bio clarifies his relationship/ownership of Cobham Hall further:


Sir Joseph Williamson has most commonly been seen by historians as an ‘efficient’ or ‘competent bureaucrat’, a man suited to operating behind the scenes and a brilliant gatherer of intelligence, but not a great parliamentarian despite delivering over 250 recorded speeches.

This may be an accurate assessment until Sir Joseph Williamson MP's fall from office in 1678, but thereafter his career diverged from its previous pattern.

On 12 Feb. 1679, Catherine Stuart O’Brien (d. 1702), da. of Lord George Stuart, 9th Seigneur d’Aubigny, suo jure Baroness Clifton and heir to her brother, Charles Stuart, 3rd Duke of Richmond, and widow of Henry O’Brien†, Lord Ibrackan, married Sir Joseph Williamson, MP.

Williamson retained royal favor, Charles II readily agreeing to James Butler, Duke of Ormonde’s request that since Williamson had come to reside in Ireland in 1680 he should be appointed to that kingdom’s privy council.

Loss of office did not mean the end of Williamson MP involvement in public affairs, but it coincided with his marriage to the widowed Lady Catherine Stuart O’Brien, a match which brought him enhanced social prestige (she was a distant cousin of Charles II) and allowed him to utilize his managerial skills in sorting out his wife’s indebted estates in Ireland and Kent (taking over her debts in 1689).

Sir Joseph Williamson MP was elected for Rochester from 1690 - 3 Oct. 1701

He purchased Cobham Hall, Kent in 1696.
[presumably from the then Duke of Richmond ... and later it got sold back again to the Earls of Darnley, Richmond's heirs]

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



  • Sep