The House from "Morris's Views of Seats," circa 1875.
Earlier Houses: There were a number of earlier houses on, or near, the site of the current 19th century house. In 1860 the existing Elizabethan house was demolished and a new house (the current house) was built slightly to the east of the Elizabethan house, traces of which, including its moat, remain today.
House & Family History: In 1388 King Richard II granted Hemsted to William of Guldeford. Queen Elizabeth I visited the House in 1537. The current Elizabethan style house was erected in the mid-19th century for the 2nd Earl of Cranbrook, who purchased the Estate in 1857 for £157,000 (approximately £14 million in 2016 values using the real price commodity price index). Lord Cranbrook spent £18,544 (approximately £1.6 million in 2016 values) to build a new house of Flemish bond red brick with black brick diaperwork, stone dressings, oriel windows, and crenellated battlements. In 1912 Lord Rothermere purchased Hemsted Park and remodeled the House in the Tudor-Jacobean seen today. Since 1923 the House has functioned as Benenden School, a girls' boarding school.
Garden & Outbuildings: William Broderick Thomas laid out elaborate gardens and new approaches to the House in the 19th century for Lord Cranbrook. The grounds also included an 18th century Pinetum and a lake at the southwest corner of Park Wood.
John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, p. 141, 1852.
House Listed: Grade II
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Robert of Hemsted, 13th century. James de Echyngham, 14th century. William of Guldeford, 14th century. Sir John Norris, Admiral of the Fleet and Vice Admiral of England, 18th century. Thomas Hallet Hodges, late 18th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: John Stewart Gathorne-Hardy, 2nd Earl of Cranbrook, 19th century. Vere Harold Esmond Harmsworth, 3rd Viscount Rothermere, 20th century.
Current Ownership Type: School
Primary Current Ownership Use: School
Ownership Details: Since 1923 Benenden School