DiCamillo Companion

Spains Hall (Spaynes Hall)

  • House & Family History: At the time of the Norman Conquest the Saxon village of Finchingfield, where Spains Hall is located, was owned by the Earl of Mercia. William the Conqueror divided ownership of the village among three of his Norman knights as reward for their service. One of these knights, Allen, Earl of Bretagne, left Finchingfield and his part of Essex, to his tenant, Jervy de Ispania (or Hervé d'Epagne or Hervy d'Epaigne). It is very likely that the name of Spains Hall originated from the English corruption of this surname. In the 14th century the estate passed through the female line of the de Hispania family to the Kempe family, who were seated here until the 18th century. The remains of the northwest section of the 15th century timber-framed house of the Kempes (once surrounded by a moat) can still be traced today. In the roof above the current house's dining room there is also a fragment of the Kempes' Medieval house. Circa 1585 Spains Hall was rebuilt as a rose red brick Elizabethan manor house, very likely by John Kempe. In 1637 Dutch gables were added, then, circa 1760, the house was extended; in the 1890s a wing was added (this was also when the eighth gable was added to the entrance facade). In 1760, when the male line of the Kempes died out, Lady Swinnerton-Dyer (nee Kempe) sold Spains Hall to Samuel Ruggles, a clothier of Bocking. A famous local story concerns William Kempe, who married Philippa Gunter in 1588. When he was 66 William raged at his wife because of an imagined infidelity, an accusation he soon found to be false. As penance, William left Spains Hall and went to the woods, where he vowed that his tongue would be silenced for seven years as punishment for his crime. According to legend, calamities fell upon William and his family during this seven-year period. His vow is recorded on a memorial tablet in the Kempe Chapel at the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Finchingfield parish church. There are today fine Elizabeth paneled rooms at Spains Hall. The late Col. Sir John Ruggles-Brise (1908-2007) was lord lieutenant of Essex for 20 years. Spains Hall, together with 70 acres, was listed for sale for £6 million in 2018.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The 19th century Rose Garden faces where the seven fishponds created for William Kempe once stood. In 1828 the Spains Hall Estate was united with the Brent Hall Estate, which was also a seat of the Kempe family. The Spains Hall Estate today stands at 70 acres.

  • 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. II, p. 194, 1853.

    Country Life: CLXXII, 2076, 1982. CLXXIII, 18, 1983.

  • Title: Perfect English Village: Memories of Finchingfield Village, Essex, England, A
    Author: Hagen, Rick; St. Anthony, Jane
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pgs. 12, 19, 20, 24
    Publisher: Minneapolis: Richard Sawyer Hagen
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Light Softback

    Title: Burke's & Savills Guide to Country Houses, Volume III: East Anglia
    Author: Kenworthy-Browne, John; Reid, Peter; Sayer, Michael; Watkin, David
    Year Published: 1981
    Reference: pg. 72
    Publisher: London: Burke's Peerage
    ISBN: 0850110351
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II*

  • Current Seat / Home of: Jamie Oliver; here since 2019.

    Past Seat / Home of: Allen, Earl of Bretagne, 11th century. Jervy de Ispania, 11th century; Sir Richard de Hispania, 14th century. Kempe family, circa 1346-1760. Lady Swinnerton Dyer, 18th century. Samuel Ruggles, 18th century; Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Edward Archibald Ruggles-Brise, 1st Bt., until 1942; Colonel Sir John Archibald Ruggles-Brise, 2nd Bt., until 2007; Ruggles-Brise family here until 2018.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Limited Access to Grounds Only

    Phone: 01371-811-596

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.spainshallestate.co.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No


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