Our Copped Hall Visit

COPPED HALL is a fine Georgian mansion that is currently under restoration. It is superbly sited on a ridge overlooking its landscaped parkland. The mansion and gardens are situated on a site of ancient human habitation. Many important buildings, from the Medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan eras were demolished prior to the present mansion being built and enlarged by the Victorians.

From 1986-1995 a campaign was successfully fought by a committee comprised of representatives of local conservation societies against repeated large scale aggressive development proposals for the mansion and parkland. Three of these individuals set up the Copped Hall Trust which finally saved the mansion and gardens by purchasing them in 1995. The Corporation of London had already saved the surrounding parkland in 1992. The aim of the Trust is to permanently protect the site, carefully restore Copped Hall and its gardens for educational, cultural and community benefit.

Our visit took place on 11th June as Copped Hall agreed to open exclusively for Area 33 in which they would provide a guided tour with refreshments. The journey there was marred as the A414 was partially closed and traffic was diverted so people driving from the Chelmsford direction were sent along many long and winding roads, which delayed the journey by some time. Luckily all bar one vehicle arrived on time.

The group was split in to two, where one group would start with a guided tour around the gardens and the other a guided tour around the mansion.

The site consisted of some 20 acres of undulating gardens and four acres of sloping walled garden.

After the first part of each tour was complete we had the opportunity to stop for a break where Copped Hall provided free hot drinks and cake.

The Mansion tour was full of interest and history:

Early Copped Hall starts in the 12th century when Henry II allocated 2 acres in the Forest of Epping for the establishment of a Hunting Lodge. The Fitzaucher family served the King as huntsmen.

Elizabethan History 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.

Georgian History in 1739 Edward Conyers purchased the Elizabethan Copped Hall from Sir Thomas Webster who had owned it since 1701. Edward Conyers only enjoyed the house for three years before dying in 1742.
Edward Conyers son, John, inherited the property and considered repairing it as it had become dilapidated.

Victorian History during the first part of the 19th century Copped Hall was little altered, its occupant, Henry Conyers (1782-1853) being more concerned with enjoying the place than improvements. His daughters did not appear to carry out any improvements before the estate was sold to George Wythes in 1869.

20th Century the first world war changed life at Copped Hall. Many servants went off to the war – and did not come back. The land girls helped in the gardens and wounded soldiers were looked after by the family – especially Ernest Wythes’ three daughters. The family used to watch the zeppelins over London from the roof of Copped Hall.

Recent History after a nine-year campaign against aggressive development proposals, the heavily vandalised and overgrown site was saved by the specially formed Copped Hall Trust when it purchased the freehold of the mansion, stables, ancillary buildings and gardens in 1995. Apart from permanently protecting the site, the purpose of the Trust is, firstly, to carefully restore the buildings and gardens after detailed research and, secondly, to establish relevant educational, cultural and community uses.

For more information: https://www.coppedhalltrust.org.uk/index.php