Leading residential developer and restoration specialist Weston Homes is to transform Preston Hall, a magnificent 53,686 sqft Grade II listed Jacobean mansion near Aylesford in Kent, into a new residential address.
Preston Hall was once the country residence of the Culpeper family, relatives of the Dukes of Norfolk, whose descendants included Joyce Culpeper (mother of Queen Catherine Howard, wife of Henry VIII) and Sir Thomas Culpeper, courtier to Henry VIII and the secret lover of Henry’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard.
Preston Hall will provide 36 luxurious one, two and three bedroom apartments for private sale; some incorporating stunning period features including elegant wall paneling, fireplaces, ceiling coving and mouldings. Entered through a double height inner hall with grand staircase, Preston Hall is set in circa 2.5 acres of gardens and landscaped grounds complete with a stunning long and carriage entrance drive, sculptures, formal lawns and landscaped gardens with restored fountain.
Located off London Road (A20) and dating back to 1102, Preston Hall has been the country residence of a series of wealthy and influential families who have played a notable role in British history.
The first family to live at Preston Hall for over 400 years were the Culpeper family. The founder of the dynasty, the first Sir Thomas Culpeper, served as Sheriff of Kent and a courtier to King Edward I. With Preston Hall as their country estate, the Culpeper family were involved in intrigues in the Tudor courts of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. One descendant, Joyce Culpeper married into the Dukes of Norfolk and became mother of Queen Catherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII. Another, Sir Thomas Culpeper (1514 – 1541) served as a courtier to King Henry VIII and was the secret lover of Henry’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard, for which they were both executed. A later member of the Culpeper family plotted to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots.
Ownership of the hall passed through relatives of the Culpeper family until it was purchased in 1848 by Edward Ladd Betts (1815-1872), a railroad baron who as Chairman of William Betts & Sons, built parts of the British, Canadian and Russian railway systems. Edward’s wife Anne Peto, was an heiress and sister of Sir Samuel Morton Peto, who built the Houses of Parliament, Nelson’s Column and The Lyceum.
In 1850 Edward and Anne commissioned architect John Thomas (1813-1862) to heavily refurbish Preston Hall into the magnificent Jacobean mansion which currently stands on the site. John Thomas was a favourite architect of HRH Prince Albert, The Prince Consort and worked on Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and Somerleyton Hall.
Preston Hall was given a grand stone façade with features including large bay windows; tall and ornate ceilings including a magnificent hammer-beam ceiling; rich wood wall paneling and marqetry; coats of arms; turrets and towers. An orangery and ornate stables were added and the new mansion was complete with carriage driveway, lawns, stone fountain and sculptures in the grounds. To facilitate travel to their London mansion at 29 Tavistock Square, the family built the local railway station and branch line. Like the Culpeper family, the Betts hosted large parties at the hall, with Kent and Surrey Cricket clubs invited to play on the cricket ground within the estate. In Culpeper style, Edward also served as High Sheriff of Kent and Deputy Lord Lieutenant.
In 1867 the Betts family overstretched themselves financially building the rail network into London Victoria and London Bridge Stations and Edward became bankrupt. He was forced to sell Preston Hall to rival railway baron Thomas Brassey. The Brassey family married into the Dukes of Richmond so Preston Hall became surplus to their requirements. In 1904 the family sold vast chunks of the original estate (which had been hundreds of acres), selling the home farm, agricultural land and woodland, so that the house and grounds were reduced to 24.9 acres.
In 1914, the final family to own Preston Hall, the Sauber family, let and later gifted the hall to the Red Cross, enabling it to serve as a hospital during WWI. By 1925 Preston Hall had become a hospital and convalescent facility for the Royal British Legion. Between 1945 to 2012 it finally served as an NHS facility and later headquarters for the local health authority.
Now multi-award winning developer Weston Homes, who have an impressive pedigree in restoring important grand Victorian buildings including Royal Earlswood and Mayfield Grange, are adding an exciting new chapter to the history of Preston Hall. Weston Homes will meticulously restore the Grade II listed building and its grounds and facilitate a return to the original residential use of the mansion.
As part of the restoration process the elegant ceilings including the hammer-beamed ceiling with coats of arms; the rich wood wall paneling and marqetry, turrets and towers will the carefully restored to their formerly glory. The carriage driveway, pillared entrance hall, and dramatic double height inner hall with grand staircase will create a striking first impression for visitors. Inside, the principal reception rooms, with their high ceilings, bays and ornate paneling, the orangery and ornate stables will be transformed into beautiful new apartments which will incorporate the historic features into their luxurious living spaces.
The 36 apartments will range up to 2,255 sqft in size, some with mezzanine levels open to spectacular double height living areas. Weston Homes will skillfully combine period details, with state-of-the-art specification including designer fully fitted fitted kitchens, spacious stone paneled bathroom suites and spacious living rooms and luxurious bedrooms. The result will be new one, two and three bedroom homes that combine history with all the facilities required for modern living.
Bob Weston, Chairman & Managing Director of Weston Homes said: “Preston Hall is one of the most prestigious, challenging and unique restoration projects we have undertaken to date. Our vision is to create one of the most sought after residential addresses in Kent, luxurious apartments within a restored Jacobean mansion, enabling residents to enjoy the country mansion lifestyle yet be within easy commuting distance of central London via rail or road.”
Preston Hall will formerly launch in late January 2015 with an on-site marketing suite and dressed show-apartment for visitors to view. People interested in purchasing one of the apartments are invited to contact Weston Homes now to register their interest in the new development. Prices have not been set but are anticipated to range from £170,000 up to £750,000. To register an interest in the apartments contact Weston Homes on Tel: 01279 873 300 or visit W: www.westonhomes.com