Memories of flats above the stable block at Hothfield Place

Photo:The two-storey stable block where Susan lived

The two-storey stable block where Susan lived

Photo courtesy of Charles Oliver, taken around 1957

Photo:Another view of the stables from 1957

Another view of the stables from 1957

Courtesy of Charles Oliver, then Farm Manager, one of the residents upstairs

Susan Dennis was there as a girl

By Susan McInnes (nee Dennis)

The stable block at Hothfield Place estate 

Around 1780 a small collection of stables were built surrounding a cobbled courtyard next to the church.  Indeed part of the church’s graveyard was excavated to make space for the courtyard and its single-storey buildings.  Over time these were used not only for stabling but as a carriage-house, a slaughter house and a later addition used for pigs.  These are now domestic dwellings, having been sold and converted in 1988. 

A later two-storey square block was built nearby, with large arches for horses and carriages.  The main entrance to the Manor was diverted this was in the later history of the estate, with visitors driving through one arch and turning right to exit back outside to reach the main house.  The ground floor was used for the horses and carriages, above them lived the grooms and stable-hands. 

The last Lord Hothfield left the house when it was commandeered in WWII, and returned only a few times afterwards to support cricket matches.  The estate was sold in the late 1940s to Sir Reginal Rootes, one of the Rootes brothers car manufacturers and suppliers.  Sir Reginald built his own new grand house (now a small hospital for acquired brain injury patients) and demolished the old Manor in 1954.  Even though it was Grade II Listed, the manor house had fallen into disrepair during the war years, and post-war austerity saw the demise of many such large houses. 

Sir Reginald rented out the flats above the stables to families.  Susan Dennis (now McInnes) recalls a short part of her childhood in the flats:

"I lived at North Flat, Hothfield Place from 1948 to 1952 with my parents and sister and remember walking to the village school and playing in the fields at the side of Hothfield Place. Ours was the first flat from the road and we walked through the archway, turned left and up the stairs in the corner. There was a very long corridor with coconut matting and all rooms were on one side of this. On the ground floor, in one of the old stable areas either side of the archway, was an old coach which was great fun to play in. A school friend living in the village must have had one of the first TVs as I can remember going to see it and watching Dixon of Dock Green on a very flickering black and white set. How times have changed!

Name then was Susan Dennis, now living near Dover. 

I don't think the flats were on three floors, certainly not North Flat anyway. That had one long corridor above the stables and all the rooms were off this corridor. Maybe the other flats were different.
I am looking forward to seeing more photos of the stables and will bring copies of a few of my Hothfield photos as well. I have a photo of myself and three other girls with a teacher (??Miss Shearsby) outside the school on Hothfield Common in 1949, perhaps someone will know who the others are.

We had moved from Leicester, I presume because my parents wanted to live in the country and there must have been a vacancy in the Town Planning Department in Ashford where my father worked. I am not sure why we left Hothfield in 1952 but perhaps my parents got wind of the demolitiom of the buildings and started to look for another place. His job then took him to Dover so we moved near there."

Sadly this two-storey square block was demolished in 1961, and was replaced by two two-storey houses and a block of four garages.  Two bungalows were also built at the same time.  These four houses were, allegedly, built for the chauffeur, gardener, cook and other staff.  Those ‘new’ houses are also now in private ownership and the site of the former grand manor is a private woodland.

This page was added by Chris Rogers on 23/10/2013.

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