Down Hall

Down Hall is a Victorian country house and estate near Hatfield Heath in the English county of Essex,[1][2] close to its border with Hertfordshire.

Down Hall
Down Hall Country House Hotel from the rear gardens - - 451750.jpg
Down Hall is located in Essex
Down Hall
Location within Essex
General information
Architectural styleElizabethan mansion
LocationHatfield Heath
Town or cityBishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire
CountryUnited Kingdom
Coordinates51°47′45″N 0°12′24″E / 51.7957°N 0.2066°E / 51.7957; 0.2066Coordinates: 51°47′45″N 0°12′24″E / 51.7957°N 0.2066°E / 51.7957; 0.2066
ClientHenry Selwin-Ibbetson, 1st Baron Rookwood
Design and construction
ArchitectFrederick Pepys Cockerell


The first Down Hall was a Tudor house, once owned by poet Matthew Prior.[3] Prior was acquainted with landscaper Charles Bridgeman, who he commissioned to landscape the estate's gardens. After Prior's death in 1721 (just one year after buying the property), the house was passed to his friend Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, who undertook further rebuilding. Twenty years later, and with the house still unfinished, Harley died.

Selwin familyEdit

Henry John Selwin-Ibbetson in 1900

Upon Harley's death in 1741, the house was purchased by William Selwin, a wealthy silk merchant, for £4500.[3] The estate remained in the Selwin family[4] until 1902, where – on the death of Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, 1st Baron Rookwood (who had commissioned its full rebuilding in the late 1860s) – the Selwin and Ibbetson lineage died out.

World War IEdit

During the First World War, the house was used as a sanatorium for wounded soldiers.[3] The estate was affected by the post-World War I recession, and was subsequently sold at auction.

Modern historyEdit

Following its sale, the house was used as a school (Downham School, 1932–c.1967) and an antiques business and conference centre (1967–1986).

In 1986, the estate was purchased by the Veladail Group, who have operated the site as a four-star hotel, conference centre and wedding venue since.[5] British television personality Jade Goody wed her partner Jack Tweed at Down Hall on 22 February 2009.[1][2][6] Down Hall is surrounded by 110 acres (0.45 km2) of woodland, parkland and landscaped gardens, some of which is protected by the Essex Wildlife Trust.

Series eleven of The Great British Bake Off was filmed at Down Hall, where all cast and crew quarantined together in a "bubble" during six weeks of filming.[7]


  1. ^ a b Walker, Peter (2009-02-22). "Jade Goody wedding takes place behind security cordon". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  2. ^ a b Castle, Tim (2009-02-22). "Dying British reality TV star prepares to wed". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  3. ^ a b c "History of Down Hall". Down Hall. 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-02-22. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  4. ^ The house passed by marriage to the son of Lady Jane Selwin Ibbetson in 1816, who thereupon changed his name from Charles Ibbetson to Charles Selwin. But he owned Down Hall for only nine years when in 1825 he inherited the Ibbetson family title and removed to the family's Yorkshire seat, leaving his youngest brother John Thomas to inherit the Hall. In subsequent years the family styled itself Ibbetson-Selwin."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-22. Retrieved 2009-02-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-22. Retrieved 2009-02-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "UK portfolio". Veladail Hotels. 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-05-03. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  6. ^ "Moving tribute to Jade by her five-year-old son", Belfast Telegraph 24 February 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2017
  7. ^ Conlan, Tara (20 September 2020). "Pizza by Paul, flowers by Prue: how Great British Bake Off built its Covid bubble". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2020.

External linksEdit