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List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.


List entry Number: 1123963



The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Epping Forest

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Theydon Mount

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: I

Date first listed: 11-Jan-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jun-1997

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 118053

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


TL 49 NE, 175/6/382

THEYDON MOUNT, MOUNT ROAD, Hill Hall and attached service wings to north and west




Country house, now vacant. Built 1569-75 for Sir Thomas Smith, probably to his own design, assisted by Richard Kirby whom he described as his 'cheefe Architecte, overseer and Master of my workes'; c1714 alterations for Sir Edward Smith; 1790-1814 gardens altered by Humphry Repton (Red Book dated 1791); 1844 altered; c1890 additions; 1909-12 major alterations by Reginald Blomfield for tenant Charles Hunter; gardens altered by Philip Tilden for Sir Robert and Lady Hudson 1927-28; converted to open prison 1952; gutted by fire 1969. Brick with rendered terracotta and cut-brick dressings. Courtyard plan with service wings to north and west forming 2 sides of the service courtyard.

EXTERIOR: north entrance front of 2 storeys and partly cellared; substantially C16. 7-window front arranged 1:3:3 bays with prominent chimney stacks (upper parts altered c1714), mullioned and transomed windows and four-centred entrance arch beneath one storey tetrastyle Tuscan portico dated 1789; eaves cove introduced c1950 and reconstructed 1982. East front, rebuilt c1714, has 9 window front arranged 1:7:1. Projecting 7-window central section 2 storeys with C19 balustraded parapet, flanked by recessed 3-storey corner towers. Central section has 4 reused C16 giant Doric half columns and pediment with coat-of-arms over the central 3 windows, central pedimented doorcase by Blomfield. South front, 2 storeys with attic and cellars, 9-windows front arranged 1:6:1:1. 3-storey projecting towers at 1 and 8, each with heavy entablature supported on giant Doric half-columns. Prominent chimney stacks and windows with Gibbs surrounds of c1714. West irregular front. 2-storey with central canted bay the northern half re-built 1844, the southern half C16, remodelled 1844 with massive kitchen chimney stack and single-storey addition c1890. The courtyard elevations are substantially C16. 2 storeys with superimposed Doric and Ionic orders, altered in detail from c1714 onwards. Mullion and transom windows except on ground floor of south range where sashes were inserted into an open arcade c1714, four-centred entrance doorway in north range, flanked by columns supporting a pediment.

INTERIOR: the north range contains wall-paintings of c1570 depicting the story of Cupid and Psyche, scenes from the life of King Hezekiah, a contemporary aedicule chimney-piece and traces of several others; C16 brick floors; reused C17 oak staircase with turned balusters. In the east range are several marble chimney-pieces by Blomfield and traces of C16 aedicule chimney-pieces. The south range contains the hall, with C16 aedicule chimney piece decorated with family coats-of-arms. Kitchen has 2 large fireplaces. The west range has a repositioned c1740 chimney piece, C16 tiled floors and the base of a C16 aedicule chimney piece. C16 cellar found during excavation.

SERVICE WINGS: the west service wing built 1576-81 with C18 and later alterations. South front 9 windows arranged 2:4:3, has four 2-light casements, with a tripartite glazed door to left and a door and 2 similar casements to right. Above 7 similar casements and to left two C20 cross casements. Above again 7 hipped dormer windows. Gabled west front has a single 5-light casement to each floor. North front very irregular and altered, with canted C16 stair tower with a small Tudor arched window to each floor. The north service wing added by Blomfield, has 2-storey 3-window range and single-storey range beyond. East front has two 4-light and then one 2-light chamfered mullion windows, with 3-light flanked by 2-light similar windows all in a projecting wing. West front to service courtyard has 3-window section with 2-light casements and irregular single-storey wing beyond.

HISTORY: Hill Hall is a landmark in the introduction of Renaissance forms into English architecture. Its builder, Sir Thomas Smith, was Secretary of State to Elizabeth I, ambassador to France, and a man of wide intellectual interests. The house is particularly interesting for the precocious classical treatment of its elevations and internal features and for its celebrated cycle of contemporary wall paintings described by Croft-Murray as the most important survival of Elizabethan decorative figure painting in England.

(Sources: Simpson R: Sir Thomas Smith and the Wall-Paintings at Hill Hall, Essex: JBAA: 1977: 1-20; Drury P. J: A Fayre House, built by Sir Thomas Smith: JBAA: 1983; Drury P. J: Terracotta from Hill Hall: Antiquities Journal - forthcoming )

Listing NGR: TQ4892999450

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Drury, P J , A Fayre House built by Sir Thomas Smith, (1983)
Simpson, R , Sir Thomas Smith and the Wall Paintings at Hill Hall Essex, (1977), 1-20
Drury, P J, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Terracotta From Hill Hall, ()

National Grid Reference: TQ 48922 99466


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End of official listing