Hadham Hall

Has been described as a Questionable Palace (Bishop), and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameHadham Hall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryHertfordshire
Modern AuthorityHertfordshire
1974 AuthorityHertfordshire
Civil ParishLittle Hadham

Country House, now a school. c.1572. Large brick courtyard house of Henry Capel, replacing a C15 house to SE. Extensions to E with terraced gardens, by Arthur Capel, c.1634. Reduced to S and W wings c.1668 when Earl of Essex moved to Cassiobury. Altered c.1720. E part of S wing demolished 1848. Renovated and extended to N 1901-2 by William Minet (owner acting as architect). Converted to a school 1949-52. English bond narrow red brick. Moulded brick plastered mullions and window surrounds. Steep old red tile roofs. 1902 additions in red brick with stone dressings and crowsteps. Present U-shaped plan represents C16 W range substantially intact: W half of C16 S range, with outer arch of a central S gateway: and N range rebuilt in 1902, with tall single storey billiard room (1902) on N. Cellars of S range continue to E under garden. W range had sets of lodgings, on 2 floors and attics, entered from courtyard by small doorways now blocked. Central W gateway, flanked by semi-octagonal turrets in W, now main entrance. A wide corridor with heavy timbered partition and moulded arched doorways, ran within the back of this range and survives on the 1st floor. S range has a lofty 1st floor, and a low Ground floor raised up on a tunnel-vaulted cellar with 4 centred vault. N range has service rooms with domestic accommodation above. Symmetrical W front of 2 storeys with plinth, and parapet ramping up to 3 storeys crenelated turrets. Straight gabled parapet to 3 storeys centre, with round arched stone entrance, moulded imposts and correct Doric entablature, with paterae between triglyphs, breaking forward for columns since removed. 4-light ovolo- moulded, mullioned and transomed windows, with pediments on W front and 2 windows on each floor, each side of gate. Smaller pedimented windows to turrets and attics. Panelled square brick finials to corners. Parapeted gables with chimneys each with 2 octagonal shafts, 1 decorated

Roof structure and rebuilt parapet suggest former gabled dormers, perhaps crow stepped, along W front. Crow stepped W gable of S wing original. Straight joints suggest N half of W range built first, and S half and turrets later. Roof structure of clasped purlin collar trusses with curved wind braces unusually rising from top of purlin to principal. Cranked timbers carry a platform for a cupola, now gone. Ground floor room S of gateway has early C18 stair in D-shaped rear projection, and fine Arts and Crafts chimneypiece c.1902, of polished hardwood, inset with large Persian tiles, a decorated enamelled band, carved achievement, and a deep ceramic frieze of cats at ceiling (rebus of Minet). Fine C16 chimneypiece and painted oak panelling in SW room. 2 panelled rooms over now 1, with small C17 oak panelling and fluted frieze with triglyphs. Corner lobby in SE, of wainscott with cockspur hinges. Tall fluted pilasters flank S fireplace with 'Japanese' cast iron grate to Thomas Jeckyll design. Grand 1st floor of S range unequally divided c.1720, with fine bolection moulded, panelled interiors with moulded cornices, 6- panelled doors and tall sash windows along S front. Square pier rises from cellar floor to support central fireplaces on 1st floor. Small roundheaded windows to Ground floor with C17 external stack at SE corner of range. Centrepiece of an important group of historic buildings. (Listed Building Report)

Hadham Hall is the remaining part of a brick manor house built by the Capels in c 1575. It was originally a court-yard house but all that now remains of 16th century date is the W range, with the main entrance and part of the S range; additions were made in the 17th and 19th cents. There were two houses before the present one; the first stood on a moated site (TL 45132273) a few hundred yards W of the existing house and the other (which was probably built c 1440 by the Bauds) appears to have been partly incorporated into the present house at its SE corner. The homestead moat is all that is left of the first house but foundations of the second one still remain.

A portion of the Gatehouse (which stands 100 yards W of the present house) is of the 15th cent; the remainder, including the archway, is of the 16th cent. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Site of residential manor of bishops of Ely listed by Thompson, but Payne states this 'was in secular rather than episcopal ownership' referencing (Smith 1993: 120-1)' Earlier ownership by a bishop of London was also secular rather than episcopal. The medieval house and its C16 replacement were probably both houses decorated with martial symbolism.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL452227
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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 458 (mislocated as in Essex)
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 176
  • Smith, J.T., 1993, Hertfordshire Houses: Selective Inventory (London: RCHME) p. 120-1
  • Pevsner, Nikolas and Cherry, Bridget, 1977, Buildings of England: Hertfordshire (Harmondsworth) p. 240-1
  • Pevsner, Nikolas, 1953, Buildings of England: Hertfordshire (Harmondsworth) p. 161-2
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1914, VCH Hertfordshire Vol. 4 p. 49 online copy
  • RCHME, 1910, An inventory of the historical monuments in Hertfordshire (London: HMSO) p. 145-6 online transcription


  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)