great places to visit off the beaten path.
Hall Place is a Tudor home with expansive gardens. It dates back to 1540 when the Lord Mayor of the City of London used stones from Lesnes Abbey (see: http://goo.gl/VPEUU ) to build himself a country home. It is a fine Grade I listed country house and a rare example of its type, with much of the original house surviving today. Over the years the home has had many residents, and also served as a boarding school for much of the 19th Century. The Borough of Bexley took over ownership of the home in 1935. In January 1944 the U.S Army’s Signal Corps 6811th Signal Service Detachment arrived at Hall Place to operate an intercept station, code named Santa Fe. The station was set up in a new spirit of co-operation between British and American intelligence services. The Americans were to participate in the Enigma code breaking operation, Ultra. The Santa Fe station (Hall Place) intercepted encoded Morse signals mostly from the German Air Force and the Luftwaffe.
The building still houses a museum of local artefacts, a history and tourist information centre, and a cafe. There are three galleries inside the house, presenting art exhibitions and museum displays. The estate’s Jacobean Barn is now used as a pub and a Miller & Carter steakhouse restaurant.
In the gardens there is a topiary lawn, herb garden, tropical garden and long herbaceous cottage garden-styled borders. The former walled gardens include a tropical house housing plants such as bananas, and a large vegetable garden. Model gardens have been created to show visitors how to make use of space in small urban gardens. The house is generally open 10-5, with the gardens open 9-dusk. Admission fees. Hours can vary – check their website for both events and specific hours and visiting information: http://www.bexleyheritagetrust.org.uk/hallplace
Located at: Bourne Road Bexley Kent DA5 1PQ
Nearest rail: Bexley