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What can be done if you care enough...
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lil_shepherd
About fifteen years ago, just after we had moved to Chigwell Row, inamac and I heard about a ruined Great House, which burned down early in the 20th Century, with a famous now-overgrown garden buried deep in Epping Forest. It was on the maps, but not, supposedly, accessible. Because we really wanted to see this place before it fell down, we drove out into the forest, and parked outside the ruined lodge and lodge gates. Following the track through trees and farmland, we finally arrived at Copped (or Copt) Hall, where the trees were, indeed, growing through the roof, and we had to trespass to get into the gardens. We took some photos, and left.

Later, we heard that the house and gardens had been purchased by a private trust, and that you could, occasionally, take guided tours. Finally, last weekend, Ina suggested that we go take another look, and, fortunately, the internet informed us that the once-a-month opening was, indeed, that very day, and £7:00 would buy you the full tour. We`took Draco in the hope he would be allowed in (as, indeed, he was) and drove through the forest to where a completely refurbished and inhabited lodge, plus electronic gates, awaited us where once we had parked in the ruins.

At Copped Hall itself, this is what awaited us...

Frontage, Copped Hall, with Yew Trees


There is a roof, even if it is only what my architect friends used to refer to as "wriggly tin" (i.e. profiled sheeting) because the slates that will eventually be replaced will cost an awful lot of money, and the chimneys are no longer falling down...

Copped Hall Chimneys

Inside, there are floors and joists and (one) wooden staircase.

Hall/Salon Future Event space

The cellars and kitchens have been dug out...

Wine Cellar

Kitchen, Copped Hall

and some outside buildings like the coach-house and the dairy are have been turned into dwellings and rented out.

Through the window

There has been a big house on the hill since Tudor times, but the Tudor house has gone, and is currently in the process of being 'dug'.

Remains of the Tudor Palace

As for the gardens, that will need a second post, but just as a taster...

Inside the Walled Garden

Yes, children, that is indeed a walled garden, that is a large pond at the bottom of the slope, and about a dozen greenhouses in the distance.

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Goodness. I remember 'Copped Hall' as a place name when I lived in Essex - but I didn't know there was an actual hall. (It must be somewhere I heard talked about, because I didn't know that was how you spell it, either). What an amazing piece of rescue work - so many of these houses have just crumbled.

They caught it just in time. The other alternatives were to knock it all down - including the garden structures - and develop the site, or just keep the facade (the back of the house can be seen as a landmark from the M25.) The various bodies involved connived ("You won't get planning permission, so there!") to keep it from the developers, and get it into the hands of the Trust for a song.

We have a book of watercolour sketches of what you might call "The falling down houses of England", which includes Copped Hall.

That's a pretty impressive place, though it must have been just as interesting as an overgrown ruin.

It was about to collapse when the Trust moved in. One of the wonderful things they are doing is trying to show how it was built - they are leaving the structure showing and are only going to fully restore one or two rooms, so that that engineering is visible.

Stunningly beautiful -- the structure itself and your pics.

Lovely pictures. Sounds like they're doing a really good job of restoring it.

I read Ina's post about this the other day, so I'm happy to see some of the pics you took. It sounds really interesting. I hunted up their website, and notice they have a tour day once a month - something my brother and I might be able to attend next time we're in the UK. *makes note in UK to-do file*

It's not often you get to see construction details for an old house (though there's a pretty interesting one in the Museum of American History in Washington DC, a house that's gone precipitously downhill since pre-Revolutionary times).

I strongly suggest you do indeed do the tour day - on the third Sunday of the month every month except December, and you have to arrive between 10 and 11 in the morning. It needs a car, of course. As it happens, they are thinking of changing the house tour days to open days, with a guide in each room, because of growing demand...

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