Link to printer-friendly page

It should not be assumed that this site is publicly accessible and it may be on private property. Do not trespass.

Monument details

HER Number:TQ 53 NW 120
Type of record:Listed Building


Grade I listed building. Groombridge Place was rebuilt in the 17th century on the site of medieval moated house. It is surrounded by a moat, a remnant of the medieval manor. The H shape plan and Jacobean style design is sometimes attributed to Christopher Wren. The house is reached by a bridge across the moat. There is a long rectangular ornamental lake and a formal 17th century garden

Grid Reference:TQ 53341 37619
Map Sheet:TQ53NW

Monument Types

  • HOUSE (HOUSE, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOAT (MOAT, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SITE (Medieval to Modern - 1066 AD to 1932 AD)
  • HOUSE (HOUSE, Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
Protected Status:Listed Building (I) 1260959: GROOMBRIDGE PLACE

Full description

If you do not understand anything on this page please contact us.

The following text is from the original listed building designation:
TQ 53 37 SPELDHURST GROOMBRIDGE HILL (off east side), OLD GROOMBRIDGE 16/502 Groombridge Place
20.10.54 GV I
Small moated mansion. Built for Philip Packer on a medieval moated site between 1652-1674, according to John Evelyn who mentioned in his diary that a new house had been built since his previous visit. There is no trace of medieval fabric here. Minor but high quality modernisations circa 1700, miraculously little since then, carefully renovated in 1919 by H.S. Mountain. Flemish bond red brick (not entirely consistent) with odd burnt headers; sandstone ashlar dressings and chamfered plinth. Brick stacks with mostly original brick tall chimneyshafts (those on the nothern side are panelled over moulded sandstone cornices). Peg-tile roof.
Plan: H-plan mansion facing basically west. For a house of this quality and date the plan is somewhat old-fashioned. Central hall with opposing front and back doorways at the right (south) end. Front doorway to lobby entrance onto the back of the service staircase. Hall has a projecting rear lateral stack. Crosswings each end project equally front and back. Kitchen crosswing at the right (south) end includes a small parlour at the front but the rest is taken up by the kitchen. Both rooms have projecting outer lateral stack. Parlour crosswing the other end has a large front parlour, a smaller one at the back with the main stair between from a lobby off the hall. Rooms of both crosswings have projecting outer lateral stacks. This is basically the original layout although the front main parlour was refurbished, and the front windows changed circa 1700. 2 storeys with attics in the roofspace and half basement below. Exterior: Symmetrical 2:3:2-window front of circa 1700 18-pane sashes with fat glazing bars, all in original openings with rubbed brick flat arches over. Chamfered stone plinth to the half basement with stone mullioned windows on the inner sides of the wings. Symmetry maintained by 2 front doorways, one each end of the recessed central hall front. Each has an eared stone architrave with floating cornice on carved consoles and both contain original double 3-panel doors. Access by means of an attractive stone loggia on a stone platform between the wings. It is 5 bays with Ionic columns on pedestals supporting a moulded entablature. Centre bay breaks forward as a pedimented porch sheltering a flight of 5 stone steps. Balustrades have stone rails supported on turned timber balusters. Main walls have a flat brick band at first floor level and brick quoins on the corners. Roofs are hipped and contain a regular series of hip-roofed gables. Other sides continue in the same style but are not symmetrical. Also many of the windows on these sides are original flat-faced mullion-and-transom window containing rectangular panes of leaded glass. On the parlour (northern) end the tall stair window contains medallions of armorial stained glass. In the centre this side a stone doorway with eared architrave contains an original 2- panel door. There is another similar in the rear wall up a flight of stone steps. This one has a flat hood on timber consoles below an overlight containing tiny panes of old leaded glass. Kitchen has taller original windows with 2 sets of transoms each. Southern side onto service courtyard includes a couple of C19 windows with diamond patterns of glazing bars (again in original openings). Early C20 pentice this side. Interior: Is wonderfully well-preserved. The house appears to have escaped any major modernisations since circa 1700. Furthermore the work is of extremely high quality. Many of the main rooms have sandstone ashlar fireplaces with moulded surrounds, canted corners and original iron firebacks. A couple on the first floor are lined with Delft tiles. Most of the main rooms are lined with small field oak panelling. Much of it is evidently reused from the old house. For instance the panelling of the first floor rear chamber of the parlour crosswingis carved with the date 1611 and has the initials of Richard Waller. The ground floor parlour at the front of the kitchen crosswing has fine Jacobean linen-fold panelling including some richly carved panels including heads and armorial bearings. The panelling in the chamber over the hall retains its C17 decorative scheme of paintwork in emulation of inlaid marquetry. 2 good staircases. Both oak doglegs with closed strings, square newels with ball finials and moulded pendants, moulded handrails and large turned balusters. The balusters are different. Also the service stair is much smaller than the main staircase. Newman reckons the main staircase was rebuilt circa 1700 but its vase-like balusters are very similar to those in the balustrade of the loggia. The kitchen is lower. It is built at ground level without a half basement beneath. Thus it is much taller than the other rooms. It is plainly finished. Its large fireplace is partly blocked but its oak lintel is exposed. The basement has original wine rack alcoves and stone dairy slabs. There is a great deal of original joinery detail around the house. Doorways to the principal rooms have architraves whilst service rooms have solid chamfered frames. Attic rooms in the roofspace. They are plastered and therefore the roof structure is inaccessible.
The main front parlour was refurbished to high standard circa 1700. It has a large marble bolection chimneypiece and is lined with bolection-moulded panelling in 2 heights. Fine ornamental plasterwork ceiling in featuring a large oval panel enriched with high relief foliage, fruits and flowers.
Besides its age and quality Groombridge Place is a most remarkable and very special survival. Newman describes it as "one of the loveliest and mellowest in the southern counties". It forms a group with its service buildings (q.v.) the moat and its bridges (q.v.) and its terraced garden walls (q.v.) but the group extends further to include the whole of Old Groombridge where most of the buildings are listed. Sources J. Newman. West Kent and the Weald (1969) Penguin Buildings of England Series, p.310. Arthur Oswald. Country Houses of Kent (1933), pp.50-52.
Listing NGR: TQ5334137619 (15)

Description from record TQ 53 NW 4 :
(TQ 53333761) Groombridge Place (NR) (1)

Groombridge Place, a post medieval house on the site of a medieval moated house of which the moat still remains. John Evelyn visited Groombridge in July 1652, before the present house was built. After his second visit in August 1674, he wrote of a house"built within a moate in a woody valley. The old house now demolished and a new one built in its place." Additional Bibliography (2-11) John Packer had bought the estate, in 1618; his son Philip built the new house on the old site within the moated enclosure. The manor of Groombridge is known to have been in existence in 1286. (2,3,4)

Groombridge Place, a large brick H-plan mainsion in excellent condition. GP/AO/62.298/3 : West front. The moat, completely revetted in brick and stone, is water-filled. Published survey (25") correct. (5)

27/38 Groombridge Place and garden wall. Grade I. Rebuilt, probably just after the Restoration. The design is sometimes attributed to Christopher Wren. The plan is H shape, reminiscent of that of a Jacobean mansion, but the central hall has no screen or dias, and is a thoroughfare room. The house, reached by a bridge across the moat is of red brick with sash windows with thick glazing bars, Ionic portico, hipped tiled roofs, dormers, and tower like chimney-stacks. The early sash windows in the front of the house musthave been substituted about 1700 for the older type of leaded lights with wood mullion and transom which still survive at the back. The Jacobean plan of the house is partly concealed by the centre portico and loggia, behind which, however, the front door is placed to the right and balanced by similar doorcase in the corresponding position to the left. This strained symmetry characterizes the general transitional style of the design. Groombridge Place is surrounded on all four sides by a medieval moat and there is a long rectangular ornamental lake on the axis of the main west front. Formal 17th century garden layout on the north side. (For further details see "Country Houses of Kent" by Arthur Oswald). (6)

Groombridge Place, built between 1652 and 1674 stands within a moat a good deal too large for it on what must have been the courtyard of themedieval house. Since then no alteration except sashing the windows, has ever been made. Groombridge belongs to the group of mid 17th century brick hipped-roofed houses in west Kent that begins with Chevening (see TQ 45 NE 12) Contemporary brick stables to the south, also within the moat. (7)

Building survey of Groombridge Place, supplementary to the 1992 survey. This survey looked at the construction of the floor joists and the nature of the wall construction. (8)

There is extensive documentary evidence for the parkland (14)

South Eastern Archaeological Services, 1992, An Historical Assessment of Groombridge Place, Groombridge, Kent (Unpublished document). SKE11942.

<1> OS 6" 1961 (OS Card Reference). SKE48369.

<2> Country Life 118 No 3073 1955 1376-9 photos (A Oswald) (OS Card Reference). SKE39388.

<3> Country Life 118 No 3075 1955 1480-3 photos (OS Card Reference). SKE39389.

<4> Country Life 118 no 3076 1955 1524-7 photos (OS Card Reference). SKE39390.

<5> F1 CFW 18.12.63 (OS Card Reference). SKE42619.

<6> MLGP Tonbridge RD Kent Sept 1949 128-29 (OS Card Reference). SKE47227.

<7> Newman, J., 1980, Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, Bldgs of Eng W Kent & the Weald 1980 310-11 (J Newman) (Monograph). SKE7817.

<8> Moated Sites Res Gp Rep No 6 1979 47 (OS Card Reference). SKE47272.

<8> Archaeology South-East, 2006, A Revised Historical Assessment of Groombridge Place, Groombridge, Kent (Unpublished document). SKE17111.

<9> Arch Cant 93 1977 222 (OS Card Reference). SKE36148.

<10> VCH Vol 1 1908 428 (OS Card Reference). SKE51239.

<11> Field report for monument TQ 53 NW 4 - December, 1963 (Bibliographic reference). SKE2711.


<13> Institute of Arch. Field Arch. Unit 1992 'Historical Assessment of Groombridge Place' (Univ. College (OS Card Reference). SKE44484.

<14> Susan Pittman, 2011, Elizabethan and Jacobean Deer Parks in Kent (Monograph). SKE32115.

<15> English Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Map). SKE16160.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
---Unpublished document: South Eastern Archaeological Services. 1992. An Historical Assessment of Groombridge Place, Groombridge, Kent.
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 6" 1961.
<2>OS Card Reference: Country Life 118 No 3073 1955 1376-9 photos (A Oswald).
<3>OS Card Reference: Country Life 118 No 3075 1955 1480-3 photos.
<4>OS Card Reference: Country Life 118 no 3076 1955 1524-7 photos.
<5>OS Card Reference: F1 CFW 18.12.63.
<6>OS Card Reference: MLGP Tonbridge RD Kent Sept 1949 128-29.
<7>Monograph: Newman, J.. 1980. Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald. Bldgs of Eng W Kent & the Weald 1980 310-11 (J Newman).
<8>Unpublished document: Archaeology South-East. 2006. A Revised Historical Assessment of Groombridge Place, Groombridge, Kent.
<8>OS Card Reference: Moated Sites Res Gp Rep No 6 1979 47.
<9>OS Card Reference: Arch Cant 93 1977 222.
<10>OS Card Reference: VCH Vol 1 1908 428.
<11>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TQ 53 NW 4 - December, 1963.
<12>Photograph: WEST FRONT OF GROOMBRIDGE PLACE AT SPELDHURST. OS62/F298/3. Black and White. Negative.
<13>OS Card Reference: Institute of Arch. Field Arch. Unit 1992 'Historical Assessment of Groombridge Place' (Univ. College.
<14>Monograph: Susan Pittman. 2011. Elizabethan and Jacobean Deer Parks in Kent.
<15>XYMap: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. [Mapped feature: #37804 Building, ]

Related records

TQ 53 NW 13Parent of: Groombridge Place gardens (Landscape)