History of Eastwell Manor

As a beacon of classic gentility in the Garden of England, we’re perfectly positioned in the heart of Kent and ideal for those looking for a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Reach us via a long tree-lined drive, at the end of which you’ll see our historic Neo-Elizabethan manor house making a striking impression. Surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, we’re a hotel that makes use of its idyllic, typically English setting. Verdantly gardened, ideal for outdoor pursuits like croquet, boules and tennis. Our country house good looks are matched by our unique old world charm; charm that has spanned centuries. If you didn’t know, the Eastwell Manor story is one of more than 450 years.

The name “East Well” came from a nearby spring to the East where Saxon Shepherds watered their flocks. In the time of the saintly King Edward the Confessor, it is recorded that the lordship of the Manor was held by a Saxon thane named Fredric.

The original country house at Eastwell was built for Sir Thomas Moyle between 1540 and 1550. One of the men who was employed on the estate was the bricklayer Richard Plantagenet, who claimed to be an illegitimate son of Richard III.

Much of Eastwell Manor, the building which now serves as a hotel, was built in the Neo-Elizabethan style from 1793-1799 for George Finch-Hatton, 9th Earl of Winchilsea.

In the mid-1860’s, one of the successors of one of the original owners of the house, the 11th Earl of Winchilsea had financial difficulties, which eventually forced him to leave the property. On 4th December 1868 trustees appointed under the Winchilsea Estate Act (1865) entered into a contract to let Eastwell Park, together with its furnishings and effect to the Duke of Abercorn for a period of 5 years.

Eastwell was next occupied in 1874 by Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria. He lived here with his family until 1893, when he inherited the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in the German Empire. During this time, Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor (there are photographs of her skating on the lake) as well as Prince Alfred’s older brother, the future Edward VII. In 1875, Prince Alfred’s daughter Princess Marie – who later became Queen of Romania – was born at the house. In 1884, another of Alfred’s children, Princess Beatrice – who later married into the Spanish Royal Family – was also born at Eastwell.

After the First World War, the Eastwell estate faced the same economic problems that also affected many other English stately homes. In the 1920s the main house was severely damaged by a fire and then rebuilt on the same site in 1926-1928. Sir John de Fonblanque Pennefather, Bart who bought Eastwell in 1928, demolished much of the old mansion with the intention of creating a building worthy of the history of Eastwell Manor. The re-building was done with such taste and attention to historic detail, that the house feels as though it has remained untouched for hundreds of years.

Eastwell Manor has now been acquired by Champneys – the UK’s original health spa. And with that comes significant investment. So far we’ve transformed the old Pavilion into a Champneys Spa, revamped the gym and pool as well as our treatment rooms and Spa Restaurant. A second phase of refurbishment will follow which will see enhancements made to the Manor House and neighbouring cottages as well as our surrounding grounds and collection of outdoor activities. With the beginning of this new chapter we look forward to welcoming you to Eastwell Manor.

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