MY LINK WITH ORSETT HALL
|by Norma Leach|
Captain Thomas Whitmores wife died in 1892 and on 20 April 1895 he conveyed the estate to his only son Francis Henry Douglas Charlton Whitmore, £130,000 still being outstanding on the mortgage. It was not finally discharged until October 1929.
Captain Whitmore moved to London and in the 1901 Census he was living alone in Knightsbridge with five servants. He died in February 1907 and was buried at Orsett. The estate continued to be run by his son Francis, later Col. Sir Francis, Lord Lieutenant of Essex. Much has been written about his military service and how kind and generous he was as a landlord (see articles in Panoramas nos.5, 27 and 40 also the History of the Orsett Estate by Dr E.J.T.Collins).
On 2nd January 1939, 30½ acres of Stifford Clays Farm, fronting on Stifford Long Lane was conveyed by Colonel F.H.D.C. Whitmore to Nora Mary Billings of Meesons Lane [died 6 Mar 1957 aged 92, buried St Mary's, North Stifford] for housing development, for £11,733.5s.2d. Houses or bungalows erected not to exceed 8 to an acre and not of less than £500 each. Our deeds stated that we were not allowed to sell liquor from our premises, as a plot of this land had been sold to the brewers Charringtons (later the Acorn).
Billings started the new estate, but WW2 intervened and only a few houses and bungalows were built. After the war Billings remaining land was sold to Thurrock UDC, to form part of the Stifford Clays Estate.
Col. Whitmore died in 1962 and his son John inherited the estate. He was a racing driver but after going into partnership for a few years with Hew Watt, a local farmer, he decided to sell in 1968.
Since then there have been various owners of Orsett Hall, which was opened as a hotel in 1976. It was extended and run as a successful business boasting a hotel and restaurant, with facilities for conferences, marriage ceremonies and receptions. It was Grade II listed and set in 12 acres of surrounding grounds. On Friday 11 May 2007 a devastating fire, starting in the kitchens, destroyed Orsett Hall. The owners, Steve and Lynn Haynes intend to rebuild, using old bricks for the frontage, if possible. They say that Orsett Hall will not be lost to history.
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