Now called 'Hamstead Park,' Hamstead Lodge was originally, as its name implies, one of the lodges or keeper's house of the great mansion of Hamstead Marshall Park, built for the 1st Earl of Craven in 1663. This house burnt down in 1718 and the Cravens retired to Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire. However, Fulwar Craven, the 4th Lord Craven, liked to hunt on his Berkshire estates, at Hamstead, Ashdown & Benham Parks. He probably instigated some expansion of the old lodge in the 1740s. But it was William Craven, the 2nd Earl, and his famous actress wife, Louisa Brunton, who really took to the place. After William's death in 1725, Lady Craven had the Lodge completely remodelled in the latest Regency style, and enlarged some years later. It was later leased to a number of tenants, before becoming the home of the Cornelia, Lady Craven, throughout most of the mid-20th century. There were many parties and famous visitors, including Queen Mary. Her grandson's plans to modernize the estate in the 1960s were unfortunately cut short by his untimely death and the lodge became a nursing home. The subsequent payment of a series of crippling death duties forced the family to sell their house and lands in the parish in 1984.
Hamstead Lodge is a private
|© Nash Ford Publishing 2004. All Rights Reserved.