On Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th October Hurst House opened its gates to welcome over 1,000 visitors to enjoy the gardens. The open weekend was a one off celebration as Hurst House is 300 years old this year. The English Baroque style house was built in 1714 for Mr Henry Raine, owner of the Star Brewery at New Crane Wharf, Wapping. Henry Raine built his country villa in the spa town of Woodford. At that time people came from far and wide to drink the spring waters. Hurst House still has its own well.
The gardens originally covered 3 acres but two thirds of the land was developed in the first half of the 20th century. The remaining acre of land was redesigned in 1954 by a famous garden designer of the time, Percy Cane. It is divided into three sections: the lawn which is used for croquet and marquees; the classical garden in which are placed large urns and statues and the rose garden which also contains several fruit trees and vegetable beds. The focal point of the gardens is the Grecian style temple portico. There are many old and interesting trees surrounding the garden including a ‘handkerchief tree’, a ‘weeping silver pear’ and an Acer negundo which is covered in spectacular pink tassels in spring.
Many of the visitors live in the houses now surrounding Hurst House. One lady remembered the fire in 1936 which burnt out the roof. She was nine years old at the time and was in bed with measles. She saw the flames from her bedroom in Abbotsford Gardens on the Laing’s Estate. The owners of Hurst House were very pleased with the positive response and to hear stories about the house from local people. The 300th celebration opening was part of the Woodford Festival 2014.