The property has an illustrious past going back over 600 years, with links to nobility, including Tudor kings and queens*. Its original owners, the prominent De Guldefords, played an important part in shaping the physical and political state of the area by building defensive forts, draining marshes and constructing ditches to create grazing land. The current building, constructed circa 1760 as a comfortable family home for gentlemen farmers, was the heart of a huge farming estate based on the wealthy wool trade which created the fortunes of this area. In Edwardian times the surrounding farm land was sold and the house became a private dwelling. Post-1930 it was a private nursing home and maternity hospital where many local residents were born, including David Frost. **
The house was bought by ILEA (Inner London Education Authority) in 1977 to provide a centre for field studies for Hackney’s secondary school students. The Centre was handed over to London Borough of Hackney on ILEA’s dissolution, with the focus now mainly on primary school trips. The Learning Trust took over education in Hackney, including management of Kench Hill in 2002.
In April 2008 Kench Hill entered a new phase of history when it became The Kench Hill Charity. This will enable it to raise funds independently of the local authority and expand programmes for personal development of young people and adults through outdoors education in a rural environment.
Want to know more? Download an illustrated version of ‘The History of Kench Hill’ here:
* Find out more about the historical connections between Hackney and Kench Hill in Timeline magazine Issue 25 (May 2010) www.timeline.co.uk
** For archives on Kench Hill Nursing Home (Admissions Records, Reports etc 1933-1974) contact Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone www.kent.gov.uk/archives
We are always interested in learning more about our history, so please contact us if you have any stories to tell about the past!