Orsett Hall was a 17th century Grade 2 listed building in Orsett, Essex set in 12 acres of parkland. The original house was destroyed by fire on 11 May 2007 but was rebuilt in the same style and on the same footprint as the original building in 2009.
The house dated in part to the 17th Century, but was enlarged and reconstructed in brick by Richard Baker in about 1750. With the purchases of additional farm land in Orsett and nearby parishes, Baker established an agricultural estate centred on the house.
In 1827, the house and estate passed from the Baker family to a nephew, William Wingfield, who changed his name to Wingfield-Baker. It was inherited by his son, Richard and in turn by his son, Digby. At the end of the 19th Century, the estate was inherited by Thomas Whitmore as a debt of honour.
Pictured (right) Lt. Colonel Francis Whitmore poses by the East porch of Orsett Hall c. 1910. The house was refurbished in the early 20th Century by Colonel Sir Francis Whitmore and it was the Whitmore family home for more than fifty years. The Hall remained a private residence right up until 1977 when the Hall became a privately owned Hotel.
Francis Whitmore was educated at Eton but had to forego a place at university to return to Orsett Hall at only 18 years of age to begin the unenviable task of reviving the Orsett Estate and restoring Orsett Hall. He assumed total control of the estate in 1896 and his Herculean efforts over the following years, using both his agricultural and commercial acumen, turned the Hall into a fine country residence and the estate into a thriving farming enterprise. When Francis' mother died in 1892, his father lost interest in Orsett and retired to his London home with an annuity from the estate, dying in 1907.
Francis later became Sir Francis Whitmore, who was an important local dignitary becoming Lord Lieutenant of Essex in 1936, serving the County all through the War years, finally retiring in 1950. Sir Francis' second wife, Ellis, was one of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother's Lady-in-Waiting and after the War the Orsett Hall played host to many members of the Royal Family. King George VI planted the oak tree in the Hall's ground to commemorate one of his visits in 1948 and both the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret stayed at Orsett Hall.
The original hall is pictured (above left) in 2005 and the rebuilt hall (above right) in 2010.
Orsett Hall - A New Beginning
On 11 May 2007, while staff were preparing breakfast for the guests, a fire broke out in the kitchen. The building was evacuated as the fire quickly spread through a void which ran across the three floors of the building from the kitchen to the roof. Nine fire engines and about 60 fire-fighters surrounded the Hotel to try and douse the flames. A control unit, which is only used in major incidents, was brought in to coordinate the efforts of the fire-fighters, while extra crews were drafted in because of poor water supply to the site. The flames spread quickly to the Whitmore Banqueting Suite in the annexe.
Due to the lack of water hampering efforts and despite the fire brigade doing their utmost to get water to the scene, at 12.10pm on that fateful day, the grand old building that had stood in the grounds for centuries was lost forever. Thankfully no-one was seriously hurt. The House contained antique furniture and Sir Francis' ceremonial uniform as well as photographs and documents relating to the history of the house and the Whitmore family. There were also numerous paintings, including many family portraits but sadly, nothing was saved.
Four Weddings had to be cancelled that week, but construction of The Graham Thomas Pavilion was commenced within months and completed in November 2007, so Weddings and Functions could again resume at the venue. Plans were then drawn up to rebuild the Hall and it was decided to replicate the old building as closely as possible. Building work commenced in early 2008. The freehold was purchased by new investors in July 2008 and the construction went full speed ahead from then. The Whitmore Suite and nine bedrooms were opened within 3 months and the whole project was completed in April 2009.
In June 2010, the Garden Brasserie was built enabling both guests and non-residents to enjoy British cuisine in a warm, relaxed and friendly atmosphere. With its beautiful interior, relaxing ambience and attentive staff, The Garden Brasserie is the perfect setting and place whether you are planning a breakfast meeting, celebration for two, a family get together, Afternoon Tea, a business lunch/dinner, or simply a coffee with friends while the children are at school. Our Head Chef delivers a scrumptious brasserie style menu to ensure diners have a wonderful range of delightful food to select from.
In October 2011, the previous owner’s house was converted into a Wedding Chapel, a Bridal Suite and two further Superior Bedrooms. The Chapel is situated in a private and quiet corner of the grounds and is licensed to conduct Wedding Ceremonies and Civil Partnerships. Its stunning interior looks like a setting from a movie and has to be seen in the flesh to truly appreciate its attraction.
It is something that little bit different and is a popular choice with Orsett Hall brides and grooms, for making their special day that little bit more magical. The furnishing and pews are elegant and the lighting and flowers all add to the magical ambience. The beams are also in white and covered in beautiful white flowers that add to the special atmosphere. Inside, there is a private interview room for the Bride and Groom. The Chapel has traditional seating and a large balcony where additional guests can be seated and music can be played.
In the summer of 2016, Café Sartoria, the Sartoria Suite, 16 Sartoria bedrooms and the brand new Kukana Spa were completed. Café Sartoria offers relaxed dining whether you are looking for breakfast, coffee and cake with friends, a lunchtime bite or an evening meal or snack. The décor and surroundings are simply stunning with the wallpaper being a talking point to all that visit. Kukana Spa has 6 treatment rooms, 4 nail bars, a steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, spa pool and relaxation room.
The new extension ensures that Orsett Hall is firmly on the map as one of the top leisure destinations in Essex.