Holly Lodge, for sale with Chesterton Humberts, sits within the quiet village of St Margaret’s at Cliffe along the Kentish coast, formerly an exclusive holiday resort visited by royalty and celebrities including Noel Coward and Ian Fleming. Holly Lodge dates back to the early 18th century, but architectural evidence suggests it could date back even earlier. The house was formerly the home of a popular socialite and her husband, as well as being connected to a once famous school run by Mr. James Temple.
Holly Lodge is believed to have first been built in the late 17th century and later rebuilt during the 1730s by the Brett family. Surviving inscriptions on the exterior brick work appear to show the initials of former members of the Brett family, however, a central stone plaque has worn away, which my have shown a crest or coat of arms. By 1750 the house had reverted to the Lord of the manor, who continued to own the house until the early 19th century, at which point it became the home of a gentleman farmer, Thomas Kingsford Wood.
Thomas Wood and his wife Maria were prominent figures in village life at St Margaret’s at Cliffe, with both playing an active role in the village and Thomas providing significant sums to the relief of the poor. However, it was the social involvement of his wife Maria that is more remembered, as she was a key figure in the social scene of the village as well as in London. In fact, Mrs. Maria Wood wrote a diary of her time at Holly Lodge, giving us a fascinating window into early 19th century village life.
Thomas and Maria Wood remained at Holly Lodge until they both passed away during the 1840s and 50s. In 1853 Holly Lodge was acquired by another prominent villager, school master, Mr. James Temple. James Temple already owned large sections of land surrounding Holly Lodge, including a number of houses, the playground and a school for ladies. The house was acquired to compliment the already large school and was most likely used as accommodation for teachers or even as rooms for pupils.
After James Temple passed away in 1874 there was no one to take up the task of continuing the school and it closed. At this time, Holly Lodge became the home of James Temple’s unmarried daughter, Maria. The 1891 census records the independent 60 year old Maria in the house with just a housekeeper and a ‘lady’s help’.
By the turn of the century, great change came to Holly Lodge, when in 1907 the house was taken by Charles and Esther Wickenden at which time the house was used as a home and a business. Esther Wickenden set up ‘The Holly Lodge Laundry’, a ‘High-Class Shirt and Collar Dresser’ with ‘Flannels a speciality’.
However, by the end of World War I records show Holly Lodge was the home of the Woodland family. It was during this inter-war period that St Margaret’s at Cliffe became something of an exclusive resort where many of the rich and famous would come for a seaside holiday. It was favoured by such illustrious guests as Ian Fleming, Noel Coward and Peter Ustinov, as well as members of the royal family.
However, with the outbreak of World War II all this changed and St Margaret’s at Cliffe became heavily influenced by the military, with its ideal location by the coast. It was used as a place to house troops, but it was also highly dangerous to enemy attack with the town being bombed on many occasions, so much so that it was nicknamed ‘Hell-fire corner’. With this, many of the residents left, including the Woodland family from Holly Lodge.
The late 20th century brought normality and quiet to St Margaret’s at Cliffe and Holly Lodge once again became a comfortable family home.
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