Stansted Park Timeline
An illustrated history of Stansted in Sussex is contained in A Place in the Forest by Frederick Ponsonby, 10th Earl, Lord Bessborough, (B. T. Batsford Ltd, 1958). There are also references to Stansted in Lord Bessborough’s Return to the Forest (Weidenfeld and Nicholson,1962). Both books are obtainable from the Stansted Park Estate Office, Rowlands Castle, Hants.
Although located inside but adjacent to the western boundary of West Sussex, Stansted House has a Rowlands Castle (Hampshire) postal address – PO9 6DX. This timeline is available courtesy of the Director of Stansted Park Foundation.
The nearest known Roman remains in Watergate Hanger are no longer visible. In late Saxon times Stanestede, in the Forest of Bere, represented the whole or part of 16 hides of Stoughton held by Earl Godwin of King Edward the Confessor.
1052 Godwin is thought to have made Stansted his base from which he made descents on the Isle of Wight
1066 After the Norman conquest, the same hides were temporarily attached to Westbourne
1086 In Domesday Book they were included in the Hundred of Bourne. During the 11th Century a hunting lodge was probably built for Roger de Montgomery, first Earl of Arundel
1094 Roger de Montgomery dies
II02 His successor, Robert de Belleme, is attainted and forfeits his estates
1138 William D’Aubigny becomes Earl of Arundel
1176 William D’Aubigny dies
1177 Henry II, intending to sail for Normandy but finding winds unfavourable, comes to Stansted where he hears that the Papal Legate threatens to place the kingdom under interdict unless he permits consummation of the marriage of his son, Richard Lionheart, with Alice, daughter of the King of France
1179 Richard and Ralph, the King’s falconers, are at Stansted
1181 Silvester and his comrades look after the King’s birds
1181-4 The first recorded dwellings on the site of the present chapel are built for Henry II, who stays on various occasions while rebuilding the Roman Castle at Portchester or waiting to sail for France. Stone of this date is said to exist in a buttress at the north-east end of the chapel
1194 Richard Lionheart hunts deer and wild boar at Stansted
1214 King John is at Stansted before setting out to invade Poitou
1215 King John again at Stansted some six-months before he signed Magna Carta at Runnymede, orders a cask of wine at Aldingbourne
I244 Stansted, becoming part of the dower granted by Hugh, last D’Aubigny Earl, to his sister and co-heir, Isabel, Countess of Arundel, passes to her son, John Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel and Chief Butler to the King
1283 During the minority of Richard, 3rd Fitzalan Earl, the Manor is granted with Westbourne to the Abbey of Vale Royal
1297 Edward I passes through Stansted on his way from Bedhampton to Arundel
1302-30 Stansted forms part of the Manor of Westbourne
1306 William de Whiteway trespasses in the park, is convicted before the treasurer and barons of the Exchequer and committed to the Tower of London
1327 A survey describes Stansted as comprising ‘a hall, two chambers with a Chapel, a kitchen and a chamber over the gate, a stable and a cowshed beyond reprises’
1335 Richard, 5th Fitzalan Earl, complains that divers persons broke into his parks and carried away deer and that the Dean of Chichester cut down his trees and carried them away
1411-12 According to a subsidy levied in these years: ‘Thomas, Earl of Arundel and Surrey has Arundel Castle, and has manors, lands, etc., viz., the Manor of Bourne with Stanstede, Walderton and the hundred, members of that Manor: £53’
1415 Probable military activity in preparation for the embarkation from Porchester of Henry V’s army for Agincourt
I422-55 Stansted is held in dower by Eleanor, widow of John, 8th Fitzalan Earl
1480 The buildings restored for Thomas, Lord Maltravers, later 12th Earl of Arundel. The south porch and west door of the present chapel are of this date.
1552 Edward VI, aged 15, visits Stansted
1579 On the death of Henry, the last Fitzalan Earl, Stansted descends with Wcstbourne to his son in law,John, Lord Lumlay, in right of his wife, Jane, Henry’s daughter who died in 1576
1581 ‘Wild beasts’ are transferred from Goodwood and East Dean to Stansted.
1591 Queen Elizabeth, arriving at Stansted on her way to Portsmouth, cries ‘Stand steed’
1609 John Lumley is succeeded by his cousin Sir Richard Lumley
1617 His second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Baron d’Arcy, dies, stating in her will: ‘that Matthewes and his sonne have the same charge ……of these lands and libertyes and woods …. which heretofore and now presently they have, carrying themselves as they ought to doe’
1626 Sir Richard Lumley’s first wife, Frances, widow of William Holland of Chichester, is buried at Westbourne
1628 Richard Lumley is created Viscount
1643 Royalist commander, Lord I-Hopton, sends cavalry to attack Stansted in December
1644 Parliamentary General, Sir William Waller, takes the place with ‘2000 horse and feet with two drakes’ [a kind of small cannon and largely destroys the castellated buildings of which the only remains are the south and west part of the Chapel
1651 Charles II, passing through Stansted in October before escaping to France, meets Colonel Gunter in ‘the central avenue of Stansted Forest’
1661 Lord Lumley is succeeded by his grandson, another Richard
1685 His troop of Sussex militia and Hampshire horse captures Lord Grey and the Duke of Monmouth in the New Forest a few days after the battle of Sedgemoor
1686 Richard Lumley, building the first house on the present site, is believed to have employed the architect William Talman, who is understood to have built Uppark for Lord Grey in the same year
1690 Richard Lumley, now Earl of Scarborough, fights in the Battle of the Boyne, contributing to final Jacobite defeat
1692 William III visits Stansted and Lord Scarborough is promoted Major-General
1716 The Prince of Wales, later George II stays on his way to Portsmouth to view fortifications and review regiments
1722 The Prince of Wales’ father, George I, visits Stansted and receives an address from the Corporation of Chichester
1724 Daniel Defoe describes Stansted as ‘a house seeming to be a retreat … surrounded with thick woods, through which … are the most … agreeable vistas … anywhere in England.’
1739 Richard, 2nd Earl of Scarborough, is succeeded by his brother Thomas, 3rd Earl, who, on the death of his cousin, Thomas Saunderson, assumes that name and inherits estates in Yorkshire, including Sandbeck
1766 Stansted passes by will to George Montague-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, whose mother was Mary Lumley, eldest daughter of Richard, Ist Earl of Scarborough. During his time Lumley Seat and Racton Tower were built
1771 Lord Halifax dies leaving Stansted to his natural daughter Anna Donaldson wife of Richard Archdall
1778 After a visit by George III and Queen Charlotte Trustees put the Estate on the market
1781 The Estate is sold to Indian Nabob, Richard Barbell, who summons Capability Brown to redesign the park and gardens
1782 After Brown’s death Barwell calls in James Wyatt and Joseph Bonomi. The old wings are removed and the house encased in white plaster. Two porticos and double Doric colonnades are added. Grimm’s drawings of Stansted, Lordington and Racton Tower were done in this year before restoration of the main house
1804 Richard Barwell dies. A monument by Nollekens is erected in Westbourne Church, and the Estate is sold to Lewis Way
1819 The Chapel restored probably by Thomas Hopper who may also have designed the present stable block, is reconsecrated at a Service attended by John Keats
1822 Lewis Way, failing in his scheme to transform Stansted into a college for the conversion of the Jews, winters abroad
1826 Lewis Way, failing again to obtain a charter to turn Stansted into a college, sells the property to Charles Dixon, a London wine merchant and philanthropist
1855 Charles Dixon dies, aged 84, and is buried in the Chapel
1856 Dixon’s stepson, George Wilder, dies at the age of 36 and is also buried in the Chapel
1871 Mrs. Dixon dies having devised the Estate in trust for her grandson, George Wilder, then only 9 years old
1887–9 The Wilders rent Stansted to Admiral, the Earl Clanwilliam, father of Admiral Sir Herbert Meade Fetherstonhaugh, subsequent owner of Uppark.
1896 George Wilder, aged 46, dies of pneumonia on returning from yachting.
1900 The main block is destroyed by fire on the last day of Goodwood Races.
1903 The house is re-built by Charles Blomfield.
1912 George Wilder sells Stansted to Major Cecil Whitaker, who rents the house for a few years to Captain Quintin Dick and his widow who married Lord Howe.
1924 Major Whitaker sells Stansted to Vere, 9th Earl of Bessborough
1926 The Chapel is restored by Mr. H. S. Goodhart-Rendel
1927 The Stansted Theatre is built. During the following years The Princess Royal and the Earl of Hardwood stay at Stansted for Goodwood Races.
1931-5 Vere, Lord Bessborough, is Governor-General of Canada
1939 Queen Elizabeth, wife of George VI, spends a night at Stansted and plants an oak tree
I 940 The Chapel is damaged by enemy action
1942 The Theatre is burnt down
1947 The Chapel is again restored by Mr. Goodhart-Rendel
I 948 Lewis Way’s communion plate is returned to Stansted by St. George’s Church in Paris
1956 Vere, 9th Earl of Bessborough, dies and is succeeded by Frederick, 10th Earl
1957 The old stables are converted into a cricket pavilion
1959 The old laundry and bakery become a bathing pavilion
1962 Princess Anne comes over from Lordington to swim at Stansted
I962-4 Mr Peter Thorneycroft, Minister of Defence, and Mrs. Thorneycroft occupy the Clock Tower Flat
1968 Princess Alexandra and the Hon. Angus Ogilvy visit Stansted for the Chichester Festival
1983 Frederick, 10th Earl, arranged for the estate and House to become The Stansted Park Foundation, a registered charity, which opens the estate to the public
1993 Arthur Ponsonby becomes 11th Earl, succeeding Frederick, 10th Earl
2002 Myles Ponsonby becomes 12th Earl, succeeding Arthur, 11th Earl
This Timeline was first included on the RCHC website in April 2019