primary 2

Stansted Park Timeline

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