The building was last inhabited around ten years ago by a Doctor who would appear to have had an interest in Hi Fi and classic vehicles. The place is still full up with reminders of the Doctors life, and it would appear that someone has tried to make an effort restoring the Manor but cancelled before much work was undertaken for some reason.
Lillesden Girls School occupies what used to be the Lillesden Estate Mansion, built at the estate (south of Hawkhurst) by the banker Edward Loyd, who co-founded the Loyd Entwistle & Co bank, which later became the District Bank and ultimately the National Westminster (Natwest). Loyd had Lillesden Mansion built after he married Caroline Louisa Foster on the 12th March 1846 at Ashton-on-Mersey. He bought the Lillesden estate at Hawkhurst, Kent in 1853 and built the mansion, finished in 1855.
Shodfriar’s Hall comprises two conjoined buildings of different dates and styles, a fifteenth century L-shaped structure and a substantial red brick extension of 1874. The older of the two (described by Pevsner as ‘the ghost’ of a timber framed building) was heavily restored or, more correctly, reconstructed and much altered by J Oldrid Scott in 1874. Taken for what it is, it is still an impressive and evocative building with jettied storeys at first and second floor levels and broad gables. Scott also designed the new building in contrasting gothic style, with a high pitched roof. The old building housed the Boston Conservative and Constitutional Club and a few shops, while the new contained a great hall at first floor level. The hall was employed for much the same mix of uses as an old circuit theatre, that is, dances, public meetings and concerts, with occasional theatricals, the main difference being that touring theatre companies usually played for only a few nights on each visit. There were no seasons of greater length. Shodfriars is now in a multiplicity of uses, a sad fate for any building of distinction and, whilst the hall is still physically present, alterations that have occurred have obscured its character and made it difficult to judge whether restoration to Scott’s designs could be a practical possibility. It is, in any case, unclear whether the hall was ever as elaborately decorated as a contemporary view suggests. As completed, it was 62ft long, plus a small stage extension, […]