The House


Visit us and explore over 450 years of history at Eastbury Manor House. The Eastbury estate was acquired by the Clement Sisley in 1557. The house was originally built by Sisley between 1560 and 1573, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and was known as Estburie Hall.

The Eastbury estate remained in the Sisley family until 1629. After which it was sold and owned by a number of different gentry families. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Eastbury house and its land was inhabited by a long succession of owners, leaseholders and tenants.

Tree ring analysis shows that some of the roof timbers were felled in the spring of 1566. The earliest dated items, such as the lead rainwater hopper head, were produced in the 1570's. The exterior of the house retains its original Elizabethan Tudor appearance.

Over the years the house gradually fell into disrepair. One of its two unique octagonal stair turrets was pulled down in the early nineteenth century. During this time rooms on the ground floor were used as a stable and dairy.

It was in danger of complete demolition, when in 1918 it was rescued and purchased by the newly formed National Trust. 

Early history

Eastbury Manor House was built on land that formed part of the Eastbury estate, originally one of the many properties owned by Barking Abbey (founded by St. Erkenwald in 666AD) which formed part of the Manor of Barking.

The date of the construction is uncertain, but it is believed to have taken place after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1539, between 1560 to 1572. It is thought that the house was completed by 1573. The Twenthieth century architectural scholar, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner described the house as a 'very valuable medium-sized Elizabethan Manor House'.

The house is built according to a H-shaped compact plan, with a small inner courtyard and a dramatic roofline of gables and chimneys. It is one of the few intact surviving gentry houses from the Elizabethan era.

The Great Hall

The Great Hall was where visitors to Eastbury would have gathered to meet Clement Sisley and his family. The original appearance of the hall, at 40 metres long, would have been considerably different to its present day state. During the nineteenth century a solid partition wall and new staircase was built to replace a wooden screen thus reducing the length of the Great Hall. The original position of the fireplace, located on the south wall, would have been a central feature in the Great Hall. The original surround has been removed exposing the board brick hearth.

An account by Edward Sage, Esq. states that of the ''ancient and handsome stone chimney pieces...the large one, which formerly stood in the hall'' was sold in 1840 to the owner of Parsloes Hall, Reverend Thomas Lewis Fanshawe, who placed it in his kitchen.

A dais at the high parlour end of the hall has also been removed. The Sysley family would have been seated on such a raised platform when receiving and entertaining guests, indicating their wealth and status. Plans drawn up by the surveyor T.H Clarke in 1834, indicate that the dais was floored whilst other parts were originally paved with black sixteen inches squared slate and small red tiles.

It has been estimated that an entrance was at one time cut through from the south end of the dais onto the now derelict eastern stair turret, which would have been used by the Sysley family. It is also likely that the high end of the hall was originally finished with a straight edged wall to square off the chimney stack, which protrudes from the Summer Parlour.

The Buttery

A list of household contents written in 1603 identifies the Buttery as the room where butts or barrels were stored. Located under the flooring is a cellar, originally used during Tudor times as a cool storage. Foodstuffs and drinks were stored on racks, often in wooden barrels to keep them off the floor. Although the cellar has good ventilation, the floor can become damp in wet weather because of the high water table.

Today the fireplace, skirting boards, coving and picture rail date from the later conversion of the Buttery into a living room.

The Eastbury Kitchen

This room is Eastbury's original kitchen. During Clement Sisley's ownership, the ground floor rooms on the eastern wing of the house, such as the Summer and Winter Parlours, were used by the family for domestic and leisure purposes. The western wing housed services such as the pantry, kitchen and adjoining oak panelled Steward's room.

Although the kitchen has lost many of its original fittings, the dominating feature of the wide hearth suggests that meals would have been prepared and cooked here. The brickwork in the right hand side of the chimney suggests that there may have been a second oven. The angled beam above the hearth has hooks where meat and other foodstuffs would have hung. The appearance of a Tudor kitchen would have resembled kitchens in other prominent Elizabethan houses at the time, for example, Cotehele in Cornwall.

Summer and Winter Parlours

A small passage provided access to two private family rooms as well as serving as an entrance hall from the walled garden. Parlours became increasingly popular during the Tudor period as ceremonial and communal activities based in the Great Hall became less important. The Sisley family may have used these rooms to entertain guests, sew, write letters or play musical instruments. Both parlours have hearths located near to their respective western walls, with two chimney stacks of brick shaped into three octagonal shafts with moulded caps and bases. The house has an impressive number of heated chambers and chimney stacks which indicates the high social status and relative wealth of the Sisley family.

The fireplace surrounds from both parlours were also sold to the Reverend Fanshawe for Parsloes Hall in the nineteenth century.

The Painted Chamber

The Painted Chamber was originally divided, in a similar way to the East Chamber, to create two small parlours. The partition wall and staircase was built at the same time as the partition wall in the Great Hall, during the nineteenth century . Both rooms contained hearths, with frescoes adorning the fireplace in the painted room and which can still be identified through the plain paint work. An elaborate plaster ceiling, of which only fragments remain, may have been executed when the walls were originally painted.

The Gardens

Download our Gardens of Eastbury Manor House booklet

Eastbury Manor House is an Elizabethan gentry house built by Clement Sisley approximately in 1573. From 1600 - 1900 Eastbury was a farming estate before the land was sold to developers. Now all that remains is the main house and the surrounding gardens which was bought by the National Trust in 1918. Eastbury has two main gardens: a herb garden on the west side and the walled garden on the east side of the house. Tudor gardens were both practical and decorative, providing the house with food and medicine, and gardening even became a fashionable pastime. It was also common to keep bees in skeps or bee-boles and to use their honey as sweetener or their wax for candles. This has provided inspiration for Eastbury’s gardens today.

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