Catalogue description Hales Family Estates

This record is held by Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library

Details of U85
Reference: U85
Title: Hales Family Estates

Collection of deeds, estate papers, legal papers, correspondence and accounts relating to the many properties held by various members of the family; and some miscellaneous items including Catholic manuscript tracts on Elizabeth I and the succession.

Date: 1250-1868
Held by: Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Hales family, baronets, of Woodchurch, Kent

Physical description: c.600 items
Physical condition: Much material has been damaged by damp.
Custodial history:

Most of these papers were found in the 1950s by William Urry, archivist, in an outbuilding in the Precincts. They may have come to the Precincts in the 1880s when Mary Hales left Hales Place, or when the house was demolished.

Administrative / biographical background:

In 1658 the Hales family of Woodchurch inherited the St Augustine's Abbey site, Canterbury, and the gatehouse through the marriage of Edward Hales, 2nd Baronet, with one of the co-heirs of the Wootton family. With this property they also possessed hop gardens in the North Holmes in Canterbury. The St Augustine's property was known as 'Lady Wootton's Palace'. The Throckmorton material also came from the Wootton family.


Sir Edward Hales, the 3rd Baronet Hales of Woodchurch bought the Elizabethan mansion, Place House in St Stephens, Canterbury in 1675 from Col. Thomas Culpeper, whose father had bought it from the Manwoods. This house was replaced in 1766-1768 by 'a new sumptuous ediface built on a more eligible site', according to Seymour's New Topography of 1776. Cozens writing in 1773 in Through the Isle of Thanet suggested it was 'more fit for the residence of a monarch than for a simple country gentleman'. Plans of the house, now renamed Hales Place, show that it was fronted by a terrace overlooking the city and the cathedral.


In the days of the Edward, 1st Baronet Hales, d. 1654, the family was one of the wealthiest in Kent, but gradually their properties were sold off to raise money. With the death of the 6th Baronet the title became extinct. On the death of Sir John Hales in 1744, the estates were put in trust in Chancery in an attempt to prevent the succession of his son.


The estates were inherited by Edouard de Mourlaincourt, the son of the youngest sister of the 6th Baronet who changed his name to Edward Hales. His daughter, Mary Barbara Felicity Hales, inherited the estate at the age of one year.


Mary Barbara Felicity became a Carmelite novice, and with the idea of bringing the Carmelites to England, started to transform Hales Place into a nunnery. When this idea failed, she then started a Benedictine nunnery. After her death, in 1880 the property was bought by the exiled Jesuits from Lyons. They extended the house on the northern side to form St Mary's College.


In or about 1924 the Jesuits returned to France. The building was demolished in 1930 and developed as a housing estate. The fittings of the house were purchased by speculative builders, such as Revell, who used them in other properties, particularly at Chestfield, in new houses built there in the 1930s, and in the conversion of the north and south tithe barns into houses. Some of the pieces are very easily recognisable.


Much of the above draws on a leaflet by Christopher Buckingham on Hales Place, produced in 1988. See also R Cox Hales, 'Brief notes on the Hales family', in Archaeologia Cantiana, vol xiv (1882), pp 61-84.

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