After more than 90 years, the gutted remains of Copped Hall are rising from the ashes thanks to a band of dedicated volunteers and trustees. Members of Epping Forest District Council including the Chairman, Councillor Penny Smith, were treated to an extensive tour of the restoration works as the Hall returns to its former glory. Where only a short while ago there were no floors or roof, councillors were able to walk from room to room, admiring the restoration work in warmth and comfort as thunderstorms lashed the building outside.
The current Copped Hall was built in 1753 near the site of an earlier Tudor palace. It was extended and embellished but disaster struck when fire ripped through the building in 1917. What remained was left to decay and the Hall could have been demolished entirely. However, unlike so many English stately homes, it was not knocked down. In 1993 the Copped Hall Trust was established to save the house and surrounding gardens.
With support of organisations including Epping Forest District Council and the dedicated hard work of many individuals, Copped Hall, the gardens and associated buildings are gradually being brought back to life. The Trustees hold events including the Copped Hall Run with Epping Rotary, music and open-air theatre productions. Tours around the inside of the building are being held for members of the public and local schools.
Councillor Penny Smith`s family has farmed land in nearby Epping Upland and she remembers some of the people who used to work on the Copped Hall Estate.
She said: Today, many people have no idea about the hall or estate. Most only catch a glimpse as they speed past on the M25. However, there was a time when the lives of people in Epping, Epping Upland and Upshire revolved around Copped Hall. It is steeped in history with records as far back as the Doomsday Book.
The restoration still has a very long way to go but walking through the rooms is incredibly atmospheric. From the great dining and bedrooms to the servants` quarters, kitchens and stables, you get a sense of the generations that lived, worked and died there. Small touches such as the restoration of a fireplace, paintings on a wall and the occasional piece of period furniture add to the impression that this was once a very special place and is becoming so again.
Although there are public footpaths across the Copped Hall Estate, entry to the House is by appointment with the Trustees only who run regular tours, proceeds from which go towards the restoration work.
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Councillor Penny Smith thanked Alan Cox and Denys Favre of the Copped Hall Trustees for showing the Councillors the Hall. She said: It is marvellous to see the fantastic work taking place. The Copped Hall Trust is a charitable organisation. It relies upon an army of dedicated volunteers led by Alan, Denys and the other trustees. They have done a tremendous job and I look forward to seeing the restoration progress over the next year or so.