Cobham Hall Through the Ages

Cobham Hall has a long history, dating right back to Roman times.  For those interested in learning more, a souvenir guide book is available; details can be found at the bottom of the page.

300 – 1700

300:  A Roman farming family live in a substantial 8 room Roman farmhouse with underfloor heating. The villa, sited in the parkland, was discovered in 1959-1960

1208: Henry de Cobham, later to become the first Baron Cobham, lives in the manor house on the site of what was to become Cobham Hall.

1559: Queen Elizabeth I visits Cobham Hall, now the home of Sir William Brooke, 10th Lord Cobham. Work had just started on the first of the distinctive Tudor wings.

1613: King James I grants the Cobham Estates to his cousin Ludovick Stuart, 2nd Duke of Lenox. The Estates had been confiscated from the Brooke family following their involvement in the plot to put Arabella Stuart on the throne.

1625: Charles I and his bride Henrietta Maria spend their honeymoon night at Cobham Hall.

1700 – 1900

1713: Lady Theodosia Hyde, Baroness Clifton, marries John Bligh MP, bringing to the marriage a large fortune and her title to Cobham Hall

1725: John Bligh is created the first Earl of Darnley

1783: The Darnley Mausoleum is completed. The unique building was built for the 3rd Earl by his son and over two centuries later, featured in the BBC programme “Restoration”.

1819: The Duke and Duchess of Kent stay overnight at Cobham Hall on their way to Kensington Palace. Their daughter, the future Queen Victoria, was born just two weeks later.

1870: Charles Dickens dies. The Swiss chalet in which he wrote was displayed at the Great Exhibition before being moved to the grounds of Cobham Hall as a gift to his great friend, the 6th Earl of Darnley.

1882: The English cricket team leave for Australia to regain the then mythical Ashes. The team is captained by Ivo Bligh, later to become the 8th Earl of Darnley.

1900 – 1962

1914 – 1918: Cobham Hall becomes a military hospital for the British Army, then for officers of the Australian army. Ivo’s Australian wife, Florence, acted as matron and was later created a Dame of the British Empire for her services.

1927: According to the Marylebone Cricket Club’s “Origin of the Ashes”, on Ivo Bligh’s death in 1927, “his widow presented the urn to the Marylebone club for safekeeping and it is in the M.C.C. Museum that the ashes urn remains”.

1939 – 1945: Cobham Hall is first a home for evacuees, then for the RAF officers from the Battle of Britain fighter squadron based at the aerodrome in nearby Gravesend.

1957: The Darnley family leave Cobham Hall

1959: The Hall is purchased by the Ministry of Works, and a programme of repairs is started.

1962 – Present

1962: A new school for girls opens its doors to 50 students. The school is the project of Mrs Bee Mansell, who wanted girls to enjoy the same public school education as provided to boys. The Headmistress is Miss Brenda Hancock.

1966: Lady Harriet Bligh, sister of the 11th Earl, is elected as Guardian (Head Girl).

1966: The Tutorial Building is opened.

1971: Brooke House is opened by Margaret Thatcher MP

1972: Miss Jill Hanson becomes Headmistress

1979: Sir Robert Mayer opens the Music Wing. Sir Robert was a major supporter of music and young musicians and Cobham Hall was delighted to welcome him to the school in his 100th year.

1981: Mr Christopher Dixon becomes Headmaster.

July 1984: Lady Howe building opened by Lady Howe.

1985: Mrs Susan Cameron becomes Headmistress.

1987: A grand Silver Jubilee Ball celebrates Cobham Hall’s 25th anniversary.

1988: Bligh House is opened by Lady Harriet Bligh.

July 1989: The Activities Centre is opened by Virginia Wade.

1989: Mrs Rosalind McCarthy becomes Headmistress.

1990: Susan Hampshire opens the centre for learning support which bears her name.

2000: Susan Hampshire returns to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Susan Hampshire Centre.

2003: Mrs Helen Davy becomes Headmistress.

November 2003: Tenison-Smith Studio Theatre is opened by Carey Tenison-Smith, former Head of Drama.

March 2006: New Fitness Suite opened by David Grant MRCVS, TV vet from the Animal Hospital.

September 2008: Mr Paul Mitchell becomes Headmaster.

September 2009: Introduction of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Cobham Hall.

2012: Celebratory book commissioned to mark the 50th Anniversary of Cobham Hall as a School.  Elders are invited to contribute to the book.

2016: 50th Anniversary Book published. For more information, or to purchase a copy, please see our Elders’ section.

2017: Dr Sandra Coates-Smith becomes Headmistress (Acting).

2018: Ms Maggie Roberts becomes Headmistress.

Souvenir Guide Book

This Souvenir Book, detailing the history of the Building IMG 6514and the Grounds, is available to purchase for £5, plus postage and packing.  To order a copy, please email with your full name, address and contact telephone number.