Forty Hall's Families and History

Historic image of Forty Hall Estate

Forty Hall is one of England's finest historic houses.

Set in its own Estate, with walled garden, formal and informal gardens, lakes, lawns, and meadows, Forty Hall is Grade 1 listed and important to architectural English history as a fine example on the cusp between the medieval to modern style.

Built by former Lord Mayor of London, Sir Nicholas Rainton, in 1632 the Hall stands on the edge of London and is important to understanding the growth of the Capital City and of the life and times of the merchant classes.

The Elsyng Palace scheduled monument lies within the Forty Hall Estate. The palace is a unique and nationally significant archaeological monument, not only as the site of an early Tudor courtier's palace later developed by Henry VIII, but as a complex multi-phased landscape with a rich history stretching back to medieval times. The palace was also a childhood residence of King Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth I.

The Hall itself has been changed and reworked by a number of owners who lived there, including the Meyers, Wolstenholmes and Parker Bowles; however, many architectural features remain from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

A visit to Sir Nicholas Rainton's Hall & Estate provides a unique experience of London today and is important to our understanding of the growth of the Capital City, and of the life and times of the merchant classes who established London as a major centre for worldwide trade.

Sir Nicholas Rainton

Sir Nicholas Rainton amassed considerable wealth importing sumptuous materials from Italy including satin and taffeta from Florence, taffeta and sarsnets from Lucca, satins from Bologna and velvets and damasks from Genoa.

Read more about Sir Nicholas Rainton

Nicholas Rainton the Second

When Sir Nicholas died in 1646, Forty Hall passed to his great-nephew, also called Nicholas. Find out about Forty Hall in the later 17th century here.

The Wolstenholme Family

The second Nicholas Rainton died in 1698 leaving no male heir. As a result, Forty Hall passed to his grandson, Nicholas Wolstenholme, child of Rainton’s only daughter Mary and her husband Sir John Wolstenholme of Minchenden House, Southgate. Find out about Forty Hall in the early 18th century here.

The Breton Family

Grace and Nicholas Wolstenholme failed to produce an heir, so in 1829, Forty Hall passed to Nicholas’ young nieces, the Misses Elizabeth and Mary Wolstenholme. By the time Elizabeth married Eliab Breton in 1740, the Estate supported some 57 tenants and was said to worth in the region of £2800 pa.

Find out more about Forty Hall in the 18th century here.

Edmund Armstrong

In 1789, Edmund Armstrong bought Forty Hall and the associated grounds for £8,800.

Find out more about their short time at Forty Hall here.

The Meyer Family

The Meyer family lived at Forty Hall for almost a century, from 1799 to the 1890s. Find out about their time and their contributions to the local community here.

The Bowles and Parker Bowles Family

The Bowles and Parker Bowles family were the last family to own Forty Hall.

Following James Meyer’s death in 1895, the Estate was purchased by his neighbour Mr Carrington Bowles of Myddelton House. Find out more about Forty Hall in the early 20th century here.

Elsyng Palace

Forty Hall Estate sits on the site of the Former Elsyng Palace, which belonged to Henry VIII and was home to Elizabeth I and Edward IV.

Read more about Elsyng Palace