Stocks House

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File:Stocks Hotel.jpg
Stocks in around 1995.
File:Stocks 120507.jpg
A photo of Stocks while undergoing renovations on 7 May 2007

Stocks manor house is a large Georgian mansion, built in 1773.[1] It is the largest property in the village of Aldbury, Hertfordshire. Stocks House and its manorial farm is an 182-acre (0.74 km2) estate surrounded by 10,000 acres (40 km2) of National Trust Ashridge Forest and the Chiltern Hills.

It takes its name from the old famous stocks of the medieval village of Aldbury just down the road.

Early history

Built in 1773, Stocks manor house was inherited by Sir Edward Grey, 1st Viscount of Falloden, who served as British Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States, from his grandfather. Lord Falloden's career never allowed him to live there, and in 1892 he sold Stocks House [2] to best-selling British novelist Mary Augusta Ward[3] who made Stocks her beloved home until her death in 1920.[4]

While Ward lived at Stocks, it became a bustling salon of leading intellectual luminaries of her day, including her nephews Aldous and Julian Huxley, her son-in-law historian George Macaulay Trevelyan, and such guests as George Orwell, who gathered for long weekends, to join as many as fifty other literary and intellectually inclined overnight guests and friends who could be accommodated in the main house. Ward is buried just down the road at Aldbury Church.[1] Upon Ward's death, Stocks was inherited by her son, a Member of Parliament, Arnold Ward.[5] who sold Stocks to the Blezard family, who later sold it to the Brown family, before Stocks became an exclusive girls' school in 1944.[2]


In 1944, Stocks House became a residential school when a finishing school in England for upper-class girls, Brondesbury, moved to Stocks manor house from the manor estate in Surrey, where it had previously been located.[6] The school was then dubbed Brondesbury-at-Stocks. Katharina Forbes-Dunlop, a British author, became the last headmistress of the school, some years later.[7] In 1972 Forbes-Dunlop retired: she died at the age of 100.[7]


In 1972, Stocks House was purchased by American Playboy executive Victor Lownes and English Playmate Marilyn Cole[1] for £115,000.[2] They installed a massive jacuzzi - thought to be the largest in the country - in the house. The mansion was used as a training camp for Playboy bunnies and was well known for hosting extravagant parties with celebrities.[4]

Coincidentally Lownes also owned 1 Connaught Square in London, the townhouse of Mary Augusta Ward, the former owner of Stocks, where she had died.[2]


Following Lownes' ownership, Stocks was acquired by English Cricket player Phil Edmonds, who hosted celebrity cricket days and events for charity there, in 1987.[8] Bridgend Group bought Stocks House in around 1992 along with adjacent farm land and added the golf course to the extensive grounds turning the property into the Stocks Golf Resort Hotel and Health Spa.[9] In 1997 the album cover of Oasis' Be Here Now was photographed by the pool at Stocks.[4]

Reversion to private house

In 2004 Stocks was sold to Peter Harris, a retired horse trainer, entrepreneur and multimillionaire (£360m), for an undisclosed sum. A planning application to Dacorum to restore the historic Stocks Hotel back to a private home was made.[10] The extensive renovation work was undertaken by Holloway White Allom and completed in early 2008. The architect for the project was Hugh Petter, Director at ADAM Architecture. It is now a family home once again for Harris' son-in-law Walter Swinburn.[1][4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Reynolds, Chris. "Stocks House". Hertfordshire Genealogy. Retrieved 23 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lownes, Victor (1982). Playboy Extraordinary. St Albans: Granada Publishing. ISBN 0-246-11793-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. William Page, ed. (1908). A History of the County of Hertford. Victoria County History. 2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Aldbury: Be here now". Hertfordshire Life. Retrieved 23 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Arnold Ward". Spartacus. Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Stocks Golf Club: Design and access statement" (PDF). Dacorum Council. Retrieved 16 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bernstein, Margaret. "Inspiration". Growing Azalea Music. Retrieved 19 May 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>, archived at
  8. "The man who made £20m in four days". This is Money. 28 February 2005. Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Bridgend Group PLC: Proposed Acquisitions of Kingavon Limited and Cosmic Automotive". PR Newswire. 16 April 1997. Retrieved 29 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Village steaming over Redcoats in a hot tub". Hemel Today. 18 April 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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