The Hall Barn Estate

Sue Abbey

Hall Barn
Edward VII shooting at Hall Barn
Hall Barn Lodge

Hall Barn

The Manor of Beaconsfield can be traced back to the 13th century within which Halle Barn (or Hallbarne) was one of the four estates bought by Anne Waller in 1624. The house is thought to have been built by her son, Edmund Waller, the poet and politician, around 50 years later.

The House

The original house was rectangular and three storeys high with the south wing being added by Waller’s grandson. The estate remained in the hands of the Waller family until 1833 when it was sold to Sir Gore Ouseley who built a new southern front. Following several changes of ownership, in 1881 Edward Levy-Lawson, editor of the Daily Telegraph and the first Lord Burnham, acquired possession. He wished to use Hall Barn for entertaining in a way appropriate to his position as proprietor of a major newspaper, and for this purpose he further enlarged the house, creating a new ballroom wing on the east side. However, in 1969 under the fifth Lord Burnham, work began on making the house smaller, simpler and more adapted to modern life, so that today the outside of the house closely resembles that of the original building.

The Grounds

The grounds were designed by Edmund Waller prior to the house being built, and it is believed that he derived much of his inspiration from the gardens at Versailles. His grandson, Harry Waller, together with Harry’s stepfather John Aislabie, laid out The Grove with its straight walks punctuated with statues and follies. Many of these features remain today and along with the house have been given Grade II listed status. These include the Temple of Venus Pavilion, the boathouse and the Obelisk which bears the arms of the Waller family carved in relief together with a collection of sculpted gardening tools possibly belonging to the gardener who laid out the grounds. The gardens were later remodelled by Edward Levy-Lawson.

The Estate

Throughout its history, much of the land has been devoted to farming, and by the mid 1800’s up to ten farms belonged to the estate. Other notable buildings on the estate include Little Hall Barn (originally known as Brick House) where the Wallers lived until Hall Barn was built and Hall Barn Lodge (Oak Lodge) dating from the 19th century, again built of brick and almost completely covered with wood carved panelling. Edward Lawson increased the size of his estate by buying up property in the town. By 1910 he owned many of the buildings in London End, Aylesbury End, Wycombe End and most of the cottages in Windsor End. His successors maintained their ownership, often providing workers on the estate and local shopkeepers with low rented accommodation, but in more recent years this practice has all but ended, changing the demography of the Old Town.

The Estate Today

Hall Barn Estate continues to own the leasehold on many properties and can therefore still influence developments in the Old Town. Hall Barn is now the home of Jenefer Farncombe (nee Lawson), the daughter of the fifth Lord Burnham, whilst the title of Lord Burnham has been passed to Harry Frederick Lawson, son of the sixth Lord Burnham. The house and gardens are not normally open to the public, but each year there is an open air theatre production by the Chiltern Shakespeare Company.

The Book of Beaconsfield – Ed. Clive Birch
Beaconsfield – a History – Julian hunt, David Thorpe
A History of Beaconsfield – BDHS

Comments about this page

  • I was privileged to work on this amazing house when it was in the ownership of the The Rt. Honourable Lt. Colonel Lord Burnham. I was the Contract Surveyor for the builder about 1972 when the demolition of the Library and Ballroom was necessary to preserve the rest of the building and the new outer wall was reconstructed in complete sympathy with the house, as were the other repairs, and modernisations to the design of the Architects. A most satisfying project to have been involved with.

    By Bernard Perry (12/03/2024)
  • Any information about that beautiful gatehouse. Who build it. What kind of wood was used. Wonder if it is ebony? Did someone live in it?

    By Nelly (20/09/2023)
  • The Oak Lodge at the entrance to the Hall Barn Estate is covered with intricate wood carvings; those on the upper story were bought from Italy by Sir Gore Ouseley (d.1844). The lower part were added after 1887 and were from a Belgian convent. When part of the woodwork was restored, a portrait head of the late Lord Burnham was included. It housed the gatekeeper.

    By Clare Bull (12/10/2023)
  • I first came across this beautiful house when it appeared in the 1980 film version of the Agatha Christie novel “Why Didn’t they ask Evans” staring Sir John Gielgud and Francesca Annis. In more recent years I have seen the property used in Midsomers Murders.

    By Len Barr (02/04/2023)
  • I’m co-writing a book about the movie adaptations of Agatha Christie, and discovered that the house and grounds was used in the Russian version of “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” (2002).

    It’s not mentioned anywhere, and I was sure they filmed it in Russia. But they did a long, wide shot of the house and grounds in the movie. When I popped a screenshot of Ackroyd’s house’s exterior into Google Images, this site was at the top! You can’t miss the distinctive house, the boathouse, and the pond.

    By Bill Peschel (02/01/2023)
  • You may be interested to know that the house has featured in two separate episodes of the TV show Jonathan Creek. In the second of these (‘The Tailor’s Dummy) the owner jumps to his death from a high window ledge!

    By TR (03/11/2022)
  • interesting to read having been to Beaconsfield many times to visit my aunt. You might not be aware of the link between Hall Barn and Argentina. Sir Gore Ouseley was British Minister in Argentina ( the equivalent of present day HBM Ambassador. Hon Lucia Lawson Whitehead´s mother was also born in Argentina. Her grandfather Hugh Scott Robson was one of the founders of Hurlingham Club in Argentina in 1888.

    By Jimmy Bindon (07/05/2021)
  • It’s so awesome knowing that use to be in my family. I’m doing a family tree and Edmond Waller is my 8th great grandfather.. my mom’s dad side the Webb’s since Hannah Waller married Edward Webb so cool tho

    By Joyce Young (17/04/2019)
  • I am thrilled to have discovered this amazingly beautiful place. My ancestors (Waller) certainly did have good taste! Some day I hope to visit the home of my ancestral family. Can you give me specific directions please.

    By Linda Waller Perry (29/08/2018)
  • Linda, How wonderful to have Hall Barn as your ancestral home. Unfortunately, house and the gardens, are not open to the public as it is still a family home belonging to the Lawson Family. The estate is situated just outside Beaconsfield Old Town but is not visible from the road. You can see the gatehouse but that is all.

    By Clare Bull (31/08/2018)
  • Can anyone tell me please if the formal gardens at Hall Barn contain a hedge sculpture of a resting cat? I have seen photographs on the internet which do not give the location of the sculpture but I have been told by one person that the cat is at Hall Barn. Could you verify this for me please?

    By M Pink (17/04/2018)
  • The photograph you have seen on the internet is clever photo manipulation of the large hedge at Hall Barn. There is no sculpture of a resting cat, just a very large hedge.

    By Clare Bull (23/04/2018)

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