Built in the C18th on the site of an earlier house, the house was known in the C19th as North Cray Cottage or Villa, and was once home of Foreign Secretary Viscount Castlereagh. It was purchased by Goldsmiths College in 1939 and renamed Loring Hall after the first warden of the college, the house used for accommodation and the grounds for sports. The property was sold to BUPA in the 1980s, then used as a nursing home before it became the Malcolm Sargent Children's Cancer Centre in 1999. Since 2004 it has been a private residential care home for people with learning disabilities. The grounds have remnants of earlier planting, including a terrace near the house, lower garden with some good specimen trees, a walled garden, a sunken garden and woodland.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2011
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Local archaeological finds indicate that there was continuous occupation here from pre-Roman times with early inland settlements found along river valleys such as that of the River Cray. North Cray Road became the main route linking the villages, and was a winding country lane until it was widened and straightened in the 1960s. North Cray village remained little changed over the years, due to its remoteness, lack of a turnpike road in the C18th and of railway access in the C19th. Loring Hall, formerly known as Woolett Hall, was built in c.1760 to replace an earlier Tudor house. From 1811 it was the home of Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry and known as Viscount Castlereagh until 1821, who was Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Leader of the House. He played an important part in the defeat of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna, as well as in the Irish Act of Union and setting the boundary between Canada and the USA. He also supported local affairs, among other works donating funds for the restoration of North Cray parish church of St James (q.v.). Suffering from depression, he committed suicide here in 1822, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The C18th house had been altered and enlarged over the years and in the mid C19th it was known as North Cray Cottage or North Cray Villa, a two-storey stuccoed building with slate roof. At the rear projecting eaves extended over the whole elevation and a terrace with balustrade had steps leading down to the lawn. In 1939 it was purchased by Goldsmiths College, University of London and the house was used for student halls of residence and the grounds and parkland for sports fields, the latter continuing in college use today. The house was renamed Loring Hall after the first warden of Goldsmiths.
Goldsmiths sold the house and part of the grounds to BUPA in the 1980s and it was later used as a nursing home by Court Cavendish Nursing Home and in 1999 it became the Malcolm Sargent Children’s Cancer Centre, renamed Malcolm Sargent House. In 2003 it was sold to Oakfield Care and since 2004 it has been a private residential care home for people with learning disabilities.
The gate lodge at the entrances matches the architectural style of the mansion. The garden to the south-east is walled from the road and a shrubbery belt affords added protection. There is a curved garden wall to the north-east and the garden on the north-west side of the house has a terrace with yew shrubberies to either side and steps to the lower garden, which has some good specimen trees. The woodland walks to the west of the mansion lead to the walled garden; there is also a sunken garden, probably C20th. A cedar of Lebanon, planted by the then prime minister, Edward (now Sir Edward) Heath stands on the front lawn.
The parkland to the north-west, comprising around 20 acres, remains in the ownership of Goldsmiths as Loring Sports Ground with provision for football, rugby and cricket.
Sale Particulars 1829; I Leigh 'Many Lives of Castlereagh' n.d..; LB Bexley Local Studies notes and research guides; LB Bexley, 'North Cray Village Conservation Area, Area Appraisal and Management Plan', 2008