Shurland Hall was built between 1510 and 1518 by sir Thomas Cheyne, it stands on the site of a previous 13th century castle established by Adam De Shurland. It was built using stone from Chilham Castle, apparently the keep there was too strong to be demolished so it was left.
The Hall had been described as a “stately residence”, ‘a manor comparable to that of any gentleman in Kent’. It had a private chapel, stables, mews, kennels, offices, gardens and a well house amongst other things.
Shurland Hall has been neglected for many years and is in a ruinous state although it has begun to be refurbished with the plan of opening part of it to the public with the rest being used as private residence. In 1996 the Tories agreed to install special scaffolding to help preserve what was left of the hall, this cost them £200,000. The only areas left standing are the shell of the gatehouse and the ruins of the main hall, these are grade II listed buildings and the whole site is a scheduled ancient monument.
In 1532 King Henry VIII and his new wife Anne Bolyne visited Shurland Hall, they were on their way to France to meet Francis I. They left as the plague started spreading in London and stayed for two days. At this time Sir William Cheyne was using the hall as his family home.
In 1570 Sir Henry Cheyne (Sir Thomas’ son) left the hall to live with his mother. The great hall started to fall into disrepair. In 1580 Queen Elizabeth I granted a lease of the Shurland estate to keep the buildings, farms and money running and to re-instate some protection for the island. The farmer who leased the land had a stipulate, ‘he shall convert ten of the outer chambers or rooms into tenements, and in them to place ten able men to serve with caliver, pike, bow and such other weapon for the defence of the island-and in the residue of the house some honest and sufficient person with his family to dwell’.
1593 saw the manor granted to Sir Thomas Hoby who was later succeeded by his son Edward. Shurland Hall was leased to him and at the end of the lease James I granted the estate to Sir Philip Herbert, also making him Baron, the Herbert family were still in Shurland Hall in 1713.
Not much else is known about the hall until WWI when soldiers were billeted there, this resulted in the property being damaged. This was the last time anyone had lived in Shurland Hall.
Stories have been told for many years about tunnels linking Shurland Hall with other properties in the area. This has never been proven, they may stem from the massive cellars that are under the building. A farmer’s tractor once partially fell into one of these cellars and some wooden pegs used to hang and store food were found.
In 2006 a grant of £300,000 was given to restore the façade of the hall and gatehouse, this work has commenced and new chimneys can now be seen. (Sep 2007)
I would like to thank the builders for allowing me into Shurland Hall to take some pictures, I was given a guided tour and was told what each room will be used for. The work they are doing here is very important to the islands history and they are doing a brilliant job restoring the property to it's former glory.