From the book, Stanmore Past by Eileen M Bowlt ISBN 0 948667
Mrs Hollond’s nephew John Robert Hollond put the Hall and considerable estate up for auction in 1888. Download the advertisement below. Auction_12July1888
The Hall, farm and service buildings were purchased by William Knox D’Arcy, a solicitor, who had shares in a ‘mountain of gold,’ the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company in Queensland . He returned to England and with his fortune purchased Stanmore Hall. At the same time he became involved in the search for oil in Persia. Having nearly lost his fortune he at last struck oil in 1907 and recouped all his losses. He went on to found the Anglo Persian Oil company, later to become BP.
Knox D’Arcy greatly enlarged the house, decorated the interior, and landscaped and lavishly stocked the gardens. He employed Brightwen Binyon, to extend the house and William Morris to work on the interior. Download The Marxist and the Oilman
Morris was rather patronising about Stanmore Hall and the architect, writing of them on 10 June 1890 as ‘a sham Gothic house of 50 years ago now being added to by a young architect of the commercial type men who are very bad. Fancy in one room there was not a pane of glass that opened.’ Brightwen Binyon, originally from Manchester, was a pupil of Alfred Waterhouse and had a practice in Ipswich. He chiefly designed libraries, schools and town halls which may account for Morris’s jibe. Binyon’s first work in Stanmore had been at the Grove in the 1870s for Mr and Mrs Brightwen. The tapestries produced by Morris & Co., on the theme of the search for the Holy Grail, were designed by Edward Burne-Jones and were hung in the dining room. After Mr D’Arcy’s death in 1917 they were sold, but a later version of five of the six panels are now in the Birmingham Art Gallery. Mr D’Arcy and his second wife lived at the Hall, but also had a town house in Grosvenor Square. A society item in the Times announcing that they had arrived there ‘from the country’ went on to describe Mrs D’Arcy as ‘a tall, slim, handsome woman, with an abundance of pale golden hair. She is a good bridge player and a quite exceptionally graceful dancer’.
The album below was produced by photographers Bedford Lemere in 1892. The album is in the possession of the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia. It seems likely that it was commissioned by Knox D’Arcy or William Morris. We have good quality prints of some of these images and they are shown in our photo library.
After D’Arcy’s death the house passed into public use.
An aerial view of Stanmore Hall in March 1935. A conservatory and farm buildings can be seen on the right. A new house has been erected on the Stanmore Hall frontage on the left.
The house was used as assize courts after D’Arcy’s death in 1917, by the RAF in the Second World War, and as a nurses’ home for the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital from 1947 to 1971. It stood empty in 1972, having been vacated by the hospital in the previous year.
After this its fate hung in the balance and many people feared it would be demolished and the site redeveloped. especially after a fire in 1979. Local pressure and a changing attitude to conservation prevailed and the house was sympathetically restored and converted into offices.