I admit, this isn’t a fantastic photo. The remarkable building that’s the subject of this post is at a distance, through the trees.

Danbury Palace (originally Danbury Place) is located near the beautiful village of Danbury, Essex. It dates back to 1589 and while it’s mainly been a grand residence it has an interesting history!

My photo through the trees in 2016. Renovations were underway at this point for the 13 luxury flats Danbury Palace was converted into.

Built by Walter Mildmay as a country house during the reign of Elizabeth I, Danbury Place was located at one of the highest points in the county. After Mildmay it had many interesting owners over the years, including:

  • The radical reformer Lewis Disney Fytche
  • The Bishop of Rochester
  • 2000+ babies born to women evacuated from the East End of London
  • Present-day flat owners
Engraving of Danbury Place by Thomas Kitson Cromwell.

In 1830, the original house was demolished and rebuilt nearby, completed as a red brick mansion much as we see it today.

In its new form, the house was renamed Danbury Palace and became an Episcopal Palace for the Bishop of Rochester.

Danbury Palace, depicted in Frances Orpen Morris’ The County Seats of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland. The original is held at the British Library.

The property (including 284 acres) changed hands several times over the years. At the start of WWII it was used as an emergency maternity hospital for mothers evacuated from the east end of London. Over 2000 babies were born there, and the Queen Mother even visited.

Even today, the story of the Danbury babies is being shared. There is a Danbury Society and the Danbury Park Babies have their own Facebook page with lots of lovely photographs. Sadly, the 2020 reunion has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother with the 2000th Danbury Palace baby.
From The Danbury Society website.

After the war, much of the land surrounding the palace was bought by Essex County Council. Today, it’s the popular and lovely Danbury Country Park.

The house itself was turned into a conference centre for Anglia Polytechnic University in 1974 and was Grade II listed in 1987.

In 2017, the building was once again converted into a residence. Today, it’s 13 beautiful luxury flats. Imagine being able to say you live in a palace. You’d get a closer peek than I did from the park!

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