Ingatestone Hall was built in Tudor times, but its real charm comes from having been lived in continuously. It's a living home, renovated, revised, and restored along the way until, these days, it's mostly Tudor in form, but still wholly functional, an eclectic accumulation of furniture and imported Tudor panelling from other buildings to repair the look. The Petre family still lives here, in private apartments, although even the show rooms are clearly used. The historical kitchen's fireplace was full up of toys and an upright piano. A modern rocking horse was left in the corner of the ornate dining room. Family photos adorn side tables. Highlights of the interior were the two priest's holes, rediscovered during early twentieth-century renovations. One of them was hidden behind a bookcase.
Outside, the grounds continue the balance between grand and functional, homely and elegant. A football lay forgotten by a garden wall. The ditch maze had become slightly unclear over the years, as the marshy ground on which it was built filled in. An original stew, a fishpond, was surrounded by both decorative and practical plants. On the way out of the gates, we saw the owner and his son, chatting by the gatehouse; after all those family photos, how could we not recognize them?
Name note: "Ing" is a Saxon word for pasture, or meadow. The stone in the town's name is from a marker on the Roman road to Colchester.