The early history can be traced back from 1412 to 1715 when a Queen Anne House was built to replace the original farmhouse. The present Drawing Room, with the exception of the window recesses, and the White Hall, as far as the Oak Room door give the frontage of the Queen Anne House. The depth can be judged by a view of the original back wall seen from the inner back-entrance hall through a window looking on the small inner courtyard, which in more recent years had been enclosed as an aviary. An old metal bell pull to the back door can still be seen in the original wall in this courtyard. The Queen Anne staircase from the White Hall was included in this early building. The present oak paneled Dining Room formed the site of the old conservatory.
The house does not appear to have remained long in the ownership of any one family until 1859. In 1822 it was purchased by Samuel Adams, one of the owners of the Ware Bank-known then and recorded in the current edition of the Bankersí Almanac as "Adams & Co.- established 1813 -bankrupt - 1856". In 1859 the Hall was purchased by Henry Page of Ware, the founder of the present malting business of Henry Page & Co. Ltd. Of Ware, and the house was connected with this family until its purchase by Westminster Bank in December 1950. In 1971 it was sold to The Building Societiesí Association to house their Institute and Training College.
Henry Page was an astute businessman and left a large fortune to his daughter Anne, who married Richard Benyon Croft, a member of an ancient Herefordshire family. The two sons and six daughters were brought up at Fanhams Hall, which was enlarged to its present form in 1901. There is little doubt that the fine quality and scope of the workmanship must have entailed the expenditure of a very large sum. The walnut paneling in the lounge with its inlaid mother-of-pearl, the oak paneling, the Minstrelís Gallery and the tiled fireplace of the Great Hall, the oak paneling and the ceiling of the Long Gallery, once the picture gallery, are all of particular interest.
Sir Henry Page-Croft, M.P., the younger son of Richard Benyon Croft was created the first Lord Croft and on his death in 1947 was succeeded by his son. Lord Croft lived in the south-east wing of the house, and the former bedrooms numbered 113-115 and the existing bedrooms numbered 207-210 are, in fact, in what was formerly known as Lord Croftís maisonette. Of the first Lordís six sisters, one married Sir Edward Pearson and another, Anne, married as his second wife, Lord Brocket, formerly Sir Charles Nall-Cain, the Liverpool Brewer.
Lord & Lady Brocket lived at Brocket Hall, Welwyn, until, Lord Brocketís death in 1934, when Anne, Lady Brocket, returned to Fanhams Hall where she resided until her death in 1949. Lady Brocket was keenly interested in the gardens, which were opened to the public on certain days during the summer months.
The Japanese Gardens were designed by a Mr. Inaka and laid out by Professor Suzuki. Japanese gardeners came over from Japan each summer in pre war days, to carry out work on the ornamental lakes and the hill, little Fuji-yama, and to plant the trees and shrubs. A Japanese tea house is situated near the Fox-Lake. The Japanese Garden; the Austrian House and the lake, the wisteria walk, the lime walk around the croquet lawn, the Queen Anne Garden with the red brick paths, the lily pond, Formal Gardens and herbaceous borders are all points of interest in the grounds. The red brick paths of the Queen Anne Garden when examined more closely will reveal many more recent designs. The grounds abound with a variety of beautiful trees, the more rare varieties including Japanese maples and a group of three catalpa trees. The large mound, known as Fuji-yama Mound, was built with the earth excavated from the two lakes.
Demolition of the stables, Harness room and loose boxes was also undertaken in early 1965, with a view to development of this area as a two storey block to include syndicate rooms and study bedrooms. The old coach house to the left of the clock tower archway is a remaining reminder that Fanhams Hall was built for family enjoyment in a more leisured age.
In 1951, the Croft family sold the house to the Westminster Bank to serve as a Staff College. In 1971 it was purchased by the Building Societiesí Association, who in turn sold it to J Sainsbury plc in February 1986 to become their Training Centre.
For more information on Fanhams Hall it is advised that you visit their website. www.fanhamshall.co.uk