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Abandoned? Fuck. My old landlady used to live there, I visited the place about twenty years ago, and I met Oliver and Caroline Colthurst who owned it before they lost everything in the Lloyd’s Insurance names scandal and had to return it to the nation.
It was a fascinating place. It had a grade I listed half-timbered black and white tree house, believed to be the oldest in Britain. Its timber beams were not black, despite the availability of pitch from the nearby pitch well from which the estate derives part of its name, but a dark muddy brown from the ox blood they were traditionally treated with – Wikipedia begs to differ but I was told this by one of the Colthurst children.
And the Colthurst family were proper bonkers toffs – IIRC Caroline’s dad had his leg bitten off by a lion but that didn’t stop him achieving all sorts of toff stuff.
My connections to the place are pretty tenuous, but I’m genuinely shocked and saddened that such a lovely pile has come to this.