"Approached by car from the west lodge through trees in the park, the house suddenly loomed large in extensive grounds. Distant trees screened it from other properties in every direction. A low, wide wooden gate swung open to give access to a large, brick-balustraded courtyard before the front door over which stood the Disney lion-crest in stone. Orange brick, ornamented with dark blue; white window-frames and here and there ivy on the walls - Queen Anne.
Tall double-doors of oak led to the vestibule – walking sticks of every description; in summer a heavy rope net hung here to prevent bats entering the hall. This was a large area achieved long ago by removal of interior walls losing several rooms, and replacing them by extensions to the rear of the building.
Facing the entrance, a double-branching staircase was approached under a balcony supported by Tuscan columns. All was sunlit by the many windows, floor to high ceiling. "Italian pink" – deep pink walls with brilliant white, moulded woodwork. Two doors, left and right of the entrance led to two sitting-rooms, that on the right (the larger) looked onto a trim lawn with cedar tree, beyond which the lake with, at the north end, a suspension-bridge – the longest on a private estate in England.
Within the front hall two of the four white doors were false – to balance the exquisite design. The way to the dining-room was beneath the balcony, left of the staircase. Upstairs, bedrooms extended from right and left head of the stairs. Bedrooms to the left overlooked the park, those to the right had views toward the lake near the north end of which were four tall poplars named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – contrasting with the wooded area adjoining the rear of the house. Here, trees hid a rose-garden and the kitchen-garden with the traditional high brick wall.
Under trees nearby, beside a rough pathway, stood a large black-painted shed – the Ice House – ice from the lake in winter was stored for use throughout the year. The whole Estate was entirely self supporting, or almost. There was a farm; dairy cattle grazed in the long grass meadow to the south beyond the balustrade where the Disney Arms were set in stone.
The Hyde was damaged by flying bombs in WWII, repaired by the National Trust and sadly, in 1965, was destroyed by fire."
The Hyde was once the seat of the largest landowner in the parish of Ingatestone and Fryerning. It is unknown the exact year a house first existed on the site but the final building and was built in circa 1700s and it takes its name from the Old English word "Hide" meaning an area of land around of 120-acres. However, The Hyde was eventually part of a 200-acre estate under the ownership of the Disney family. The Hyde was purchased in 1718 by Mr Timothy Brand, third son of John Brand. The Hyde was vastly reshaped by his son Thomas Brand-Hollis who re-designed the house, enlarged it and constructed the outer walls of red and black brick.
The Hyde also housed an enormous collection of Antiquities collected by Thomas-Brand Hollis. The collection included items from Pompeii and two sarcophagi (Greek and Roman). In fact the great hall at the house was fashioned out of 5 smaller rooms in 1761. This was designed by Sir William Chambers (designer of Somerset House) and was used to house the large collection. The collection was later recorded in full by Rev. John Disney and is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. John Disney was also the founder of the Disney Chair of Archaeology at Cambridge.
Thomas Brand-Hollis left the Hyde Estate to his friend Dr John Disney, much to his family’s dismay. John’s heir and only remaining son, Edgar John Disney, succeeded his father and took possession of The Hyde in 1857. Edgar Disney rented out The Hyde to Lord Petre for some time around 1887, whilst he resided in another property he owned called Jericho (once owned by Henry VIII). By 1898 The Hyde was in the hands of Edgar’s son, Colonel Edgar John Disney. Eventually The Hyde passed to the next descent, Edgar Norton Disney and he and his wife Lillian resided at the property in the early decades of the 20th century. They allowed their home to be turned into a convalescent hospital during WWI. Sadly, it became harder and harder to maintain such a large and splendid house such as The Hyde. It was eventually sold to the Spencer-Phillips family and it was leased out as a private boys school. The Hyde School came into operation in the early 1950s.
The unthinkable happened on Saturday 6 May 1965. A fire was started deliberately and the Ingatestone Fire Brigade was summoned but the building was so badly damaged by fire and water that it had to be demolished. The once grand house was brought to a ruin in just 3 hours. It was subsequently demolished leaving, for sometime afterwards, just the large wooden gates and wall that surrounded it, still with the Disney crest embedded into the wall. There is now no trace of even these small structures on the site.
|Sources:||Eric M.B. Earle|
|"A Short History of The Hyde" - S.E. Clark|
Many thanks to the late J.B.C. Earle and J.M.B. Earle for kindly contributing their memories and the history of the house.