What the Romans started....
The Saxons continued....
The Normans improved....
We revived at Chilford Hall Vineyard
The legacy of "The Hundred"
During Saxon times England was divided into administrative areas, akin to modern day counties. Each one of these areas, known as a "Hundred" was further divided into a hundred "Hides". Each "Hide" was an area of land capable of supporting a Ceorl (peasant farmer) and his household. Chilford celebrates this historical legacy with its Chilford Hundred range of fine wines.
Chilford derives its name from the main or royal ford ('Childe' ford) of the River Granta, a tributary of the current River Cam. This is the site where the Jurors of the ancient Hundred met for the last time in 1086. Records still exist for this last meeting, attended by Norman de Nostresfield, Walter de Clai, Brian de Scalariis, Firmin Lifget, Ulric Hag of Linton and Aluric de Norsehilde.
Originally a farm, the oldest building at Chilford Hall was the Little Barn, built in the early 1700's. The Great Hall was a Grade II listed building dating from 1820 and the house itself was constructed in 1840. The Gallery was added in 1971 and the Pavillion from 1968 with major alterations made in 1997.
Chilford Hall has been the home of the Alper family since 1965, when Sam Alper, designer of the famous Sprite caravan and founder of the Little Chef chain of roadside restaurants, bought the property with a view to creating an on-site conference, banqueting and cultural centre.
Chilford's development from the mid 60's reflected Sam's interests in wine, sculpture and printmaking. The vineyard was originally laid out in 1972, with further planting between 1974 and 1976. Sam would regularly promote the wine by taking part in the Great English Wine Rally, driving samples of his wine to the George V Hotel in Paris in his 1930'S Phantom II Rolls Royce.
Sam was an accomplished amateur sculptor who began collecting work by Robert Lenkewicz and Helaine Blumenfield in the mid 1960's. He also had an interest in architectural salvage, snapping up pieces whenever great old buildings were demolished. The timber framed Winery building, for example where winemaking and bottling are currently carried out, was moved brick by brick from the nearby village of Linton in 1976.
Other historic architectural pieces that have been creatively incorporated into the buildings and grounds of Chilford Hall include the following,
- Marble pillars from the Long Bar at Waterloo station are found in the wine cellar
- The pink marble staircase from the old Stock Exchange building is to be found in the Great Hall bar
- Granite pillars from the Embankment are located opposite the main office
- Coade stone lions from Nonesuch Park adorn the entrance drive
- Shop front of the Waffles tea shop (formerly in the old "kite" quarter of Cambridge) is now Chilford Wines & Bistro
- Portland stone from the Italian Garden of Easton Lodge, the home of the Countess of Warwick is to be found in the swimming pool.
The Art Connection
Links with the world of fine art were strengthened when the Chilford Hall Press was merged in 1989 with the world renowned Curwen Studio (Link to Curwen Studio page and /or their website) The Studio relocated to the Chilford Hall site and since 1996 has been an educational charity organisation for the teaching of print making.
Sam Alper died in 2002, leaving behind a rich legacy and a unique cultural centre, the perfect location for a thriving conference and banqueting centre.
The Chilford Hall Fire
On Wednesday 13th June 2012, Chilford Hall was burnt to the ground in an arson attack. The Linton Hall, Gallery, Great Hall and Pavilion were completely destroyed. The Bistro, Winery and Vineyard and Curwen Studio were unaffected.
In March 2013, the new Chilford Hall Garden Rooms venue was constructed in the grounds of Chilford Hall and is available for corporate meetings, conferences, private events, weddings and civil ceremonies.