Reading the title you're probably expecting to see some kind of stately home or mansion. Well, yes and no. It was built in the early 1800s as a private residence and pre-war was the venue for all manner of high-society soirees in the 1930s where the great and the good would mingle. Following the death of the owner in April 1940 following a car accident at Charing, it was requisitioned in October 1940 and became the Divisional HQ for the operation to repel the expected invasion of Kent, home to first the 43rd Wessex Division, and then the 56th (London) Division, housing the divisional general and the intelligence section, surrounded by barbed wire and underground shelters and all the latest state of the art telecommunications equipment of the time.
Post-war, the house was bought by the local Agricultural College who needed additional space following the merger with Swanley College whose own accommodation had been bombed. (The hall is named Swanley Hall in recognition) So in recent years it became part of the University halls of residence, with accommodation blocks being added in the 1950s and the 1980s.
Students from all over the world from developing and developed countries came to study here, such was its reputation. Imperial College London, who own the site - ceased all studies here in September 2009, and these buildings (along with a number of others) have lain empty ever since. It sits in acres of beautiful grounds and gardens.
It's a large site, one which I've been aware of for years but finally got round to looking at recently. College security are going to have a kitten if/when they see this, but hey - lucky I'm not a gypsy, eh?
Twinky's student bar with a bit of infinite reflections going on
Below: wall mural.
This type of muriel is known as Trompe l'oeil. I can't remember the last time I saw the words 'Trompe l'oeil' in a report.
It's a decent site this, at least as interesting as the Kent and Sussex Hospital, but maybe slightly fewer bedrooms than the College of the Golden Cock at St. Leonard's.
If you're sufficiently inclined, the full set of photos can be found here:
Withersdane Hall - Kent Photos by OneFlewEast | Photobucket
There are a lot.