Like most old country houses, Stifford Lodge (the most recent name of the property before it became a hotel) has undergone many alterations over the years.
There was a house on the site as early as 1327 when it was owned by Henry de Shirewell; it was probably of timber-frame construction. This medieval house seems to have been substantially rebuilt in brick, probably by the Kingsman family in the mid - 18th century. When the trustees of Jasper and Ann Kingsman sold it to John Button in 1789, it was described as 'a capital mansion house with all requisite offices, gardens and meadow land'.
The Kingsmans were major local landowners with property in several parishes which would have produced a substantial income in rents. The Buttons were another notable landowning family.
After John Button's death in 1806, Stifford Lodge was occupied by his son who was also called John and was presumably responsible for the early 19th century additions to the house. When this second John's wife died in 1830 he assumed her surname of Freeman. He lived at the lodge until his death in 1853 at the age 82.
John Freeman's daughter Elizabeth Frances inherited and retained the property until her death in 1868. The house then passed to her daughters who sold it to Mr Edmund W. Brooks in 1901.
Between 1860 and 1901 the owners were not resident and the house had been let to a series of tenants, these were: Arthur Wild, William Philip Beech, George H. Frank, William Fitzgerald Scott and Herbert Edmund Brooks. The last mentioned, Herbert Brooks, was prominent in local politics and was chairman of Essex County Council. The library fittings at the lodge are from his time.
Herbert Brooks died in 1931 and his widow remained in residence until 1933. The house was then occupied by the Crossley family until 1939 when it was taken over by the War Department and became a Canadian military hospital. Temporary huts were erected for use as wards and these were dismantled at the end of the war by German prisoners.
After its wartime use the house was purchased by Colonel Sherwood, who was head of Sherwood Paints. He spent a good deal of time in Barbados and died there in 1966. The authors of 'The Stifford Saga' (from which most of this information has been taken) regard him as 'Stiffords Last Squire'. The house became a hotel after his death.
- Notes prepared by Thurrock Museum 1998