History and museums
Hill Hall, located near Epping, Essex, England is a recently restored Elizabethan mansion. Although owned by English Heritage, the building consists of many private apartments. It is a grade I listed building.
The house was originally built for Sir Thomas Smith during the reign of Elizabeth I to replace a 12th-century house on the same site. Construction was carried out over several intervals (1567-8, 1572-3) interspersed between Smith's stints as ambassador to France. The hall stands in 50 hectares (120 acres) of parkland designed by Humphrey Repton.
The Smith family remained in occupation until the mid 19th century. Hill Hall subsequently became a prisoner of war camp during World War 2 and later a women's prison until a fire in 1969. It has since become part of the Heritage Trust. Limited tours are available to see the internal period wall paintings described by Croft-Murray of the British Museum as the most important survival of Elizabethan decorative figure painting in England.
According to local legend, Hill Hall was once the site of a duel between seven brothers, for the hand of a beautiful girl. Every brother was killed. It is also allegedly the haunt of a phantom black dog.