The Manor House in all its guises
Records show there has been a house, in one form or another, on this site going back as far as the early 14th century but it was in the mid 18th century that the then coach house earned the unsavoury name of 'The Thieves Kitchen'. The owner, a notorious fence, was known to have links with Dick Turpin and the old brick tunnel that ran from the cellar to the stable block was their favourite means of avoiding capture.
In the early 19th century Hartsbourne Manor-Place was the family seat of Baronet Sir Thomas Thompson who was one of Horatio Nelson's 'Band of Brothers', serving with him at the battle of the Nile and Copenhagen. He later became Vice-Admiral and Commander of the Navy.
In the early 20th century Hartsbourne Manor was the country residence of the American actress and socialite Maxine Elliott, a great favourite of King Edward VII. She lived here until 1920 hosting parties for noted dignitaries such as Winston Churchill, F.E. Smith, later to become Lord Birkenhead, and the financier Pierpoint Morgan. Another regular guest was her fiance Captain Tony Wilding the dashing New Zealand tennis ace who won 8 Wimbledon crowns before World War 1 but was unfortunately killed in action in France 1915.
In 1928 the house was bought by the members of Wembley Golf Club when their land was purchased to build that famous old twin-towered stadium for the Empire Exhibition. War soon returned to Hartsbourne Manor when it was commandeered by the RAF in 1940 to house the officers stationed at Bentley Priory from where they masterminded the Battle of Britain and Bomber Command. After the war the club was purchased by Mr CJ Stillitz, the founder of the present club, and renamed Hartsbourne Country Club.
The clubhouse today is a much altered and extended hunting lodge furnished for the comfort of our membership and boasting spectacular views over the unspoiled Hertfordshire countryside.