Lillesden School for Girls occupies what used to be the Lillesden Estate Mansion, built at the estate (south of Hawkhurst) by the banker Edward Loyd, who co-founded the Loyd Entwistle & Co bank, which later became the District Bank and ultimately the National Westminster (Natwest). Loyd had Lillesden Mansion built after he married Caroline Louisa Foster on the 12th March 1846 at Ashton-on-Mersey. He bought the Lillesden estate at Hawkhurst, Kent in 1853 and built the mansion, finished in 1855.
Throughout the building there are strong signs of a Scottish connection - for example there is an abundence of thistles in the stonework and decorative motifs, but Lloyd himself was of Welsh descent. His wife was from a distinguished Jamaican family and was in fact born there, so the Scottish connection will have to remain a mystery.
After the Great War the house and its estate was sold and became Bedgebury Public Girls School. The school sadly closed in 1999 due to a number of issues, mainly falling pupil numbers, low demand for all-girls schools and a merger that ‘went wrong’. The TV fashion guru Trinny Woodall was one of the more famous alumni, and the school did boast extremely high standards for £4,300 per term.
The closure seems to have shocked parents and pupils alike, as grades were at an all time high and bankruptcy was not an issue. The building itself was a grade II listed French-style chateau, set in 200 acres of Kentish gardens and forests, with ponies stabled in the grounds, a dreamland for children. It was, as one child was quoted as saying, ‘too perfect to last’.”
It is a relatively well known fact among "Whovians" (Doctor Who fans) that several episodes of "The Curse of Fenrick" featuring The Doctor and Ace were filmed in the building.
The house has had a large amount of its lead roof removed and the elements had started to take their toll on the place before the developers erected a tin roof over part of the building. It still stands in a series of stunning terraced lawns with well cultured trees and wild roses that clamber up the brick walls.