History The earliest record of a manor house on the estate is of 1239, when the Lordship of Groombridge was granted to one William Russell, who built a moated castle there. Henry III later granted him a charter to construct a chantry. The estate was eventually sold to Thomas Waller of Lamberhurst in the middle of the 14th century and it remained in that family for more than 200 years. Sir Thomas Sackville, who was the first Earl of Dorset and the Lord Treasurer of England, bought the estate in 1604 and also built houses in Groombridge town. In 1618 the estate was sold to John Packer, who was a hugely devout and religious man, and was a major influence in the building of St John's Church. The house later passed to Philip Packer who, with Christopher Wren, saw the construction of the current house. After Philip's death in 1686 the house lay empty for 20 years; this was when the notorious Groombridge Gang began smuggling. As legend has it, they utilised a tunnel that led from Groombridge Place to the Crown Inn; however, no such tunnel has (yet) been found. After its brief notoriety, Groombridge lay untouched for a while, but was restored over the last century. It is now a private home.