Text written by, and copyright of, Nicholas Kingsley - many thanks
The medieval manor house at Lea was on a moated site a mile east of the church. After Sir Edmund Anderson (1530-1605), kt. acquired the estate in 1599, a new brick house was built. Since he died so soon after the purchase it was probably built by his son William Anderson in the early C17; it seems likely that the narrow and closely-spaced brick gables in the centre of both main fronts survived from that time.
In the C18, when the family's main estate was at Kilnwick Percy in Yorkshire, the house was largely used as a farmhouse, but the house was updated and improved in the Georgian style after the family moved back. Work was probably done at two dates: in about 1780-85 when Sir Edmund Anderson, 7th bt., settled there and persuaded his crippled father to sell up the Yorkshire estate and move in with him; and about 1802-03 when work is recorded for Sir Charles Anderson, 8th bt. At the latter date the work included the addition of a new entrance at the west end of the house.
Further work was carried out in the 1840s and 1850s for Sir Charles Anderson, 9th bt., who succeeded in 1846. In 1849 he created a terrace around the house, and in 1855-57 he brought in J.L. Pearson to remodel the house. Pearson had already worked on Lea church in 1847-49 (one of his earliest commissions), and seems to have been a friend of Anderson, who secured him several important commissions. He built a stair turret onto the south front and perhaps altered the wing next to it. The ground-floor doorway was formed of alternating red and yellow bricks, and there were chequered bands of similar brick above the doorway and below the ogee lead cap of the tower. In its use of polychromy and rather heavy and unhistorical forms, the work reflected contemporary architectural trends but did not make the house more attractive.
In 1891 the Lea Hall estate passed to the 9th and last baronet's granddaughter, Margaret Louise Anderson (1876-1952), who first let it and then put it up for sale in 1913. The principal apartments were then a dining room, drawing room, library (with an oak chimneypiece from Beswick Hall (Yorks)), billiard room and lounge and nine principal bedrooms, and the overall feel of the main rooms remained predominantly Georgian. It was sold to Walter Boynton, but by 1937 the house was unoccupied; the army moved in during the Second World War, when it was used as the headquarters of a searchlight battery, a military hospital, and a prisoner of war camp.
After the war an order of nuns from Ireland bought the house and established a convent school there, but in 1963 the Parish Council bought the house and six and a half acres of land and demolished the house in 1972. The main part of the agricultural estate, 1790 acres, was bought by the Montefiore family in the late 1930s, and the Montefiore Trust sold it to the Lands Improvement Group in 1978.