Colonel Richard Lee (the “Immigrant) arrived in Virginia in 1639 as the personal secretary of the newly named royal governor of the colony, Sir Francis Wyatt. In the course of the 1650s, Richard Lee acquired some 1400 acres in the Dividing Creek area of Northumberland County.
Hancock Lee was the fifth surviving son of Col Richard Lee and his wife, Anne Constable. He inherited 600 acres at Dividing Creek from his father, and around 1688 he and his wife, Mary (Kendall), built the first plantation house on the land which later became known as Ditchley. Hancock Lee died in 1709. He and his first wife Mary are buried in the Ditchley cemetery, located several hundred yards to the south of the existing manor house.
Richard Lee (1691-1735), the surviving son of Hancock and Mary Lee, inherited the Ditchley estate. There is some opinion that it was Richard who gave the plantation the name “Ditchley”, possibly on the mistaken belief that his family was closely allied with an Oxfordshire Lee family with an estate in “Ditchley Park” England.
Kendall Lee inherited the Ditchley estate from his father in 1735. He built the major/central portion of the current house, which is on the National and State Register of Historical Places, circa 1752. Kendall Lee left the house to his eldest son, William, who subsequently sold off the Ditchley estate between 1789 and 1792.
The next recorded owner of the Ditchley manor house, and 447 associated acres, was Colonel James Ball, Jr. Ditchley remained in the Ball family until sometime after the civil war. In 1840 a single-story extension was added to the south side of the original house.
Alfred I. and Jessie Ball Dupont purchased the estate in 1929. They added a matching extension to the north end of the house, which included a kitchen and butler’s pantry. Additional significant changes to the house at this time included the addition of 4 indoor bathrooms and extensive foundation stabilization work. In the 1930s a caretakers house / servants quarters was built to the northwest of the manor house.
Following the death of Jessie Ball Dupont in 1970, the estate eventually passed into the custody of the Dupont foundation.
In 2014 “Ditchley”, consisting of the manor house, caretakers house, a beach house, and ~160 surrounding acres was purchased by Cathy Calhoun and Paul Grosklags. They have completed extensive renovations of the manor house and caretakers house, established a large apple orchard to support making of hard apple cider, and are raising grass fed beef and heritage hogs on the property.
They have placed the entire property in a conservation easement.