In 1805 the property, now an estate of over 127 acres, was acquired by a wealthy merchant, Thomson Bonar.
We believe he made his money doing trade with the Russians. He was already a significant local landowner with property and farmlands at Elmstead.
He and his wife Anne seem to have been a happy and devoted couple. They continued to expand Camden Place, still working with George Dance the younger.
They changed Camden’s main entrance on the south side of the house into an oval shaped library, closing the entrance and moving the staircase. They also added a new dining wing but most of their developments were outside, a stable block which could house 16 horses and six coaches and accommodation for 30 staff and a dairy.
The blood-stained floors were the result of a brutal murder.
On May 20, 1813, Thomson retired to bed early and his wife later, asking to be awakened at 7.00am. When the maid went to her mistress’s room she found Thompson dead, bludgeoned to death and Anne, unconscious and mortally wounded.
The footman, Philip Nicholson had been recently employed. He had served in the younger Bonar son’s regiment. He was sent to Guys Hospital to summon specialist medical help. It seems that on his way home he stopped at a pub on the Old Kent Road and fell in with an old regiment comrade. He was overheard say ‘the deed has been done.’
His erratic behaviour and drunkenness meant suspicion fell on him. He was arrested and admitted the murders, taking the authorities to a place in the grounds where bloodied sheets and clothing were hidden. He was unable to provide any motive for this heinous crime. There was a suggestion that the murder was done on the orders of the younger Bonar son.
He did not make any defence and was found guilty at Maidstone assizes. and sentenced to hanging at Penenden Heath.
The Bonar tomb is near the lych-gate in St Nicholas’s churchyard describes their deaths as ‘a signal reward for such virtues as have rarely been united’ and in accord with ‘their fervent wish so frequently expressed and so mysteriously fulfilled that they might leave this world together’.
It seems the bloodstains were evident for many years.