Suf­folk’s Tu­dor trea­sure houses

These su­perb houses will put you at the heart of the county’s— and the na­tion’s—his­tory

Country Life Every Week - - PROPERTY MARKET -

The re­cent launch onto the mar­ket by Sav­ills of two of Suf­folk’s loveli­est el­iz­a­bethan manor houses—the Grade I-listed Ot­ley hall at Ot­ley, seven miles north of Ipswich, and the Grade Ii*listed Flem­ings hall at Bed­ing­field, eight miles fur­ther north again—highlights the haunt­ing beauty of these proud sur­vivors of a golden pe­riod in the county’s his­tory.

‘equally im­por­tant per­haps,’ says Katy Stephen­son of the firm’s Ipswich of­fice (01473 234800), ‘is the fact that not only have these two im­por­tant houses been beauti- fully re­stored and lov­ingly main­tained, but they also project the warmth and com­fort that to­day’s fam­i­lies look for in an english coun­try house.’

The agents quote a guide price of £2.5 mil­lion for mag­nif­i­cent, moated Ot­ley hall, one of few Grade I-listed houses in Suf­folk still in pri­vate own­er­ship. Ac­cord­ing to its list­ing, the manor was built by Robert Gos­nold and other mem­bers of the Gos­nold fam­ily in the 15th and 16th cen­turies, with al­ter­ations and ad­di­tions car­ried out by sub­se­quent own­ers in the 17th, 18th and 19th cen­turies. The Gos­nolds had owned or been ten­ants of land in the area since 1401 and were liv­ing in Ot­ley, where Robert was lord of the manor, from about 1440, al­though much of the hall as its stands to­day dates from the 16th cen­tury.

The Gos­nolds were lawyers with links to the great, the good and the un­lucky of the Tu­dor era—among them, Car­di­nal Wolsey, the ill-fated earls of es­sex and Southamp­ton, the play­wright 17th earl of Ox­ford (a Gos­nold cousin) and Fran­cis Ba­con. Robert Gos­nold III was Master of Re­quests to the

Earl of Es­sex from 1599 to 1601 and the Roy­al­ist Col Robert Gos­nold VI fought through three sieges dur­ing the Civil War.

Much has been made in guide­books and lo­cal folk­lore of the role played in the found­ing of the first Bri­tish set­tle­ment at Jamestown in what is now the USA by Robert Gos­nold’s nephew, Bartholomew Gos­nold, who lived at nearby Grundis­burgh Hall. An in­tro­duc­tion from his un­cle se­cured a place for the young Bartholomew aboard the Earl of Es­sex’s ex­pe­di­tion to the Azores in 1597. He then joined Es­sex in pri­va­teer­ing against the Span­ish, thereby amass­ing a tidy for­tune in a very short space of time. Ir­re­triev­ably bit­ten by the ex­plo­ration bug, in 1602, Bartholomew set out on a voy­age to the New World, in the course of which he named Cape Cod and Martha’s Vine­yard—the lat­ter af­ter his first-born daugh­ter, who had died as an infant in 1598—but failed to es­tab­lish a set­tle­ment.

On re­turn­ing to Eng­land, he im­me­di­ately set out to or­gan­ise a sec­ond ex­pe­di­tion, the plan­ning and re­cruit­ment for which is said to have taken place in the Great Hall at Ot­ley. In 1606, he set sail again and, in 1607, was re­put­edly the prime mover in es­tab­lish­ing the set­tle­ment at Jamestown, Vir­ginia, where he died of a fever later that year, at the age of 36. Bro­ken by the Civil War, the Gos­nolds even­tu­ally sold the manor in 1674.

Com­ment­ing on Gos­nold’s Ot­ley Hall con­nec­tion in his mas­ter­ful Eng­land’s Thou­sand Best Houses, Si­mon Jenk­ins dis­misses the no­tion that the USA was, in ef­fect, ‘founded’ at Ot­ley as ‘fan­ci­ful’. In­stead, he sug­gests, ‘we should be con­tent with a su­perb ex­am­ple of 16th cen­tury Suf­folk ar­chi­tec­ture… an im­mac­u­late Tu­dor house with no edge untrimmed and no dust on any shelf (and where) a cob­web would be an arach­noid im­per­ti­nence’.

That was in the early 2000s, when the hall was owned by the writer and philoso­pher Ni­cholas Hag­ger, who car­ried out sig­nif­i­cant ren­o­va­tions over the years. Let to tenant

farm­ers dur­ing the 18th and 19th cen­turies, Ot­ley Hall had been com­pre­hen­sively re­stored in the early 20th cen­tury by the Ed­war­dian ar­chi­tect Percy Mor­ley Horder for Dorothy Sher­ston, who bought the manor in 1910 and also com­mis­sioned Fran­cis Inigo Thomas to de­sign a for­mal gar­den. Dur­ing their ten­ure at the Hall from 1997 to 2004, Mr Hag­ger and his wife, Ann, also greatly im­proved the gar­dens, which are both for­mal and in­for­mal and pro­vide a won­der­ful set­ting for the house.

Their suc­ces­sors, the present own­ers of Ot­ley Hall, have not only im­proved the house and its 9½ acres of gar­dens and grounds, but have also ex­panded the ex­ist­ing con­fer­ence and hos­pi­tal­ity cen­tre into a unique venue for cor­po­rate events, wed­dings and re­treat days—a small but prof­itable busi­ness that can be con­tin­ued or not as a new pur­chaser wishes, the agents say.

Tim­ber-framed with brick in­fill and some colour-wash ren­der un­der a tiled roof, Ot­ley Hall, de­scribed by Pevs­ner as an ‘out­stand­ing in­di­vid­ual house—charm­ing and pic­turesque’, pro­vides 8,260sq ft of liv­ing space on three floors, in­clud­ing three grand re­cep­tion rooms, a re­cep­tion hall, a moat room, a study, a min­strels’ gallery, a kitchen wing, 10 bed­rooms, six bath­rooms, and an in­te­gral staff flat. No­table rooms in­clude the tim­ber-framed Great Hall and the Li­nen­fold Par­lour, whose splen­did pan­elling may have come from Car­di­nal Wolsey’s cham­bers at Hamp­ton Court Palace.

Eight miles due north as the crow flies, the site of Flem­ings Hall was granted by Wil­liam the Con­queror to one of his knights, Ogerus de Pugeys, who sub­se­quently took the name of Bed­ing­field, af­ter the Saxon name for the area. His fam­ily was to own the house for 900 years, un­til 1934.

Dur­ing that time, Sir Peter Bed­ing­field fought along­side the Black Prince at the bat­tle of Crécy and was present at the siege of Calais. His descen­dants in­clude Sir Henry Bed­ing­field, Privy Coun­cil­lor to Ed­ward VI and Mary I and cus­to­dian of El­iz­a­beth I dur­ing her im­pris­on­ment in the Tower of Lon­don.

In the 1960s, the stage pho­tog­ra­pher An­gus Mcbean bought the house and em­barked on a ma­jor restora­tion of the won­der­fully at­mo­spheric house and its al­most 5½ acres of grounds. He lived there un­til shortly be­fore his death in 1990, since when sub­se­quent own­ers have brought the house and grounds fully up to date.

Flem­ings Hall (guide price £3m) stands at the cen­tre of a typ­i­cally me­dieval, de­fen­sive for­ti­fied-moat sys­tem. The house is built around a me­dieval core with a king­post roof form­ing a long straight front with a brick two-storey porch built in about 1550. Of par­tic­u­lar note is the cen­tral Great Hall, dat­ing from 1306, with its mag­nif­i­cent fire­place, carved oak man­tel­piece and full­height linen-fold chim­ney breast. Oak beams and rafters abound through­out the house and on ev­ery floor are arched brick Tu­dor fire­places and oak pan­elling.

In all, the hall of­fers some 6,960sq ft of ac­com­mo­da­tion, in­clud­ing five re­cep­tion rooms, a study, a kitchen/break­fast room, seven bed­rooms and three bath­rooms. Sec­ondary build­ings in­clude a record­ing-stu­dio com­plex, an open-plan en­ter­tain­ing barn and a 16th-cen­tury thatched barn.

‘They project the warmth and com­fort that to­day’s fam­i­lies look for’

The Gos­nold fam­ily, who built tran­quil Ot­ley Hall at Ot­ley, boasted high-fly­ing con­nec­tions in the Tu­dor pe­riod. £2.5m

Si­mon Jenk­ins de­scribed the im­pres­sively ren­o­vated house as ‘an im­mac­u­late Tu­dor house with no edge untrimmed and no dust on any shelf’

The im­pres­sive pan­elling in the Li­nen­fold par­lour is be­lieved to have come from Car­di­nal Wolsey’s cham­bers at Hamp­ton Court Palace

The site of pic­turesque Flem­ings Hall at Bed­ing­field was granted by Wil­liam the Con­queror and re­mained in the same fam­ily for 900 years. £3m

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.