Kentwell Hall - House & Gardens Open

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1st July 11:00am - 2nd April 4:00pm
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About this event

Kentwell Hall stands as a stunning early brick Tudor House. Started by John Clopton (d 1497) – who was mainly responsible for rebuilding Melford Church in the 1480s – and finished before 1540 by his son, Sir William Clopton (d 1530), who married first a merchant's daughter and later an heiress, to fund its later development. It has a brick lined moat around the House, extended in the 18th Century, with another, perhaps earlier, moat around the Walled Garden.

The Moat House was built in the late 15th Century as a service building for an earlier house, with three very different elements. A brick southern section rising from the Moat with a projecting tower complete with loops and arrow slits, which is the Brewhouse. A half-timbered bricknogged and jettied middle section, which is the Bakehouse. A fancy brickwork 18th Century northern section, with white Woolpit bricks, now the Dairy.

Seeing the inside of the House is a fascinating experience. It remains still in layout an essentially Tudor House, just one room thick throughout. The interior reflects decoration of the 1800s and embellishments since 1970.

Ground Floor

The West Wing reveals the bones of the Tudor House in the Great Kitchen with its massive fireplace and ovens, the Corridor and the intimate Panelled Room alone a survival of the House’s once plentiful oak panelling. The Centre Block shows the architect Thomas Hopper’s Gothick style. The Great Hall is re-imagined as in baronial times. The former service rooms have given way to the almost perfect cube of the imposing Dining Room, in Hopper’s Jacobethan style dominated by a massive marble fire surround. The Drawing Room exhibits a much lighter more Georgian touch but with a fine Tudor style marble fire surround.

In the East Wing the handsome Grand Stair of about 1675 has survived intact. The Tudor rooms layout beyond were lost in the late 18th Century but the windows remain. The whole formed by Hopper to be a second Withdrawing Room with the then popular Scagliola colonnade approached through the Library, for which the Phillips have provided the bookcases, which doubles as a Billiard Room.

Upstairs

The State Bedroom and the Phillips’s idiosyncratic Roman style State Bathroom are the most striking. Though many prefer to test their extra-sensory powers in the Victorian Haunted Room.

Contents

Notable are the massive Chinese style table the Phillips had made in China in the Dining Room. The huge picture an Allegory on Virtue and Vice, perhaps from Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace which dominates the Great Hall. Also there stunning stained glass the earliest of which dates from about 1425. In the Drawing Room, the Phillips collection of Tudor Portraits show the Tudor family and also leading figures of their time. Also the Four Seasons ceiling painted for the Phillips by Paul Dufficey based upon eight Breughel paintings and the frieze based upon his Children’s Games. There too the screen showing the Coronation Procession of Edward VI.

In the Stair Hall some very early fragments of Clopton stained glass from the church probably rescued from later depredations.

The Billiard Room Tudor boasts some of the finest armorial glass, featuring the Cloptons and their connections, as fine as any in a House in England.

The Gardens

Kentwell's Gardens provide a haven of tranquility and beauty in a challenging world. A feeling of naturalness, not over-manicured, where visitors can lose themselves in the moment. The beauty of the buildings and the usually still waters of the moats, disturbed only by fish and fowl, set the tone.

There is a strong sense of the past. The Gardens have developed over six centuries and the keen eye will find elements from each. There is a sense of fun too - from the Sculpted Tree and Tudor Rose Courtyard Maze to the Yew Castle and the varied topiary. The gnarled arms of over 100 varieties of ancient espalier fruit trees form avenues among the colourful borders, vegetable pottager and huge herb garden in the Walled Garden. The hornbeam hedge at the Magic Circle, the silver birch walk and the long avenue of pyramidal lime trees are all as striking bare as when in full leaf. The Fish Pond and the Sunken Garden, part of the old Walled Garden moat are linked by a charming woodland walk – a breath of fresh air in the springtime and a shady treat on a summers day.

The House itself will be open from 12noon to 2.00pm. The majority of rooms will be open, apart from the ones the family are using.

If you wish to visit the Gardens without viewing the House, please book your visit at our Gardens page on our website.

If you wish to book to visit the House and Gardens, please visit the website above!

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